Monthly Archives: October 2013

Putin tops Forbes’ most powerful people list

Vaniceseasonal's Blog

ThaNkS;© AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin topped Forbes’ 2013 ranking of the world’s most powerful people on Wednesday, pushing US President Barack Obama into second position for the first time in three years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin climbed to the top of Forbes’ ranking of the world’s most powerful people on Wednesday, stripping US President Barack Obama of the title.

It is the first time in three years that the US president has dropped to second place on the magazine’s list, and comes as US-Russia relations hit a new low.

Putin, who has enjoyed 13 years of dominant rule over Russia, was again elected president in March 2012.

Obama, on the other hand, has just emerged scathed from an embarrassing 16-day US government shutdown caused by a budget and debt crisis in Washington.

“Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier…

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Putin tops Forbes’ most powerful people list

ThaNkS;© AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin topped Forbes’ 2013 ranking of the world’s most powerful people on Wednesday, pushing US President Barack Obama into second position for the first time in three years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin climbed to the top of Forbes’ ranking of the world’s most powerful people on Wednesday, stripping US President Barack Obama of the title.

It is the first time in three years that the US president has dropped to second place on the magazine’s list, and comes as US-Russia relations hit a new low.

Putin, who has enjoyed 13 years of dominant rule over Russia, was again elected president in March 2012.

Obama, on the other hand, has just emerged scathed from an embarrassing 16-day US government shutdown caused by a budget and debt crisis in Washington.

“Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president – latest example: the government shutdown mess,” wrote Forbes.

From NSA scandal to Syria

In August, Russia granted asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who triggered an international diplomatic crisis after leaking classified intelligence documents.

A month later, Putin outmaneuvered the United States again by averting a threatened strike against Syria, after coming up with a plan to strip the country of its stockpiles of chemical weapons.

“Anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics,” Forbes said.

The world’s other most powerful people

Third prize went to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is expected to rule for a decade in which China is set to eclipse the US as the world’s largest economy.

Pope Francis made his debut at number four and German Chancellor Angela Merkel rounded out the top five.

There were 13 newcomers to the list this year, including Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee at number 41 and Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, in at number 64.

Overall, the list contained 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of $48 trillion and 27 CEOs and chairs who control over $3 trillion in annual revenues.

Only nine women made the cut despite representing half the world’s population.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

China, India Sign Border Cooperation Agreement

ThaNks;Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Katy Daigle and Chonchui Ngashangva in New Delhi contributed to this report.
Oct 23, 2013, 12:29 AM

BEIJING) — China and India signed a confidence-building accord Wednesday to cooperate on border defense following a standoff between armed forces of the two Asian giants in disputed Himalayan territory earlier this year. The agreement followed a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also had […]

China and India sounded a new optimistic tone in their relationship Wednesday as they signed an agreement to boost meetings between their militaries to avoid any repeat of this year’s tense standoff along their disputed Himalayan border.

The accord followed a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also had trade ties on the agenda as India seeks to gain greater access to Chinese markets and readjust a trade balance tilted heavily toward China.

The two sides agreed to boost communication about border maneuvers, hold periodic meetings at designated crossing points, and have patrols refrain from any provocations. They agreed that patrols should not follow or “tail” patrols of the other side in contested areas.

“I am sure it will help to maintain peace, tranquility and stability in our border areas,” Li said of the accord.

Li, who said the meeting injected “new vitality” into China-India relations, said the two sides also agreed to hold joint counterterrorism training in southwest China at an early date, strengthen cooperation in international and regional affairs, and work together to tackle terrorism.

Another accord signed by the countries enables a Chinese power equipment service center in India, and Li said China stood ready to help India with railway construction. The two sides also are exploring a trade corridor, said Singh, who expressed concern about the countries’ “unsustainable trade balance.”

India ran a $39 billion trade deficit with China over the last fiscal year. With growing economies and a combined population of 2.5 billion, the two neighbors have set a target of $100 billion in bilateral trade by 2015, up from $61.5 billion last year.

“The huge gap between us and them in terms of overall material power is massive. It creates a lot of anxieties,” said Sreeram Chaulia, an international affairs expert at Jindal School of International Affairs in New Delhi.

“One way to address it would be to increase Chinese investment in India,” he said.

But he added, “In India, we are wary of Chinese investment, particularly in sectors like telecommunications or critical infrastructure. There is this fear that one day China is going to rule us.”

The two leaders played up positive aspects of their meeting, with Singh saying they had “candid and constructive discussions” on regional and global issues.

“This is one of the promising developments in our relationship,” Singh said.

Relations between China and India are overshadowed by a decades-old border dispute over which they fought a brief but bloody war in 1962. More than a dozen rounds of talks have failed to resolve the issue, and the two sides had a three-week standoff at their frontier earlier this year.

India said that Chinese soldiers launched incursions several kilometers (miles) across the Line of Actual Control at the Himalayan frontier between the sides in May, though China denied setting foot anywhere but on Chinese territory.

On Tuesday, India decorated eight members of the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police for their roles in the standoff. The force is responsible for guarding most of the roughly 4,000-kilometer (2,500-mile) border with China, most of it running over snowy mountain ranges.

China claims around 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of land in India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, while India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the western Himalayas.

They also face other tensions. China is a longtime ally and weapons supplier to Pakistan, India’s bitter rival, and has been building strong ties with Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, feeding Indian fears of encirclement. China, meanwhile, is wary of India’s growing ties with the United States.

Ashwin Kaja, a lawyer leading an initiative to establish a China-India institute at Beijing’s Renmin University and Jindal University in Sonipat, India, said Wednesday’s agreements and statements signaled a more positive tone in China-India relations.

“In the last few years the relationship between the two countries has run into some turbulent times,” he said, adding that measures to “start rebuilding trust and cooperation are very important.”

Starbucks Suing Thai Vendor ‘Starbung’ for Obvious Reasons

Thanks;Courtney Subramanian @cmsub
Oct,24

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Stefan Wermuth / REUTER

The coffee giant is suing owner of the Bangkok coffee stall for $9,600
As if Starbucks is not reaping enough profits worldwide, the coffee giant is concerned with a Bangkok street vendor whose logo is a little bit too familiar.

The U.S.-based company is suing 43-year-old Damrong Maslae, who owns Starbung, a Thai coffee stall that bears a green and white logo with stars in the same position as the original Starbucks insignia as well as a white figure similar to the corporate mermaid made so popular by the global coffee house.

Starbucks sent a cease-and-desist letter in October of last year but Maslae and his brother ignored the warning and continued to use the copycat logo on its products and t-shirts. Now Starbucks is suing them for a mere $9,600 and a 7.5 percent annual interest in a monthly installment of around $963 until Starbung nixes the logo.

But Maslae is not backing down. He responded by offering to sell Starbung for $100,000.

“I will fight them to the end,” he told the Guardian.

The U.S.-based firm said the logo confuses customers, and may have them think they’re buying Starbucks instead of the local java while Maslae insists that the emblem was not influenced by Starbucks but rather his religion, Islam.
Okay sure.

Pinterest ad potential boosted by women

Thanks; Benjamin Pimentel& MarketWatch
Oct. 24, 2013, 1:13 p.m. EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Pinterest’s $3.8 billion valuation based on a new round of financing disclosed this week is based on the social media site’s strong growth potential, especially when it comes to brand advertising and reaching female consumers.

In fact, one ad industry executive said Pinterest, in which users “pin” their favorite online images and which is not yet known to be recording impressive revenue, could match and perhaps even surpass the other giants of social media, Facebook Inc. FB +1.50% and Twitter Inc. TWTR 0.00% .

“Ad execs in agencies and brand advertisers are quite excited about the potential to advertise with Pinterest, as it is somewhat better suited to support brands than Facebook, whose ads are a mix of text and images, or Twitter, [with] text-only ads,” Marc Poirier, executive vice president at the digital marketing agency Aquisio, told MarketWatch.

That’s because Pinterest is “designed to share images that people like, which is perfectly suited for brands,” and “if they follow in the footsteps of Twitter and Facebook, their native ad format will follow their feed capabilities, which means their ads will likely be images,” he added.

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Agathe Blanchon-Ehrsam, an executive at Vivaldi Partners Group, a marketing consultancy company, called Pinterest “a fantastic tool to help brands build social currency.”
For one thing, the site helps brands by “telling stories that people can connect to.”

“Pinterest drives more referral traffic to our clients’ websites than all other social media networks combined,” she told MarketWatch.

Poirier said that given its size Pinterest still has “a long way to go to catch up with Twitter on sheer size of opportunity for marketers.” Twitter currently has more than 215 million monthly active users. Facebook has more than a billion users. Pinterest has about 25 million users.

But he also said of Pinterest: “The quality of their audience is undeniable.”

He cited Pinterest’s huge base of female users. “Half of them say they have gone on and made a purchase based on something they saw on Pinterest.”

Roughly 70% of Pinterest users are women, according to a survey done by eMarketer. Even more significant, given the growing importance of smartphones and tablets, 80% of the site’s mobile users are women.

Clark Fredricksen, vice president at eMarketer, said Pinterest is drawing particularly strong attention from direct-response advertisers and retailers.

“Because of the nature of Pinterest’s platform and audience, advertisers are exploring whether Pinterest is effective as a direct response channel—in other words, a venue from which they can get people to click on ads and make a purchase immediately after doing so,” he said.

American Workers Waste $34 Billion Worth Of Vacation Pay A Year

Thanks;
MANDI WOODRUFF
AUG. 27, 2013 23:59

The lines between vacation and office hours are more blurred than ever.

Blame your smartphones.

More than 80% of workers check into the office while taking time off and on average, two out of 14 vacation days go unused per year, according to PGi, a global conferencing provider.

That adds up to more than $34 billion in wasted vacation time. Check out the infographic below to see how far Americans have fallen into the “workation” trap.

Nanotech’s Next Frontier: Initiative Brings Disciplines Together for Pioneering Discoveries

Thanks;Researchers of Columbia University

The word “nanos” is Greek for dwarf, and over time “nano” has come to refer to anything small, like the iPod nano. In science, however, it has a very precise definition: 10-9, or a billionth.

Nanoscience, then, involves working with the tiniest components in nature. Researchers can examine and build materials one atom or molecule at a time, allowing them to probe the fundamental nature of matter and invent materials with startling new characteristics. It has enormous implications for better electronics, new medical devices and the development of alternative energy sources.

“The development of this new technology over the past decade has brought us to the edge of fantastic new discoveries,” said Michael Purdy, the University’s executive vice president of research. “This is revolutionary. That means that Columbia has to be at the lead, just as we have been in nuclear physics and as we are in climate change.”

Nanoscience also involves an interdisciplinary effort on an unprecedented scale.

In chemistry, Professor Colin Nuckolls focuses on designing and synthesizing new types of molecules with interesting electronic properties that often change at the nanoscale. A founding member of Columbia’s Nanoscience Center, he also is a principal investigator for Columbia’s Energy Frontier Research Center, where he collaborates with engineers, physicists and chemists to create technology to increase solar cell efficiency.
Nanoscience, then, involves working with the tiniest components in nature. Researchers can examine and build materials one atom or molecule at a time, allowing them to probe the fundamental nature of matter and invent materials with startling new characteristics. It has enormous implications for better electronics, new medical devices and the development of alternative energy sources.

“The development of this new technology over the past decade has brought us to the edge of fantastic new discoveries,” said Michael Purdy, the University’s executive vice president of research. “This is revolutionary. That means that Columbia has to be at the lead, just as we have been in nuclear physics and as we are in climate change.”

Nanoscience also involves an interdisciplinary effort on an unprecedented scale.

In chemistry, Professor Colin Nuckolls focuses on designing and synthesizing new types of molecules with interesting electronic properties that often change at the nanoscale. A founding member of Columbia’s Nanoscience Center, he also is a principal investigator for Columbia’s Energy Frontier Research Center, where he collaborates with engineers, physicists and chemists to create technology to increase solar cell efficiency.
“The nanoscale is a special place in the size of things, where unusual properties emerge, and it’s an area that chemistry, materials science, physics, have all converged on,” said Nuckolls. “You often have big science problems that don’t require a single expertise but require multiple expertise.”

Watch the video to learn more about nanoscience research at Columbia. (4:11)
The word “nanos” is Greek for dwarf, and over time “nano” has come to refer to anything small, like the iPod nano. In science, however, it has a very precise definition: 10-9, or a billionth.

An electronic chip based on nanometer scale pores designed to study the properties of single biomolecules
Image credit: Jacob Rosenstein and Prof. Kenneth Shepard
Nanoscience, then, involves working with the tiniest components in nature. Researchers can examine and build materials one atom or molecule at a time, allowing them to probe the fundamental nature of matter and invent materials with startling new characteristics. It has enormous implications for better electronics, new medical devices and the development of alternative energy sources.

“The development of this new technology over the past decade has brought us to the edge of fantastic new discoveries,” said Michael Purdy, the University’s executive vice president of research. “This is revolutionary. That means that Columbia has to be at the lead, just as we have been in nuclear physics and as we are in climate change.”

Nanoscience also involves an interdisciplinary effort on an unprecedented scale.

In chemistry, Professor Colin Nuckolls focuses on designing and synthesizing new types of molecules with interesting electronic properties that often change at the nanoscale. A founding member of Columbia’s Nanoscience Center, he also is a principal investigator for Columbia’s Energy Frontier Research Center, where he collaborates with engineers, physicists and chemists to create technology to increase solar cell efficiency.

Nanoscience 101: A Q&A With the Engineering School’s Jim Yardley
Tiny Invention May Harness Big Energy from Small Spores
Electrical Engineer Develops New Nanoscale Tools to Aid Discoveries in the Life Sciences
Physicist Writes the Rules for Conducting Electricity in Molecules
Engineer Designs Self-Powered Nanoscale Devices That Never Need New Batteries
“The nanoscale is a special place in the size of things, where unusual properties emerge, and it’s an area that chemistry, materials science, physics, have all converged on,” said Nuckolls. “You often have big science problems that don’t require a single expertise but require multiple expertise.”

An important puzzle Columbia scientists are working on is how to replace silicon, the material used in semiconductors and myriad electronic products. Philip Kim, a professor of physics and applied physics, is one of the first researchers in the world to focus on graphene, a super-strong membrane that is the thickness of a single carbon atom. It has captured the imagination of scientists, who want to develop practical applications for touchscreens, solar cells and sensors.

“Although the things that we are interested in are very small, I would say the impact could certainly be quite big,” Kim said. “When things become small, they behave quite differently than when they are large, so when you utilize this exceptional property, you can develop systems in different ways than we ever imagined before.”

Columbia’s emphasis on nanoscience will extend to, and indeed will increase at the undergraduate level. In December, a new strategic plan for the nine science departments of Arts and Sciences was presented to the Trustees, at the heart of which were three new interdisciplinary themes. One of them is molecular architecture, from atoms to devices.

“Nanotechnology is at the core of our planned molecular architecture initiative, and already we have great strength in this field, including some of the world’s leaders, at Columbia,” said Amber Miller, a professor of physics and dean of science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Indeed, said Nuckolls, who will head the nanoscience initiative, “The potential for lifechanging science and technology emerging from work on the nanoscale at Columbia is enormous.”

Purdy, a marine geophysicist who was director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory before becoming head of Columbia research, believes Columbia is uniquely suited to tackle the challenges of nanoscience.

“There are huge, complex ethical issues that come with some of the advances we make in nanoscience,” said Purdy, in part because the science is so new that no one knows how it might be used. “Those developments need to be made in broad-based universities like Columbia, which has social scientists, law professors and philosophers, among others, who can work alongside scientists to understand and articulate the real consequences of their discoveries.”

—Story by Columbia News Staff
—Video by Columbia News Video Team

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize

Thanks;Time Magz
Oct. 22, 2013

(STRASBOURG, France) — Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate and long-time political prisoner, has finally collected the European Union’s 1990 Sakharov Prize for human rights.

In Tuesday’s stirring ceremony, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that “23 years later, we welcome you here and it is a great moment.”

Suu Kyi has persevered for decades in promoting democracy. She and her National League for Democracy party were frozen out of politics by the military regime that governed until 2011, and last year she and several dozen party members won parliamentary seats. However, a clause in the army-dictated constitution disqualifies her from becoming president.

She is now seeking the constitutional changes that would allow her to seek the presidency.

North Korean Propaganda Artists Painted These Incredible Pictures Of China As A Socialist Utopia

Vaniceseasonal's Blog

Thanks;ADAM TAYLOR
OCT. 21, 2013, 11:38 AM

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China is frequently referred to as North Korea’s “big brother,” a sibling-nation that supports (and sometimes scolds) its far smaller neighbor.
In a fascinating experiment, two Western expats in Beijing — Nick Bonner of Koryo Tours and Dominic Johnson-Hill of Plastered 8 — decided to ask North Korean propaganda artists in Pyongyang to help them create images of a socialist ideal of China. The artwork is titled “The Beautiful Future” and was recently shown at a Beijing art gallery.
Bonner and Johnson-Hill had been living in China for twenty years, and wanted to show a glimpse of what Socialism with Chinese characteristics could have been. Bonner organizes tours to the Hermit Kingdom, while Johnson-Hill’s company produces clothing with elements of Maoist kitsch.
“North Korean artists are the best people at delivering a message without slogans,” Bonner told The Guardian.“We wanted to show contemporary…

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