Saturday, June 22, 2013

Revisiting and rebranding Malawi Young Pioneers ... - Nyasa Times

By Sitinga Kachipande

June 21, 2013 ????? 0 Comments

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The Malawi Young Pioneers Movement, which unfortunately became a terror militia to prop up the Banda regime, should be revisited by the Malawi government with the goal of involving youth in the county?s development

Malawian youth currently comprise a sizable 60 percent in a population of 14 million people. This means that more than half of Malawi is under the age 25. The youth represent a large, underutilized human resource that can impact Malawian development. They also represent a population who if neglected will be a detriment to development. Therefore their participation in the country?s development is pertinent for its future. In the past, the MYP, an affiliate of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), engaged the youth through a national youth service program. The original purpose of the MYP was to engage the youth in carrying out voluntary activities for Malawi?s development. However, they also functioned as a militia group and intelligentsia network for President Banda.

The MYP carried out various economic activities that positively impacted socio-economic development. When the MYP disbanded in 1994, it left many of the youth idle, without a sense of purpose and direction. It also left many of them unemployed with few opportunities on the horizon. Since then, Malawi has not had a comparable comprehensive national youth service program in terms of scope, size, funding, pragmatism, or robustness. The Malawian government should revisit the original idea behind the MYP program, with the aim of reviving its productive tenets for the country?s development.

Members of the defunct MYP

Members of the defunct MYP

Malawi?s youth remain a generation at risk of entrenchment in poverty. This is a precarious situation for any nation. Malawi currently has a large population of youth that are out of school and idle. There are few opportunities for youth development in Malawi that equip them with the education and training to become independent, economically secure adult citizens. The youth are faced with growing challenges in the country such as unemployment, underemployment, poverty, limited vocational training facilities, limited prospects for post-secondary training and a high population growth rate. Although these are not problems that are easily solved, they are not challenges that are insurmountable. The introduction of a national youth service that is comparable in scope, size and modeled after the MYP movement would begin to address some of these challenges.


A National Youth Policy was created in the 1995 to address the youth problems together with the National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM). NYCOM has been successful in empowering the youth. It introduced the Youth Development Plan of Action (YDEVPA) and has seen the registration of 131 youth-oriented NGOs. Although there is a plethora of these NGOs, few are functional or efficient. The creation of a National Youth Policy also raised the profile of youth. However, it is currently outdated and has been under review by the cabinet for nearly five years. Therefore, many of the existing programs and services for out of school youth can?t adequately meet the current demands of youth. Changes in programs for youths need to account for variables such as a changing political economy, urbanization, advances in technology and the behavioural changes in Malawi?s youth from the breakdown of traditional culture in a new globalised world. It is therefore important for a national youth service program to be implemented that reflects Malawi?s current reality. It is also important that it is adaptable so that it can continue to meet future challenges of the youth.

There have been initiatives proposed by the current Joyce Banda?s People?s Party administration to meet some of the challenges that the youth service program used to meet. There has been a proposal to reintroduce National Youth Week, a week where the MYP and other youth organizations volunteered to work on national projects. It gave MYP youth an opportunity to showcase the skills they learnt from MYP training initiative. The current administration has also set out to rehabilitate some of the former MYP training bases and turn them in to vocational training centers. There have also been plans to set up a development bank to provide loans for the youth. More recently, the administration unveiled a plan to send thousands of Malawian youth to South Korea for apprenticeships. However, this has been highly controversial due to concerns about issues such as abuse of labor rights. Whilst these initiatives may be beneficial for Malawian youth, they appear to be isolated projects and not an integrated part of a national youth service program.

According to reports from the Minister for Youth and Sport, Enoch Chihana, the administration has been talking about implementing a National Youth Service Program to address skills development in areas such as carpentry, mechanics, agriculture and IT. However, there are few details about the nature, scope and timeline of this plan. Despite of the MYPs problematic history, Malawi can draw lessons from its former youth service plan.


The MYP was a youth wing that was established by President Kamuzu Hastings Banda in 1963. It was modeled after the Ghana Young Pioneers and the National Service Brigade of Israel. Its main aim was to train rural youth with various skills so that they could ?spearhead? the country?s development. The MYP played a major role in the socio-economic development of Malawi, particularly, in agricultural activities. The Department of Youth together with the MYP offered Agricultural Science, Technical and Vocational Education for out of school youth or drop-outs. The MYP trained a significant number of youth who ended up joining the civil service, private sector or Armed Forces. They were extremely loyal to Banda and were indoctrinated in ?Kamuzuism?. That is, they saw Banda as the Father and Founder of the nation, and the Ngwazi (conqueror). They believed Banda was the only one capable of leading the country. Due to their loyalty, they increasingly received preferential treatment from Banda. By 1965, the MYP had turned in to a paramilitary group which functioned primarily to keep Banda?s autocracy intact. They were given extrajudicial powers, including the power to arrest, which caused tension with the police and army.

From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, the Young Pioneers received military, intelligence and espionage training in Taiwan and Israel. According to Chirwa (1994), they also received scholarships for ?technical studies? in Denmark, West Germany, United States and Britain. Although receiving arms from China for ?training purposes? only, Banda also made claims that he wanted to discourage dissidents and communists. This support came at a time when Banda was increasingly becoming autocratic. By the 1980s the MYP operated as a parallel security system above the Army and police.

At the height of Banda?s rule, MYP became a terror group to the public and were used to enforce Banda?s rule. MYP infiltrated every aspect of Malawian life by creating an intricate network of informants. This ranged from lecturers, administrator, university students, cleaners, messengers, watchmen, office personnel, garden boys, barmaids, or bartenders that were encouraged to report any detractors to them. Those that were against Banda would be detained, beaten, maimed, killed or forced into exile. Members of the public who didn?t have party membership cards were denied access to public services such as buses, health clinics or public transportation. They were used as an instrument of voter intimidation against multi-party advocates during the 1993 referendum. After the country voted for multi-party rule, Banda stepped down, and the MYP were disbanded by the Malawi Army in a covert overnight mission called ?Operation Bwezani?. Malawi went on to conduct peaceful elections in 1994.


The MYP left a negative and lasting legacy on the mindset of Malawians. Although the MYP developed into a destructive force for the nation, the original idea behind the youth movement was benign. When they began to function as the feared milita group that propped Banda?s dictatorship, their mandate for development was forgotten by them and the public. According to historian Richard Mkandawire (2008), ?Under Banda?s regime, the young pioneers, whom it was believed were carrying out voluntary work, became extremely unpopular among the general population for their sometimes ruthless and coercive manner in mobilizing local communities for development goals and supporting the ruling party.? As a result, they remain entrenched in Malawi?s history as a public terror group.

They also left other marks on Malawi. Since their disbandment, the idea of reviving the MYP has received mixed reactions. Banda?s successor, Bakili Muluzi branded this type of public service Thangata, a reference to free, unreciprocated labor experienced under colonialism. Therefore, funding for such social programs became limited. NGOs began to fill in much of the work previously undertaken by MYP. Another mark was the blurring of lines between youth leagues (although they worked closely with the MCP Youth League, MYP was separate) and youth mercenaries. In subsequent administrations, Muluzi?s United Democratic Front (UDF) formed the Young Democrats and Bingu wa Mutharika?s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) formed the Young Cadets. Although these groups do not have as much clout as the MYP, their role has been to terrorize the public (particularly, political opponents) through violence and intimidation. There continues to be a tendency to use idle youth as instruments of terror in ruling parties, instead of encouraging their political participation in decision making within the parties.

There is evidence that some of their legacy is fading. Recently, attitudes towards the MYP concept are changing. In 2012, Youth Consultative Forum publicly called for the government to start a national youth service similar to the MYP. This is perhaps a reflection of a youth that is borrowing from the past either out of necessity, nostalgia or pragmatism. It may also be a reflection of the passage of time. The MYP was disbanded almost twenty years ago; hence, most Malawians under 25 years of age did not experience the MYP era. However, these new calls do indicate that the youth wants to be engaged in the development process.

The youth in Malawi have always been at the foreground of transformation in the country. As an example, their participation was instrumental in protests against one-party rule and in more recent protests against Mutharika?s repression. They have earned a right to participate in shaping Malawian society as productive citizens. Yet, despite their contributions, the youth sector has remained an underdeveloped and undermined sector. Given their record of participation in shaping important events in the county?s past, there needs to be a more tangible plan for their continued participation in the future by the current administration.

So far, the current Joyce Banda administration appears to have strayed away from the practice of using youth to commit public terror. However, as Malawi prepares for elections in 2014, the youth across parties may once again become political pawns.


The concept of MYP was for the group to participate in national development. They largely targeted the rural poor so that they would have opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty. In order to achieve this, the MYP established training bases throughout the country. By 1989 there were MYP training bases in each of the country?s 24 districts. By the 1994, there were 6,000 MYPs and about 45,000 in the MYP reserves. The program effectively trained a large number of idle youth to become productive citizens.

Under the program, youths trained for approximately 10 months. They received a multi-faceted curriculum including political education, physical education and rural development. A large part of it involved agricultural work including farming and keeping livestock. Malawi was an agricultural based economy under Banda. Therefore, their work complimented the national development policy. When the program was completed, students were equipped to enter the public or private sector. Most students participated in economic and development activities in their communities. They were given the tools they needed to set up their own business in vocations like carpentering, bricklaying, and welding. Select students furthered their education by attending Salima Technical College. During the National Youth Week, MYP, Youth Leaguers and students, would hold parades, demonstrate their skills and highlight the contribution they were making to national development.

The program had the affect of teaching youth the values of hard work, self-reliance and self-determination. It taught them leadership skills and molded students in to responsible citizens who took responsibility for the country. Youth coming out of the program had a sense of purpose and self-worth. At national level, MYP contributed towards food security and state security. Unfortunately for Malawi, this system only lasted a few years as the MYP was hijacked by politics and ?Kamuzuism?. However, it should have been disarmed but not disbanded.


Malawi can benefit from a new national youth service program similar to MYP. The basic development-focused tenets of the program should be reviewed and revived with adaptation where necessary. The new MYP movement should be a demilitarized albeit providing a good stepping stone for those wanting to join the army after the program. It should also be depoliticized and not have any party affiliation ? recruitment should be transparent and non-partisan. The basic organizational structure of the program should be similar to the MYP. They should have offices in each district so that it is accessible to all youth. It should also be institutionalized and centrally organized for consistency, but retain enough autonomy to allow each district to manage certain activities such as creating a budget, daily management, setting district-specific goals, and determining the needs of its youth. This can be done through the Ministry of Youth or it may be best served as a public-private partnership.

Similar to the MYP, its emphasis should be on uplifting the rural population, who make up the majority of the youth. However, the program should also target the urban youth. Its core curriculum should be modeled after the MYPs focus on vocational skills training in areas like agriculture, welding etc. However it should expand its training or class offerings to include subjects like tailoring/?dress-making?, design, nutrition, cooking, civics, basic law, computers and basic literacy. It should also continue to include merit-based scholarships for exemplary students to attend technical college, enter the Malawi university system or receive scholarships abroad. Similar to the MYP, students should be given the opportunity to affect their communities. They should be given the tools to start their own businesses or SMEs in their local areas. As a result of the program, they should gain preferential access to services such as government jobs and services such as the proposed Development Bank which is being set up to empower the youth through issuing loans. In order to achieve this, the students should earn a certificate indicating that they have completed the National Youth Service Program. Recognized accreditation for would be a valuable assets that they use to access future loans, employment, and education. The program duration should be one year but a two year option should be considered.

Although the new program should draw on the MYP, it should be re-branded. This includes giving it a new ?pioneer?-free name. Instead of indoctrinating the youth on Malawi?s cornerstone slogan of ?Unity, Loyalty, Obedience, Discipline? like the MYP, it may emphasize values that resonate with contemporary youth such ?freedom?, ?justice?, ?peace?, and ?inclusion?! It should also redefine the term national service by reclaiming the original definition, of thangata, ?moral obligation? which is a reference to something that is mutually beneficial. In this light, the program does also need to benefit the youth so that they gain real opportunity to lift themselves out of their economic circumstances whilst serving the country. The program should target long-term volunteers but should pay students a stipend or allowance so that they can meet their daily needs. It should also make a provision for uncompensated short-term volunteer positions so that the program fosters the spirit of volunteerism. Although the Malawi government may not have all the resources to meet the demands of all of Malawi?s development woes, the government can enact a program for its underutilized human capital as a resource for development and nation building.


Malawi has had a long history of volunteerism and service. Despite narratives about absence of volunteerism and the sense of civic duty, both are wide-spread in Malawi, albeit largely undocumented. Therefore, the potential for engaging Malawi?s youth is realistic and pragmatic. Malawi has had a strong tradition of youth-led volunteerism and participation in development, in part due to the MYP movement. Yet, much like the Ghana Young Pioneers, The Zambia National Youth Service, and the Boys Brigades of Botswana, organizations like MYP often resort to using idle youth as instruments of political control. As Malawi prepares for elections in 2014, the youth should not continue to be undermined. They Malawi have the potential to make a real impact on the country?s development. However, long-term programs are needed to ensure their success so that they can become productive citizens. Revisiting the MYP program provides Malawi with a viable blueprint that it can use in the creation of a national youth program geared towards development.

* Sitinga Kachipande is a scholar in Pan African Studies and a blogger. She is currently a Research and Communication intern at TransAfrica. Views expressed are her own.


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Child Right Information and Documentation Centre, 2011. Key Topic: Youth Development in Malawi. [Online]

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Chirambo, R., 2004. ?Operation Bwezani? The Army, Political Change, and Dr. Banda?s Hegemony in Malawi. Nordic Journal of Afric Nordic Journal of African Studies, 13(2), pp. 146-163.

Chirwa, W. C., 1994. ?We want change?: Cleaning house in Malawi. Southern Africa Report, March, 9(4), p. 25.

Guardian Professional, 2013. ?Malawi?s Youth Unemployment Crisis. 10 June.

Kankande, A., 2012. The Youth Consultative Forum Intensify Pressure for Activation of Youth Policy. Malawi Voice, 23 August.

Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, n.d. Malawi Youth Policy. [Online]

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Mkandawire, R., 2008. Youth Volunteerism in South Africa: Prospects for youth Engagement in Poverty Reduction Development Programmes, s.l.: Southern African Regional Poverty Network.

Molen, C. M. & Gallagher, B. M., 2007. Youth Service and Development in Malawi. [Online] Available at:

Msasa, L., 2011. MYP?s Youth Development Agenda.. The Sunday Times, 30 October.

Nysatimes, 2012. Malawi Youths Demand Govt to Review MYP Concept. [Online]

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[Accessed 12 June 2013].

Phiri, K., 2000. A Case of Revolutionary Change in Contemporary Malawi: The Malawi Army and the Disarming of the Malawi Young Pioneers. 1 March, 1(1).

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Voice of Micah, 2012. Failed Leadership and the Predicament of the Youth in Malawi. [Online]

Available at:


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Technology unlocks gate to Wimbledon's English garden

By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Wimbledon, the world's oldest tennis championship, is embracing new technology with an iPad app to appeal to a younger audience.

The app allows users to navigate around the grounds via a photographic map, zooming in on specific courts to get updates on the state of play. They can also get alerts telling them how their favorite players are faring.

The All England Club (AELTC), which stages the tournament on the grass courts of suburban London, is in the position of knowing that demand for tickets far outstrips supply.

But with so many people unable to get tickets, the tournament's online presence has brought it closer to fans around the world, AELTC Commercial Director Mick Desmond said.

"If you can't come to Wimbledon, we want to try to make it the next best experience," he told Reuters.

"We try to position Wimbledon as tennis in an English garden but at the same time we want to be at the cutting edge of innovation," he added, speaking before the start of the tournament on Monday.

"It's allowing us to reach a younger audience."

Desmond, a former television executive who joined the AELTC three years ago, said making Wimbledon more accessible online helped to increase its appeal to sponsors and broadcasters.

The launch of the free iPad app follows a push into mobile in 2011 and an overhaul last year of the main Wimbledon website ( The site attracted 17 million users in 2012.

Online features include Live@Wimbledon TV, fronted by former players Annabel Croft and Mats Wilander, which offers seven hours a day of video coverage.

The channel shows individual games but does not provide live streaming of whole matches to avoid undercutting the value of rights sold to broadcasters like the BBC in Britain and ESPN in the United States. It redirects users to the relevant broadcaster if they want full coverage of a particular match.

IBM also offers predictive software to help online fans to gauge the momentum of a match, point by point. For Wimbledon this will be complemented by a monitor of social media sentiment to show who is seen to be gaining the upper hand.

Drones were deployed before the tournament to take videos giving faraway tennis fans a bird's eye-view of the green lawns of Wimbledon, which first staged the tournament in 1877.

Increased revenues have helped Wimbledon to increase prize money this year by 40 percent to 22.6 million pounds ($35 million), with losers in the first round walking away with 23,000 pounds.

Despite the generous prize money, Wimbledon makes a healthy profit. It generated a pre-tax surplus of almost 38 million pounds last year, funds which are reinvested in British tennis. ($1 = 0.6466 British pounds)

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


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Rationality in Markets Is Cognitively Unnatural

The label ?rational? is becoming illogical. Economists, even the better behavioral kind, use it particularly badly. That great scholar of human nature, Shakespeare, knew better. We evolved to be relationally rational. We productively resist certain transactional gains.

Consider the Ultimatum Game, which has a Proposer and a Responder. The Proposer is given some money and must offer the Responder a share. If the offer is accepted, each gets the relevant amount, but if it?s rejected, neither gets any. Economists predict ?rational? acceptance of any offer, however low, since the Responder will benefit. But that?s not what happens. Below some level, which varies by culture, offers are rejected, ?irrationally.?

Are there good reasons to reject gains in such situations? The impulse to incur costs (the forgone share) to punish those we feel treat us ?unfairly? (by prevailing norms) can be very rational. Daniel Kahneman calls such feelings ?fast thinking,? cognitive patterns that have worked well for so long that they?ve become instincts. These social instincts, if well configured culturally, can be rationally adaptive.

Rational, too, often means individualistic market-style thinking and modeling life as a stream of transactions with interchangeable others. But that?s a poor description of human life. Indeed that sort of individualism was invented only about 15 generations ago. And most cultures are still sociocentric.

Since before we were human, the logic of our survival has been social and relational. It was maladaptive to ignore the impact of our actions on others, or how they were seen, or their long-term effects. This equipped us with a relational rationality that included not just self-only and not only short-term factors.

Prioritizing fairness and reputation?both needed for the cooperation we depend on? over immediate gain, has likely been key to our survival for 10,000 generations. It still is. Definitions of self-interested rationality that exclude this truth, risk becoming self-undermining. Isn?t that truly irrational? Human self-interest has always had social constraints. Reputations, such as an exploiter or being exploitable, matter. As Othello says ?Who steals my purse steals trash; ?tis?nothing?But he that filches from me my good name?makes me poor indeed?

Behavioral economics hasn?t cured this; it?s still too transactional. Cognitive biases contain a bias towards classical economics. They have two sources of potential error, the observed behavior and the supposedly rational ideal it deviates from. Using classical economics ideals, inherits their ?cognitively unnatural? features.

Essentially all our key traits, including our rationality, evolved relationally. Until late in the rise of cities it couldn?t have been otherwise. Highly individualistic and transactional thinking often leads to poor results, for example in Prisoner?s Dilemmas. It can?t continue to be deemed rational to damage what we depend on.

Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker Cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions.

Previously in this series:

Kahneman and Bentham?s Bucket of Happiness
Kahneman?s Clarity: Using Mysterious Coinage in Science
What Rational Really Means
The Cognitive Science of Star Trek
Colonoscopies Clarify Inner Workings of Minds
Happiness Should Be A Verb
Better Behaved Behavioral Models


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Olympus PEN E-P5

The Olympus PEN E-P5 ($1,449.99 list with 17mm lens and EVF) is the latest addition to the Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera family, and it's a winner. The PEN features the same imaging engine and stabilization system as our Editors' Choice OM-D E-M5, but uses a removable add-on EVF rather than a built-in version. It's got built-in Wi-Fi, a first for the PEN family, and an innovative control system that lets you take command of four camera settings via a toggle switch and two control dials. It doesn't have the OM-D E-M5's weather sealed body or kit lens, but it does put a few additional controls at your fingertips.

Design and Features
The E-P5 is bundled with the excellent M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8 lens and Electronic Viewfinder VF-4. If the $1,450 asking price is too much for you, it can be had as a body only for around $1,000, but you'll lose a bit of value by not buying it as a kit. The 17mm lens sells for $500 on its own, and the VF-4 is priced at $280. Buying the three separately would put you out of pocket around $1,780, so buying the three represents a $380 discount.

The camera measures 2.7 by 4.8 by 1.5 inches (HWD) and is very heavy for its size at 13.3 ounces. It feels solid in the hand. The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5, the midrange body in the PEN family, a good camera in its own right, feels almost toy-like in comparison. The E-PL5 is narrower and lighter?it measures 2.5 by 4.4 by 1.5 inches and weighs 11.4 ounces. Even though EP-5's body has the same depth as its smaller sibling, it feels a bit thicker. This is because its tilting rear LCD is flush to the body when closed; the E-PL5's screen juts out a bit.

Physical controls are ample. You'll find the Mode dial, as well as the power switch, shutter release, and Fn button on the top plate. There are front and rear control dials, each of which can control two functions, which will change based on the camera's shooting mode. When the rear toggle switch is set to position 1 the function will change based on the shooting mode?the rear dial controls the f-stop in aperture priority, and the shutter speed in shutter priority, while the front dial adjust exposure compensation in both those modes. If you're shooting in full manual mode, the rear dial controls the shutter speed and the front the aperture. There's some customization of these functions available in the menu system.

When you toggle the rear switch to setting 2, the dial functions change. In most modes the rear dial adjust the white balance and the front changes the ISO. There's some customization of what position 2 does. You can also set it to start movie recording, which some users may prefer to the record button that is located inside the toggle switch. It can also be used to toggle between automatic and manual focus.

There's also a control pad with a center OK button and four directional controls; they control exposure compensation, the flash output, the drive mode and self-timer, and the current focus point. You'll also find buttons to access the camera's menu, change the amount of information shown on the display, magnify the live view frame, enter playback mode, and delete images. Additional settings can be controlled via an overlay menu?it's launched by pressing the OK button. These include the ISO, image quality, focus mode, flash mode, and metering pattern.

The rear LCD display is 3 inches in size and features a stunning 1,037k-dot resolution. It's mounted on a hinge, so you can view it from above or below. Its resolution is greater than the 610k OLED display that the OM-D E-M5 uses, but looking at them side-by-side it's hard to see a big difference. I'd give an edge to the E-P5; the display is very bright and can be used outdoors, even on bright days. The display is touch sensitive, but the touch functionality is limited. It's possible to tap an area of the frame to choose a focus point, or to focus and fire the shutter. This is controlled by tapping a small box on the left side of the display. There's also an option to disable touch focus entirely. It's also possible to move the focus point using the E-P5's rear directional pad.

If you opt to use manual focus, the E-P5 offers a couple of aids to help you grab sharp shots. Turning the focus ring on a Micro Four Thirds lens will activate either focus peaking (which highlights in-focus areas of your image in white or black), frame magnification, or both. It could be better implemented in terms of activation. If you're using a native Micro Four Thirds lens with a focus clutch, like the kit lens, it doesn't actually work when the clutch is set to manual focus adjustment, even if the camera is set to manual focus mode. If you use peaking frequently, and fans of legacy lenses will want to, it's best to assign the Fn1 button to activate it. There's already a magnification button on the body. Once you do activate it, the peaking is extremely helpful in getting an in-focus shot.

If you buy the camera in a kit you'll also get an external EVF. The VF-4 is stunning. It's the best EVF I've used. It's bigger and sharper than the excellent OLED finders in the Sony Alpha NEX-7 and Fujifilm X-E1. The only downside is its size. It's pretty big, adding a big hump to the camera. Both the Sony and Fujifilm cameras managed to work an EVF into the body and also retain a built-in flash and hot shoe; it's unfortunate that Olympus wasn't able to do the same with the EP-5. On the other hand, if you have other Olympus cameras with the AP2 accessory port you'll be able to use the EVF with them (although they'll require a firmware update), and the finder can tilt straight up, which will make it easier to get shots from lower angles. The E-P5 automatically switches to the EVF when you bring your eye towards it, though that function will be disabled if the rear LCD is tilted.

The E-P5 is the first PEN camera with built-in Wi-Fi. It's an impressive, albeit limited, freshman effort from Olympus, in part to the very slick method the company used to pair the camera with your iOS or Android device. In order to do so, you simply need to scan a QR code that is displayed on the rear LCD with your phone. The network information and password are contained within. If you're not within range of another saved network, the camera and your phone will automatically connect when Wi-Fi is enabled on the camera (accessible via a touch-sensitive Wi-Fi icon on the rear display) and the app is launched on the phone. If you're already connected to your home or office Wi-Fi network, you'll first need to disconnect from that in order to get the app working.

So, pairing is easy. What can you do? Your options are limited. You can transfer JPG images and QuickTime videos from the camera to your phone?the app lets you select a downsized resolution or transfer them at full quality. But if you shoot Raw, you're out of luck?you can't transfer them. You'll have to first develop them as a JPG in camera. You can also use the phone's GPS to add geotags to photos, just make sure the clock is set correctly on the E-P5 and that you've enabled the location log in the OI Share app. Images are quick to transfer, though it did take a while to transfer a short video clip.

You can also use your phone as a remote control with a real time live view feed. The speed of the feed is quite good, it's not choppy like we've seen on other cameras with this capability. Touch focus is supported, but you can only shoot in iAuto mode?the only real control you have access to is a self-timer, which will let you put your phone in your pocket before posing for a shot.

Everything about the Wi-Fi works; it's just unfortunate that it doesn't do more. There's no way to connect the E-P5 to a home network or hotspot. So if you're having a party and want to post a few photos to Facebook, you have to first transfer them to your phone and then to your social media profile. You're also not able to email a photo directly from the camera. Other Wi-Fi enabled cameras, like the Samsung NX300 let you do this.


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Ana Trujillo, Houston News Anchor, Kills Boyfriend With Stiletto Heel


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Video: Cole Real Estate Investments Lists on NYSE

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Some residents oppose Wyo.-EPA frack study deal

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- People who have been living with tainted well water in central Wyoming voiced concern Friday that they were excluded from a deal that has the state taking over further study of groundwater pollution from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe raised concerns after the agreement was announced Thursday between the EPA, Wyoming and Encana Corp., owner of the Pavillion gas field. The Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe both live on the Wind River Reservation, which surrounds the drilling area.

The EPA theorized in 2011 that the petroleum industry practice of hydraulic fracturing may have contaminated the groundwater near the town of Pavillion. The EPA now says it won't issue a final report or have outside experts review the research as originally planned.

Instead, Wyoming will take over the study in Encana's field of about 125 gas wells, with help from $1.5 million from Encana.

"We went to EPA for help after the state of Wyoming and Encana refused to address the public health impacts of unbridled development in the Pavillion area," said John Fenton, chairman of the group Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens. "Now Encana has bought their way back in and is working with the state on a strategy to cover up the mess they've created. Our government's priority is clearly to protect industry rather than Wyoming citizens, our health and our property values."

Gov. Matt Mead said Friday he has been talking with affected residents and understands their suspicion. But he said the EPA has recognized that Wyoming is best positioned to act.

"I think it's right that they are concerned, and I think it's even appropriate that they are skeptical," Mead said in a phone interview. "And I think it's up to the state in leading this investigation to do it in a way that addresses their concerns."

Mead met with the affected residents and said many of them have expressed gratitude for his interest in having state agencies resolve their problems.

Some people in the Pavillion area said their water began to reek of chemicals in 2005, around the same time that Encana began to employ hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to boost production of nearby gas wells. Fracking encourages the flow of oil and gas underground by splitting open rock with a high-pressure mix of water, fine sand and chemicals pumped into wells.

Fenton and others say Wyoming agencies didn't do enough to address their complaints, so they asked the EPA to investigate. The EPA announced in December 2011 its finding that fracking could have played a role in some pollution found in two wells it drilled to sample groundwater.

A statement Thursday from the Northern Arapaho Tribe expressed concern that the state and EPA worked out the agreement without reaching out to the tribe.

Darrell O'Neal, chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, said it's probably a good thing that Pavillion issues are getting attention at the highest levels.

"The governor and his associates in D.C. need to do a better job involving residents of Fremont County and representatives of tribal government in the process," he said.

Ronald Oldman, co-chairman of the tribe's business council, said EPA staff in Washington had a legal duty to consult with the tribe, "and that didn't happen as part of their dialogue with the governor."

The tribe also expressed concern that Wyoming's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will play a key role in future study despite a federal court injunction more than 40 years old that bars the commission from trying to exert any authority over minerals on tribal lands.

Other local residents say the EPA's decision to back away from further research, in favor of Wyoming taking the lead again, puts them back where they started before the federal agency got involved.

"The state of Wyoming is already on record, through action and inaction, as denying that Pavillion's groundwater contamination is a cause for concern," said a Pavillion-area farmer, Jeff Locker.

The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees oil and gas development in the state, will review the integrity of Pavillion gas wells and whether pollution could have seeped out of old drilling waste pits.

Last year, commission Supervisor Tom Doll told an audience he believed Pavillion-area residents were mostly motivated by greed. Doll resigned soon thereafter.

The new study also will re-examine previous samples from 14 domestic water wells within a quarter mile of the Encana wells. The state may also take new samples from those wells.

Mead said the state will hire outside experts to review the work and said Encana's funding won't taint the findings.

"Encana has committed money. They don't get to say they, 'Well, we will commit it if this is the result,'" Mead said.

Encana spokesman Doug Hock said one focus of the study going forward will be why the local well water tastes foul ? something company officials believed should have been the focus all along.

Hock pointed out that the EPA has acknowledged that its research has failed to establish how fracking might have caused contaminants to seep upward from the relatively shallow drilling zone to the aquifer that feeds local water wells.

"It needs to go back to looking at these specific water wells and what specifically is going on there. That's where the science has led us, and that's the proper approach," Hock said.


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First look at the Samsung ATIV Q

An unholy marriage between Windows and Android takes place in this high-resolution, convertible tablet?

It's Windows. It's Android. It's Windows. It's Android. It's Windows. It's Android.

It's the Samsung ATIV Q, just announced today in London. And it takes a convertible 13-inch tablet -- that is, it's got a keyboard that you can abuse in a couple different positions -- puts Android on one side, Windows 8 on the other, and leaves you and your brain to deal with the aftermath.

Look, we're not going ot get the full feel for this thing in a few short minutes, but this much stood out: There are something like three buttons that will take you to Android -- and one of them is the Windows logo. Somewhere, even Christopher Nolan is scratching his head.

Enjoy this first-look video.



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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Police seek motive in Southern California killing spree

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Police on Saturday were investigating what prompted a man dressed in black to embark on a string of shootings in the beach community of Santa Monica, killing four people before police gunned him down in a community college library.

Five other people were wounded in the shooting rampage, which unfolded just a few miles from where President Barack Obama was speaking at a political fundraiser elsewhere in Santa Monica, west of Los Angeles.

The bloodshed did not appear to be related to Obama's visit to Santa Monica and the Secret Service called it a "local police matter."

The killing spree marked the latest in string of high-profile mass shootings over the past year, including a December attack in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school and a shooting last July at a suburban Denver movie theater that killed 12 people.

Those attacks have helped reignite a national debate over gun violence in America that spurred Obama and his fellow Democrats to push for expanded background checks for gun buyers - an initiative defeated in the U.S. Senate.

Police say the carnage began at a home east of the college, where the gunman shot two people dead before apparently torching the home. The Los Angeles Times, citing law enforcement sources, reported that the first two victims were believed to be the gunman's father and brother.

Santa Monica Police Sergeant Richard Lewis said that after leaving the home the gunman carjacked a woman and ordered her to drive. Along the way he fired at least several rounds at a city bus, wounding three people.

Arriving at the college, the gunman opened fire on a red sports utility vehicle in a staff parking lot, killing the driver and critically wounding his passenger, Lewis said.

The gunman, who was armed with an AR-15 style rifle and at least one handgun, then shot and killed another victim at the college before he was slain in an exchange of gunfire with police, Lewis said.

He said investigators had not yet determined a motive for the rampage, adding: "It's a horrific event that everybody wishes never happened."

Obama had been attending a fundraising event at the Santa Monica home of former News Corp President Peter Chernin at about the time of the shooting and had just finished his remarks. He made no mention of the incident.

A Secret Service spokesman in Washington said: "We are aware of the incident and it is not impacting the visit. It's a local police matter at this point."

Obama's departure from Los Angeles was rerouted to avoid the scene, a White House press secretary said.

(Reporting by Dana Feldman, Dan Whitcomb, Steve Gorman and Alex Dobuzinskis; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)


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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Not quite the ER: Boston hospital cleaning mummy

Mimi Leveque, a freelance conservator, cleans Padihershef, a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy at Mass General Hospital in Boston, Friday, June 7, 2013. Padihershef, who has made MGH his home since 1823, was a 40-year old stonecutter in the necropolis in Thebes, an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile. (AP Photo/Gretchen Ertl)

Mimi Leveque, a freelance conservator, cleans Padihershef, a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy at Mass General Hospital in Boston, Friday, June 7, 2013. Padihershef, who has made MGH his home since 1823, was a 40-year old stonecutter in the necropolis in Thebes, an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile. (AP Photo/Gretchen Ertl)

Peter Johnson, director of the Mass General Hospital's Russell Museum, left, talks with Mimi Leveque, a freelance conservator, about Padihershef, a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy at Mass General Hospital in Boston, Friday, June 7, 2013. Padihershef, who has made MGH his home since 1823, was a 40-year old stonecutter in the necropolis in Thebes, an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile. (AP Photo/Gretchen Ertl)

Mimi Leveque, a freelance conservator, cleans Padihershef, a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy at Mass General Hospital in Boston, Friday, June 7, 2013. Padihershef, who has made MGH his home since 1823, was a 40-year old stonecutter in the necropolis in Thebes, an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile. (AP Photo/Gretchen Ertl)

Mimi Leveque, a freelance conservator, cleans Padihershef, a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy at Mass General Hospital in Boston, Friday, June 7, 2013. Padihershef, who has made MGH his home since 1823, was a 40-year old stonecutter in the necropolis in Thebes, an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile. (AP Photo/Gretchen Ertl)

Mimi Leveque, a freelance conservator, cleans Padihershef, a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy at Mass General Hospital in Boston, Friday, June 7, 2013. Padihershef, who has made MGH his home since 1823, was a 40-year old stonecutter in the necropolis in Thebes, an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile. (AP Photo/Gretchen Ertl)

(AP) ? A 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy named Padihershef came out of his coffin Friday to go to the hospital.

Well, actually, he had already been there for a while.

The mummy has been on display at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the nation's oldest, since it received him as a gift from the city of Boston in 1823 as a medical oddity. He is one of the first complete mummies brought to the United States.

A conservator trained in restoring ancient artifacts removed him from his coffin Friday and began using cotton swabs dabbed in saliva to wipe away salt deposits from his face. The salt has been slowly seeping out of his tissue, a result of the mummification process.

Mimi Leveque, the conservator, also used a tiny brush to wipe the film of white salt and used a small vacuum cleaner to remove the fine dust from skin darkened by mummification resins.

"I suppose you could say it was something very similar to a facelift, maybe more; maybe he is getting a facial in a spa, perhaps," she said.

Experts are also expected to do minor repair and stabilization work on his coffin. The whole process is expected to take three days.

The mummy and his coffin will then be moved to a special horizontal case, in which they will lie next to each other, in the Ether Dome, a surgical amphitheater where William T. G. Morton demonstrated the first public surgery using anesthetic on Oct. 16, 1846.

Padihershef was a 40-year-old stonecutter in the necropolis in Thebes, an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile, in what is today's Luxor.

"He was probably someone who was employed to open up the ground and to create the tombs for the kings in the Valley of Kings," said Leveque, who specializes in Egyptian antiquities.

The mummy was a gift from a Dutch diplomat who was happy with Boston's hospitality. The artifact's arrival created quite a stir, and trustees of the hospital leased it to an entrepreneur who charged visitors $2.50 each to see it during a tour of American cities that extended as far south as Charleston, S.C., officials said.

No one knows exactly how the man who became a mummy lived or died. Experts are exploring those questions through a conservation project supported by the hospital and donors.

He had been greeting visitors to the hospital from his upright, open sarcophagus. He was removed from his case in March and taken on a patient stretcher to the imaging suites in the hospital, where technicians subjected him to full body X-ray and CT scanning.

Experts were surprised to see a broom handle embedded at the base of his head and running through his torso in what likely was a crude attempt to stabilize his head. There are no records to indicate when the repair was done and by whom, the hospital said on its website.

The study was intended to produce images that could be compared with those gleaned from exams conducted in 1931 and 1976 and to determine the condition of his bones. Those earlier tests revealed his bones had interrupted growth lines that indicate a severe childhood illness that resulted in stunted growth.

They also showed the mummy still has the brain in his skull, a rarity because it was typically removed to eliminate the chance of decomposition.


Associated Press writer Rodrique Ngowi can be reached at

Associated Press


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Friday, June 7, 2013

IRS official: Lavish conference followed IRS rules

Faris Fink, Commissioner, Small Business and Self-Employed Division, Internal Revenue Service testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 6, 2013, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing regarding IRS conference spending. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Faris Fink, Commissioner, Small Business and Self-Employed Division, Internal Revenue Service testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 6, 2013, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing regarding IRS conference spending. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., holds up a picture of a GSA employee in a hot tub as he questions witnesses on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 6, 2013, during the committee's hearing regarding IRS conference spending. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

From left, J. Russell George, Inspector General, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; Gregory Kutz, Assistant Inspector General for Audit, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; and Faris Fink, Commissioner, Small Business and Self-Employed Division, Internal Revenue Service are sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Thursday, June 6, 2013, prior to testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing regarding IRS conference spending. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Faris Fink, Commissioner, Small Business and Self-Employed Division, Internal Revenue Service, is seated at the witness table on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 6, 2013, during a break in House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing regarding IRS conference spending. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Faris Fink, Commissioner, Small Business and Self-Employed Division, Internal Revenue Service, gets up from the witness table on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 6, 2013, during a break in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing regarding IRS conference spending. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(AP) ? An Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the agency's latest scandal told lawmakers Thursday that an expensive conference held in 2010 conformed to existing rules, though he acknowledged it was not the best use of taxpayer money.

The official, Faris Fink, said spending at the $4.1 million gathering should have been more closely scrutinized, and that new rules would prevent such a conference today.

"I think it is important to point out that in carrying out this 2010 meeting, we followed IRS and government procedures that were in place at the time," Fink told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

In 2010, Fink was a top deputy in the IRS small business and self-employed division, which staged the conference. A 32-year IRS employee, Fink was promoted to lead the division in 2011.

"The Treasury inspector general's office review found no instances of fraud," Fink told lawmakers. "But we are now in a very different environment and there are many new procedures in place at the IRS governing training and travel."

The hearing focused on a new report by the IRS inspector general that said the IRS spent nearly $50 million on 225 employee conferences from 2010 through 2012. The 2010 conference in Anaheim, Calif., attended by 2,600 IRS managers from across the country, was the most expensive.

At that conference, Fink stayed in a luxury suite and starred in a cheesy but slickly-produced "Star Trek" video filmed by IRS employees.

From the witness table, Fink watched the video screen in the hearing room without expression as excerpts played showing him in his role as Mr. Spock.

The IRS spent more than $50,000 to produce three videos that were shown at the conference, the report said, including the "Star Trek" parody.

"What were you thinking?" asked the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Fink said the videos were "a well-intentioned" attempt at humor, shown at the opening and closing of the conference.

"They would not occur today, based on all the guidelines that exist and frankly, they were not appropriate at that time, either," Fink said. "The fact of the matter is, it's embarrassing, and I apologize."

Fink stayed in a room that normally cost $1,499 a night, the inspector general's report said. A total of 132 IRS officials received room upgrades at the conference.

The tax agency paid a flat daily fee of $135 per hotel room, the report said, but the upgrades were part of a package deal that added to the overall cost of the conference.

The IRS faces mounting criticism both for spending on employee conferences and for improperly targeting conservative political groups that applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.

The IRS was screening the groups' applications because agents were trying to determine their level of political activity. IRS regulations say tax-exempt social welfare organizations can engage in some political activity but the activity cannot be their primary mission. It is up to the IRS to make that determination.

The revelations about IRS agents' improperly targeting tea party and other groups have led to investigations by three congressional committees and the Justice Department. One top IRS official was forced to resign, a second retired and a third was placed on paid administrative leave.

This week, the IRS began taking action against employees who were involved in the 2010 conference.

On Wednesday, the IRS' new acting commissioner placed two officials on administrative leave for accepting free food at a party in a private suite at the conference. Pending a review, the two officials could lose their jobs, the agency said.

The IRS said spending on conferences fell from $37.6 million in the 2010 budget year to $4.9 million in 2012. The agency said it has already imposed strict regulations to prevent expensive conferences in the future.

"I will do everything possible to ensure that tight spending protocols are in place at the agency to protect the use of taxpayer dollars," acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said in prepared testimony distributed to reporters at the beginning of Thursday's hearing.

Werfel said employee training remains important to the IRS. But, he added, "We must make sure we undertake it in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Unfortunately, that did not occur in this case."

Werfel took over the IRS last month after President Barack Obama forced the previous acting commissioner to resign following revelations that IRS agents had been improperly targeting conservative political groups.


Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter:

Associated Press


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S. Korea Issues Positive Response to North's Surprise Offer (Voice Of America)

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