Thursday, June 27, 2013

Floods, Landslides Devastate Northern India

Floods, Landslides Devastate Northern India



Floods and landslides in northern India have killed more than 1,000 people and stranded about 70,000, many of whom are tourists and pilgrims, with little food and shelter.
Beginning in mid-June 2013 with the onset of summer monsoon season, incessant heavy rainfalls have inundated the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and surrounding areas. The Indian army alone rescued more than 18,000 people via special buses and helicopters.
The mountainous terrains of Himachal Pradesh are home to several major and historic Hindu pilgrimage sites, such as Badrinath, and at least one major historic Sikh pilgrimage site, the Hemkund Sahib, besides several tourist spots and trekking venues. To help those affected by the floods, the army has deployed 10,000 soldiers and 11 helicopters, the navy has sent 45 naval divers, and the air force has deployed 43 aircraft including 36 helicopters.
Many people are using social media to find information about their family members and acquaintances. Photographs and helpline numbers have been uploaded and shared on social media sites. Google has set up its Google Person Finder service both in Hindi and English to offer information on missing people in the flood effected areas. Media Nama has a list of important initiatives and numbers to help. IBNLive has created a live storify blog to aggregate information about missing persons and pictures from the disaster place.
New Delhi radio DJ José Covaco (@hoozay) urged people to push IBNLive's blog on social media:
@HoeZaay: Lots of useful numbers here. RT like crazy pls. RT @sardesairajdeepHow you can help ukhand flood victims
Anurag Khanna (@AnuragJtpac) from Kochi called for offline action from activists, as well:
@AnuragJtpac: How many of you on Twitter are going to #uttarakhand to help out. I am sure many from Delhi can just drive up. Lets see the unity #india
The flooding has made for frightening scenes captured on video. Here is footage shot by a pilgrim depicting a bus plunging down from a road damaged from landslide. Eyewitness says that the bus was carrying more than 30 passengers who were never seen again.

Indian National Congress
 President Sonia Gandhi has asked all members of parliament to donate one month of their salary to help relief work. However, PhD student Sunny Singh (@sunnysingh_nw3) noted:
@sunnysingh_nw3: I WISH #India politicos of ALL parties would stop bloody touring#Uttarakhand – they use up precious resources that could be used for relief
Pandit Kuldeep Vyas (@PtKuldeepVyas), a legal practitioner from Rajasthan, is against politicization of the disaster:
@PtKuldeepVyas: #Uttarakhand tragedy should not be politicized… Shame on you corrupt netas :-( What would we do without the Army.
Indian Army evacuating stranded tourists and pilgrims from Uttarkhand. Image by Bhaskar Mallick. Copyright Demotix (20 June, 2013)
Indian Army evacuating stranded tourists and pilgrims from Uttarkhand. Image by Bhaskar Mallick. Copyright Demotix (20 June, 2013)
Amid stories of heroism and courage during evacuation and humanitarian response, it is being revealed that those stranded were also subjected to exploitation, manipulation, and blackmail. One account told of a passenger taxi driver charging a stunning 15,000 rupees (about 300 US dollars) for a 200-km journey for four refugees.
‏Political commenter Saral Patel (@PatelSaral) was furious over a story of a restaurant asking flood victims the equivalent of ten US dollars for a bowl of rice and almost four US dollars for bread:
@PatelSaral007: Uttarakhand trauma: A bowl of rice for Rs 500 and Rs 180 for a roti #Shame
Yash Gaddhyan (‏@yashgaddhyan) slammed the attempts to extort money from victims:
@yashgaddhyan: We live in a country where people try to make money even if a disaster has occurred. #Uttarakhand
Geetika (@ggiittiikkaa) noted the chaos in relief distribution:
@ggiittiikkaa: No officials to organise, collect & carry relief stuff…no attendants to distribute relief stuff when choppers land. Chaos in #Uttarakhand
Journalist Aabhas Pandya (@abyboy) criticized the silence of the corporate sector in boosting the relief operations:
@abyboy: Corporate India's stunning silence over Uttarakhand devastation surprising…not even a word, no help, no choppers! #uttarakhand
The Indian army is attempting to evacuate residents from the flood ravaged Uttarakhand. Image by Prabhat Kumar Verma. Copyright Demotix (20 June 2013)
The Indian army is attempting to evacuate residents from the flood ravaged Uttarakhand. Image by Prabhat Kumar Verma. Copyright Demotix (20 June 2013)
Opinions are abound on whether this disaster is natural or man-made. Several human practices, including unplanned construction along the banks of the Himayalan rivers are blamed as a cause of this disaster. Mechanical engineer and management student Karthick noted in his blog:
The so called Char Dham Yatra [Hindu pilgrimage] has had 3 Crore [30 million] visitors in the previous year. Tourism has been one of the major contributions to the state. Despite that the infrastructure had been poor and the Government never had intentions of developing the roads and facilities.
Blogger Rishi Aggarwaal argued that due to increased population, there should be an annual entry quota for the Char Dham Yatra pilgrimage.
Journalist Vineet Khare (@vineetkhare) warned the media not to resort to sensationalism during reporting:
@vineetkhare: Dear reporters, please do not reduce the Uttarakhand tragedy into a television tamasha (farce).
Meanwhile, the rain isn't stopping, adding to the misery of thousands of people. Engineering student Sagar Singh (@RtSagar) wrote:
@RtSagar: ‏It's raining in many parts of U'khand! Not again God, have some mercy on us! #Uttarakhand

Hong Kong Residents Turns Racist

Hong Kong is widely regarded as one of the international cities in the world and even claims to be "Asia's World City" turned out to be one of the city's most intolerant of different races and ethnicities.

The survey results were published in The Washington Post this points to the fact that 71.8 percent of Hong Kong residents do not want to live next door to a different race. In fact, the city was alive at least 450,000 people outside the ethnic majority, the Han.

The survey was conducted over the last five years with the respondent police recruits and high school students. Obtain survey results, most of the 1,860 respondents said they are less comfortable if you have a friend or neighbor of Africa, Nepal, the Philippines, India, and Pakistan.

"It's very embarrassing. You hope conditions improve, but it is very, very sad," said Executive Director of Unison, Fermi Wong.

Hong Kong is already trying to overcome the problem of racial discrimination since 2008. "Prior to this situation, the government has always said that Hong Kong is a harmonious society and all perception of discrimination is merely a misunderstanding," said Kelley Loper, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong.

Most of the 300,000 domestic helpers working in Hong Kong comes from Indonesia and the Philippines.

Unlike other foreigners who can obtain permanent residency if've lived in Hong Kong for seven years, the domestic workers can not get the same rights. This issue is still being decided in court.

The Wall Street Journal
Ervan Hardoko

Anywhere Least Tolerant Country in the World?

Anywhere Least Tolerant Country in the World?
A global study of social attitudes shows that residents of the most racially intolerant are all in the developing world. Countries such as Bangladesh, Jordan, and India occupy the top ranking.

In contrast, a study of 80 countries for three decades was found that most Western countries accept other cultures, the United Kingdom, United States (U.S.), Canada, and Australia is more tolerant than other places in the world. (See map, blue indicates areas where the population is more tolerant, whereas red indicates a population that is less tolerant.)

What about Indonesia? Not included in the top level, but Indonesia is in the second layer states racially intolerant.

The data comes from the World Values ​​Survey, which has long measuring social attitudes in various countries, as reported by the Washington Post, Wednesday (15/05/2013).

According to the Washington Post, the survey stems from the desire of two Swedish economists to examine whether economic freedom makes people more or less racist. They know how they will measure economic freedom, but they need to find a way to measure the level of racial tolerance in a country. So, they turned to the World Values ​​Survey, which has a long global measure attitudes and opinion for decades.

Among the dozens of questions asked World Values, the Swedish economist found one question that, they believe, could be a pretty good indicator of tolerance towards other races. The survey questioned respondents in more than 80 countries to identify what kind of a person they do not want as neighbors. Some respondents, based on the options in the list, select the "people of different races". The more often people in the country say they do not want neighbors with people of other races, the economists argue that you can call people less tolerant country in terms of race. (The study concluded that economic freedom does not have a relationship with racial tolerance, but it does seem to correlate with tolerance toward homosexuals.)

Unfortunately, the Swedish economists do not include all the data from the World Values ​​Survey in their final research papers. So, Washington Post went back to the original data, the data was compiled and mapped in the form of infographics as shown on the map. Countries, which in the blue colored maps, showing that only a few people who say they do not want neighbors with people of different races. In contrast, countries in red shows a lot of people who do not like the neighbors with people of different races.

Countries with the highest proportion of people "who are intolerant", who want only the neighbors with people of the same race, is Hong Kong. A total of 71.8 percent of the population refuses to neighboring Hong Kong people of different races. The next order of the Bangladesh (71.7 percent), Jordan (51.4 percent), and India (43.5 percent). These countries, the percentage is over 40 percent, classified as top level states that are not tolerant.

Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Vietnam, and South Korea is in the second tier, at a percentage rate from 30 to 39.9 percent. In the third tier, with a percentage of 20 to 29.9 percent, are France, Turkey, Bugaria, Morocco, Mali, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

In the list of the most tolerant countries, the level of LESS TOLERANT 0 to 4.9 percent, there are the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, England, Sweida, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand. In the U.S., according to the survey, only 3.8 percent of the population are reluctant neighbors with people of other races. British people, the survey says, are also tolerant of differences in others such as the people who speak foreign languages ​​or alternative religious believes.

Ranked second most tolerant countries, the percentage of 5 to 9.9 percent of intolerance, there are Chile, Peru, Mexico, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Pakistan, and South Africa.

Middle East, which is currently dealing with a large number of low-skilled immigrants from South Asia, seems to be a nest of racial tension. Europe deeply divided, the western part of the continent is generally more tolerant than the east, but the French had a striking exception with 22.7 percent of the French people rejected the neighbors of other races.

Some showed a number of weaknesses in the survey. They claimed that because the survey had a long period of time, the result can not be a guide to show the current conditions. However, a more serious drawback found in the fact that in many Western countries, racism is so taboo that many people would hide their intolerant views and lying to the questioner survey.

Max Fisher of the Washington Post guessing that maybe Americans are conditioned by education and media to maintain racial preferences to be a private matter, for example, lied about it when the survey, while the Indians may not be doing things like that.
Washington Post
Egidius Patnistik

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden


This 29 year-old analyst just gave up his whole life -- his girlfriend, his job, and his home --

 to blow the whistle on the US government's shocking PRISM program -- which has been reading and recording our emails, Skype messages, Facebook posts and phone calls for years.

When Bradley Manning passed this kind of data to Wikileaks, the US threw him naked into solitary 

confinement in conditions that the UN called "cruel, inhumane and degrading".

The authorities and press are deciding right now how to handle this scandal.  

If millions of us stand with Edward in the next 48 hours, it will send a powerful statement that

 he should be treated like the brave whistleblower that he is, and it should be PRISM, 

and not Edward, that the US cracks down on.

Monday, June 17, 2013

E3 2013

E3 2013: Mad Catz brings the M.O.J.O. with a new console and gaming gear (Photos)
June 14, 2013

The Xbox One and PS4 may have grabbed all the console-related glory at E3 2013, but PC and console peripheral maker Mad Catz is making a new bid to take over your living room as well, potentially taking a bite out of Kickstarter darling Ouya and perhaps Nvidia’s Project Shield in the process.

 The M.O.J.O. is a small box sporting Mad Catz’s distinctive, stylized angular shape, although it’s still barely bigger than a typical wallet. The model at E3 featured an HDMI output port, a headset connector, 3 standard sized USB connectors, and 1 micro USB connector. The prototype at E3 was connected wirelessly (B/N/G), but according to Mad Catz front man Alex Verrey, “we are almost certainly adding a hard wired Ethernet port to the final spec.”
The M.O.J.O. will ship with 16GB of storage space, and it has an SD expansion card slot on the back of the unit for additional storage.
Unlike the Ouya, Roku boxes, and similar devices, the M.O.J.O. doesn’t lock you into yet another Android-based ecosystem. The M.O.J.O. runs the stock Android operating system, so you’ll be able to use it right away with any and all apps and games you may have already purchased from Google Play, the Amazon App store, or any others. Basically, anything you can run on a high-end Android smartphone, you can run on the M.O.J.O.—including media streaming, music, watching Netflix, etc.
Granted, closed ecosystems can generally offer more quality control than open ones like Google Play, but I suspect many or even most Android consumers are willing to forgo that measure of quality control to avoid repurchasing games.
The M.O.J.O. also holds interesting potential as a productivity device. Connect a keyboard and mouse, and you could kickback on your couch, open a document on your google drive, and then edit it on your big screen TV. At E3, the M.O.J.O. was simultaneously connected to a keyboard, a mouse, and its companion game controller.
Mad Catz is keeping the exact technical specifications and pricing of the M.O.J.O. under wraps, but our favorite Mad Catz front man Alex Verrey virtually guaranteed it will be “the most powerful android-based console available at the time of launch”. This means we can expect a high-end quad-core processor like Nvidia’s Tegra 4, but Mad Catz isn’t saying just yet—and no one I tried to weasel information out of at Nvidia’s booth seemed to know anything either.
The M.O.J.O. is expected to ship for the holiday 2013 season. Pricing has not been announced.
Take C.T.R.L. of your M.O.J.O.
What good is playing an Android game on a 60” big screen if the game is only programmed for touch controls? Thankfully, the M.O.J.O. also comes with a Bluetooth 2.0/4.0 compatible game controller called the C.T.R.L.R that addresses the problem.
The C.T.R.L.R uses technology Mad Catz is calling GameSmart, which enables the controller to work seamlessly with all Android games by basically ‘translating’ touch screen and/or motion-sensor dependent controls (when necessary) to standard HID (human interface device) controls.
This means you should be able to use the C.T.R.L.R for virtually any Android app or game, even if it was only designed for touch controls. The C.T.R.L.R can be set to Mouse Mode for touch screen games, or a PC Mode so it works as a standard PC game pad controller (for Android games that natively support game pads). This won’t always make any particular game playable (Fruit Ninja, for example), but games such as Plants vs. Zombies could be.
The C.T.R.L.R also supports Bluetooth 4.0, which reduces wireless latency. Whereas Bluetooth 2.0 adds about 100ms latency, Bluetooth 4.0 reduces this to around 7ms. This also improves the battery life of the C.T.R.L.R as well, which can run about 40 hours continuously on a 2xAAA batteries.
With the increasing number of mobile-based gamepads from a variety of manufacturers becoming available, there’s probably a good bet we’ll see more Android games support controllers—but if you absolutely must play a game that doesn’t support a gamepad on your 60” screen, the C.T.R.L.R should have you covered.
The only minor downside at this point in time—albeit one that could be addressed by future versions of Android—is that you can’t connect two C.T.R.L.R controllers to the M.O.J.O. at the same time for multiplayer gaming. But according to Verrey this could also change. “If Android opens this up, M.O.J.O. will be able to cope.”
The C.T.R.L.R will also be available for purchase separately, and you can add a cradle to it so you can mount any smartphone on it and use it in a manner similar to Nvidia’s Shield.
The C.T.R.L.R is expected to be available summer 2013. Pricing has not been announced (for the standalone model).
Console Alternative
Even as a PC gamer, tech enthusiast and someone interested in the next generation of consoles, my parental, casual gaming, and media-streaming self finds devices like the M.O.J.O. far more compelling for the living room.
For one, I am an Android user who already owns more than a few apps courtesy of Google Play and the Amazon App store. I am also among the increasing number of people that have replaced cable TV with media streaming boxes and use services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu for all my TV-related needs.
But I can easily envision the M.O.J.O. as a competitive and (potentially) more versatile, open alternative to the Ouya ecosystem and/or the Roku boxes powering my media. Not only can the M.O.J.O. replace a ROKU box, it can work as a game console, Internet app device, and gaming platform for me and the kids.
The only potential (and fairly minor) issue I can see is the M.O.J.O.’s that the stock Android interface and the C.T.R.L.R may not provide the best living-room experience compared to the simplicity of a typical remote and more purpose-designed operating system.
Regardless, within just a short while of playing a couple games on a large screen TV and toying with an Android-based word processor, my reaction was immediate: I want one. And for this reason, I am awarding the M.O.J.O. my own personal Best of E3 award: Best new Tech.
The M.O.J.O. arrives this holiday season. Pricing is unannounced.
But Wait! There’s MO!
Mad Catz is clearly excited for its M.O.J.O. console, but they had a few other new toys on display at E3 2013that I also got to play with. Here’s a brief rundown of some new toys we’ll be seeing soon
The S.T.R.I.K.E. keyboard series gets an entry level edition
The S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 gaming keyboard is the entry level version of the S.T.R.I.K.E.5 and S.T.R.I.K.E.7. It’s a fairly straightforward backlit, non-mechanical keyboard with a total of 12 programmable macro keys and storage for 3 profiles. The LED color is customizable, and you can assign a different color to each profile. The S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 will be available fall 2013 in glossy Red, White, and Black. Pricing has not been announced.
The F.R.E.Q. headsets get a new dimension
The F.R.E.Q. 4D headset is similar to its siblings, but features Vivitouch 4D sound, which can best be described as “rumble” effects to provide a little more ear-shaking, vibrating thump to your music and/or explosions. The F.R.E.Q. 4D has both ear cup-mounted controls and an inline controller, so it can connect via USB (for PC) or a 3.5mm connector for mobile use. The F.R.E.Q. 4D will be available fall 2013.
Tritton makes a 3-pronged attack with 3 new headsets
The Tritton brand will see 3 new, full-sized headsets: The Tritton Kunai Universal, the Tritton 5.1 Pro+, and the Tritton Kunai for PC/Mac. Briefly:
The Kunai Universal is a stereo headset designed to work with virtually any device: all major consoles, PC, handhelds, smartphones, etc. and features 40mm drivers an inline controller. It will be available fall 2013. Pricing is unannounced.
The Tritton Kunai for PC/Mac is a stereo PC headset aimed at the entry level market, with an inline controller and 40mm drivers. It will be available summer 2013. Pricing is unannounced.
The Tritton Pro+ True 5.1 Surround Sound headset is a high-end headset with 8 drivers (4 in each ear cup) and analog connectors for better 5.1 surround sound reproduction—but you’ll need to have a 5.1 sound card installed in your PC or Mac for the best experience. It’s expected to ship summer 2013. Pricing is unannounced.