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Neptune Orient Lines
16 января 2016, 00:31

Authoritarian rule and the impending crisis in Singapore

"We have learned that any solution to our problems require much more that the piecemeal measures attempted in the past. It demands nothing less than a fundamental change in our approach to the idea of development, a paradigm shift toward the parallel pursuit of democracy and a market economy." So said the late Kim Dae Jung, South Korea's former president. When the country was undergoing its economic throes in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Kim knew that South Korea needed radical changes in order to resuscitate the economy. South Korea was emerging from a long period of dictatorships and a command economy dominated by the the political elite and chaebols (conglomerates owned by wealthy families). When Kim was elected president in 1998, he ditched authoritarian rule and took the country on a sharp turn towards democracy. The result? South Korea's economy bounced back with a vengeance. Today, corporations like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, SsangYong, Kumho, etc. compete on the international stage with the world's leading brands. And it's not just gadgets and cars that South Korea is exporting, the country's pop culture have found its way into the hearts of people far and wide. Korean television dramas are popular not just in Asia but places as far away as Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. The musical genre of K-pop has become a mainstay in the teen subculture all over the world with the Korean boy band, BigBang, even becoming the "gods of pop" in Indonesia. In 2012, Korean musician Psy took the globe by storm with this Oppa Gangnam Style dance video. Somewhere in here is a lesson for us in Singapore. When I met Kim before he became president, he had repeated to me that it was unfortunate that much of Asia was still under undemocratic rule which stymied the development of our societies. It is a view I share deeply. Innovation does not take place in the halls of government buildings and it cannot be kindled from ministerial pronouncements. Innovation thrives in a culture that not just tolerates but celebrates openness, diversity and, yes, dissent; it flourishes in an environment where people have free and full access to information. Financial analyst Michael Schuman expressed this point perfectly, writing in Time magazine in 2010: "Fear caused by political control doesn't foster an atmosphere conducive to free thinking. Censorship and limitations on information curtail the knowledge and debate necessary for the generation of new ideas. I'm not the only one who believes this is true. Some Koreans...argue that the country couldn't have become more innovative without democracy." It is no accident that freedom of expression and innovation are so commonly juxtaposed in the entrepreneurial world. But even before the 1997 meltdown, economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman had pointed out that Singapore's top-down, input-driven growth model was unsustainable: "One can immediately conclude that Singapore is unlikely to achieve future growth rates comparable to the past." This is because, Krugman explained, "Singapore's growth can be explained by increases in measure inputs. There is no sign at all of increased efficiency." But instead of liberalising our society and encouraging the hard work of innovation like the Koreans did following the financial crisis in 1997, the PAP took the easy way out by transforming our city into a tax haven and attracting the super rich of the world. Instead of making policy adjustments to retain our local talent and investing in our people, our rulers found it expedient to bring in foreigners by the millions. Of course, these measures generated GDP growth but it was growth that masked deeper structural problems of our economy. For one thing, labour productivity levels remained dismal even as GDP expanded. The problem persists to this day with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong lamenting that we have "maxed out" on easy ways of achieving economic growth - a tacit admission that Paul Krugman was right. "Productivity is very tough to do," Lee acknowledges. Indeed it is. Analysts observe that it is harder now to retool Singapore's economy. The PAP has done everything - or almost everything - to kickstart the productivity engine. In 1991, it came up with the National Technology Plan to propel Singapore into the "major league of a world-class innovation-driven economy by 1995." Five years later, it launched the SME21 plan to "promote SMEs is to help them tap into global networks." This was followed by a 2001 report from Economic Review Committee (ERC) which promised to "make Singapore a knowledge economy powered by innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship." Nine years later, another committee, the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC), was formed to "make skills, innovation and productivity the basis for economic growth." Now in 2016, the government has reincarnated the ERC and ESC in the form of the Committee on the Future Economy, or CFE, to (predictably) "recommend strategies to enable companies and industry clusters to develop innovative capacities." In between, there were a myriad of schemes - costing taxpayers more that $20 billion - to boost productivity. They included promoting R&D, enhancing of public-private sector collaboration, upgrading workers' skills and capabilities, increasing foreign-worker levies, subsidising businesses in purchasing IT equipment, and so on. Bodies like the National Productivity Board, SPRING Singapore and, more recently, the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council were established to lead the productivity chase. And yet, for nearly two decades, productivity gains continue to elude us, and we have produced few innovative enterprises that are able to compete internationally. Such a scenario does not paint a bright future of our economy. In fact, Nomura's Global Markets Research predicts that the failed productivity drive will be a drag on economic growth until the end of this decade. We have tried everything except the one that is key: Freeing our society from authoritarian rule. It is clear that the anachronistic paradigm of undemocratic, one-party dominance - where debate, a free media, and a fair election system are non-existent - is the proverbial albatross around Singapore's neck. And because we have taken the easy way out all these years, we are ill-prepared to weather the global economic storm that is about to descend upon us. There is gloom in our housing market, our dollar continues to weaken even as we spent $40 billion of our reserves trying to prop it up, our oil-rig builders Kepple and Sembcorp Marine are under severe strain from cancelled projects; our flagship shipping company Neptune Orient Lines collapsed under unsustainable losses and was sold off; household debt of Singaporeans soared to become one of the highest in the world and, perhaps most frighteningly, China's economy seems on track to becoming the epicenter of the next global economic meltdown - an economy of which we are the biggest foreign investor. Assuredly, we will not be able to avoid the upheaval. The question is, when we emerge from it, will we divest ourselves of the many excuses we have put up to defer from opening up our political system, or will we continue down the dead-end alley of authoritarian rule? -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

14 мая 2013, 18:22

Сингапур: компания Neptune Orient Lines зафиксировала квартальную прибыль

Крупнейший в Юго-Восточной Азии оператор контейнерных линий Neptune Orient Lines зафиксировал квартальную прибыль во многом за счет доходов от продажи подразделений и благодаря снижению затрат на топливо. Так, в первом квартале с окончанием 5 апреля чистая прибыль компании составила $75,5 млн по сравнению с зафиксированным годом ранее убытком на уровне $254 млн. Продажи в рассматриваемом периоде уменьшились на 0,4% до $2,37 млрд.

22 февраля 2013, 14:52

Сингапур: компания Neptune Orient отчиталась о большем, чем ожидали аналитики, квартальном убытке

Крупнейший в Юго-Восточной Азии оператор контейнерных линий Neptune Orient Lines зафиксировал больший, чем ожидали аналитики, квартальный убыток в связи с тем, что замедление темпов экономического роста в Европе привело к снижению торговли. Так, чистый убыток компании за три месяца с окончанием 28 декабря составил $98 млн по сравнению с убытком в размере $320,4 млн годом ранее. При этом аналитики в среднем прогнозировали $12,6 млн.

16 февраля 2013, 12:03

Rick Rule: Interest Rates, Precious Metals And The Mining Sector

By Patrick MontesDeOca:Rick Rule - Founder, Global CompaniesMr. Rule has dedicated his entire adult life to many aspects of natural resource securities investing. In addition to the knowledge and experience gained in a long, successful and focused career, he has a worldwide network of contacts in the natural resource and finance worlds. As Chairman of Sprott US Holdings, Mr. Rule leads a highly skilled team of earth science and finance professionals who enjoy a worldwide reputation for resource investment management.Mr. Rule is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and is interviewed for numerous radio, television, print and online media outlets concerning natural resource investment and industry topics. He is frequently quoted and referred by prominent natural resource oriented newsletter and advisories. Mr. Rule and his team have long experience in many resource sectors, including agriculture, alternative energy, forestry, oil and gas, mining and water.Sprott US Holdings is activeComplete Story »

16 февраля 2013, 04:27

Maggie Cooper-Harris: Boehner's Silence Speaks Volumes To Me

While watching the president's State of the Union address this week, I was thrilled to hear him support equal benefits for veterans and their families, no matter the sexual orientation of the veteran. President Obama recognizes that all service members, veterans and their spouses deserve to receive equal benefits because they make equal sacrifices in service to this country. Regrettably, veterans and their spouses in legal same-sex marriages are barred from receiving the same benefits regularly provided to veterans and their spouses in opposite-sex marriages. This inequality hits close to home; I am legally married to a disabled veteran, but the federal government does not recognize our marriage, because my wife and I are both female. Therefore, I am ineligible to receive the benefits that other veterans' spouses receive, and my wife is ineligible to receive benefits that other married veterans receive. In hopes of changing the laws that compel this inequality, last year my wife Tracey and I challenged those laws in federal court with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the WilmerHale law firm. Though President Obama's words were uplifting, the image of Speaker John Boehner sitting motionless while the president announced his intention to provide equal benefits to all veterans and their families had an entirely opposite effect on me, my wife and our family. While most of the chamber erupted in applause in support of America's service members and their families, Speaker Boehner did not. In fact, Speaker Boehner so disagrees with the provision of equal benefits for gay and lesbian veterans that he is leading the fight against Tracey and me in our federal lawsuit by defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Perhaps Speaker Boehner would applaud if he realized that the struggles that Tracey and I face are the same ones faced by all married veterans and their spouses when the veteran returns from deployment. While enlisted, Tracey sustained physical and mental injuries during her service. She lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder common among veterans that can be triggered by a traumatic event. She also suffers from multiple sclerosis, a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks a person's brain and central nervous system, and for which there is no known cure. The Department of Veterans Affairs has determined that her multiple sclerosis is connected to her military service. Perhaps Speaker Boehner would applaud if he knew how similar Tracey and I are to countless vets and their spouses: I take time off work to accompany Tracey to most of her medical and counseling appointments; I comfort her when she wakes up abruptly from a nightmare in a cold sweat; I take time off from work or cancel plans when Tracey is having a particularly bad day; and I'm there to console my wife when she is consumed by guilt for not staying in the Army longer. Surely Speaker Boehner recognizes that the struggles that Tracey and I face are the same as those faced by other veterans and their spouses. Despite the legal and loving commitment that Tracey and I made to each other in front of our families and loved ones, Speaker Boehner sees us as unworthy of the federal benefits promised to veterans and their spouses, because ours is a same-sex marriage. The federal government has long recognized the role of the veteran as a provider for his or her family, by providing the benefit of monthly compensation for spouses of deceased veterans who die of a service-connected disease or disability. Should Tracey die from MS, I would be ineligible to receive this benefit. And Speaker Boehner sees no problem with this. By refusing to acknowledge us as legally married, Speaker Boehner -- and those defending DOMA -- demean not only our marriage but the remarkable sacrifice made by my wife, who gave nearly a decade of her life to active-duty military service to the country she loves so dearly. Speaker Boehner may never clap for Tracey and me, but perhaps soon, the federal courts will demand that we -- and all legally married couples -- receive equal treatment under the laws of this great nation.

16 февраля 2013, 02:19

Ron Carlee: The Most Important, Least Sexy Use of Tax Dollars

Last week I was contacted by Bill Wilson, a reporter for the Wichita Eagle for a story on the city's infrastructure. The mayor had announced that the city needed $2.1 billion for repairs and upgrades to its water/sewer system. The question asked: "Are Wichita's infrastructure problems unique?" No, they are not. Infrastructure investment is a national problem and for the same reasons that Wichita is facing: Age. The good news is that many infrastructure components -- bridges, water distribution systems, storm water systems, and sanitary sewer systems -- have very long lives if well maintained. Some last 50 to 75 years. The bad news is that many systems were built at the same time when a city experienced its initial growth phase. For a number of cases, this was 50 to 75 years ago. Many systems are simply approaching the end of their life expectancy. Deferred Maintenance. In some cases, appropriate maintenance has not occurred, resulting in accelerated or more extensive deterioration. This is especially problematic with streets and buildings (such as schools, libraries, and fire stations). Why? Mainly because maintenance is neither cheap nor sexy. Maintenance provides nothing new or wonderful for the community. It most cases, the voters and taxpayers will "see" nothing for their money. Think in terms of an individual: how excited and thrilled do you get when you have to change the oil or brakes on your car, replace a roof, or get the sewer cleaned? Preventive maintenance is one of the hardest dollars to budget in a city. Lack of resources. While the circumstances vary, much of the first generation infrastructure was built by or funded by developers as they built commercial and residential centers. The cost was recovered in the private financing of the project. Today, most of that infrastructure is now owned by the public. Neither its maintenance nor replacement typically creates a new funding stream unless the project is part of a much larger redevelopment. This strains local budgets, especially in cities that have been hit hard by the recession and/or operate with tax caps and other revenue restrictions. The solutions to these problems will vary by community. In most cases, though, the following will likely be required: Complete and honest analysis to understand the scope and risks; Strategic prioritization based on overall community impact to safety and the economy; Exploration of alternative financing, including public-private partnerships and redevelopment options; and In some cases, the challenging political discussion about raising taxes or fees to generate a dedicated funding stream.The last issue, facing the reality of increased taxes or fees, can be the most challenging. As quoted in the Wichita Eagle, Alan KIng, Public Works Director, said that "the city's utility system has suffered from about 10 to 15 years of maintenance neglect, dating back to the mid-1990s, as steady rates and taxes politically trumped maintaining the system." City Manager Bob Layton explained that "There has been a tremendous amount of pressure over the years on water and sewer rates." These dynamics are hardly unique to Wichita. What distinguishes Wichita and other professionally managed cities is a willingness to openly face reality and work to get a grip on the problem. Candid public conversations and public engagement will be key to successful action. Taxpayers need to have an understanding of the issues, options, and risks. Some may want to engage in an accusatory retrospective about what wasn't done that should have been done. A more productive conversation, however, will be future-oriented, focused on the investments needed to create and sustain a city's vision for its future... And, a recognition that sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

15 февраля 2013, 16:20

New Presidential Library Opening This Year

MOUNT VERNON, Va. -- George Washington's 1796 farewell address contained a stern warning to the nation about partisan politics, or the "dangers of faction" in the language of the founding fathers. So, when a bipartisan group of U.S. senators was looking last fall to reach agreement on a plan to address the country's budget and deficit woes, it seemed only natural that they went outside the Capital Beltway and met at Washington's Mount Vernon estate, in hopes of finding inspiration in Washington's shadow. It's the kind of meeting that the keepers of Mount Vernon hope to promote as they work toward completion of a $47 million National Library for the Study of Mount Vernon. The estate was to announce Friday that the library, now under construction, will open Sept. 27. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., one of the members of the Gang of Eight who met at Mount Vernon in the fall, said it's an ideal place to meet and think about the long-term health of the republic. "To be able to be in the quintessential American history site, and talk about where America is heading in the 21st century, is pretty cool," said Warner, who is sponsoring legislation to move the Presidents' Day holiday from the third Monday in February to Feb. 22, Washington's birth date. "I think we all understood the seriousness of what we were doing, but (being at Mount Vernon), boy, it sure did drive the point home." The library will serve as a presidential library of sorts, with a few important distinctions from the dozen or so modern presidential libraries that operate under the auspices of the National Archives. For starters, Mount Vernon has prided itself on never accepting government funding, and makes a point to emphasize that this library is not affiliated with the federal government, as modern presidential libraries are. The planned library is not intended for visits by the general public. It is designed as a scholarly destination and a conference center for groups that see a benefit from soaking in the estate's historical vibe. Mount Vernon, which draws about a million visitors a year, has extensive exhibits open for public view, including a museum, orientation and education center that all opened in 2006, as well as the centerpiece mansion overlooking the Potomac River. And the library is a project on a smaller scale than modern presidential libraries. Washington's library comes with a $47 million price tag, though Mount Vernon is raising $100 million to endow the ongoing operation of the library. Mount Vernon President Curt Viebranz says the estate has so far raised $93 million. Meanwhile, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, set to open May 1 in Dallas on the campus of Southern Methodist University, has a $250 million price tag and, at 225,000 square feet, is five times the size of the Mount Vernon library. Lastly, modern presidential libraries, by law, inherit the documents and papers that presidents generated over the course of a term in office. Washington's papers scattered to the winds after his death and are considered some of the most valuable artifacts in American history. When documents and artifacts with a Washingtonian provenance make their way to auction, they fetch premium prices. Mount Vernon has been working in recent years to reacquire key papers when it can. Washington himself had hoped to build a library to archive his personal papers, which he said with understatement "are voluminous and may be interesting." Among the outstanding features of the library: a climate-controlled, oval-shaped vault that will house the estate's rare books – basically the books that Washington himself owned and touched that the estate has been able to acquire. Just 150 feet from the library proper is a 6,000-square-foot scholars' residence that will be home to seven researchers a year who will live there and study topics related to the founding father. The inaugural group of scholars, announced last month, includes researchers who plan to study Washington's role in shaping the Constitution, the plight of enemy prisoners in the Revolutionary War and Mount Vernon's role in sparking the historic preservation movement, among other topics. Conference rooms that accommodate groups of 10 to 75 are built into the library, along with a leadership hall that will feature ultra high-definition video technology to allow the library to record seminars held there and make them available over the Internet. Mount Vernon has a 200-seat auditorium, but it is ill-equipped for small and mid-size groups. Viebranz said Mount Vernon's location, about 15 miles south of Washington, will appeal to conference organizers. It's close to the city and Washington Reagan National Airport, but just far enough out to feel like a getaway. And psychologically, it's worlds away from the us-vs.-them mentality that dominates the city named for the first president. "It's hard for anyone to come here and not want to drop their gun belt at the door," he said.

15 февраля 2013, 02:49

State Lawmakers Allow Anti-Gay Discrimination

The Republican-controlled North Dakota state Senate rejected legislation Thursday that would have made it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The vote came shortly after senators shot down amendments that would have weakened the proposal and the current law against age discrimination. North Dakota currently does not include sexual orientation among forms of discrimination outlawed in the state. The legislation was pushed by state Reps. Josh Boschee (D-Fargo) and Kylie Oversen (D-Grand Forks). Boschee is the first openly gay legislator in North Dakota history. “It is an extreme disappointment," Oversen told The Huffington Post. "It is sending a message to young people and old alike who are a part of this community and have family members that are part of this community, that our state doesn’t care if you are being discriminated against.” The Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week voted to water down the bill to say the state doesn't condone discrimination based on sexual orientation, but it wouldn't be illegal. The amendment, by Judiciary Committee Chairman David Hogue (R-Minot) also would have raised the age discrimination threshold to age 55 from 40 and change back pay rules on employment discrimination to one year from two years. Hogue did not return a message left for comment by The Huffington Post. He told the Bismarck Tribune earlier this week that he pushed the amendment as a "compromise" to pass the bill. He said change does not happen fast. “We had one good step and then five steps backwards," Oversen said about Thursday's votes. Oversen said opponents claimed that the discrimination bill would have opened a door to gay marriage in North Dakota. Some raised concern about pedophilia and religion, he said. Oversen said the bill included exemptions for religious organizations, but opponents objected that it would have forced Catholic business owners to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender population. “The arguments against are outdated, they are homophobic and inappropriate," Oversen said. The North Dakota vote comes as nearby states also have tackled LGBT issues. In Montana, lawmakers have been debating legislation to remove the state's law against gay sex. The ban has been deemed unconstitutional by the state and U.S. supreme courts. Earlier this month, the Wyoming House of Representatives rejected legislation to allow domestic partnerships. The Wyoming vote followed a committee hearing that included debate over whether sexuality was a choice. Boschee told HuffPost he is talking to local leaders about potential local discrimination bans and plans to discuss a ban for state employees with Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R). He called Thursday's vote "going backwards." Oversen and Boschee said they plan to reintroduce the legislation in 2015. Oversen said the Senate vote defines North Dakota. “It speaks volumes about how far behind we are socially right now," Oversen said. "Not only on this issue, but abortion and voter ID. Every single controversial social issue is coming up this year and they are passing with flying colors. We are saying that citizens of our state can be discriminated against for who they are and who they love.” This article has been updated to include Boschee's comments.

14 февраля 2013, 09:00

Hashemite kingdom of Jordan options for immediate fiscal adjustment and longer term consolidation

This report aims to provide options for immediate fiscal adjustment to the government of Jordan and to set the foundations for longer term consolidation. To that effect, an analysis of the dynamics of revenues and expenditures over the years 2000-2011 is undertaken. Specifically, this report attempts to provide options to stop and reverse the declining trend in revenues observed since 2007. Indeed, domestic revenues declined by 9.4 percentage points of GDP between 2007 and 2011. This steady and structural decline in revenues increased the vulnerability of Jordan’s public finances to any exogenous shock. Hence, the strong fiscal stress at the eve of the Arab Awakening, due to the pressures to finance widening power sector deficit following the disruption of Egyptian gas supply, and to meet popular demand for additional spending and subsidies. The report also examines: 1) potential sources of savings from current and capital spending, 2) scenarios to reduce power sector deficit including tariff simulations, 3) options to reduce consumer subsidies and target them more efficiently to the poor, and 4) options to reduce the financial deficit of the water sector. The report ranks the measures according to a rating mechanism that takes into account the magnitude of savings, the efficiency improvements in the use of public resources, the distributional impact, previous dynamic of the spending or revenue item in question, the poverty and social impact, and the growth impact. Finally, the report proposes a matrix of policy objectives and actions that identifies areas of policy reform, policy objectives, actions needed to reach this objective, and time horizon.

14 февраля 2013, 04:10

Sonita Lontoh: Valentine's Day, Pink Ghetto and Career Choice

February 14 is Valentine's Day. You see stores and establishments decorated in pink colors. You see pink flowers, pink greeting cards and pink teddy bears everywhere. Why is Valentine's Day associated with the color pink? Valentine's Day is represented with colors such as pink and red because it is a day of giving and loving, and red and pink represent love. Aside from love, the color pink today is also commonly associated with femininity, where girls wear pink while boys wear blue. This has not always been so as there was a time when the reverse was true -- girls wore blue while boys wore pink. In 1918, an article in the Ladies' Home Journal declared: There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl (yes, you read it correctly). The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." But by the 1940s, the tables had turned, and society's equating of pink with femininity and blue with masculinity has remained intact since then. In the professional world, there is also a term called the "Pink Ghetto" or "Pink-collar" jobs. Pink-collar worker performs work said to be stereotypical women's work and are typically in the service industry. Examples include babysitter/nanny, beautician, flight attendant, florist, receptionist, secretary, administrative assistant, waitress, nurse, etc. A pink ghetto is used to describe the placement of female managers into non-line, staff positions that will not lead them to the board room, thus perpetuating the "glass ceiling." Pink ghetto workers include those working in areas such as human resources, customer service, public relations, accounting, IT maintenance and others that do not impact the company's "bottom line." Staff workers in the pink ghetto support the line workers whose jobs directly impact company's profitability. Line workers in sales, marketing, operations usually have profit & loss (P&L) responsibilities while staff workers don't. In the entrepreneurial world, pink ghetto refers to founders, usually women, who may start hobby-based, non profit-oriented businesses that are not scaleable. Some time ago, a tech journalist even tweeted "Women: stop making start-ups about fashion, shopping and babies. You're embarrassing me." (I'm not sure I 100 percent agree with this particular tweet, which I'll explain later). So, how do you get out of the pink ghetto? Well, without broad generalizations, every person has the right to decide whether or not he/she wants to be in or out of those professions categorized to be in the "pink ghetto." First, the term "pink ghetto" is rather condescending. Instead of focusing on how to get women out of the pink ghetto, why don't we first focus on choice. Everyone has the power to choose a profession that combines his/her passion, skills and purpose. People also have to understand that their choices lead to consequences. People should be willing to accept those consequences. If one chooses to work in human resources, for instance, one has to understand that it is highly unlikely that he/she will ever be promoted to CEO. If one chooses to open a small unscaleable bakery with no plans for expansion, one should realize that it's highly unlikely the bakery will become a big baking conglomerate. Now, for those who have decided that they want the chance to reach the C-suite, get a board appointment, be a big-time entrepreneur, and are willing to sacrifice and do what it takes, what can they do to improve their chances? In the corporate world, take the line positions that can affect company's revenues and profitability. Be willing to be in the "line of fire" and take more risks. A 2012 McKinsey study reported that mid-career and senior women tend to disproportionately occupy staff jobs that do not lead to the top -- 50-65 percent of women VP or higher are in staff roles, compared to only 41-48 percent of men. The study also found that there are more men in line positions, which usually have higher probability to reach the top echelons of executive suites. Additionally, women need to get into more strategic positions -- assignments that expose them to the company's primary sources of revenues, strategic markets and key products. These types of assignments are essential to an executive's development to reach the next level. Women also need to look for good mentors AND sponsors, both men and women. Most people understand the concept of mentorship, but not so much of sponsorship. A mentor is someone to exchange and bounce ideas off of. A sponsor is someone, usually more experienced and quite powerful in the organization, who is willing to put his/her reputation on the line to advocate for his/her protegé to help advance the protégé's career. A good mentor gives advice. A good sponsor advocates for the protegé to earn the opportunity to get ahead. In the political world, this is analogous to the more-established, famous presidential candidate acting as a "sponsor" for his/her less-established, not-so-famous vice presidential candidate. Read "The Sponsor Effect" by the Harvard Business Review, which explains how women often times do not know how to leverage the power of good sponsorships to get ahead, unlike most of their male counterparts. Studies have shown that leading companies that foster successful sponsorship programs are able to advance and retain their best female talent. Another thing I'd advise is to become a mentor. While this may not feel natural to someone who's just starting out in his/her career, in the long run, it helps build one's leadership skills tremendously. In the entrepreneurial world, dream big, build a strong business plan and execute. Don't worry about people telling you not to start a fashion, shopping, cooking or media business. Have they heard of Tory Burch or Tony Hsieh? How about JK Rowling, Martha Stewart or Oprah? The key is not in what kind of business to start, but in understanding your passion, your skills and your purpose (what the world needs). It's about having the right mindset to succeed and to have the focus and willingness to do the hard work to achieve it. Let's pivot the conversation from how to get women out of the pink ghetto to how to get women choose what is best themselves and respect and support their choice. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

13 февраля 2013, 23:55

Will Florida Finally Protect LGBT Citizens From Workplace Discrimination?

Florida may finally grant the LBGT community statewide civil protections. On Thursday, Reps. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) and Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) filed the Competitive Workforce Act, which updates the state's Civil Rights Act of 1992 to include protections against discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity. The 1992 act already bars discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, handicap, or marital status. Yes, unbelievably, it's still perfectly legal to be fired or evicted for sexual orientation in this state, according to Mallory Wells of advocacy group Equality Florida, who notes most local governments have passed protection on their own. Bill sponsor Saunders, one of only two openly gay legislators ever elected to the Florida legislature, told the Orlando Sentinel, "It is time for Florida to catch up with the majority of its largest cities and counties that have already created these protections." Palm Beach County was the first county in the state to successfully grant anti-discriminatory rights for gays in housing in 1990, after a 1977 ban by Dade County was repealed after singer Anita Bryant's infamous Save Our Children campaign. Broward County followed suit in 1995, and Miami-Dade County approved its current sexual anti-discrimination law in 1998. An amendment to include LGBT protections in the original 1992 law failed to pass a subcommittee vote after legislators reportedly watched videos of naked revelers at a California gay pride parade, as reported by the Sun Sentinel. The bill also replaces the word "handicap" with "disability."

13 февраля 2013, 22:17

Update: Apple's Siri (Finally) Hits The Road...In A Chevy

Chevrolet officially wins the race to integrate “Siri,” the ubiquitous iPhone’s voice activated “intelligent assistant” into its model line, officially launching on February 13 on the youth-oriented Spark and Sonic models, or at least those fitted with the automaker's MyLink infotainment system. Anyone who’s ever had to suffer through the erratic touchscreens and unnatural voice commands with which today’s overly complex automotive multimedia systems punish its users has likely pondered why they can’t be engineered to operate as intuitively as an iPhone, and Apple's new "Eyes Free" feature helps bring that a step closer to fruition.

13 февраля 2013, 18:58

A Burning Sensation: 'Galaxy on Fire 2 HD' Free on iOS Through Valentine's Day

At the 2012 Free to Play Summit, Pascal Zuta of Aeria Games delivered a fascinating statisti in a fascinating speech on trends in the global free to play market. The busiest single day for one of their games - a core gamer-oriented shooter - came on Valentine's Day, when presumably those players who could not get a date felt inclined to do some damage instead.

13 февраля 2013, 18:24

Jose Antonio Vargas's testimony

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, immigration rights activist and self-declared undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on immigration today. My colleague Mike Allen gets hold of his official testimony, in which he speaks out against use of the word "illegal": We dream of a path to citizenship so we can actively participate in our American democracy. We dream of not being separated from our families and our loved ones, regardless of sexual orientation, no matter our skill set. This government has deported more than 1.6 million people--fathers and mothers, sons and daughters--in the past four years. We dream of contributing to the country we call our home. In 21st century America, diversity is destiny. That I speak Tagalog--my first language; that I happen to be gay; that I was born in the Philippines--none of that threatens my love for this country. In America, the richness of our diversity--how connected and integrated we are as Americans--makes us stronger. Sitting behind me today is my Filipino-American family--my grandma Leonila, whom I love very much; my Aunt Aida Rivera, who helped raised me; and my Uncle Conrad Salinas, who served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years. They're all naturalized American citizens. I am the only one in my extended family of 25 Americans who is undocumented. When you inaccurately call me "illegal," you're not only dehumanizing me, you're offending them. No human being is illegal. Vargas also wrote an op-ed piece about his personal history for today's New York Times.

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13 февраля 2013, 18:19

Goldcorp Tarnishes As Gold Loses Luster

While gold has broadly outperformed stocks over the past few years, this has pretty much reversed in the past few months. Now, safety oriented precious metals are slumping while stocks are marching towards fresh all-time highs.

13 февраля 2013, 17:22

Starbucks Sued For Allegedly Firing Woman Who Refused To Say She Was Gay

A former Starbucks manager, fired after allegedly being sexually harassed and called gay by fellow employees, is now suing the coffee chain and one of her former colleagues for unlawful discrimination. Alicia Brooks, 29, was making $52,000 a year as a Starbucks manager at a store in New York City, until she was fired in 2012. Documents filed with the Supreme Court of New York on Feb. 1 detail a series of events that, Brooks claims, led up to her termination. The complaint states that Brooks was arrested after allegedly assaulting another employee, identified in the filing as "Juliette." (The document notes that this scenario "could not be further from the truth.") Following her arrest, Brooks was suspended from work and claims she was ordered by Starbucks to sign a statement saying she had had an “improper” relationship with Juliette. Brooks refused to sign. The complaint also says that Brooks was asked at a company meeting in front of 10 other managers if she was a lesbian. (The court document clearly states Brooks “was not and is not gay” and has never had a sexual relationship with Juliette.) The complaint goes on to claim that Brooks returned to work and was harassed by another female employee, Dija Fraser, whom Brooks is also suing for harassment. Fraser "constantly" tried to get Brooks to "admit that she is a lesbian," per the filing. Brooks’s lawyer, Emre M. Polat of NYC-based Akin Law Group, told HuffPost that Brooks was terminated in July 2012, about five months after she was initially suspended from work. The court documents state that Starbucks fired Brooks after she complained about her treatment and requested a transfer to another store. Zack Hutson, a spokesman for Starbucks, told The Huffington Post in a phone interview on Feb. 12 that, although Brooks’ employment was indeed terminated, Starbucks is aware of her recent court filing and “believes there is no factual basis to the allegations [the claim] makes.” “Starbucks has a long history of promoting equality, inclusion and diversity both in our workplace and in the communities we serve, and we have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment of any kind,” Hutson also remarked. Polat told HuffPost that Starbucks has not yet responded directly to the claim and wrote the following in an emailed statement: Starbucks created and condoned a hostile work environment for Ms. Brooks while continuing to protect and employ those that have committed the discrimination and harassment. Ms. Brooks feared all along that her complaints would be answered with retaliation and shortly after making the complaint, all of her fears became true when she was unlawfully terminated in violation of her statutorily protected rights. New York is one of 21 states that have laws banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is also illegal in New York City for employers that have four or more employees to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. There is no federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating against their workers based on sexual orientation. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would outlaw most employer discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has languished in Congress since it was introduced nearly 20 years ago. Starbucks told HuffPost it planned to defend itself in court. (Hat tip, Court House News) Brooks Vs. Starbucks by

13 февраля 2013, 17:04

G7 Cold War. No clear sign.

First some house keeping. EUR/GBP closed favourably but we weren't nimble enough when it dipped in eur/jpy and had to take a hit. And once again we will hit ourselves over the head with the wooden plaque on our desks engraved with the words "JPY will remain difficult  DO NOT TOUCH". Serves us right. If the markets are a marathon race and each asset class is a runner then it looks as though FX has made a break and taken the lead with other asset classes now following behind. We see equity indices back to trading via currency values rather than in lock step, FTSE and GBP/USD, Nikkei/ jpy ( obviously), SPX/USD and so on. Old fashioned stuff. Of course having FX back at the fore is great for FX traders, but only up to a point. We are worried that FX has spent so long following other markets it may have forgotten how to do its own navigation and is likely to get lost or at least confused as to which way to go. The market response to the G7 statement yesterday was, to us,  a clear example of a market desperate for direction, looking for a sign and yet struggling to make its mind up as to what the sign said. TMM believe that expecting any clear statement from the G7 on any policy is foolish. TMM have lived through many G7 statement events and each time we have seen a market try and pick the bones out of a statement that, by its very nature, has to couch compromise and noncommittal flexibility within a wrapper of perceptual agreement."We, the G7 Ministers and Governors, reaffirm our longstanding commitment to market determined exchange rates and to consult closely in regard to actions in foreign exchange markets. We reaffirm that our fiscal and monetary policies have been and will remain oriented towards meeting our respective domestic objectives using domestic instruments, and that we will not target exchange rates. We are agreed that excessive volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability. We will continue to consult closely on exchange markets and cooperate as appropriate." Which as a sign of direction to the FX markets is as good as this But the point we note is that "remain oriented towards meeting our respective domestic objectives using domestic instruments" does not preclude manipulation of FX as, apart from direct intervention, the tools currently being employed to manipulate FX are those very "domestic instruments". So in a way they are saying they will not directly intervene (will let the markets set the level), but they will all individually be pulling the relevant domestic levers to make the market move the way they want. In other words the FX wars are going to be fought like the Cold War. No nukes, lots of public smiles but a lot dirt, manipulation and the odd assassination behind the scenes. This morning's statement from Mervyn King backs this up as it is clear he is going "George Smiley" on us. Where does that leave us? Well we wonder how long the equity market will let the fickle and dithery FX market lead the way and, having got bored of waiting for something clear cut, will continue on their own path. Having had a couple of weeks of range without the correction that we were worried about we are now to get back on the train we got off. But with a US holiday ahead we will probably wait and give ourselves a couple more days.

13 февраля 2013, 16:41

Jonathan Bernstein on the Extraordinary Quality of Ezra Klein's Wonkblog

Jonathan Bernstein: A plain blog about politics: Catch of the Day: Ezra Klein has always been a terrific friend and supporter of Plain Blog, of me, and of political scientists in general. So I'm not exactly unbiased on this. On the other hand, I'd take his support to be pretty convincing evidence that he is not, as [Julia] Ioffe believes, always looking "upward" -- I mean, really, when Ezra first took notice of me I couldn't have been more of a nobody, and even now it's hard to see that there's much percentage in it for him in (as he does) occasionally tweeting out one of my posts. I think Ed Kilgore nails it: Ezra has a great talent for collegiality…. The thing about Wonkblog is how astonishingly good it is. Ezra is exactly right that policy was (and is) undercovered by the general-interest press, but presumably that's systematic, and he's found a way to break through that, somehow. That's an important story! Not only that, but he's expanded into his current format while maintaining consistent, terrific quality. That's an interesting story! Perhaps even more interesting than who he spoke with at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Granted, that story, especially the first half, would have a lot less to do with Ezra Klein than it would with the general orientation of a large group of bloggers, some in roughly Ezra's generation but many not, who place policy far more in the center of their interest in politics than has traditionally been the case with most reporters. (Oh, and I've never met Gene Sperling, but I suspect DeLong is exactly right in his Klein/Sperling comments. Also: yes, Sperling is an important player at the moment, but Ioffe is telling a story about the White House Correspondents' Dinner: there are lots of important players in that room! And by the way, that includes Ezra Klein, who the WH might just want to be talking to for their own purposes -- in other words, it's possible that Ioffe's informant has the story backwards). Anyway, not that there's anything wrong with doing a personality profile, but… we're not getting the interesting parts of this story. Ed Kilgore: Ed Kilgore: Political Animal - An Earned Celebrity: One of the least surprising ventures of the shiny new New Republic, with its focus on what might be called the aesthetic side of politics, is an extensive profile of Ezra Klein…. Julia Ioffe’s impressionistic take on Klein… misses one aspect of his career and personality that helps explain his success: Ezra’s one of those people with a rare talent for collegiality. This extends beyond the civil tone of his writing to his genuine interest in the strange assortment of people drawn to political and policy writing in all its forms…. As he often explained to JournoList participants, Klein’s main motive in creating that Google Group was to introduce policy experts, political reporters, and opinion journalists to each other and get them talking to improve everyone’s work. And it succeeded…. That some blogger in his early twenties succeeded in putting that community together was a testimony to Ezra Klein’s sincerity and charm. And it’s the same quality I experienced in 2007, when Ezra devoted a couple of hours to squiring me—a long-time operative of the much-hated Democratic Leadership Council—around a YearlyKos gathering in Chicago, showing people I didn’t have horns and introducing me to many future friends…. He’s earned it, professionally and personally, and unless he’s changed recently, he hasn’t let it go to his head.

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13 февраля 2013, 14:11

Reckitt gets taste for Chinese remedy

The group behind Nurofen, Strepsils and Durex condoms buys Oriental Medicine Company to add more holistic treatments to its portfolio