Monthly Archives: July 2016

Parliament condemns attack on Pan African Parliament MPs

Parliament condemns the criminal attack on members of the Pan African Parliament while being driven from the Johannesburg Oliver Tambo International Airport to their hotel in Sandton, Gauteng, on the 28 July 2016.

The Hon Members were due to attend the Pan African Parliament Sub Committee meeting in preparation of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) Plenary scheduled from 29 July to the 5 August 2016.

Details surrounding the incidents are still under investigation by the police.

On behalf of the Parliament of South Africa, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, condemn these acts of violence against the public representatives of our sister parliaments.

We can say with confidence that of the four members only was seriously injured and is recovering in hospital.

Parliament notes that during this unfortunate time, Hon Dr Mateme, a member of our Parliament and a Parliamentarian on the PAP, has actively been involved in ensuring that members who were affected are given all the support needed.

The Department of International Relations (DIRCO) has been in continuous support to the Hon Members and has sent its representative to give counsel to the affected members. DIRCO will ensure that the members receive the necessary support with their travel documents that were taken during this robbery.

Furthermore, a case has been opened with the Bramley police station, and the police are investigating the case with the hope to arrest the perpetrators. We urge the law enforcement agencies to accost these perpetrators and bring them to book.

The security and safety of all Members of Parliament is of paramount importance to South Africa and its Parliament. In ensuring the safety of our public representatives to fulfil their constitutional mandate our Parliament will work with the PAP to assess the safety and security of members and address any weaknesses that may exist.

Source: Government of South Africa

TEAM SOUTH AFRICA RECEIVES HEART-WARMING WELCOME IN RIO

Team South Africa was officially welcomed to the Athletes Village in Rio de Janerio less than a week before the start of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

South Africa's athletes received a Samba welcome at the Olympic city late on Friday along with athletes from Eastern European countries Moldovia and Albania.

Rugby Sevens player Seabelo Senatla says, "Seeing the flag and singing the national anthem and officially being welcomed by the mayor was pretty awesome for us."

Banyana Banyana Amanda Dlamini said: "This was a good reminder of what we are here for and also to adapt to the culture of Brazil and enjoy the festivities of the games."

Meanwhile, the Olympic torch completed another week, passing through Rio de Janeiro state as it edges ever closer to Maracana Stadium for the opening ceremony on Aug 5, 2016.

The sacred flame was carried over land and sea passing through the islands of Ilha Bela and Angra.

The torch will cross a total of 20,000 kilometers of Brazilian territory before reaching the Olympic City.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Niarry Tally remporte sa premiAre Coupe du Senegal

Niarry Tally a remporte sa premiAre finale de la Coupe du Senegal , en battant (3-0) le Casa sports samedi, au stade Leopold Sedar Senghor.

Les buts de l'equipe des quartiers Niarry Tally, Grand-Dakar et biscuitteries(NGB) ont ete inscrits dans les dix derniAres minutes. Abdoulaye BA et Talla Ndiaye ont marque respectivement A� la 81-Ame, 94-Ame mn et 86-Ame mn.

Le Casa sports a perdu sa deuxiAme finale d'affiliee. Niarry tally va representer le Senegal A� la Coupe de la Confederation africaine de football(CAF) la saison prochaine.

En lever de rideau, le Jaraaf a ete sacre en juniors. Le Jaraaf a battu (2-1) le Casa sports.

Source: APS

Kaolack:un programme d’assainissement de 24 milliards promis ...

Un programme d'assainissement des eaux pluviales et usees de 24 milliards de francs CFA sera mis en place dans la commune de Kaolack (centre), a annonce samedi, le ministre de l'Hydraulique et de l'Assainissement, Mansour Faye.

M. Faye s'exprimait lors d'une tournee effectuee dans la commune de Kaolack pour superviser le deroulement des operations de curage des caniveaux execute par une entreprise specialisee.

Le ministre a precise que la ville de Kaolack va beneficier de 8 milliards de francs CFA du Programme d'assainissement en faveur de dix communes du Senegal finance par la Banque ouest africaine de developpement (BOAD) estime A� 44 milliards de francs CFA.

Il a explique que des ouvrages d'assainissement des eaux usees seront realises dans le cadre de ce programme, en renseignant que le marche des etudes est en cours de validation.

Le ministre de l'Hydraulique et de l'Assainissement a assure que ces ouvrages d'assainissement que son departement compte realiser ces ouvrages A� partir de la fin de l'annee.

Mansour Faye a annonce un autre programme de 16 milliards de FCFA destine A� l'assainissement des eaux pluviales de la ville de Kaolack finance par l'Union europeenne A� travers le Fonds economique de developpement (FED).

''Le gouvernement est dans une dynamique d'apporter des solutions par rapport aux preoccupations des populations de Kaolack sur ces difficultes (assainissement des eaux usees et pluviales)'', a-t-il promis.

Le ministre a par ailleurs annonce la mise en place d'une mini-station de pompage dans la zone de Khakhoune pour soulager les populations, en promettant la realisation des ouvrages d'assainissement des eaux pluviales dans la commune de Kaffrine, confrontee aux problAmes des inondations recurrentes.

''Nous ferons en sorte que les prochains marches d'assainissement soient lances le plus tAt possible afin de pouvoir terminer les operations pre-hivernales, c'est-A�-dire avant le demarrage du prochain hivernage'', a assure Mansour Faye.

Source: APS

Recruiting technology companies to combat extremism on social media

Extremists are exploiting the Internet. A new study aims to shed light on how accessible extremist content is beyond social media, with a particular focus on the role played by the search engine Google. Initiatives for better understanding extremism on the Internet have predominantly been led by experts in extremist ideology or the sociological aspects of radicalization. Technology firms, key stakeholders in this fight, have played a less prominent role.

Extremists are exploiting the Internet. A new report by the Center on Religion & Geopolitics (CRG) and Digitalis Reputation asks what we can do about it.

CRG notes that when Donald Trump suggested he would build a wall on the Mexican border, Hillary Clinton retorted, "How high does a wall need to be to keep out the Internet?" Today, radicalization takes place in bedrooms, in libraries, on mobile phones. Connectivity and globalization cannot be stopped - nor should they. But how can we stop the oncoming traffic of internet radicalization?

In this new report, the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics and Digitalis Reputation aim to shed light on how accessible extremist content is beyond social media, with a particular focus on the role played by the search engine Google. Initiatives for better understanding extremism on the Internet have predominantly been led by experts in extremist ideology or the sociological aspects of radicalization. Technology firms, key stakeholders in this fight, have played a less prominent role.

The authors of the study set out not only to identify jihadi content online, but also to find out the extent to which non-jihadi extremist content is accessible. ISISmay seem like the apex of Islamist extremism, but it shares an ideology with others who seek the same objectives and share a worldview. The researchers wanted to know how easily the average user could access extremist material.

They looked at:

The average monthly number of global searches conducted in Google for 287 extremism-related keywords, 143 in English and 144 in Arabic.

Regional search frequencies in thirty-three regions, including six U.S. cities, eight U.K. cities, and eleven countries from the Middle East and North Africa.

The first two search engine results pages for forty-seven keywords to determine rankings of extremist and counter-narrative content, looking at a total of 870 Web pages.

The linking data of forty-five extremist Web sites, in order to understand inter-Web site relationships and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

Key findings of the report

A wide range of extremist content is available online

The study found a broad array of extremist content on Web sites, including violent and non-violent publications. Extremist views on sectarianism, apostasy, and conspiratorial attitudes towards the West - ideas that permeate much of ISIS' output - feature on mainstream Islamic Web sites. The researchers found that, of the extremist content accessible through these specific keyword searches, 44 percent was violent, 36 percent was non-violent, and 20 percent was political Islamist content, that is, non-violent content propagated by, or in support of, a known Islamist group with political ambitions.

Web searches are a gateway to violent extremist content

The average, interested Internet user requires nothing more than a simple Google search to gain access to extremist publications from groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Whether through analysis sites or otherwise, jihadi content is accessible via Google, without the need for social media. From the study's sample, the researchers found there are on average in the region of more than 484,000 Google searches globally, and at least 54,000 searches in the United Kingdom alone, each month for keywords that return results dominated by extremist material. While a wide range of people may have conducted some of these searches, including journalists, researchers, and students, the risk posed by the prevalence of extremist content in these search results is of concern.

Counter-narratives are lagging, but Muslim efforts dominate

Counter-narrative efforts are not challenging the extremist content found in search engine results pages, with efforts appearing in only 43 of the 870 results analyzed, just 5 percent of the total. However, of the counter-narratives identified, 91 percent were Muslim-led. CRG notes that this highlights the efforts taken by Muslims to address the rising tide of extremist ideology online. It is estimated that close to three billion people have access to the Internet around the globe, a number expected to swell to more than seven billion by 2020. The need to address the issue and safeguard Internet users has never been more pressing.

Source: Homeland Security News Wire

UN Daily News

Listen to a bulletin of news and features from United Nations Radio, with Matthew Wells and Dianne Penn.

In today's programme: Only one in a hundred people who are trafficked around the world, manages to escape - we'll hear from a senior UN official determined to tackle the illegal trade

And, Southern Africa's latest drought - the worst in 35 years - will "hugely increase" hunger and malnutrition across the region the UN warns.

Source: United Nations Radio.

Unique Brain Exercise Shown in Study to Lower Risk of Dementia

SAN FRANCISCO, July 27, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Researchers announced breakthrough study results Monday — indicating that a particular form and dose of brain training can reduce the risk of dementia by 48 percent over a ten-year period in cognitively healthy, community-dwelling older adults.  The computerized exercise found effective in the study is currently marketed by Posit Science to subscribers of its BrainHQ online service.

Dr. Jerri Edwards of the University of South Florida revealed the results from a 10-year, longitudinal study at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto. These are the latest results reported from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study, a multi-site, randomized controlled trial funded by the National Institute on Aging.

The ACTIVE Study enrolled 2,802 healthy adults aged 65 and older, who were randomized into four groups: 1) a strategy-based memory training, 2) a strategy-based reasoning training, 3) a perceptual-based, computerized speed of processing training, and 4) a no-contact control group measured at the same time as the intervention arms of the study.

Participants in the three intervention arms were asked to complete 10 hours of training over a five-week period.  To collect dosing data, a subset of participants were asked to complete additional booster sessions of training after 11 and 35 months.

Participants in the ACTIVE Study were measured on an extensive battery of standardized assessments, including primary outcomes related to speed, memory, reasoning, and functional performance, and secondary outcomes related to mood, confidence, self-rated health, predicted healthcare costs, and driving. Participants were assessed at the beginning of the study, after five weeks of training, and at one, two, three, five and 10 years after training.

Numerous journal articles have previously been published on primary and secondary outcomes at each measurement period. This is the first report of results on the incidence of dementia at the 10-year mark.

Researchers found no significant difference in incidence of dementia for the memory or reasoning training groups as compared to the control group. However, as compared to the control group, the speed of processing training group had a 33 percent reduction in risk of dementia, a statistically significant difference (p=0.012).

The researchers further saw a significant dose-response function. After adjusting for other variables indicating risk for dementia (e.g., race, sex, mental status, physical status, depressive symptoms), participants who were asked to engage in more than 10 sessions of the computerized brain training showed a 48 percent reduction in the risk of dementia as compared to the control group (p=.005).

Participants in the speed of processing training engaged in a task designed to improve speed and accuracy of visual attention, including both divided and selective attention. To perform the divided attention training task, a user identified an object at the center of gaze while simultaneously locating a target in the periphery. With each correct response, the presentation time became faster, and the targets became more similar.  At more advanced levels, distractors obscured the peripheral target, engaging selective attention.

In prior reports from the ACTIVE study, participants using this exercise have been shown to have better performance than the controls on a number of measures, including, performance in standard measures of every day activities, mood, confidence, self-rated health, predicted healthcare costs, and driving. “Clearly, the time spent on effective brain training has potential long lasting benefits for many aspects of older adults’ lives,” Dr. Edwards said.

The exercise was developed by Dr. Karlene Ball of the University of Alabama Birmingham and Dr. Dan Roenker of Western Kentucky University. It is now exclusively licensed to Posit Science Corporation, and is available as the “Double Decision” exercise of the BrainHQ.com brain training program.

“This is an exciting new study result,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, the CEO of Posit Science.  “It fits nicely with results on our exercises and assessments reported in other studies on cognition and aging, as well as with studies on clinical populations.  With the help of new and existing investors, we plan to continue our efforts to improve performance among healthy adults, while accelerating our efforts with regulatory authorities to gain clearance to market products which address cognitive diseases and disorders.”

“Brain speed has been described as the signature deficit of aging — the speed of brain processes reaches its peak in the middle of life, then in the average older individual inexorably declines decade by decade,” said Dr. Michael Merzenich, co-founder of Posit Science and recently-named Kavli Laureate.  “Processing speed is a key index of brain health status—akin, in its diagnostic value, to blood pressure measurements for cardiovascular health.”

Posit Science takes a unique and patented bottom-up approach to refining sensory and perceptual processing as the foundation to enhanced cognitive performance.  Its exercises and assessments have shown benefit in more than 130 peer-reviewed articles, demonstrating gains in standard measures of cognition (such as speed, attention, memory, executive function), as well as in real world activities (such as, driving, balance, gait, everyday tasks).

For additional information, contact:
Jeff Zimman
jeff.zimman@positscience.com

Cooler La Nina Temperatures Will Not Impact Climate Change

The World Meteorological Organization says a La Nina event may develop later this year, but this weather phenomenon, which ushers in cooler temperatures will have no long-lasting impact on climate change.

The El Nino/La Nina weather phenomenon has worldwide regional impacts on rainfall and temperature on a seasonal scale. El Nino causes a warming of the tropical eastern and central sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and is characterized by warmer temperatures.

Indeed, the strong 2015-16 El Nino that ended in May broke all temperature records for the first six months of the year, putting 2016 on track to be the hottest year on record.

La Nina has the opposite effect. The World Meteorological Organization says La Nina causes large-scale cooling of the ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, which tends to cool the atmosphere slightly.

WMO's Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch head Maxx Dilley tells VOA next year is unlikely to set any heat records if a La Nina does occur later this year.

"This does not mean global warming is not happening anymore if it is not the hottest year on record. These are just slight adjustments to the global temperature that occur due to this oscillation between El Nino and La Nina," he said. "So, if a La Nina occurs we might see just a little bit of attenuation of what we have been seeing, which is record temperatures year after year after year globally."

WMO says the world now is in a neutral phase, but there is a 50 to 65 percent probability that La Nina will develop in the third quarter of 2016 and last through the end of the year.

Meteorologists say La Nina, which brings above average rain, is likely to offer relief to drought stricken areas including South Asia, eastern Australia, southern and eastern Africa.

Source: Voice of America