Saturday, October 4, 2014



END OF A VOODOO NIGHTMARE : Jean-Claude Duvalier, ex-Haitian leader known as Baby Doc, dies at 63

The Americas

By Stephanie Hanes 

October 4 at 12:41 PM

Jean-Claude Duvalier, the second-generation “president for life” who plunged one of the world’s poorest countries into further despair by presiding over widespread killing, torture and plunder, died Oct. 4 at his home in Port-au-Prince. He was 63.

His death was confirmed by his lawyer, according to the Asssociated Press. The cause was not immediately disclosed.

Despite a brief, hopeful window when it appeared that the overweight, overwhelmed dauphin might liberalize the country, the younger Duvalier soon followed in his father’s violent footsteps. 

Tens of thousands of Haitians were killed under the regimes, with many more tortured, according to human rights groups.

Jean-Claude Duvalier maintained his father’s well-established terror apparatus — most notably the Tontons Macoutes, the shadowy militia whose name means “bogeymen” — and added new techniques for skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from the national treasury.

Under the younger Duvalier’s watch, Haiti became the Western Hemisphere’s epicenter for AIDS, as well as a major cocaine-trafficking stop. Although he courted the United States and other donors with promises of human rights reforms and a business-friendly economic policy, living conditions for Haitians dipped even lower than their already dismal standing.

Illiteracy rose and life expectancy sank. When tens of thousands of desperate, malnourished “boat people” tried to flee Haiti for U.S. shores during the 1970s and ’80s, Duvalier’s response, true to form, was to demand kickbacks from their unscrupulous human smugglers.

By the time he and his family boarded a U.S. Air Force cargo plane and flew to exile in 1986, with truckloads of Louis Vuitton luggage and millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts, Duvalier had cemented his country’s status as the basket case of the Americas.

He remained unrepentant.

“I got to know Duvalier as a man who is by turn intellectually dishonest, manipulative, even downright clueless,”
wrote Haitian-born journalist Marjorie Valbrun in a 2011 Washington Post essay, which recollected interviews she had conducted with Baby Doc in 2003.

“In rare, but telling moments, he also seemed deeply sad,”
Valbrun added.

“He denied any past wrongdoing. He rejected accusations of corruption during his presidency. He dismissed allegations of officially sanctioned murders and arrests of political opponents as fictional creations of a biased news media. He never uttered a word of remorse and ceded only one major mistake: ‘Perhaps I was too tolerant.’ ”

According to official records, Jean-Claude Duvalier was born July 3, 1951. He was the only son of Simone Ovide and her husband, the doctor Francois Duvalier.

Francois Duvalier came from a lower-middle-class background but, unlike most Haitians, he was educated. His father had scraped together enough money to send him to a prestigious high school, and afterward he studied medicine. He graduated in 1934, the same year that U.S. Marines, who had occupied Haiti since 1915, left the country.

Francois Duvalier, like many Haitians, had deeply resented this foreign occupation.

 Although he later worked with U.S.-sponsored public health programs, helping cure Haitian peasants of tropical diseases and earning the nickname “Papa Doc,” Duvalier’s experiences with the often-racist Marines helped push him to the intellectual movement known as Negritude. 

He began to study voodoo, Haiti’s native religion, and encouraged black Haitians to take back the power long held by the country’s mulatto elite.

Haiti descended into political chaos when the Americans withdrew, with a dizzying array of governments, coups, power grabs and military maneuvers. 

Papa Doc became minister of public health and labor in one administration, only to leave office in 1950 after another military coup.

He went into hiding in 1954, but emerged two years later to run for president after the ruling government forgave political opponents.

After a year of political dealmaking, as well as allegations of voter intimidation, Francois Duvalier was elected president of Haiti. He moved his family into the presidential palace, and began constructing a merciless security apparatus to remain in power.

He cracked down on human rights, sending potential rivals into exile or throwing them or their children into the gruesome Fort Dimanche prison, where they were often tortured to death. 

He encouraged his militia to terrorize civilians with abductions, beatings and extortion, and he intentionally dressed as Baron Samedi, the voodoo spirit of death. 

He designated a torture room in his palace and drilled peepholes into the walls so he could watch the horror.

Jean-Claude grew up without much interest in the inner workings of the palace. He used the presidential courtyard as a racetrack for his tricycle, and later for his Harley-Davidson.

 On his million-dollar yacht, he partied with other sons of the Haitian elite — many of whom called him “baskethead” behind his back, both for his size and for his lack of intellectual interest.

When Papa Doc, long ailing from heart problems and the aftermaths of a diabetic coma, announced that he expected his son to be Haiti’s next “president for life,” the younger Duvalier said his politically minded sister, Marie-Denise, should fill the roll instead. But Papa Doc’s will was law.

In February 1971, officials announced that the Haitian people had endorsed the selection of Baby Doc as successor, 2,391,916 to zero. 

Two months later, on April 21, the 64-year-old Papa Doc died. Jean-Claude Duvalier took control of Haiti.

Most pundits thought he wouldn’t last the year. There were jealous ministers, would-be assassins and plotting palace guards. 

The government was also in need of funds.

 Although the elder Duvalier had used anti-communist rhetoric to stay in the United States’ graces, his human rights violations had many years earlier convinced the Kennedy administration to cut foreign aid to Haiti.

But Jean-Claude surprised the naysayers. 

He put a friendlier mask on Duvalierism as his family and advisers competed for the power behind the throne. 

He opened the palace to journalists and started paying the country’s debts. 

He supported a quickie divorce law — anyone could get a decree in 24 hours — that helped spark a tourism boom. 

He launched reforestation campaigns, and became astute at cleaning up prisons right before international observers visited.

Duvalier also opened up the country to foreign business — an economic liberalization policy he eventually dubbed “Jeanclaudism.” 

This meant new opportunity for U.S. businesses, which soon took advantage of Haiti’s cheap labor and union-squashing Macoutes.

All of this pleased the U.S. government, and within the first few years of his rule, foreign aid increased by more than 800 percent.

The Haitian people, however, were becoming ever more desperate. 

Duvalier and his cronies stole most of that aid money and began a style of embezzlement shocking even by Haitian standards. 

Peasants and unemployed city dwellers starved as Duvalier and his friends threw lavish parties, bought houses, sports cars and yachts, and spent millions of dollars on shopping sprees.

The extravagance hit a peak in 1980 when Jean-Claude married Michele Bennett, a mulatto divorcee with a scandalous reputation and expensive tastes. 

Their wedding made the Guinness Book of World Records for its immoderation. It cost $3 million, with gowns and hairdressers imported from Paris, a $100,000 fireworks show, and rum for the masses.

Styling herself as Haiti’s Eva Peron — Argentina’s populism-spouting first lady of the 1940s and early 1950s — Bennett started hospitals and charities, all funded by misdirected aid money, or from the “donations” of terrified business owners.

Some called Baby Doc’s marriage the beginning of his downfall. 

Not only did Bennett disgust Haitians with her decadent displays of wealth and corruption, but the marriage marked a renewed dominance of the country’s mulatto elite — an offense to many who had supported Papa Doc’s black-power ideology.

Meanwhile, the emergence of AIDS killed Haiti’s tourism industry. Business faltered because of widespread corruption. Human rights violations were rampant. Members of Bennett’s family were linked with cocaine trafficking.

With corpses of desperate Haitians washing up on Florida’s beaches, and human rights groups pointing out continued torture, the United States scaled back again on foreign aid.

 Canada labeled Duvalier’s government a “kleptocracy.” And when Pope John Paul II visited the country in 1983, he chastised the government, announcing to hundreds of thousands of Haitians, “Things must change here!”

Two years later, Haitians began to revolt. Protests against the government started in the northern city of Gonaives and spread across the country, with violent demonstrations and raids of food-distribution warehouse. 

In February 1986, with the Reagan administration pressuring Baby Doc to leave office, and Haitian army officials telling him that he had no choice, Duvalier and his family decided to flee.

They frantically packed what they could, stuffing jewels and artwork into designer luggage, and shortly after 2 a.m. on Feb. 7, 1986, drove to Francois Duvalier International Airport, where a U.S. Air Force C-141 was waiting to take them to France.

“People viewed him as their vehicle for power and wealth, so therefore they supported him,”
said Robert Maguire, a Haiti specialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace. 

“In the end of his regime, things got very shaky because there was so much stealing, so much accumulation of wealth, and because the life of the Haitian people had gone down hill so far that there was unrest."

“He lost the support of his father’s grass-roots supporters because they resented him giving power to the mulattos,”
Maguire said.

 “He ended up governing in a very shaky way, and then his regime collapsed quite suddenly.”

Although the French government officially refused to accept them, the Duvaliers settled into exile on the French Riviera. 

According to Time magazine, Baby Doc passed the time by driving his red Ferrari back and forth to Cannes, while Michele did crosswords and ordered designer clothes.

 Meanwhile, back in Haiti, citizens took deadly revenge on members of the Tontons Macoutes, and the cycle of violence, coups and repression began anew.

Michele and Jean-Claude divorced in 1993, with much of their money still frozen in Swiss bank accounts.

In January 2011, Jean-Claude Duvalier surprised Haitians by returning to his earthquake-damaged country with his companion, Veronique Roy.

 The frail-looking Baby Doc said that he was not there for politics, but because he wanted to “help.” 

Banking experts, however, suspected that he had arrived to circumvent new Swiss regulations preventing exiled leaders from obtaining money stolen from their countries.

He was promptly arrested and charged with embezzlement and other crimes, but remained living in a high-end hotel in the mountains of Port-au-Prince.

THE HUMAN RACE : Nick Bostrom says artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to humanity

Will Superintelligent AIs Be Our Doom?

By Nick Bostrom

Every morning Nick Bostrom wakes up, brushes his teeth, and gets to work thinking about how the human species may be wiped off the face of the earth. Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, is an expert on existential threats to humanity. Of all the perils that make his list, though, he’s most concerned with the threat posed by artificial intelligence.

Bostrom’s new book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (Oxford University Press), maps out scenarios in which humans create a “seed AI” that is smart enough to improve its own intelligence and skills and which goes on to take over the world. Bostrom discusses what might motivate such a machine and explains why its goals might be incompatible with the continued existence of human beings. (In one example, a factory AI is given the task of maximizing the production of paper clips. Once it becomes superintelligent, it proceeds to convert all available resources, including human bodies, into paper clips.) Bostrom’s book also runs through potential control strategies for an AI—and the reasons they might not work.

In the passage from the book below, Bostrom imagines a scenario in which AI researchers, trying to proceed cautiously, test their creations in a controlled and limited “sandbox” environment.

Over the coming years and decades, AI systems become gradually more capable and as a consequence find increasing real-world applications: They might be used to operate trains, cars, industrial and household robots, and autonomous military vehicles. We may suppose that this automation for the most part has the desired effects, but that the success is punctuated by occasional mishaps—a driverless truck crashes into oncoming traffic, a military drone fires at innocent civilians.

Investigations reveal the incidents to have been caused by judgment errors by the controlling AIs. Public debate ensues. Some call for tighter oversight and regulation, others emphasize the need for research and better-engineered systems—systems that are smarter and have more common sense, and that are less likely to make tragic mistakes.

Amidst the din can perhaps also be heard the shrill voices of doomsayers predicting many kinds of ill and impending catastrophe. Yet the momentum is very much with the growing AI and robotics industries. So development continues, and progress is made. As the automated navigation systems of cars become smarter, they suffer fewer accidents; and as military robots achieve more precise targeting, they cause less collateral damage. A broad lesson is inferred from these observations of real-world outcomes: The smarter the AI, the safer it is. It is a lesson based on science, data, and statistics, not armchair philosophizing.

Against this backdrop, some group of researchers is beginning to achieve promising results in their work on developing general machine intelligence. The researchers are carefully testing their seed AI in a sandbox environment, and the signs are all good. The AI’s behavior inspires confidence—increasingly so, as its intelligence is gradually increased.

At this point, any remaining Cassandra would have several strikes against her:
  • A history of alarmists predicting intolerable harm from the growing capabilities of robotic systems and being repeatedly proven wrong. Automation has brought many benefits and has, on the whole, turned out safer than human operation.

  • A clear empirical trend: the smarter the AI, the safer and more reliable it has been. Surely this bodes well for a project aiming at creating machine intelligence more generally smart than any ever built before—what is more, machine intelligence that can improve itself so that it will become even more reliable.

  • Large and growing industries with vested interests in robotics and machine intelligence. These fields are widely seen as key to national economic competitiveness and military security. Many prestigious scientists have built their careers laying the groundwork for the present applications and the more advanced systems being planned.

  • The promising new AI is tremendously exciting to those who have participated in or followed the research. Although safety issues and ethics are debated, the outcome is preordained. Too much has been invested to pull back now. AI researchers have been working to get to human-level artificial general intelligence for the better part of a century: Of course there is no real prospect that they will now suddenly stop and throw away all this effort just when it finally is about to bear fruit.

  • A careful evaluation of seed AI in a sandbox environment, showing that it is behaving cooperatively and showing good judgment. After some further adjustments, the test results are as good as they could be. It is a green light for the final step …

The researchers let the AI out of its sandbox. And so we boldly go toward our doom.

We observe here how it could be the case that when dumb, smarter is safer; yet when smart, smarter is more dangerous. There is a kind of pivot point, at which a strategy that has previously worked excellently suddenly starts to backfire.

We may call the phenomenon the treacherous turn. While weak, an AI behaves cooperatively (increasingly so, as it gets smarter). When the AI gets sufficiently strong—without warning or provocation—it strikes, and begins directly to optimize the world according to the criteria implied by its values.

A treacherous turn can result from a strategic decision to play nice and build strength while weak in order to strike later; but this model should not be interpreted too narrowly. For example, an AI might not play nice in order thatit be allowed to survive and prosper. Instead, the AI might calculate that if it is terminated, the programmers who built it will develop a new and somewhat different AI architecture, but one that will be given a similar utility function.

In this case, the original AI may be indifferent to its own demise, knowing that its goals will continue to be pursued in the future. It might even choose a strategy in which it malfunctions in some particularly interesting or reassuring way. Though this might cause the AI to be terminated, it might also encourage the engineers who perform the postmortem to believe they have gleaned a valuable new insight into AI dynamics—leading them to place more trust in the next system they design, and thus increasing the chance that the now-defunct original AI’s goals will be achieved. Many other possible strategic considerations might also influence an advanced AI, and it would be hubristic to suppose that we could anticipate all of them, especially for an AI that has attained a strategizing superpower.

A treacherous turn could also come about if the AI discovers an unanticipated way of fulfilling its final goal as specified. Suppose, for example, that an AI’s final goal is to “make the project’s sponsor happy.” Initially, the only method available to the AI to achieve this outcome is by behaving in ways that please its sponsor in something like the intended manner. The AI gives helpful answers to questions; it exhibits a delightful personality; it makes money. The more capable the AI gets, the more satisfying its performances become, and everything goes according to plan—until the AI becomes intelligent enough to figure out that it can realize its final goal more fully and reliably by implanting electrodes into the pleasure centers of its sponsor’s brain, something assured to delight the sponsor immensely.

Of course, the sponsor might not have wanted to be pleased by being turned into a grinning idiot; but if this is the action that will maximally realize the AI’s final goal, the AI will take it. 

If the AI already has a decisive strategic advantage, then any attempt to stop it will fail.

 If the AI does not yet have a decisive strategic advantage, then the AI might temporarily conceal its canny new idea for how to instantiate its final goal until it has grown strong enough that the sponsor and everybody else will be unable to resist. 

In either case, we get a treacherous turn.

This excerpt is taken from the new book 

 from Oxford University Press.


Researchers find radioactive debris and garbage island large enough to walk on floating in Pacific Ocean

Friday, October 03, 2014 

by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

Tags: garbage, radioactive debris, Pacific Ocean

(NaturalNews) Researchers on an expedition to assess the state of plastic pollution in the North Pacific Ocean discovered two disturbing things: an island completely made of trash, large and sturdy enough to walk on; and a piece of radioactive rope floating in the midst of the ocean.

The "garbage island" was discovered by researchers from the nonprofit Algalita, which studies plastic pollution, about a thousand miles to the west of California, and about a thousand miles north of Hawaii. 

It is located in what is known as a gyre, where ocean currents meet and circle. Because of the nature of these currents, garbage tends to accumulate in gyres.

 It was in just such a gyre that, 15 years ago, Algalita researchers discovered the giant plastic mass that has come to be known the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

Never seen anything like it

The newly discovered garbage island was found to be composed mainly of buoys, nets and fishing gear that the researchers believe was washed away from Japan following the 2011 tsunami that triggered the Fukushima meltdown. Although that debris probably formed the original base of the island, the mass seems to have collected more garbage and grown since then.

"It's 80 feet long. It's about 30 feet across in some places. If you were looking down from above, it would look like an island floating in the middle of the ocean,"
said Marieta Francis, executive director of Algalita.

In 15 years of studying plastic pollution in the ocean, Francis said, Algalita researchers have never seen anything like the island before.

Researchers spent two days studying the island, collecting data on everything from its movement patterns to rates of trash accumulation. They even discovered some animals using the island as a habitat.

The scientists believe that the island may eventually drift east, but will likely get swept up in currents before reaching California, and will probably end up drifting either south toward Mexico or get pushed back west into the Pacific.

About a week before discovering the garbage island, researchers made another troubling discovery, perhaps one also linked to the 2011 tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

 While taking routine trash samples, the researchers pulled aboard a piece of rope that was found floating in the ocean. 

Following their standard protocol, they tested the rope with a Geiger counter and received a reading of 120 cycles per minute (CPM). It was the highest reading that they had received until that point, and significantly higher than the background reading of 30 CPM. 

While 120 CPM was probably not a dangerous level of radiation, the researchers noted, they considered it "important to monitor."

Ocean pollution worseningFrancis warned that, since the discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, plastic pollution in the oceans has only worsened. The most recent expedition confirmed this trend.

"The fact that in 15 years it's not getting better -- there's not less debris -- is of concern to scientists, and it should be a concern to the public,"
Francis said. 

"They found a lot more plastic farther away from the area that's called the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' than they've ever seen. So they ran across it sooner than they expected, and it was a lot of debris."

This pollution may have more subtle, less visible effects. For example, as the plastic breaks down into smaller particles, it may be eaten by ocean life, causing hormonal problems or other health effects. This can affect humans who eat seafood.

"What we have speculated for years is probably in fact happening: That we need to be concerned about eating the fish,"
Francis said.


Learn more: 




P&F Techno Company Limited : Headquarter located at 797/98 Soi Sutthiporn, Dindaeng, Dindaeng 10400. 

We manage vapor heat treatment factory for friuts exported. Located at 601 Vapor Heat Treatment Factory, Dapartment of Agricultural Extension, Phahonyothin Rd., Ladyao, Chatuchak, Bangkok. 10900 Thailand. 

Tel.02-942-7021-3 Fax. 02-942-7024

P&F Techno Co.,Ltd. appreciate potentiality of Thai fruits in global market. Use new knowledge and new technology to develop quality of export fruits. That make an idea to reform and develop vapor heat treatment of Department of Agricultural Extension for increase standard and value of Thai export fruits.


P&F Techno Co.,Ltd. established since 10 September 2007 with registered capital 10 million baht. 

P&F Techno Co., Ltd. is a company that export more variety of Thai fruits to many countries such as mango, mangosteen, durain, pineapple, banana, etc. 

Purpose of our company is develop Thai fruit quality and increase quantity of Thai export fruits to overseas with standard of production and universal management to make fresh, clean and safe products for our customers. Include support new knowledge and technologythat necessary to agriculturist for make a way to improve quality of products.

Our Business

•Vapor heat treatmentour company fruits (Mango and Mangosteen) for export to Japan Korea Brunei and New Zealand.

•Services a Vapor Heat Treatment for another exporter.

•Sort Pack and Export another fruits to global market.

•Produce Merchandise and Maintenance a device and vapor heat treatment. Our company use production technology for sorting quality of fruits with PSS machine (Purespect Sorting System) with sensor system from Japan. Measure by Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) use in our factory to improve sorting accuracy for customers.

•Sort sugar content (%Brix) of fruits.

•Measure quality of fruits fresh (especialy mangosteen) that has problems with gamboge and translucent.

•Measure quality shell of fruits and weigh.


Vapor Heat Treatment is technology that used vapor for eliminated fruit flies which attach to the tropical fruits such as mango, mangosteen, papaya, lychee and dragon fruit. 

In VHT process must have temperature 43 celsius degrees, the relative humidity is less than 50%. 

Then increase the temperature inside the core of the fruit at a constant 47 celsius degrees for 20 minutes. Measuring the core temperature of the fruit by the temperature sensor plugged.

Then the fruit are sprayed with cold water to cool down temperature of fruit before brought it out of the vapor room and blow with cold air. 

This method was acceptable, that can eliminated the eggs and fruit flies perfectly. 

In the future, can be expanded the tropical fruits market to Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.


Japanese mango market to be tapped

Published about 9 hours ago

KARACHI: The Ministry of Commerce is targeting high-priced Japanese market for export of mangoes from next season for which efforts are being made to activate a vapour heat treatment (VHT) plant imported a few years ago.

In a meeting of board of directors of the Export Development Fund (EDF) held on Friday, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir directed the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to bring a viable proposal to make the VHT plant operational before the next season starts.

The commerce minister, who chaired the meeting, directed that after the release of funds for the projects approved, the TDAP will have to submit quarterly report to the board on the progress.

He also urged transparency in the working of EDF, for which an effective mechanism should be devised to ensure the funds spent and collected under the Export Development Cess for the promotion of exports.

It was informed that 237 consignments from Pakistan were rejected last year by the European Union due to fruit-fly infestation, but this year only two consignments were found infested.

Pakistan exported 82,000 tonnes of mangoes last year. However, exports rose to 90,500 tonnes this year despite EU’s strict watch on the quality. Moreover, the mangoes were sold at a higher price this time around.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2014