Monday, December 13, 2010

Topic for argumentative essay: Should compulsory military service be abolished?

Germany to abolish compulsory military service

  Biggest postwar modernisation of German Bundeswehr aimed at reducing €8bn off the defence spending budget

 Kate Connolly in Berlin,

    german army soldier
    Conscription may be removed as part of a radical overall of the armed forces. 
    The German government has announced plans to abolish compulsory military service by next summer, marking the most radical overhaul of the armed forces since its postwar founding and a major change to German society. Under the reforms, which will transform the Bundeswehr into a fully professional defence force by July 2011, the size of the existing military and its inefficient bureaucratic apparatus will be considerably reduced as part of a cost-cutting exercise aimed at shaving about €8bn (£6.8bn) from the defence spending budget. Speaking on the sidelines of a Dresden conference about the status of the military defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, called the decision "responsible and right". The changes follow recommendations by military experts who have called the armed forces "ineffectual" and "in desperate need of modernisation". Guttenberg said he envisaged the launch of a voluntary programme open to both men and women who will be able to serve in the military for up to 23 months, in order to appease the large number of Germans who are opposed to the changes to a core policy of postwar Germany, considered so sacred it is cemented in the constitution. But he stressed that the voluntary sector would not help Germany's ability to engage in missions abroad. The military was founded in 1955, and conscription – introduced two years later – has been seen as a necessary means to ensure the defence forces maintain a close relationship to civil society in order to prevent a repeat of the way in which the Nazi party was able to manipulate professional soldiers in the 1930s. But experts say it has prevented the military's modernisation. Chancellor Angela Merkel today appealed to Germany's generals to seize the chance to become "symbols of the willingness to change" and to set an example for the rest of the nation. "You can make a really significant contribution to a modern and strong Germany," she said at the Dresden conference. Earlier this autumn her Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) voted in favour of abolishing national service at their annual party conferences, removing the last major political obstacle to broad defence reforms. The CDU also voted in favour of transforming the Germany military or Bundeswehr into a fully professional army, which military strategists have long argued was necessary to cope with modern demands. Most crucially they said it would increase its expeditionary capacity. The size of the military is to be reduced from 240,000 to 163,500 soldiers, but is expected to increase the number of troops capable of being deployed on foreign missions from the current 7,000 to 14,000. The decision is not only a groundbreaking one for the country's military but also poses a major challenge for the social welfare system. Until now thousands of young men from the age of 18, who either due to their pacifist views or for health reasons were excluded from national service duty, were drafted into posts at care homes and hospitals instead, where they were considered a valuable source of cheap labour. Provisions will now have to be made to plug a shortfall of around 90,000 such workers. The government has tried to play down the changes saying it will retain a programme for young people to volunteer for social work, arguing that the demand to take up such posts for post-school and pre-university youngsters will still exist even when national service is scrapped. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

business ethics

Pfizer Whistle Blower

Hi everybody! Today we talked about "business ethics", which sounds like an oxymoron, as business and ethics usually don't mix well, you know what I mean? If you were in David Franklin's shoes would you blow the whistle on the company you work for? Please watch the video and have your say.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Apple Kid Gloves Microsoft *

On Monday we talked about business communication and Bill Gates. Despite his allegedly anti-competitive and clever business tactics, he is  quite a popular person. Perhaps his donation of more than half of his wealth to charity makes him forgiven. Anyway, as you all know Microsoft's biggest rival is Apple, now the world's most valuable technology company. Yes, Apple has finally overtaken Microsoft.
Whatever, I have come across an article on the net about the topic and I will be very happy if you read it and tell me what the main idea is. Thanks.


Given that no love has supposedly been lost between them, it is passingly strange that Apple has been giving the “kid gloves treatment” to Microsoft. What? Can’ ye Editor see that Apple has been ringing Microsoft’s clock in the new multimedia portable devices, smartphone and tablets markets. iPod has laid waste to Zune and company; iPhone has devastated the Windows Mobile Phone and Kin; while iPad has yet again created a new Apple-first market where Microsoft had 10 years to fail and fail again with its tablets. That sound like a 1-2-3 tattooing and no kid glove treatment whatsoever.

Apple’s Kid Gloving

Well lets look at the recent record. Microsoft has in the past five years attempted to ruin its Windows, Web/IE , and desktop Office Suite brands. Redmond has underserved, mispackaged, and overpriced its major revenue sources. Just say Vista, IE and Office 2007 and you don’t have to add Security Tuesdays nor icompatible programming silos to have CIOs pulling their hair worldwide as they knuckle under for another year of 80% of their budget going to maintain existing operations. This has made Redmond vulnerable to attack by its competitors notably Apple. So lets see how Apple has taken advantage of Microsoft’s wounded state:

1)Regarding the Windows Vista disaster – Apple improved MacOS X but also raised the price of its desktops and laptops to 2-3 times more than the equivalently equipped Windows PCs during Windows weakest period. Apple had an award winning ad campaign against Windows but did not offer even a short term price reduction – “trade in your PC clunker and get $500 off on your favorite MacBook Air or Apple Desktop” [this would have been a natural fit with its Mac vs PC ad campaign]. The key would have been to have a campaign so that the price of Apple Macs is reduced while the awful Vista and even Windows 7 try to defend Redmond’s monopoly. Cupertino did No Such Deal. No pricing pressure was applied to Windows PCs at all by Apple.
2)Regarding graphics performance - Apple has been conceding leadership to Microsoft and Windows with alarming regularity. Given its customer base, graphics performance should be regarded as the family jewels in Cupertino. But Microsoft Windows on the same basic Apple hardware outperforms Apple MacOS X by 15-30% in video, 3D and other graphics tests.
3)Apple is conceding multi-touch screen advantage to Windows PCs – Incredibly, Apple has just rejected multi-touch screens on Macs, ceding its huge lead to Windows PCs which have such multi-touch screens on the HP 2250 laptop or the Acer Aspire Windows PCs among a growing screen touch enabled PCs. No multi-touch screens for Macs.
4)Regarding Zune and Windows Mobile – again, no such trade-in offers or price reductions on early models of iPod or iPhone to get users to trade-up. No inducement to help Microsoft loyalist switch with Exchange, Outlook, and Calendar connections or conversion offers. Result, Zune with the help of Xbox is starting to lift off.
5)Apple rejected the next generation interface technology, Kinect – Microsoft leaped on it for the XBox and has been revitalized as a result. Can Microsoft innovate with this lead and extend Kinect like some are saying it is capable of. If they don’t Google will surely do so; but Apple is out of the game.
6)Apple has let Windows Mobile survive – with billions in the kitty, Microsoft seems willing to spend what it takes to get ads, device makers and developers to adopt Windows Phone 7. As of November 8th, the market will decree if Apple or Microsoft has done enough.
7)Apple has fumbled the its TV strategy – So now Microsoft with XBox and especially with Kinect has an opening that no one would have given them a year ago.
8)Apple has slowly but surely replaced key Adobe software with its own – Aperture for Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro for Adobe Premiere Pro, etc. But Apple still remains dependent on Microsoft for its Office Suite leaving open a spy-window into the latest UI, Mac and iOS4 development for the Copyists back in Redmond.
9)Apple has done nothing about the scourge that is Microsoft IE – Apple could have invested some of its $40B kitty into jQuery-like and/or HTML5 savvy start-ups and leveraged its Webkit prowess into a Web market leading advantage. With IE9 finally out the door, the opportunity has nearly evaporated to put Microsoft way behind the Web 8 ball.
10)Apple has no public Cloud Presence – by neglect Google, Amazon and Microsoft lead in this Future of Computing sector.
This list could easily continue on. But the most important point is that Apple appears to have passed on numerous chances to really outdo its number one rival, Microsoft. The obvious question is why?

Why Defer to Redmond?

The question that immediately comes to mind is why is Apple treating Redmond with such deference?. Too much on Apples plate? This is a real possibility for some of the situations above. But other actions like temporarily lowering prices seem fall-off-a-log easy to do; especially considering that with no other major players in the desktop/laptop market, Apple would not be creating an opportunity for some 3rd party. Maybe its is fear of Antitrust? This is really laughable given the Bush years and the new gridlock in Washington. Does Steve Jobs have a secret no-compete pact with Bill and Steve?? Only the Shadow knows…

But consider the following mind game – what would Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer have done with such opportunities to cripple or eliminate such a dangerous competitor as Apple? Nudge, nudge; wink, wink; see what I mean, see what I mean ?


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Turkey lifts its ban on YouTube

(Reuters) Turkey has lifted its ban on video-sharing website YouTube as material deemed insulting to Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk has been removed, Turkish state-run news agency Anatolian reported Saturday.

Ankara's general attorney ruled the site, blocked since May 2008, should be now freely accessible to Turkish users.

The ban was widely criticized, even by Turkey's President Abdullah Gul who used his Twitter page to condemn the move, and said he had asked responsible institutions for a solution.

Under the country's penal code it is an offence to insult the Turkish nation and its institutions.

YouTube said in a statement on Saturday: "We've received reports that some users in Turkey are once again able to access YouTube...We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, have apparently removed some of the videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process."

"We are investigating whether this action is valid in accordance with our copyright policy," YouTube added.

Human rights groups and media watchdog associations have long urged European Union membership candidate Turkey to reform its restrictive Internet laws.

In June the human rights and security group Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Turkey's internet law, first introduced to restrict access to pornography and other content harmful to children, had been expanded to prevent access to over 5,000 sites.

  What do you think about that? Do you think there should be censorship on the net?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

cause & effect essay quiz

The quiz starts at 10 a.m tomorrow and the time allocated is 2 hours.

You have been writing essays for two weeks and I'm sure you will do great tomorrow. There's no need to get nervous, just read the topics carefully, choose one and write your essay. Don't forget the important things like thesis statement, topic sentences, transition sentence and comment in the conclusion. Show off your grammar and vocabulary skills, too. Good luck!