Saturday, December 10, 2011

Africa Rising - a continent of hope

Africa is on a fast track out of poverty. Its astonishing growth is making it an increasingly enticing destination for global companies as northern hemisphere economies contract and stutter.

The scourges of poverty, disease and war are fast retreating and in their place is emerging a middle class with a buying power unprecedented on the continent.

"Hopeless Africa" was the title of the Economist magazine's May 11 2000 edition, which came out just after British paratroopers had been sent to evacuate British citizens and peacekeepers from Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, as rebel forces closed in.

The latest edition is titled "Africa Rising".

Africa is the fastest-growing region in the world, and the statistics are compelling reading.

The International Monetary Fund says the continent's GDP grew on average 5.5% a year between 2000 and 2010, compared to a global average of 4.4%. The IMF predicts the economies of sub-Saharan Africa will grow by an average of 5.75% next year - after revising them downward due to the contraction in Europe and the US.

Several countries, including Botswana, Nigeria and the Republic of Congo, are likely to hit growth rates of 8% and 9%. More than 10 sub-Saharan African economies have expanded by more than 6% a year for six or more years. Ethiopia, once famine-riddled, is expected to have grown 7.5% in 2011.

The figures cited in the latest edition of the Economist are astonishing. Labour productivity is growing by about 2.7% a year, trade with the rest of the world has increased 200% in a decade, inflation has dropped from 22% in the 1990s to 8% in the past decade. Foreign debt has declined by a quarter in 10 years and budget deficits by about two-thirds. read entire story

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street: The Ultimate Dream Team

From the get-go, the powerful elite have used divide and conquer tactics to keep the masses in check.

They have preyed upon our natural fears to continue to exploit and to stay in power -black vs white, right vs left, immigrant vs native born and so on and so on.

One cable network hollers from the right and another rants from the left. All sides are accused of having a secret agenda to take over or indoctrinate America for evil purposes.

Yes, we are locked in a cycle of demonizing our so-called adversaries. Rarely do the different sides respectfully listen to each other.

In reality, we all have much more in common than we realize. So, to borrow a basketball metaphor - The Dream Team - just think of the possibilities of the Tea Party and OWS movement teaming up.

You say, It can never happen- well...

In a Virginia art gallery, supporters of the two movements quietly explore the possibilities

RICHMOND, Va. — Members of the Occupy Richmond and local Tea Party movements found acres of common ground during an unlikely meeting held Tuesday at a police station-turned-art gallery in the city’s historic Jackson Ward neighborhood.
But first and foremost, the 12 men and women from seemingly polar spots on the political spectrum agreed on this: The meeting never happened.

“I think it’s all very, very important that we state very clearly that this was not a meeting between the Tea Party and the Occupy movement,” declared Donald Rallis, an Occupy Richmond member, as the meeting wound to a close. His sotto-voce assertion meets with a flurry of “up twinkle” hands — or vigorous head nods — depending on the individual’s political leanings.

In the context of two political movements where individual thought is prized — and where surreal events often influence outcomes – Rallis’ denial of reality made perfect sense.
“None of us want to be open to the accusation that we are trying to hijack the movement,” he explained.

If there is a hijacker at this unlikely meeting of the minds, it may well be Tom Robinson, a self-described “Archie Bunker to the Richmond Occupy movement” and founder of the Peninsula Patriots Tea Party chapter in Matthews, Va. Robinson orchestrated this unlikely summit after having a number of one-on-one discussions with Occupy members.

His plan firmed up after the two movements joined forces at a recent Richmond City Council meeting. Occupy Richmond members came to support the local Tea Party’s efforts to recoup $8,544.82 that the conservative group paid for permits to hold a rally in a city park where occupiers later camped free for more than two weeks.

This was not the first time Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party members have met. But it was among the first such meetings to be held with a stated objective of determining whether the two groups might cooperate on certain common issues. Robinson said that he hoped to spark an evolution for both organizations, which thus far have largely confined their public interactions to attacks on one another’s ideologies or grooming habits.

“We need to kiss and make up a little bit,” said Robinson, a Richmond entrepreneur and developer with a baby-smooth pate and a self-described ADHD-truncated attention span. “It might be a small step, but I’m hoping we can make a little bit of history here tonight. When I listen to either side, it becomes very clear … I feel that we have a lot of similarities.” read entire story

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bishop Eddie Long: HGP's Dubious Person of the Year

There is no longer a shred of suspense or mystery in HGP's Most Dubious Person of the Year 2011.

The (Dis) honor goes to - in no uncertain terms - Bishop Eddie Long.

The steep fall from grace has placed Eddie Long in the Hall Of Shame - and his fall is not over:

Mr. Long's 2011:

  • Rocked in late 2010 by a sexual harassment scandal by four young men claiming Long engaged in lewd sexual acts with them when they were in their late teens. Mr Long stated: I got five rocks (like David vs. Goliath) and I have not thrown one yet - in other words, bring it on.
  • But by May 2011, Long settled out of court for a reported $15 Million and an apology to his accusers.
  • Later in 2011, Bishop Eddie Long reached a settlement in a lawsuit that claims he and partners in a real estate venture defaulted on a $2 million bank loan.
  • In October 2011, Federal officials say they’re investigating issues surrounding investment seminars hosted by a metro Atlanta megachurch after some former members say they lost their retirement savings.
And now in late 2011, the Coup de grace:

Bishop Eddie Long said on Sunday at the New Birth Church that he was stepping down from the pulpit to focus on his family. His statement came after his wife sued for divorce following accusations of sexual misconduct against the pastor by former members.
With Long's exit, the future of the New Birth Missionary Church is uncertain as church members leave. The church, at the height of its prosperity under Long, had boasted 25,000 members but the numbers, according AP, are dwindling very fast as members disillusioned with the sex scandal are leaving the church. read more

Let's just pray that the fallen Bishop can find redemption in 2012; and that he understands the mighty potential of a mega church.

As I stated in May 2011 about the mega church failure:

Not to make light of Bishop Eddie Long's sordid affairs and troubles, but it raises the question of the role of the Black Church in an era of high crisis (we all know the statistical data) in the black community. Instead of using church funds and resources to buy mansions, private jets, exotic vacations, fancy cars (plural) and other extravagant material bling-bling, just maybe the church could use more resources to uplift our community from economic chaos and Depression like conditions.

But ultimately, if you have so many sheep so willing to be fleeced, you will always have a (Wolf) Bishop ready to pillage and plunder.

Jon Stewart: I gonna miss my Herman Cain muse

Jon Stewart laments on how the exit of Herman Cain, as a GOP contender for president, will adversely affect comedians (himself) of all stripes. Without Mr. 9-9-9, comedians, spoiled by the gift that kept on giving (Cain), will now have to work again to be funny.

But alas, hope is still in the air because the GOP Three Ring Circus has a new Clown front and center - Newt Gingrich.

Vast and Fertile Ground in Africa for Science to Take Root

He might have been content simply to teach thousands of university students in Uganda how to use computers, assemble them into networks, manage them and write basic software programs. In a poor African country with one of the world’s fastest-growing populations and rising Internet use, that alone would have been an enormous achievement.

But Venansius Baryamureeba had bigger ideas. In 2005, when he returned home with a doctorate from the University of Bergen in Norway, he was just one of a handful of computer scientists in Uganda. And his timing was right. The largely agricultural economy had been growing by about 7 percent annually, propelling an enormous expansion of the upper middle class and the urban elite’s aspirations for advanced training in science and engineering.

Emboldened by Uganda’s relative peace and prosperity, Dr. Baryamureeba founded a new college that includes departments of computer science and computer engineering at creaky Makerere University, in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. At the top of a hill near the university’s entrance, overlooking the derelict law school to one side and a derelict school mosque to the other, two gleaming glass buildings went up seemingly without a hitch. So many undergraduates swarmed them that the faculty held classes at midnight to accommodate them.

Dr. Baryamureeba wanted more than a vocational school; he also created a graduate program he hoped would someday turn out dozens of Ph.D. scientists who would themselves become college professors and help push the boundaries of global research.

Improbably, his vision is gaining traction at Makerere. Young homegrown scientists there are now nearing completion of their Ph.D.’s. And faculty members are carrying out cutting-edge experiments. They are seeking to endow cellphones with the “intelligence,” embedded in tiny software programs animated by mathematical algorithms, to identify diseases in crops or malaria in a person’s bloodstream.

Ernest Mwebaze, a doctoral student and lecturer, said there are still serious obstacles to pursuing such research in Uganda, including unreliable Internet service and power failures. But he also said the potential upside is huge.

“Uganda offers several unique research challenges and problems whose solutions can actually have a greater marginal benefit than, say, solutions to problems in Europe,” he said.

Each Monday, in a laboratory of thrumming computers, Mr. Mwebaze teaches a small class on artificial intelligence to 10 graduate students, highlighting this esoteric field, the subject of his doctorate research. read the entire story

Monday, December 5, 2011

Donovan McNabb: It's so hard to say goodbye by Gregory Gee

Donovan McNabb was recently let go by the Minnesota Vikings. He could possibly be picked by a contending team needing a quarterback. But I doubt it - no one has called for his services yet.

By most accounts, DNabb’s last two seasons (with the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings) are considered bombs. His quickness and elusiveness, gone. His QB rating is in the basement. In my opinion, DNabb should hang it up and walk away.

I know that is harsh and easier said than done. But its a sad sight to see an elite superstar, -who has lost several steps, underperforming as a shell of his former self. Sort of like old movie stars that don’t have the star power but still play young roles.

It was painful to watch our sports heroes Willie Mays, Johnny Unitas, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Brett Farve limp out of the game instead of gracefully exiting.

Why is it so hard to leave? Why is it so hard for players to walk away when the organization, coaches, critics and game film tells you to hang it up?

It's so hard because it requires the athlete to walk away from a game he has known most of his life. A game that was fun. A game that evolved into a profession. A game that gave them world wide recognition and self-identity.

The sport is probably their first love and most definitely their surrogate family. In fact, they spend more time with their sports family than with their wives, kids and blood family.

Second, their warrior mentally is to never give up, be dedicated, make a commitment and work hard to achieve success. These attributes were embedded in their brain from about 6 years old and absorbed into the soul. Now all of a sudden with a mind that say Yes I can and a body that says I am too tired there are voices that utter the hereto forbidden and alien words: quit, retire, and walk away.

DNabb is no different, football has been his oxygen and he is being asked to stop breathing.

As fans, we may assume they don’t want to walk away from the bright lights and big paycheck but there’s more too it than that - camaraderie. Your teammates have been your surrogate family and best friends that had your back through thick and thin. I’m sure it is hard to give up that camaraderie that has insulated them from the outside world.

I think the luckiest professional athletes are the ones who are blessed to play their sport, retire and become associated with their sport through coaching, broadcasting, agents or other avenues. This is seen as the next step in their career and not the end of it. As McNabb reflects over his career, I’m sure he will realize that hardest part was never his opponents or the Philadelphia fans but walking away from the game that is a part of your essence.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

African economies flower

Six of world’s 10 fastest-growing nations, fuelled by commodities and new business

The shops are stacked six feet high with goods, the streets outside are jammed with customers and salespeople are sweating profusely under the onslaught.

But this is not a main street during the Christmas-shopping season in the rich world. It is the Onitsha market in southern Nigeria, every day of the year. Many call it the world’s biggest. Up to three million people go there daily to buy rice and soap, computers and construction equipment. It is a hub for traders from the Gulf of Guinea, a region blighted by corruption, piracy, poverty and disease but also home to millions of highly motivated entrepreneurs and increasingly prosperous consumers.

Over the past decade, six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing countries were African. In eight of the past 10 years, Africa has grown faster than East Asia, including Japan. Even allowing for the knock-on effect of the Northern Hemisphere’s slowdown, the International Monetary Fund expects Africa to grow by six per cent this year and nearly six per cent in 2012, about the same as Asia.

The commodities boom is partly responsible. In 2000-08, about a quarter of Africa’s growth came from higher revenues from natural resources. Favourable demography is another cause. With fertility rates crashing in Asia and Latin America, half of the increase in population over the next 40 years will be in Africa. But the growth also has a lot to do with the manufacturing and service economies that African countries are beginning to develop. The big question is whether Africa can keep that up if demand for commodities drops. read more