New fossils continue to turn up around the world. Many of them have an amazing characteristic in common: they look almost exactly like their living counterparts, despite being millions of years old, according to the evolutionary timescale. It’s interesting sometimes to hear how the evolutionists explain the remarkable lack of evolution in all that time.Fig wasp: Don’t evolve a good thing: Science Daily reported that the world’s oldest fig wasp fossil has been discovered on the Isle of Wight. “The fossil wasp is almost identical to the modern species, proving that this tiny but specialized insect has remained virtually unchanged for over 34 million years.” That’s nearly double the previous record for this species (20 million years), and almost six times the amount of time apes are said to have come down from the trees and evolved into Platos, Mozarts and oil executives. Dr. Steve Compton of London’s Natural History Museum stated an evolutionary theory rescue device called “give the mystery a name” when he said, “Although we often think of the world as constantly changing, what this fossil gives us is an example of something remaining unchanged for tens of millions of years – something which in biology we call ‘stasis’.” Science Daily tossed in a little humor on that point in its headline: “World’s Oldest Fig Wasp Fossil Proves That If It Works, Don’t Change It.” But is that an evolutionary law of nature? If monkeys worked, why did they change into humans, and why are there still monkeys?Amber alert: Scientists at Oregon State look into amber and use them as crystal balls to see visions. PhysOrg reported that the static images of dead insects and other animals become to them moving pictures of behaviors that tell evolutionary stories: “All kinds of behavior, ranging from the nurturing protection of a mother, mating and reproductive instincts, to the behavior of pathogenic microbes can be observed in extinct life that’s millions of years old, and was captured in oozing tree sap that later turned into the semi-precious stone amber.” A captivating picture of a millipede clutching its newly hatched young at the moment it died accompanies the article. If hoping to find evidence of evolution in the article, though, the reader will be disappointed. “The range of evidence, the researchers said, suggests a different view of evolution – that most behavior appears to be retained, and when it doesn’t serve the long-term survival of the species, extinction occurs.” The article mentions a 100-million-year old fossil of a gecko “the same sophisticated method of toe adhesion that allows it to walk easily on vertical and even inverted surfaces – a capability that served it well when it was skittering away from dinosaurs then, or is skipping through the jungles of Southeast Asia today.” But how did the traits and behaviors arise in the first place? Gecko toe adhesion is a very complex trait (12/06/2006). Even speaking of humans, the authors of Fossil Behavior Compendium (George Poinar and Arthur Boucot), said “from what we know of basic human behaviors, it is clear there has been no significant change since the beginnings of recorded history.” Based on analysis of Neanderthal skull injuries, sexual behaviors, aggression, violence against members of their own species appear to be “hard-wired,” they claim (though it would seem drawing such inferences from skull marks is profoundly subjective). In short, if there were examples of fossils in their book that do show evolutionary change, they were not mentioned in the article. It appears the authors did not mention them because they could not. Poinar said, “Species may evolve physically, but behavioral changes are much less obvious and many species will go extinct because they cannot change the way they act.” Yet it is not clear from this statement why natural selection should be impotent to act on behavior, if it is presumed to be so powerful as to produce an elephant or a giraffe from a small Cretaceous mammal in a few tens of millions of years. Presumably, natural selection outfitted these animals with the behaviors needed to operate their bodies in their new habitats, so why could it not also modify behaviors of animals when environments change, to prevent extinction? This seems to be a very subjective application of evolutionary theory after the fact to explain opposite things. Extinction, furthermore, is not evolution. It may clear the playing field of misfits, but surely it does not add any genetic information for innovation.Pelican evolution? Not here. The earliest known pelican fossil, said to be 30 million years old, has been found in France, reported the BBC News. “What has surprised them most about this ancient pelican is that it is almost identical to modern species.” Other than slightly different proportions, there is nothing primitive about it. “The discovery has surprised the researchers, because it reveals just how little pelicans have evolved over huge expanses of time.” The article began to sound like a broken record about the lack of evolution: “That means that pelicans and their huge beaks have survived unchanged since the Oligocene epoch.” The discoverer said, ”It is so similar to modern pelicans, despite its 30 million years.” Can evolutionists explain why there was no change in all that time? “That suggests that pelicans quickly evolved their huge beaks and have maintained them almost unchanged since because they are optimal for fish feeding.” Another possibility: “However, it could also be that the giant beak has not evolved in the past 30 million years because of constraints imposed by flying.” But that idea seems a stretch. It does not seem to have affected other birds, that grew large beaks, small beaks, large wings, small wings, in all kinds of different habitats. Dr. Antoine Louchart, the discoverer, offered another explanation for the missing evolution. He suggested that while the skeleton shows stasis, “perhaps changes in other characterisics [sic] occurred, such as plumage or behaviour” – though, conveniently, none of those are open to observation or testing. Louchart also made the odd claim that this is a rare example of an animal showing little or no change in the fossil record. “The only other good examples, says Dr Louchart, are bats, which have a body shape that appears to have survived unaltered for around 50 million years.” Perhaps he had a memory lapse; horseshoe crabs are still living virtually unchanged after an alleged 500 million years (06/21/2002) as are other members from the Cambrian explosion and many “living fossils.” Also, there was no mention of a bat ancestor or a pelican ancestor in the article. Just as the first bat fossil was 100% bat, if this was the earliest pelican ever found, it was already 100% pelican.Update 06/22/2010: Jeff Hecht reported on this fossil in New Scientist that it poses an “evolutionary puzzle.” He said it “raises interesting questions over why evolution has left the birds so little changed over such a long period.” Any hopes for solving this puzzle, however, evaporated within the article. After mentioning only one suggestion, Hecht said, “Louchart is not convinced that either of these hypotheses offers a complete explanation; he thinks something else may be involved but does not know what that might be.” No other possibilities were even mentioned. In fact, the puzzle grew deeper: “The find not only pushes back the origins of pelicans, but of related birds too.”Mammal evolution? Gnaw. Large gnawing marks were found on dinosaur bones, reported PhysOrg. Experts identify the bite marks from the alleged 75-million-year-old late Cretaceous bones: “They think they were most likely made by multituberculates, an extinct order of archaic mammals that resemble rodents and had paired upper and lower incisors.” Even though the species are extinct, Nicholas Longrich of Yale noticed something about them that made him pay attention: “The marks stood out for me because I remember seeing the gnaw marks on the antlers of a deer my father brought home when I was young.” Extinct or not, rodent tooth marks have not changed that much in 75 million years. The article hastily added an evolutionary spin to make it appear that at least something has evolved in all that time: “But he points out that the Late Cretaceous creatures that chewed on these bones were not nearly as adept at gnawing as today’s rodents, which developed that ability long after dinosaurs went extinct.” It’s not clear how that claim could be tested. They must have been good enough to gnaw on the rib bone of a large dinosaur. That’s pretty adept. How much more adept did Longrich expect them to become?A hippo’s tale There was an article in PNAS trying to figure out where hippos, whales and other mammals relate to each other.1 Their concern was to try to reduce the long (40 million year) “ghost lineage” between the earliest whale and the earliest hippopotamus, assuming they had a common ancestor. Their hypothesis reduces this ghost lineage down by a third. With more finagling they felt they could reduce it further. Perhaps that represents progress, but it still means there is at least a 15 million year gap with no evidence for an evolutionary relationship. Here’s what they said next. The reader can decide if the outlook is promising:Different hypotheses, reflecting the poorly understood basal relationships of Cetartiodactyla, have been proposed for the origin of anthracotheriids. Eocene Asian Helohyidae and Diacodexeidae were suggested as stem groups. However, recent phylogenetic analysis did not support close relationships between those taxa and anthracotheriids (e.g., refs. 10, 15, 22, and 35). Alternative sister taxa to the Hippopotamoidea were recently suggested, notably archaeocetes, cebochoerids, or larger clades including cebochoerids, raoellids, cetaceans, and hippopotamids (e.g., ref. 15). The Raoellidae (Eocene, Asia) have also been suggested to be related to anthracotheriids, but to our knowledge, no formal phylogenetic analysis supported this hypothesis or included a suitable taxa sample to test this relationship. Additional confusion was recently introduced with results supporting a polyphyletic Anthracotheriidae, markedly at odds with the paleontological literature. Our results offer another hypothesis for hippopotamoid origins by suggesting close affinities with the middle Eocene European Choeropotamus (Choeropotamidae) based on molar and premolar morphology (Fig. 3). This hypothesis is congruent with older hypotheses (e.g., ref. 69), but disagrees with most recent ones (43, 70, 71). Choeropotamidae occur far back into the earliest Eocene of Europe, ~54 Ma (Cuisitherium), and are thus roughly contemporary with the first archaeocete known in the Indian subcontinent deposits. This hypothesis needs to be further investigated with review of additional evidence, notably the craniomandibular morphology. If confirmed, the basal history of the Hippopotamoidea would be filled in, reaching probably very close in time to the hippopotamid�cetacean last common ancestor.The authors did not explain how all these animals might have developed their complex traits, behaviors and body types. Basically, to get these animals related by evolution somehow, they just compared teeth between 26 species. There is nothing in the outward appearance of a hippopotamus and a whale that would suggest to a neutral observer a shared ancestry between them; is a “ghost lineage” a scientific concept or an artifact of imagination?Modern teeth 1 million years BC: Another paper in PNAS demonstrates that our ancestors a million years ago, if they lived that long ago, had tooth development just like ours.2 At a cave in Spain, scientists tested the teeth of a juvenile “hominin” and found that “at least one European hominin species had a fully modern pattern of dental development with a clear slowdown in the development of the molar field regarding the anterior dental field.” This indicates that the youth had a prolonged childhood, just like modern children have. That hasn’t changed in a million years, they say, even well before Cro-Magnon man supposedly overtook the Neanderthals in Europe: “If this hypothesis is true, it implies that the appearance in Homo of this important developmental biological feature and an associated increase in brain size preceded the development of the neocortical areas leading to the cognitive capabilities that are thought to be exclusive to Homo sapiens.” What does this finding do to other ideas about human evolution? “These results push back the date of the earliest appearance of a prolonged childhood in hominins to more than 600 kya than previously thought,” they said in their conclusion. “Therefore, the appearance of a prolonged childhood and an associated increase in brain size preceded the development of the neocortical areas leading to cognitive capabilities, such as language, which are thought to be exclusive to H. sapiens.” But if people had larger brains and the propensity for language and culture farther back in time, it puts more stress on the evolutionary conundrum of why culture and civilization did not originate sooner. Recorded history with written language begins in Sumer about 3500 BCE – and with it cities, agriculture, shipping, and long-distance trade. What was going on for the other 994,500 years?Archaeology is a subset of paleontology that deals with human cultural remains. A few articles about that appeared recently, and they also showed that we humans have not changed much. PhysOrg reported a new set of cave paintings in Romania alleged to be up to 35,000 years old that show black-paint drawings of a horse, bear, buffalo and rhinoceros – the human propensity for representational art. Several science news sites, such as National Geographic, reported the discovery of the world’s oldest leather shoe found in a cave in Armenia – stunningly preserved with laces and all. The shoe was created about the time (3500 BCE) that cuneiform writing was being invented in Sumeria. One shoe designer remarked, “It is astonishing how much this shoe resembles a modern shoe!” The desire to keep feet away from thorns by using human ingenuity is something we can understand immediately by looking at the picture; we can even sense the maker’s appreciation for style as well as function. Moving to Iron Age times (1000-900 BCE), scientists in Israel found evidence at Tell Rehov in the Jordan Valley that Israelites were using some of the finest honeybees for their apiculture (honey farming) by importing hives from Anitolia instead of using the local Syrian species, finding “imported bees superior to the local bees in terms of their milder temper and improved honey yield.” Their paper, published in PNAS3, was summarized by Live Science. Add some cows from Bashan and you have the Biblical land of milk and honey.1. Orliac et al, “Early Miocene hippopotamids (Cetartiodactyla) constrain the phylogenetic and spatiotemporal settings of hippopotamid origin,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 14, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1001373107.2. de Castro et al, “New immature hominin fossil from European Lower Pleistocene shows the earliest evidence of a modern human dental development pattern,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 14, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006772107.3. Block et al, “Industrial apiculture in the Jordan valley during Biblical times with Anatolian honeybees,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 7, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1003265107.The first realization that should sink deeply into the consciousness of readers is that evolution is not happening and has not happened by the one empirical measure available: the fossil record. Ponder that. Extinction, yes – but not evolution. Fossils show that we live in an impoverished world compared to the biodiversity that once was. Evolutionists attempt to parcel out fossils into their geological scheme to make it appear that there has been progressive change, but the examples above, and many others we have reported over the decade, show an abrupt appearance of complex life, extinction and stasis – the absence of evolution (03/27/2003, 12/26/2006, 07/14/2007, 03/26/2009, more). Michael Oard published an article in the recent Creation Magazine (Vol 32, No. 3, 2010, pp. 14-15) that asked, “Are fossils ever found in the wrong place?” His answer is, yes, “all the time.” Evolutionists have various explanatory tricks to brush away the evidence. We saw one above with the use of the word “stasis” – using it like a magic wand. The Darwin Magician holds up the Stasis Wand and waves it over the fig wasp, and says, “And you, little fig wasp, you shall have the magical power to withstand the all-encompassing force of Natural Selection! I declare thee exempt from its power!” The fig wasp goes into a hypnotic trance, and like Rip Van Winkle, enters STASIS for 34 million years, while all the world around them swirls in its fluid evolutionary continuum of change. If the magic show doesn’t impress you, maybe the comedy act will: “World’s Oldest Fig Wasp Fossil Proves That If It Works, Don’t Change It” (see Humor in the Baloney Detector). How did you like their ghost story? The Darwinists invoke “ghost lineages” to fill in gaps in their story. Hey, Dawkins, what were you saying about people who believe in fairies, hobgoblins, and ghosts? Talk to your buddies in the Darwin Party. Oard describes other tricks of the Darwin trade: inventing terms like “living fossils” and “Lazarus taxa” (there’s a plagiarism from the Bible; for an example of the term in use by evolutionists, see 09/04/2009). These terms refer to species thought to be extinct for 60, 100, 200, 300, million years or more – leaving no trace in the record – suddenly to rise from the dead and be found alive on some remote part of the earth (to see how they try to explain these away, see 12/04/2007). Out-of-order fossils cause their lineages to get pushed upward (old to young) and downward (young to old, e.g. 03/26/2009). We see this happening over and over again, all the time. Conclusion: the geologic column, with its representative fossils showing an evolutionary history, is a myth: “the fact is that evolution is assumed and then used to explain the fossils,” Oard said. “So, when fossils are found in odd places and not known before, the evolutionists just change their story about evolution.” For another explanation on how evolutionists morph their stories when the data don’t fit, read Paul Nelson’s “Seeing Ghosts in the Bushes” articles on Evolution News & Views, Part 1 and Part 2, where he goes into more detail about evolutionists and their “ghost lineages.” We must be wise to their tricks. That is the first realization that should sink deeply into our consciousness. The second realization follows logically from the first. All those millions of years of stasis evaporate upon logical reflection. Think about it. Here’s a fig wasp fossil in the UK the Darwinists tell us is 34 million years old. Here’s a fig wasp fossil in the Dominican Republic they say is 20 million years old. Here is a living fig wasp. They all look identical. Question: if we already know the Darwinists are tricksters, why should we trust them with their millions-of-years talk? On the one hand, they tell us evolution is so powerful, so pervasive that it can turn a dog-size mammal into a sperm whale in six million years. Is it credible that these wasps really did nothing for many times that amount of time? Furthermore, are we to believe that the Wollemi pine lived throughout 150 million years since dinosaurs walked the earth, leaving not a single trace in the fossil record, till it was discovered in 1995? Similar questions could be asked about the many other “living fossils” that should be a huge embarrassment to the Darwinists. Why not take the simpler, more parsimonious explanation? Cut out the needless millions of years, which are not observable anyway, and recognize that probably not very much time has passed between those fossils. “But the dating methods prove it!” someone screams. No, they don’t. Evolutionists pick and choose the dating methods they like – the ones that give them the deep time they need. They ignore many other dating methods that set severe upper limits on the fossils and strata. Deep time was invented as a philosophical choice before the evidence spoke (07/25/2008). It was a choice intended to free geology from dependence on the Bible (and with the secular geologists came the Darwinian biologists). Deep time has become the Darwin Party’s deep pockets. Like a government slush fund, it has become an endless source of explanatory resources from which they borrow, with no responsibility or accountability. Like a dusty museum archive, it is a place to stash the stasis out of sight of the public. The evolution is just out there, in the millions-of-years somewhere, where we don’t have to show it. Meanwhile, the schoolchildren are shown the marbled halls and multimedia displays honoring Darwin – not the ugly truth of stasis, stasis, stasis. This is why Baloney Detecting is so vital in our Darwin-drunk age. The reporters are not doing critical analysis. If you learn to read science news articles carefully – if you are up to their tricks – if you sieve out the actual data, then you can see what it actually indicates. Then you ask the right questions: where is the evolution? Where is the actual empirical evidence of slow, gradual progress from bacteria to man? Where is the millions of years? When all you actually see is stasis, and humorous evolutionary dances around the data to keep you believing in the Darwin regime, while the Darwin damage control people are sneaking in behind the facades, then you understand. It’s not science; it’s an act. 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Good evening, sister and brother propagandists.What did she just call us, I hear you asking yourselves? Us? Propagandists?A hundred years ago, there would have been no shame attached to being called a propagandist. The word propaganda had not yet been hijacked by the enemies of democracy. In some parts of the world, notably Latin America, propaganda still has a neutral sense. There it refers to commercial advertising.Edward Bernays, the friend of Sigmund Freud who is considered by many to have been the father of public relations, was happy to call his art propaganda. He thought it was an important component of democracy. He even titled his groundbreaking 1928 book on PR “Propaganda”.Propaganda is a Latin word. It means “things that need to propagated or disseminated”. One the reason eggs and bacon is today synonymous with breakfast is that Bernays successfully propagated the idea that eggs and bacon were a healthy way to start the day.He did that by getting a segment of society that commands universal respect – the medical profession – to endorse the benefits of a hearty breakfast. Then he promoted eggs and bacon as the quintessential hearty breakfast. This was before the discovery of cholesterol.Gathered here this evening are some of the most talented practitioners of the art of propagating ideas in the world. And while you represent a great and diverse array of clients and interests, one of the most compelling questions that challenges all of us is: how can we do for Africa what Edward Bernays did for bacon and eggs?How do we propagate the idea that Africa is an appetising, energising and essential part of the world’s day?The basic ingredients are coming together and the product is perhaps more saleable than it has ever been. Late last year, the World Bank reported that 2005 “may well have been the year when Africa turned the corner” unquote from poverty and debt to prosperity and wealth.Economic growth is picking up steam all over the continent. A growing number of countries, among them Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Uganda and Ghana, is on course to cut poverty in half by 2010. Primary school enrollment and literacy rates are rising. In many countries, infant mortality is down. Macroeconomic indicators are improving, with inflation falling to historic lows, currencies stabilizing and fiscal deficits dropping, and foreign direct investment surging.Democratic transfers of power are now the norm and the African Union is starting to stand fast against member governments who come to power through unconstitutional means. African conflicts may still grab headlines, but the truth is they are dwindling in number, largely as a result of the efforts of Africans themselves. And, having overtaken the Middle East as America’s largest source of oil imports, Africa is assuming unprecedented strategic importance.Too little of this gets projected to the world at large. To the contrary, in the popular culture of the North, Africa remains a source of horror and pity. Consider Hollywood’s latest contribution. This year, two Oscar contenders painted Africa in the direst imaginable colors.One, the Last King of Scotland, depicted the bloody rule of Idi Amin in stomach-turning detail. The other, Blood Diamonds, dealt graphically with the civil war in Sierra Leone, limb-severings and all.The conflict in Sierra Leone is now over. Peace has been achieved. Idi Amin is long gone and Uganda has for years been seen as a model of post-conflict reconstruction and is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. But the distinction between past and present has also most certainly been lost on most filmgoers in the North.Last year, of course, an African film made by Africans about Africa actually won an Oscar. But as justifiably proud as we were of Tsotsi’s success, its images were not ones we would necessarily have chosen to have seared into the minds of international audiences.All these films deserve the accolades they’ve been getting as examples of the filmmaker’s art, but we have to be aware of how they feed pernicious stereotypes. In the same way, just we have to be aware of the messages cherished celebrities send when they come to Africa bearing gifts and professing love and compassion. Unwittingly or not, they tend to nourish the assumption that Africans are victims and incapable of looking after their own.This assumption is also fed by the media. This is not because the media is malicious. Actually, the journalists who cover Africa for the world’s newspapers, radio and television are generally caring human beings with a strong regard for truth.Most of them didn’t become journalists to fatten their bank accounts. Many entered their profession because they wanted to shine a light on what is wrong with the world with a view to helping get it fixed.That being the case, reporters and their editors are not going to spend a lot of time covering things that are working. The fact that South Africa has the lowest cost electricity in the world is not news. Power failures are.By the same token, reporters are going to spend a lot of time with, and give voice to, people they see working to get things fixed. That is part of the reason NGO’s like Oxfam and Global Witness and Doctors Without Borders tend to be the primary sources for stories out of Africa. Another part is the reason is the journalists have a hard-wired distrust of authority, which is a good thing for democracy.A lot of NGO’s do terrific and necessary work and make a genuine difference in people’s lives. But it’s a fact of life that they have to compete for resources to do their work, which leads, quite naturally, to their marketing the problems they seek to address. This marketing tends to drown out other more hopeful narratives about Africa and plays straight into Afropessimism.How, in the face of all this, are we going to re-brand Africa?One way we are not going to do it, is by assuming an angry and defensive attitude and attacking messengers, challenging their bona fides and being perpetually thin-skinned about criticism. All that will do is reinforce stereotypes.The only media that consistently reports “good news” is the media in closed societies and closed societies tend to be the least successful in today’s world. We might do worse than to learn from the American cognitive linguist George Lakoff and what he has been trying to teach his country’s Democratic Party about framing its message to voters. In his book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, Lakoff makes the simple point that if you ask someone not to think of an elephant, an elephant is precisely what will leap into that person’s mind.What this means is that when we talk to the world and tell it our story, we must use our own frame of reference, not the frame supplied by Afropessimism or existing stereotypes. If we start out defensively by confronting the Afropessimist or stereotypical viewpoint directly, we have conceded control of the frame.Take the example of crime in this country. Government is talking about this issue in a reactive and defensive way, using the frame supplied by its critics. It needs to establish it own frame, a frame that gives people a sense of hope that crime is a problem that can, and will be dealt with. Instead we need to create a vision for what a safe, secure and successful country will resemble.A good example of the approach I’m talking about is an article that appeared in the Financial Times last year by Jim Sutcliffe, the CEO of Old Mutual. He was worried about the way BEE was being seen by foreign investors. But instead of beginning his article by mentioning investor concerns, he created his own frame. Here’s how the article began:“South Africa’s drive to bring the long excluded majority of its people into the mainstream of its economic life is paying healthy dividends. It is pushing the growth rate – nearly 5 per cent in 2005 – onto a higher trajectory. It has helped the 12-year-old democracy move ahead of India as a destination for foreign direct investment. And it was a factor in the 47% total return on equities traded on the JSE last year.Broadly defined, the black economic empowerment (BEE) strategy hammered out between government and business is helping fuel an economic and social revolution as millions of South Africans start to enjoy disposable income and upward mobility for the first time in their lives. This is making South Africa both an exciting place to do business and one that holds the promise of long-term stability.How real is the transformation? Consider this. Just over 20 years ago, South Africa’s most famous newspaper, the Rand Daily Mail, closed because its readership was increasingly black and of no interest to advertisers. Today, South Africa’s most successful newspaper is the Daily Sun, a three-year-old start-up targeted at the black working class. Its circulation is 450 000 and rising and advertisers are clamoring for space on its pages.”This is a great example of how we can all work to redefine Africa in the minds of the world. It’s about telling our story on our terms – and telling it truthfully and without trying to pretend that everything is perfect. Sutcliffe did go on to respond to concerns investors have about BEE, but not before establishing a whole new way of looking at the subject – a new frame — as a reason to invest and have faith in South Africa’s future.Importantly, he told a concrete and unexpected story – the extraordinary success of the Daily Sun — to illustrate his case and help readers see South Africa in a new way.This is the way we have to start talking about our continent as a whole – as a region ripe with opportunity, a market 800 million strong, rich in resources, human and natural, and with huge pent up demand for goods and services. In short a great new frontier. Having established this frame, we can then build its credibility by being totally candid about the problems we still face.Above all, we need to be armed with gripping stories that stick in people’s minds. The way we perceive the world is shaped strongly by anecdote, and the more memorable stories we can tell that defy stereotype and illustrate the strengths and capacities of our continent’s people, the more we will change mindsets. The more we demonstrate a country Alive With Possibility”, the more we will create Afro Optimism.There are great stories to tell, if we’re willing to look for them and encourage people to tell. Story gathering is something we can’t simply leave to the media which, for the reasons I’ve outlined, are not focused on our kind of story. There are or course exceptions, like the American filmmaker Carol Pineau, whose documentary, “Africa Open for Business”, has been winning prizes and accolades around the world. In this film, Carol introduces to the world an extraordinary array entrepreneurs, from Pierre Sauvalle, founder and artistic director of Senegal-based Pictoon, the only animation design studio in Africa that produces television series and feature films, to-Adenike Ogunlesi, who owns and operates the “in” label in Nigeria in children’s clothes, Ruff ‘N’ Tumble, to Mohammed Yassin Olad, who runs a thriving airline in the truly business environment of Somalia. She has another film on the same theme now in the works. We must do all we can to encourage this kind of work.Ultimately, as the article by Jim Sutcliffe and Edward Bernays with his pro-hearty breakfast doctors showed, very little beats credible third-party endorsers when it comes to selling a product or propagating an idea.We need to get what Simon Gladwell has called the mavens, the connectors and the persuaders – the key players in dramatic shifts of public perception – to propagate the idea of Africa as the opportunity continent. This is a process about which there is a great deal of expertise in this room tonight. I am confident that we are close to the tipping point. Africa is on the move. Yes, there are huge challenges still to be confronted, and yes, movement is by no means uniform. But many of the challenges are really opportunities, if properly viewed and properly framed.That is an idea Ogilvy and its supremely talented people can to much to propagate, and in fact, have a responsibility to do so.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Today’s report is a bearish report. Both corn and soybean production and yields were above trade expectations and near the high end of estimates. Corn production was estimated at 15.153 billion bushels with a yield of 175.1 bushels per acre. Ending stocks were estimated at 2.409 billion bushels. The US soybean production was estimated at 4.060 billion bushels with a yield at 48.9 bushels per acre.Old crop US corn exports were increased 25 million bushels while new crop corn exports jumped to 2.175 billion bushels, up 125 million bushels from last month. Old crop soybean US exports were up 85 million bushels with new crop exports were up 30 million bushels. The strong demand increases account for keeping soybeans from being down 30 cents or more. The ending stocks of 330 million bushels will keep the bears feeling good for the day. Again watch to see what where grains close.The USDA report today is a monthly supply and demand report. Traders are heavily focused on corn and soybean production in the US. For US corn and soybeans they will be watching both total production and yield. Those numbers are easy to focus on with US corn and soybeans the main talk of the town as the growing season wraps up in a few weeks. This USDA report is the first report using actual field samples of corn and soybeans to aid in determining production and yield estimates.It appears the trade is heavily focused on the supply side of today’s report. Production and yield are easy to talk about. Everyone has an opinion. Discussion on demand has been largely absent ahead of this report. Demand continues to be strong for both soybeans and corn from the US. On Tuesday US soybeans had their 10th day in a row of old and/or new crop soybean sales to either China or unknown destinations.The market has been consolidating and trading in narrow price ranges for corn and soybeans the past two weeks. Any kind of surprise could yield a spike of 10-15 cents for corn and 20-50 cents for soybeans within a few minutes.Prior to the report corn was down 3 cents, soybeans down 9 cents, and wheat was down 2 cents. Near the 12:30 pm time frame, corn was down 7 cents, soybeans down 12 cents, and wheat down 8 cents.The previous estimates for new crop corn and soybeans began with the May report as USDA used trend line yields of 168 bushels per acre for corn and 46.7 bushels per acre for soybean for each of the May, June, and July reports. The July report did feature a small revision for corn and soybean acres using the June 30 acres report.Grain prices have been in a downward spiral since June 14. On that day December CBOT corn closed at $4.48 ¾. Last night it closed at $3.31 ¾. That same day November CBOT soybeans closed at $11.48 ¼, while last night they closed at $9.84. Frequent rains across much of the Midwest improved yield prospects from earlier indications. Bear in mind that not all areas received those rains since mid-June. The “I” states of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana received those rains. Ohio did not.Don’t be surprised to hear drought stricken corn harvested in Ohio in the next two to three weeks. Corn on gravel ground in Circleville is done, the growing season shortened by both heat and a lack of rain in July. Northwest Ohio has also suffered from a lack of moisture as well as other areas of Ohio, particularly north of I-70.Prior to the report traders had estimated the US corn yield at 170.6 bushels per acre and total production at 14.757 billion bushels. The July estimates from USDA had US corn production at 14.540 billion bushels with a US yield of 168 bushels per acre. Trade estimates for soybeans were 3.941 billion bushels with a US yield of 47.5 bushels per acre. Last month USDA estimated soybean production at 3.880 billion bushels and a yield of 46.7 bushels per acre.Pointing to strong demand, we pick up additional sales again on Thursday with sales of 120,000 tons of new crop soybeans to China. Also today there were sales of 258,000 tons of new crop soybeans to China. Some are also suggesting that the old crop soybean export number could easily increase with this report. New crop soybean sales this week of 102 million bushels were the highest since 2003. They were also the second highest weekly number in history. While not impossible, it would be another strong indication of soybean demand to see old crop exports increase at this date. Keep in mind there is less than three weeks to go for the old crop marketing year that ends on August 31, 2016.Weather forecasts earlier today indicate central Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio could receive 3-5 inches of rain in the next five days. It would easily be welcomed to finish and potentially improve soybean yields. Rains will not bring back lost corn yields at this late date.Soybeans were especially volatile in the first five minutes following the report. They ranged from down 3 cents, then down 18 cents, then 12 cents, then hit 14 cents lower. This all happened within the first two minutes after the report release.We now know what USDA is thinking. The numbers are out. You can argue with the numbers or realize the USDA is over for this month. It will be most interesting to see where grains close. If November CBOT soybeans close below $9.65, they could challenge the $9.43 low early this month. Should December CBOT corn close below $3.25 they could challenge the $3.18 low made in October 2014.
Like it or not, politics and technology are forever intertwined in a symbiotic dance. The influence of social media bots on the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election has been much discussed over the past year, and with Mark Zuckerberg facing the Senate recently to provide his testimony regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, you don’t need to look far to see how government and progress have forged a “digital divide.”Regrettably, but perhaps not surprisingly, people are left alienated and frustrated by the struggle.What we need is a full-blown intervention between the two powers, or else they’re doomed to run in circles around each other. Why force this marriage? Quite simply because we’re headed into unique territory.When tech behemoths make the rulesIn a national and global perspective, the economic output is enough to cater to everyone’s needs. Amid a bevy of plenty, political focus will shift from growth to the distribution of resources and creating meaningful employment, inclusion, and integrity despite trackable footprints; encouraging and limiting genetic engineering; and maximizing the distribution of resources. Societies will grapple with what happens when artificial intelligence makes some jobs superfluous while the humans who once performed them live much longer lives.In other words, we’ll be forced to look at politics not only to organize and rule, but also to justly make determinations. That’s a tall order with a polarized political landscape, where everything goes back to control and not necessarily what is right.Who pulls the strings? It’s no longer Wall Street’s fat cats. Ironically, it’s the tech giants: Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, etc. Just last year, five of the biggest Silicon Valley players contributed nearly $50 million to lobbying efforts. Zuckerberg has even hired a pollster to track his public perception in the wake of the backlash Facebook faced after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Their ilk has shifted the focus and the balance, and the government is fighting to keep its feet firmly planted.The same thing happened with steam locomotives, telegraph cables, and electricity in the 19th century. Then, we were amazed, puzzled, and, yes, scared; eventually, though, we were able to learn, adjust, and use the technology to our advantage.Tech’s impact on our futureWe’re once again on the cusp of truly innovative technologies that will have serious effects on society and, thereby, politics. First is AI and the increased understanding of how to mine and utilize big data. The culled information will offer new perspectives and decision-making tools; if politicians and people are smart, it will also guide new methods of governance.Along with that is the way automation will create some serious challenges for society in regards to the human labor force. This is an ongoing transition that’s quickly gaining speed, but we must not forget the individuals who are faced with this new reality. If we cannot figure out how to remove feelings of alienation, we’ll risk social unrest and extremism. With an increasing digital and technological divide, this is already seen in increasing political populism.Another offshoot of our budding technologies is the stress that longevity will put on the social welfare system. When people outlive past generations’ life expectancies by years or decades, we’re forced to rethink retirement, aging, careers, relationships, and perhaps even death itself.Technology has also opened the doors to new energy solutions. Although global political and financial power is connected to fossil fuels, this will predictably shift with the increase in nuclear power and renewable energy sources. Think it can’t happen? It’s already been proven as a fact in North America: Ontario moved from a 25 percent coal reliance to a 0 percent reliance in just 11 years.Finally, we can expect blockchain technologies such as bitcoin to bring about greater societal transparency within financial and political systems. Such tech has been dubbed “liquid democracy,” but how will politics learn to secure everyone’s wealth with vastly changing standards of currency and trade?Bridging the digital divideEventually, technology will need a new approach to politics — and politicians a new approach to technology. Thus far, technology has proven a huge challenge for politics because politicians focus largely on short-term impact. Think about it: How many dedicate themselves to thinking beyond the next election cycle? Sure, their talk is visionary and ideological, but their actions seldom match up.To be sure, I’m a strong believer in a democratic system, but it’s hard to cope with long-term societal challenges — often fueled by technological change — within such systems. To increase the ability to govern more efficiently in a high-tech world, we need emergent forms of governing such as the Finnish Parliament’s 17-member future committee think tank or the development of 20-year future studies such as those by the National Intelligence Council.Other ideas to emulsify politics and technology, thereby stabilizing their relationship, include bipartisan agreements on the direction of the coming years and arenas for fueling curiosity and discussions around science, technology and innovation. To date, we already have Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, as well as a plan for Dubai’s Museum of the Future. But we need more commitment to promote futuristic thought.The digital divide is real — that much is undeniable. But it’s going to take more than an app or social media play to fix the problem. We must become more cross-political, ignoring the borders set by parties. Otherwise, we’ll never surmount many of the challenges we’re currently facing, much less the ones to come. Right now, society is not future-ready and certainly not settled enough for the merger and cross-pollination of BANG (bits, atoms, neurons, and genes). That doesn’t mean it can’t be; it’s simply stalled at the chasm between a world in transition and a robust future. Nicklas Bergman How to Make the Most of Your Software Developer… Tags:#politics#technology Remote Working Culture: The Facts Business Owne… Nicklas Bergman (@ncklsbrgmn) is an entrepreneur and deep tech investor. He’s the author of “Surviving the Tech Storm: Strategy in Times of Technological Uncertainty” and a member of the European Innovation Council. 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In another jolt to the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Rajinder Malangar, son of the former Deputy Speaker Ram Dass Malangar, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, along with his supporters, in the Kutlehar constituency in Una.On Thursday, Chetan Parmar, a prominent leader of Sirmaur and grandson of the first Himachal Chief Minister Y.S. Parmar, also joined the BJP. Kush Parmar (father of Chetan Parmar) was a five-time Congress MLA and is still active in the State politics. The family was feeling ignored. Anil Sharma, son of veteran Congress leader Sukhram and a sitting Cabinet minister in the Virbhadra government, had also joined the BJP after being allegedly slighted by the Chief Minister. Prominent leader of Kangra, Major (retd.) Vijay Singh Mankotia has parted ways with the Congress and is fighting independently from Sahapur. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s brother-in-law Vikram Sen and his wife, Jayoti Sen, who is now a BJP candidate from Kusumpati, left the Congress a few days ago. Calling the Congress a sinking ship, sitting Nahan MLA and BJP vice-president Rajiv Bindal organised a welcome function for Mr. Parmar.