North Korean Nuclear Issue in China-U.S. Relations

North Korean Nuclear Issue in China-U.S. Relations

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Since the North Korean nuclear issue emerged in the early 1990s, it has been of growing importance to China-U.S. relations. On the one hand, China and the United States basically take the same position on the issue: They both call for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and oppose the development of nuclear weapons by the two Koreas; and they advocate peaceful settlement of the issue through the Six-Party Talks, because it will determine the prospects for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the peace and security of Northeast Asia.However, on the other hand, as major global powers, China and the United States play different roles in the security pattern of the peninsula, which means they have different relations with the two Koreas as well as disagreement on how to peacefully settle the nuclear issue.

How to consolidate the common ground and shared interests on the issue between China and the United States, how to promote their cooperation in the denuclearization of the peninsula and how to reduce mutual suspicions and disagreement on issues that are major concerns for both will not only contribute to a nuclear-free peninsula with lasting peace and stability, but also have a profound impact on the new model of major-country relations between China and the United States.

Basic Policies of China and the United States on the North Korean Nuclear Issue

Due to the Korean War and the lasting influence of the Cold War, China and the United States have entirely different bilateral relations with North Korea, but they share similar positions on the denuclearization of the peninsula and similar concerns.

Throughout the Cold War, China and the United States provided large quantities of military aid to their respective allies, namely South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK), in the case of the United States and North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), in the case of China, but neither offered aid that could generate nuclear or missile proliferation. After South Korea’s secret development of nuclear weapons was revealed in the 1970s, the U.S. government carried out direct interventions to force South Korea to give up the plan.

After the Cold War, two strategic and historic events significantly altered the security pattern of mutual deterrence between North and South Korea: The first referred to the radical change of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe so that North Korea lost a vital foreign economic aid provider and a strong military supporter; second, China accommodated the trend of the times characterized by the end of the Cold War and a thaw in the relations between the two Koreas; thus it normalized its relations with South Korea, leading to a structural change in the “balance of power” between the China-DPRK alliance and the U.S.-ROK alliance. Therefore, the Cold War between China and South Korea came to an end while the Cold War between the two Koreas continued.

The two aforementioned events marked the end of indirect trilateral military collaboration among North Korea, China and the Soviet Union, while trilateral ties among South Korea, the United States and Japan were strengthened. This change fueled the strategic determination of North Koreato accelerate its nuclear weapons program. The nuclear issue became the security focus of the peninsula as well as a new area where exchange, cooperation and conflicts between China and the United States took place.

China has a consistent and clear position on North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. Whether during or after the Cold War, it has always called for a peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons and opposed any import, deployment or storage of nuclear weapons from abroad by North Korea, as well as the development of nuclear weapons by either Korea. Therefore, although China has been providing extensive and large-scale aid to North Korea since the 1950s, it has never offered aid that might facilitate North Korea’s nuclear weapon development or delivery.

Since the nuclear issue escalated in 1994, China has always made it clear in its bilateral exchange with North Korea that it would firmly oppose North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. China denounced North Korea’s three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 and it supported and abided by related resolutions and sanctions imposed on North Korea by the UN Security Council. In September 2013, the relevant government departments in China issued an administrative instruction prohibiting any Chinese enterprises from exporting to North Korea more than 900 civilian-military dual-use or sensitive products, a long list of over 300 pages.

Besides, in China’s view, the North Korean nuclear issue is not a simple matter of nuclear proliferation, but a strategic and comprehensive issue concerning the national security of North Korea. Given that, in the efforts to promote a North Korea free of nuclear weapons, consideration should also be given to North Korea’s security, political, economic and diplomatic concerns.

With this in mind, when the North Korean nuclear crisis broke out for a second time in early 2003, leading to acute tension between North Korea and the United States, China made concerted diplomatic efforts to initiate the Six-Party Talks among North and South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan in August 2003. The talks were held under the theme of “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. China also emphasized that the six parties must ensure the denuclearization of the peninsula rather than just North Korea. The Six-Party Talks aim to promote a nuclear-weapons-free North Korea, and establish an institutional arrangement to ensure neither side of the peninsula tests, produces, accepts, possesses, stores, deploys or uses nuclear weapons. Denuclearization refers to the military denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; both the Koreas still have the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the same as other sovereign states.Thanks to the advocacy and mediation by the Chinese delegation, members of the Six-Party Talks emphasized North Korea’s right of peaceful use of nuclear energy in their September 19 Joint Statement.

As for the denuclearization of North Korea, China has maintained a consistent position, namely promoting the Six-Party Talks by focusing on the nuclear issue itself while removing the external impediment, which is the hostile external environment faced by North Korea. Through the talks, China hopes that a package of comprehensive solutions can be agreed upon by the six parties based on the principles and objectives defined by the September 19 Joint Statement, and progress can be made in the normalization of the relations between North Korea and other countries by replacing the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953 with a permanent peace treaty for the Korean Peninsula. China also hopes that a cooperation mechanism for Northeast Asia can be established in which North Korea is treated as an equal member.

Unlike China, whose position has remained consistent, the United States has made complicated adjustments in its fundamental policy toward the North Korean nuclear issue. On the one hand, the Washington upholds the basic policy of a nuclear-weapons-free Korean Peninsula; on the other hand, throughout the 20 years of the Clinton administration, the Bush administration and the Obama administration, the United States has adopted three totally different attitudes and policies toward the issue, creating huge uncertainty and wavering.

 

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Near-death experiences: what it feels like to die

Near-death experiences: what it feels like to die

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Meeting with deceased loved ones is a significant feature, combined with the experience of feeling peace and love. People who have been close to death often report similar feelings. Whether they are verifiably real occurrences that can be scientifically quantified or not is, in many ways, irrelevant.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) can agitate and excite in equal measure.

Skeptics argue, often fiercely, that they result from nothing more than brain activity, or psychological constructions of a dying brain. Yet, people who have NDEs unanimously contest to the realness of the NDE. And these people are not ‘crazed’ in any way. They are regular people, who just happen to have had an extraordinary experience. NDEs are reported by men, women, and children, regardless of age, nationality, ethnicity, religion, occupation, or education level.

They are not new phenomena. NDEs are evident across cultures and throughout history, with some of the earliest known accounts being recorded by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. In fact, NDEs are quite common. They occur daily, under a wide variety of circumstances, in virtually every country around the world. Around 20% of cardiac arrest survivors and 4-9% of the general population are estimated to have had an NDE. But, they are believed to be under-reported, so the actual number of people who have one is probably much higher. They are typically described by those who have had a close brush with death, or have died and been resuscitated. Although, not all people who have a close brush with death or who are resuscitated have an NDE.

Recent research indicates NDEs occur when physical functioning is severely compromised or non-existent. Which is interesting, because conventional wisdom suggests severe physical injury and/or physical death results in diminished perceptual abilities. Yet, reports of NDEs indicate the exact opposite. Paradoxically, NDEs seem to suggest that conscious abilities may continue in the absence of detectable physiological functioning.

Those reporting NDEs often describe a profound psychological event that is mystical, transcendental, or even spiritual in nature; where the boundaries between space, time, and normal perceptual awareness become blurred. One of the most intriguing examples of this is the apparent existence of disembodied consciousness. That is, many have described perceiving events as if they were positioned outside of their own body.

Some of the most popular accounts include the witnessing of resuscitation efforts by medical personnel, perceiving others in distant locations, and viewing objects in unusual locations. One well-known case describes how a comatose man viewed his own resuscitation, and the attending nurse removing his dentures and placing them in a ‘crash cart’. More than a week later, the patient was able to identify the nurse and describe the location of his missing dentures.

Other commonly reported features of an NDE include movement through a tunnel often at great speed, seeing beautiful otherworldly scenes, a life review, and coming to a border of no return. These features are often combined with the experience of overwhelmingly positive emotions, including peace, unconditional love, and joy. Disappointment upon returning to one’s physical body is often felt.  Meeting with deceased loved ones is a particularly significant feature of some NDEs. Many have described meeting and conversing with deceased parents, children, spouses, and even pets.

Especially intriguing are cases where the person having the NDE did not know a loved one had died, yet meets them during their NDE. Some only find out upon regaining consciousness that the loved one had in fact died, at a distant location, just moments before the NDE.

Perhaps even more interesting are those cases where a deceased other is met during an NDE, but the person is not aware of the identity of the other. It is only after the NDE – sometimes decades after – the person eventually finds out the person they ‘met’ during their NDE was their biological parent, sibling, or grandparent. A final feature of an NDE that is especially prominent is seeing a bright light. Often described as ‘brighter than bright’, yet ‘not blinding’, the light is supernatural. It is warm, loving, and accepting. It is unlike any other light people have seen before, or since, their NDE.

It is probably because of these extraordinary features and the proximity to physical death that NDEs agitate and enlighten in equal measure. The NDE raises many perplexing questions about death – and indeed conscious abilities – some of which are difficult to answer according to established scientific empiricism.

A recent large-scale study has provided credible findings to suggest NDEs may actually be real phenomena. But, whether they are verifiably real occurrences that can be scientifically quantified or not is, in many ways, irrelevant. What is certain is that people who have NDEs believe in the authenticity of the experience. And, the experience, they say, is extraordinary.

How to Develop and Improve Your Money Saving Habits

How to Develop and Improve Your Money Saving Habits

Saving money is one of those habits that we know is good for us, but might not have developed particularly well. For an individual who doesn’t currently save, perhaps it’s because they’ve faced some financial hardships in the past, that they’re too busy “enjoying life” or that they simply never saw the value of devoting any of their energy to saving.

But at the end of the day, none of those reasons is particularly important. Rather than spend time figuring out why we don’t yet have that good habit in place, it’s better to simply start building one.

Here is some banking advice and pointers for developing and improving your own money-saving habits:

  • Take a Financial Inventory. Sometimes the biggest incentive to getting into a money-saving habit is merely understanding that your current financial situation might not be as strong as you thought. By taking a financial inventory you’ll be able to quantify exactly how much you currently have saved, as well as your current assets and liabilities. This is usually known as calculating your Net Worth. Understanding clearly that you might not have as much saved as you thought can give you a strong push to start doing so.
  • Make a Budget. Even though you know you should be saving, you might not have a good idea of what is a reasonable savings amount to target each month. Having a personal budget that clearly identifies your income and all of your expenses can help make this happen. There are manybudgeting tools that you can use. When you have a detailed budget you can identify potential areas to cut back on in order to boost your savings rate.
  • Be Creative. In order to maximize your potential savings, don’t assume that any category of your expenses is fixed. Nearly all things can be changed and scaled back on, provided that you have enough will to do so.
  • Involve Your Family and Friends. Even though we’re talking about your personal finances, your daily life probably involves many other people. It can be difficult to save as much as you’d like if you have friends and family members who may be competing for your financial resources. For example, your budget may demonstrate that you spend a bit too much going out for with your friends, so consider proposing less costly alternatives sometimes. Similarly, if your family spends too much money going out to eat, come up with a less costly way to still get the quality time together. By involving those in your life who are closest to you the savings process becomes easier.
  • Prepare Yourself for a Change. Even once you’ve identified the areas that you want to cut back on in order to boost your savings rate, it’s quite another thing to actually go ahead and change your behaviors. If you assume that changing your other habits will be easy, you may be frustrated to find that it requires a little more work, and frustration can lead to failure. If you are targeting multiple areas, change one at a time and to give each change some time to become a new habit before trying to change the next one.

The best way to improve your savings rate over time is to do so in a deliberate and sustainable manner.

Reasons for India’s loss in ICC World Cup 2015

Reasons for India’s loss in ICC World Cup 2015

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Only two teams (West Indies and Australia) have successfully defended the ICC World Cup title. That statistic will remain the same for at least another 4 years. India’s campaign at the World Cup is over. The defending champions won 7 matches on the trot, but fell at the penultimate hurdle. Over a billion hearts in the country and countless across the world were broken. After all, it’s not easy to swallow a loss for the Men in Blue, especially when they were so close to clinching the top prize in ODI cricket. It’s natural to feel sad, to be left stunned at the margin of the loss. Some fans cried, others covered their eyes, some others fell completely silent, as they saw their dream shatter into a million pieces in front of their eyes. All that is natural. The question is – what are you feeling? Is it anger? Because if it is, then that is unnatural. In sport, a winner can only be crowned when the other team loses. There is no shame in losing in the semifinal of a World Cup and the loss can’t be pinned on just a few players.

Unfortunately, not a lot of people see it that way. Some fans smashed television sets, while others burnt posters of players. Sections of the Indian media felt the loss was shameful, but is that really surprising? NDTV World Cup expert and former India captain Sunil Gavaskar wasn’t surprised. Gavaskar told NDTV, that there has been disappointment and there will always be that odd section that will go over the top but that is part of Indian cricket.

India’s 95 run loss was the heaviest, in terms of runs, in a World Cup semifinal. So was it the margin of defeat that angered some fans and sections of the media? Sure, going by India’s resurgence, the match was a 50-50 call, but is it really surprising that Australia, who are the number 1 ODI team in the world, won? Former West Indies captain Brian Lara had picked India as the winner before the semifinal clash, but even he later admitted that the result was expected. With India’s rise over the last 6 weeks India can give themselves an opportunity to defeat Australia, but Australia have been the better team and they proved that. The best two teams are now in the final.

Even if we forget about the 3 ‘minnows’ that India beat, we can’t ignore the wins against Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and even Bangladesh in a knockout match. The way this team picked itself up after a disappointing summer Down Under was spectacular. The way the bowling, often called the biggest chink in the Indian armour, came together to become a potent force was fascinating to watch. The way the Dhoni of old, who marshals his troops like a General leading from the front, inspired the team to 7 straight wins would have given the true cricket lovers a lot to smile about.

Yes the wait for a 3rd ODI World Cup title will now be a longer one, but then, not too many fans would have backed India to reach the semifinals, and they did. They just ran into a superior team on the day, a team that they haven’t beaten in either Tests or ODIs since December last year, a team they were playing in their own backyard. Cricket is a sport, it’s not war and no one likes a sore loser.

Overweight young adults can reduce diabetes risk if they lose weight early enough

Overweight young adults can reduce diabetes risk if they lose weight early enough

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New research has found that the risk of diabetes associated with obesity can be reversed if obese young people make efforts to lose weight before middle-age.

The team of researchers from St George’s University of London wanted to look at the effect of BMI in earlier life on the risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes in later life, three major diseases in which obesity is an established risk factor.To look at a possible link the team measured the body mass index (BMI) of 7735 middle-aged men between 40 and 59 years of age. The measurements were then compared to data collected on the BMI of the men aged 21, taken from their military service records or previous participation in a medical study.

From the 4846 men that provided complete data, and taking into account their varying ages and smoking status, the researchers found that men who had had a high BMI at aged 21, but had lowered it by aged 50, had similar or even lower rates of diabetes than those who had a normal BMI when they were younger.

However a similar reversible effect was not seen for the risk of heart attack or stroke, and a high BMI when aged 21, although associated with a higher risk of diabetes in later life, showed no effect on the risk of heart attack or stroke later in life.

Lead researcher Professor Christopher Owen commented on the results saying, “Even in men who carried out UK National Service and were relatively thin in early life compared to more recent men, higher levels of fatness in early adult life appear to be associated with later diabetes. However, effects of early body mass appear to be reversible by subsequent weight loss. These findings have important implications for Type 2 diabetes prevention, especially in more recent adults with high levels of obesity.”

Men who were obese at aged 50 however, still showed an increased risk of diabetes, as well as an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study was published in the journal BMJ Open.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.

As well as being a major risk factor in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke, obesity, commonly measured by BMI, is also a risk factor in musculo skeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis, and cancers such as endometrial, breast, and colon cancer.

According to the WHO’s definitions, an individual with a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight, and an individual with a BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obese.

 

Facebook blocks messages promoting terrorist propaganda

Facebook blocks messages promoting terrorist propaganda

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Facebook blocks one million messages promoting terrorism or radical ideologies every week, says the head of the United Nations counter-terrorism committee.”We must learn to move through social networks at the same speed or faster than terrorist organisations,” Efe quoted Laborde as saying on Thursday.

Speaking at UN headquarters after a meeting with the private sector, Jean-Paul Laborde said YouTube had cancelled at least 14 million videos of terrorist propaganda in the past two years. The UN must learn to move through social networks at the same speed, or faster, than terrorist organisations, he said.  But he warned there needed to be a balance between ensuring freedom and privacy online, while protecting the lives of all the world’s citizens.
Maintaining that balance was “a great challenge” for law enforcement, civil society and private companies, Mr Laborde said.

The UN must first defeat terrorist organisations such as Islamic State on the internet and social networks.

To achieve those goals new relationships and connections must be forged between civil society, UN members and private enterprises such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, which control exchange of information online, he said.

Sensex tanks 555 points on China rout, closes at 3-week low

Sensex tanks 555 points on China rout, closes at 3-week low

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The Sensex fell for the fourth consecutive session on Thursday to close at 24,852, down 555 points (2.2%) with all the 30 Sensex stocks in the red. Thanks to the market rout in China,On Thursday morning as the CSI 300 index in Shanghai tanked 7% and Chinese authorities suspended trading for the day, sensex opened more than 1% lower and lost steam through the session to close at a fresh three-week low.

In the process it also broke below the psychologically important 25K mark. Thursday’s was the second 7% fall in the benchmark index for the Chinese stock market this week which came on the back of signs of further economic weakness in the world’s second largest economy.
In India, the Sensex has now lost over 1,300 points since its New Year day closing at 26,161.

On Thursday, the slide in the domestic market was led by BHEL, Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Axis Bank, with each of the stock closing down 5% or more.

 Around Asia, Nikkei in Japan closed down 2.3% while Hang Seng in Hong Kong was down 3% at close. The recent crashes in global markets are also because of Chinese government decision to let Yuan, its currency that the government manages vigorously, weaken, indicating dim chances of a quick recovery of the economy that grew in double digits rate for most of the last 27 years. Market players here, however, assured that the onus of the current market weakness can’t be passed on to domestic factors and is attributed only to factors external to India. They also said that the recent fall in crude oil prices is good for India.
The sharp sell-off in Chinese markets was prompted by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) who set the yuan midpoint at 6.5646 per dollar, 0.5% weaker than Wednesday’s rate, the biggest fall between daily fixings since the devaluation began in mid-August,” said Sanjeev Zarbade, VP – Private Client Group Research, Kotak Securities. “Taking cues from the weak markets and likely softer demand, brent crude has fallen to $33.2/barrel, which is good for the Indian economy, but bad for oil exporting countries. Even European markets opened in the red following the sell-off in the Asian markets,” he said in a note.At 4.12pm, the FTSE index in UK was down 2.9% while DAX in Germany was 3.3% lower.

Why is the Indian power sector facing a Supply-Demand gap?

Why is the Indian power sector facing a Supply-Demand gap?

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In spite of a total installed power generation capacity of about 223 GW (as of April 2013), India is still struggling to meet increasing power demand.  Government of India came up with the Electricity Act in the year 2003 to reform the unorganized power sector in India. EA-2003 has helped to improve efficiency and has brought some much needed order in the overall power sector.  However, we are still facing severe power cuts and many regions in India are still lacking something as basic as an electricity connection. Recent structural reforms in the power sector will take some time for complete implementation. In the short to medium term, supply-demand mismatch and limited ability of the financial systems to support subsidies are expected to push consumer tariffs upward.

Following points explain the reasons behind low power generation and hence increasing Supply-Demand Gap;

  1. Electricity generation in India is predominantly based on coal. India has enough coal reserves in its forests areas. However, due to strict forest clearance regulations, this coal cannot be utilized very often for power generation.
  2. The quality of coal is not up to the grade which is considered best for power generation.
  3. Coal India Limited -a public sector company, is the major supplier of coal for power plants in India; hence it has a monopoly in the market. Growth in supply by Coal India has been muted due to multiple factors as discussed earlier i.e. forest clearance regulations, poor calorific value, etc.  As shown in the graph above, CIL has almost the same coal production since five years. However, the demand has increased extensively.
  4. Frequent increase in price of imported coal is not fitting in the cost per unit structure as promised in PPA, resulting in restricted generation. Recently Indonesia has increased the price of coal in international market.
  5. Production of gas in the Krishna Godavari (KG–D6) basin has also dropped by more than 60% from two years ago. It has resulted in lower or no power generation from gas based power plants.
  6. Severe droughts/or less rainfall has contributed to less water level in dams which has resulted in less power generation from Hydro power plants.

Key issues faced are Quality of fuel supplied, Evacuation of extracted fuel, Weather (availability of water) and Allocation of limited fuel among sectors competing for the same.

Overall energy demand has been increasing at the rate of just under 7% per annum in the last seven years. Amongst the major consumers, demand of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan has grown at a rate of close to 8.5%. Traditionally large demand base of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh has grown at a rate of close to 6.5%.

Power has significant growth multiplier effects. Better availability not only boosts immediate economic performance but also investment prospects and business optimism. Recent growth has taken place despite the difficult economic conditions – demand can be expected to show a positive boost in better conditions.

During the last decade, growth in energy demand has consistently outpaced growth in supply. This has resulted in a widening gap over the years leading to implementation of Restriction & Control measures in more and more states.

What is government of India doing?

MoP has proposed debt restructuring scheme for state owned utilities. 50% of outstanding short term liabilities will be taken up by the state governments. Discoms will issue bonds to lenders, backed by state government guarantee. Government will then take over the liabilities in a phased manner by issuing special securities in favour of participating lenders. Balance 50% will be rescheduled by lenders and serviced by discoms with moratorium of 3 years on the principle. Rs. 1.9 lakh crores of liabilities are to be covered under this scheme. Eight states accounting for 70% of the liabilities have given consent for the scheme.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is encouraging growth in solar power installations under the auspices of the National Solar Mission. Close to 2,000 MW is expected to be installed by the end of current financial year. This capacity is expected to make an important contribution in mitigating peak (day time) power shortage. In addition, MNRE encourage other renewable energy generators with their subsidy and other relevant schemes.

What should consumers do?

The gap between supply and demand can be bridged only with structural reforms in the energy sector. These reforms will however take time to be implemented considering the numerous challenges involved. Consumers can mitigate these rises by taking pro-active measures. Energy efficiency, re-scheduling of operations to benefit from low off-peak tariffs and investment in renewable energy are immediate opportunities for mitigating increase in energy costs. Read our article on rooftop solar grid interactive power systems here

 

 

How to deal with academic stress

How to deal with academic stress

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Amidst all the aspects of college that students deal with on a daily basis — finances, friendships, roommates, romantic relationships, family issues, jobs, and countless other things — academics always need to take priority. After all, if you don’t do well in your classes, the rest of your college experience becomes impossible. So how can you deal with all the academic stress that college can easily and rapidly put into your life?

Hereby I provide 9 basic ways to reduce academic stress in college

1. Take a good look at your course load. In high school, you could easily manage 5 or 6 classes plus all of your cocurricular activities. In college, however, the entire system changes. The number of units you take has a direct connection to how busy (and stressed) you’ll be throughout the semester. The difference between 16 and 18 or 19 units may seem small on paper, but it’s a big difference in real life (especially when it comes to how much studying you have to do for each class).

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your course load, take a look at the number of units you’re taking. If you can drop a class without creating even more stress in your life, you might want to consider it.

2. Join a study group. You may be studying 24/7, but if you’re not studying effectively, all that time spent with your nose in your books might actually be causing you more stress. Consider joining a study group.

Doing so will help hold you accountable for getting things done on time (after all, procrastination can be a major source of stress, too), help you better understand the material, and help you combine some social time with your homework. And if there isn’t a study group you can join for any (or all!) of your classes, consider starting one yourself.

3. Learn how to study more effectively. If you aren’t sure how to study effectively, it won’t matter if you study by yourself, in a study group, or even with a private tutor. Make sure that all of your efforts to study are matching up with what your brain needs to retain and truly understand the material.

4. Get help from a peer tutor. Everyone knows those students in class who clearly are mastering the material — and not having a problem doing so. Consider asking one of them to tutor you. You can offer to pay them or even deal in some kind of trade (maybe you can help fix their computer, for example, or tutor them in a subject they’re struggling with). If you aren’t sure whom to ask in your class, check with some of the academic support offices on campus to see if they offer peer tutoring programs, ask your professor if he or she can recommend a peer tutor, or simply look for flyers on campus from other students offering themselves as tutors.

5. Utilize your professor as a resource. Your professor can be one of your best assets when it comes to reducing the stress you feel in a particular course. While it may at first be intimidating to try to get to know your professor, he or she can help you figure out what material to focus on (instead of feeling overwhelmed by thinking you have to learn everything in class). He or she can also work with you if you’re really struggling with a concept or with how to best prepare for an upcoming exam. After all, what could be better for helping you reduce your academic stress than to know that you’re super prepared and ready to ace the upcoming exam?

6. Make sure you always go to class. Sure, your professor may just be reviewing the material that was covered in the reading. But you never know what additional snippets he or she might put in, and having someone go over material you may have already read will just help to solidify it in your mind. Additionally, if your professor sees that you’ve been in class every day but are still having problems, he or she might be more willing to work with you.

7. Reduce your non-academic commitments. It can be easy to lose your focus, but the main reason you are in school is to graduate. If you don’t pass your classes, you don’t get to stay in school. That simple equation should be motivation enough to help you prioritize your commitments when your stress level begins to get a little out of control. If you don’t have enough time to handle your non-academic responsibilities in a way that doesn’t leave you stressed all the time, take a moment to figure out what needs to go. Your friends will understand!

8. Make sure the rest of your college life — sleeping, eating, and exercise — are in balance.Sometimes, it can be easy to forget that taking care of your physical self can do wonders for reducing your stress. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising on a regular basis. Think about it: When’s that last time you didn’t feel less stressed after a good night’s sleep, a healthy breakfast, and a good work out?

9. Ask upperclass students for advice with difficult professors. If one of your classes or professors is greatly contributing to, or even the main cause of, your academic stress, ask students who have already taken the class how they handled it. Chances are you aren’t the first student to be struggling! Other students may have already figured out that your literature professor gives better grades when you quote lots of other researchers in your paper, or that your Art History professor always focuses on women artists on exams. Learning from the experiences of those who went before you can help reduce your own academic stress.

 

Google likely building smarter chatting app to challenge Facebook

Google likely building smarter chatting app to challenge Facebook

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Google is said to be building a new messaging app, this time with an intelligent twist: it’ll let you chat with your friends or message a Google bot for answers to your questions. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has been working on this new service for at least a year, though it isn’t known when it might launch.

It isn’t stated how powerful Google wants this intelligent bot to be at launch. Likely, it would be able to do everything that a normal Google search can, offering up answers when it can and providing links when it can’t. That means you might be able to message it for information on the weather or to look up details on a restaurant.The Journal reports that Google will likely allow other developers to build chatbots that run on the service, so you could receive an answer from an app that has the information you’re looking for. Google declined to comment.

The intention is to prevent Google from losing out on search to other messaging services, like Facebook’s, that have been building in intelligent bots of their own. Google doesn’t currently have a successful messaging app — even Hangouts is kind of a mess — so the implication that Google is building yet another one is reasonable. It could always opt to build this service into an existing chat app as well.

The service sounds like it’s meant to directly compete with Facebook M, a bot that Facebook is testing inside of Messenger. Like what Google is said to be doing, M automatically searches the web for answers to questions, but it takes that one step further: for more complicated queries, a human assistant will take over, allowing M to do things far beyond what a computer could. The Journal doesn’t mention Google considering anything outside of the digital realm — that’s its area of expertise, anyway — but it’ll need to offer something at least as powerful if it wants to hook users. Then there’s just the small question of whether Google can get people chatting with their friends, too.