GoldMadeSimple

GoldMadeSimple

Gold Made Simple ® are highly respected international gold bullion dealers specialising in the safest form of gold – ie physical, fully allocated gold bars, gold grams and gold coins (including tax free gold ie Gold Sovereigns and gold Britannias), which are available for UK and International secure storage or delivery on demand.

West Country Cottages

West Country Cottages

Founded over 20 years ago, West Country Cottages is a trading division of the multiple award-winning and leading holiday cottage agency Helpful Holidays. West Country Cottages have over 160 holiday properties in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset and The New Forest, each one inspected and star graded by us. We book over 3,000 holidays a year.

Corus Hotels

Corus Hotels

Corus Hotels are an individual and stylish mid-market hotel group, with hotels in key locations across the UK. With an inspiring range of hotels from country houses and coaching inns to essential city centre accommodation and the offer of a warm welcome all year round.

We Buy Any Car

Webuyanycar.com was established in 2006 and has grown to become the largest car buyer in the UK with over 500,000 happy customers.

TAP UK

TAP Portugal (www.flytap.com ) is the leading airline in Portugal and a member of Star Alliance.

RingCentral

A complete, hosted business phone and fax system that combines virtual PBX with advanced voice and fax, features.

Dashcasino.com

Dash Casino is the revolutionary casino from the 32Red Plc group, offering players fast, efficient service while enjoying over 200 of the best online casino games.

BETDAQ

In the ever-competitive marketplace of online betting, it’s harder for many traditional bookmakers to stand out from the crowd.

Novatech

Kelkoo

Damien Hirst, Tate Modern, review

Richard Dorment reviews the Damien Hirst retrospective at Tate Modern.

For more than 20 years pretty much everything Damien Hirst he has made, done or said has received media attention. But attention is different from respect, and if you ask the man in the street he’ll tell you that Hirst became a billionaire by cynically exploiting our collective greed and stupidity.

For reasons that I don’t understand, he insists on presenting himself as a fraud who is somehow pulling the wool over the eyes of the public. And that’s a pity, because in Tate Modern’s full-scale retrospective he comes across as a serious – if wildly uneven – artist.

We emerge from this strange, flawed, but hugely ambitious show with a sense of Hirst as complex and troubled personality. As an artist his work is indeed difficult to take – not because it is dumb, but because no one in his right mind wants to think about the painful subjects it deals with.

Brought up a Catholic (though a non-believer), Hirst’s imagination is haunted by that Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven. This is not always obvious when you encounter one work or group of works at a time, but it is made crystal clear in the work selected for this survey, which has been ruthlessly edited and shaped to emphasise the eschatological narrative that runs through his career.

Hirst starts from a premise: we are so inured to even the most graphic images of death that we no longer experience it as real. By preserving the carcasses of animals in formaldehyde and by then exhibiting them in glass vitrines in an art gallery, he found a remarkably effective way to bring us face to face with death’s emptiness, its finality, its silence. Not all of the animal and fish pieces work, but when they do they are mesmerising.

Take a few minutes to look closely at the goggle-eyed fish arranged in neat rows facing the same direction in ‘Isolated Elements Swimming in the Same Direction for the Purpose of Understanding’. To me it looks as though death caught each one by surprise. They look startled to find themselves in a state of eternal non-existence, having reached the final destination that still awaits you and me.

Unlike in Goya’s still lifes with fish and game, in Hirst’s vitrines the extinction of life elicits neither outrage nor pity. What there is, I think, is something akin to compassion. For me, by far the most touching of the animal pieces is ‘Away from the Flock’, a lamb captured by death in mid-frolic. With such an emotive image Hirst could easily have thrown us a crumb of comfort. Instead he makes it plain that death is not a state of eternal rest or endless sleep – it is eternal suspension in nothingness.

Hirst explores the theme of death from another angle in the assemblages in which he breeds flies and butterflies, allows them to gorge on blood, sugar and flowers, and then steps back to watch them die – either by flapping aimlessly around for their short life span or by flying into an insect-o-cutor. In these cruel, nihilistic pieces, he imagines a God who gives life gratuitously, only to take it mindlessly away.

Such works are much more ambiguous and far more resistant to simplistic interpretation than they at first appear. Hirst’s incredulity at the idea of a god who could allow pointless suffering is balanced by what I perceive as his longing to find some purpose, order or perhaps even redemption in our lives. For most of his career he has been dealing with how we live with this ambivalence, how we deal with the knowledge of our mortality.

The many pieces involving ashtrays full of cigarette butts in his show speak of state of endless waiting – for escape, for change, for death, or for consolation. Such works are thematically paired with medicine cabinets in which formalised arrangements of bottles, boxes and bags testify to the innumerable pains that afflict our bodies and minds and the lengths we go to keep death at bay.

The gallery-sized installation ‘Pharmacy’ adds another dimension to Hirst’s obsessive quest to wrest some meaning out of life. The white-on-white vitrines filled with drugs, the colourful apothecary jars sitting on a white counter in front of white chairs all feel ethereal, a glimpse of heaven, a secular church with a cross in green neon that symbolises hope. More than once as I walked through the show I thought of the work of Caspar David Friedrich.

From the modest scale of the earlier work the art becomes bigger, more colourful, and more excessive in every way. Giant rotating ‘Spin’ paintings and a multi-coloured plastic beach ball kept precariously in the air by a blower simply say in different forms what Hirst has been saying all along: life is fragile, a matter of chance, so you may as well have some fun while you can.

What’s missing from Hirst’s relentlessly nihilistic view of life so far is any sense that there might be some cause or explanation for our human condition. This is why I see ‘Mother and Child Divided’ as one of the pivotal works of Hirst’s career. In it, the carcasses of a calf and a cow are bisected laterally, and then placed in vitrines side by side. In my reading of the work, Hirst sees the origins of our identity as autonomous beings in the child’s inevitable separation from the body of the mother, the cataclysmic event in every life that leaves us in a permanent state longing to be made whole again.

As the show moves towards its close and Hirst’s stratospheric financial success becomes more and more apparent, the imagery becomes almost apocalyptic. I began to think of Hirst’s career as a sort of perverse pilgrim’s progress, a weirdly inverted morality tale.

‘For the Love of God’, a life-size cast in platinum of a human skull covered in more than 8000 diamonds, reminds us that, even when Hirst makes something beautiful, death, beauty, and evil are all constant presences. Here, and in canvases in which thousands of butterfly wings are collaged into designs resembling a stained-glass window and a Buddhist mandala, Hirst gives his works titles that make it impossible to miss their spiritual content. The show closes on a note of possible redemption, with a vitrine containing a dove with outstretched wings. The exact opposite of everything the skull stands for, this is the dove of peace, the Holy Spirit, love itself.

Remember as you walk through this show that what you see represents a mere fraction of what Hirst has done – major pieces like ‘The Golden Calf’, the ‘Twelve Apostles’, the paintings, and the bronzes are excluded. But even so Hirst has some sort of compulsion to repeat himself. When a piece works he either makes it again or makes it bigger and at Tate Modern I couldn’t see the point of including so many of the medicine cabinets, spot paintings and ashtrays.

In many ways this is a difficult show, but I left it with a sense of Hirst as an artist whose moral stature can no longer be questioned.

MWC 2012: Sony, HTC and LG announce flagship mobile smartphones

Sony, HTC and LG are among the major manufacturers to have announced their new smartphone ranges for 2012.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the manufacturers increasingly opted for newer, quad-core processors, with only Sony continuing to use older, dual-core models.

The announcements were made on the same day as Chinese giant Huawei announced what it called the world’s fastest smartphone, the Ascend D Quad, which it claimed was able to perform better than either Apple’s iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

LG’s new flagship, the Optimus 4X HD, offers a four-core processor and a high definition screen, as well as a 4G receiver for territories such as America where the technology is available. The firm emphasised that the phone could be used for intensive gaming, and some officials claimed that in normal use the device could last for two days without needing to be recharged.

LG makes the display, battery and camera for the Apple’s iPhone, and hopes that it can produce a similarly successful phone itself. The firm is also producing a small tablet, called the Vu, for the American market. The Optimus 4X HD will run Google’s latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, and will feature a 4.7” screen with a 1.5GHz processor. LG will also make a series of less expensive devices, targeted at different demographics.

Sony also announced an expansion to its Xperia line of phones, the first the company has made since the end of the Sony Ericsson joint venture. The P and U Xperia models mark an attempt to sell the brand at more mid-range prices. Sony’s incoming Chief Executive emphasised that his task was as much to continue to try to integrate Sony’s music, video games and movies into phones as it was to improve devices. Improved displays would form a key part of the new strategy, the firm said, and the P model features a new technology called ‘White Magic’ for better outdoor viewing. Analysts at CCS Insight said they believed Sony “must quickly exploit its content assets” if its phones were to succeed.

HTC, however, focussed primarily on devices rather than on content. Although the Taiwanese manufacturer announced an improvement to its Dropbox tie-up, allowing enhanced back-up and synchronisation of files, the new ‘One’ range focused on improving photography and design.

The X, S and V models emphasised their new software, enhanced camera performance and the care taken over the design. Although analysts generally liked the individual products, CCS Insight added that “betting on attractive hardware to lure buyers may be risky in a cutthroat market”.

MWC 2012: Sony, HTC and LG announce flagship mobile smartphones
Sony, HTC and LG are among the major manufacturers to have announced their new smartphone ranges for 2012.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the manufacturers increasingly opted for newer, quad-core processors, with only Sony continuing to use older, dual-core models.

The announcements were made on the same day as Chinese giant Huawei announced what it called the world’s fastest smartphone, the Ascend D Quad, which it claimed was able to perform better than either Apple’s iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

LG’s new flagship, the Optimus 4X HD, offers a four-core processor and a high definition screen, as well as a 4G receiver for territories such as America where the technology is available. The firm emphasised that the phone could be used for intensive gaming, and some officials claimed that in normal use the device could last for two days without needing to be recharged.

LG makes the display, battery and camera for the Apple’s iPhone, and hopes that it can produce a similarly successful phone itself. The firm is also producing a small tablet, called the Vu, for the American market. The Optimus 4X HD will run Google’s latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, and will feature a 4.7” screen with a 1.5GHz processor. LG will also make a series of less expensive devices, targeted at different demographics.

Sony also announced an expansion to its Xperia line of phones, the first the company has made since the end of the Sony Ericsson joint venture. The P and U Xperia models mark an attempt to sell the brand at more mid-range prices. Sony’s incoming Chief Executive emphasised that his task was as much to continue to try to integrate Sony’s music, video games and movies into phones as it was to improve devices. Improved displays would form a key part of the new strategy, the firm said, and the P model features a new technology called ‘White Magic’ for better outdoor viewing. Analysts at CCS Insight said they believed Sony “must quickly exploit its content assets” if its phones were to succeed.

HTC, however, focussed primarily on devices rather than on content. Although the Taiwanese manufacturer announced an improvement to its Dropbox tie-up, allowing enhanced back-up and synchronisation of files, the new ‘One’ range focused on improving photography and design.

The X, S and V models emphasised their new software, enhanced camera performance and the care taken over the design. Although analysts generally liked the individual products, CCS Insight added that “betting on attractive hardware to lure buyers may be risky in a cutthroat market”.

Tory MPs round on David Cameron and George Osborne

Conservative MPs warn the Prime Minister he must make major changes in the way he runs his Government and his party to reconnect with voters and retain public confidence.

George Osborne, the Chancellor and close ally of the Prime Minister, is also under mounting pressure from backbenchers amid continuing fallout from the Budget and criticism of how the government handled the fuel panic.

Mr Cameron is undergoing the most turbulent period of his premiership after accusations that ministers fed public fears over petrol supplies, which came amid simmering rows over new taxes on pensioners and pasties.

The Daily Telegraph has spoken to MPs from all sections of the Conservative Party who expressed concerns about the way Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne organise and run the Coalition.

But speaking both publicly and privately, MPs have identified four areas where they say Mr Cameron should make changes:

•The Downing Street machine should be overhauled amid widespread concern that Government policies are being poorly explained to voters, especially those in key marginal seats.

• Mr Osborne is under mounting pressure to end his dual role as both Chancellor and head of Conservative political strategy.

• A senior MP should be appointed as full-time Conservative Party chairman, ending the current arrangement where job is shared by two peers.

• This year’s ministerial reshuffle should be used to promote more MPs from working-class and northern backgrounds, to counter the perception of a Government dominated by privileged public schoolboys.

Downing Street accepted that last week’s events had disappointed some MPs, but insisted there would be “no big change” in the way Mr Cameron does business. “We’ve got the right policies and we’re going to get on with delivering them,” said a source.

However, Mr Cameron was directly confronted at a “robust” private meeting with members of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, who told him he must make changes if the party is to have any hope of winning a full majority at the next election.

Several members of 1922’s executive – elected by their fellow MPs — told Mr Cameron he must overhaul his Downing Street operation. Others told him to think again on controversial policies like gay marriage.

Robert Halfon MP, a member of the 1922 executive, said he was concerned that the Government is struggling for support among the low-income workers whose votes decide the result in many marginal seats.

“We have to be able to show that we speak for hardworking couples who are working all the hours in the day just to keep their heads above water,” Mr Halfon said. “The Government needs to be better at offering voters big themes: our policies are like clothes pegs without a clothesline holding them together.”

Tim Yeo, a senior backbencher, said the Government has recently shown “a lack of sureness of touch” and criticised the way in which key policies have been presented.

“Britain’s credit rating isn’t going to be affected by pasties — it is the way in which the message is being communicated that is the problem,” he said.

At last week’s meeting, held in the Cabinet room at No 10, four members of the executive criticised Mr Cameron’s media operation, with some suggesting he needs staff better able to communicate with working-class tabloid readers.

“Maybe there is a case for an additional communications adviser who understands how to connect with the hard-working voters we need to do better with,” Mr Halfon said.

Another member of the committee raised doubts about Mr Osborne’s dual role running both the Treasury and Conservative political strategy.

“It is hard to understand how he can be both Chancellor of the Exchequer at a time of economic crisis and chairman of the Conservative Party at the same time,” the MP said. “George should be told that he can’t do both.”

Nadine Dorries, a backbench MP, launched an outspoken attack on Mr Osborne over recent controversies.

“Many people now look at the Conservative party and are reeling with the realisation that this modern party is one they don’t know, didn’t vote for and no longer represents their views. They don’t recognise the values, are confused by the policies and repelled by the elitism,” she wrote on the ConservativeHome website.

“At the root of much of the catastrophe we have become is George Osborne. He drives the liberal elite agenda.”

Several MPs said that Mr Osborne’s extensive involvement in party strategy and cross-Government operations is undermining both his effectiveness at the Treasury and the role of Conservative chairman.

The chairmanship is currently split between Baroness Warsi and Lord Feldman, both close allies of Mr Cameron. A growing number of MP believe the pair should be replaced by a single chairman from the House of Commons.

Another 1922 executive member said: “The Chairman should be a senior, independent figure, someone who can go to the PM and George Osborne and tell them: “You’re out of touch, you’re getting this wrong.”

A ComRes poll yesterday showed 72 per cent of voters believe the Government is “out of touch with ordinary voters”, and some MPs are concerned that some voters are alienated by the privileged backgrounds of senior figures like Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne.

Mark Pritchard, another member of the 1992 executive, said Mr Cameron should hold an early reshuffle to promote more ministers from state schools and working-class homes.

“The reshuffle needs to be brought forward, not delayed, to make the government a little less foie gras and a little more fish and chips,” he said.

Another senior MP said Mr Cameron governs through a “privileged clique” that should be opened up.

“The PM is surrounded by people who look like him, and that is a serious concern. It stops him getting the full range of advice,” he said. “His reshuffle should ensure that the Government looks more like the Conservative Party as a whole.”

Olympics: MI5 briefs Cabinet amid fears of attacks outside London

Terrorists could target Olympic venues outside London in a plot to attack spectators and athletes at this summer’s Games, security sources have warned.

The head of MI5 took the rare step of briefing the whole Cabinet on the terrorism threat to the UK in the run up to the Olympics.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, also updated colleagues on legislative efforts to address the threat from terrorism.

The main Olympic Park in east London will be protected by the biggest peace-time security operation ever seen, including the possible deployment of missile batteries to protect the capital from attack from the air.

However, The Daily Telegraph understands that senior security officials have become concerned that other sites around the country could also become targets.

Olympic and Paralympic rowing events will take place at Eton Dorney, near Windsor Castle, 25 miles west of the capital, road cycling will be held at Brands Hatch racing circuit in Kent, while sailing events will be based in Weymouth.

Other venues include stadiums in Newcastle, Coventry, Cardiff, and Manchester.

During a 40-minute meeting in Parliament yesterday, the MI5 director-general, Jonathan Evans, briefed Cabinet ministers on the threats facing the country in the period leading up to the Games.

It is thought to be the first time that Mr Evans has addressed a full meeting of the Prime Minister senior team.

Downing Street played down the meeting, describing Mr Evans’s briefing as a “routine” update. It was not prompted by new intelligence or a change in the assessment of the terrorism threat level, which remained “substantial”, a Number 10 spokesman said.

Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said Mr Evans had provided “an overall assessment of the current terrorist threat to the UK”.

He added: “There was some discussion of the Olympics and preparations in that context.

“It was a broad discussion about terrorism and an assessment of the current threat and a run-through of the various issues that the Government is dealing with on the legislative side, such as the fact that we have replaced control orders with TPIMS (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) and the various measures that are being considered in the context of the security and justice Bill.”

Mr Evans regularly takes part in meetings of the National Security Council – created by Mr Cameron shortly after the 2010 election to bring together senior ministers, security chiefs and military top brass at 10 Downing Street.

But the Number 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is keen that some of those discussions that would generally happen at the NSC are occasionally brought to the full Cabinet, so that those Cabinet ministers who are not members of National Security Council are briefed and get an opportunity to discuss the issues.”

The military and police have been preparing for the Olympic security operation since London was awarded the Games in 2005.

Royal Marines have held training exercises to prepare for a possible terrorist attack using the River Thames.

During an exercise in January, security teams in speed boats practised storming a river cruiser and climbing onto its roof, with air support from Navy helicopters.

Counter terrorism officers are also facing an unpredictable threat from “lone wolf” attackers, who have radicalised themselves.

They are seen as posing some of the greatest risks to Olympics security because they are not operating under the direction of al Qaida and remain undetected before launching an attack.

Microsoft’s Kinect Sensor Used with Shopping Carts

If you were tired of lugging around a shopping cart while at the super market, fret not. Here comes a cool way to make sure that the shopping cart follows you instead! Microsoft’s Kinect sensor for Windows has been used along with a motorized cart that identifies shoppers based on their loyalty card. It has been developed for Whole Foods and was created by a third party developer. The third party developer is Austin-based Chaotic Moon and the prototype was unveiled at the Redmond campus. Microsoft has not been able to stop bragging about this shopping venture lately at all. The demo however had a coupe of false starts and eventually worked as it was intended to work.

It shall be ironed out before the launch and you may probably see more of such shopping carts the next time you head towards Whole Foods. The shopping cart will remember what you purchased, what you like, and even scans items as you place them inside it.

If you think you will forget your shopping list, it will even mark them off the list so that you do not forget what needs to be bought. All you Xbox 360 fans out there, you might want to play a new game. That game may involve going to the nearest shopping market and purchasing some goodies for yourself, and also spend loads of money. Who says shopping can’t be a game! So go ahead, and start planning how to play a game of shopping at the supermarket.

image

Picasso’s Works Found with His Electrician

Trigger Controversy and Legal Battle

Artist Pablo Picasso remains in news and as controversial as ever even after decades of his death.  The fresh controversy is about nearly 271 art pieces which are in possession of a retired electrician who had worked for the famous artist.  Pierre Le Guennec, who is 71 year old now, has claimed that those works were gifted to him by Picasso himself.  Picasso’s estate administrators are planning to fight a legal battle for this treasure trove worth nearly 60 million euros.

There is no controversy regarding authenticity of the art pieces which consist of lithographs, cubist paintings, notebooks and a water color painting by Picasso. Pierre Le Guennec had worked for Picasso for nearly three years, he had installed burglar alarms in different houses owned by the artist. It does seem intriguing as to why would Picasso generously give away so many works to the electrician.  Also will electrician be able to prove in court that they were indeed gifts?

It is indeed sad that true art has to go to the courts before reaching museums and auctions. Well, that’s capitalist world for you and me, everything comes here with a price tag and legalities. Pablo Picasso has to go under hammer at both the places.

Via BBC

Politics live: readers’ edition

I’m not writing my Politics Live blog today but, as an alternative, here’s Politics Live: the readers’ edition. It’s intended to be a place where you can catch up with the latest news and find links to good politics blogs and articles on the web.
Please feel free to use this as somewhere you can comment on any of the day’s political stories – just as you do when I’m writing the daily blog.
But it would be particularly useful for readers to flag up new material in the comments – breaking news or blogposts or tweets that are worth passing on because someone is going to find them interesting. A lot of what I do on my blog is aggregation – finding the good stuff and passing it on – and you can do this, too (as I know, because it happens every day when I’m blogging.

Maximising Your Technology Efficiency

Technology is becoming an ever larger part of our lives. Since the advent of commercial computers in the early 1980′s, technology has been digging itself deeper and deeper into almost all parts of our every day life. Today, we have become so reliant on it that we would seriously struggle without it, and it touches almost anything you can think of.
So it looks as if it’s here to stay, and there are few who argue against it being anything but a good thing. It has drastically altered our lives for the better; made them more comfortable, allowed us to live longer and in more extreme environments, and made us more efficient. However, until the past 5 years little thought had been given to the energy consumption that these products consumed, but with rising energy prices and higher demand it is now becoming very important.

Kallis, Smith scored

The visitors South Africans have dominated the day three game in Dunedin against the host New Zealand. The safari’s elite batsmen Jacques Kallis and Captain Graeme Smith had scored centuries and kept their team in a strong position to win the game against the black caps. By the time the bails off from the wickets tourist are 233-run lead at stumps, with seven remaining to bat and Jacques Kallis at the crease on 107.
Kallis scored his 42nd Test hundred and turn as a second most prolific century-maker of all time surpassing former Australian test captain of Ricky Ponting’s
41- test centuries. Kallis joined his skipper in the morning after the early fall of two wickets.  Both the high prolific batsmen broke every game plan of the host, dominated the pacers and fairly answered the spinners.
Kallis took the advantage of the slow pitch and improved the run rate which was lesser that two in the early hours of the game. Smith played some brilliant leg side shots but was forced to be more reticent than usual because of high fielding attack in the slips. Both Men were successful in building a great partnership and steadily moved the score board which is going to be a great threat to the New Zealanders.
In the Morning New Zealand young pacer Doug Bracewell threatened the South Africans innings by taking all top three in the batting order. But due to lack of support from the fellow pacers the black caps were unable to break smith – Kallis partnership.

The Definition of Art

As stated by Webster dictionary, “design means to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to its plan”. Also, according to some other means of information on the Internet, art is the creation of significant things. It is a skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation. Similarly, as Wikipedia says it, art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture, and paintings.

Liverpool’s Carling Cup final victory is crucial for their confidence and Champions League ambitions


Booking.com

As Arsenal discovered when they lost to Birmingham City in last year’s final, the difference between winning and losing at Wembley, at this stage of the season, can be monumental.

This time last year, Arsenal were chasing four trophies and ended up with nothing after losing to Birmingham. The malaise has extended into this season, with Arsène Wenger’s team now battling just to qualify for the Champions League.

In contrast, Liverpool’s penalty shoot-out victory against Cardiff will have given Kenny Dalglish’s team an incredible injection of confidence, belief and crucial momentum at what is approaching crunch time in the season.

For a club of Liverpool’s stature, the priority this season has to be qualification for the Champions League and I believe they simply had to win at Wembley to sustain that ambition.

If things had gone the other way and Cardiff had emerged with the trophy, who knows how Liverpool would have reacted? But what happened to Arsenal last year only proves the damaging effects of failure on the big stage.

By winning, however, Liverpool now have the opportunity to go from strength to strength and capitalise on the cathartic effect of ending the club’s six-year wait for a trophy.

Six years without a trophy is a barren run for Liverpool, there can be no escaping that reality. When Steven Gerrard lifted the FA Cup in 2006, neither he nor the club’s supporters could have imagined they would have to wait so long to enjoy success again.

Just over 12 months ago, when Roy Hodgson was struggling to turn things around at Liverpool, there was a real sense of doom and gloom about the place, with people beginning to worry that the club might never make it back.

But while winning the Carling Cup is a fantastic moment for Liverpool, nobody at Anfield will be truly content until the club is back in the Champions League and that is what the remainder of this season is all about.

From my point of view, I would take fourth place ahead of the Carling Cup and FA Cup every time, but Liverpool now have to be greedy and aim to win both cups and ensure they return to Europe’s elite. Success in the Carling Cup can be the first step towards Champions League qualification and the uplifting effect that it would have on Liverpool, however.

The club’s American owners are pragmatic people and they are not going to pump money into the team unless they believe there will be some return in terms of success and silverware.

When you get a trophy on the board, however, everybody at the club acquires the taste for more, from the owners, through to the players and on to the supporters.

But for Liverpool to really make strides towards competing for the Champions League and Premier League titles once again, they have to finish in the top four this season.

Only when that happens will the club be in a position to attract the very best players by offering them the platform on which they all want to perform. Liverpool has great history and tradition, but when you are trying to sign top players, what they all want is Champions League football.

If clubs can offer that and be willing to pay big wages, then teams that benefit from the history and tradition that the likes of Liverpool possess, are suddenly able to attract the top talent.

That is why Liverpool have to get themselves back into the Champions League. If they want to win the Premier League, they must first qualify for the Champions League in order to make Anfield an attractive destination once again for the best players in the world.

Winning the Carling Cup can be the first step in the road to achieving those aims, however, because the momentum it will provide can be a big, big thing.

Success generates success. It lifts you onwards and upwards and, straight away, will give Liverpool a real boost as they prepare to face Arsenal at Anfield in a crucial game for both clubs’ Champions League aspirations on Saturday.

Kenny Dalglish, while delighted to win a trophy in his first full season back at the club, knows that Liverpool remain a work in progress.

But he will also be thinking that, if the team can qualify for the Champions League and then attract two or three top quality players to Anfield, they will have a chance next season. That’s why the Carling Cup could be so important.

4G mobile phone launch ‘before Christmas’

New superfast mobile networks from Everything Everywhere could be up and running by the end of the year, communications regulator Ofcom has confirmed.

Everything Everwhere, the owners of Orange and T-Mobile, has applied to Ofcom to be allowed to reuse its existing mobile phone spectrum for the new, faster mobile broadband services.

A four-week consultation will close on 17 April, and Everything Everywhere’s competitors are however expected by some analysts to seek to stop it stealing a march on their own plans.

A Vodafone spokesman said “We share the regulator’s desire to see the next generation of mobile internet services rolled out quickly and placed within the reach of many more people in rural areas. But we seriously doubt that consumers’ best interests will be served by giving one company a significant head start before any of its competitors have a clear path to 4G.”

As rival operators do not have suitable spectrum, some sources believe they may equally see it as a way of getting the firm to fund what is likely to be an expensive marketing campaign to educate consumers about what 4G is and what equipment is needed to use it.

Ofcom is in the process of auctioning off 4G spectrum that will be vacated when analogue television is switched off later this year.

The Government is keen to encourage the roll-out of the faster mobile phone networks, whose development is more advanced in America and most other European countries. The Ofcom consultation comes slightly sooner than many industry watchers had expected.

Ofcom said that “Allowing Everything Everywhere to reuse its spectrum in this way is likely to bring material benefits to consumers, including faster mobile broadband speeds and – depending on how Everything Everywhere uses the spectrum – potentially wider mobile broadband coverage in rural areas.”

Ofcom added that it “has considered whether allowing Everything Everywhere to use this spectrum in this way would distort competition, and provisionally concluded that it would not”. “Given the benefits this would bring to consumers, Ofcom is minded to allow this change of use,” the regulator said.

The application relates to Everything Everywhere’s 1800MHz spectrum. The firm has said that it will fund 4G roll-out using some of the £1.5bn already set aside to upgrade its network. It has already commenced 4G trials in Cornwall and Bristol, but products in the UK market this year are likely to be mobile broadband dongles rather than handsets.

Dominic Baliszewski, of comparison site Broadbandchoices.co.uk, said that “If 4G gets the green light this could give a serious boost to mobile broadband services with recent real-life tests delivering speeds in-excess of 10Mb. This could make a huge difference to the lives of rural dwellers currently struggling on without a viable fixed line broadband connection.”

Everything Everywhere issues a statement saying “It’s very important that the UK does not get left behind in the building of a new infrastructure for the digital economy. We welcome today’s notice of 1800MHz licence variation from Ofcom, as it suggests Ofcom’s willingness to encourage the early deployment of 4G LTE .”

British Museum’s collection.

The British Museum’s collections are quite wide-ranging today in this world because they have been collected from many continents because they depict and document the human culture from the time it began to present day.  In 1753, the British Museum was established with a variety of collections from the scientists and a physician. The British museum is a non-departmental public body. This museum is majorly backed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The British Museum doesn’t change any entrance fee, however the museum charges on some short-term special art exhibitions.

Many contemporary scholars have studied the drawings of Rembrandt for many centuries at the British Museum. His art has been proved to be troublesome for all as they have been signed and dated by making available enough comparative material. There is not a single group of art drawings which depict the draughtsman as finely as done by Rembrandt.  His art drawings are therefore extremely rare as his work on paper exhibits a variety of experimental work.

The British museum does not contain any silverpoint drawings. This art collection presents the broad vision of Rembrandt’s style and culture which he belonged to. Rembrandt’s prime interest was in the human figure which was observed from life experiences. Thus, he makes a special contribution to the

Other interesting features and services which the British Museum provides are of the film and radio. You can plan to make films, documentaries, advertisements, do a research documentary or any other kind of coverage with the help of special sources from the British Museum. So you don’t need to worry about the helping staff which is available for guide at all times. Also, the museum provides the facility of providing with high quality videos, licensed too if you don’t have enough time to film it.

The British Museum is unique in a way that it has high graded public gallery with a matching set of modern conference holding facilities. This was designed by the Lord Foster for any kind of event. The visitors and guests really appreciate state-of-the-art facilities and services. The admin is available at all times for administration and planning for every kind of an event.

image

Policy, not politics, is the key to understanding David Cameron

Like all good theatrical productions, a prime minister’s visit to Washington should offer moments of high drama and ripe comedy. Think of Tony Blair addressing an electrified Congress after 9/11. Or the Reagan White House briefing against Neil Kinnock minutes after he’d left the Oval Office. Or the moment when Boris Johnson asked Bill Clinton about his sex life. Or that time Cherie Blair’s hairdresser was left behind at Camp David, and a helicopter had to be sent to rescue him.

Chances are David Cameron’s three days in America will produce their own memorable highlights. A trip on Air Force One, an evening of college basketball, the rare presence of Samantha Cameron, and the protocol complexities of “an official visit with a state dinner” – as the White House has defined the sumptuous hospitality afforded a friend who is Prime Minister but not head of state – mean everything is in place for another “Colgate moment” to match the toothpaste diplomacy of Mr Blair and George W Bush.

No wonder the election planners at Conservative campaign headquarters are salivating at the prospect of useful footage showing Mr Cameron striking a statesman’s pose alongside Barack Obama. The White House may view the relationship as transactional rather than special these days, but for a British politician seeking re-election, this visit is what campaign videos are made of. All sorts of small calculations have been scribbled, about how it might help the party’s standing with ethnic minorities and how Mr Cameron’s deliberate snubbing of fractious Republicans in favour of the incumbent Democrat will promote his idea of nicer, modern Tories. This week is in part about stocking up on potent political images for 2015.

In fairness, Mr Cameron has so far resisted the allure of abroad. His premiership shows no sign of matching the globetrotting frenzy that marked Mr Blair’s. He has made the ritual visits to the big players, but there is no sense that abroad has become a haven against troubles at home. One of the successes of his administration has been a willingness to leave diplomacy to the Foreign Secretary who, along with the Chancellor, has been invited to join this week’s talks with the President.

In fact, ask Mr Cameron and he will tell you that he has no insurmountable political difficulties to escape from. The policy challenges are daunting, but the politics are manageable. If anything, he faults those who are trying to inject more politics where – he believes – none are wanted. To the Prime Minister’s mind, when the voters delivered an inconclusive result in 2010, they expressed a desire to see less politics, not more. What they wanted was for politicians to put country before party and to devote themselves to solving the nation’s problems, not to compete to score points off each other. Mr Cameron has a clear sense that his duty is to stay clear of politics as much as he reasonably can.

His view is not a fashionable one. His parliamentary party is working itself into a frenzy of frustrated ambition and political expectation. He is surrounded by colleagues who want him to be more partisan. They wish he would assert his party’s core beliefs against the growing tyranny of the Liberal Democrats, who seem to become stronger inside the Coalition as their position in the country weakens.

Tory backbenchers, in particular those who are not part of the increasingly vocal and influential 2010 intake, simmer with resentment at their lack of promotion prospects. They nurse resentments against the Lib Dems and some mutter about finding ways to force a snap election in order to confront Nick Clegg with his unpopularity. Those particularly preoccupied by Europe dream of challenging Mr Cameron over additional funding for the IMF to pay for the euro bailout, if it comes before the Commons. They threaten a confrontation if he shows any sign of trying to keep the Coalition going after the next election, or if he gives the Lib Dems a free pass in the event of a by-election in Eastleigh if Chris Huhne is forced to resign. In No 10, consideration is being given to a party management challenge that is expected to become more difficult as time passes. The reshuffle, now postponed until the autumn or next year, is likely to address the issue of the Whip’s Office.

From Mr Cameron’s end of the telescope, this is small beer. He tells friends how united the parliamentary party is and how little difficulty he faces from that quarter. He relies too on his polling, which shows the wider party, its membership and Conservative voters as a whole are overwhelmingly supportive not just of his leadership but also of the Coalition and what it is trying to do. He finds little difficulty in preferring the views of the party majority over a minority of backbenchers sent “loopy” – his word – by the Westminster hothouse.

He acknowledges that he needs to find ways of delivering a distinctive message that resonates with Conservative values. The charge that he isn’t enough of a Tory hangs over him and fogs the Conservative conversation. Yet he is wary of flashing his blue rosette. It may be a function of his office, but he is more at ease as statesman than as political leader. His backbenches want red meat, but to his mind Coalition is the absence of political war. It was noticeable, for example, that the Lib Dems put themselves through a painful spring conference, whereas the Tories didn’t bother with one. Mr Cameron instead delivered a low-key address on Saturday to the party’s national convention, in which he quoted Captain Scott about never yielding and said his first duty was to deliver a government that “does its duty to the people of the country”.

That’s the theme you hear more and more from Tory members of the Cabinet, who range themselves alongside Mr Cameron in resisting the siren calls for more political violence. Ministers feel they reached a watershed with the granting of Royal Assent to the Government’s welfare reforms a few days ago (and with the Health and Social Care Bill about to follow). This administration has not marked its second anniversary and already it has put through – with education – three major slabs of public service reform whose effects will be felt for years to come. Add to that the deficit reduction programme and the first hints – just hints – of recovery and a picture is emerging of a reforming Government that is demanding to be judged by deeds, not words. This is why Mr Cameron believes the Coalition will stay the course: because a majority of what it is doing is Conservative.

One Cabinet colleague puts it another way: “We should let our policies make our politics.” What the Government is achieving will do more to tell a Conservative story come the election than any number of poses struck in Washington or at Westminster. Until then, Mr Cameron will keep his politics discreet – and continue to fill the small book he carries with distinctly Conservative ideas for a Tory manifesto in 2015.

Was Bin Laden really buried at sea?

According to emails leaked from an intelligence analysis firm, the late al Qaeda leader’s body was actually sent to the US for cremation.
The stolen messages were allegedly part of a haul of 2.7 million communications obtained by a hacker group from the company, Strategic Forecasting Inc or Stratfor.
In one of the emails Stratfor’s vice-president for intelligence, Fred Burton, reportedly speculates about what happened, saying the body was flown to “the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda (Maryland)” on a CIA plane.
Stratfor later tried to cast doubt over the authenticity of some of the mails, saying in a statement: “In December, thieves compromised Stratfor’s data systems and stole a large number of company emails, along with other private information of Stratfor readers, subscribers and employees.
In went on: “Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them.”

22 Technology Minded

As most of you know by now, in the first month of  existence, the social network has attracted a tremendous amount of tech people. Since those interested in technology like to follow other technology experts, I figured, why not make a list of some of the most interesting technology minded people on  Below is a list of 22 technology minded individuals who are a must follow if you are into tech, even a hair.
Leo Laporte – Podcaster, broadcaster, Chief TWiT and The Tech Guy
Chris Pirillo – Technology Strategist, and self proclaimed geek
Peter Urbanski – Programmer, Designer, and Search Engine Marketer
Pedram Keyani -Facebook Engineer
Sascha Pallenberg – Technology blogger living in Taipei
Randy Scherkenbach – SAP Business Analyst at Aptar, Inc.
Mohamed Mansour Accessibility, Browsers, Extensions, HTML5, and Machine Learning
Chris Porter – Technology Integrator, Gadget addict
Veronica Belmont – Podcaster, Video Host, Book Worm
JR Raphael – Syndicated writer. Co-founder of eSarcasm. Author of Android Power.
Mickey Mellen – Blogger, Seo Expert, Google Earth fan
Chris Chabot – Developer Advocate at Google
John West Founder and CEO of Crazy Monkey Games. Entrepreneur and technophile
Michelle Marie – Tech geek by day
Frederic Lardinois – Writes about technology from consumer point of view
Linda Lawrey – IT Tech, Consultant, Geek, Wife, Mom and Social Media Enthusiast.
Ryan Block – Editor, technology critic, and most recently co-founder of gdgt
Chris Sandberg Internet Entrepreneur and Marketer, Investor.
Chris Cho – Program Manager : Technology, Software, Mobile
Stephen Keaveny – Entrepreneur, Futurist,  Founder of metaverse.ie
Andreas M. Hahn Internet Marketing Manager, SEO, SMO, Usability Engineer
Bryan Bamford I’m a Web/Mobile Designer & Developer, Redditor

Sporting backheel sinks City in Lisbon

Manchester City have work to do in their Europa League last-16 second leg after falling to a narrow 1-0 first leg defeat at Sporting Libson’s Estadio Jose Alvalade.
Brazilian defender Xandao condemned a below-par City to defeat from a match in which neither side exerted themselves with any great authority in the first half.
Xandao beat Joe Hart with a clever close-range backheel after 51 minutes as the Portuguese side controlled most of the encounter without ever enjoying a sustained period of pressure.
Hart also made two good saves, but City did have chances with Gareth Barry and Aleksandar Kolarov going close and Sergio Aguero almost breaking through late on as his shot was hacked off the line by the goalscorer.
There were appeals for a penalty, but replays showed it had struck Xandao’s thigh.
Hart had to repel Joao Pereira’s powerful drive on 11 minutes before goalkeeper Rui Patricio did likewise at the other end to keep out Kolo Toure’s header from close range.
Barry then saw a shot swerve narrowly wide on 23 minutes with Patricio beaten.
Hart was at fault for the goal when it came as he spilled a dipping free-kick from Matias Fernandez to enable Xandao to pounce. It was his first goal for the Portuguese side.
Hart was quick to redeem himself just after the hour-mark as he spread himself to save from Ricky van Wolfswinkel after some lovely play by Emiliano Insua.
The arrival of Mario Balotelli for the disappointing Edin Dzeko midway through the second period seemed to perk up City. David Silva prodded an effort wide from Balotelli’s cross on 73 minutes while the former Inter striker hit the bar with a header late on, but it was not to be for the visitors who had dumped Sporting’s domestic rivals Porto in the last 32.
Yet Sporting’s wastefulness, particularly early on, will give the Premier League leaders hope they can still turn the tie around at the Etihad Stadium next Thursday.

Pinching paintings

Forget the lavish exhibition openings and celebrity collectors (who needs Roman Abramovich?). In the art world, a robbery is now apparently the best form of PR. According to a report in the Art Newspaper, Norwegian auction houses believe that works by Edvard Munch have shot up in price as a direct result of the  theft of his paintings The Scream and Madonna from the Munch Museum in Oslo.
And the proof that crime pays? In May, Munch’s Girls on a Bridge, , sold for a hefty $30.8m at Sotheby’s, tripling the painter’s previous auction record.
Richard Elgheim of Grev Wedels Plass Auksjoner (GWPA) in Norway believes the theft helped drive up prices. “Price increases are especially strong since  and at least partly linked to the robbery,” he says.
He’s not the only one to spot the publicity potential. “[Munch’s] works got a lot of attention from the robbery at the Munch Museum in 2004. Attention always drives prices up,” says Knut Forsberg of Blomqvist auctions in Oslo.
These claims are, quite frankly, laughable. The Munch crime may well have hit the headlines worldwide (is there anything more glamorous than an art raid?) but the Norwegian expressionist was already a paid-up member of the art A-list.
A blue-chip painter who ticks all the right boxes (dramatic imagery, angst-ridden themes perfect for the gloomy 21st century, a museum staple) his stock has got increasingly hotter.
The robbery simply reflects art market dynamics and the desire for those unscrupulous types to get their hands on the best top-dollar art booty (you’re hardly going to target a 16th-century Welsh portraitist over Van Gogh, are you?). Individual works gain notoriety if they’re swiped off a museum wall, but established stellar artists don’t really need that exposure.
So, will Munch still be on the must-steal list in years to come? Early 20th-century artists are performing well at auction with £102.2m spent at the sale of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby’s in London last month.
And there are plenty of Norwegian oil and shipping magnates reaping the rewards of the current high price per barrel who are keen to bag their own Madonnas. Expect auction sales to reflect that supply and demand. It looks like Munch is set to remain an art market darling for some time – heist or no heist.

World UN Demands Sudan, South Sudan End Violence

The UN Security Council has demanded that Sudan and South Sudan end border hostilities, calling them “a serious threat to international peace and security.”
The statement came as an answer to the two states’ complains about each other.
“The Security Council demands that all parties cease military operations in the border areas and put an end to the cycle of violence,” the Council’s president, Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom said in a statement.
The president also said that both sides should refrain from actions “that would undermine the security and stability of the other, including through any direct or indirect form of support to armed groups in the other’s territory.”
“The Security Council condemns actions by any armed group aimed at the forced overthrow of the Government of either Sudan or South Sudan,” the statement reads.
South Sudan won independence in July 2011 in a referendum that came as part of a peace deal to end decades of civil war. However, fighting still rages in disputed territory along the border with Sudan.
The two countries have also been unable to agree transit payments for South Sudan oil shipped on a pipeline through Sudan, leading authorities in Juba, the South Sudan capital, to suspend oil production until an alternative route is found. Production has been halted at more than 300 wells and reduced at 600 more.
South Sudan accused Sudan of bombing an oil well last week, an accusation which Sudan strongly denied. The two governments met in Ethiopia on Tuesday for oil transit fee discussions.

ROLL LAPTOP is Amazing new Technology 2012

Ask anyone what a laptop, a notebook, or a netbook looks like and the chances are they’ll tell you it has a screen and a keypad and is sort of square shaped but maybe with rounded corners.Ask them to elaborate on differences between the various models and you are likely to hear about differences in thickness, whether it’s light or heavy, and the sizes of the screens.
Some may come out and speak about fancy features like raised keyboards or multi card slots, data security maybe.
Then you have those who would focus on the different colours and trims, whether it’s glossy or matt what they are made of and so on.
The point I’m getting at here is that basically all laptops, no matter what you call them, follow the same basic bookish design with maybe a few added touches, features or specifications that differentiate them from the rest.
You would be pretty shocked if someone came out and said that a laptop is cylindrical or tube shaped and that it rolls up like a scroll. It might even cross your mind that they were completely mad or some alien creature from another planet.
That just isn’t an image the masses are likely to have in mind at all when you mention a laptop and yet that is exactly the design that computer scientist and designer Hao Hua has come up with.
Ok so it’s still at the conceptual stage and not a reality yet but what an exciting idea.
According to Hao Hua the digital roll as he calls it is “the next generation laptop design”. Personally, I can’t wait.
The laptop would have a flexible OLED screen, a roll-able keyboard and the straps double up as USB outlets.
It even has a mouse and a webcam that you can attach to your wrist. This really is computing on the go at its best.

Martin triple strike puts NZ on top

Medium fast bowler Chris Martin grabbed three wickets in four balls after tea to seize the momentum for New Zealand as they reduced South Africa to 191 for seven at the close of the first day of the first Test at University Oval in Dunedin.
Jacques Rudolph was 46 not out while Vernon Philander was on four at the close of the rain-effected day as New Zealand managed to wrest back the advantage after South Africa had returned from the tea break on a comfortable 86 for one.
Martin, however, produced an inspired spell of bowling that began when Graeme Smith chased a wide delivery and was caught for 53 in the first over after tea, before Jacques Kallis was snared by Ross Taylor at first slip for a two-ball duck in his next over.
He then trapped AB de Villiers lbw off the next ball, though South Africa’s limited overs captain reviewed the decision, which was upheld to leave the visitors struggling at 90 for four.
“It took me a while to get going but there was a bit more intensity in the wicket, we got a little bit of nibble, got the ball to swing a little and put it in good areas,” Martin said.
Rudolph survived the hat-trick delivery then combined with Hashim Amla in rebuilding the innings with a 66-run partnership before Amla (62) was caught by Taylor after the ball deflected off Kruger van Wyk’s gloves from the bowling of Daniel Vettori.
Mark Boucher was then run out for four after some smart work from Doug Bracewell at backward point before Dale Steyn was caught by Taylor after Martin Guptill had parried a simple catch to his captain, who bobbled the ball before grabbing it on the third attempt.
Alviro Petersen (11) was the only wicket to fall in the first session after rain delayed the start of play for nearly four hours, when he was trapped in front by left-arm seamer Trent Boult.
Petersen had initially been given not out by umpire Aleem Dar but Taylor used the decision review system to have it overturned.
“It was a good start but we need to get the wickets early tomorrow for it to show the good work we showed today,” Taylor said. “But we’re in a good position and so (I’m) semi-happy.
“We’ve got a big day tomorrow and hopefully we can make some early inroads and then make a good start with the bat.”
Should South Africa sweep the three-match series 3-0, they will take over the world number one Test ranking from England.

Students Art and Design

Art and Design is a strong area at Strode College. Students have access to qualified staff and specialist studios and workshops to support a wide range of 2D and 3D practical skills. To support the computerised elements of art and design there are several Applemac rooms with specialist software, interactive whiteboards and essential peripherals. Photography students will have the opportunity to work in traditional and digital mediums. Students can also get involved in running the College Radio Station (Freq FM). Students can borrow specialist equipment eg digital video cameras from the College LRC to complete specific projects. The highlight of the year is the End of Year Art, Design and Media show where students work is on public display. The quality of the work on display rivals that of specialist art colleges and many university level institutions.

Obama, Netanyahu face struggle over Iran “red lines”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are deeply at odds over how fast the clock is ticking toward possible military action against Iran’s nuclear program, and their talks on Monday are unlikely to change that.
Even though Obama has offered assurances of stiffened U.S. resolve against Iran before the White House meeting, the two allies are still far apart on explicit nuclear “red lines” that Tehran must not be allowed to cross, and they have yet to agree on a time frame for when military action may be necessary.
Obama wants Israel to hold off on attacking Iran’s nuclear sites, insisting there is still time for sanctions and diplomacy to work. But he also vowed in a speech on Sunday to the largest U.S. pro-Israel lobby that he would be ready to act militarily – with all “elements of American power” – to prevent the Islamic republic from building an atomic bomb.
Israeli leaders, who see Iran’s nuclear advances as a looming existential threat and reserve the right to act alone in self-defense, have made clear they are operating on a far shorter, more urgent timeline.
Their most immediate concern is that Iran be prevented from reaching nuclear weapons capability, not just from developing an actual device, and they worry that time is running out for an effective Israeli attack as Tehran buries its nuclear facilities deeper underground.
While Obama and Netanyahu – who have had a strained relationship – will share intelligence information on Monday, a source close to the administration said there was little reason to believe they would make significant progress toward bridging key differences on a common threshold for military action.
“They’ll be looking for mutual understandings and may find a few, but the biggest problem is they’re working on different clocks,” the source said.
GEOPOLITICAL DRAMA IN U.S. ELECTION YEAR

Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu comes amid U.S. fears that Israel might opt to strike Iran on its own if it is not convinced of Washington’s determination to do whatever is needed to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran remains defiant but says it wants nuclear technology strictly for peaceful purposes.

The geopolitical drama is being played out in the midst of a U.S. presidential campaign, with Republican presidential contenders accusing the Democratic president of being too tough on Israel and not tough enough with Iran.
Israel comes to Monday’s talks with a firm belief that Iran has decided to seek to develop nuclear weaponry and is gathering the necessary components before attempting a “breakout.”
Israeli officials maintain that once Iran moves forward, it could enrich uranium to weapons grade and have a rudimentary nuclear device within months, though constructing a deployable warhead would take longer, perhaps until mid-decade.
U.S. officials do not believe the situation is that close to the brink. They say that while Iran may be maneuvering to keep its options open there is no clear intelligence that the country has made a final decision to pursue a nuclear weapon.
Both sides agree that it is impossible to know the full extent of Iranian intentions. American spy agencies are wary about drawing any categorical conclusions after an embarrassing intelligence lapse that led to erroneous accusations of Iraqi nuclear arms work, which the Bush administration used to help justify the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Still, Obama – in an Atlantic magazine interview published on Friday – insisted that Iran “is not yet in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon without us having a pretty long lead time in which we will know that they are making that attempt.”
And Obama warned in Washington on Sunday against “loose talk” of war with Iran, saying such “bluster” was counterproductive because it has been driving up global oil prices and boosting demand for Iran’s oil exports.

That may have been a message to Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders, whose have engaged in a strident exchange of recriminations with Iranian officials in recent months.
Daniel Levy, an analyst at the New America Foundation think tank, said Obama had “offered clarity and commitments on mainstream Israeli concerns without capitulating to the Netanyahu narrative, which is far more dismissive of diplomacy.”
Speaking in Ottawa, the right-wing Israeli leader ignored Obama’s appeal to let sanctions run their course and focused on the president’s insistence on keeping the military option open and backing Israel’s right to defend itself.
It was unclear whether Obama’s sharpened rhetoric against Iran and calls for restraint by Israel would be enough to delay any Israeli military plans against Tehran, which has called for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has warned that Iran is approaching a “zone of immunity,” when Tehran is able to shield its nuclear facilities from Israeli air strikes. The United States, however, would still likely have the firepower for a more sustained air assault to destroy the sites.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Obama took a significant step forward in Israel’s eyes when, in the Atlantic interview, he ruled out accepting, then acting to “contain,” a nuclear-armed Iran.
While U.S. officials insist that Obama will not publicly lay down any new red lines for Iran during Netanyahu’s visit, they do not rule out the possibility that the president might try to mollify some Israeli concerns in private.
“They’re going to sit down and they’re going to talk through the tactics involved,” Obama re-election campaign strategist David Axelrod told the ABC “This Week” television program.
Still, U.S. officials doubt that Netanyahu will provide Obama with any guarantee that Israel will consult Washington – its biggest source of military assistance – before launching any strikes on Iran.
Even if Obama assures Netanyahu that the United States has the firepower to deliver a devastating blow to Iran’s nuclear program further down the line, the Israelis have made clear they cannot rely on that commitment alone.
One line of thinking within the Obama administration is that keeping it in the dark about any Israeli military plans might be best for the United States since any sign of complicity would inflame anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.
Dennis Ross, Obama’s former Middle East adviser, suggested, however, that the “noise” from Israel over a possible strike was geared more toward pressuring the international community for tightened sanctions than foreshadowing an imminent attack.
“Now that it’s an issue of the world against Iran, Israel likes it that way and would not be inclined to act precipitously,” Ross said last week.
But others who know Netanyahu well say he is approaching the Iranian challenge with a sense of historic responsibility to ensure Israel’s survival, what some have called the “Holocaust factor.”
He has made clear that Israel, believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear weapons power, will do what it takes to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.

Sony Tablet P hands-on and unboxing

After months of waiting and no small amount of whining from yours truly, Sony has finally seen fit to grace the United States with the presence of its oddball folding tablet, the Tablet P. For better or worse it’s only available on AT&T’s wireless network. Sony fans and those looking for a little something different have been waiting a long time for the Tablet P. Does the unique folding screen mechanism make for a better tablet, or yet another Android oddity? Let’s find out.
The folding 10-inch clamshell is undeniably striking: we can say without exaggeration that there’s nothing quite like it on the market. The Tablet P uses two identical 1024×480 screens, which can operate compatible apps independently or combine them for a full 1024×960 screen, nearly a full square. The experience takes some getting used to, even if you’re used to Android’s tablet interface, but after a few minutes any technically-minded person should be able to get around with minimal difficulty.
The Tablet P’s curved sides make maximum use of its internal space, cramming a Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and a 3,080mAh battery into the casing. It’s an attractive design made all the more interesting from a lack of boxy edges, and will slide into a (large) pocket or bag better than any 9 or 10-inch tablet currently on the market. The processor and RAM are more than enough to make Honeycomb zip, though it’s not the smoothest experience we’ve seen. This may be due to some “enhancements” to Android 3.2 on Sony’s part.
Unfortunately there’s no room for more than 4GB of storage space (though you do get a 2GB MicroSD card gratis) or 4G LTE – you’ll have to make due with HSPA+ “4G”, something of a penance considering the $399 on-contract price tag. Sony has already committed to an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade, but between the manufacturer and the carrier it could be quite some time before it materializes.
If you live in Sony’s entertainment world, you’ll appreciate the various included software: the PlayStation store for access to converted PSX titles and other games, plus Sony’s music and movie stores. Of course with access to Google apps and the Android Market, there’s no reason to limit yourself, either. And speaking of software, Sony says that more than 40 third-party apps take advantage of the Tablet P’s unique dual-screen design, including Evernote and News 360.
Build quality is rock-solid and typical of Sony. Those worrying about the moving parts in the hinge needn’t bother. The screen is surprisingly glossy, though; while LCDs are generally better than AMOLED screens at blocking reflection, the coating on the inside of the tablet seems to reflect a lot more light than most. The volume and power buttons on the side of the tablet are tricky, and we wish that it had a MicroUSB charging port instead of the proprietary one sitting on the side, begging you to bring along a second adapter.
You can pick up the Sony Tablet P today from AT&T for $399.99, on a two-year contract or extension. We’ll have a full review up later this week, but check out the unboxing video below in the meantime.

Power of run

TEENAGER Luke Chaffer was the toast of Kingscliff last night after winning the under-14 board race for host club Cudgen Headland at the NSW State Age Surf Life Saving Championships.
With the championships moved two kilometres north of the clubhouse, due to beach erosion, the home beach advantage was almost non existent for Chaffer but a couple of training sessions on the break where he was victorious was enough to see off the opposition.
Chaffer ensured he was in the box seat with a powerful start that had him ahead of North Cronulla’s Lochie Davis.
“I knew it was going to be close,” Chaffer told The Northern Star.
“He pulled onto the same wave as me but I knew I had a better line to the finish.
“I was pretty confident and just went for it.”
Later this week the open championships will be staged on the same stretch of beach with Chaffer to step up to the under-15s arena where he’ll have a crack at the surf race, board and ironman events.
“I’d like to make it to a final but that is a bit of a push going up against the bigger boys,” Chaffer said.
The Cudgen Headland club had an excellent carnival finishing 20th overall with Manly taking out their third consecutive pointscore.
Jacinta Greenup won the under-14 girls’ board riding event, the club’s team of Tahlia Jones, Nina Jackson and Page Armstrong were second in the under-13 girls’ board relay while Tamsin Bell collected a bronze medal in the under-9 girls’ board.
Byron Bay collected medals in the under-13 boys’ board riding with Thomas Rowley placing third while India Hembrow, Healey Smith and Freya Peacock picked up silver in the under-10 girls’ board relay.
Lennox Head’s Bradley Hunt was victorious in the under-11 boys’ beach sprint and Jack Alder wore a silver medal home after finishing second in the under-12 boys’ board.
Brunswick’s Beau Carter won the under-9 boys’ beach sprint and Seth Carter was second in the under-8 wade.
Liam Foster from the Yamba club was third in the under-12 boys’ beach sprint.

Decline in art and design applications

I’m sure many of you will have seen the recent reports in the media about a decline across the HE sector in home/EU student applications for art and design places for 2012 entry. My perspective on UAL’s position in this new environment is below – I would be interested to hear your thoughts.
Across the art and design sector, applications for degree places fell by 16%. Across UAL in particular, we experienced a 17.4% decline in applications for degree places and a 29.2% decline in the applications for foundation degree places. Compared to  entry, applications were down 7% overall.
On these figures, we will have approximately seven applications per 2012 home/EU place and this is high by comparison with our sector. It is also worth noting that we have in previous years received a very significant number of additional applications after the 15 January deadline (5,000 in 2011) so, as long as we have courses listed as open with UCAS, applications will continue to come in between now and the summer.
On this basis, the overall reduction in applications should not be problematic and I remain confident that we will fill our 2012 home/EU places.
For comparative purposes, applications at University for the Creative Arts were down 29.7%, Goldsmiths were down 23% and Arts University College of Bournemouth were down 19.2%. Ravensbourne and Norwich University College of the Arts did relatively better, with applications down by 9.7% and 4.4% respectively.
Our Colleges are now analysing applications per course. This analysis will provide important data to enable us to focus continuing recruitment efforts on those courses for which applications have fallen significantly.
The reduction in applications will also provide a further incentive for us to focus on developing our internal processes to manage applications more effectively.
All staff briefings will be held across all Colleges and for central services next month so I will be able to give you more information then. In the meantime, please do share your thoughts on what this situation means for UAL and how we should respond.

Obama have criticized China

Why shouldn’t Obama have criticized China for not playing by the rules?  Prestowitz argues that there are no universally agreed upon rules for international trade; rather, there are (at least) two different games being played simultaneously, by different actors, with different sets of rules.  Some states embrace economic liberalism, or free-market capitalism, which emphasizes comparative advantage, free trade, and limited government intervention in economic affairs.  Others–particularly those who are not benefiting from the trend toward greater globalization and free trade–favor mercantilist policies, which emphasize national wealth and the protection of domestic industries from foreign competition through tariffs and other trade barriers.  Prestowitz spells out which parts of the world are playing each game:
“The global economy is, in fact, sharply divided between those who are playing the free trade game and those who are playing some form of mercantilism. Of course, there is a spectrum of attitudes and policies, but roughly speaking the Anglo/American countries, North America, and parts of Europe are playing free trade. Most of Asia, much of South America, the Middle East, Germany and parts of Europe are playing neo-mercantilism. It’s like watching tennis players trying to play a game with football players. It doesn’t work, and insisting on playing by the rules doesn’t help, because both sets of teams are playing by the rules — of their game.”
What do you think?  Are America and Europe really playing by their own rules of free trade?  Is free trade or mercantilism (or some combination of the two) a better approach for achieving prosperity?  Does America have the right to tell China how to play the game of international trade?

Korean and World Wide Technologies

A leading IT research and consulting company from America, Gartner, is famous for briefing and presenting about leading technologies year after year. Every October Gartner announces 10 “strategic technologies” that have most potential. Last year at the Symposium/IT Expo 2011 that was held in Orlando, Florida, USA, Gartner announced the technologies that were to brighten up the future of 2012.
If we sift through Gartner’s 2012 picks the representative keywords that can be seen are as follows: media tablet, mobile applications, social, ‘internet of things,’ app store, next generation research technology, big data, internal-memory computing, low power TTL server, cloud computing. At this year’s presentation, a great change rose up that can be compared to 2011. First off, 2011’s #1 strategic technology, cloud computing, has fallen to #10. Even a midst growing indifference to the energy reducing craze like low power TTL server, smart grid, and green IT, Gartner has expressed interest in the use of energyefficient technologies. Now we will take a look at the two representative technologies that Gartner has selected for 2012.

Hot-hitting Canes

The University of Miami baseball team used a combination of dominating pitching performances, timely hitting and poor fielding from the University at Albany Great Danes to outscore its opponent from upstate New York 38-10 in a three game sweep at Alex Rodriguez Park.

2012 Artist Invitational

Art Professor Nick Potter, who helped organize the exhibition, said that “we were interested in bringing together a diverse group of artists who spend hours and hours working in a repetitive manner to create astoundingly interesting work.” Potter continues “a thread that combines the works of all these artists is the interweaving of concepts of time, repetition and obsessive art practices into the finished works.”
Photographer Kirkman Amyx is a digital media artist based in San Francisco. His recent work explores the use of photography as a data visualization tool which can allow for the seeing of patterns, structure, and meaning through image repetition. Through the use of image repetition, “Basic Cable” is a visualization that explores media over-saturation and the abundance of specialty programming. By capturing nearly 500,000 images, 7200 images per week and per channel, a unique visual representation is created of all 69 channels found on Comcast’s Basic Cable broadcasting.
Painter Richard Bruland has set himself the task of using only traditional methods and materials to produce paintings that – even in this modern world of sensory overload, can hold their own and draw people in. His work looks laborious and yet the forms he creates have an abstract quality. Born in Peru and now living in Los Angeles, Bruland is interested in making paintings that refer to landscape in a non-specific way. They are not about ‘that’ mountain or ‘this’ tree – instead they suggest the effects of nature and the real world.
Los Angeles situated ceramic artist Roger Lee explores the sensual relationship between the object and the body. He investigates forms that address the intimacy of form, scale, surface, gesture, and the human interaction. Through the repetition of folds and bulbous objects, Lee builds a relationship between the viewer and his or her body.
In creating her time-consuming paper scroll ‘paintings’, the Iranian born artist Hadieh Shafie marks the significance of process, repetition and time. In her KETAB: Scroll Series individual strips of paper have been marked with hand-written and printed Farsi (Persian language) text. Each strip is then tightly rolled to create a core, around which successive strips are added. During the repetitive process of adding paper strips to create individual rolls, text and symbols are sometimes revealed and often hidden within the concentric rings of the finished object. The time it takes to make each work can vary and the time spent in writing and rolling the strips of paper is an important part of the artistic process and a performative aspect of the making of this work.