Monthly Archives: September 2012

Antioxidants & Anti-Aging Substance for HEALTH

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 295–303. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602510; published online 16 August 2006

Age and the Changing Body

If you ask people, most will tell you they do not want to grow old. However, the aging of the body as we enter into our later years is an inescapable reality of life. From the moment we are born until we fully mature around our early twenties, our bodies are in a constant and progressive stage of development. From our mid-twenties forward, our bodies will remain at a constant level and continue to repair those areas that have deteriorated. The body’s hormones will also begin changing. If one does not take proper care of one’s health, the body will more or less begin to deteriorate; depending on each individual. As we approach the age of 30-40 and older, the body will begin to experience a decrease in hormone production. By middle age and onwards the body will begin to exhibit clear physical signs of aging.

Key Indicators of Aging

Some key indicators of aging are the appearance of wrinkles, sagging skin, uneven skin tone, age spots, loss of elasticity in skin, slowing metabolism, thinning hair, balding, and receding hairline. People also experience a decrease in muscle mass and bone density, decrease in the flexibility of the tendons muscles and joints, body aches and pains, and slower reflexes; leading to less precision in movement,
a decline in physical dexterity, and decrease in strength and ability to carry out physical tasks. Some may also experience decreasing mental clarity and sharpness.

In addition to this, people develop a greater risk and higher rate of developing chronic diseases; such as heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, etc.; the severity and instance of which varies from person to person, depending level of health.

How does premature aging occur?

Medical doctors across the world agree that the deterioration of the body is due, in no small part, to damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or group of atoms with an unpaired number of electrons. This lack of a pair makes them unstable and causes them to grab electrons from the atoms of nearby cells or molecules. Losing an electron to the free radical causes the cell or molecule to become an unstable free radical itself, thereby causing a chain reaction. This can lead to widespread cellular damage and inhibits the ability of the damaged cells to function properly. Consequently, extensive free radical damage to cell DNA can lead to mutations and abnormalities in cell division that can cause cancer.

What is Anti-Aging?

Most people understand anti-aging as the delaying of the aging process or retaining of youth. Often times the emphasis is on the youthful appearance of the face. In medical terms, however, anti-aging refers to extending one’s longevity or life. There is a desire for a longer and higher quality of life. This also includes delaying the deterioration of the body and reducing the risk/rate of contracting various illnesses and diseases in older age. Anti-aging extends to the improvement of mental health as well. Anti-aging covers the gamut of maintaining the quality, care, and proper functioning of the body; and delaying the body’s natural process of degeneration.

Types of Free Radicals and Antioxidants

There are two types of Free Radicals:
1. External/Environmental: pollution, pesticides, cigarette smoke, UV radiation, synthetic substances
2. Internal: natural byproduct of metabolism, stress/anxiety

Antioxidants are molecules that combat free radicals and help protect against cell and tissue damage caused by oxidation. Antioxidants can be put into two categories.
1. Internal antioxidants produced by the body- various enzymes including catalyst, glutathione, superoxide dismutase, etc.
2. External antioxidants cannot be produced by the body. These antioxidants come from diet and nutrition. These include isoflavones, bioflavonoids, Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, vitamin E, etc.

How can we slow down the aging process?

1. Consuming beneficial foods
Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is the benchmark of good health. But how many people actually put in the effort of including foods from all five food groups and the correct number of servings in their diet every day? Our fast paced hectic modern lifestyles make it all too easy for us to replace balanced nutritious meals with fast, convenient, heavily processed junk foods. These foods are often full of refined sugars, starchy carbohydrates, and saturated or trans fatty acids. Therefore consuming junk food is harmful to our health and their accumulation in the body can lead to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, strokes, and increased risk of developing cancer. An insufficient nutritive diet combined with the oxidative stress and free radical damage will cause one to age faster. Clear signs of this can be the destruction of the collagen structure in the dermis which makes the skin saggy, wrinkled, and marked with age spots. All of this contributes to making you look much older than you actually are.

2. Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is crucial to optimum health and wellbeing. Exercise increases blood circulation and flexibility, especially in the joints and muscles. Exercise can increase bone mass and increase HDL (good) cholesterol while decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol, thereby reducing risk of heart attack and stroke. During sustained exercise the body also releases endorphins (hormone) that helps to reduce stress and cause you to feel happy. The important thing to consider is the type of physical exercise you engage in, ensuring that it is appropriate for your physical condition and age. To receive the full benefits of exercise you should exercise thirty minutes 3-4 times a week.

3. Adequate Sound and Restful Sleep

Getting adequate sleep every day is crucial for the body to heal and repair itself from the stresses of the day. When asleep, the body repairs and recovers all of the cells in the body. It is important that people get 6-8 hours of sleep each night. It is also important to reduce stress, because stress is another crucial factor that can lead to aging. People should have a creative and positive outlook on life and in the way they live. You need to know how to encourage and motivate others and to give them compliments. This not only brings happiness to others but also brings peace and happiness to yourself. One should meditate to relax and focus the mind everyday. Those who receive adequate good quality sleep, are stress free, and have a positive attitude will age slower and be more youthful. You can be on those people and you will look fresh and vibrant, someone that others want to be around.

4. Avoid or Reduce Exposure to Free Radicals

Exposure to Free Radicals is a crucial factor in contributing to rapid aging. Therefore it is prudent to limit your exposure to free radicals; such as those caused by smoking, alcohol, stress, pickled foods, smog and chemical pollution,
and UV Radiation.

5. Increase consumption of Antioxidants

Even though the body produces its own array of antioxidants, they are not enough to combat the amount of free radicals and oxidative stress the body is subjected to these days. It is therefore necessary to increase your intake of antioxidants by consuming antioxidant super foods and other nutritional/dietary supplements with the adequate amount of antioxidants and phytochemicals.

6. Increase intake of crucial nutrients and vitamins for the body’s structure

As the body changes with age, as was explained in the beginning, it is partly the result of changes to the body’s internal molecular structure, known as collagen. Collagen is a protein that makes up about 25% of the bodies total protein and is the primary component of connective tissue in the body. Collagen is found in skin tissue, bones, cartilage, ligaments, arteries, cornea, walls of the uterus, muscles, liver, lungs, etc. Collagen is constantly being torn down and rebuilt and repaired. The changing of the body in old age causes the body to not produce enough collagen. This leads to decline in the body’s performance, flexibility in the joints, bones, and muscles; causing the body to not function as well as in the past. The skin begins to wrinkle, sag, and lose its elasticity. It is therefore important to take collagen supplements to delay and mitigate the effects of aging, and to prolong a more robust and youthful life even in one’s later years.

Dermarine fills in the gap where nutrition, sleep, and exercise are no longer enough to minimize and delay the effects of aging. Combining some of the most potent and beneficial antioxidants together in one tablet, Dermarine is the answer to a more vitalized and youthful you. Below is a list of Dermarine’s active ingredients, all coming from the highest quality sources.
Potent and Approved Popular Antioxidants

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a potent and essential antioxidant that provides free radical protection to cell walls. Vitamin E also contributes to the production of collagen in the skin. Vitamin E protects against the premature formation of wrinkles. Vitamin E also boosts the immune system’s ability to ward off dementia and helps to protect against the mutation of cells that leads to cancer. Vitamin E has the effect of slowing down all the signs of aging that occur on, and within, the body.


Zinc is an essential mineral that is vital to proper cellular function. Zinc has an important role in synthesizing nucleic acid and over 100 various enzymes. Zinc helps boost the immune system, protect against cancer, maintain proper sense of taste, smell, and vision, speeds up healing, protects against balding, promotes the body’s production of antibodies, reduces inflammation, and helps counter the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.


Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential to the formation of various antioxidant enzymes in the body. Selenium helps to boost the immune system, protects the skin, and increases elasticity in the skin. Having the correct amount of selenium in the system can help the skin look more radiant and youthful while retaining moisture and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


Lycopene is a carotenoid phytochemical found in tomatoes and certain other red/orange fruits. Lycopene has an antioxidant capacity up to 100 times greater than that of Vitamin E. Lycopene is a highly beneficial antioxidant that should not be missing from one’s diet. Lycopene protects cells from degradation, prevents the formation of wrinkles, and makes the skin bright and fresh.

Collagen Peptides

Collagen peptides are a type of small molecule collagen that, because of its small molecular size, is easily absorbed into the body. Collagen peptides make the body stronger and add resilience and flexibility to the existing collagen throughout the dermis. This has the benefit of making the skin firm, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, and increasing flexibility and strength in the joints, ligaments, and tendons; reducing inflammation in the joints and making them more mobile. This is especially beneficial to seniors.


Phytosterols are a group of potent antioxidants. Phytosterols are anti-inflammatory and help with infection. Phytosterols also protect the skin from UV Radiation damage from the sun while at the same time helping the skin retain moisture. Phytosterols are an important antioxidant in preventing the premature wrinkling of the skin. And because it is a potent antioxidant, it has the ability to combat free radical damage in the body, contributing to the prevention of cancer.

Shark Cartilage Extract

Shark Cartilage Extract is comprised of glucosamine, collagen, and chondroitin sulfate. Shark cartilage extract helps to strengthen and fortify collagen in the skin, making the skin more elastic and resilient. It can also help reduce inflammation in the joints that many seniors experience. Mucopolysaccharide is a constituent in shark cartilage extract and has the benefit of suppressing the formation of new blood vessels in cancerous cells and tumors, inhibiting the spread of these cells; particularly uterine, prostate, and breast cancers.


Hesperidin is classified as a flavonone glycoside, and can be found in citrus fruits. It is an antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory, reduces cholesterol (lipolipedemic), is anti-carcinogenic, and strengthens the veins (vasoprotective) thereby helping to reduce vascular permeability. A lack of hesperidin in the body can lead to fatigue, nighttime leg cramping, and abnormalities and improper functioning in the capillaries.


Isoflavones, a phytoestrogen, is an antioxidant found in soy germ extract. It is popular for the treatment of various ailments for seniors. It replaces the need for taking artificial synthetic hormones. Isoflavones can prevent the development of osteoporosis as well as have the ability to protect the DNA from free radical damage. Isoflavones help divert the transportation of nutrients to cancer cells while helping to reduce the development of cancers and tumors.

Co-Enzyme Q10 or Co-Q10

Co-Q10 has an important role in the production of energy by mitochondria within cells. Co-Q10 improves and restores the functioning of cells. Co-Q10 can increase the energy levels of cells in the heart, making the heart function more efficiently.
A stronger heart can pump the blood better, reducing blood pressure. Co-Q10 also has an antioxidant effect in regards to boosting the immune system and combating free radical damage that can lead to the formation of cancer. Co-Q10 also helps
to reduce the deterioration of skin and prevents the formation of wrinkles, while increasing the energy levels of skin cells. Co-Q10 effectively speeds up the process of restoration and rejuvenation of skin cells.


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Wiseman, H.,J.D. O’Reilly, P. Lim, et al. Antioxidant properties of the isoflavone – phytoestrogen function ingredients in soya products in eds. Sadler, M.J. and Saltmassh, M. Functional Foods: the Consumer, the Products and the Evidence 1998 : pp. 80-86

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USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia: Employment and Business Opportunities


Opportunities with RDMA
Below is a list of business and employment opportunities with USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia.

Request for Quotation – 40 KVA Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) System
The United States Government, represented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is seeking quotations from interested vendors in providing the products outlined in the Request for Quotation 006/2012. This is to support the operation of USAID RDMA, Bangkok Thailand.

Closing Date: September 28, 2012 (17:00 Bangkok Time)

Request for Quotation – Video Equipment and Video Conference System
The United States Government, represented by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Regional Development Mission Asia (USAID RDMA), Bangkok, Thailand is seeking proposals from qualified organizations interested in providing leased vehicles with drivers (one van and one sedan).

Closing Date: September 28, 2012 (17:00 Bangkok Time)

Feed the Future Learning Program: USAID-RDMA-486-12-035-016 Annual Program Statement
The purpose of this Annual Program Statement (APS) is to solicit innovative concept papers from organizations capable of designing and implementing model projects that will provide agriculture and food security learning exchange opportunities between individuals and associations from South and Southeast Asian countries.

Information on Opportunities in Burma
For information regarding opportunities to work with USAID in Burma, please visit and These websites serve as a central repository for all new U.S. Government solicitations, including employment and announcements, for all active opportunities related to funding for development assistance in Burma. Please continue to visit the websites periodically as information will be updated on a regular basis. To sign up for USAID’s Burma Info Alert, please visit Thank you for your interest.

Employment Opportunities

Solicitation for Resident Hire Personal Services Contractor (PSC) – Senior Coordinator, Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Coordination Hub
The United States Government, represented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is seeking applications (Standard Form 171 or Optional Form 612) from U.S. Citizens interested in providing the PSC services described in the detailed solicitation.

Applications must be received by October 5, 2012 4:00pm Bangkok time.

Please see detailed requirements and instructions here: SOL-486-12-000038 Solicitation for Resident Personal Services Contractor – Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Hub Coordinator

Economic Report 2012/2013: Subsidies to hit RM42.4b in 2012, decline in 2013


KUALA LUMPUR: Expenditure on subsidies is expected to reach RM42.4bil or 4.5% of GDP in 2012 but the government is taking steps to reduce it to RM37.61bil in 2013.

The higher expenditure on subsidies, which is an increase of 17% to RM42.4bil in 2012, is due to higher provision of fuel subsidies, compared with RM36.3bil or 4.1% of GDP in 2011.

However, total payments for subsidies in 2013 — comprising of various subsidies (RM26.4bil); incentives (RM874mil) and social assistance programmes (RM10.4bil) — is expected to be reduced by 11.3% to RM37.61bil from a year ago.

“This is not expected to impinge on the well-being of the rakyat, in particular, the vulnerable groups as the lower provision is for fuel subsidies (RM20bil),” according to report on the subsidies for 2013.

As for 2012, the Economic Report said the expenditure on subsidies accounts for 20.9% of the Federal Government’s operating expenditure and comprises of various subsidies (RM31.50bil), social assistance programmes (RM10bil) and incentives (RM854bil).

“Allocation for fuel subsidy, the largest component in the category of subsidies is expected to increase 23.5% to RM25.2bil in 2012 (2011: 112.1%; RM20.4bil) on account of high refined petroleum prices as well as the one-off cash transfers and vouchers given to various target groups to ease the rising cost of living,” it said.

The report said special financial assistance programmes cost the government RM3.2bil within the allocation for fuel subsidies.

Several measures continue to be implemented to contain price pressures. Subsidies for cooking ouil (RM1.5bil); toll rates (RM769mil); flour (RM150mil); provision of comprehensive rural air and rail services (RM195mil).

Subsidies for interest rate differentials amounting to be RM1.5bil will be provided for higher education student loans, microcredit scheme and to improve public transport in rural and urban areas.

The government will continue to give priority to initiatives to achieve food self-sufficiency and improve productivity in the food sector as well as stabilise prices of essential food items. A total of RM2.3bil will be spent on subsidies (RM1.5bil), incentives (RM854mil) to help farmers, fishermen and livestock entrepreneurs.

Study: Female GOP politicians look more feminine

THANKS; Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times

If a new academic study is to be believed, Republican women politicians look  more feminine than their Democratic counterparts.

The study, by two UCLA researchers, found that female politicians with what  are described as stereotypically feminine features tended to be Republicans, and  the reverse was also true for Democratic women. GOP women rated, on average,  twice as stereotypically feminine as Democrats.

In fact, the authors said the correlation was so strong that undergraduates  were regularly able to guess someone’s party affiliation just by the way she  looked.

“I suppose we could call it the ‘Michele Bachmann effect,'” said Kerri  Johnson, an assistant professor at UCLA and the study’s senior author, said in a  statement announcing the research — a reference to the well-known GOP  congresswoman from Minnesota.

When it came to men, however, Democratic politicians were more masculine, the  study found. But the researchers said that was not as revealing a finding.

The study authors said the feminine appearance issue may leave Republican  women politicians at a disadvantage, because other research shows women are  generally viewed as either competent or feminine, but not both.

The study is to be printed in the peer-reviewed Journal of Experimental  Social Psychology.

Read more: Study: Female GOP politicians look more feminine – Washington Times Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Rich Man, Poor Man

Credited; American Thinker^O^V

“Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited,” Joseph Stalin asserted in a 1937 interview with H.G. Wells. “To abstract oneself from this fundamental division … means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts.” Stalin’s mind operated with all t …
By Jeffrey Folks

Stalin’s mind operated with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but of one thing he was certain: there are “the rich” and there are “the poor,” and the rich are the enemy.  Sound familiar?

That same crude idea of perpetual class warfare seems to be the primary foundation of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, if not his entire presidency.  The president is not just asking the rich to pay their fair share — he is demeaning them and dismissing their accomplishments as well.  And he is inciting his audience to join in a mean-spirited attack on the rich as “exploiters.”  “You didn’t get there on your own” — you got there on the backs of the poor, and now it’s time for revolution.

It has been a while since Americans have heard a speech like the President’s Roanoke address, but that speech did not come out of nowhere.  It was, in fact, a perfect reflection of the radical tradition in which Obama was educated from childhood on.  In that tradition, those who aspire to material success are regarded as “enemies of the people” — a phrase that crops up very frequently in radical and anarchist writing and that is suggested in Obama’s current populist attacks on the rich.   

For centuries, leftists have campaigned against those whom they considered class enemies.  At the height of the French Revolution, Robespierre ranted about how the revolution would treat “the enemies of the people.”  Without trial or appeal, it would simply kill them.  The tendency to divide society into two distinct and opposed classes is a fundamental tenet of leftist thought, and it is a view that underlies Obama’s entire conception of government.

For leftists like Obama, the rich deserve to be attacked not because of what they have done wrong, but because of what they have done right.  All that Mitt Romney has achieved has been ethical and above board, but this is beside the point.  The rich are enemies of the people for the very reason why they have succeeded while others have failed.  Romney’s “crime” is that he has aspired to excellence: educating himself, working hard, applying his intelligence, and succeeding.  For that alone, he is the enemy of the left.

Like all Marxists, Obama seeks power on the promise of redistributing wealth from those who have succeeded and redistributing it to those who have failed.  This, at least, is the theory.  In practice, communists never redistribute wealth to the poor because wealth is destroyed when capital is taken from high achievers.  What little that’s left finds its way into the hands of the ruling elite.  As Friedrich Engels had it, “[t]he working class seizes state power, and then transforms the means of production into state property.”  State property, not the property of the working class.

Obama is not running for office as a communist per se.  Yet he has employed all of the classic methods of Marxist politicians.  He has harped continuously on class inequality while promising to seize and redistribute the wealth of the rich if he is re-elected.  He has divided voters along class, ethnic, gender, and ideological lines.  He has politicized every crisis from the market collapse of 2008-2009 to the embassy attacks of today.  These tactics are familiar within the communist tradition.

No one can now be blind as to what Obama is or whence he came.  He came out of the communist tradition stretching back to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and beyond that to radical thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charles Fourier, and Henri de Saint-Simon.  While Obama may not have studied these original sources closely, he was tutored in Marxist ideology by his parents, grandparents, and mentors, including Frank Marshall Davis and Bill Ayers.

That tradition has never been democratic in nature.  Communist leaders have always imposed their will on the masses by some combination of violence, fraud, and manipulation.  In recent decades, the American left has largely abstained from violence, though not from intimidation, as the anti-reform and anti-Walker demonstrations in Wisconsin show.  But the left has relied even more so on manipulation and fraud.  Obama’s attempt to position this election as a contest between the rich and everyone else, with Obama as the champion of “everyone else,” is a classic example of Marxist manipulation.

Obama shares the left’s contempt for democratic process.  The president is campaigning on the basis of class warfare not just to distract attention from his record of failure, but also to avoid discussion of what he would do in his second term.  What he plans, as he has repeatedly told donor groups, is “to finish the job.”  By that he means the institutionalization of widespread dependency: permanent dependence on government for medical care, education, housing, transportation, energy, and even food.  

Most Americans do not support the transformation of America into a communist state, but unknowingly many will be voting for just that in November.  By appealing to the basest motives of envy and resentment, Obama may succeed in cementing the left’s hold on power and permanently transforming the relationship of Americans to their government.

Obama’s re-election would establish a permanent majority dependent on government for their every need.  Those who become dependent on government may believe they are secure, but they will live out their lives in poverty.  And for this, they will not have rich Americans to blame.  Will it ever occur to them to blame the left?  

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

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Honour, rape and the right to abortion

THANKS ; Aljazeera

What would drive a woman to shoot a man ten times, stab him and then behead him? In Turkey, Nevin Yildirim did just that to the man who allegedly raped her for eight months, in order to “save her honour”. Yildirim, now pregnant with his baby, is prohibited from having an abortion under Turkish law.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, head of a religious party governing a secular state, recently sparked protests after he called for laws to limit women’s access to abortion only in cases threatening the health of the mother.

In this episode of The Stream, we speak to Ömer Taşpınar (@BrookingsInst), Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Zehra Arat, professor at SUNY Purchase; and Ayşe Toksöz of the Socialist Feminist Collective (@sosfeminist).

What do you think? Have women’s rights become the fault line for Turkey’s culture war? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using #AJStream.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

iPhone 5 Prank In Amsterdam Goes Viral As Hopefuls Try To Snatch Superglued Phone (VIDEO)

Days before the iPhone 5’s release in the Netherlands, two jokesters in Amsterdam decided to have a little fun with a clever iPhone 5 prank that played on Apple fans’ emotions.

Two pranksters from website superglued an iPhone 5 facedown onto a street in the middle of Leidseplein, a busy square in the center of Amsterdam, Yahoo! News reports. They positioned a hidden camera to capture the reactions, and needless to say, the results were hilarious.

Passersby who fell for the iPhone 5 prank attempted to snatch the device off the ground in a variety of ways. Some tried to pull at the phone before realizing it was glued to the street; others attempted to inconspicuously grab the phone without anyone seeing; and a few even got aggressive and began kicking and stomping on the device. Of course, others played along and took photos with the superglued phone.

The prank was not complete without a bit of self-promotion, however. The folks over at wrote on the sidewalk in chalk “order @”

As of Tuesday morning, the iPhone 5 prank had more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.

Read more about the iPhone 5 here.

(h/t Daily Mail for the find)


US slips in report’s ranking of free economies

THANKS ; Newsvine ^O^V

US Slips In Report’s Ranking Of Free Economies


Published September 18, 2012


The United States’ reputation as home to one of the world’s freest economies continues to decline, according to an international report released Tuesday.

The U.S. dropped to 18th worldwide, compared to 10th in 2008 and third from 1980 to 2000, the 2012 Economic Freedom of the World report found. The findings are based on information through 2010.

“The U.S. is on the wrong track,” said co-author James Gwartney, a Florida State University economics professor.

He says the 48-page report shows countries with the freest economies grew more rapidly and achieved higher income levels for citizens, while the United States’ decade-plus course of government expansion, increased debt and regulation and other moves created a “system of crony capitalism.”

“The declining economic freedom rating of the U.S. provides confirmation of this trend,” Gwartney concludes.

The report, published in the United States by the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute think tank, again ranks Hong Kong first among 144 countries, followed by Singapore, New Zealand and Switzerland.  

The U.S. also ranked behind Finland and Denmark – “two European welfare states,” the study authors also pointed out.

The authors said the report is intended to measure the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom — with cornerstones including the size of government, personal choice, the freedom to trade internationally and the security of private property.

The report is the most recent to suggest the United States is falling behind as a world economic power.

A report earlier this month by the World Economic Forum found the U.S. slipping in dozens of areas, compared with just a few years ago. The U.S. dropped in “global competitiveness” from No. 1 in 2008 to No. 7 this year, the report found.

The international group’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 took into account a broad range of factors, from debt and corruption to regulation, red tape, education and health care. 

Both reports reflected the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession.

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Google Fiber Issues Public Challenge: Get Up To Speed!

Six years ago this month, Google moved into one of the largest buildings in New York City. Google had only been public for two years and its stock price was soaring. By 2006, speculation was running rampant about Google’s ultimate goals. In addition to building the world’s largest Internet search engine, Google was furiously buying up so-called “dark fiber,” the unused long-haul underground cable left dormant by the dot-com crash.

When Google moved into 111 Eighth Avenue, the former Port Authority building, New York took notice because that giant facility is one of the most important “telecom carrier hotels” on the East Coast. A “telecom carrier hotel” or colocation center, is a major physical network node that allows tech and telecom firms to share space in proximity to improve network service and speed. There are just a few dozen in the U.S. (Here’s one in Los Angeles.) As it happens, 111 Eighth Ave. sits directly on top of the point where the critical Hudson Street/Ninth Avenue fiber highway turns right, before heading north-east toward the Upper West Side. In New York City, fiber-optic cables are bundled together in large clusters that snake underneath the sidewalk.

(MORE: The 12 Best Android Widgets for 2012)

So why was Google buying up all that “dark fiber” and situating itself on top of key points in the nation’s telecommunications grid? Did the still-young technology juggernaut have designs on becoming an actual internet service provider? (Ultimately, Google bought 111 Eighth Ave. for $2 billion.)

On Thursday, six years later, we got our answer. And it’s still no. Google’s goal, by building the fastest city-wide broadband network in the country, is not to compete with the giant national cable and telecom firms. Rather, it’s to shame these legacy giants, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T, and others into improving U.S. Internet performance. Why is that important to Google? Because the more people who use broadband Internet, at faster speeds, the more Google searches get executed, and the more money Google makes. So think of Google Fiber as a kind of proof-of-concept public-shaming that Google is performing in the heartland of America, demonstrating to the country — and the world — that better Internet performance is possible.

(MORE: Will Google’s Insanely-Fast Kansas City Network Shame U.S. ISPs?)

After eight months of scoping out Kansas City, Missouri (including the smaller Kansas City, Kansas; henceforth referred to as Kansas City), Google announced the list of 180 neighborhoods — or “fiberhoods,” in the company’s geek vernacular — that have been approved for the experimental service. (See the construction schedule here.) According to Google, “residents in 89% of Kansas City, Kan. and central Kansas City, Mo.” are eligible to receive brand-new broadband Internet service online speeds of 1 gigabit per second — roughly 100 times faster than the average U.S. connection.

As you might imagine, there was massive demand for Google’s new service. The first neighborhood to be hooked-up will be Hanover Heights in Kansas City, Kan. As Google Fiber project lead Kevin Lo explained on the tech giant’s blog Thursday, “Hanover Heights was the very first fiberhood to qualify (within two hours of our July announcement), and they kept up the momentum over the six-week rally, pre-registering the highest percentage of households in Kansas City, Kan.”

The Mountain View, Calif-based tech giant is offering three tiers of service. Google’s baseline KC fiber install fee is $300, or $25 per month for 12 months. After paying that amount, Kansas City residents can expect a guaranteed seven years of free broadband Internet service at current national “average” speeds (5Mbps download, 1Mbps upload speed; no data caps), a company spokeswoman told me Thursday. You pay $300, and Google is guaranteeing you broadband Internet for at least seven years — for free.

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For the upper two tiers, the $300 install fee is waived, and the pricing is simple. For the second tier, it’s $70 per month for the super-fast Internet service (one gigabit upload & download; no data caps), and for the top tier, the cost is $120 per month. The latter includes Google’s TV service — the company has struck deals with popular channels like Disney’s ESPN — as well as a bevy of new Google hardware products, including a Nexus 7 tablet, which serves as the remote. (No worries, Time Warner Cable is not stressed — yet.) Time Warner Cable spokesperson Justin Venech told Bloomberg that the company is bucking up for this fight. “We have a robust and adaptable network,” Venech told Bloomberg in an e-mail. “We are confident in our ability to compete.”

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“One gigabit connectivity will have an immediate impact on our users—the web will be faster, TV will be clearer, and uploading and downloading will be super speedy,” Google’s Lo wrote in the blog post. “Not only that, but we fully expect that gigabit speeds will lead to a wave of online innovation, led by Kansas City.”

After the company’s blog posting was published Thursday, I spoke to Google’s Jenna Wandres, who’s an associate on the Google Fiber communications team. She told me that Google is working with the University of Kansas Medical Center, and local public schools to wire up the community. One of the tests that Google, working with local partners, will conduct, is high-definition “telemedicine” trials, where medical professionals try to simulate the in-person doctor-patient interaction remotely. Another test involves piping HD advanced placement (AP) classes from schools in the community where they are taught, to those where they aren’t, she said. Wandres said that Google does not know how many potential broadband subscribers it might reach, if its program is successful.

As Google’s sign-up period for its Kansas City fiber service neared conclusion over the last few weeks, leading up to Thursday’s launch, the issue of the digital divide came into sharp relief. The first and most enthusiastic buyers for the program came from the more affluent neighborhoods in Kansas City, where residents can better afford the $300 install fee, and the higher tiers. In an interesting and impressively transparent socio-economic demonstration, Google actually charted each neighborhood as it passed the percentage threshold for high-speed broadband service confirmation. As you might expect, the city initially was divided by a central thoroughfare — the proverbial “railroad” tracks — Troost Avenue, the city’s “historical socioeconomic and racial dividing line,” according to

On one side, buy-in was high, and the other side, it lagged. Needless to say, knowing the company’s history, culture, and founders, the idea that Google would be an unwitting contributor to the digital divide was not something it could accept.

So what did Google do? It deployed a “field team” of 60 employees to canvas the ground in under-served areas, working churches, community centers, and schools, to spread the word about its new service. Their sole job was to get out into the community. What the team found was shocking. A full one-quarter (25%) of the respondents surveyed by the Google team in these areas said they did not have broadband access to the Internet, according to Google spokeswoman Wandres. And they don’t have dial-up either. It turns out that there a substantial portion of the Kansas City community that doesn’t have Internet access at all.

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“Many of these people said, ‘I don’t have Internet because it’s not relevant to my life,” Wandres told me. Google hoofed-it out there into the Kansas City neighborhoods — not just to spread the gospel of its own super-fast experimental service, but to argue the benefits of the Internet itself. “We’re committed to addressing the digital literacy and relevance problem head on,” Wandres said. “We’ll have micro-grants available for community organizations who want to start up digital literacy programs in Kansas City.”

During an election year, it’s not surprising that even a relatively innocuous topic like providing faster, cheaper Internet access to a major American city becomes politicized. Last week, per Ars, Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai released a statement praising the Google Fiber project as a “model for other metropolitan areas to follow.” Helpfully, Ars writer Timothy B. Lee pointed out that Kansas City’s support for Google’s network went “well beyond deregulation to outright corporate welfare.” As professional politicians bicker and grandstand about “who built what,” private companies and municipalities are getting on with it. Companies like Google and municipalities like Kansas City show us that the real “nation-building” starts at the local level.

What is Google Fiber about? It’s about serving notice to the existing U.S. broadband community, and vividly illustrating how badly we’ve fallen behind in Internet broadband speed competitiveness. Last time I checked, the U.S. was ranked 28th among developed countries in broadband speeds. That’s embarrassing. What the U.S. needs now is for private companies to work with public entities to build our information infrastructure, as Google and Kansas City have done. Remember, this is not about Google going national with a big broadband effort to compete with the likes of Comcast and Time Warner Cable — yet. Rather, it’s a reminder that building out our nation’s next-generation information grid is good for people, businesses, and society.

Wandres declined to comment on when and where Google will next choose to install super-fast broadband Internet access. In the meantime, here’s the Google Fiber video:

Related Topics: broadband, dark fiber, Google, Google Fiber, Kansas City, Future of TV, Google, Silicon Valley, Tech Policy, Technology & Media, War for the Web