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Spies predict world's future

Written By Unknown on Senin, 10 Desember 2012 | 23.45

New Delhi residents crowd around a tanker delivering drinking water. By 2030, nearly half of the world's population will live in areas experiencing severe water stress, a Global Trends report has predicted. Picture: Kevin Fraser Source: AP

Nearly two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2030, with most people middle class, connected by technology, protected by advanced health care and linked by countries that work together, perhaps with the United States and China cooperating to lead the way.

That's the best case scenario in a report, Global Trends 2030, released Monday by the U.S. government's National Intelligence Council.

In the worst case scenarios, rising population leads to conflict over water and food, especially in the Mideast and Africa, and the instability contributes to global economic collapse.

The study is the intelligence community's analysis of where current trends will take the world in the next 15 to 20 years, intended to help policymakers plan for the best and worst possible futures to come.

The report is broken down into what the National Intelligence Council calls megatrends that are likely to occur and game-changers - the what-if's that are less certain but would be so significant that they can't be ignored.

Among the major trends: the rise of a global middle class that is better educated, connected via technology and healthier due to advances in medicine. Power will no longer reside with one or two key nations, but be spread across networks and coalitions of countries working together.

In countries where there are declining birth rates and an aging population like the US, economic growth may slow. Sixty percent of the world's population will live in cities.

Yet even with these advances, food, water and energy will be more scarce.

"Nearly half of the world's population will live in areas experiencing severe water stress," the report said. Africa and the Middle East will be most at risk of food and water shortages, but China and India also vulnerable.

Among the anticipated crises is the worry of global economic collapse, fighting among nations that don't adapt rapidly enough to change and the possible spillover of instability in the Mideast and South Asia to the rest of the world.

Technology is seen as a potential savior to head off some of this conflict, boosting economic productivity to keep pockets filled despite rising population, rapid growth of cities and climate change.

The report outlines several "Potential Worlds" for 2030.

Under the heading "Stalled Engines", otherwise known as the "most plausible worst-case scenario, the risks of interstate conflict increase," the report said. "The US draws inward and globalisation stalls."

In the most plausible best-case outcome, called "Fusion," the report said, "China and the U.S. collaborate on a range of issues, leading to broader global cooperation."

And under another heading, the report describes a world where "inequalities explode as some countries become big winners and others fail. ... Without completely disengaging, the US is no longer the 'global policeman.'"

The report warns of the mostly catastrophic effect of possible "Black Swans," extraordinary events that can change the course of history. These include a severe pandemic that could kill millions in a matter of months and more rapid climate change that could make it hard to feed the world's population.

Two positive events are also listed, including "a democratic China or a reformed Iran," which could bring more global stability.

One bright spot for the US is energy independence.

"With shale gas, the US will have sufficient natural gas to meet domestic needs and generate potential global exports for decades to come," the report said.

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Mind the clutch! Dog drives man in mini

WATCH These dogs being trained in specially made wooden carts with a seat and steering wheel in an attempt to see them drive a real car.

A PAIR of highly trained canines have guided a modified car along a New Zealand racetrack, passing their doggie driving tests with flying collars on live television, despite the odd off-road detour.

In a heartwarming project aimed at increasing pet adoptions from animal shelters, a group of cross-breed rescue dogs from Auckland were taught to drive a car - steering, pedals and all - to show the potential of unwanted canines.

Rather than chasing cars, dogs in New Zealand are being taught to drive them - steering, pedals and all - in a heartwarming project aimed at increasing pet adoptions from animal shelters. Source: AFP

Footage of the motorised mutts learning their skills has proved an Internet sensation but their ultimate test came on Monday, when the two best performers, Monty and Porter, were put through their paces on national television.

Monty the giant schnauzer cross was first up, driving the modified Mini down the straight by himself, in what is claimed to be a world first.

Porter, a 10 month old beardie cross, is one of three dogs being trained to drive a specially converted Mini in a stunt for the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Source: Supplied

"It's all the dog doing it," trainer Mark Vette said as Monty cruised along the track looking relaxed with one paw resting on the steering wheel before coming safely to a halt.

"He's started the key, put the paw on the brake to allow it to go into gear, put it into drive, paw on the steering wheel, accelerator on, and off he goes down the track."

Animal trainer Mark Vette has spent two months training three cross-breed rescue dogs from the Auckland SPCA to drive a modified Mini as a way of proving that even unwanted canines can be taught to perform complex tasks. Source: AFP

Mr Vette, who has worked with animals on numerous film sets, admitted he had his doubts when the project was first mooted.

"I must say, this has been the toughest assignment we've had," he said after two months of intensive training.

"We've done Lord of the Rings, (The Last) Samurai', many of the big movies but to actually get a dog in a car with no trainer and it does the whole gig itself, I tell you what, it's been a real challenge.

"No one's in the car, no tricks, it's all Monty driving - he loves it."

He said the car, which has handles fitted on the steering wheel and dashboard-height brake and accelerator pedals, also came with a speed limiter to restrict it to walking pace, although there was a mishap on Monday morning.

"The knob came off this morning and he was off down the road at about 30 kilometres an hour (19mph) and we had to chase after him."

Porter, a bearded collie-cross, then tried the trickier manoeuvre of steering the car around one of the racetrack's bends while a television reporter sat in the passenger seat.

He was largely successful, but ran off the track onto a grass verge at one point as the reporter nervously asked Mr Vette "can we stop now?"

Clips of the motorised mutts undergoing training have attracted more than 700,000 hits on video-sharing website YouTube and featured on news bulletins worldwide.

US talk show host David Letterman introduced a segment on the dogs last week saying "I love this more than life itself", going on to list 10 signs your dog is a bad driver, including "insists on driving with head out the window".

Hollywood actress Denise Richards, who has a brood of rescue dogs in her Los Angeles home, tweeted "this is hysterical!!!"

Auckland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) chief executive Christine Kalin said she was stunned at the global response and thrilled the shelter's message had reached such a wide audience.

"Some people think that by getting a shelter dog they're somehow getting a second class citizen, we're with these dogs every day, we know how wonderful they are," she said.

"This was an opportunity to show New Zealand, and as it's turned out the world, how amazing these animals are."

The driving dogs were the brainchild of Auckland advertising agency DraftFCB, which was commissioned by Mini, which has worked with the SPCA previously, to come up with a campaign that would challenge preconceptions about shelter dogs.

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Harassment leads to school jeans ban

Skinny jeans, T-shirts and short skirts have rapidly grown in popularity among young Indians, but are being banned in some colleges.

AN INDIAN college announced on Monday it had banned girls from wearing jeans, short dresses and T-shirts to crack down on sexual harassment, sparking outrage from pupils and rights campaigners.

The Adarsh Women's College in Haryana state, 110 kilometres west of New Delhi, said students would be fined 100 rupees ($1.70) each time they broke the dress code.

"We have imposed a ban on jeans and T-shirts because these are completely Westernised and (so) are short dresses," school head Alaka Sharma told the NDTV news channel.

"The small dresses don't cover students and that is the reason why they have to face eve-teasing."

"Eve-teasing" is a common phrase used in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan to cover offences ranging from verbal abuse to sexual assault, though it is often criticised as a euphemism that hides serious crime.

"Jeans and short tops invite attraction and also distract the students," Sharma said in a separate interview.

Skinny jeans, T-shirts and other Western fashions have rapidly grown in popularity among young Indians, spreading from cities to rural states such as Haryana, though many older people disapprove of such clothes.

Pupils at the Adarsh college, which teaches girls between 16 and 19, complained that they were being punished unfairly instead of being protected from harassment.

"A ban on wearing jeans and T-shirts doesn't mean that there will be no crimes and boys will not pass lewd comments on you," Ritu, a college student, said.

"Men who want to eve-tease can do it if a girl has donned Indian clothes also. I don't think dressing in Indian attire will bring a change."

Mamata Sharma, head of the National Commission of Women, told reporters that sexual harassment in India could not be tackled by ordering girls to wear saris and other traditional styles of dress.

"Our country is progressing, we have entered into 21st century and it is very disappointing to hear or see such things," she told reporters.

"The government should take action against the college management or such institutions who impose diktats on girls."

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Morsi gives army police powers

Identification cards are checked as army soldiers stand guard outside the presidential palace in Cairo on December 10, 2012.  Picture: Gianluigi Guerica Source: AFP

PRESIDENT Mohamed Morsi has ordered Egypt's army from Monday to take on police powers - including the right to arrest civilians - in the run-up to a divisive constitutional referendum that has triggered mass street protests.

The decree, published in the government gazette, takes effect on the eve of mass rival protests on the referendum and follows street clashes that have left seven people dead and hundreds injured.

It orders the military to fully cooperate with police "to preserve security and protect vital state institutions for a temporary period, up to the announcement of the results from the referendum," according to a copy of the decree obtained by AFP.

The military, which ruled Egypt between the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 and the election of Morsi in June this year, has sought to remain neutral in the political crisis.

It has warned it "will not allow" the situation to deteriorate, and urged both sides to dialogue.

Army tanks and troops have since Thursday deployed around Morsi's presidential palace but they have not confronted thousands of protesters who have gathered there every night.

The opposition, made up of secular, liberal, leftwing and Christian groups, has said it will escalate its protests to scupper the referendum.

It views the draft constitution, largely drafted by Morsi's Islamist allies, as undermining human rights, the rights of women, religious minorities, and curtailing the independence of the judiciary.

Morsi, though, has defiantly pushed on with the new charter, seeing it as necessary to secure democratic reform in the wake of Mubarak's 30-year autocratic rule.

Late Sunday, the main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, called for huge protests in Cairo to reject the December 15 referendum.

It dismissed a key concession Morsi made rescinding another decree giving himself near-absolute powers as too late, saying he had already used it to railroad through the draft constitution.

"We do not recognise the draft constitution because it does not represent the Egyptian people," National Salvation Front spokesman Sameh Ashour told a news conference.

Going ahead with the referendum "in this explosive situation with the threat of the Brothers' militias amounts to the regime abandoning its responsibilities," he said.

In recent days, the protesters have hardened their slogans, going beyond criticism of the decree and the referendum to demand Morsi's ouster.

The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, shot back that it and allied Islamist movements would counter with their own big rallies in the capital in support of the referendum.

"We are calling for a demonstration Tuesday, under the slogan 'Yes to legitimacy'," the Brotherhood's spokesman, Mahmud Ghozlan, told AFP.

Morsi's camp argues it is up to the people to accept or reject the draft constitution.

If the charter is rejected, Morsi has promised to have a new one drawn up by 100 officials chosen directly by the public rather than appointed by the Islamist-dominated parliament.

But analysts said still-strong public support for Morsi, and the Brotherhood's proven ability to mobilise the grassroots level, would likely help the draft constitution be adopted.

"The Muslim Brotherhood believes that it has majority support so it can win the constitutional referendum," said Eric Trager, analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

If that happens, he warned, it would "set up the country for prolonged instability".

An Egyptian street vendor sells flags outside the presidential palace under a banner that reads "People want the fall of the regime". Picture: Patrick Baz

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'Gutted' DJs had no say over broadcast

Michael Christian and Mel Greig break down on A Current Affair, in the first interview since the nurse answering their prank call died. Courtesy Nine Network.

THE management of 2Day FM Austereo remain in the crosshairs over responsibility for the royal radio prank, with its "shattered" DJs confirming the decision to broadcast the fateful hoax call was "taken out of our hands."

The Sydney station, 2Day FM, said it had tried to contact King Edward VII's Hospital five times to discuss the prank call conducted with two nurses, one of whom, Jacintha Saldanha, was found dead on Friday in a suspected suicide.

But a hospital spokesman said: "Following the hoax call, the station did not talk to anyone in hospital senior management or anyone at the company that handles our media inquiries."

Distraught radio presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian offered an emotional apology to the family of UK nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who is thought to have taken her own life after last week connecting the syndicated Sydney radio program's call to another nurse caring for the Duchess of Cambridge.

A tearful Greig told Seven's Today Tonight she would face Ms Saldanha's partner, Benedict Barboza, daughter Lisha and son Junal at any coronial inquest into the 47-year-old's death if it helped the grieving family "get some closure."

Greig's first thoughts: 'Was she a mother'

Jacintha Saldanha, pictured centre with her children Junal and Lisha. Picture: Mangalore Media Company

"If we played any involvement in her death, then we're very sorry for that. And time will only tell,'' she said.

"We're incredibly sorry for the harm that we may have helped contribute (to),'' said Christian, adding he felt "gutted, shattered and heartbroken''.

But Austereo boss Rhys Holleran has been challenged to justify why his network put the Greig and her co-host up for media interviews after her family had raised concerns for her mental health.

The chief executive said the interviews with Nine's A Current Affair and TT were "something they felt strongly they wanted to do".

Speaking about when they first found out about the tragedy that followed their prank call, the 2Day FM hosts broke down on A Current Affair. Vision courtesy of Channel 9.

"They feel great sadness, it was their decision," Mr Holleran said. "We took into account the views of the professionals we've had helping these young people. We took all of that into account."

He denied the network had breached Australian Communications and Media Authority guidelines.

"We had a process and procedure in place, we followed those procedures and part of that was a legal review," Mr Holleran said. "As an organisation, we believe we've done what was necessary ..."

The presenters' fragile state was obvious during questioning by Nine's Tracy Grimshaw and Seven reporter Clare Brady, who each taped 15-minute interviews with them at Austereo's Sydney headquarters yesterday.

Channel 9 say the did not pay DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig for the interview. Picture: Channel 9

Pushed to explain the process which saw the recorded prank call vetted and cleared for broadcast, Christian would only say "people far above us" were left to approve the exchange between Greig, posing as the Queen, and another unknown nurse, who explained the condition of the pregnant royal.

"I'm 100 per cent honest in saying I'm, we're, not privy to what happens with this call, mind you, this call is no different to what happens with anything else, you know, regardless of the content or the context or what's been recorded, it's the same, it's the same process and I'm certainly not aware of what filters it needs to pass through. All we know is it's passed on and then we're told either yay or nay," he said.

Greig said: "It's not up to us to make that decision. We just record it and then it goes to the other departments to work it out. I don't know what they then do with it. We just do what we do, which is make those calls."

As the international backlash continued, threats made by online hackers to shut down the station's cyber systems were of little worry, Greig said.

The radio DJs have apologised to the family of the nurse who answered their prank call in an emotional interview on Today Tonight. Courtesy:Channel Seven

"There's nothing that can make me feel worse than what I feel right now. And for what I feel for the family. We're so sorry that this has happened to them," she told TT, crying.

Asked if she wanted to send a message to the bereaved family, Greig said: "I've thought about this a million times in my head that I've wanted to just reach out to them and give them a big hug and say sorry and I hope they are okay, I really do."

"There's not a minute that goes by that we aren't thinking about her and her family and the thought that we might have played a part in that is gut-wrenching."

While Ms Saldanha, known to work colleagues and friends as Jess, was being mourned around the world, her ailing mother was reportedly not even aware of her daughter's death.

2Day FM presenters Michael Christian (L) and Mel Greig being interviewed by Tracy Grimshaw on A Current Affair. Picture: AFP PHOTO / NINE NETWORK "A CURRENT AFFAIR".

The Times of India said family members had chosen not to inform Carmine Saldanha of her daughter's passing because she was suffering from heart problems and was under sedation.

Britain's Daily Mail reported the beloved nurse and mother had "died of shame". The Mail quoted her brother Naveen as saying: "She would have felt much shame about the incident."

The prank call to the switchboard of King Edward VII hospital in London, where Prince William's wife was being treated for severe morning sickness, had been an "innocent idea," the radio pair said.

Faking a British accent, Greig posed as Queen Elizabeth and was transferred promptly by Ms Saldanha to a ward nurse, who then conveyed details of the royal patient's condition.

08/12/2012 NEWS: 2DayFM DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian on air.

Christian said the joke "was meant to be on us," the Summer Hot30 team expecting to be hung up on or reprimanded by hospital authorities.

"The call to begin with wasn't about speaking to Kate. It wasn't about trying to get a scoop or anything. The call was just, I mean we'd assumed that we'd be hung up on and that'd be that."

Greig added: "You know it was designed to be stupid. We were never meant to get that far (with) the little corgies (colleagues) barking in the background. We obviously wanted it to be a joke."

Her co-star said: "There was no malice in the call. There was no digging. There was no trying to upset or get a reaction."

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy described the radio hoax as "tragic" and confirmed ACMA was taking the unusual step of talking directly to 2DayFM.

The media watchdog normally waits for listeners to make complaints and only becomes involved if they remain unresolved.

2DayFM would not comment on reports it had already received more than 1000 complaints.

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Tibetan girl, 16, burns herself to death

Tibetan activists protest in front of the European Union office in New Delhi on September 13 this year. In the latest self-immolation case, a 16-year-old Tibetan girl has died in the village of Dageri in China's northwestern province of Qinghai. Source: AFP

A 16-YEAR-OLD Tibetan girl has died after setting herself on fire, Chinese state media said on Monday, in an area that has become a flashpoint for protests against Beijing's rule.

The school pupil self-immolated in the village of Dageri in China's northwestern province of Qinghai, an area with a high population of ethnic Tibetans, just before 7pm (1100 GMT) on Sunday, Xinhua said.

Her body was cremated four hours later and returned to her family, the news agency said, adding that local government officials were investigating.

More than 90 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze since 2009 to protest China's rule of the Tibetan plateau, rights groups have said, with the frequency of incidents increasing sharply in November. Most have died.

According to a partial list drawn up by the London-based campaign group Free Tibet the teenager is among the youngest girls to have set themselves on fire.

Xinhua reported on Sunday that a monk and his nephew had been detained for inciting eight Tibetans to set themselves alight.

Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture, as the country's majority Han ethnic group increasingly moves into historically minority areas.

Beijing rejects this, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom. The government points to huge on-going investment it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.

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Embattled EU steps up for Nobel Prize

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz with the Nobel diploma at the City Hall, Oslo. Picture: Cornelius Poppe Source: AP

THE European Union, facing its worst crisis in six decades, was officially awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize on Monday for turning Europe "from a continent of war to a continent of peace."

With a score of EU heads of state and government looking on, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland handed the prize to a threesome of EU leaders - EU president Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European parliament president Martin Schulz.

Recalling the 80 million European victims of war and extremism last century, Jagland said "peace must not be taken for granted. We have to struggle for it everyday."

"Together we must ensure that we do not lose what we have built."

His Nobel Committee has come under criticism however for awarding the prestigious 2012 award to the EU at a time when it is riven by divisions and violent anti-austerity protests.

"We are not gathered here today in the belief that the EU is perfect," Jagland said. "Europe needs to move forward. Safeguard what has been gained. And improve what has been created, enabling us to solve the problems threatening the European community today," Jagland said.

"This is the only way to solve the problems created by the financial crisis, to everyone's benefit."

Based on the will of old enemies France and Germany to reconcile after three bloody wars, the EU has grown from six states to 28 next July, when Croatia becomes the latest of Balkans nations embroiled in conflict only 20 years ago to join the bloc.

Leaders of France and Germany, Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel, rose to take a long round of applause from the dozens of dignitaries assembled in Oslo City Hall as the Nobel medal, diploma and almost million-euro prize were handed to the organisation's top officials.

But half a dozen EU leaders, including Britain's premier David Cameron, snubbed the event, taking place just four days before a key EU summit to determine the pace and next steps in attempts to forge a tighter union.

The EU is bristling with talk of a possible walk-out by Britain - or "Brixit"- and the head of Britain's once-marginal but increasingly popular eurosceptic UKIP party, Nigel Farage, said Sunday "far from bringing peace, the EU is engendering violence, poverty and despair across Europe."

Rich nations of northern Europe and the struggling economies of the south are increasingly divided as austerity reforms trigger fiery protests and feed extremist movements such as the one in Greece.

Tensions too remain between the 17 nations that share the euro and those that remain outside, while even relations between France and Germany are rocky.

Differences between the two powers are notably holding up a deal to set up a banking union seen as a key to the future of the eurozone. Van Rompuy and Barroso had hoped to seal off an agreement at this week's summit.

"Europe is going through a difficult period," Van Rompuy said on the eve of the awards ceremony. "We will come out of this time of uncertainty and recession stronger than we were before."

Efforts last month to agree a new multi-year budget collapsed in an ugly showdown between have- and have-not nations of north, south and east, and the bloc too split over its stand on the Palestinian bid for a status upgrade at the UN.

Unprecedented job cuts are threatening stability as unemployment surges to one in four workers in Greece and to a massive one in two under-25s in Spain, whipping up talk of a "lost generation" of European youth.

Jagland said in his prize-giving speech that because of the financial crisis the union was "more important now than ever."

"We must stand together. We have collective responsibility," he said.

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Nation cautioned against Mandela panic

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is set to undergo more medical tests, three days after being hospitalised. Picture: Alexander Joe Source: AFP

SOUTH Africa's former President Nelson Mandela is "doing very, very well" while undergoing unspecified medical tests at a military hospital, the nation's defense minister said Monday.

The office of the presidency said the anti-apartheid icon was being kept in the hospital for a third day for more tests.

Mandela is revered by South Africans, and by many people around the world, for being a leader of the struggle against racist white rule in South Africa and for preaching reconciliation once he emerged from prison in 1990 after 27 years behind bars. He won South Africa's first all-race elections in 1994 that marked the end of apartheid.

South Africans tensely awaited word Monday on Mandela even as authorities tried to offer reassurances, but gave no details.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula spoke to journalists outside 1 Military Hospital in the capital, Pretoria, after seeing Mandela, 94. She offered the first government confirmation that Mandela, who has received military medical care since 2011, is at that hospital.

"He's doing very, very well," she said. "And it is important to keep him in our prayers and also to be as calm as possible and not cause a state of panic because I think that is not what all of us need."

A statement issued later Monday by the office of President Jacob Zuma said Mandela "had a good night's rest. The doctors will still conduct further tests today. He is in good hands. "

On Saturday, Zuma's office announced Mandela had been admitted to a Pretoria hospital for medical tests and care that was "consistent for his age". Zuma visited Mandela Sunday and found the former leader to be "comfortable and in good care," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement. Maharaj offered no other details about Mandela, nor what medical tests he had undergone since entering the hospital.

In February, Mandela spent a night in a hospital for a minor diagnostic surgery to determine the cause of an abdominal complaint. In January 2011, Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for what officials initially described as tests but what turned out to be an acute respiratory infection.

Mandela contracted tuberculosis during his years in prison and had surgery for an enlarged prostate gland in 1985. In 2001, Mandela underwent seven weeks of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, ultimately beating the disease.

After serving one five-year term, the Nobel laureate retired from public life and later settled in his remote village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape area. He last made a public appearance when his country hosted the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament. He has grown increasingly frail in recent years.

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