Tag Archive: Robert Fisher


Jim Marshall talking about his invention to the BBC in 1989

Guitar amp innovator Jim Marshall, dubbed “the Father of Loud” for creating kit used by some of the biggest names in rock, has died aged 88.

Mr Marshall, who originally owned a music shop in London, founded Marshall Amplification 50 years ago.

Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain are among the musicians who used Marshall amps.

A statement posted on the company’s website called him a “legendary man” who led a “truly remarkable life”.

Slash and Jim MarshallMarshall amps are used by famous musicians such as Slash (left) from Guns N’ Roses

Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash tweeted: “The news of Jim Marshall passing is deeply saddening. R & R will never be the same w/out him. But, his amps will live on FOREVER!”

Motley Crue bass player Nikki Sixx also paid tribute on Twitter, saying Marshall was “responsible for some of the greatest audio moments in music’s history – and 50% responsible of all our hearing loss.”

Speaking to Radio Four’s Front Row programme on Thursday, musician Paul Weller said he used a Marshall amp that was “at least 40 years old and still sounds fantastic”.

“For me it’s the exactly right amp for the job,” said the former Jam and Style Council frontman. “I don’t know if anyone’s particularly improved on it, to be honest.”

Jim Marshall began building amplifiers in the early 1960s, using the Fender Bassman amp as a model, creating what later became known as “the Marshall sound”.

After talking to Pete Townsend and Ritchie Blackmore, who were customers at the shop, he realised there was a gap in the market to make a cheaper alternative to the other models available at the time.

It took him six attempts to create an amp he was happy with.

As the company grew, Mr Marshall expanded his product range, unveiling the Master Volume Marshall amps and the classic JCM800 split channel amps.

“Jim rose to become one of the forefathers responsible for creating the tools that allowed rock guitar, as we know and love it today, to be born,” the statement said.

“In addition to the creation of the amps, chosen by countless guitar heroes and game changing bands, Jim was also an incredibly humble and generous man who, over the past several decades, has quietly donated many millions of pounds to worthy causes.”

Marshall amplifiers were such a fixture of the rock scene that they featured prominently in the spoof documentary This is Spinal Tap.

In a famous scene from the film, guitarist Nigel Tufnel proudly showed off his Marshall stack which went up to 11. He explained it was “one louder” than usual amplifiers.

In 2003, Marshall he was given the OBE for his services to music and charity. He was a regular supporter of Macmillan and the Willen Hospice.

He also donated money to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, where he was treated for tuberculosis as a child.

The Marshall Amps company, which is now based in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a tribute concert at Wembley Arena.

Jim Marshall with Motorhead's LemmyLemmy, from the rock band Motorhead, also owns Marshall equipment

Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Whitesnake and The Cult are among the bands who have been lined up to play at the September event.

Mr Marshall will be remembered alongside guitarmakers Leo Fender and Les Paul for shaping the sound of the modern electric guitar.

He is survived by his children Terry and Victoria and step-children Paul and Dawn.

Project Glass concept picture

The eyewear appears to have a streamlined design despite all the functionality it is suggested to include

Google has revealed details of its research into augmented reality glasses.

It posted a brief introduction to Project Glass, photos and a concept video at its Google+ social network.

The images show a minimalist design with a microphone and partly-transparent video screen that places information over the view from the users’ right eye.

The product’s developers said they wanted feedback on the idea.

They did not give any indication about when the device might go on sale or what it would cost.

“A group of us… started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment,” said a statement from Google X – the firm’s experimental lab.

“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input.”

Guided walks

The video suggests icons offering 14 different services will be offered to the user when the glasses are first put on, including information about the weather, their location and diary appointments.

It appears that several of these services are either triggered by an action taken by the user or the situation they are in.

The film shows one user being reminded he has a date that evening when he looks up at a blank wall, and then warns him that there is a 10% chance it will rain when he looks out of the window.

Google glasses warn the subway service is suspendedThe video suggests that the device would involve a GPS chip to help deliver location specific alerts

An alert pops up when a friend sends a text asking if he wants to meet up later in the day. When the user dictates a reply a microphone symbol is superimposed over much of his view.

Other functions include Google Maps showing a route to the wearer’s destination with small arrows keeping him on track, the ability to take a photo of what he is looking at with an option to share it with friends, and a video conference service.

The glasses are also shown to allow music and other audio to be heard, although they do not appear to include earphones.

Shrink to fit

There had been lots of speculation about the project with some reports describing it as an “open secret”, but this is the first time Google has confirmed details of what it was working on.

The New York Times had previously suggested that the first set of glasses would go on sale before the end of the year for somewhere between $250-$600 (£157-£378) – but experts say that the technology shown in the video may still be some way off being ready for market.

Chris Green, principal technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group Europe, told the BBC that other tech firms such as Brother had attempted to pioneer the concept – but became unstuck because their versions had required users to carry separate processing and battery equipment that plugged into their glasses.

“There are huge opportunities for tailored advertising with augmented reality systems – especially if they have in-built GPS location tracking,” he said.

“The monetisation opportunities would be enormous – but there are still big issues involved with shrinking the technology and making the computer that receives and processes the data truly portable.”

Google glasses shows map of shopGoogle suggests the glasses could help users find where products are located in shops

Rival eyewear

Google may have competition if it works out how to shrink the electronics involved.

In 2008, Apple patented a laser-based “head mounted display system” that it suggested could stream video from its iPod among other features.

More recently, Patent Bolt revealed that Sony and Microsoft have patented ideas to createminiature displays to go over users’ eyes.

They were described as being suitable for “gaming and beyond”.

Google has previously revealed details of futuristic concepts years before they are ready for market.

The firm announced in 2010 that it had tested a self-driving car on the streets of California – but has not said when it might start selling such vehicles.

 

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Viacom has accused Google of “massive intentional copyright infringement”

A lawsuit by media giant Viacom against Google over copyrighted videos on YouTube can be heard in court again.

Viacom has accused Google of “massive intentional copyright infringement”.

In 2010, a lower court dismissed Viacom’s $1bn (£630m) case against Google, which owns YouTube.

But a court of appeals said the dismissal was based on a mistake, as a jury could have reasonably found that YouTube knew of specific copyright infringements.

Google took over YouTube for $1.76bn in 2006.

Viacom owns popular cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Viacom had claimed that “tens of thousands of videos” based on its copyrighted works had been posted on YouTube, and that both YouTube and its owner Google had known about it but had done nothing about it.

Google and YouTube had argued that they were entitled to “safe harbour” protection under digital copyright law because they had insufficient notice of particular alleged offences.

The court in Manhattan in 2010 agreed with this.

But the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals has now reinstated the case.

 

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, currently Nigeria’s finance minister, is also a former World Bank managing director

A group of former World Bank officials has written a letter backing Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be its next president.

Traditionally the post is given to the candidate put forward by the US, which this time is Dr Jim Yong Kim.

But in an open letter, 35 former economists and managers said the Bank should choose the next chief on merit.

Another group of economists this week signed a petition backing Colombia’s Jose Antonio Ocampo.

This is the first time the World Bank has had to choose between candidates since its creation more than 60 years ago.

The executive board of the Bank has to choose between Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, Jose Antonio Ocampo, a former finance minister of Colombia, and Jim Yong Kim, a public health expert and president of Dartmouth College in the US.

The Bank is holding interviews next week and plans to select the successor to outgoing president Robert Zoellick by 20 April, when it starts its spring meetings with the IMF.

Tradition

The three-way fight is attracting increasingly passionate comment from candidates’ supporters. It has also shone a light on the way the World Bank chooses its head.

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“Start Quote

[Mrs Okonjo-Iweala] would be the outstanding World Bank president the times call for”

Open letter from economists

The US, which is the Bank’s largest shareholder, has always picked the Bank’s president. It, Europe and Japan have 54% of the votes.

Under an informal arrangement, in return, Europe appoints a European as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is the Bank’s sister institution. It is currently run by Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde.

Emerging economies have become increasingly unhappy with this system and are pushing for change.

The leaders of Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa recently called for a review of that weighted voting system.

The nations, sometimes referred to as the Brics countries, are working to chose a joint candidate, according to the Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega.

Speaking after a meeting with the US-nominated Jim Yong Kim, he said Brazil has not yet made up its mind who to promote.

“By late next week Brazil should have a position on the matter and I will talk with the other Brics.”

He said Dr Kim had vast experience with the developing world, but he would wait until he had met the other candidates before making up his mind.

Transparency

The letter in support of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, which is signed by high-ranking managers and economists, including Tunisia’s central bank chief, Mustapha Nabli, criticised some aspects of the selection process.

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“Start Quote

[Jose Antonio Ocampo's] intellectual leadership and commitment to development led to significant improvements in these [UN] institutions ”

Petition in support of Mr Ocampo

It said that it still involves nomination by governments, based in part on nationality, and without an agreed list of qualifying criteria.

It called for the process to be made in “an open, transparent, merit-based, and competitive manner rather than simply appointed in line with understandings that no longer reflect the world as it is today”.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala herself has called for a televised debate between the three candidates.

Her supporters said: “We believe that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has outstanding qualifications across the full range of relevant criteria.”

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala “would bring the combination of her experience as finance and foreign minister of a large and complex African country with her wide experience of working at all levels of the Bank’s hierarchy in different parts of the world, from agricultural economist to managing director”.

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The World Bank contenders

Kim Yong Jim: Currently president of Dartmouth College. Backed by the US for the job. Born in Seoul, the 52-year-old is a leading figure in global health.

A doctor and former director of the HIV/Aids department at the World Health Organization..

Medical doctorate and PhD in anthropology.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: The Nigerian finance minister, 57, has been endorsed by three African countries – South Africa, Angola and Nigeria.

Previously a managing director at the World Bank.

PhD in regional economics and development.

Jose Antonio Ocampo: Currently professor of professional practice in the International and Public Affairs department of Columbia University. Nominated by Brazil – but not endorsed by – in the name of the Dominican Republic.

Former Colombian finance minister and has held other posts in government, including agriculture.

He has held a number of positions in the United Nations, including as UN Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs.

BA in economics and sociology and a PhD in economics from Yale University.

It says “she would be the outstanding World Bank president the times call for” and pointed out that should would be the institution’s first female leader.

They said they cared too much about the institution not to speak out.

Future shape

The petition is support of Mr Ocampo was signed by economists from countries including China, India and Brazil, as well as two former governors of the Chilean central bank.

It pointed to his background working for UN agencies where “his intellectual leadership and commitment to development led to significant improvements in these institutions contribution to development thinking and to development policy design”.

He has also been setting out his views of the future shape of the World Bank.

Writing in the Financial Times newspaper, he said the Bank’s core mandate must remain that of reducing poverty, addressing growing inequalities that have appeared in recent decades and eliminating gender inequalities.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has also been outlining what she thinks should be the Bank’s main goal.

She said that it should be creating jobs, in both developing and developed countries, with a particular focus on youth unemployment because of the knock-on social problems it caused.

Dr Kim, who once did a turn as a rap artist at a social event at Dartmouth College, has the support of Canada, Japan and South Korea, where he was born, as well as the US.

He has not yet given an interview about his views on the role at the World Bank, but has described it in a statement as “one of the most critical institutions fighting poverty and providing assistance to developing countries in the world today”.

 

Nicolas Sarkozy: “I would like to build a strong France”

Nicolas Sarkozy has unveiled his economic manifesto for re-election as president of France, less than three weeks before the first round of voting.

He promised spending cuts and a new law committing France to balanced budgets.

Opinion polls suggest he has edged ahead of his main rival, Francois Hollande, but the Socialist still seems likely to win the second round.

Mr Sarkozy has seen his support strengthen since an Islamist gunman attacked soldiers and a Jewish school.

But now attention is moving to the economy and Mr Sarkozy promised greater stability.

‘Golden rule’

“I want to say that in 2016 that France must have a balanced budget. I emphasise, a balanced budget is the golden rule for our citizens. I will vote it in from summer 2012. This golden rule is to be adopted by all our European partners – whether they are of the left or of the right,” he said.

The French president said he expects the country’s public debt to peak at 89.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 before falling back to 80.2% in 2017.

That compares to debt levels of 159% of GDP in Greece and 81.8% of GDP in Germany in the final quarter of last year, according to statistics from the European Commission.

Mr Sarkozy also promised to freeze France’s contributions to the European Union budget, saving 600m euros ($790m; £497m) annually.

And he added: “I won’t go back on on the proposals I made on the fiscalisation of dividends, minimum taxes for big businesses and taxing tax exiles, withdrawing working tax credit (a state subsidy for the low paid) which will bring in 8bn euros ($10bn; £6.5bn) to the state’s budget.”

His Socialist rival Mr Hollande supports higher taxes on the rich. On Wednesday he promised a freeze on fuel prices and a 30% cut in salaries for the president and cabinet ministers.

‘Unemployment first’

Francois Hollande with his partner  Valerie Trierweiler in Paris, 5 AprilMr Hollande is still tipped to win

After the gun attacks in the south-west last month, Mr Sarkozy ordered a security clampdown and there have been high-profile and controversial raids on suspected Islamist militants.

This week, France expelled two foreign-born radical Islamists on state security grounds.

However, opinion polls suggest unemployment – running at 10% – tops voter concerns.

According to the three most recent opinion polls available, Mr Sarkozy leads Mr Hollande by an average of 1.8 percentage points in the first round but trails him in the second by an average of seven points.

Voters first go to the polls on 22 April, with the run-off scheduled for 6 May.

 

 

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BBC’s Jim Muir: “Unverified video showed large numbers of government troops”

The UN Security Council has urged Syria to implement “urgently and visibly” a peace plan requiring a 10 April deadline for ending a military offensive against the opposition.

Envoy Kofi Annan’s plan calls for Damascus to pull back troops and heavy weaponry by that date, and for a full ceasefire by 48 hours later.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the conflict was getting worse.

Mr Annan urged both sides to seize the moment and end the violence.

“Let us stop the killing and start a serious political dialogue,” he told the UN General Assembly.

He said he expected a full ceasefire to take effect by 06:00 (03:00 GMT) on 12 April.

Kofi Annan: “There is an urgent need to stop the killing”

Fresh violenceMr Annan is expected travel to Iran on 11 April, the day after the partial ceasefire is due, to try to win further regional support for his peace plan.

The UN statement requested that Mr Annan provide proposals for a mechanism to supervise the ceasefire and update the Security Council on the cessation of violence and implementation of the peace plan.

The Security Council said it would consider further steps depending on the outcome of these reports.

Speaking later to the General Assembly by video link from Geneva, Mr Annan said he was urging the government and opposition to “issue clear instructions so that the message reaches across the country, down to the fighter and soldier at the local level”.

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Annan’s six-point peace plan

1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people

2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians

3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause

4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons

5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists

6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully

He said that if the ceasefire was successful a small mobile UN monitoring mission of some 200-250 observers could be brought into Syria.

Syria had already reported some troop withdrawals from three cities, Mr Annan said, but the violence was still continuing.

“Alarming levels of casualties and other abuses continue to be reported daily. Military operations in civilian population centres have not stopped.”

Activists reported on Thursday that government forces had been shelling several towns, including Homs, Deraa and the Douma suburb of Damascus.

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut says the activists are giving the clear impression that the Syrian regime is having a final crack at rebels before the ceasefire deadline.

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Ceasefire timetable

  • 10 April: Government must withdraw troops and heavy weapons such as tanks from towns, cities and villages
  • Following 48 hours: Ceasefire to be implemented on the ground with the onus on the opposition to follow the government’s lead
  • 06:00 local time on 12 April: All forms of violence must be stopped on all sides
  • Next step: All parties to hold talks on a political solution

Earlier Mr Ban urged members of the General Assembly to deepen their support for Mr Annan’s efforts because of the deteriorating situation on the ground.

“Despite the Syrian government’s acceptance of the joint special envoy’s plan of initial proposals to resolve the crisis, the violence and assaults in civilian areas have not stopped,” he said.

“The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.”

Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that Syrian officials had agreed to it having an “expanded presence” in the country.

The UN says the conflict has cost more than 9,000 lives since it began a year ago. The Syrian government blames violence on “terrorist gangs” and says some 3,000 members of the security forces have been killed.

Foreign media face severe restrictions on reporting in Syria, and it is hard to verify the claims of either side.

 

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Defacement message

Defaced pages urged Chinese people to stage their own protests

The Anonymous hacking group claims to have defaced almost 500 websites in China.

Targets hit in the mass defacement included government sites, its official agencies, trade groups and many others.

A message put on the hacked sites said the attack was carried out to protest against the Chinese government’s strict control of its citizens.

It urged Chinese people to join Anonymous and stage their own protests against the regime.

Attack pattern

The announcement about the defacements was made via anAnonymous China account that was established in March. A list of the 485 sites affected was put on the Pastebin website. Separate Pastebin messages posted email addresses and other personal details stolen when sites were penetrated.

Sites defaced had the same message posted to them that chided the nation’s government for its repressive policies.

It read: “Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.”

China has one of the most comprehensive web surveillance systems in the world, known as the Great Firewall of China, that reinforces its broader social controls. The system polices where Chinese people can go online and tries to restrict what they can talk about.

On defaced pages, the Anonymous attackers also posted links to advice that could help people avoid official scrutiny of what they do and say online. Much of the advice was in English so it is unclear how much help it would be.

There has been no official confirmation of the defacements. News wires reported that government officials had denied any had taken place.

However, many of the sites listed are now offline and a few others displayed a hacked page for a long time rather than their own homepage.

 

Charles Manson in June 2011 (California Dept. of Corrections)

Charles Manson has a parole hearing next week, and at the request of CNN, the Calif. Dept. of Corrections has released two photos of the notorious 77-year-old murderer.

The network published the nearly-identical photostaken at the state prison in Corcoran in Junelate on Wednesday. Before that, the most recent known photo of Manson was from three years ago.

As CNN pointed out, photos of prisoners are taken “when they are transferred to other prisons or medical facilities or, in the case of Manson, when an inmate’s appearance changes.”

In the photos, Manson appears with long white hair, beard and the infamous swastika on his forehead.

Manson’s parole hearing is scheduled for April 11. He has been denied parole 11 times since being sentenced to death for the murder of actress Sharon Tate, her unborn baby and four others.

In 1971, Manson was found guilty of ordering the killings. Manson’s death sentence was changed to life in prison in 1972, when California’s death penalty was overturned.

Click image for more photos

 

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One crimefighter confronted another in this video of a traffic incident.

A man was pulled over dressed as the caped crusader in Montgomery County, Maryland, because his car had invalid numberplates.

He was told to put real numberplates on the Lamborghini, rather than a Batman sign.

He said he was on his way to cheer up children on the cancer ward of a local hospital.

The driver was not charged.

Job centre, Burgos, Spain

At 23.6%, Spain has the highest level of unemployment in

the eurozone

Unemployment across countries that use the euro edged higher in February to 10.8%.

That’s up from 10.7% in January and the highest level since the introduction of the single currency in 1999. Spain has the highest rate of 23.6%.

Meanwhile, a separate report confirmed that manufacturing activity in Europe shrank in February.

It is the eighth month in a row that the Purchasing Manager’s Index has been below 50, which indicates contraction.

‘Miserable March’

France was particularly weak, with manufacturing activity falling to the lowest level in almost three years.

“Eurozone manufacturers suffered a miserable March, with a renewed downturn in production wiping out marginal gains seen in the first two months of the year,” said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.

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February unemployment rates

  • Spain 23.6%
  • Portugal 15.0%
  • France 10.0%
  • Italy 9.3%
  • Germany 5.7%

“Manufacturing is therefore likely to have acted as a drag on economic growth in the eurozone in the first quarter, falling to a lesser extent than in the final quarter of last year but nevertheless failing to prevent the economy sliding back into recession,” he said.

Other economists agree that the euro area is probably in recession.

“It looks odds-on that eurozone GDP contracted again in the first quarter of 2012, thereby moving into recession,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.

“And the prospects for the second quarter of 2012 currently hardly look rosy.”

The slowdown is creating a tough environment for job seekers. Italy saw unemployment hit 9.3% in February, the highest level since the country started collecting monthly figures in 2004.

For those aged between 15 and 24 the rate was 31.9%.

Prime Minister Mario Monti is trying to push through reform of the labour market, which he says will boost employment.

The lowest unemployment rates among countries that use the euro are to be found in Austria (4.2%), the Netherlands (4.9%) and Germany (5.7%).

Confidence among European business leaders has been undermined by Europe’s debt crisis.

Finance ministers will hope that an agreement to increase the size of the eurozone’s rescue fund will help bolster sentiment.

They agreed to boost the joint lending power of the “firewall” from 500bn euros ($668bn; £416bn) to 800bn euros ($1.1tn; £667bn).

The firewall is the permanent mechanism to bail out troubled euro zone nations.

 

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