Monday, December 05, 2011

Brazilian Legend Socrates- Football's Cool Maestro dies

Socrates, one of the true masters of the beautiful game died Sunday, aged 57.

Socrates, captained the 1982 Brazilian national team that included Zico,Falcao and Eder and have often been lauded as "the best team never to win a World Cup."

Paying a tribute to the King of Cool, Henry Winter writes in The Telegraph: Brazil’s captain struck twice in Spain, the first coming against the USSR in Seville. It was a classic, Socrates sidestepping two opponents sliding in despairingly, knowing the venom lurking in that famous right foot. The pain duly came, Socrates rifling a shot past Rinat Dasaev, the highly respected Soviet keeper.

The majesty of many of Socrates’ goals lay in their technical brilliance, the stellar significance of the occasion and often the quality of the goalkeeper condemned to fetch the ball out of the net.

After Dasaev, Socrates also caught out Dino Zoff. It came in one of the most epic contests in World Cup history, a match with Italy played out in the heat of Barcelona. Countless millions tuning in around the world watched transfixed as Socrates strolled through the middle, playing a firm pass to Zico before striding on. Zico stroked a superb return pass for Socrates, who glided into the box before beating Zoff. Sublime.

The ball entered the goal at the near post, a surprising mistake from a keeper of Zoff’s class yet Socrates had advanced radiating such confidence, almost toying with Zoff’s mind with his eyes, that a goal was inevitable. Paolo Rossi’s hat-trick saved Italy, leaving Brazil heading home early, grasping only plaudits.

“To win is not the most important thing,” reflected Socrates. “Football is an art and should be showing creativity. If Vincent van Gogh and Edgar Degas had known when they were doing their work the level of recognition they were going to have, they would not have done them the same. You have to enjoy doing the art and not think, 'will I win?’ ”.

Socrates leaves behind a cherished principle that football should be about artistry. His goals stand as a vivid reminder of that cultured credo.

Socrates has not won the World Cup, but his performances on the world stage make him an all-time great of the game, and he will be remembered as a true gifted footballing icon of the 1980s.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Europe can learn from Islamic finance, says Luxembourg's Finance Minister

Entering its 6th year, the IFN 2011 Issuers & Investors Asia Forum,(previously known as the Malaysian Islamic Finance Forum) has emerged as the industry’s leading and largest annual event.

Europe can learn and gain from Islamic finance, given that financial institutions under it, have remained stable against the backdrop of the eurozone debt crisis.

Luxembourg's Minister of Finance, Luc Frieden, in a keynote address at the IFN 2011 Issuers & Investors Asia Forum noted that despite the credit crunch that has impacted Europe's banks, Islamic financial institutions had weathered the global crisis and emerged to be the most well managed.

"Therefore, we can learn a lot from Islamic finance and from Asia, as we have much in common.

"The key elements in Islamic finance that we need in the world today, particularly in Europe, are stability, financial partnership, provision of excessive risk and speculation as well as ethical principles," he added.

He said in Islamic finance, the financial relationship between the lender and borrower, had assured the "partnership mentality", which was found to lead to certain stability.

Explaining the need to avoid excessive risk taking place, Frieden said this is among the key goals of Europe and is an important feature found in Islamic finance.

"The provision against speculation and gambling which is prohibited in Islamic finance, is what we can concentrate on," he added.

He also said the element of ethical principles should not be limited to the Islamic finance industry alone. Frieden gave an assurance that Europe would find a solution to the debt-crisis that had led to volatility in the global economy.

"There's no one easy solution and one meeting can't solve the crisis. We have embarked on a step-by-step process to solve the problems.

"We will find a solution to the Greek issue. The Euro will be a currency you can count on in the future and see growth," he said.

He said Asia and Europe must join forces for the development and prosperity of the global economy.

"Therefore, Asian investors should look at Europe for trade and investment purposes, going forward," he added. Link the star

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Another "Black Swan" Approaching

According to a forecast from the Economic Cycle Research Institute(ECRI) as reported on CNN Money the US economy is heading for another double dip recession. "It's either just begun, or it's right in front of us," said Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director of ECRI. "But at this point that's a detail. The critical news is there's no turning back. We are going to have a new recession."

This new crisis comes just three years after the global financial and economic crisis. As opposed to the 2008 crisis that started in the US with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, this time Europe is at the centre of the crisis- the Euro Zone in particular has rocked the financial markets because their sovereign debt crisis.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the best-selling book “The Black Swan,” said he’s more concerned about prospects for the U.S. than Europe because the country lacks awareness of its fiscal woes.

“The difference between Europe and the U.S. is the consciousness of the problem,” Taleb, a New York University professor, said at a news conference in Tokyo organized by Bank of America Corp. “There’s no consciousness in the U.S.” about the fiscal deficit, he said.

Global financial-market turmoil intensified this quarter as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis deepened and the U.S. economy showed signs of slowing. Standard & Poor’s cut the U.S.’s credit rating for the first time in August, criticizing lawmakers for failing to cut spending or raise revenue enough to reduce record budget shortfalls.

Demonstrations have been taking place in Greece, Spain and Portugal against austerity measures and joblessness since early this year. Now the Wall Street of the US has also been hit by the waves of protest- the protesting issues include the 2008 bank bailouts, and high unemployment. Wall Street protesters carried posters which read “Protesters have rights defend 'Occupy Wall Street'” and chanted slogans including, "Stand up. Fight back," "We got sold out. Banks got bailed out" and "We are the 99 percent."

The term “Black Swan,” popularized by Mr. Taleb refers to a statement of impossibility, or to an event so unlikely that it defies comprehension.

In the past decade, there are quite a few examples of financial “Black Swan” events. Among them are the housing bubble and sub-prime mortgage crisis that derailed the banking system, the demise of Lehman Brothers in 2008, the BP oil spill and the Dow Jones flash crash, which had the Dow reeling with a 1000 point move on May 6, 2010.

Since events of these magnitudes are all previously unheard of in history, their repercussions ripple for years to come.

Now we need to heed to the warning that another Black Swan is unfolding.

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb,the author of The Black Swan wrote:

“We have never lived before under the threat of a global collapse. The financial ecology is swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks — when one fails, they all fall. We have moved from a diversified ecology of small banks, with varied lending policies, to a more homogeneous framework of firms that all resemble one another. True, we now have fewer failures, but when they occur . . . I shiver at the thought.”

America's laissez-fare ideology of capitalism practised during the subprime crisis and the European state welfare model that has gone so wrong in Greece are under pressure to redefine and create a new social compact. Capitalism is the system that has created the extraordinary wealth and enabled the modern development of the western civilisation. But the free market has also created the biggest wealth gap between the rich and poor. If states have to intervene to bail out banks deemed too-big-to-fail and save countries from bankruptcy as in the case of Greece, then a new balance between the state and market is needed.

Q&A: Greek debt crisis. link
Late -2000s financial crisis. wikepedia

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cartoon Network aims to create growth in Arabic

In Oct 2010, the American children's channel Cartoon Network launched a Cartoon Network Arabic channel- a free-to-air children's channel hoping to reach 35 million homes in the Middle East and North Africa. The free alternative to the subscription based Cartoon-Network is operated by the Turner Broadcasting offices in Dubai.

The world's first Cartoon Network Academy(CNA) in Abu Dhabi has now rolled out its inaugral batch of 12 graduates. The Academy is central to the development of local talent needed for the animation industry. The animation and gaming industry still in its nascent stage is one of the fastest growing industry in the region.

Turner’s ambition to expand the network in the Middle East and invest in local talent is necessary in order to grow the business. The diversity of the spoken Arabic dilects across the region poses challenges and creates opportunities for the animation industry.

According to a statement from Turner, Cartoon Network is available in 22 languages, across 27 separate feeds, in 166 countries and in 248 million homes worldwide.

This is not the first time that an American children' s TV show has been traslated to Arabic. Thirty years ago a local version of Sesame Street was braodcasted.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Einstein's Law of Physics May Change

This is the cornerstone of physics since Albert Einstein dreamed up his theory of relativity.

Einstein's Law of Relativity is one of the few scientific equations most people know -- and it's a pillar of modern physics and fundamental to the way that the universe works.

The equation states that nothing is faster than the speed of light, but one of the world's foremost laboratories says they've found subatomic particles called neutrinos that travel even faster. If their findings are proven true, it may alter our understanding of the universe.

In Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2, the constant "c" is the speed of light, which is the same everywhere in the universe: c = 186 thousand miles per second, and there is nothing faster. The constant been accepted for more than a century.

Scientists were baffled by the research findings.

As the international team which conducted the experiments puzzled over what is potentially one of the biggest upsets in history, less rigorous minds turned their attention to the possibility of time travel and visiting distant planets.

Even Professor Alvaro De Rujula, a theoretical physicist at CERN, was not immune to the excitement.

He acknowledged that if the readings proved correct, and were not the result of some human error, it created unlimited possibilities.

The average person, said Professor De Rujula, "could, in principle, travel to the past and kill their mother before they were born".

Yesterday, the scientists whose findings have force a rethink on the make-up of the universe, officially informed colleagues and asked them for help in uncovering any flaws. Link

Friday, September 23, 2011

India's Last Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Patudi Passes Away

He was the Nawab of Pataudi, an inspirational cricket captain, especially considering that he overcame the loss of an eye to forge a successful career- an illustrious life came to an end Thursday marking end of an era for Indian cricket.

He was born into royalty, educated in England, transformed the Indian cricket and became it's youngest caption at the age of 21. He was India's first cricket superstar.

He is survived by his wife Sharmila Tagore, his actor son Saif Ali Khan and his two daughters Soha and Saba Ali Khan. His entire family was at his bedside when the end came at 5.55pm this evening. "He passed away around 5.55pm. His condition had deteriorated since yesterday. He was suffering from interstitial lung disease (interstitial pneumonitis) which worsens rapidly inspite of the best treatment available," Dr S. P. Byotra, Department of medicine in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, where Pataudi was admitted, said. (Link)

"He was unable to maintain his oxygen level in spite of maximal treatment. He continued to remain in the ICU for nearly a month. He had this disease, which had been static since the last three months and worsened very acutely over the last four weeks,” the doctor said.

Tributes to Patudi on ESPN cricinfo

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

CIMA's Islamic Finance Certificate

Bait al-Mashura, a specialised company in providing Islamic finance consultations, has been authorised by Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to hold exams and grant certificates in Islamic finance. Bait al-Mashura managing director and CEO Dr Osama Q al-Derae’i said certificates of CIMA are based on self-paced study and distance learning principle.
More of this article on Gulf Times.

The 'CIMA Certificate in Islamic Finance' was officially launched in December 2007 in the UK and Bahrain, followed by Malaysia and Singapore in 2008.

Islamic finance is a trillion dollar industry and has become part of the global financial system. Educating financial professionals on Islamic finance has become a business priority for many countries, given that the Islamic finance industry is growing at an estimated 15-20 per cent annually.