Archive for March 4th, 2011

March 4, 2011

People power hits Brussels and catches on in Europe

EU Observer reports that Belgians now angry over the EU’s plans to stop the automatic indexing of wages and for the raising of the retirement age, are threatening to block all important public roads and transport joints to the capital, so to make the forthcoming EU Summit to put this in place, close down.

According to the members of the protest movement as interviewed by EU Observer: “The idea is that leaders can’t get in or out of the city. If the airport is shut down, if there’s no fuel for the planes, if no air traffic controllers are working, if the Eurostar is down, they can’t meet.

The protest has now caught on in France and other countries  it seems that the French General Federation of Labor is considering  joining in and so is the European Union Trade Congress and a number of other such organizations.  The protests seem to emanate from the increasingly hostile view of EU citizen members who are worried about the EU’s austerity program at home whilst it is still giving generous grants to overseas countries in Africa, the middle east, Asia Pacific and the Caribbean.

[European Affairs Contributor]

March 4, 2011

Reduce your GABA and your learning problems are over

[by Sumatra Sunet, Health & Medicine Contributor]

The Telegraph reports that researchers at Oxford University have found that it is the level of a substance called GABA in your brain that affects your ability to learn new tasks. So if you have problems in getting to grips with new tasks, dance steps, rhythms, working machinery – in fact anything that requires you to control your movements, it is not down to you being just plain stupid, but really a result of the amount of GABA that is floating around your brain.

GABA lubricates the brain and stops brain cells from overheating. It also slows down activity between the cells to an optimum level for their performing efficiency.  However, the researchers have found that the more GABA you have in your brain at any time, the more your learning capacity is compromised.  Some of us are able to consciously lower our GABA level to learn new tasks, but others are not so fortunate and as a result have problems in learning and performing new tasks.

Researchers at the University of Oxford, used 12 volunteers to calculate the level of GABA in the part of the brain responsible for the control of movements and then gave the volunteers the task of learning a pattern of button pressings on a keypad.  They then reduced the GABA in the brains of the volunteers by using an electrical current and requested them to perform the task. The researchers found that by GABA being reduced by only 30% increased the volunteers learning rate by 70%. The GABA reduction procedure lasted about an hour, but it is hoped that with more treatment, the GABA reduction could last a lot longer and even become permanent.

March 4, 2011

Billionaire reveals secrets of getting rich in 2011

Michael Lee-Chin is a self-made billionaire. He is ranked as 701 in Forbes Billionaire List  and has assets worth around $1.0 billion. According to Canadian Business, he is among the richest in Canada. However, what is surprising about his wealth is Mr. Lee-Chin was born in Jamaica, a country not famous for its ability to breed billionaires, of black and Chinese Jamaican parents.

As reported by Caribbean 360, at a presentation of the Barbados International Business Association in Bridgetown, Mr. Lee-Chin informed an audience of eager business-folk, that getting rich was not about spreading risk through widely diversifying assets, but was by following the basic five simple principles of wealth creation as practices by himself and America’s wealthiest investors, particularly Warren Buffet:-

  • Wealth is created by owning a few high quality businesses;
  • Wealth is created when the person owning those few businesses fully understands them;
  • That the businesses owned are in long-term growth industries;
  • That financing is done by prudently using other people’s money;
  • That the few businesses owned are owned for the long-run.

According to Mr. Lee-Chin, ‘nimbleness’ and ‘creativity’ are also important qualities for investors to have if they wish to be successful.

However, many budding billionaires are understandingly cynical of all this from a businessman who after he becomes rich, tells us how to do it. What would be more impressive, according to them, is for him to tell the story about the plan that he had for getting rich, how he stuck to it and how it worked for him. But such a plan never seems to have existed as the 5 principles Mr. Lee-Chin recommends, appear to have just been adopted along the way in an opportunistic fashion.  Again, surprisingly, the rich never seem to have these kind of stories and even if they did, they would surely be no more than historical, rather than practical models, bearing in mind the fast pace of new developments in the financial markets over time.

Also, if America’s richest did follow all of the 5 principles above that more or less guarantee richness, what happened to all that when the financial crisis saw the biggest and the best in the USA failing, or teetering and/ or having to be bailed out? Surely, bearing all that in mind, is the USA model as recommended by Mr. Lee-Chin, still a good one for how to make it in the financial markets and to keep your money?

I am sure Mr. Lee-Chin means well, but if it was that easy, we would all be swimming in dosh. My guess is that as we are all seeing, 2011 has started off as a tough year for financial marketeers and the recommended five principles will need to be considerably massaged and new principles injected via ‘creativity’ and ‘nimbleness’ for budding billionaires to make it.

Mr. Lee-Chin’s business is investments. He owns Portland Holdings Inc., which in turn owns a medley of companies running media, tourism, health care telecommunications and financial services business. His road to wealth was via moving to Canada where after working in security for nightclubs, he moved into financial services.

[Tim Kensley-Brown, Finance & Economy Contributor (Caribbean)]