Archive for November, 2012
Originally posted on The "Great" One's Blog:
By all indications, 2012 may be just as bad (in terms of the economy) if not worse than 2011. Certainly, the outlook is not particularly optimistic – at least not in the United States. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press
SYDNEY (AP) — Glittering fireworks in the shapes of butterflies, hearts and a cascading waterfall exploded over Sydney’s Harbour Bridge on Sunday as cheering revelers welcomed 2012 and bid a weary adieu to a year marred by natural disasters and economic turmoil.
More than 1.5 million people crowded onto yachts and along the shores of the city’s harbor to watch the shimmering pyrotechnic display designed around the theme “Time to Dream” — a nod to the eagerness many felt in moving forward after the rough year.
“It’s about giving people the opportunity to dream of the year ahead and that hopefully it is a bit better than the year we’ve had,” said Aneurin Coffey, producer of Sydney’s New Year’s festivities.
Some of the fireworks formed the shape of clouds — “Because every cloud has a silver lining,” Coffey said. Colorful lights beamed onto the center of the bridge formed an “endless rainbow” symbolizing hope.
Many were eager for a fresh start.
“I’ve had enough this year,” said 68-year-old Sandra Cameron, who lost nearly everything she owned when her home in Australia’s Queensland state was flooded to the ceiling during a cyclone in February. “It’s gotta be a better year next year.”
World leaders evoked 2011′s events in their New Year’s messages. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who starts his second term on New Year’s Day, said he wants to help ensure and sustain the moves toward democracy that protesters sought in the Arab Spring.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the new year would be more difficult than 2011 but dealing with Europe’s debt crisis would bring its countries closer. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wished well being and prosperity to all Russians “regardless of their political persuasion” after large-scale protests against him.
The mood was festive in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa, where, for once, revelers were the first in the world to welcome the new year, rather than the last.
Samoa and neighboring Tokelau hopped across the international date line at midnight on Thursday, skipping Friday and moving instantly to Saturday. The time-jump revelry that began at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 31 spilled into the night, with Samoans and tourists crowding around pools and on beaches to toast the start of 2012.
Samoa and Tokelau lie near the date line that zigzags vertically through the Pacific Ocean, and both sets of islands decided to realign themselves this year from the Americas side of the line to the Asia side, to be more in tune with key trading partners.
“Everyone is happy right now,” said Mao Visita, who was celebrating at the popular Aggie Grey’s hotel in the capital, Apia. “The party is still going on with plenty of music.”
Things were slightly more subdued in New Zealand, where torrential rains and thunderstorms canceled fireworks displays in the capital, Wellington, the North Island city of Palmerston North and at the popular Mount Maunganui beach area. Aucklanders had better luck, with thousands crowding the city to watch fireworks erupt from the Sky Tower.
For Japan, 2011 was the year the nation was struck by a giant tsunami and earthquake that left an entire coastline destroyed, nearly 20,000 people dead or missing and the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in meltdown.
At the year’s end, many were reflecting on the fragility of life, while quietly determined to recover.
“For me, the biggest thing that defined this year was the disaster in March,” said Miku Sano, 28, a nursing student in Fukushima city. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to say to these people, who had to fight sickness while living in fear about ever being able to go back home. The radiation levels in the city of Fukushima, where I live, are definitely not low, and we don’t know how that is going to affect our health in the future.”
People in Japan spent Saturday visiting shrines and temples, offering their first prayers for the year. The giant hanging bells at temples were to ring 108 times to purify the world of evil and bring good luck.
University student Kouichi Takayama said 2011 was a year he would never forget.
“It was a year I felt the preciousness of life with a passion,” he said. “But I was also able to catch a glimpse of the warmth of human relations, and reconfirm my gratitude for family, community and everyday life. I hope I can connect meaningfully with more people next year to create a Japan that truly endures toward the future.”
In the southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro, people were still coping with the aftermath of a tropical storm and flash flooding that killed more than 1,200.
For Ana Caneda, a disaster relief official in the badly hit city, the new year “offers a new ray of hope.”
“It’s going to be a relief to write the date 2012, not 2011,” Caneda said.
In Hong Kong, more than 400,000 people were expected to watch a 4-minute, $1 million display of fireworks shot from 10 skyscrapers, lighting up Victoria Harbour.
Raymond Lo, a master of feng shui — the Chinese art of arranging objects and choosing dates to improve luck — said he wasn’t surprised that 2011 was such a tumultuous year because it was associated with the natural elements of metal and wood. The year’s natural disasters were foreshadowed, Lo said, because wood — which represents trees and nature — was attacked by metal.
2012 could be better because it’s associated with ocean water, which represents energy and drive and the washing away of old habits, Lo said.
“Big water also means charity, generosity,” Lo said. “Therefore that means sharing. That means maybe the big tycoons will share some of their wealth.”
Associated Press writers Ray Lilley in Wellington, New Zealand, Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines, Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.
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Originally posted on Beyond Highbrow - Robert Lindsay:
Our choice is socialism or barbarism.
- Rosa Luxembourg
Those words are as true today as when she said them in 1918.
By the way, Luxembourg was one of the Jewish leaders of the German Communist and socialist movement which coalesced in the short lived Bavarian Socialist Republic in 1920. The movement was quickly defeated, hundreds were killed, and there was much chaos.
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Originally posted on Matisak's Blog (A Stamp on the World):
According to media report Russian spy ring of 10 people including Anna Chapman was getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member and FBI feared that Chapman would compromise a senior US official in a honey trap. Should the official (he or she) be named?
ABCnews reports: A female Russian agent got “close enough” to a sitting U.S. cabinet member that the FBI felt they had to swoop in and arrest the lot — but it wasn’t the famous femme fatale Anna Chapman, federal officials said today.
Originally posted on News that matters:
Absentia trial of four top IDF officers draws hundreds who chant ‘Death to Israel,’ wield Palestinian flags.
A Turkish court on Tuesday opened a trial in absentia of four former Israeli military commanders in the killing of nine people aboard a Turkish ship that tried to break the Gaza blockade.
Originally posted on TechCrunch:
The petition, which you can read (and if you’re so inclined, sign) here, is titled: “Chicago BACP: Don’t Kill Uber! Remove the No Measured Rates Provision.” The problems, according to both the petition and earlier statements from the company, lie in sections that prohibit limo companies from using electronic measurement devices and the use of time- or distance-based charges. Uber’s argument: Limo companies in Chicago already charge this way, they’re just doing it with less precision. So the petition is asking for Chicago regulators to drop the rules.
Allen Penn, the general manager of Uber Chicago, told me that the petition launched yesterday, and thus far, the company has focused on promoting the petition to people in Chicago, rather than the full Uber user base — though it will be expanding its efforts throughout the week. The company is shooting for 5,000 signatures total, and as of 5:50 p.m. Pacific, the petition had around 1,900.
Originally posted on Gigaom:
Last month when I stopped by for the launch of Microsoft (s MSFT) Windows Phone (8) event in San Francisco, of all the things that impressed me about the platform was the seamless integration of Skype into the operating system. It was almost invisible and you had to try hard to see if Skype was really there. Microsoft Surface, too offers that seamless Skype experience. And today Microsoft announced that it is going to scrap its Windows Live Messenger (WLM) product and instead transition about 100 million of these WLM users to Skype. All these folks will have to do is just download the new Skype 6.0 client and log-in using their WLM credentials. That is a nice way to goose up Skype’s overall base of users – 280 million by about a third, at the very least.
From the perspective of the proverbial M&A handbook, this is actually what Microsoft expected when it paid $8.5 billion for Skype, the peer-to-peer Internet telephony upstart. Microsoft, paid billions because of its senior executives, Joe Williams, who ran the Microsoft Lync business believed that Skype was going to eat Microsoft’s lunch in the enterprise. And he wasn’t wrong. So they bought the competition.
Skype has been an integral part of my daily life and a key communication tool since it launched. I use it for messaging, voice calls and video calls. It is important enough that I overlook what I think is third rate user experience, that has been slowly but surely declining. However, lately, one of Skype’s key value propositions — our ability to make phone calls has started to suffer.