Why You Shouldn’t Expect The iPhone 5S To Come In June.
Apple analyst Gene Munster said in a note he expects the iPhone 5S to ship at the end of June. While it’s possible the iPhone comes out in June, we think Munster might be off on this one.
Rene Ritchie at iMore reported the iPhone 5S is coming in August. Ritchie has excellent sources at Apple. He was one of the first to report what the iPad Mini would look like. He was also first to report Apple was going with a smaller cable for the iPhone. He nailed the announcement and release date of the iPhone 5.
In addition to Ritchie’s report of an August release, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said he’s hearing Apple pushed the release of the iPhone 5S from June to the July-September time frame because it was having some manufacturing issues.
Based on Ritchie’s excellent track record, plus the shift from Jefferies, we’re now expecting a new iPhone in August.
The iPhone 5S isn’t expected to be a big upgrade over the iPhone 5. Ritchie says it will look the same with some internal improvements and a camera upgrade.
Europe’s biggest insurer Allianz has secured the top spot in Turkey’s fast-growing insurance market by agreeing to buy Yapi Kredi Sigorta for about 1.6 billion Turkish lira ($883 million, £584.2 million).
The German group said on Wednesday it was buying a 93.9 percent stake in the Turkish insurer from local lender Yapi Kredi Bank . After closure of that deal, it will make a mandatory tender offer for the remaining 6.1 percent stake.
Turkey’s growing population and rising standard of living have prompted a sharp increase in demand for car, property health and life insurance, but price competition among insurers is intense and many have suffered losses in recent years.
DZ Bank analyst Werner Eisenmann said the valuation of the deal, Allianz’s largest takeover since 2007, was reasonable and financing should not be a problem. He retained a “buy” rating on Allianz shares.
The stock was down 1.6 percent to 106.55 euros by 10.10 a.m. British time, versus a STOXX Europe 600 insurance index off 1 percent.Allianz finance chief Dieter Wemmer told analysts a squeeze-out of minority shareholders in Yapi Kredi Sigorta would make it easier to achieve efficiencies from the deal.
Yapi Kredi Sigorta shares dropped 9.5 percent, having risen sharply recently in anticipation of a deal, while Yapi Kredi Bank’s shares were down 0.4 percent.
Under a so-called bancassurance agreement over 15 years, Allianz will also get the right to sell insurance through Yapi Kredi’s network of bank branches, Turkey’s fifth largest with 6.5 million customers.
With a population of nearly 75 million whose average age is under 30, Turkey offers lucrative growth opportunities for global insurers.
Government initiatives to encourage saving through private placement plans, which became effective from the beginning of 2013, have made the business more attractive.
Property and casualty premiums in Turkey rose nearly 17 percent to 16.9 billion Turkish lira in 2012, according to data from the Insurance Association of Turkey.
Allianz already has 1.6 million customers in Turkey, mainly motor and health insurance policy holders. It says that made it the No. 2 market player in non-life insurance and No. 3 in life and health, with distribution primarily through agents.
Yapi Kredi Bank, owned by Turkish group Koc Holding
The sources said at the time that Japan’s Dai-ichi Life Insurance <8750.T> and Zurich Insurance
Yapi Kredi will retain a 20 percent stake in Yapi Kredi Emeklilik, the life and pension subsidiary of Yapi Kredi Sigorta.
In January, Allianz struck a 10-year bancassurance agreement with HSBC
($1 = 1.8143 Turkish liras)
Raymond James continues to ‘right-size’ costs.
Closing in on the one-year anniversary of its purchase of Morgan Keegan, Raymond James Financial Inc. has accomplished a lot in the last 12 months.
In April 2012, it closed on the $1.2 billion acquisition of Memphis-based Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. from Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE: RF)By July, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based financial services firm had stamped its logo on the Memphis skyline and reported a 63 percent boost to its quarterly profit.
Through September, Raymond James (NYSE: RJF) reported its most profitable year ever, and in February announced it would no longer brand the Memphis operation as Raymond James|Morgan Keegan.
So now what?The firm recently reported it has successfully integrated the entirety of what was Morgan Keegan onto its own operating platform and will now focus on reducing expenses.
“Our next priority is to adjust to the appropriate support levels for this segment, which will engender expense reduction primarily through a decline in head count over the next several months,” a monthly report from the firm indicated.
Paul Reilly, CEO at Raymond James, said the majority of reductions would be complete by the end of June, with the remainder being completed by fiscal year-end in September.Through the end of fiscal year 2012, Raymond James had shed 69 Morgan Keegan advisers, or about 7 percent.
Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy returns with national advertising.
The popular Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is back on the shelves and embarking on its most ambitious advertising campaign since its 2007 debut.
The beverage, a mixture of beer and natural lemonade flavor, will be supported by national ads, including during sports programming and on The Discovery Channel and The History Channel, according to a press release.
The ads, which began airing March 18, mark the first time in Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co.’s history that one of its products will have national TV advertising.Summer Shandy enjoyed double-digit growth last year and became the largest seasonal beer in 2012, the company said.
“Our family takes great pride in providing beer drinkers with unique beers like Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy,” said Jake Leinenkugel, president of Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing. “We’re grateful to beer drinkers for making Summer Shandy such a big hit, and we’re excited to be able to share our advertising with a national audience for the first time ever.”
Summer Shandy will be available through August.Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing is a subsidiary of Chicago-based MillerCoors LLC. Leinekugel has breweries in Chippewa Falls and Milwaukee.
Here’s Why Nobody In Social Media Marketing Is Making Big Money — Yet.
Marin Software’s IPO was a huge success, raising $150 million.
But it may be time to ask how much more investment money ought to be pouring into social media marketing.Marin is the second company with a large social media marketing business to admit that, in fact, it doesn’t make any money.
Marin’s 2012 revenues were $60 million but it made a net loss of $26.5 million, after heavy expenses for sales and marketing, and interest payments.
Previously, Buddy Media’s owner, Salesforce.com, disclosed that Buddy saw a $29 million loss on revenues of $20 million in the period of August 2012 through January 2013; that followed a loss of $20.5 million on revenues of $18 million in the first half of 2012. (Salesforce paid $735.8 million for Buddy, of which $640 million was intangible “goodwill.”)
That’s a lot of investment money chasing a much smaller amount of revenues.
To give you an idea of how fierce the competition is in social media marketing, consider that there are more than 260 “Preferred Marketing Developers” who serve Facebook alone. That doesn’t include those who also serve clients on Twitter, Pinterest or in the blogosphere. (Sources have told us the total number of Facebook PMDs may actually exceed 300.)
Those PMD companies all do pretty much the same thing: create pages, serve ads, deliver analytics and create apps for advertisers who want to be on Facebook. There are so many PMDs that Facebook has created a senior layer of “Strategic PMDs,” companies who are a cut above the mass of PMDs.
In addition, Facebook tightened the rules recently on companies hoping to become PMDs: New candidates must demonstrate they are bringing ad dollars to the table before Facebook will let them sit down.
This, therefore, is a business that looks thoroughly commodified.
It begs the question: If two of the largest social media marketing companies can’t make money, why do all these other companies think they can?
In fact, many of the smaller companies are not capable of funding their operations through their own revenues. Companies that have taken investment funding recently include Spruce Media, Sprinklr, Fetch, PowerVoice, Bread Labs, and Tiger Pistol.
Investors in Buddy and Vitrue can shrug, of course. The Salesforce acquisition was the biggest buyout ever in the space. Vitrue was acquired by Oracle for $300 million after it had taken $33 million in funding. Those investors have won, handsomely.
But investors in these 300 other companies might now want to ask some serious questions about how many other $300 million-plus deals are out there.Just how many PMDs do there need to be?
The rush to scale.
Let’s be clear: that I’m not saying there is anything wrong with these companies: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff sang Buddy’s praises on his most recent conference call:
“[I]t doesn’t matter who that company is, whether it’s General Electric or whether it’s Philips or whether it’s Bank of America or whoever it is in our portfolio of customers, in each and every case they’re redefining, reconceptualizing, and re-energizing their own employees about how they connect their company with their customers, and that’s why we call it a customer company. And the CMO is a relatively new entry into the conversation. That’s why we spent $1 billion buying Radian6 and Buddy Media because we believe strongly in that. We need to buy more marketing companies.”
I’d add that Buddy probably also allows Salesforce to cross-sell Buddy’s clients on its more profitable enterprise products, so it doesn’t matter that much if Buddy is a loss-leader — it’s actually helpful to Salesforce.
It’s also the case that most of these companies are in their growth phase, in which they’re paying to get as big as possible, as quickly as possible, before cutting back on the expenses once they have solidified their market share. Launching a brand new type of marketing — social media marketing didn’t exist in any meaningful form five years ago — requires investment before it starts performing at scale.
So how might this shake out?
SocialBakers CEO Jan Rezab sat down with me recently to discuss this point. His company, which has 180 employees globally and has a revenue run-rate target of around $25 million, “would be profitable immediately if we were not investing in scale, growth and international,” he says. The company is growing its offices in New York and San Francisco (it’s based in Prague) and has taken $8 million in funding.
He also has 1,500 clients, including Nestle, Nissan, HP and eBay. So he’s not worried about surviving and prospering.
That gives you some idea of what “scale” actually entails: If 1,500 clients collectively spend about $25 million, then each individual client is spending only a very modest sum indeed, on average, through SocialBakers.And finally, Rezab also estimates “a majority of PMDs have under 100 clients.”
Whether he’s right or not, it’s safe to say that a large number of them have far fewer clients than the big players like Buddy, Marin and SocialBakers.And that, again, suggests that a shakeout in social media marketing may be on the way.
What BlackBerry needed from the Z10 smartphone was for it to be a showstopper, catching the eye of potential new buyers and reminding many why they couldn’t do without one not that long ago.
Unfortunately for BlackBerry, the Z10 is the party guest that shows up two hours late, copying fashion trends that were cool once but are now passé. The crowded and competitive smartphone market is just not forgiving enough for the Z10.
Considered in isolation, the BlackBerry Z10 is a nice phone. But nice just isn’t going to cut it for BlackBerry at this stage. Not if it wants to return to its former glory.
Once upon a time, Blackberry (then called RIM) was the darling of corporate mobile phone space. Users loved the platform’s security features and the signature hardware keyboard that allowed emails to be sent with expediency and ease. It’s a position that it held on to for quite a while, but the love affair has now well and truly faded.
Now, BlackBerry serves as a classic example of a company that just couldn’t resist the temptation of coasting during good times. Such complacency comes with a heavy price and it has been on a steep learning curve for the last year or so.
The BlackBerry Z10 is a tangible illustration of just how much the company has learned and just how far it has to go.
When it comes to looks, the Z10 strongly resembles a black iPhone 5 in shape, with the only difference that it doesn’t have any buttons. The BlackBerry 10 operating system works by swiping. Swiping down from the top of the screen displays settings, from the bottom of the screen minimises your current app and shows a grid of previously opened apps to switch to or close. Swiping up in a right turn curve opens the Blackberry Hub universal inbox for notifications, call log, messages etc.
The BlackBerry Z10’s bright, high-density 4.2 inch 768×1280 pixel screen makes text on screen appear crisp and easy to read. However it isn’t protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass so may be more susceptible to scratches or getting smashed if dropped. The back camera is 8 megapixels and provides middle of the road image quality.
Call quality using the Optus SIM supplied was alright most of the time but in noisy environments it wasn’t loud enough. The BlackBerry Z10 supports the Optus and Telstra 4G networks but this may be more of a curse than a blessing as using 4G data transfers depletes battery power swiftly and the 1800Mah (removable) battery capacity is woefully small.
The BlackBerry World app store is a real weakness with many popular apps we use all the time not available for the Blackberry 10 platform including Google Maps, Pandora, Tripview, Shazam, Youtube and Runkeeper.
Readers who rely on maps a lot should definitely avoid the Z10 because unfortunately BlackBerry Maps lacks Google Maps-like options for walking, cycling and integrated public transport information.
While this is the best touchscreen smartphone that Blackberry has made, none of the features stand out as world beaters and some are still sub-standard compared to iPhone and Android. At best BlackBerry can hope that the Z10 can retain fans that haven’t yet fled to the arms of Apple’s iPhone 5 or one of the flagship Android phones. The BlackBerry Z10 is available from Optus or Telstra, at time of writing it wasn’t listed as an option for Vodafone customers.
So, the BlackBerry Z10 isn’t a bad device by any means but it just doesn’t have the wow factor to convince consumers that have left the flock to return. The one positive for BlackBerry is that its security credentials ensure a place for the Z10 in some organisations especially government and defence.
However, that probably gives BlackBerry some breathing space, nothing more. While BlackBerry rested on its laurels its competitors built an army of products to lure away its seemingly rusted-on fans.
A new look BlackBerry needs to repay the favour and to do that it needs more than the Z10.
Rio’s Oyu Tolgoi hit with cost blowout.
The Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project in Mongolia — already beset by tensions between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government — was hit with a fresh setback this week when Rio announced a significant cost blowout that wipes $US1.5 billion ($A1.4 billion) of value, while forcing down forecast production and raising expected operating costs, according to The Australian.
Rio’s announcement, through its Turquoise Hill subsidiary building the mine, that increased capital costs had prompted it to cut the expected net present value of its base case Oyu Tolgoi development by $US1.5 billion to $US9.9 billion comes as the company is locked in negotiations with the Mongolian government.
Mongolian officials have proposed a 2013 government budget that threatens to break a 2010 investment agreement by imposing a progressive royalty scheme on the project.
Rio for the first time admitted the dispute could delay production at Oyu Tolgoi.
“Commencement of commercial production is expected by the end of June 2013, subject to the resolution of the issues being discussed with the Mongolian government,” Turquoise Hill, which is 51 per cent owned by Rio, said, according to The Australian.
Operating costs for the first 10 years of the project are estimated to be 37 per cent higher, at 89 US cents per pound of copper, because the project is no longer planning to build its own power station.
Earlier this year, Rio threatened to freeze work at its Simandou iron ore project in Guinea if it could not get an investment agreement signed as the miner takes a more aggressive stance with governments.
NEW YORK — A New York City police officer accused of plotting to kidnap and cannibalize women had been having dark fantasies since he was a teenager, but had no intention of ever turning those thoughts into reality, his attorney said at the start of his federal trial.
Attorney Julia Gatto also said Monday that Officer Gilberto Valle, who faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted, talked online about torturing his own wife and her female friends and colleagues.
What turns him on is “the idea of a woman — oiled, bound, laid out on a platter with an apple in her mouth, about to be cooked,” Gatto told jurors in opening arguments. “That’s his dirty little secret.”
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She argued that Valle was engaged in online sexual fantasy role play involving a little-known Internet subculture where people with unconventional desires gather to act them out in cyberspace but with no intention of ever carrying out criminal acts.
“There are literally thousands and thousands of people doing the same thing, online, every day,” she told jurors, saying that government investigators misunderstood what they found on his computer.
Federal prosecutors countered that Valle, who has pleaded not guilty, took the plot beyond fantasy and into real life when he “engaged in surveillance of some of the women he was targeting.”
Prosecutors say Valle, 28, improperly accessed a federal law enforcement database to get information about one woman, and met a second woman — a former classmate — for brunch.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson also said Valle searched online for homemade recipes for chloroform to subdue victims and recipes for cooking human flesh.
“Make no mistake,” Jackson told jurors. “Officer Valle was deadly serious.”
Valle’s estranged wife testified Monday that she placed web tracking software on the couple’s computer last fall after she said he began acting strange. When asked what she discovered, she burst into tears.
Kathleen Mangan-Valle, 27, said she found pictures of herself and her female friends and colleagues, attached to emails her husband sent discussing extreme brutality and murder.
“I was going to be hung up by my feet and my throat slit,” Mangan-Valle testified, choking back tears.
She said Valle also discussed kidnapping one of her friends and delivering her to a New Jersey mechanic for torture and murder. Another was to be “burned alive” and two more would be “raped in front of each other to heighten their terror,” she added.
Mangan-Valle continued to cry as she quoted emails she said she found in which her husband discussed “driving a spit through their wombs over and over again.”
“He kept saying the suffering was for his own enjoyment,” she said, sobbing.
More than a third of American women are now their family breadwinner. Women with college degrees far outnumber their male counterparts in the workforce. And surveys reveal that around 90 percent of women identify themselves as the primary bill-payer and budget-maker for their household. But despite all of this, women continue to lag behind in investing and long-term financial planning.
So what gives?
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, women may differ from men in how they relate to investing. “Investing is not a hobby or sport for women,” Karin A. Risi, principal at the Vanguard Group’s Asset Management & Advice Services division, told the Journal. “But because financial services have long been male dominated — and because men respond to it that way — much of our industry treats it that way.”
Risi also says that, rather than thinking of investment portfolios in terms of comparative performance, women relate more concretely to how their investments will help them achieve long-term financial goals, like saving for a college fund or preparing for retirement. And because women tend to be more goal-oriented in their financial strategy, Risi has found that “in general women, more than men, are disciplined thinkers, good long-term planners.”
And according to an index from the firm Rothstein Kass, female hedge fund managers produced a return of nearly 9 percent through the third quarter of 2012, while men topped off around 3 percent in the same time frame, according to the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index.
So, paradoxically, women are good investors who just don’t invest.
But it’s not a hardwired gap — many women are less confident building an investment portfolio because they were historically excluded from such decisions. “We’re fighting against centuries of societal norms in which women were excluded from discussions about finances,” Amanda Steinberg, the CEO and founder of a women’s personal-finance online community, told Time Magazine. “Many women think that since they don’t know the language, they can’t ask questions — or they worry that their questions sound dumb,” added Eileen O’Connor, the vice president of wealth management for McLean Asset Management Corporation.
But that’s changing as financial service groups — eager to make a buck off a growing number of female investors — are shifting strategies to accomodate what they see as women’s unique planning needs. “Companies which encourages clients to make investments based on social trends and themes, or Betterment, which keeps clients on track with meeting their goals, are reaching out to women by focusing on their personal interests and long-term goals,” according to the Journal.
The other tip for increasing women’s investment confidence? As they say: Knowledge is power. Even small steps like reviewing financial statements on a monthly basis and scanning investment websites can go a long way toward demystifying long-term financial planning and help you build your investment portfolio, experts say.
A California police department is doing some soul searching after arresting one of its own on allegations of sexually assaulting half a dozen women.
While in uniform, a West Sacramento police officer assaulted at least six women since October 2011, police said Monday. The officer was fired, arrested and investigators are looking for other potential victims.
“I am just appalled and sickened that someone that was put in the position of trust would violate that trust in such an egregious manner,” said Dan Drummond, chief of the West Sacramento Police Department. “The whole department is appalled.”
Former officer Sergio Alvarez faces sexual assault and kidnapping charges, police said.
Alvarez, 37, worked at the West Sacramento Police Department since 2007.
A woman complained about Alvarez in September of 2012 and he was put on administrative leave. An investigation found six alleged victims, women ranging in age from 20 to 47, according to Drummond.
He released little detail about the alleged incidents because investigators are searching for other victims
The incidents occurred while the officer was on patrol and after he had stopped women who were walking, Drummond said.
He said some of the alleged assaults occurred inside a patrol car.
The police department has begun reviewing its practices such as allowing officers to patrol by themselves late at night.
“We are looking at our procedures and the way we are accountable to each other,” Drummond said. “We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure this does not happen again.”
UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering.
Students who work together and interact online are more likely to be successful in their college classes, according to a study published Jan. 30 in the journal Nature Scientific Reports and co-authored by Manuel Cebrian, a computer scientist at the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego.
Cebrian and colleagues analyzed 80,000 interactions between 290 students in a collaborative learning environment for college courses. The major finding was that a higher number of online interactions was usually an indicator of a higher score in the class. High achievers also were more likely to form strong connections with other students and to exchange information in more complex ways. High achievers tended to form cliques, shutting out low-performing students from their interactions. Students who found themselves shut out were not only more likely to have lower grades; they were also more likely to drop out of the class entirely.
“Elite groups of highly connected individuals formed in the first days of the course,” said Cebrian, who also is a Senior Researcher at National ICT Australia Ltd, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence. “For the first time, we showed that there is a very strong correspondence between social interaction and exchange of information – a 72 percent correlation,” he said “but almost equally interesting is the fact that these high-performing students form ‘rich-clubs’, which shield themselves from low-performing students, despite the significant efforts by these lower-ranking students to join them. The weaker students try hard to engage with the elite group intensively, but can’t. This ends up having a marked correlation with their dropout rates.”
This study co-authored by Luis M. Vaquero, based at Hewlett-Packard UK Labs, shows a way that we might better identify patterns in the classroom that can trigger early dropout alarms, allowing more time for educators to help the student and, ideally, reduce those rates through appropriate social network interventions.
Cebrian’s work is part of UC San Diego’s wider research effort at the intersection of the computer and social sciences, led by Prof. James H. Fowler, to enhance our understanding of the ways in which people share information and how this impacts areas of national significance, such as the spread of health-related or political behavior.
The number of New York City residents who died as a result of prescription opioid overdose was seven times higher in 2006 than it was just 16 years earlier, according to a new Columbia University study.
As part of the study, which is detailed in the latest edition of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, lead author Dr. Magdalena Cerdá, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the university’s Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues reviewed records from New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner from 1990 through 2006.
“The researchers examined the factors associated with death from prescription opioids versus heroin, which historically has been the most common type of opioid fatality in urban areas,” Columbia officials explained Sunday in a statement.
“They found that the increase in the rate of drug overdose was driven entirely by analgesic overdoses, which were 2.7 per 100,000 persons in 2006 or seven times higher than in 1990,” they added. “Meanwhile, methadone overdoses remained stable, and heroin overdoses declined.”
White males were far more likely than Latinos or African-Americans to overdose on drugs like oxycodone and methadone, the researchers discovered.
By 2006, the fatality rate among Caucasian men was twice that of Hispanics and three-times that of blacks, they added, while most of the deaths took place in neighborhoods that had high-income inequality rates but below-average poverty rates.
“A possible reason for the concentration of fatalities among whites is that this group is more likely to have access to a doctor who can write prescriptions,” Cerdá said. “However, more often than not, those who get addicted have begun using the drug through illicit channels rather than through a prescription.”
Methadone overdose rates did not increase, but fatalities among whites jumped nearly nine-fold while decreasing by 2-percent among blacks, the researchers discovered. They believe that those figures could be the result of a shift away from methadone use as a treatment for heroin addiction and towards a medication used to treat chronic pain caused by non-cancer related ailments.
“The study suggests that the profile of a recreational prescription opioid user is very different from the heroin consumer, with less involvement in street-based forms of drug-trafficking and use of other drugs such as cocaine,” the statement said. “Because of the different demographics between heroin and prescription opioid users, a different public health approach is needed to target the latter group.”
“Over the last 20 years, prescription drug overdoses have risen dramatically in the U. S. By 2006, overdose fatalities exceeded the number of suicides, and by 2009, they exceeded the number of motor vehicle deaths,” it added. “Most studies on recreational opioid use have focused on rural areas, which have been hit the hardest by the epidemic, but this study suggests that urban areas are contending with a growing health burden from opioid use.”
“Measuring activity across the brain with FMRI can’t tell us what causal role different areas play in our perception. It is by disrupting brain function in specific areas that allows the causal role of that area to be assessed,” said Professor Tony Morland of York’s Department of Psychology, who co-designed the study along with Dr. Declan McKeefry of the University of Bradford. “Historically, neuropsychologists have found out a lot about the human brain by examining people who have had permanent disruption of certain parts of the brain because of injury to it.”
That proved difficult in this case, however, because brain damage tends not to occur at the spatial scale that allows scientists to study the functions of smaller, neighboring regions of the brain to be closely analyzed, Morland said.
For that reason, his team set out to briefly disrupt regular brain activity through the application of magnetic fields – which, when applied to one tiny region of the brain, allowed them to discover that some orientation tasks became harder, and when applied to an adjacent area, interfered with a person’s ability to perceive shape.
“The combination of modern brain scanning technology along with magnetic neuro-stimulation techniques provides us with a powerful means by which we can study the workings of the living human brain,” Dr. McKeefry said. “The results that we report in this paper provide new insights into how the human brain embarks upon the complex task of analyzing objects that we see in the world around us.”
“Our work demonstrates how processing of different aspects of visual objects, such as orientation and shape, occurs in different brain areas that lie side by side. The ultimate challenge will be to reveal how this information is combined across these and other brain areas and how it ultimately leads to object recognition,” he added.
Seventh grader Lauren Rojas of Antioch, California has already learned a very important life lesson: Any presentation is made exponentially cooler with a home-made video from outer space.
In fact, it’s safe to say Ms. Rojas has learned 2 very important life lessons, the second being: It never hurts to send a proxy to do the dangerous work for you.
The 13-year old California girl recently took on a class project to study the effects of altitude on air pressure and temperature, sending her Hello Kitty doll and a few GoPro Hero 2 cameras along for the ride. The result is a very cool video packed with plenty of clear shots of our world from thousands of feet above and one very cool and collected Hello Kitty enjoying the ride.
“I liked her ever since I was 6 years old,” said Ms. Rojas, speaking to NY Daily News. “My love for Hello Kitty has never gone away and I thought it would be really fun to add a toy inside the rocket.”
These days, it’s not difficult to find the materials one needs in order to go shooting things into the lowest reaches of outer space. Ms. Rojas found the weather balloon and other essentials used for this project at High Altitude Science, who have posted the video of Ms. Rojas’ project to their website.
GoPro’s cameras are also no stranger to outer space. Their rugged bodies and exceptional shooting quality make them a go-to device for not only high-altitude experiments, but also ground-level extreme sports. As for the Hello Kitty doll, Ms. Rojas told the New York Daily News that it was a gift all the way from Tokyo. More than just wanting to shoot Hello Kitty into space in her own silver rocket, Ms. Rojas wanted to observe the effects altitude has on air pressure and temperature. Along for the ride were the pertinent tools needed to record these measurements, such as an altimeter and thermometer. The Hello Kitty spacecraft was launched at an altitude of 623 feet at 43 degrees, but climbed as high as 93,625 feet and withstood temperatures as cold as -38 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the entire homemade space station reached its highest point, the reduced air pressure had expanded the balloon to more than 53 times its original size. At this point the balloon burst, sending the entire kit falling back safely to the ground thanks to some onboard parachutes. While hovering in space, the GoPro cameras capture some stunning footage of the skies and the world below. When it finally came back to land, Hello Kitty landed 50 feet high in a tree almost 50 miles away from where it originally began. All told, Ms. Rojas says it took her and her father 2 weeks to build a proper vehicle for Hello Kitty and assemble the High Altitude Science components, resulting in a life experience she won’t soon forget. High Altitude Science sells everything one needs to send their own favorite items into space, including the Eagle Flight Computer, complete with GPS tracking and all the tools to measure air speed, altitude, temperature and more.
World Jewry is There for Israel: JFNA Commits $5M.
Israelis in rocket-free zones open their doors for families seeking refuge from targeted areas.
As the security situation escalates in Israel, Jews abroad and within Israel have opened their hearts, homes and wallets to assist their beleaguered brothers and sisters.
Israelis in Judea and Samaria as well as Jerusalem, Modiin and other locations relatively far away from Gaza have begun taking in families from the rocket-plagued areas for the duration of the war.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) have announced a new Israel Terror Relief Fund, “to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel at this critical time.” JFNA’s Executive Board today voted for Jewish Federations to commit up to $5 million to the Israel Terror Relief Fund for the immediate needs of the people of Israel, especially in the South, through both existing reserve funds and new contributions from Federations.
This new Fund will help support the more than one million residents of Israel’s South and provide aid to the most vulnerable Israelis during this time of conflict. “One hundred percent of all donations will be used for aid,” JFNA said.
Jewish Federations are leading this Israel Terror Relief Fund to help their partners, The Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Israel Trauma Coalition and World ORT, deliver immediate services and assistance on the ground throughout the South. Such services include trauma counseling, financial assistance, portable bomb shelters, and potentially other initiatives including bringing children in the strike zones out of harm’s way.
The Israel Terror Relief Fund will support The Jewish Agency in providing a range of programs and services, including respite for the 23,500 grade-school students who live in affected areas, as well as psychological interventions for parents and children from Israel’s southern region. The Jewish Agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror will provide such necessities as medical equipment, treatment and other help that is not provided by the state; emergency cash grants; basic furnishings, repair and home equipment; and other services to help restore and rebuild lives.
The Israel Terror Relief Fund will enable JDC to distribute food and emergency kits to the elderly and disabled, implement emergency caseworkers to provide emotional and physical support and provide immediate and special care to the most severely disabled or frail elderly in their homes. JDC will also offer children post-trauma interventions and volunteer-led activities in shelters.
A group of Federation lay leaders and executives will travel to Israel in the coming days to assess the needs on the ground and see firsthand the work of JFNA’s partner agencies. The mission will tour Israel’s southern region, and include meetings with Israeli leadership and visits to those affected by the recent rocket attacks.
Jewish Federations are working in close coordination with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) to help those in need through the Israel Terror Relief Fund. The URJ includes approximately 900 congregations in the U.S., Canada, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is the largest Jewish movement in North America and represents an estimated 1.5 million Jews.
Jewish Federations are also working in close coordination with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) on the Israel Terror Relief Fund. The USCJ is a community of nearly 630 North American kehillot – sacred communities – serving over 200,000 households in North America, and representing more than one million people
World Football – Beckham at odds with Aussies over A-League move.
Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham has insisted he is not interested in a move to Australia despite claims to the contrary from A-League chiefs.
Football Federation Australia claimed on Friday that Beckham’s management approached them about possibly playing in Australia during the Major League Soccer off-season. However, a spokesperson for the former England captain denied those reports, and Beckham revealed on Saturday he had no knowledge of the talks.
“No. Definitely not true,” he told reporters at the Home Depot Center. “Bruce (Galaxy coach Bruce Arena) told me that this morning – the first I’d heard about it. Like I said that’s the first I’d heard of that, this morning.”
Arena, who was present at the press conference, jokingly added: “We’ve booked his tickets already.”LA Galaxy play the Seattle Sounders in the second leg of the Western Conference final on Sunday. The Galaxy lead 3-0 from the opening leg.
Earlier, Australia football chief David Gallop said he was not surprised Beckham’s management denied the link and said that did not mean there was no possibility of it happening.
Gallop, who only recently took over as FFA chief executive, said such counter-statements were common when it came to negotiations concerning big players, as Sydney FC had discovered during their wooing of Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero.
“A similar thing happened with Del Piero in terms of the contact and, as we all know, that came to be. So let’s just see how this one plays out. It’s certainly an exciting proposition – no one would deny that,” he told local radio.
“We’re not counting our chickens in relation to this … but obviously people would prefer negotiations to happen behind closed doors.”At the mere mention of Beckham’s name, it did leak out and there’s been a mushroom of interest.
“There would have to be a fair few hoops that would have to be jumped through and getting a deal with one of the clubs is the first step.”There’s definitely been some contact made and let’s just see where it gets to.”
According to FFA officials, the approach was made in relation to Beckham playing in the A-League during the current 2012-13 season.
Beckham could fulfil his obligations with the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer in the United States and then play 10 games as a guest player in Australia.
Melbourne Victory have said they are not interested in the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder, leaving the Melbourne Heart and league-owned Western Sydney Wanderers as the most likely bidders for his services.
“I think the connection points now are going to be between the A-League clubs that are interested and Beckham’s management, so we’ll just have to let that dialogue happen,” Gallop added.”But the timing is pretty good in terms of him being able to come in on a guest stint from the middle of January for 10 games.”I think it’s a bit of a wait-and-see situation. Of course, it would be fantastic but let’s not get ahead of ourselves at this point.”
World comes knocking for sacked newsreader.
One of 100 fired by Ten, Helen Kapalos’ star is already on the rise.
SACKED television newsreader Helen Kapalos is being courted by networks around the world, sources close to the former Channel Ten presenter say.
Fairfax Media understands Kapalos will meet CBS news executive Bill Mondora in New York this week. She is also speaking with al-Jazeera and at least two Australian networks.
The headhunting was spurred by Kapalos’ dismissal from ailing Network Ten on the Friday before last.
Minutes after she finished on air, her bosses sacked her, allegedly saying they were ”doing her a favour” because they had planned to fire her while she was on holiday. The network denies this.
Last week, Ten axed its Breakfast and Morning News programs and retrenched 100 staff to cut costs.
Kapalos is one of 20 news presenters across Australia who lost jobs. In its initial statement, the network failed to thank her or wish her well. She was not allowed to farewell viewers and it was reported her email account and security pass were immediately deactivated. Her co-host, Mal Walden – himself sacked by Channel Seven in the 1980s – is believed to have called to offer his support. He will now host the 5pm news bulletin solo.
Ten has attracted criticism for its handling of the sackings, described as ”hardline” by TV Tonight editor David Knox. Social commentator and public relations expert Jane Caro, a panellist on ABC1′s The Gruen Transfer, said she was not surprised by Ten’s actions.
”We almost expect [retrenchments] to be done brutally and nastily now,” Caro said. ”The new norm is for people to behave like arseholes and you expect to be marched out of the building even though you’ve been nothing but loyal. The tragedy is that when corporations behave well, it’s so surprising that they get enormous credit for it.”
Caro said Ten’s desire to trim expenses was understandable but the sackings ”just increase the impression of a network in free-fall – and people don’t like associating with losers. Viewers aren’t stupid; they think to themselves, ‘They’ve cut costs so they won’t be giving me the kind of service and choice they once did’.”
The network’s woes were compounded when funds manager Laurence Freedman, who relaunched Ten as the most profitable channel in the 1990s, tweeted that it had ”lost the plot”. He also questioned whether Australia could still sustain three commercial networks. Caro added, ”You have to feel sorry for poor old Ten. They did a very good job of appealing to young people and then that audience moved away from TV.”Next year, fellow Gruen panellist Russel Howcroft will start as Ten’s executive general manager. Caro said: ”I actually think it’s better to take over a company that’s having a hard time because at least the only way is up.”In a statement, Ten defended its management of the redundancies.
”It is easy for our critics to make sweeping statements and accusations … which have no substance,” a spokeswoman said. ”We have, of course, thanked Helen for the significant contribution she made [and] she departs with our best wishes.”
Kapalos declined to comment. A Nine spokeswoman said: ”There isn’t a role for her now [but] she has been part of the network in the past, so you can’t say never.” A Seven spokeswoman expressed her admiration for Kapalos and said it was ”too early to speculate” about her joining the network. ABC and SBS did not comment.
Ten had denied it would adopt a single-presenter format – before confirming this week that it would. On Saturday last week, Ten asked Fairfax to retract a report that Sydney newsreader Bill Woods had been sacked. Woods then said he was looking forward to returning to work on Monday – only to be sacked that afternoon.
Ten’s spokeswoman said, ”That decision had not already been made. It was incorrect to report on Saturday that Bill Woods had been made redundant on Friday night.”
Arab world criticizes Operation Pillar of Defense.
Liberman accuses PA president of “diplomatic terrorism”; Abbas calls on Arab League chief to visit Gaza after Egyptian PM.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday denounced Israel’s military operations in Gaza and asked Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby to visit the Strip in the coming days, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported.
Abbas asked Elaraby to visit Gaza as head of a delegation comprising Arab foreign ministers, MENA said.
Abbas’ call followed Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil’s visit to Gaza on Friday, where he denounced Israel’s attacks on the Strip as aggression and called on the international community to stop the operation.
In his comments, the PA president also accused Israel of launching the Gaza operation in order to sabotage his planned bid to upgrade the Palestinians’ statehood status in the United Nations.
Abbas concluded by calling for unity with rival Hamas, which controls the Strip. “Undoubtedly we consider that this aggression is against us, the Palestinian people,” he said.
In response, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed Abbas, accusing the Palestinian president of engaging in “diplomatic terrorism.” During his interview with Channel 2, Liberman also accused Arab League states of blaming Israel in order to divert attention from their failings in the Arab Spring.
The calls for an end to the violence were not limited to the Arab world, however. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on both Israel and Hamas to “end this dangerous escalation.”
“The Secretary-General is extremely concerned about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel, and deeply worried by the rising cost in terms of civilian lives,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said. “Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once. Israel must exercise maximum restraint.”
Nesirky added that Ban “plans to visit the region shortly.” UN diplomats have said that Ban will visit Israel and Egypt next week.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also came out against Israel on Friday, decrying its air strikes on Gaza as a pre-election stunt and said he would discuss the crisis with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo this weekend.
Erdogan said he would speak by phone with US President Barack Obama later on Friday and that Ankara was also seeking talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the prospect of a full Israeli ground invasion.
The United States says it has asked Turkey and Egypt to encourage the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza to cease rocket fire into Israel, but Erdogan laid the blame for the deepening crisis firmly on the Jewish state.
China can’t evade world’s democratic trend: Dalai Lama.
Tibetan spiritual head Dalia Lama on Saturday said the world is marching towards openness and democracy and China cannot escape the trend.
Addressing participants at special three-day International Tibet Support Group meeting, the Dalai Lama hoped that the new leadership in China will realise that “the world’s trend is towards openness and democracy, more freedom and rule of law”.
“No matter how powerful the Chinese government might be, they cannot escape the world trend and they have to follow that trend,” he said.
“As Deng Xiaoping had said, ‘seeking truth from facts’, so the fact is like that. They have to adopt a policy based on reality. Unrealistic policy will not solve the problems,” said the Nobel Peace laureate.
Stating that the situation is quite serious in Tibet, he said, “I am retired and whatever the elected Tibetan leadership says about Tibet is absolutely correct. Things are quite serious in Tibet. There is a problem and the problem is neither good for the Tibetans nor the Chinese. Use of force will never bring a satisfactory solution to the problem.”
Expressing concern over deteriorating ecology in Tibet, the spiritual leader said a lot of damage has been done to Tibet’s environment through deforestation, exploitation of natural resources. “One of my Indian friends said, due to Tibet’s high altitude and dry climate, if Tibet’s ecology is damaged, it will take much longer to recover,” he said.
Muslim world must retaliate against Israel for Gaza: Iran.
Islamic countries must close ranks and respond to Israel’s deadly attacks on the Gaza Strip, Iran’s Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday.
“Putting an end to the Zionist (Israeli) regime’s crimes is only possible through a united, revolutionary retaliation by the Muslim world,” Vahidi said in remarks carried by the official IRNA news agency.
Israel is “massacring the oppressed Palestinian people, including women and children” and its strikes amount to a “clear example of war crimes,” the defense minister charged.
The Jewish state launched a major air offensive on Gaza on Wednesday with a strike that killed the top military commander of the Islamist movement Hamas which rules the territory.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, whose country is a key backer of Hamas, on Thursday urged the United Nations and European Union to pressure Israel to halt its offensive, saying the security of the Middle East was at stake.
Salehi has also announced his readiness to visit Gaza.
And speaking to exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on the telephone, Salehi said Iran was ready to send “medical and medicinal aids” to Gaza, the official IRNA news agency reported.
On Saturday, media reports said Iran was preparing to dispatch a parliamentary delegation to the Palestinian territory.
The foreign ministry is “talking with Egyptian officials to facilitate the visit through Rafah,” a terminal at Gaza’s southwestern border with Egypt, according to MP Mansour Haqiqatpour.
Previous attempts by Iran’s hardline parliament to dispatch a team into Gaza failed during the rule of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Palestinian medics said on Saturday that 38 Gazans have been killed since Israel launched the aerial campaign, while Israel’s army says Palestinian militants have fired more than 580 rockets over the border.
Three Israelis have been killed and 13 injured by the rocket fire.
World Football – Captain Cisse considering Senegal future.
Papiss Cisse is considering his position as Senegal captain after being prevented from playing in Newcastle’s clash with Swansea on Saturday afternoon.
The 27-year-old was unavailable to manager Alan Pardew after the Senegal Football Federation, with the support of FIFA, invoked the governing body’s five-day rule following his failure to report for international duty in midweek because of a back injury.
Cisse said: “I love playing for my country and would only withdraw from a squad – for either a friendly or competitive game – for a genuine reason. I am fully supportive of the position my club has adopted in this matter and am sorry that the Federation seem to doubt my honesty and integrity. I will now consider if I wish to continue to captain my country.”
Newcastle released a statement which said they were “dismayed and angry” at the situation and voiced the opinion that they may be being punished for refusing to allow Cisse to represent his country at the Olympic Games earlier this year.
Cisse was withdrawn from the Senegal squad for their friendly against Niger after limping out of last Sunday’s 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat by West ham with a back problem.
A Newcastle United statement said: “It is the opinion of the club that it is wrong and wholly unjust for a national association to behave in this manner and for FIFA to endorse their stance and automatically apply the sanction without taking into account the specific facts of the case.
“The club is disappointed, although not in any way surprised, that FIFA has disregarded its submissions and valid points in relation to this matter and instead have supported a national association which ignored repeated attempts by the club to engage with them and, furthermore, insisted on a course of action which would have had a detrimental impact on the player’s physical condition.
“The club understands that in addition to Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba, a number of other players were withdrawn from the Senegal squad. To the best of our knowledge, Papiss Cisse and Newcastle United are the only parties that the national association has sought sanctions against.
“It is the club’s genuinely-held view that the Senegalese Federation have an agenda against Papiss and/or Newcastle United, possibly as a reaction to the club’s decision earlier this year not to allow Papiss to participate in the London Olympics 2012.
“The club intends to take this matter up with the Football Association and any other relevant body within the game to try to stop national associations/federations and FIFA from preventing an employee (a player) from fulfilling their contractual obligations to their employer (a club).”
World Prematurity Day: Let’s Change the Face of Preterm Birth.
During my years as a practicing midwife I witnessed many babies enter the world before they were ready. The most vulnerable time for a child is during birth or within 28 days of birth. And for babies born before 37 weeks, the risks are further heightened by health complications due to underdevelopment of organs, muscles and immune systems.
Prematurity is the biggest killer of children under five, after pneumonia, claiming the lives of more than one million newborns every year.
It’s never easy to watch what should be a joyous moment for mothers and their families become a time of fear and sadness. But unfortunately, premature birth is all too common: more than 1 in 10 babies are born too soon, amounting to 15 million preterm births per year. It’s a truly global problem. While more than 60 percent of these births occur in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the United States and Brazil also appear among the world’s top 10 countries with the highest numbers of premature deliveries.
This is an issue the global community must take seriously in our push towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce child deaths by two thirds. Evidence now shows that fewer children are dying from two major childhood killers, diarrhea and malaria. Yet, there has been very little progress on neonatal causes of under-five mortality. If countries continue to make progress at their current rates, it will take the world much too long to reach MDG 4: the Americas would achieve their target in 2040, Southeast Asia not until 2085 and Africa not until 2165.
Joining governments, NGOs, health professionals, multilateral agencies, donors, private sector organizations and others working towards meaningful change for newborns, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) is proud to mark November 17 as the second annual World Prematurity Day. This global day of action shows when we all work together, we can become much bigger than the sum of our parts.
The May 2012 launch of Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth was a game-changer. The report presented first-ever country-by-country statistics for both absolute numbers and rates of preterm birth, documenting the extent and severity of the problem.
Nearly 50 international, regional and national organizations worked on this report, led by the March of Dimes, PMNCH, Save the Children and the World Health Organization. This collaboration set in motion a global movement to promote progress on preterm birth in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort, led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. At the time of the report’s launch, 30 new and expanded commitments specific to prevention and care of preterm birth were announced — commitments that will be tracked every year though 2015 as part of the public accountability framework associated with Every Woman Every Child.
The goals of Every Woman Every Child were reinforced this past June when the governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States convened more than 700 representatives from government, civil society, faith based groups and the private sector to launch a Child Survival Call to Action in Washington, D.C. Signing A Promise Renewed, they reaffirmed concerted action towards ending preventable child mortality, including deaths from preterm-related complications.
Building a coalition of the willing for a neglected yet essential issue like preterm birth is half the battle. If we can remain united in our efforts, and maintain global attention on the need to prioritize preterm prevention and care, we can put what we already know into action to dramatically change the nature of the problem.
Preterm babies face drastically different odds depending on where they are born: 90 percent of preterm babies in low-income countries die, while 90 percent of preterm babies in high-income countries survive. This is a completely unnecessary injustice. More than 75 percent of deaths due to preterm complications could be averted without intensive care.
A common myth about premature birth is that expensive technology is needed to care for high-risk mothers and premature newborns. But the reality is that very basic, low-cost care can prevent tragedy in most cases — things like keeping babies warm and clean, providing breastfeeding support, while ensuring that babies who have difficulty breathing get immediate attention and resuscitation, if needed. Rapid recognition and treatment of infections with antibiotics is also critical.
Using an essential package of pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care that includes these interventions, most infants born prematurely can escape death and lifelong disabilities.
Prevention is the next frontier. A key way to reduce the burden of preterm birth is to find ways to help pregnancies go to full term. A number of risk factors for mothers to deliver prematurely have been identified – for instance, poor health or nutrition for women before and during pregnancy, spacing births too close together or too far apart — but we have much more to learn.
Let’s change the face of preterm birth. Help us shine light on this long neglected issue and demand immediate action for communities suffering an unacceptable burden. Every mother who brings a little one into the world prematurely deserves a day to cherish, not mourn. Place of birth should never determine a child’s right to life.
Asia trip gives Obama opportunity to build legacy.
For President Barack Obama, expanding U.S. influence in Asia is more than just countering China or opening up new markets to American businesses. It’s also about building his legacy.
Fresh off re-election, Obama will make a significant investment in that effort during a quick run through Southeast Asia that begins Sunday. In addition to stops in Thailand and Cambodia, the president will make an historic visit to Myanmar, where his administration has led efforts to ease the once pariah nation out of international isolation.
The trip marks Obama’s fourth visit to Asia in as many years. With a second term now guaranteed, aides say Obama, who kicks off his schedule in Bangkok, will be a regular visitor to the region over the next four years as well.
“Continuing to fill in our pivot to Asia will be a critical part of the president’s second term and ultimately his foreign policy legacy,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.
The president’s motivations in Asia are both personal and strategic.
Obama, who was born in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia as a child, has called himself America’s first “Pacific president.” The region gives him an opportunity to open up new markets for U.S. companies, promote democracy and ease fears of China’s rise by boosting U.S. military presence in Asia.
The president, like many of his predecessors, had hoped to cement his foreign policy legacy in the Middle East. He visited two major allies in the region, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, on one of his first overseas trip as president and attempted to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
But those talks stalled, and fresh outbursts of violence between Israel and the Palestinians make the prospects of a peace accord appear increasingly slim. The Obama-backed Arab Spring democracy push has had mixed results so far, with Islamists taking power in Egypt and progress in Libya tainted by the deadly attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Obama hasn’t been back to the region since 2009.
In Asia, however, Obama will be viewed as something of an elder statesman when he returns less than two weeks after winning re-election. The region is undergoing significant leadership changes, most notably in China, where the Communist Party tapped new leaders last week. Japan’s prime minister and South Korea’s president are also stepping down soon.
“Most of the leaders he’ll meet with will not have a tenure as long as he will as president,” said Michael Green, an Asia scholar at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. “So he’ll go into this in a very strong position.”
The centerpiece of Obama’s whirlwind Asia tour is his visit to Myanmar. It will be the first time a U.S. president has visited the former pariah state.
Myanmar has become something of a pet project for Obama and his national security aides, who have cheered the country’s significant strides toward democracy. Obama lifted some U.S. penalties on Myanmar, appointed a permanent U.S. ambassador and hosted democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House this year.
Many of the same strategic motivations behind Obama’s larger focus on Asia are at play in Myanmar.
The country long has oriented itself toward China, but the easing of sanctions gives American businesses a chance to gain a foothold there. It’s also an opportunity for the Obama administration to show other nations in the region, and elsewhere in the world, that there are benefits to aligning with the U.S.
Still, there’s little denying that history has been a draw for Obama’s team when it comes to its dealings with Myanmar. That’s led to criticism from some human rights groups that say Obama’s visit is premature given that the country continues to hold political prisoners and has been unable to stem some ethnic violence.
“This trip risks being an ill-timed presidential pat on the back for a regime that has looked the other way as violence rages, destroying villages and communities just in the last few weeks,” said Suzanne Nossel, the U.S.-based director of Amnesty International.Obama’s other stops in the region also underscore the potential pitfalls of going all-in in Asia.
Thailand’s 2006 coup, which led to the ouster of the prime minister, strained relations with the U.S. and raised questions in Washington about the stability of its longtime regional ally. Cambodia, where Obama’s visit also marks the first by a U.S. president, has a dismal human rights record.
White House officials have emphasized that Obama is only visiting Cambodia because it is hosting the East Asia Summit, an annual meeting the U.S. attends. Aides say the president will voice his human rights concerns during his meeting with Hun Sen, Cambodia’s long-serving prime minister.
Still, human rights groups fear Obama’s visit will be seen within Cambodia as an affirmation of the prime minister and a sign to opposition groups that the U.S. stands with the oppressive government, not with them.
World remembers traffic victims.
The death of a loved one on the road could alter and overturn your life overnight. And forever.
This was what happened on that evening of May 13, 2011 when two buses racing with each other to get passengers on Commonwealth Avenue toward Philcoa caused the death of my wife Chit, with one bus crushing the entire rear passenger seat of a Toyota Vios taxi like an accordion. I therefore speak not just as an ordinary citizen more than a year after, but as one who has lost a loved one overnight.
Chit was a very active road user all her life—as a student, as a beat reporter, as an editor of three national dailies and as a beloved professor of the University of the Philippines.
The world now commemorates Nov. 18, or the third Sunday of November, every year as the “World Day of Remembrance for World Traffic Victims.” The United Nations General Assembly, noting that road crashes are now one of the top causes of deaths in the world, has launched this date as part of a worldwide campaign to reduce road casualties.
This day is dedicated to the victims of road crashes (deaths and injuries). It is a day to educate road users toward curtailing the number of deaths and injuries on the road.
No less than the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that road crashes are now one of the top causes of deaths and injuries. The WHO described road deaths and injuries as “a major public health problem with a broad range of social and economic consequences which, if unaddressed, may affect the sustainable development of countries and hinder progress toward the Millennium Development Goals.”
On the other hand, the World Bank, in a study, alarmingly indicates that “currently, 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads each year and these deaths and injuries incur an economic cost of $100 billion annually.”
The Philippines is ranked as among the top five countries in terms of road deaths and injuries with an average of 34 fatal road crashes daily. The highest concentration of road crashes in the Philippines is in Quezon City, according to official statistics of the Philippine National Police and the Metro Manila Development Authority.
I am happy that the Quezon City government has decided to put up a marker for road safety consciousness in memory of Chit and other victims near the site of the fatal road crash near the entrance of the UP-Ayala Techno Hub on Commonwealth Avenue.
Ironically, two days before Chit’s death on the road, the United Nations declared the Decade for Road Safety every May 11 of every year for the next 10 years, with the target of reducing casualties on the road by half.
As I stated during my address before the National Summit on Road Safety last Feb. 22 attended by more than 400 participants from government agencies, motorcycle and bicycle clubs, runners organizations and road stakeholders, we are all road users—motorists, commuters and pedestrians—so this should be a concern for everyone.
On March 15, at a meeting at the conference room of the Safety Organization of the Philippines, we organized Families of Road Victims and Survivors (FRVS). Our aim is to make road safety a right. FRVS seeks to represent the interests of the bereaved and injured road crash victims, advocate for their rights and for a more fitting and serious response by the government and the general public to road death and injury.
We need an improved attitude and awareness for road safety. We need improved enforcement of traffic rules and influence institutions and authorities to implement and enforce road safety measures more effectively. FRVS does not believe that we really need more traffic rules to add to the multitude of road regulations that already exist on paper. What we need is a very effective and no-nonsense implementation of these.
Implementing road rules.
I do not believe that Filipinos do not know how to follow traffic rules and regulations. I have observed Filipinos living or working in other countries who have inculcated the culture of safety there.
There, public officials, lawmakers and law enforcers lead by example and show ordinary citizens that they know how to respect traffic laws. Law enforcers there implement road rules in a no-nonsense manner, without fear or favor and do not exempt VIPs including politicians or wealthy citizens from being ticketed or even arrested if they violate traffic rules.
You may have noticed that I never used the word “road accident.” There is no such thing as a road accident, because these could have been avoided if we followed the speed limits, if we had checked our brakes before driving, if we did not drink a lot of alcohol before driving, etc.
If there is a cause that could have prevented death or injury, then it is never an accident. An ounce of prevention, they say, is worth a pound of cure.
For those of us who have lost a loved one on the road, this national campaign is to ensure that not a single life is lost on the road in vain. This advocacy should serve as a deterrent and contribute to the reduction of deaths and injuries in road crashes.
The memory of our loved ones will be perpetuated if one will have reaped and learned its lessons from our road tragedies. Road safety awareness can save lives on our roads.
This could save the life of your loved ones, or of your friends. Or who knows, the life you save could be your own.
The author, a UP professor, is founder and lead convenor of Families of Road Victims and Survivors (FRVS), which is both a support group and advocacy group for road safety. FRVS can be contacted through Facebook.
World leaders congratulate Xi on election as CPC chief.
Leaders of foreign countries and political parties have sent messages to congratulate Xi Jinping on his election as general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
Ilham Aliyev, leader of the New Azerbaijan Party and Azerbaijani president, said that under the leadership of Xi, the CPC would make new contributions to China’s development, the improvement of people’s livelihoods and the enhancement of world peace and security.
The CPC, led by Xi, would carry out closer cooperation with foreign parties, including those of Azerbaijan, Aliyev said, adding he believed the mutual trust between his party and the CPC would boost communication between the two countries in economic, political and social fields.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov sent heartfelt congratulations to Xi and recalled meeting Xi during his recent visit to China, which he said bore significance to developing effective cooperation between Uzbekistan and China.
The president believed that with the consistent support of Xi, Uzbekistan and China would coordinate efforts in implementing their joint declaration on the establishment of a strategic partnership, benefiting the two peoples.
Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev, in a message, conveyed sincere congratulations to Xi on his election as CPC chief and said that under the leadership of CPC, China had scored eye-catching achievements in opening up and pushing forward social and economic reforms.
The president said the strategic decisions made at the 18th CPC National Congress would further enhance the neighborly friendship and mutual-benefit cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and China.
Goodluck Jonathan, president of the People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria and Nigerian president, said Xi’s election expressed his huge contribution to China’s fast development, and showed the people were convinced that under Xi’s leadership, China would score greater achiements and make contributions to world peace.
Nigeria was willing to work with China in the world arena to cope with challenges from various fields, he said.
Dioncounda Traore, president of the Alliance for Democracy in Mali-Pan-African Party for Liberty, Solidarity and Justice, and interim president of Mali, said Xi’s election was recognition of his ruling ability by the Chinese people.
Mali iterated its willingness to further develop the friendly and cooperative ties with China, he said.
Guinea’s President Alpha Conde said China would make new achievements in economic, social and cultural development under Xi’s able leadership.Xi would be committed to promoting the friendly and cooperative relations between Africa and China, he said.
Isaias Afewerki, chairman of Eritrea’s People’s Front for Democracy and Justice and also the country’s president, said “we are very much inspired by the proceedings of the 18th Congress of the CPC this week, which undertook, among other things, a sober appraisal of the changing global realities to affirm adherence to key principles of international law and the commonality of our collective interests to ensure global peace and sustainable economic growth.”
“I am sure and confident that these multifaceted ties will grow further between our respective governments and political parties in the period ahead under your stewardship of the CPC,” he said.
Liberian Unity Party leader and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the her government would firmly adhere to the one-China policy and make joint efforts with China to promote mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity between the two countries and peoples, as well as the peace and harmony in the world.
President of Comoros Ikililou Dhoinine Madi said China would make greater progress on economic growth and the prosperity of the country under Xi’s leadership.
Ikililou said Comoros would continue to firmly adhere to the one-China policy and support China in international affairs.
Leader of the Labor Party and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said, “I am convinced that your election will greatly benefit China and the Chinese people.”
“My country was among the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China, and has a long-standing ambition to be a friend of China,” Stoltenberg said, “I hope that your election will also further the strengthening of friendship between China and Norway.”
Rui Duarte Barros, prime minister of Guinea Bissau, wished Xi greater success in the noble post as the general secretary of the CPC. He said his government already regarded China as one of the main cooperative partners on its road of development.
Sheikh Hasina, president of the Bangladesh Awami League and Prime Minister of Bangladesh, congratulated the CPC for successfully implementing the policy of reform and opening-up, maintaining the stability of China’s economic development, and enhancing the country’s international influence. She said she firmly believed the friendship between the two countries would continue to promote all-round development of bilateral relations.
Baldwin Spencer, leader of the United Progressive Party of Antigua and Barbuda and the country’s prime minister, commended the CPC for the remarkable achievements the Chinese people had made under its leadership. He looked forward to continued cooperation based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit which he believed would take the cooperative relationship between the two countries to a new level.
Lord Fakafanua, speaker of the Tongan Legislative Assembly, extended to Xi his warmest congratulations and best wishes. He said China’s assistance helped facilitate and contribute to the further development of friendly relations and economic cooperation between the two countries.
Khaleda Zia, chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, said Xi’s election showed the Chinese people’s trust and confidence in him to lead them at this challenging time. She believed that under Xi’s leadership, ties between the two countries would grow in strength.
Sergei Stanishev, president of the Party of European Socialists, said in his message, “I would like to congratulate you on your appointment as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China at the 18th National Party Congress.”
“I believe that our close cooperation can advance the process of political, social and economic reform, both in China and Europe,” he said.
“We have succeeded in establishing a framework which ensures an effective bilateral political interaction, including regular strategic exchanges and substantial cooperation in a number of areas,” he said, adding that “in the next five years, I am confident we can take our common agenda even-further.”
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, said: “Please accept my warm congratulations on your election and my best wishes for your success as you prepare to take up the responsibilities and challenges of your high office as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party …”
“I am convinced that under your leadership, the CPC will accomplish new achievements on the path to building a prosperous and modern country and increase China’s standing in the international arena,” he said.
“I am fully convinced the decisions taken in this framework will lead to the deepening of the relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the European Union, to a strengthening of friendship and of good relations between us,” he said.
Acting leader of the Party for Democracy and Socialism and Niger Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum said in a message that he wished Xi and other CPC leaders success in implementing the resolutions and policies of the 18th National Congress of the CPC.
“I am convinced under your brilliant leadership, China will continue to have success in promoting social development and the people’s well-being, and protect international peace and development as in the past,” he said.
The leader of the Czech Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, Vojtech Filip, said in a congratulatory message that Xi’s new role was of great importance to the prosperity of China’s society and its hardworking people.
“We are convinced that, under your leadership, the CPC will be sure to play an important role in international affairs,” he said.
President of the Social Democratic Party of Moldova Victor Selin said: “The XVIII Congress of the party demonstrates for the whole world the Communist Party of China is a power not only for Chinese people, but also for all the international society, which followed these days the work of the congress and awaited your appointment as General Secretary.”
“At the same time, we would like to stress that the role and significance of your country in promoting a safe, stable and prosperous China places enormous responsibility on your shoulders,” Selin said.
Secretary General of Botswana Democratic Party Mpho Balopi said: “We in the BDP recognize the CPC National Congress has always provided guidelines and formulated programmes that have seen China become a prosperous economy for the People’s Republic of China and a crucial partner in directing and contributing to futuristic international development.”
“We cherish the relationships between our parties and countries, our historical ties and our common cause to better the lives of our people,” Balopi said.
Ponty Chadha : A controversial figure in business world.
Ponty Chadha, who was killed along with his brother after both sides fired at each other today, was a controversial figure in the business world and had interests in fields ranging from liquor to real estate to films with industry pundits pegging his group’s worth at Rs 6,000 crore.
After the death of their father Kulwant Singh Chadha, Ponty and his brothers Hardeep, who was also killed, and Rajinder were jointly managing Wave Inc, formerly known as Chadha Group.
Ponty, whose real name is Gurdeep Chadha, had hit the headlines earlier this year when the I-T department conducted searches at his premises covering 13 locations in Delhi, including the posh Sainik Farms, Lajpat Nagar, New Friends Colony, and in six locations in Noida, Moradabad and Lucknow.
He was apparently close to Samajwadi Party but switched to BSP when Mayawati had assumed power and became the sole distributor of liquor in Uttar Pradesh.
The senior Chadha started his business with a small jaggery mill and in 1968 started his group, which later got actively involved in food processing, paper manufacturing, sugar, distilleries, power manufacturing, bottling plants, real estate as well as film distribution.
The Twinkie Changed For Good Thanks To World War II.
Hostess Brands announced yesterday it was shutting down operations after failing to reach an agreement with thousands of striking bakery workers.
The 82-year-old company manufactured all kinds of confectionery goodies, including Ding Dongs, Sno Balls, and Ho Hos, but is perhaps best known for the iconic vanilla creme-filled Twinkie.
The golden sponge cake Americans have come to love, however, is slightly different than gooey snack that was first introduced by James Alexander Dewar in 1930. That’s because the original Twinkie was made with banana filling. Then World War II came along and bananas were rationed. Hostess was forced to come up with a different creme flavor. They settled on vanilla. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The vanilla flavor was an instant hit, once helping to secure Hostess’ spot as the largest wholesale baker in the country.
That era has now come to an abrupt end. The company plans to sell its snack cakes and other products until supplies run out, sparking Twinkie runs from coast to coast. Let the hoarding begin!