Friday, 15 April 2011

News Report: Syria Protests Move Into Capital

Syria Protesters

Protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad swept into the capital, Damascus, on Friday for the first time since a growing wave of pro-democracy unrest began to put pressure on his 11-year rule.
Thousands of protesters marched elsewhere across the country despite a fierce crackdown and some political concessions announced by Assad in an attempt to quell spreading unrest. Shouting "God, Syria, Freedom", protesters repeated the same demand for democratic reform and freedoms across many cities.

In Damascus, security forces used batons and tear gas to prevent thousands of protesters marching from several suburbs from reaching the main Abbasside Square.

"I counted 15 mukhabarat (secret police) busloads," one eyewitness said. "They went into the alleyways just north of the square chasing protesters and yelling 'you pimps, you infiltrators, you want freedom? we will give it to you'."

A witness who accompanied marchers from the suburb of Harasta said thousands chanted "the people want the overthrow of the regime" and tore down posters of Assad along the route.

Assad's use of force, mass arrests and accusations that armed groups have instigated the unrest, mixed with promises for reform and concessions to minority groups and conservative Muslims, have not placated protesters inspired by popular uprisings which toppled the leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.

On Thursday, he unveiled a new government, which has little power in the one-party state, and ordered the release of some detainees, a move one human rights lawyer said was a "drop in the ocean" compared to the thousands of political prisoners still held.

Nevertheless, protesters gathered in even larger numbers on the Muslim day of prayer.

Credit: Reuters

Opinion: The Researcher And His Report

By Sanyaolu Kehinde Taiwo
In April 2010, International Corporate Research (ICR) released an assessment report on the website of banks operating in Nigeria. The report titled the Nigerian Banks Website Assessment Report assigned assessment ratings on the website of the banks based on the Connected09 Model developed by the ICR model design department.
Since the release of the report, activity has been observed in website of some banks. Now one year after the release of the well circulated report, preliminary assessment of the website of the banks covered by the report has shown marked improvements that are obviously in response to the deficiencies cited by the report.
Even the website design company that held the account of the two leading banks in the report under review has seen a rise in the number of bank clients in its portfolio.The Nigerian banks website assessment report was informed specifically to encourage increased information disclosure on the website of banks considering their public company status. Before the report was released, website of banks in Nigeria were poorly informed and starved of critically relevant public information. Today, many banks have a dramatic turn-around in their website. The new websites are now better informed and present the companies as public companies as proposed by the Connected09 Model.
Also, a report on the economic impact study of women owned businesses in the USA by the Center for Women Business Research in 2009 was enough to cause many banks in America to review the way they lend especially to women-owned companies with the report having revealed that women-owned businesses employed more people than the Fortune 500. The report highlighted key statistics on the size of the women-owned business industry, profitability, employment etc. The report was an eye opener and there was no better way to drive the message home than through research and the subsequent report. Earlier reports by CWBR have influenced a change in how the U.S census bureau defines women-owned businesses.
In the view of the Research Organization, these reports have fulfilled their purpose. The purpose of research is basically to observe live events and draw information and trends from it. Research creates new knowledge and helps validate or rebuff norms. Research is supposed to help improve the status quo and innovate the future.
When individuals and companies take positive action based on research, the researcher is encouraged to keep studying and bringing new knowledge to the notice of industry practitioners. When they (companies and individuals) do not respond by basing decisions on already conducted research, the resources (both time and material) invested in such research is made a waste [even though it never can be considered a total waste].
A larger emphasis should therefore be placed on research, assessment and evaluation by organizations and on a broader perspective.

(Taiwo is Chief Research Analyst at Stakes Capital Ltd)