Latest News Papers | News Papers Online | Journal News Paper | Technology News Paper


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wash Your Hands: ATMs Are Germ Havens

Swab tests recently conducted of public surfaces in six major cities revealed that ATMs are among the worst carriers of illness-causing germs.
Wash Your Hands: ATMs Are Germ HavensThe tests, conducted by Kimberly-Clark Corp. as part of its Healthy Workplace Project, showed that 41% of automated teller machine keypads carry germs that can cause colds and the flu. Kimberly-Clark is a maker of a wide variety of consumer products, including Kleenex tissues, waterless hand sanitizers and antibacterial hand soap.
ATMs were No. 4 on the list of most-contaminated public surfaces, behind gas pump handles, 71% of which carry disease-causing germs, mailbox handles (68%) and escalator rails (43%).
The testing took place in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia. About 350 samples were taken with swabs that were then tested for adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a naturally occurring chemical present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. Detection of ATP indicates the presence of contamination by any of these sources. Everyday objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher are considered to have a high risk for illness transmission, according to Kimberly-Clark.
After ATM buttons, parking meters (40%), crosswalk buttons (35%) and vending machine buttons (35%) were the next most germ-laden public surfaces that people regularly touch.
"People do not realize the amount of contamination they are exposed to going to work each day and doing everyday things like filling their gas tank or riding on an escalator," Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, said in a statement. "This new testing is compelling because it underscores the importance of hand and surface hygiene. Most cold and flu viruses are spread because people touch surfaces in their immediate area and then touch their faces, other objects and other people."
Gerba recommends washing and thoroughly drying your hands throughout the day to minimize the risk of getting sick or spreading illness around an office.
Each year, companies lose $1,685 per employee due to absenteeism and "presenteeism" (the situation that arises when employees come to work even though they're sick and thereby spread their germs to their colleagues), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
"The likelihood for illnesses to transfer from the objects that people use every day like ATMs and parking meters is eye-opening," said Brad Reynolds, marketing leaders of Kimberly-Clark's Healthy Workplace Project. "These findings indicate that illness-causing germs are everywhere and have the potential to travel with you into your office space. That's why we developed the Healthy Workplace Project -- a unique approach to hand and surface hygiene that helps employees understand and reduce the spread of cold and flu germs throughout their workplaces."
Kimberly-Clark's Healthy Workplace Project website provides educational materials that show how germs can be spread on public surfaces and stress the importance of washing your hands and keeping surfaces clean.

WikiLeaks Suspends Publication Because of Financial Boycott

Wikileaks will be temporarily suspending its publication of confidential documents in order to fight a financial boycott against the organization that has reportedly cut off 95 percent of its revenue.
"WikiLeaks has published the biggest leaks in journalistic history," WikiLeaks Co-Founder Julian Assange said at a press conference Monday. "This has triggered aggressive retaliation from powerful groups."
The "powerful groups" Assange is talking about consist of banks, credit card companies, and money transfer companies: the Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and Western Union. According to Assange, this "arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade" has destroyed about 95 percent of WikiLeak's revenue.
"It came as part of a concerted, U.S.-based political attack that included vitriol by senior right-wing politicians in the United States and high-level calls for the assassination of WikiLeaks staff and myself personally," Assange said.
He says the blockade has forced WikiLeaks to run on cash reserves for the past 11 months, and has cost the organization tens of millions of dollars in lost donations. He says that WikiLeaks must now divert its "scarce resources" to focus entirely on "fighting this unlawful financial blockage."
According to Assange, WikiLeaks has initiated legal action against the blockade in Iceland, Denmark, Brussels, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. It has also filed an anti-trust complaint to the European Commission, and expects to hear a decision on that action by next month.
The financial blockade on WikiLeaks occurred shortly after the organization began releasing confidential U.S. diplomatic documents in November of last year.
Assange argues that the current conflict between WikiLeaks and some of the most powerful financial institutions in the world has far-reaching consequences.
"If this financial attack stands unchallenged, a dangerous, oppressive and undemocratic precedent will have been set, the implications of which go far beyond WikiLeaks and its work," he warned. "Any organization that falls foul of these powerful financial companies or their political allies can expect similar extrajudicial action."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Varun Aaron - an encouraging debut

Varun Aaron had a superb debut.
Varun Aaron has long generated buzz because he's been touted as amongst the quickest bowlers in India. There were many people eagerly anticipating a debut for the young pacer as early as the Indian team's tour of England, but Aaron remained a passenger there. With Umesh Yadav injured and the return series sealed, Aaron finally got his chance. And it was quite a collective meeting-of-expectations that Aaron pulled off in his international debut. 

Before singing the hosannas though, let's backtrack a little and take a reality check. 

Aaron was up against the English ODI side in India - and England in India in ODIs have not been a force for a long time. He was carefully shielded by Dhoni from bowling in the power-plays, and only bowled when there was full freedom to set the field. The batsmen he dismissed were Numbers 8,9 and 10. Even Tim Bresnan (one of Aaron's wickets) - the highest scorer in the England innings - has never in his life batted at Number 6 or higher in either his ODI or Test batting career. And most important of all, India - or the Indian cricket fan to be more accurate - has gone through several heart-breaking false dawns of the 'next great pace hope' kinds. Apart from Zaheer Khan, none of those who promised much have delivered anywhere close to it so far. 

And yet, in spite of these factors, it may - just may - be time for some optimism. For the more adventurous fan, it may be time for a quiet little jig too. Here's why. 

Consider the situation Aaron was facing before the match. There had been virtually ceaseless build-up about him, about how he was going to be almost a saviour of sorts to a pace-starved nation. Never mind that he hadn't played more than 12 matches in either First Class cricket or List A limited-overs matches so far. Never mind that at 140 clicks he might have been among the faster Indians around, but he was far from being amongst the quickest in the world. Never mind that he was born barely two weeks before Sachin Tendulkar made his international debut, and was still a very young man. That kind of pressure of expectation alone is enough to stifle anyone, and yet Aaron didn't let it stifle him. It may have seemed as if Dhoni was wrapping him in cotton-wool and not trusting him enough when he wasn't given the ball in the power-play overs, but Dhoni might just have been giving Aaron the biggest vote of confidence of all. The expectations would have created sufficient internal pressure for Aaron, and it is unreasonable to expect someone as young and raw to handle it coolly straight away. By minimizing at least whatever external pressures he could, Dhoni recognized that maybe Aaron was a player worth investing in for the future and that his present therefore had to be handled carefully lest he implode. Dhoni thus gave Aaron as much of a controlled setting as was possible. He (and the rest of the team and nation) could only hope that Aaron grabbed his chance. 

Now consider the match situations in which Aaron bowled. When he was introduced into the attack, England were cruising at 61/2 in 10 overs, with Trott and Pietersen having both spent some time in the middle and both batting at good strike-rates. Aaron proceeded to give just 3 runs in his first over and 3 in his second. An attempted yorker in his third over went wrong and Pietersen deposited it to the boundary which made his third over a tad expensive at 8 runs, but aside from that one bad ball, Aaron had a pretty good first international spell. In summary, he came on to bowl at a fairly challenging situation in the match and held his own. 

His second spell came when India were much better placed. England had slipped to 192/7 in 40 overs when Aaron returned with Bresnan and Borthwick at the crease. It was the sort of score from which teams had routinely added 40-50 frustrating lower-order runs against India with the tail never being knocked off as quickly as it should have been. Aaron's first over did nothing to indicate matters were going to be otherwise, with Bresnan even creaming him through the covers for a boundary off the second ball of the over. That however, would be the last boundary Aaron would concede on his debut. In his next over, he cleaned up Borthwick and didn't give a run away. In the next one, it was Stuart Meaker that lost his stumps. And off the first ball of his next over, Aaron bowled a superb delivery that appeared to have just beaten Bresnan, but actually ended up clipping the stumps. The tail had been effectively cleaned up and in what was probably the most pleasing thing to Aaron about his wickets, each one was 'bowled' - the classic fast bowler's dismissal. 

The last time a young Indian bowler came on the scene who was capable of cleaning out batsmen like that - who actually did it on his debut and caused great excitement among Indian fans - was Zaheer Khan in 2000. Zaheer's debut was against Kenya in which he took 3/48 (a figure bettered by Aaron), but it was his next match that fully showcased his exciting potential. That was against Australia 4 days later and Zaheer dismissed Gilchrist and Steve Waugh - the latter memorably yorked. 

Aaron, of course, has a long, long way to go before he can even think of filling in Zaheer's boots. But the fact that he has begun as encouragingly as he has, is very good for a start. Now, all it needs is for the BCCI to find a way to not let his development go the way the vast majority of other fast-bowling hopes development has.

News from -

ICC releases T20 rankings

Eoin Morgan is the world's top batsman in the inaugural ICC T20 rankings.
Ajantha Mendis topped the bowlers' charts.
The International Cricket Council released its first set of international Twenty20 rankings, with reigning World T20 champions England topping the list in the team rankings and Eoin Morgan of England and Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka topping the batting and bowling rankings respectively. Shane Watson of Australia was the highest ranked all-rounder. 

England, which is also the top ranked Test side, has a rating of 127 points and leads second-placed Sri Lanka by just one rating point. 

Only six ratings points separate the next four sides with New Zealand occupying third position on 117, followed by South Africa, ICC World Twenty20 2007 winner India, and Australia. Rather surprisingly, Pakistan are ranked 7th. The finalists of the 2007 edition, winners of the 2009 edition and semi-finalists of the 2010 edition could have justifiably expected a higher rank. In response to numerous questions about the same on Twitter, the ICC clarified that rankings were based on results from August 1, 2009 and that World Cup results didn't carry extra weight while assigning ranking points. In the period in question, Pakistan have lost more than 50% of their International T20s - hence their lower than expected rank. 

Teams that have played eight or more T20Is since August 2009 have been included on the table. Bangladesh, along with Associate Members Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland, which have T20I status, will all join the table as soon as they have played sufficient matches to qualify for a ranking. 

The methodology behind ranking sides in Twenty20s is similar to the one used for ODIs, with the purpose too being the same - giving context to bilateral matches and series. For instance, if India defeat England in the one-off T20 after the current ODI series, England will slip to third from their top spot, with India rising to 2nd from 5th. 

ICC General Manager - Cricket, David Richardson, speaking at the launch ceremony, said: "The ICC is delighted to announce the team and player rankings for Twenty20 international cricket. The launch of T20I rankings will generate even more interest in the shortest format and will help to give more context to bilateral T20Is. 

"Despite the fact that not as many T20Is have been played as Tests or ODIs, the ICC believes these rankings add context to nation versus nation contests in the shortest of cricket's three vibrant international formats." 

The new system is not without its detractors or shortcomings, though most players have expressed support for it. Among the major shortcomings of the system are that it does not differentiate between a win in a dead-rubber T20 International versus, for example, the semi-final or the final of the T20 World Cup. It also gives no weightage to wins at home or wins away. 

Among the positive aspects of the ratings are undoubtedly the fact that recent results are given greater weightage than past results on a diminishing scale. 

The ICC T20 ratings: 

Teams: 1.England (127 points) 2.Sri Lanka (126 points) 3.New Zealand (117 points) 4.South Africa (113 points) 5.India (112 points) 6.Australia (111 points) 7.Pakistan (97 points) 8.West Indies (89 points) 9.Afghanistan (75 points) 10.Zimbabwe (54 points). 

Batsmen: 1.Eoin Morgan (England) 2.Brendon McCullum (New Zealand) 3.Kevin Pietersen (England) 4.Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka) 5.Suresh Raina (India) 

Bowlers: 1.Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka) 2.Graeme Swann (England) 3.Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan) 4.Nathan McCullum (New Zealand) 5.Johan Botha (South Africa) 

All-rounders: 1.Shane Watson (Australia) 2.Shahid Afridi (Pakistan) 3.David Hussey (Australia) 4.Mohammad Hafeez (Pakistan)

News from -