Saturday, 24 June 2017

Health Wire/Dr. Jack Wolfson: Is Coconut Oil Deadly?

Is Coconut Oil Deadly?
    By Dr. Jack Wolfson
Written Friday, June 23, 2017

Have you heard the latest study showing coconut oil increases heart attacks? That’s right. You haven’t. Because it doesn’t exist and there is no such study.

But the American Heart Association (AHA) keeps trotting out the same message from the 1970’s: Saturated fat, found in coconut oil, is the villain when it comes to cardiovascular disease. This latest statement was released as an AHA Presidential Advisory.

Doesn’t that sound official?

We can blame the fake news on Corporate America. It is the corporations who control the lobbyist groups like the American Heart Association. That’s right. I said it. The AHA is a lobbyist group. They collect nearly 1 billion dollars every year to push the agenda of Big Pharma and Big Agriculture.

The small coconut oil vendor and grass-fed beef farmer don’t have much of a lobby and don’t stand a chance to fight against lamestream media. You see, coconut oil is expensive for food companies to use in their products. They would rather use hydrogenated soybean, sunflower, canola, or safflower. Comparatively, these cheaper oils are pennies on the dollar.

Let’s talk about saturated fat, the main component of coconut oil.

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What is saturated fat?

First, I want to explain exactly what saturated fat is. What we think of as fat is really a tiny particle called a triglyceride. Tri means 3. So, 3 fatty acids are attached to a glycerol backbone. These fatty acids can be monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or saturated.

For some reason, the mono’s and the poly’s are safe, yet the "sat fat" is dangerous.

Yes, that is the same saturated fat found in the mammary gland of all nursing females: humans and animals alike. Breast milk is full of saturated fat.

That is the same saturated fat found in eggs, the nourishment that brings birds and reptiles to life (try raising a chicken on oatmeal).

Second, humans have been eating saturated fat for millions of years. As hunter-gatherers, all humans in history ate meat and/or seafood, both are full of saturated fat. All animals eat meat, seafood, and/or insects. Islanders in the South Pacific eat massive quantities of coconut, yet have very low rates of heart disease.
When did sat fat become bad for us?

In the mid-20th century, doctors looked at coronary plaque in the heart arteries. In the plaque was cholesterol. Cholesterol comes from animals which contains saturated fat. Therefore, don’t eat animals.

Cholesterol was found at the scene of the crime and branded guilty without a trial.

Well, there actually was a trial based on cherry-picked data by Dr. Ancil Keys. Corporate America ran with this fake science and pushed sugar, artificials, and major amounts of grain into our lives. They set-up saturated fat as the “fall guy.”

America’s health has suffered.
Is saturated fat bad for us?

In 2010, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) was published. This is the biggest nutrition journal in the world. They looked at over 500,000 people regarding saturated fat. The conclusion: sat fat is not linked to coronary disease. (1)

Fast forward to 2016. Same journal, more evidence…. Turns out that saturated fat actually LOWERS cardiac risk. (2)

In 2015, the AJCN reported sat fat IS linked to heart disease, unless the sat fat came from fish, dairy, or plants. From those sources of food, sat fat is not an issue. (3)

Here is what the study authors concluded about their results. “It should be acknowledged that other dietary components in the food sources containing SFAs may have played a role in the observed associations, such as refined carbohydrates in pastries or salt in processed foods.” 

Essentially, it’s the other crap in the food, not the saturated fat, that causes heart disease.

A side note from this 2015 study: The more fat you ate, the lower your heart attack risk and the chance you had of dying. (So much for the low-fat gurus)

Fat is Your Friend

For years, we've been fed the idea that a low-fat diet is essential for weight loss and good health.

This is WRONG!

It's much easier than you think to eat large portions and still be healthy and thin.

Here is the "missing link" you've been waiting for. Every day counts, so act now and start truly enjoying your life today.
What about cholesterol?

The recent statement by the AHA references that saturated fat raises LDL-cholesterol and calls LDL, the cholesterol that causes arterial blockage (4). That’s right, they say CAUSES, when LDL does NOT cause and has NOT been proven to cause heart disease. The AHA statement is wrong and is simply Big Pharma speak to sell more statin drugs.

Why would all animals produce LDL? To cause heart attacks? Preposterous. LDL has many functions, most of which scientists still haven’t discovered. LDL delivers nutrients around the body, is an anti-inflammatory, an anti-oxidant, and works for the immune system.

The fact that LDL works for the immune system is demonstrated by the fact it is found in plaque. Coronary disease is autoimmune. Wrap your head around that paradigm, cardiologists.

When it comes to LDL, size matters. Small, dense particles when elevated are strongly correlated to risk of heart disease. Previous studies measure total LDL. The link between LDL and disease is very weak. There is a wide range of total LDL from 160 to 260 where the outcome of life and death is the same.

What matters is the number of LDL particles versus numbers of HDL particles. The more HDL particles versus LDL particles, the better. That science is settled.

Sadly, the average cardiologist missed that lecture from the drug reps and weren’t paying attention as they were wolfing down free food.
My experience

When my patients replace starchy carbs and sugars with fat, they feel great, they look great, and their lab tests are great. LDL particles are lower. HDL particles are higher. Inflammation is lower. Blood sugar is better. They lose weight and feel great.

I have 1000’s of patients from all around the world who are a testament to Paleo nutrition and the Paleo lifestyle.


How many times are we going to hear this same retread story? When will the AHA get their head out of the sand? Probably never. After all, the AHA, American Diabetes Association, and the American Cancer Society exist based on sickness.

In the end, you decide what diet is right for you: the diet of our ancestors over millions of years or the diet advice of any organization run by paid shills from Big Ag and Big Pharma.
Action Plan for Health and Wellness

    Go organic and responsible Paleo. Eat plenty of veggies, nuts/seeds, eggs, coconut, avocado, wild seafood and grass-fed meats.
    Get sunshine. Our ancestors were in the sun almost every day. And they were naked. Sunshine lowers cholesterol.
    Get sleep. From sundown to sunrise. The body recovers while we sleep according to nature.
    Get away from toxins. Consider this… indoor air pollution is even worse than outdoor pollution.
    Get adjusted by a chiropractor at least once a month.
    Get active at least 3 days per week.
    Get relaxed. Meditate, yoga etc. Get the stress out of your life.
    Get hydrated. Drink quality water.
    Get tested. Use lab tests to track your results and tweak as necessary.
    Get supplements. They supplement a healthy nutrition plan and lifestyle.

To Your Health,

Dr. Jack Wolfson

Senior Editor, Health Wire, Atlas Health Report

Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC is a board-certified cardiologist who believes bad nutrition and toxins create heart health problems. He prevents and treats cardiovascular disease with good nutrition, not medicines and treats the whole person, not just the symptoms.

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Dr. Joseph Mercola: Documentary Investigates the Causes and Ramifications of Stress-Related Burnout

Documentary Investigates the Causes and Ramifications of Stress-Related Burnout

    June 24, 2017 • 6,109 views

Visit the Mercola Video Library

Story at-a-glance

    Around the world, burnout due to excessive work stress is becoming an increasingly pervasive problem, affecting people from all walks of life, thanks to changes taking place in the modern workplace
    Employees are expected to work at a much faster pace than previously, while having to put in longer hours and/or being closely monitored and evaluated based on performance metrics, any or all of which can make work stress unbearable
    Preventing burnout is a lot easier than recovering from it. Strategies to reduce work stress and recover from burnout are discussed

By Dr. Mercola

Unless kept in check, stress can wreak absolute havoc on your life, undercutting your health and depressing your very will to live. Around the world, "burnout" is becoming an increasingly pervasive problem, affecting people from all walks of life. Being successful per se will not insulate you from burnout. On the contrary, it may actually raise your risk.

"The Day I Snapped" is a mental health documentary featuring five professionals who walked into the proverbial wall one day, "suddenly" unable to cope any longer. However, as noted in the film, while the crisis may appear sudden, that moment when a person "snaps" is really the culmination of an untenable situation that has been going on for a long time.
Why the Modern Workplace Promotes Burnout

The five individuals in the film suffered burnout due to work-related stress, which is the most typical scenario. But what is it about the modern workplace that pressures people beyond their limits? Key factors highlighted in the film include:

1. People are expected to work at a much faster pace than previously, while frequently having to put in longer hours and/or being closely monitored and evaluated based on a variety of performance metrics. In some workplaces, the pace is so high, they cannot even take a proper lunch break. As noted by one of the individuals in the film, it is the "having no choice in what you do" on any given day that "makes the stress unbearable"

2. Job duties are changing (and expanding) more frequently than before, and when combined with poor direction or guidance from management, it can cause a great deal of uncertainty and performance anxiety

3. Many jobs for which people are trained are being eliminated, thereby preventing many from fulfilling their skill-potential. This in turn can breed unhappiness and feelings of worthlessness

4. Deteriorating social support at home and at work
Are You Headed Toward Burnout?

In the U.K., work is the third leading cause of stress, trailing right behind bereavement and financial woes. In the U.S., work ranks second on the list of sources of significant stress.1

According to the film, nearly 7 million working days are lost each year in the U.K. to stress-related illnesses2 such as skin conditions, insomnia, heart disease, memory impairment, digestive problems, autoimmune disorders and depression, just to name a few. In reality, just about any ailment or disease can be triggered or worsened by stress. Symptoms of burnout include but are not limited to:3

    Physical exhaustion, signaled by chronic fatigue, insomnia, forgetfulness, impaired concentration, inattentiveness, physical illness and loss of appetite
    Emotional exhaustion, a "feeling of internal collapse," loss of perspective, detachment, irritability, frequent anger, loss of enjoyment, pessimism, increasing isolation, apathy and hopelessness
    Reduced performance and productivity despite best efforts, loss of self-esteem, feeling like a failure

Frequently, people on the road toward burnout will turn to alcohol or other addictive substances in an effort to prop themselves up to avoid the inevitable. Sadly, one of the most serious side effects of burnout is suicide. If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: (800) 273-TALK (8255). Alternatively, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
Preventing Burnout Is Easier Than Recovering From It

If you recognize the warning signs of burnout in yourself or someone you care about, remember this: Preventing burnout is a lot easier than recovering from it. Recovery usually takes time — six months or more is not uncommon. The five professionals in the film all eventually recovered, through a variety of different means, which highlights the need to be flexible enough to identify your unique needs.

Just as the circumstances that brought you to a crisis point will be unique, so will your recovery. That said, some basic guidelines can be given (see below). A key point that may initially be difficult to accept is that you need to change how you live. The way you've been living so far does not work, and merely taking a few weeks off, only to return right back to it, is rarely going to suffice.

For the featured professionals in the film, all of whom suffered "executive burnout" or burnout brought on by chronic work stress, part of the answer was a change in profession. For three of them, this involved going into business for themselves and doing more physically demanding work, as opposed to working in an office.
How to Reduce Work Stress and Prevent Burnout

If you feel you might be headed toward the proverbial wall, please consider addressing the situation before you break down completely. Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter offers the following advice for those struggling with work stress.4 I've also added some of my own suggestions.

• Take inventory. Write down all of the situations that trigger stress in your life: situations that make you feel worried, anxious, frustrated or helpless. Keep adding to this list as you go along. Next to each item on the list, write down what you can do to reduce the stress it's generating, and implement those solutions whenever possible

• Just say no. Saying no is one of the best ways to protect your energy reserves. Avoid taking on new responsibilities or commitments while you're in recovery. If something must be done, see if you can delegate the task to someone else. Avoid the trap of thinking no one else will be able to do it as well as you. Sometimes "good enough" really is enough

• Schedule breaks and take time to socialize. Make sure you take breaks between projects, to give your mind and body time to recover. Also, be sure to schedule breaks on a daily basis, and do not take work home with you. Cultivating a social life is an important aspect of a well-balanced life, so avoid the temptation to make work your sole focus

• Manage your electronic devices wisely. Smartphones, iPads and computers can be an enormous time drain if you don't manage their use well. The constant barrage of message notifications can be a major source of stress in and of itself. Turn down the stress by turning off all notifications on your devices; batch process your emails, at most four times a day, and restrict social media to a specific time or place rather than trying to "keep up" on an hour-by-hour basis

• Stop multitasking. Paradoxically, giving up multitasking is one of the key strategies of highly productive people. Focusing on one thing at a time will also make you calmer and less stressed out.

To learn more about why multitasking doesn't work, and how to increase your productivity by doing one thing at a time, please see my previous interview with Dr. Theo Compernolle, author of "Brain Chains: Discover Your Brain, to Unleash Its Full Potential in a Hyperconnected, Multitasking World"
The Importance of Maintaining Balance in Your Life
Download Interview Transcript

I recently interviewed Dr. Joseph Maroon on the topic of burnout. He is a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and author of "Square One: A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life," a book that grew out of his own struggles with burnout.

I've included a condensed version here for your convenience. To listen to the full interview, please see "How to Recover From Burnout By Rebalancing Your Life." The recovery plan detailed in "Square One" is based on William H. Danforth's work, which emphasizes that you have not one but four lives to live, a:

    Physical life
    Spiritual life
    Work life
    Relationship life

Maintaining balance between each of these four life segments is key. Each of these needs to be actively pursued and nourished on a daily basis.

    "We all know that you can't avoid stress in this world — divorce, our jobs; 40 percent of people have difficulty with job relationships," Maroon says. "What happens [is], you get an elevated cortisol level in your blood. What does [excess] cortisol do to the brain? It kills brain cells. What does it do to your memory? It reduces memory, our tissues and everything else.

    That's what excess chronic unremitting stress [causes], which is what I personally went through. It's incredible depression. Most doctors think depression is [treatable] with antidepressants. I have no doubt that physical activity is the most effective antidepressant we can use …

    [It] gets all the neurotransmitters back into order — your dopamine, your serotonin and your acetylcholine. The point is we can't escape adversity. We can't escape stress. But what happened to me is I didn't recognize how bad off I was in a unidimensional life."

How to Regain Balance and Heal Burnout

Based on these four life segments, you can see that to prevent or recover from burnout, you need:

    Exercise and a healthy diet that optimizes mitochondrial function and limits inflammation (physical nourishment)
    Mindfulness or some form of spiritual practice (spiritual nourishment)
    Ideally, work that suits your personality and gives you meaning and purpose; at bare minimum, strategies to control your day-to-day work stress (work-related pursuits)
    Family time and social contacts, and/or a hobby or volunteer work (relationship-related pursuits)

In a nutshell, recovering from burnout (or avoiding it in the first place) boils down to finding and maintaining a balance between your work life, physical activities, relationships and spirituality or mindfulness. As noted by Maroon:

    "You need exercise. You need a degree of meditation and spirituality … If you look at people who live to be centenarians … They all have in common a healthy diet and work. They work hard, which is their physical activity … They control stress with, usually, a very strong family unit, spirituality, religion or church. All those things are mindfulness. All reduce stress, the excess cortisol, and try to keep our bodies in balance."

To this, I would add a fifth life category that needs balance, and that is sleep. Sleep deprivation dramatically impairs your body's ability to handle stress, and has absolutely no redeeming consequences. Working rather than sleeping will not allow you to get ahead or accomplish more. It's only going to make matters worse. Treating your sleep as "sacred time" that cannot be infringed upon can go a long way toward managing your overall stress and maintaining balance in your life.
Finding Work-Life Balance Is Worth Every Effort

On the whole, leading a balanced life is not rocket science, but it can still be difficult to do. It's much easier, actually, to focus on work to the exclusion of everything else. Finding balance takes a bit of work. It may require finding and setting new boundaries, which may feel unfamiliar and maybe even a bit frightening at first. The alternative, however, is far worse than any discomfort you might experience as you strive for balance.

Arianna Huffington is perhaps one of the most well-known public personas who suffered burnout — and wrote a book about it. In "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder," Huffington, who is the chairman, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, details her downward spiral, and her journey back to health.

Her self-reflection resulted in a new definition of success, which includes a "third metric" besides the two conventional ones: money and power. This third metric consists of four pillars:

    Health and well-being. If you sacrifice your health and well-being in the pursuit of success, you're really paying an insanely high price. The result of this sacrifice includes everything from diabetes to heart disease, and other stress-related afflictions like depression, alcoholism or drug addiction
    Wisdom. As Huffington says: "We have a lot of very smart leaders around making terrible decisions. The problem is not that they don't have a high IQ; the problem is that they are not connected with their inner wisdom. Taking time to connect with the source of our inner wisdom and strength is essential"
    Joy and childlike wonder. It's also important to bring joy into your everyday life and to connect with the sense that you are part of "something larger." This includes appreciating ordinary beauty and small everyday miracles
    Giving. No complete life is ever lived just for oneself.

When you integrate giving, wonder, wisdom and well-being together with the first two metrics of money and power, you can really have a complete life, filled with meaning and purpose.
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Friday, 23 June 2017

How Public Private Partnerships Can Create Jobs Restoring Degraded Land For Unemployed Galamseyers

One of the arguments often made by small-scale miners against banning small-scale gold mining in Ghana, is that they create jobs in rural Ghana.

It is an argument we must reject - because if we continue to tolerate an industry jam-packed with selfish and dishonest  bribe-givers, who corrupt officials of the regulatory bodies that  oversee gold mining in Ghana, we will wake up one day to discover that all our streams, rivers and ground water sources have been poisoned by heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

As things now stand, we can actually provide jobs immediately, for cooperatives made up of  young people employed by registered small-scale gold miners and the promoters of galamsey mining operations across Ghana - in land restoration initiatives led by private-sector entities such as A Rocha, Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies, and other entities that do landscaping in Ghana.

We urge our nation's leaders  to hold talks with the wrealthy oil producing nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), all of which have massive carbon footprints, to fund a low-carbon development agro-forestry tree-planting initiative  in Ghana to neutralise some of their collective carbon footprint.

It is said that nothing ventured nothing gained. As a people with imagination let us explore this green economy possibility now. It could change the fortunes of rural Ghana overnight. Literally.

To inspire our nation's current leaders, who have shown by deeds, not words, that they are determined to preserve what is left of our nation's natural heritage, this blog is posting a culled article written by Kathy Watson, who is head of programme development at the World Agroforestry Centre - that was first published and posted on Agroforestry World - about the inspiring story of a land restoration project in Tigray, Ethiopia, which has stopped the migration of young people there to urban areas in Ethiopia and is providing wealth and jobs for local people in Tigray.

Please read on:

"Land restoration in Ethiopia: 'This place was abandoned ... This is incredible to me'

By Kathy Watson

Wednesday 21 June 2017 10.30 BST
Last modified on Wednesday 21 June 2017 10.31 BST

Ethiopia is suffering from severe drought, but there is water in Gergera. 20 years of restoring its hills and river valley has brought life back to this area of the Tigray region in the country’s far north.

The work has been painstaking, complex and multidimensional and continues to this day. But the hard-won results offer up two key lessons. We know now that landscape restoration in drylands hinges on water management. And we know, just as importantly, that restoration can create a base for better livelihoods and jobs for youth who formerly left in droves.

Government ministers visited the revitalised watershed on 31 May 2017 after signing a memo of understanding to establish a National Agroforestry Platform to support climate-resilient green growth and transformation. Over 40 prominent figures attended, including ministers of state Kaba Urgesa and Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, Wubalem Tadesse of the Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute, Fassil Kebede, adviser to the minister of agriculture, and Eleni Gabre Madhin, founder of Ethiopia’s commodity exchange and representatives of embassies, development agencies, and civil society groups such as Oxfam, Farm Africa, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and Packard.

    I know this place. It was abandoned and untouched. This is very incredible to me
    Eyasu Abraha, Ethiopia’s minister of agriculture and natural resources

Gergera watershed covers 1382 hectares in the kebele (Ethiopia’s smallest administrative unit) of Hayelom in Atsbi-Wonberta district in the eastern zone of Tigray. The visit began at the head of the valley where community leaders had gathered. Alighting and looking around, Ethiopia’s minister of agriculture and natural resources Eyasu Abraha was visibly moved. “I know this place. It was abandoned and untouched. This is very incredible to me,” he said.

The group stood under tall trees, bathed by bird song, with luscious grasses and pools of clean water at their feet. So that it can regenerate, this part of Gergera has long been closed to cattle. “The first thing you notice is the change of vegetation,” said World Agroforestry Centre’s director general Tony Simons, pointing out a Sclerocarya birrea, the Marula tree which has a nutritious plum-like fruit with a kernel with oil prized for cosmetics by firms such as the Body Shop.
Arid land to a fertile Eden: permaculture lessons from Portugal
Read more

By consent of the community, only cutting and carrying grass to livestock and beekeeping are permissible in this upper catchment. Indeed, the wooded hillsides are rife with carefully placed hives. Gabions (mesh cages filled with rocks) built by members of the community slow the rain water when it courses down the chasm, which, formerly too deep to cross, is gradually filling as earth builds up behind the structures. Critically, this earth now retains rainwater, which seeps into the ground and emerges as groundwater in the valley where 1,000 hectares of land are now under small scale irrigation. Meanwhile, more tree cover on the hills means that when surface water does reach the valley, it does so with less destructive velocity.

It was not always like this. Landscape degradation in Ethiopia is centuries old. A painting from 1951 in Ethiopia’s National Museum shows erosion devouring arable land. “During the period of the Emperor and the Derg, degradation was so severe that once we were forced to dismantle a church at risk of being swept away!” said elder Khasay Gebreselaasie, referring to the regime which ruled from 1974 for 17 years. But the fall of the Derg brought a groundswell of activity to address agricultural productivity in an area once struck by famine.
A painting from 1951 in Ethiopia’s National Museum shows erosion devouring arable land.
A painting from 1951 in Ethiopia’s National Museum shows erosion devouring arable land. Photograph: Cathy Watson/ICRAF

“The people took the initiative to rehabilitate the environment,” explained the administrator of Hayelom, Habtom Woreta. “That is when Irish Aid came in and we became a model watershed for the region and the world. You can see how the area is transformed! Biodiversity has increased and we have hand dug wells at 1m deep because of recharge. And none of this is in vain. Now we have TVs in the houses. Before we slept on mats, now we have beds.”

Once a hot spot for the perilous out migration of youth, even that has changed. When Irish Aid representative Aileen O’Donovan asked “about job creation for the youth, who are motivated but restless”, Kebele leader Tsuruy proudly said. “We have 1,070 youngsters, of whom 506 are employed due to restoration”.

“This is music to my ears,” said Abraha, the minister of agriculture, whose government recently completed a rural job opportunity strategy.

Down in the valley, young men were building gabions to deflect a gully away from the fields that would be destroyed if the water flowed unchecked after the rains. They are paid under Ethiopia’s cash transfer scheme, the Productive Safety Net Programme, to which the UK contributes over £50m a year. They also donate 40 days of their time for free, both as a social obligation and in anticipation of receiving reclaimed land from the state. Asked why they were doing this, they shouted, “to earn daily bread and stop the loss of land. The land was going!”
'No one leaves any more': Ethiopia's restored drylands offer new hope
Read more

There were more young men as well as women at the rural resource centre, a former government nursery now supported by the World Agroforestry Centre, which guides the restoration. They earn their living selling trees, particularly avocado, and 13 fodder grass species. They currently have tree seedlings and vegetable plantlets for sale worth altogether $11,523 as well as $10,000 saved in the bank.

As the trip wrapped up, the community served bread and honey from the recovering hills. State minister for livestock and fisheries Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes said “what has been seen today is job creation” and “cash transfers improving the lives of the poor”. And Kiros Hagdu, who leads the World Agroforestry Centre in Ethiopia, said his centre was committed to evidence-based restoration of farms and landscapes with the government and communities and that now was “the time to scale-up the successes nationally”.

The minister of agriculture had the last word. “Agroforestry is becoming the heart and the mind of the government,” said Abraha. “What we see here is really the beginning of transformation. All those youngsters who wanted to migrate will have productive land.”

This blogpost was first published on Agroforestry World. Cathy Watson is head of program development at the World Agroforestry Centre.

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Investopedia: What does 'Two And Twenty' mean?

Two And Twenty

What does 'Two And Twenty' mean

Two and twenty is a type of compensation structure that hedge fund managers typically employ in which part of compensation is performance-based. This phrase refers to how hedge fund managers charge a flat 2% of total asset value as a management fee and an additional 20% of any profits earned.

BREAKING DOWN 'Two And Twenty'

The 2% management fee is paid to hedge fund managers regardless of the fund’s performance. A hedge fund manager with $1 billion of assets under management (AUM) earns $20 million even if the fund performs poorly. The 20% profit fee is only paid once the fund achieves a level of performance that exceeds a certain profit threshold, typically around 8%. Some investors, who have never paid the 20% fee because there haven’t been any profits, consider the 2% management fee to be too high relative to the overall performance of many funds.

Famous value investor Warren Buffett has opined in a letter from February 25th, 2017 that " My calculation, admittedly very rough, is that the search by the elite for superior investment advice has caused it, in aggregate, to waste more than $100 billion over the past decade. Figure it out: Even a 1% fee on a few trillion dollars adds up. Of course, not every investor who put money in hedge funds ten years ago lagged S&P returns. But I believe my calculation of the aggregate shortfall is conservative." According to Buffett, very wealthy investors are accustomed to superior service and products in other areas of life, and they mistakenly think superior products and services are also available in financial services, which in his view is a mistake. They end of wasting trillions of dollars on overly complex and ineffectual hedge fund strategies. (See also: Warren Buffett's Annual Shareholder Letter for 2017.)
When High Fees Are Justified

One the world’s most successful hedge funds since 1994 has been Renaissance Technologies, led by Jim Simmons, a former NSA code breaker. At $65 billion in AUM, his fund generates $3.2 billion in annual management fees. Because of his remarkable outsized returns over the years, he also charges a 44% profit fee. It is estimated that his hedge fund returned an average 71.8% between 1994 and 2014. The fund's worst performance between 2001 and 2013 was a 21% gain. When asked by investors why his profit fee is so high, he responds by telling them they can leave if they want – but few do.
No Longer Two and Twenty

Due to their underperformance or inconsistent performance, many hedge fund managers have come under pressure to reduce their fees. Investors have been redeeming assets with poor-performing hedge funds at a record pace, with a large portion being reallocated to larger funds with stronger track records. To stop the bleeding, hedge fund managers have been complying. In 2015, the average fee arrangement stands at 1.5% of assets and 17.7% of profits. However, the top-performing hedge funds still charge 20% or more.

Investors are not the only ones complaining about high profit fees. Hedge fund managers are also coming under pressure from politicians who want to reclassify the profit fees as ordinary income for tax purposes. As of 2016, their profit fees, also referred to as carried interest, is classified as capital gains, which are taxed more favorably. Fund managers contend that carried interest is not a salary, but that it is an at-risk return on investment payable based on performance.
Performance Fee

A performance fee is a payment made to a fund manager for generating positive returns. The performance fee is generally calculated as a percentage of investment profits, often both realized and unrealized. It is largely a feature of the hedge fund industry, where performance fees have made many hedge fund managers among the wealthiest people in the world.
BREAKING DOWN 'Performance Fee'

The basic rationale for performance fees is that they align the interests of fund managers and their investors, and are an incentive for fund managers to generate positive returns. A "2 and 20" annual fee structure - a management fee of 2% of the fund's net asset value and a performance fee of 20% of the fund's profits - has become standard practice among hedge funds. Critics of performance fees, including Warren Buffett, opine that the skewed structure of performance fees - where managers share in the funds' profits but not in their losses - only tempts fund managers to take inordinate risks to generate high returns.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Why Is Former President Kufour Still Fawning Over Western Politicians Presiding Over Racist Systems?

Not too long ago I decided that I would no longer allow myself to be upset by the revisionists of our nation's history who use half truths, twisted facts and pure lies to denigrate President Nkrumah.

I came to that decision,  because it struck me one day - whiles listening to a diatribe against Nkrumah being broadcast during  a morning current affairs discussion programme - that despite the best efforts of his political opponents, in the main, the vast majority of the ordinary people of Ghana now accept that Nkrumah was indeed a truly great and selfless leader, who devoted himself to ordinary people and transforming Ghanaian society.

They have also accepted that Nkrumah was neither corrupt  nor self-seeking - and that he did not amass wealth whiles serving as Ghana's leader. The question there is: Can one say exactly the same thing about the golden age of business for Kufuor & Co, truthly,  during his greed-filled presidency? No.

Consequently, it no longer bothers me when I hear Nkrumah's detractors spewing their many untruths about him. Why bother when the masses can see monuments of Nkrumah's legacy all around them across the nation - and Nkrumah is in the Pantheon of 20th century greats? Cool.

However, one can understand those Nkrumahist politicians who still feel compelled to respond to such unfair criticism of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, whenever it is made by anti-Nkrumah politicians.

When members of the International Democratic Union (IDU)  called on former President Kufuor whiles in Ghana for the first meeting in sub-Saharan African of  the IDU's Executive and Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, the former president  surprisingly launched a verbal attack on Nkrumah.

The irony for me, is that  reading through some of the declassified National Security Security documents about President Nkrumah, from the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson eras, one notices that whiles American officials were invariably contemptous of the childlike-fawning of Nkrumah's political opponents whom they interacted with, clearly, all the Western leaders understood that Nkrumah was the one African leader who posed a real threat to their nations' continued hold on Africa's resources and their perpetual preying on the colonised minds of many Africans. 

Thus, getting rid of Nkrumah was a top-priority security matter for them in Africa: for they understood that in the long-term his radical ideas would turn Africa into a global power one day - the last thing they wanted -  if he was not stopped.

Sadly, in telling his visitors that Nkrumah destroyed Ghana's economy,  what escaped former President Kufuor was that it was the political forebears of the selfsame Western members of the IDU, who deliberately brought Ghana's economy to its knees  - simply to create public disaffection against Nkrumah's government: and make his overthrow by their local lackeys more  likely and possible.

And of course he forgets that his party's political forebears went globetrotting bad-mouthing Ghana just  to dissuade investors from coming to invest here. And that those who betrayed the black race by overthrowing Nkrumah were paid U.S.$13 million and promised more if they succeeded in killing him. What perfidy.

It  also seems to have escaped former president Kufuor that his own party is today adopting Nkrumah's import substitution industrialisation policy to boost growth in the economy and create jobs for young people - something that his provincial-minded  political forebears criticised as white elephant projects. Incredible. Talk about shortsightedness.

And it is also instructive that former President Kufuor developed a severe case of amnesia about his own anti-democratic political antecedents - regarding the fact that in 1958, despite  Ghana being a functioning multiparty democracy, his party's political forebears plotted to overthrow Nkrumah's Convention People's Party (CPP), just a year after independence from the British occupiers of our country, and that it was only the death in a plane crash of the leader of the coup plotters, Brigadier Michel, that aborted that planned coup. Egregious hypocrisy.

And worst of all - in an age when  terrorism has spawned draconian laws in all the Western democracies, which severely curtail individual freedoms, and which are far more anti-democratic    than all the anti-terrorism laws enacted by Nkrumah's government  -  and all of which one supports, one must hasten to add, being someone who always strongly condemns the cowardly extremists who engage in acts of terrorism around the globe - former President Kufuor condemns them as if they were abominations.

Yet, all those anti-terrorism laws were passed by Parliament to protect Ghanaian society and stop the murderous campaign of bomb-throwing and  intimidation by the selfsame Kufuor's party's political forebears, the vile tribal-supremacist and separatist National Liberation Movement (NLM). Such is life. Poor man.

What is the matter with these stooges of neoocolonialism in Africa, I ask? Haaba. Wake up, Oseikrom-Ogyakrom-Ghanaman. The question is: Why, and to what end, in the 21st century,  is a black African politician who once led his country still fawning over Western politicians presiding over racist systems - and many of whom are more likely than not secretly contemptuous of the black race? Ebeeii.

Top Universities/Laura Tucker: Most Helpful Apps for Students

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Most Helpful Apps for Students

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11:00AM Oct 12, 2016

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There’s (almost) an app for everything nowadays, and this can make student life easier, cheaper, safer and more fun. Whether you want help with taking notes, revising, waking up on time or keeping fit, read on for our pick of the apps for students…
1. Lecture capture apps

Lecture capture

Just a few years ago, students attending lectures would have to spend the entire time scribbling wildly on notepads, in order not to miss any vital bit of information. Then along came technology, and now, lecture capture apps are a reality. Although the recording of lectures has been common practice within universities for a while, lecture capture apps allow you to record and listen back to classes without having to spend extra money on expensive recording equipment.

SoundNote (iOS) is a popular lecture capture app for iPad users, acting as a notepad and audio recorder, so you can store an entire lecture in both visual and audio form. If it's a whiteboard you want to capture, however, Office Lens allows users to photograph a whiteboard, convert it to a PDF, Word or PowerPoint file and store all the data via OneNote or OneDrive for catch-up and revision purposes.

Other than SoundNote, one of the most popular lecture capture apps – keeping it simple with the name – is Lecture Capture (iOS), but Notes Plus (iOS) and Audio Memos Free – The Voice Recorder (iOS) are also of good quality.
2. Revision apps

Revision apps

The revision app is in big business this century, and it seems technology has achieved what we never thought possible: making revision fun.

If you’re a flash card fanatic you might like to consider StudyBlue, a student app which uses your course information to create a selection of card sets for related revision. You can also make their own flashcards and test yourself.

Another useful revision app is GoConqr, which offers resources to create revision charts, mind maps, flash cards, notes and quizzes, as well as the ability to connect and collaborate with friends, classmates or students from around the world. Another choice is the aptly named Revision App (iOS), covering all education levels, while Exam Countdown (iOS) keeps track of the days until each of your exams.
3. Exam prep apps

Exam prep

There are also student apps now available for exams such as the MCAT, GMAT, LSAT and GRE tests, which are used by many graduate schools as part of the admissions process. BenchPrep uses social networking-style functionality which allows users to connect with other test-takers and peruse revision materials with quizzes, notes and more. You can also use the app to track your learning progress.

TCY Exam Prep (Android) is another exam prep app, aimed at business students in India and the US. It features study resources for MBA/CAT tests, GRE, GATE and bank exams.
4. Student planner apps

Student planner

Organization is key for success and wellbeing at university, and student planner apps are becoming increasingly popular. As well as saving on paper, many student planner apps also send reminders and alerts straight to your phone or device.

Popular student planner apps include Timetable (Android), an app featuring a sharp and clean interface which you can map your timetable onto with ease. For more familiar-looking planner apps for students, consider those with a more traditional spreadsheet-style layout, such as My Class Schedule (Android) or Class Timetable (iOS).
5. Bibliography helper apps


If you’ve ever spent hours writing up a hefty bibliography, you’ll know just how much work goes into making sure you’ve included all the information in the right places in the right format. EasyBib is an extremely useful app for students, which creates an academic reference for any book simply from a scan of the book’s barcode. As bibliography styles vary depending on where you study, EasyBib offers referencing in MLA, APA and Chicago styles. Simply take a picture of the barcode or type the title of the book into your device, et voila, professional referencing done!
6. Video call apps

Video call apps

Most students will be aware of video calling software such as Skype and FaceTime by now, and this technology is becoming even more easy-access as computer companies integrate quality cameras into their products and internet connection speeds get faster. As the overall technology improves, so too do the versions available on smaller devices. Using FaceTime on an iPhone has become as easy as making a call, while Skyping on a tablet makes it brilliantly possible to cook dinner/browse the web/compose a text while talking to your parents back home. Other video call apps include Fring and Tango.

For tips on how to conduct a successful Skype interview (for a job, internship or admissions interview), check out this blog post.
7. Student safety apps

Student safety

A number of apps for students have been developed promoting personal safety, for use both on- and off-campus. These student apps help to keep users safe if out alone at night. The Circle of Six app works on both Android and iOS, and was designed for university students to keep connected with close friends. The app is particularly useful for locating lost friends on nights out and also allows users to send their circle of six friends an instant call for help at the touch of a button. The GPS tracker will mark your location on your friends’ devices, ensuring you’ll always be able to find one another if necessary.

Other student apps to promote safety include bSafe, Bugle, React Mobile and GuardianSentral (iOS), which is an on-campus guardian app being road-tested at select institutions.
8. Wake-up apps

Wake-up apps

If you happen to be a persistent snoozer who always wakes up about 20 minutes too late for lectures, then Alarmy: Sleep If You Can is the app for you. Alarmy is an alarm app for students which requires users to complete small tasks (such as taking a photo of something specific or shaking the phone up and down a number of times) before the alarm turns itself off. Not only will this mean you’re alert and raring to go, Alarmy will also give you the latest weather update so you can decide whether to arm yourself with an umbrella before leaving home.

Meanwhile Sleep Cycle aims to correct its users’ sleeping pattern by waking them up during their lightest sleep phase. The app does this by monitoring both movement and the time the user went to sleep. This means you should wake up feeling less groggy in the mornings, and you might also get an extra 10 minutes of breakfast time.
9. Responsible-drinking apps

Responsible drinking apps

You may be a student, but that doesn’t have to mean becoming irresponsible when it comes to alcohol. The responsible-drinking app WiseDrinking charts how much you’ve been drinking, gives you suggestions about how much is safe, lets you know the optimum time to call a cab, and maps your location in relation to public transport services.

Using inputs of gender, weight and height, the app calculates blood alcohol content (BAC) levels by calculating the amount, type and timing of alcohol consumed and when the user’s last meal was. Although the app is entirely dependent on user input and therefore should only be used as a guideline, WiseDrinking can help you to stay aware of your consumption and give you guidance should you feel a little worse for wear.

If you want something a little more scientifically concrete, then you might consider investing in Alcohoot, a smart breathalyzer that attaches to your smartphone and tells you when you’re edging over the sensible limit.
10. Fun fitness apps

Fitness apps

For those who would normally find running boring, the app Zombies, Run! is a fun (and funny) way to motivate yourself when jogging. The app plays your own music playlists alongside recorded audio depicting a zombie apocalypse, in which you must run from the infected. More than a little terrifying, yes, but as a super-intense workout it’s hard to beat!

If you’d like to keep your fitness routine zombie-free, other fitness apps include Nike Training Club (iOS), Sworkit, Moves, Fitbit (iOS), JeFit, RunKeeper, Strava, 7 Minute Workout and MapMyFitness. If you decide to get them all, Nudge is another app that collates all your fitness data and stores it in one place. This means you can keep track of your nutrition, exercise, hydration and sleep, without checking the progress reports from each app.
11. Healthy eating apps

Healthy eating apps

If you’re keen to eat healthily while keeping to a student budget, consider downloading a few healthy eating apps. Examples I’ve come across which are perfect apps for students include Rockin Ramen (iOS), a student app featuring a number of nutritious recipes with ramen as a main ingredient, and MealBoard (iOS), an app which plans healthy meals, grocery shops and recipes based on what you’ve got in the fridge.
Other helpful student apps

    Oxford English Dictionary – to look up words on the go (free with adverts, or paid with no ads). Dictionary & Thesaurus – dictionary and word-finder for those on a budget; also works offline.
    Dropbox for mobile – access and edit documents, upload photos and play your own videos anywhere.
    Penultimate – a handwriting app made by EverNote, allowing users to write with a digital pen and upload the work to any device.
    Skout – a friend-finder app helping students meet new people in their locality.
    Socrative – student app for quizzing and assessment.

This blog post was originally published in September 2014. It was updated in October 2016.

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Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.
Billion B 3 weeks ago

I think an important "safety" App for students in the UK is the SelfEvident App, which allows you to report incidents directly to the police, or other organisations, using your smartphone. It is designed to make it easier report incidents such as sexual assault, hate crime, street violence, cyber bullying, as well as giving the user more confidence -


Ashish T 4 weeks ago

People always love to see creatives as you have shared. Wonderful insights here at you blog. Very informative post.
Nice collaboration, keep it up.


Jack F 1 month ago

Really a list of helpful apps for a student, I've been using SoundNote for a while now to easily record the lectures and my professor has been suggesting other students as well to use that.


James G 2 months ago

Really, Mobile Apps are very useful for the students, teachers & Parents. Many educational institutes, schools, college & universities are using school mobile apps & ERP software for good management system & better communication with parent teacher & student


Matt H 4 months ago

I think an important "safety" App for students in the UK is the SelfEvident App, which allows you to report incidents directly to the police, or other organisations, using your smartphone. It is designed to make it easier report incidents such as sexual assault, hate crime, street violence, cyber bullying, as well as giving the user more confidence -
Matt H.


Speedy E 4 months ago

You can find apps for anything or any type now days because of development in advance information technology and fast 4g internet where you can easily find your answers or get help online or study online in colleges/Universities make your career portfolio online don’t need to traveling anywhere for work just start home based work apps are available you just need to identify what you need. You can make your note or task sheet as a reminder at where you can create to-do-list
Mailbox: which help you to manage your emails and also create reminders for you.
Drop box: Best Storage place where you can store your assignments or personal data online in your account.


Sunder S 6 months ago

Communication between schools and parents is turning out to be a lot easier with the new school phone apps that are there on offer. School Communication Apps is very helpful for teachers, parents adn for student too. Teno App a School Communication Apps which is free a app can be used for such sommunications. know more about this app at


Rodrigo C 8 months ago

Great tips!


Jinjuta P 10 months ago

I got through my first year of college through a lot of help from the locals, as i was a freshman move-in. I got a lot of help mostly via Getmii application. It's basically a place for people to go on and exchange everything they would like, from ideas to plane tickets! if they want lol. I usually go on to ask for nice cafes to get coffee, new bars to find new friends, and nice nail salons. But some people go on to arrange sell and purchase too. It's very helpful and convenient. Check it out guys! you will love it :-)


Patricia C 1 year ago

I wanted to relate to the post focused on time management apps: but it's not possible to comment. So I write here :)
I would like to ask you for your opinion about In this app you can manage your tasks in general but I am especially amazed by the time management functions. The time tracking helps me to control my working time. I can compare different tasks and estimate how much time would I need for them. I used to have problems with planning my time, and now I can do (almost ;) ) everything on time.
Do you have similar experiences?
Patricia :)

    Reply (1)

Manuel D

Hi Patricia I tried the tool that you suggested, Kanban and it looks quite good and i might use it. I would say though is that it is very generic planning tool, you need to come up with all the tasks yourself. If you want something that generates your study plan have a look at Planner Pig ( It's more geared for professional students but can be used by anyone that needs to generate a plan for their exams and track progress.
Eric M 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing this useful information about most helpful apps for students. Safety Apps are very helpful for School management and as well as school students also. Because these kind of Safety Apps helps us in any kind of trouble and some kind of critical problem especially for girls and women. If the school administration wants a safe environment in the school, then they should have used these kind of safety apps for the students, teachers and staff members' self protection. Like 911cellular provides a best Safety Apps for the human community which is used both emergency or non-emergency alerting system pressing only one button.


Eric M 1 year ago

There are so many no of safety apps are available because Self-Defense is necessary for everybody which helps you in any situation.There are some best self-defense apps for emergency notifications & protect your self with smart way. Safety app service providers provides new technology based campus safety app which is very helpful to students & teachers in any emergency.


Ankit J 2 years ago

I like it Apps no doubt good for education purpose...


Sam O 2 years ago

Interesting for me and very useful.
Thanks to author!

    Reply (1)

Laura T

Glad it could be of use! Thanks for reading :)
anny l 2 years ago

look nice


Katie M 2 years ago

Hey, great post indeed and I used Evernote a lot, which was GREAT!

I also recently discovered Dragdis, which is great for sorting out research material and compiling information for different arguments. Plus, Dragdis just introduced collaboration folders, which are great for group projects as you can create a folder, share it with your peers and then co-create a library of useful readings/ materials to include in the project. Is anyone else using it for studying?

    Reply (1)

Thomas M

As someone with exams coming up I've tried pretty much every memory technique and app available and all sorts of tips to improve my revision but the tried and tested method of flash card testing and repeating this over time is the only thing that makes information stick in my head.
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We must Never Give The National Media Commission Or Any Other Institution The Power To Review Or Ban Media Content In Ghana

There seems to be a consensus amongst most ordinary Ghanaians that as a people we must not allow what are public resources, television frequencies, to be used to show pornography on television screens in our country.

It is a positive development - for we must do everything we can to stop the morals of young people in our country from being corrupted.

In the final analysis, however the issue of pornography on free-to-air television is eventually resolved by Ghanaian society, it is important that a specific law is passed by Parliament  to ban the broadcast of pornography by free-to-air television stations in Ghana. No other institution should have that power.

Furtheremore,  under no circumstances should the issue of banning pornography on free-to-air television be mixed up with the dangerous notion of giving the power to review and approve media content to unelected officials in Ghana - which hypothetically constitutes handing over a potential building-block to deny Ghanaians the right to freedom of expression to tomorrow's tyranny.

There are sufficient remedies on our statute books available to those who are libeled and slandered by journalists and media houses. And public opprobrium is a powerful antidote to yellow journalism, after all,  is it not?

It is said that  the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. A free and plural media ensures that. For that reason, the media in Ghana must remain unfettered always, till the very end of time.

We must never forget that brave individuals in the media, such as Tommy Thompson, P. V. Ansah, Kweku Baako, Kwesi Pratt and Kabral Blay-Amihere, fought to end the culture of silence that prevailed under the Provisional  National Defence Council (PNDC) military regime, at considerable personal risk.

Some - such as Tommy Thompson - even lost their lives in that fight for freedom of expression under the PNDC regime.

Let us jealously guard our right to speak our minds freely on the airwaves of radio and television stations and in the print media.We must never allow powerful people to manipulate the system to deny Ghanaians the right to speak their minds freely.  Ever.

That fundamental human right to freely speak our minds is a bulwark against tyranny.

Let us treasure it always - and prevent those who would enslave us from taking it away from us through clever ruses such as giving the National Media Commission (NMC) the power to review and approve media content.

Today, we  might be blessed to have good and decent individuals who are genuinely  committed to democracy constituting the membership of the NMC.

However, who can assure us that in the distant future, the NMC will not become a tool for powerful people seeking to control the media - and stop journalists and ordinary people from freely speaking their minds on national issues?

We should never give the power to review and ban media  content to either the NMC or any other institution in Ghana. Full stop.

Environmental Leader/Jennifer Hermes: Investors May Increase Emphasis on CSR Reporting


Investors May Increase Emphasis on CSR Reporting (but Beware of Overstating Your Performance)

June 21, 2017 by Jennifer Hermes

In today’s climate of increased investor interest in the sustainability performance of companies, US organizations have a unique opportunity to send a positive message to investors, one that says sustainability is still a priority. In fact, as corporations like Disney, Apple, Google and General Electric pledge to continue to pursue reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it may be that investors may actually increase their emphasis on corporate social responsibility (CSR), writes R. Douglas Harmon of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein (via JD Supra).

If Corporate America continues to react to President Trump’s decision to have the US exit the Paris Accord by stepping up their CSR initiatives, the momentum of sustainability reporting is likely to continue to build, as it has been for years, Harmon believes.

Customers, too, are likely to expect companies to continue their CSR initiatives. “I don’t see any way for this to go backwards,” said Maureen Kline, VP of public affairs and sustainability with Pirelli, an Italian tire company, at the recent Environmental Leader 2017 Conference. “If all the regulations were rolled back, they would still be asking us to become more sustainable. Now it is going down the supply chain and throughout the investor community,” which are led by 401k pension funds and institutional investors, as well as big banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

“In the 70s, a company’s valuation was based on brick and mortar followed by intangible assets,” said Kline.  “But over time, it has become more about intangible assets: patents, know-how, brands and reputation,” and the cause of sustainability is directly linked to that.

On the other hand, companies need to guard against using CSR reporting as a strict PR piece. As CSR reporting matures, becoming an element of a company’s performance that is closely watched by investors, it is increasingly important that the claims a company makes in its annual CSR reports are accurate and able to be substantiated, Harmon wrote in April. The last few years, he noted, have seen a rise in lawsuits concerning securities or consumer protection violations due to CSR statements.

A week after President Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris Accord, more than 1,200 businesses, universities & colleges, investors, governors and mayors officially declared that “We are still in” on the Paris Climate Agreement. The declaration represents $6.2 trillion of the US economy and 120 million Americans.


NASA HQ News: NASA Prepares for Aug. 21 Total Solar Eclipse with Live Coverage, Safety Information

June 21, 2017
RELEASE 17-058
NASA Prepares for Aug. 21 Total Solar Eclipse with Live Coverage, Safety Information

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will occur across the entire continental United States, and NASA is preparing to share this experience of a lifetime on Aug. 21.

Viewers around the world will be provided a wealth of images captured before, during, and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station – each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event.

NASA Television will air a multi-hour show, Eclipse Across America: Through the Eyes of NASA, with unprecedented live video of the celestial event, along with coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation, and on social media.

Coast to coast, from Oregon to South Carolina, 14 states will – over a span of almost two hours – experience more than two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day. When the moon completely blocks the sun, day will turn into night and make visible the otherwise hidden solar corona, the sun’s atmosphere. Bright stars and planets also will become visible. Using specialized solar viewing glasses or other equipment, all of North America will be able to view at least a partial eclipse lasting two to four hours. 

“Never before will a celestial event be viewed by so many and explored from so many vantage points – from space, from the air, and from the ground,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With our fellow agencies and a host of scientific organizations, NASA will continue to amplify one key message: Take time to experience the Aug. 21 eclipse, but experience it safely.”

Viewing Safety

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. In the 70-mile-wide swath of the country that will experience a total eclipse, it’s safe to look at the total eclipse with your naked eyes only during the brief period of totality, which will last about two minutes, depending on your location.

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially-eclipsed sun is with a pinhole projector. With this method, sunlight streams through a small hole – such as a pencil hole in a piece of paper, or even the space between your fingers – onto a makeshift screen, such as a piece of paper or the ground. It’s important to watch the screen, not the sun.

For more information on viewing safety, visit:

NASA and other agencies will provide vital information and updates on their respective websites that include viewing safety, activities across the country including at national parks, in addition to transportation preparations.

Studying Our Sun

Many researchers and citizen scientists will take advantage of this unique opportunity to study our sun, solar system, and Earth under rare circumstances. The sudden blocking of the sun during an eclipse reduces the light and changes the temperature on the ground, creating conditions that can affect local weather and animal behavior.

Understanding the sun has always been a top priority for space scientists. These scientists study how the sun affects space and the space environment of planets – a field known as heliophysics. As a source of light and heat for life on Earth, scientists want to understand how our sun works, why it changes, and how these changes influence life on Earth. The sun’s constant stream of solar material and radiation can impact spacecraft, communications systems, and orbiting astronauts.

“Eclipse 2017 provides an incredible opportunity to engage the entire nation and the world, inspiring learners of all ages who have looked to the sky with curiosity and wonder,” said Steven Clarke, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division in Washington.

NASA spacecraft capturing the event include: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will turn toward Earth to track the shadow of the moon on our planet; a host of Earth-observing spacecraft, which can both observe the shadow of the moon and measure how it affects Earth’s weather; and a fleet of solar observing spacecraft. NASA images and data of the eclipse will complement that collected by other scientific organizations.

For more information on eclipse activities, observing assets, and viewing safety, visit:

To watch the Aug. 21 NASA TV eclipse broadcast online and access interactive web content and views of the eclipse from more than 60 telescopes, aircraft and balloons, visit:


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

BBC News/Jamie Robertson: Qatar: Buying Britain by the pound

Qatar: Buying Britain by the pound
By Jamie Robertson Business reporter, BBC News

    9 June 2017
    From the section Business

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Canary Wharf, central to Qatar's UK property empire

It's hard to walk round London and admire the sights without admiring something paid for by Qatar.

From some of the most famous hotels and landmarks to the cranes arcing over the South Bank, Qatar has a substantial finger in a huge number of pies.

The UK is Qatar's single largest investment destination, with £35bn in place and another £5bn on its way in the next five years.

And it is now said that Qatar owns more land in London than the Queen.

The next batch of £5bn is headed for sectors ranging from infrastructure and energy to IT.

However, the pace may be slowing slightly after a rapid acceleration in the last five to 10 years, and Qatar's focus is turning instead to the US, where it aims to invest some $35bn (£27bn).

Both here and in the US, the investments will be largely channelled through the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) the country's sovereign wealth fund, that has a global portfolio worth about $335bn.

And it all comes from gas.

Qatar's oil output is relatively modest. But it is, through happy geological coincidence, situated on top of the South Pars Field, the single largest known natural gas field in the world, which straddles the Gulf.
Canary Wharf

The property research company Datscha revealed that the QIA owns 879 commercial and residential properties in London.

Of that, about 26 million sq ft is commercial property.

Central to its property empire is the Canary Wharf Group (CWG), which it bought with partners Brookfield Property Partners in 2015 for £2.6bn.

CWG owns some 16 million sq ft in the heart of London, including 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed the Walkie Talkie, and the Shell Centre redevelopment on London's South Bank.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Walkie Talkie, part of the Canary Wharf Group
London properties

The QIA separately bought the HSBC Tower at 8 Canada Square in 2014 for £1.1bn.

It also has a stake in London's Savoy Hotel (through owning 10% of the French hospitality group Accor), and a 95% stake in the Shard. It bought the Harrods department store for a reported £1.5bn in 2010.

Meanwhile, Qatari Diar, the QIA's real estate development unit, is busy converting the US Embassy on London's Grosvenor Square into a luxury hotel, and is building homes at the former Chelsea Barracks which it markets as "the most coveted 12.8 acres in the world."

Qatari Diar also has a partnership with the real estate investment company Delancey and the Dutch pension fund asset manager, APG to develop and rent the 2012 Olympic Athletes' Village, known as East Village, and the Elephant and Castle redevelopment.

In all, that's about 4,000 residential units, managed and leased through the Get Living brand.
Image copyright Maybourne Hotel Group
Image caption Claridge's - owned through the Maybourne Hotel Group

Another unit of the QIA, Qatar Holding, owns a string of hotels in London - not just any old hotels, but Claridge's, the Berkeley and the Connaught, as well as the Intercontinental in Park Lane, through a 64% stake in Coroin, the holding company which owns the Maybourne Hotel Group.

Across England and Wales, Datscha estimates the rateable value of all the QIA's properties is more than £1bn. Rateable value is not how much the properties are worth - it's based on the rentable value, so it represents the rent that could be charged in a year on all the properties.

Qatari individuals have also pumped money into London real estate. No 1 Hyde Park is a 380,000 sq ft development of some 83 apartments, considered by some to be the most expensive address in Europe.

It is joint owned by the CPC Group and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, former prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Qatar.

An investigation by Vanity Fair in 2013 found that 64 of the apartments were held by companies registered in offshore tax havens.
Gas supply

Qatar is also bound into the UK economy through trade. And for Qatar, trade means liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The distinctive LNG "Dinosaur Egg Carriers" which have helped make Qatar one of the richest nations on earth

Natural gas makes up about 29% of the UK's fuel imports and of that, about 29% is in the form of LNG, transported in double-hulled, temperature-controlled ships, such as the distinctive "Dinosaur Egg Carriers".

Qatar provides nearly all the UK's LNG. It comes through the South Hook Terminal at Milford Haven, which is 67.5% owned by Qatar Petroleum.

Then there are the strategic stakes in some of the country's biggest corporate names. The QIA has bought 22% of Sainsbury's and 20% of London Heathrow airport.

Since July last year, Qatar Airways is the biggest shareholder in British Airways owner IAG, with a 20% stake.

These kinds of investments do not come without a degree of controversy.

The Chelsea Barracks site has had a chequered history after Prince Charles lambasted the modernist design and the whole project was put on ice until 2015.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Chelsea Barracks site - a chequered history

More serious is the cloud hanging over Qatar's interests in Barclays bank. At the height of the financial crisis in 2008, Qatar and Abu Dhabi pumped some £7.3bn into Barclays bank as it attempted to avoid being bailed out by the UK government, Qatar paying £4bn.

But the manner in which Barclays raised the funds is being scrutinised by two UK regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Serious Fraud Office, and there is a separate lawsuit in which the private equity company PCP Partners is claiming £700m from Barclays in allegedly unpaid fees.

Qatar Holding is not under investigation. It still holds 6% of Barclays.

The country has also been making inroads into other areas of UK banking.

In 2009, the Qatari Investment Bank bought 44% of the venerable London stockbrokers Panmure Gordon.

Earlier this year, it made what it called a "joint bid" with Atlas Merchant Capital - the private equity firm of former Barclays boss Bob Diamond - to "take Panmure Gordon private and reposition the company as a key boutique investment bank in the UK market".

Copyright © 2017 BBC.

Advantage Environment: Clean, green laundry with ultra pure water

Advantage Environment    

Clean, green laundry with ultra pure water

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 05:15 AM PDT
SWATAB’s filter solution makes the water ultra pure before it is pumped into the laundry machine. Thanks to the water’s properties, the laundry becomes clean without detergent and at lower temperatures. A ten percent market share would save 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Scandinavian Water Technology AB (SWATAB) recently received the Climate Solver 2017 award from WWF. The company has developed a filter system that makes it possible to wash without detergents and at lower temperatures, thanks to the special properties of the ultra pure filtered water. If the innovation penetrates 10 percent of the target market by 2027, the global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced with 21 million tons of CO2e annually, according to WWF calculations.
Clean laundry, reduced environmental impact

Per Hansson’s interest in chemistry resulted in a patented filter system for environmentally friendly laundry. The innovation reduces climate impact and saves money. Photo: SWATAB.

”We are very proud of the Climate Solver award. It will open doors for us in our contacts with potential customers in the public and private sectors. In Sweden and the UK, the technology is already being used in hotels, nursing homes and laundry rooms in real estate properties. We see a large market potential. Our ambition is to contribute to a cleaner world and environmentally friendly laundry”, says Per Hansson, Head of Development at SWATAB.

”Our patented filter solution reduces the amount of chemicals and lowers energy consumption. The DIRO-TM21 filter makes it possible to wash without detergent and softener and still get clean and soft laundry. The unit is placed between the incoming water source and the washing machine and creates ultra-clean water, void of particles that would otherwise adhere to fabrics. The process is not temperature dependant, and the filter can be used with the standard washing programmes and temperature settings, from 30 to 90 °C. Washing can be carried out at 30˚ or less. Since the system reduces the amount of moisture that binds to the fabric, drying goes much faster, reducing the energy consumption of dryers. We estimate that the system can be used for up to 15 years before the unit needs to be replaced”, Per says.
Inspired by environmentally friendly facade cleaning

”A few years ago, we purchased an environmentally friendly facade cleaning system for our painting company. I discovered how efficient it was at removing dirt and algae, and I started to ask myself whether a similar technology could be used in washing machines. That was the birth of the laundry concept. Chemistry is fun, and I delved deeper into the problem. One thing led to another, and a couple of years later the innovation was granted a patent in Europe”, Per Hansson says.

The Diro® filter system transforms tap water into a special ultra pure water that washes clean  without detergents. Illustration: SWATAB.

”Water is the world’s oldest solvent, and on many kinds of impurities, it works excellently. Our filter removes particles of different size from the tapwater, making it ultra pure. In the final stage of the filtering process, the water is deionized. The water is pumped into the washing machine without particles, and when it comes into contact with the fabrics, it breaks the ionic bond between the fabric fibers and the dirt particles. The chemicals that usually do the job are not needed, and it works at low temperatures as well. Since the filtered water contains no lime or other minerals, the fabrics are left soft without the need for fabric softener. We have tested the system at the Swedish research institute SWEREA IVF. The results show that the cleaning effect reaches the EU Ecolabel specifications. The testing procedure is equivalent to the one used to test detergents”.

”The clothes dry faster, which is positive. According to test results, the filter can reduce drying time by a third. When dryers with moisture sensors are used, this is an important advantage, energy-wise. The filter system also reduces the risk of clogged drains, where detergent often is the culprit. Less allergic reactions to detergent residue is another advantage”, Per says.
Malmö Cleantech City Award

”Climate Solver is a very nice award. We are also happy that the Malmö Cleantech City Award 2016 recognised the company”, says Katarina Klöfverskjöld, CEO at SWATAB.

”We have conducted a number of interesting projects in Sweden, Denmark and the UK, and more systems are being installed – for example in nursing homes, real estate properties, and preschools. In a five-year-perspective, I think manufacturing will remain in Sweden, but with more resellers around Europe, and probably licensing as well. A consumer version of the filter is under development”, Katarina says.

The article was published in June 2017.

Inlägget Clean, green laundry with ultra pure water dök först upp på Miljönytta.

The Permaculture Research Institute/Tobias Roberts: Tropical Food Forests

The Permaculture Research Institute
Tropical Food Forests

June 14, 2017 by Tobias Roberts    & filed under Food & Food Support Systems, Food Forests,

One of the biggest myths of the industrialized food system is related to the issue of productivity. The massive monocultures of wheat, soybeans, corn, and other products that are cultivated by GPS-controlled combines and fertilized with heavy doses of chemical fertilizers are upheld as the standard of maximum productivity of the land. Following from this myth, we are led to believe that if it wasn’t for the genius of industrial agricultural methods, our world and its increasing population would essentially be starving to death.

Recent studies by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and several other smaller think tanks and non-profit organizations have shown, however, that small-scale, diversified, peasant and family agricultural practices are actually much more productive than the large-scale monocultures of grains that have overtaken the majority of the agricultural space of our planet.
To begin your Permaculture Journey, start with the Permaculture Student 2.

While each and every region has their own unique agricultural practices and traditions, one of the most commonly shared techniques of small farmers around the world are diversified food forests, though they may also be called by other names. Below we will look at what a food forest is, give an example of a functional food forest in tropical context, and explain some of the benefits in both productivity gains and long-term sustainability that come with food forests.
What is a Food Forest?

One of the defining aspects of small farmers around the world is that they generally suffer from a lack of land. Historical injustices related to land tenure coupled with the population explosion in many areas around the globe have led many small farming families to find ways to produce enough food for their livelihood on limited amounts of land.

Whereas monoculture grain farming only takes advantage of one “layer” of space (the horizontal layer where grains grow at roughly the same height), food forests seek to maximize the productivity from a small piece of land through growing edible species of plants on several, vertical layers throughout the space of the farm.

Many permaculture teachers around the world mistakenly proclaim that permaculture introduced the idea of food forests when the reality is that small farmers from marginalized communities around the world have been growing “stacked polycultures” for hundreds of years out of sheer necessity that arises from a lack of arable land.

While every context is different and certain environmental and climatic factors will determine how the food forest is set up, the basic idea of a food forest is to plant a diversity of different edible species (both perennials and annuals) that grow along different stratas of space. Just as an old growth forest has higher canopy trees, lower mid-range trees, shrubs, and ground covers all growing in one space, a food forest seeks to emulate this design from nature in order to maximize productivity and stimulate symbiotic relationships between the plants growing in a shared area.
 “recipe” for a food forest and each specific planting pattern will be different. Nonetheless, in the lowland Mayan communities of northern Guatemala, several small Mayan Q´eq´chi farmers have perfected a sustainable and extremely productive form of food forest design.

In these communities, large fruit trees such as mango and avocado form the canopy layer of the food forest system. These trees are spaced far enough apart to allow sufficient light to penetrate into the subsequent lower levels of the food forest. Underneath the mangos and avocados, smaller fruit trees such lemons and bananas and spice trees such as cinnamon and allspice (which are also cash crops) are spaced throughout the piece of land.
Small patches of land where sunlight is most prevalent are then left unplanted in the food forest ecosystem for small plots of corn, beans, and squash which are grown together. Elsewhere throughout the forest, large-leafed plants that are useful for making tamales and other shade tolerant wild greens are planted are allowed to grow free underneath the smaller fruit trees.

In areas of the food forest where the soil is wet, species of mint are allowed to take over as a thick ground cover which are harvested for medicinal purposes. In other areas, peanuts are planted to provide a thick, nitrogen fixing ground cover that also provides a protein-rich crop. Finally, vining fruits such as passion fruit are planted at the base of several trees to provide yet another vertical layer for harvesting. After several years of establishment, the accumulation of abundant amounts of organic matter increases the fungal growth of the soil and it is not uncommon for several species of edible mushrooms to emerge from the food forest floor.
The Benefits of Food Forests

Following from the example of the tropical food forest explained above, during a typical agricultural year, a small farming family is receiving at least 10 different crops that all come into harvest at different times. That same piece of land planted in monocultures of corn or beans would give only a portion of the calories and nutrition when compared to the fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms that all spring from the same piece of land.

At the same time, the soil on the forest floor is constantly increasing in organic matter, improving its fertility, and even capturing large amounts of greenhouse gases and storing them in the soil. When compared to the energy dependent forms of industrial agricultural, not only are food forests more productive, they are also much better for the environment as well.

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