Russia plans universal ID-payment card to cut red tape
Russia plans to introduce a universal identity-payment card for all of its citizens, Kremlin aide and chief presidential economics advisor Arkady Dvorkovich said on Monday.
The proposed card, which would look similar to a regular bank card, would contain an electronic chip with the holder's personal information, including fingerprints and a photograph, Dvorkovich told a news conference on Monday. It could also be used to pay utilities, transportation and medical bills.
Dvorkovich said the cost of the project, spread over the next five years, would be around 150-200 billion rubles ($5.2-$6.9 bln).
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev praised the idea, saying the card would ease Russia's complicated registration rules, which currently require Russians to register with the local authorities when they move to a new city.
The card could also be combined with driver's licenses, medical insurance, and school and university ID cards, the president said during a modernization committee meeting.
Medvedev proposed embossing the ID-cards with the Russian flag and crest, but said ideas for the design would be open to discussion on the Kremlin website.
Greatest Evacuation In Turkish History - 17.000 People Evacuated From Libya
The greatest evacuation mission since the start of the Libyan revolt are conducted with 2 ferries (Orhan Gazi & Osman Gazi) and 3 passenger ships (Ankara, Samsun, İskenderun).The ships was escorted by 4 Frigattes and 1 Logistic ship.The ships was also protected by SAT and SAS commandos (Underwater attack and defense commandos)
During their journey to Libya the ships carried over 40 tons of aid, mostly food, medical aid and also ambulances.
Also many civil and millitary aircrafts are engaged.
Groupon has finally launched its China site at GaoPeng.com, following weeks of reports and speculation on how the U.S. company was going to enter the country's burgeoning Internet market.
The site was operational Monday morning, although it currently offers no discounted deals. Users can only sign up to subscribe to the site's email newsletters. The site advertises discounts that run from 50 to 70 percent off. In English, its name can be translated as "friend in a high place."
The company is hoping to tap the new e-commerce trend in China known as "group buying", which it helped popularize in the U.S. Group buying works by offering a range of discounted deals on restaurant meals to even clothing and health spa services. Customers can only obtain the deals, however, if enough users buy in. When the threshold is reached, the deal is given out to all those who participated.
China, with its 457 million Internet users, represents the next major market for Groupon. But competition is already fierce among local rivals. The country has more than 1,700 group buying sites. Even the China-based domain name Groupon.cn is already being used by another group buying site.
Until now, Groupon was quiet about its plans for China. The company had set up an office in Beijing that has been actively recruiting employees. There was also speculation that it was facing trouble trying to launch its services in the country because GaoPeng.com went online earlier this month, but then abruptly shutdown the next day.
Several Chinese group buying sites have also said they will not re-hire any employees who have gone to work for Groupon. The competitors allege Groupon has been poaching their staff through headhunting firms. Groupon has not responded to the accusations.
Other U.S. based Internet firms like eBay, Amazon and Google have also entered the China market, only to struggle to find the success they envisioned. Local competition and, at times, Chinese censorship laws have all been cited as reasons.
But analysts say Groupon may have made one smart move to better position itself in the China market. It is rumored that Chinese internet giant Tencent is Groupon's partner in GaoPeng.com. Tencent is most famous for being the operator of QQ, China's biggest instant messaging client with more than 655 million active accounts. The partnership would give Groupon a backer that understands the Chinese market, analysts say.
Hero pilot will take freedom flights 'until it gets too scary'
He has helped hundreds of desperate people -- among them Irish citizens -- to escape the terror and turmoil of Tripoli.
It was former Ryanair pilot Guido Fromme (50) who pushed his way through the chaotic scenes at Tripoli airport calling out to Irish, British and European citizens to offer them seats on his freedom flight to Istanbul.
But don't call him a hero.
"Don't mention that," he told the Irish Independent yesterday. "It is better to mention that a guy who has a heart is just doing a job."
A group of Irish teachers who arrived home from the Libyan capital this week sang the praises of the German pilot, who got them on to his flight to Istanbul.
"He's a pretty amazing person," said Lisa Ruane (25) from Castlebar.
She had been teaching at the International School of Martyrs in Tripoli before being forced to flee the capital last week along with many of her Irish friends.
"When we asked him how much money we should give, he said, 'I'm not looking for money, I'm looking to save your lives'."
She told how their group of about 18 passengers lined up behind the pilot and followed him in Pied-Piper fashion through the airport.
"After we were on board he made an announcement to enjoy our flight. He was just amazing," said Lisa.
Mr Fromme, who yesterday was on standby in Istanbul waiting for clearance to return to Libya, has flown several charter flights for Buraq Air this week, ferrying hundreds of people out of the country.
"When I got my load sheet I told them (authorities) we still had 63 seats free and I wouldn't go with a half-empty aircraft," said Mr Fromme.
He and his co-pilot went into the airport looking for passengers to fill the plane.
While up to 6,000 people milled about inside the airport, he said more than 80,000 others packed the car parks outside, unable to get into the building.
He said he had been in the German Army for several years and knew what he was doing. "When things get too scary then I will stop."
The Bundeswehr teamed up with the British Royal Air Force to stage a risky covert rescue mission, plucking 132 Europeans from Libya, among them 22 Germans, according to a media report on Monday.
Berlin and London worked together on “Operation Narfurah” for days, but in the end the mission lasted just 45 minutes on Friday evening, news magazine Der Spiegel reported, citing anonymous military sources.
“The operation in Libya was one of the riskiest missions by the Bundeswehr in recent years, planned under the strictest secrecy,” Der Spiegel wrote.
Four military transport planes – two Transall planes ordered by the Germans, and two other planes by the Brits – landed briefly in the Libyan desert to save Europeans from the escalating violence in the North African country, the magazine said.
According to the report, the Bundeswehr saw no other alternative to the dangerous mission near Nafoora, as the location is called in English. The 22 Germans and other Europeans, among them many British oil workers, had reportedly fled to the location near an oil refinery to escape the civil-war-like conditions.
Earlier in the week the Bundeswehr had already used several Transall planes to evacuate about 100 Germans near Tripoli. During that time elite German paratroopers in Lower Saxony were reportedly still preparing for Friday's mission.
On Friday afternoon Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and the chancellery all approved the mission, which happened quickly thereafter, the magazine said.
What do rapey secret leaker Julian Assange and greedy imbecile Sarah Palin have in common? Both love money, and have trademarked their names in pursuit of making more of it.
Palin filed to trademark her name—and her daughter Bristol's—earlier this month. And Assange, who has always presented Wikileaks as a nonprofit, noncommercial endeavor, filed to trademark his in the UK two weeks ago. (He's also filed marks for Wikileaks and its logo.) According to the application, Assange hopes to use his name exclusively to market his "public speaking services; news reporter services; [and] entertainment services."
When Palin trademarked her name, experts found it unusual inasmuch as most politicians don't seek to profit from the use of their names. Assange is perfectly free, of course, to attempt to corner the market among reportorial service providers named Julian Assange. But it's worth pointing out that much more famous British journalists like Jeremy Paxon and Martin Bashir haven't taken the same step. So far, Assange hasn't filed in the U.S.
The Walmart of Weed May Come Soon to a Town Near You
Hydroponics stores are nothing new, but the plant-growing centers generally have the habit of staying silent about the one taboo plant that grows so well using hydroponics technology: marijuana. Not so with weGrow, which claims to be the only hydroponics store that openly caters to the medical Mary Jane consumer. The Oakland, California-based superstore is so popular that it's opening franchises all over the country, starting with a 10,000 foot outlet in Sacramento.
The giant store first opened last year in Oakland as a warehouse store, but was recently converted into a non-retail distribution hub for the weGrow franchise. Before its conversion, the Oakland shop featured a staff that taught medical marijuana card-carrying customers about raising pot plants, pushed nutrients and grow lights on cannabis-happy customers, and even offered an on-site doctor offering medical marijuana recommendations to paying patients.
The Sacramento store opened this past weekend, and will soon be followed by similar centers in Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Clearly, there is a hungry customer base for shops such as these. And with more and more states legalizing medical marijuana, there is no reason why weGrow (and others like it) can't build legitimate businesses based on selling marijuana growing equipment to patients and licensed growers.
Special Report: U.S.cables detail Saudi royal welfare program
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (C, seated) is greeted by a Saudi officer on his arrival at Riyadh airport in this February 23, 2011 file photo. When Saudi King Abdullah arrived home last week, he came bearing gifts: handouts worth $37 billion, apparently intended to placate Saudis of modest means and insulate the world's biggest oil exporter from the wave of protest sweeping the Arab world. But some of the biggest handouts over the past two decades have gone to his own extended family, according to unpublished American diplomatic cables dating back to 1996.
(Reuters) - When Saudi King Abdullah arrived home last week, he came bearing gifts: handouts worth $37 billion, apparently intended to placate Saudis of modest means and insulate the world's biggest oil exporter from the wave of protest sweeping the Arab world.
But some of the biggest handouts over the past two decades have gone to his own extended family, according to unpublished American diplomatic cables dating back to 1996.
The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Reuters, provide remarkable insight into how much the vast royal welfare program has cost the country -- not just financially but in terms of undermining social cohesion.
Besides the huge monthly stipends that every Saudi royal receives, the cables detail various money-making schemes some royals have used to finance their lavish lifestyles over the years. Among them: siphoning off money from "off-budget" programs controlled by senior princes, sponsoring expatriate workers who then pay a small monthly fee to their royal patron and, simply, "borrowing from the banks, and not paying them back."
As long ago as 1996, U.S. officials noted that such unrestrained behavior could fuel a backlash against the Saudi elite. In the assessment of the U.S. embassy in Riyadh in a cable from that year, "of the priority issues the country faces, getting a grip on royal family excesses is at the top."
A 2007 cable showed that King Abdullah has made changes since taking the throne six years ago, but recent turmoil in the Middle East underlines the deep-seated resentment about economic disparities and corruption in the region.
A Saudi government spokesman contacted by Reuters declined to comment.
The November 1996 cable -- entitled "Saudi Royal Wealth: Where do they get all that money?" -- provides an extraordinarily detailed picture of how the royal patronage system works. It's the sort of overview that would have been useful required reading for years in the U.S. State department.
It begins with a line that could come from a fairytale: "Saudi princes and princesses, of whom there are thousands, are known for the stories of their fabulous wealth -- and tendency to squander it."
The most common mechanism for distributing Saudi Arabia's wealth to the royal family is the formal, budgeted system of monthly stipends that members of the Al Saud family receive, according to the cable. Managed by the Ministry of Finance's "Office of Decisions and Rules," which acts like a kind of welfare office for Saudi royalty, the royal stipends in the mid-1990s ran from about $800 a month for "the lowliest member of the most remote branch of the family" to $200,000-$270,000 a month for one of the surviving sons of Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia.
Grandchildren received around $27,000 a month, "according to one contact familiar with the stipends" system, the cable says. Great-grandchildren received about $13,000 and great-great- grandchildren $8,000 a month.
"Bonus payments are available for marriage and palace building," according to the cable, which estimates that the system cost the country, which had an annual budget of $40 billion at the time, some $2 billion a year.
"The stipends also provide a substantial incentive for royals to procreate since the stipends begin at birth."
After a visit to the Office of Decisions and Rules, which was in an old building in Riyadh's banking district, the U.S. embassy's economics officer described a place "bustling with servants picking up cash for their masters." The office distributed the monthly stipends -- not just to royals but to "other families and individuals granted monthly stipends in perpetuity." It also fulfilled "financial promises made by senior princes."
The head of the office at the time, Abdul-Aziz al-Shubayli, told the economics officer that an important part of his job "at least in today's more fiscally disciplined environment, is to play the role of bad cop." He "rudely grilled a nearly blind old man about why an eye operation promised by a prince and confirmed by royal Diwan note had to be conducted overseas and not for free in one of the first-class eye hospitals in the kingdom." After finally signing off on a trip, Shubayli noted that he himself had been in the United States twice for medical treatment, once for a chronic ulcer and once for carpal tunnel syndrome. "He chuckled, suggesting that both were probably job-induced."
FOLLOWING THE MONEY
But the stipend system was clearly not enough for many royals, who used a range of other ways to make money, "not counting business activities."
"By far the largest is likely royal skimming from the approximately $10 billion in annual off-budget spending controlled by a few key princes," the 1996 cable states. Two of those projects -- the Two Holy Mosques Project and the Ministry of Defense's Strategic Storage Project -- are "highly secretive, subject to no Ministry of Finance oversight or controls, transacted through the National Commercial Bank, and widely believed to be a source of substantial revenues" for the then-King and a few of his full brothers, according to the authors of the cable.
In a meeting with the U.S. ambassador at the time, one Saudi prince, alluding to the off-budget programs, "lamented the travesty that revenues from 'one million barrels of oil per day' go entirely to 'five or six princes,'" according to the cable, which quoted the prince.
Then there was the apparently common practice for royals to borrow money from commercial banks and simply not repay their loans. As a result, the 12 commercial banks in the country were "generally leary of lending to royals."
The managing director of another bank in the kingdom told the ambassador that he divided royals into four tiers, according to the cable. The top tier was the most senior princes who, perhaps because they were so wealthy, never asked for loans. The second tier included senior princes who regularly asked for loans. "The bank insists that such loans be 100 percent collateralized by deposits in other accounts at the bank," the cable reports. The third tier included thousands of princes the bank refused to lend to. The fourth tier, "not really royals, are what this banker calls the 'hangers on'."
Another popular money-making scheme saw some "greedy princes" expropriate land from commoners. "Generally, the intent is to resell quickly at huge markup to the government for an upcoming project." By the mid-1990s, a government program to grant land to commoners had dwindled. "Against this backdrop, royal land scams increasingly have become a point of public contention."
The cable cites a banker who claimed to have a copy of "written instructions" from one powerful royal that ordered local authorities in the Mecca area to transfer to his name a "Waqf" -- religious endowment -- of a small parcel of land that had been in the hands of one family for centuries. "The banker noted that it was the brazenness of the letter ... that was particularly egregious."
Another senior royal was famous for "throwing fences up around vast stretches of government land."
The confiscation of land extends to businesses as well, the cable notes. A prominent and wealthy Saudi businessman told the embassy that one reason rich Saudis keep so much money outside the country was to lessen the risk of 'royal expropriation.'"
Finally, royals kept the money flowing by sponsoring the residence permits of foreign workers and then requiring them to pay a monthly "fee" of between $30 and $150. "It is common for a prince to sponsor a hundred or more foreigners," the 1996 cable says.
The U.S. diplomats behind the cable note wryly that despite all the money that has been given to Saudi royals over the years there is not "a significant number of super-rich princes ... In the end," the cable states, Saudi's "royals still seem more adept at squandering than accumulating wealth."
But the authors of the cable also warned that all that money and excess was undermining the legitimacy of the ruling family. By 1996, there was "broad sentiment that royal greed has gone beyond the bounds of reason". Still, as long as the "royal family views this country as 'Al Saud Inc.' ever increasing numbers of princes and princesses will see it as their birthright to receive lavish dividend payments, and dip into the till from time to time, by sheer virtue of company ownership."
In the years that followed that remarkable assessment of Saudi royalty, there were some official efforts toward reform -- driven in the late 1990s and early 2000s in particular by an oil price between $10-20 a barrel. But the real push for reform began in 2005, when King Abdullah succeeded to the throne, and even then change came slowly.
By February 2007, according to a second cable entitled "Crown Prince Sultan backs the King in family disputes", the reforms were beginning to bite. "By far the most widespread source of discontent in the ruling family is the King's curtailment of their privileges," the cable says. "King Abdullah has reportedly told his brothers that he is over 80 years old and does not wish to approach his judgment day with the 'burden of corruption on my shoulder.'"
The King, the cable states, had disconnected the cellphone service for "thousands of princes and princesses." Year-round government-paid hotel suites in Jeddah had been canceled, as was the right of royals to request unlimited free tickets from the state airline. "We have a first-hand account that a wife of Interior minister Prince Naif attempted to board a Saudia flight with 12 companions, all expecting to travel for free," the authors of the cables write, only to be told "to her outrage" that the new rules meant she could only take two free guests.
Others were also angered by the rules. Prince Mishal bin Majid bin Abdulaziz had taken to driving between Jeddah and Riyadh "to show his annoyance" at the reforms, according to the cable.
Abdullah had also reigned in the practice of issuing "block visas" to foreign workers "and thus cut the income of many junior princes" as well as dramatically reducing "the practice of transferring public lands to favored individuals."
The U.S. cable reports that all those reforms had fueled tensions within the ruling family to the point where Interior Minister Prince Naif and Riyadh Governor Prince Salman had "sought to openly confront the King over reducing royal entitlements."
But according to "well established sources with first hand access to this information," Crown Prince Sultan stood by Abdullah and told his brothers "that challenging the King was a 'red line' that he would not cross." Sultan, the cable says, has also followed the King's lead and turned down requests for land transfers.
The cable comments that Sultan, longtime defense minister and now also Crown Prince, seemed to value family unity and stability above all.
Bernie Madoff: ‘The whole US government is a Ponzi scheme’
Bankers should be convicted, swindler tells NYMag
If there's one person who knows a Ponzi scheme, it's Bernie Madoff, the perpetrator of the largest one in world history. And now, locked away in prison, he claims that it wasn't just him, or even just the financial sector.
Madoff believes the entire US government is a Ponzi scheme. In an interview with New York Magazine's Steve Fishman, Madoff sought to "set the record straight," and unloaded on the state of financial regulation in the United States and the impropriety of the banks.
He said Wall Street deserved a large share of guilt in bringing about the financial crisis, and that some bankers deserved to be indicted for crimes.
"It's unbelievable, Goldman … no one has any criminal convictions," Madoff told Fishman.
"The whole new regulatory reform is a joke. The whole government is a Ponzi scheme."
Fidel Castro expected to resign as Cubaparty chief
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro speaks during a meeting with Cuban and foreign intellectuals visiting Havana's international book fair February 15, 2011.
(Reuters) - The Cuban Communist Party has moved forward the election of new leadership to a congress in April where longtime party leader Fidel Castro is expected to step down, sources close to the party said over the weekend. Castro, 84, previously handed over most of the responsibilities as first secretary but kept the title. His official departure from his last leadership position would be a symbolically important step toward a new era for the island he ruled for 49 years. President Raul Castro, as second secretary of the Communist Party, is in line to succeed his older brother as its top leader, just as he did when Fidel Castro resigned the presidency in February 2008. But because there are currently no other Castro family members in leading positions, the second secretary spot likely will be filled by someone without Castro as a last name for the first time since the party was created in 1965. As first and second secretaries, the Castro brothers lead the party's guiding Central Committee, for which elections originally were expected to be held at a party conference at the end of this year. But the vote has been moved to April because party statutes say it must be done at a formal congress, sources said. The Central Committee chooses the party's powerful Political Bureau and its executive Secretariat, where numerous changes are also expected, sources said. Governments, Cuba watchers and the local population hope changes in the top party ranks will shed light on who might replace the Castro brothers and other aging leaders who first came to power in the 1959 revolution in which Fidel Castro took over the Caribbean island. At stake is the future leadership of the country as it undergoes important economic reforms that President Castro, 79, says are necessary to keep the communist system alive. MODERNIZE THE ECONOMY He has said that the primary task of the April congress, the first since 1997, is to officially adopt reforms that modernize Cuba's Soviet-style economy. The Communist Party is the only legal political party in Cuba and the country's constitution says it is "the highest directing force of the society and state." Despite widespread expectation that he will resign, Fidel Castro, who has been in the background since he was stricken with an intestinal disorder in July 2006, still has supporters who think he should stay as party leader. Both he and Raul Castro are among those who have been nominated in the local party elections. "There are many people in the party who want Fidel to continue on, but I think in the end some sort of new position will be created for him," one party insider said, asking his name not be used. The 2006 illness required emergency surgery and led to complications that Castro has said nearly killed him. When he resigned as president, Fidel Castro said he was no longer in condition to run the daily affairs of the country. But he regularly writes columns for local media and the Internet and is consulted on important matters of state. He is still a member of Cuba's parliament, but has not attended its twice-yearly meetings since falling ill. After four years out of public view, he reappeared last summer and since then has held sporadic public encounters with groups of local professionals and visitors, videos of which are sometimes broadcast by state television.
"Gaddafi's private plane is loaded with gold bullion and lots of hard currency, mainly dollars, and is preparing to flee to Zimbabwe
ALGIERS - Embattled Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is said to be readying to flee the country, a London-based Libyan political activist claimed yesterday, as the rebellion crept closer to Tripoli and forces loyal to Col Gaddafi struck back in several cites surrounding the capital.
"Gaddafi's private plane is loaded with gold bullion and lots of hard currency, mainly dollars, and is preparing to flee to Zimbabwe to stay there with his friend Robert Mugabe," Mr Guma el-Gamaty told Australian broadcaster ABC yesterday, quoting "quite reliable sources".
"We think this could happen very shortly because the Security Council is threatening to impose a no-fly zone and we think that Gaddafi will try to escape before this no-fly zone is imposed, possibly by tomorrow."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday led calls for a Nato-imposed no-fly zone to be enforced over Libya to "prevent the use of that country's warplanes against (its) population".
In the afternoon, Col Gaddafi called a state TV talk show and delivered another rambling speech blaming the week-long unrest on Al Qaeda. He also said people were fighting among each other and were taking hallucinogenic drugs.
In towns within an hour's drive from the capital, armed pro-Gaddafi militias, consisting of mercenaries from other African countries and irregular security forces, patrolled the streets and residents stayed indoors.
Meanwhile, Libya's borders with neighbours Egypt and Tunisia were no longer manned by the Libyan army, according to reports. Reuters
Bloomberg Launching Daily Live Tech TV Show Called Bloomberg West On Monday
Bloomberg is launching a new daily hourly television show called Bloomberg West next week, we hear. It’s on the air daily at 3 pm Pacific and then again at 8 pm. The show will focus on technology, innovation and business, says the promo clip that has been running regularly on Bloomberg. It’s being recorded from their new San Francisco offices.
The show is hosted by Emily Chang, formerly with CNN in Bejing, and Cory Johnson, who was most recently a hedge fund manager and is a long time journalist. It’ll will be available to 250 million people worldwide who have Bloomberg TV.
Bloomberg has significantly stepped up it’s technology news coverage in other ways too. Game Changers, a show that debuted in October 2010, has profiled ten or so tech leaders, including Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and others.
You can also watch Bloomberg TV streaming online, here.
(Reuters) - Police and demonstrators demanding political reform clashed in Oman on Sunday, killing two people, and protesters set government buildings and cars ablaze, witnesses said. Here are some facts about Oman:
-- Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world and has been ruled by the Al-Said family since 1744. It has longstanding military and political ties with the United States and Britain, but maintains an independent foreign policy. Although an oil exporter it is not a member of OPEC.
-- Qaboos bin Said, now 70, became Sultan in July 1970 after deposing his father in a palace coup with the aim of ending the isolation of his country, located in the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula at the entrance to the Gulf, and using its oil revenue for modernization and development.
-- He has absolute power and appoints the cabinet. In 1992, Qaboos allowed a parliament called Majlis Shura, whose 84 members are elected by constituents in 61 districts. But the parliament only advises and has no legislative powers.
-- There is concern among the population about succession in the country, as there is no heir apparent or any clear legislation on who may be the next Sultan.
-- Demonstrations in Oman are rare. In the first sign that regional unrest was spreading to the sultanate, about 200 people protested near ministries in Muscat earlier this month asking the government to tackle corruption and rising prices.
-- Oman produced around 860,000 barrels of oil per day last year, most of which was exported.
-- The economy grew by a faster-than-expected 6 percent in 2010 and robust crude oil prices enabled Oman to overspend on its 2010 budget, which had set expenditure at 7.18 billion rials ($18.65 billion).
-- Analysts see growth slowing this year to 4.6 percent due to slower revenue growth from oil and gas.
-- Over a third of the workforce is estimated to be employed in agriculture, even though it accounts for less than 2 percent of GDP. Much of the country is arid and mountainous and only 3.5 percent is available as agricultural land. Poultry, cattle, cereals, fruit and vegetables are produced and dates are the main agricultural export.
-- Inflation accelerated to 4.2 percent year-on-year in December and prices rose 0.7 percent from the previous month, the fastest pace in four months, as food costs soared, data also released showed.
First test for failure Vienna contenders: Sexy Bikini Shooting in freezing temperatures
Who is Miss Vienna 2011?
The finalists for the Miss Vienna choice are: 16 young women aged 18-25 years were in the casting on Friday, 02/25/2011 for the Finals on Tuesday 1 qualify March in the Scotch Club. Now the beautiful people had a real tough test subject: In icy temperatures was photographed in a bikini!
Each of the finalists showed that and how much they new Miss Vienna will be. Your first challenge they had on Saturday evening in a bikiniShooting supercooled at -2 degrees before Scotch Club Photographer Christian Scharl presented their willpower to the test.
Next hurdle on the way to the Jury Contest to survive themselves. That was not enough, we also need to stand up to presenter Dominic Heinzl-certainly not an easy exercise. be included in the standings with abgehsehen the look and charisma, charm and the ability to present themselves - for the future Miss Vienna wait apart from great prices and ceremonial duties for one year.
The jury decides who will be
Miss Vienna 2011
In the prominent jury Isabella BognerBader, Lifestyle avant-gardist, Dr Wolfgang Metka, a specialist in plastic surgery, Dr. Ernst Wandl vein surgery Dr. Wandl, Michaela Ernst editor Weekend Magazine, Thomas Hautz sports lottery, Austria boss, Sofie shock Miss Vienna 2010, Christian Scharl Photo Studio Scharl, Christian Hruska Managing Gruppa L 'Ultima, Reissner Raphaela GF Scotch Club, Missy May, singer, Michael Quester designer label owner "Cassida," Ferdinand Fischer GF Harley Davidson Vienna, Alexander Serdjukov expedition Expedition to South Pole, "Dr. MartinRalph Fraundorfer Member of the Management of Austria Tabak and Ossi Matic CEO Lucky Car take place.
Miss-Party at the Scotch Club
The Miss Vienna election will be held in camera. Only invited guests from business, sport and media -and of course Vienna Online -will be there when the new Miss on Tuesday the crown is placed. The only chance to admire all the beauties of the area, and therefore constitutes the Miss-Party on Friday 4 March in the Scotch Club - with all 16 finalists of the Miss Vienna choice.
Did Google Pre-Emptively Block a 4G iPhone on Verizon?
In 2008, after much protest, Verizon accepted openness conditions attached to valuable spectrum being auctioned off by the FCC, and spent $4.7 billion to buy nationwide capacity that would ensure it could build a robust 4G network for the next generation of mobile devices.
But in doing so, Verizon may have screwed itself out of ever being able to offer a 4G-capable iPhone.
The problem is that the “open access” rules attached to the so-called 700 Mhz C block require the carrier to allow the use of any hardware or software that it can’t prove won’t damage the network.
The rules were inserted at the behest of Google, which was bidding for the spectrum but who some cynics contended got involved not to win but to ensure that whoever got the spectrum couldn’t hamper its business, which requires a free and robust internet.
Google’s idea was to create an open space for innovation where a person could buy any device (including one from Google) and run any app that met open standards with no interference by the carrier.
And depending upon how you interpret the rules, which Verizon fought in court before the auction, they also required that the wireless carrier only offer devices that are open and able to run any app. That interpretation would clearly rule out the iPhone, which is locked down by design, and only apps approved by Apple can be loaded onto the device without breaking the device’s warranty.
That’s how Markham Erickson, a technology lawyer and the executive director of the Open Internet Coalition, sees it.
“The interpretation that the rules would ensure all handsets sold by the licensee would be unlocked was the clear intent from Chairman Martin at the time,” Markham said, referring to Kevin Martin, the Republican who headed the FCC at the time the auction rules were set.
When Martin testified to Congress about the provision, Martin made it clear that that “this condition means all handsets will be unlocked and open to all apps,” according to Markham.
Penn State University professor of law and technology Robert Frieden also thinks Verizon might find itself in a pickle.
“I would think the requirement would apply to any device Verizon marketed using that spectrum,” Frieden told Wired.com.
Verizon told the FCC it thinks the rules mean that it has to allow any third-party app or device that doesn’t harm the network, but that it can sell restricted devices and restrict apps on those devices.
As the company said in a September 2007 letter to the FCC: “Verizon Wireless’s position [is] that the Commission should not force C-block licensees to allow any and all lawful applications to be downloaded to any devices that licensees provide, including devices that are not configured to accommodate any and all applications.”
That’s not how Google interprets the rule, according to a 2008 filing calling on the FCC to make sure Verizon follows the rules.
The Commission’s open access rule is clear that C Block licensees “shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice….” The rule thus plainly proscribes a C Block licensee from selling handsets to customers that hinder a customer’s ability to use applications of their choice, and applies to all customers of a C Block licensee.
Verizon’s position would completely reverse the meaning of the rule such that the open access condition would apply to none of Verizon’s customers, and thereby render the condition a nullity.
The FCC decided to impose rules on the 700 Mhz block after noting that carriers had blocked applications and crippled devices — such as turning off their WiFi chips or disabling Bluetooth, something Verizon used to be notorious for.
“Although wireless broadband services have great promise, we have become increasingly concerned that certain practices in the wireless industry may constrain consumer access to wireless broadband networks and limit the services and functionalities provided to consumers by these networks,” the FCC said in a 350-page ruling on the auction (.pdf).
“Specifically, a C Block licensee may not block, degrade, or interfere with the ability of end users to download and utilize applications of their choosing on the licensee’s C Block network, subject to reasonable network management,” the FCC continued.
Currently, Verizon is in the clear, despite having recently landed the iPhone. The company boasts that it’s LTE network (a form of 4G) is the “fastest and most advanced,” but all of the phones it currently offers for use on that network are Android devices — which allow a user to easily install any app they like, whether its in Google’s only slightly curated market or not.
Verizon has also set up a portal to help developers who wish to create devices or apps that will run on its LTE network and has a certification program.
In retrospect, the rules seem almost superfluous, thanks to Android’s stunning inroads into the smart phone market and in part, because Google’s dream of selling an open handset directly to consumers died not long after birth. But the open-source OS has allowed AT&T’s competitors to offer smart phones that rival the iPhone, creating an explosion in Android devices from manufacturers including Motorola, Samsung and HTC.
That development led Google and Verizon growing closer thanks to Verizon’s embrace of the Android OS as a way to compete with AT&T’s exclusive lock on the iPhone, and the two even came up with a “compromise” net neutrality proposal last summer.
But that new-found friendship might be tested if the 4G spectrum rules Google pushed end up blocking Verizon from launching a 4G iPhone.
Google declined to comment on how it interprets the rules now.
When asked, Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Boyd Raney said “I couldn’t speculate on that since an LTE iPhone doesn’t exist.”
Verizon may have some time to mull its options or even go back to court to get the rules thrown own, as Apple tends to wait to adopt the latest innovations in wireless spectrum until the technology matures so it’s unlikely that the 2011 version of the iPhone will be 4G. That means it’s likely that Verizon won’t have to face this tough problem until June of 2012.
But in the meantime, lawyers will be very busy trying to figure out possible loopholes, according to Penn State’s Friedan.
“Lawyers get paid lots of money to think cleverly and then talk to engineers to configure the phone to do that,” Friedan said.
Markham suggests lots of people in the tech world will be trying to figure this out as well.
“I don’t think there’s any kind of resolution around whether Verizon could sell a 4G iPhone,” Markham said. “We will have to wait to see. We will see a collective scratching of the head.”
Turkish businessmen fear a spark to launch uprising in Morocco
Reported looting during mass protests in Morocco, which are quite peaceful compared with recent Egyptian and Libyan turmoil, worry Turkish investors in the country. The Turkish Embassy in Rabat has already called Turkish firms to declare their amount of investments in Morocco, according to a businessman. Still, the Turkish-Moroccan Business Council says the situation is stable
A protester raises his fist during a protest in Casablanca on Feb. 20. AP photo
As a domino effect theory seems justified with the constant sparks of protests and political turmoil across North African countries, Turkish businessmen say Morocco is far from a “safe heaven.”
Nihat Çiftçi, a Turkish investor living in Berrechid, a western Moroccan city located nearly 40 kilometers from tourist magnet Casablanca, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday that the situation in the country is getting worse day by day due to rising protests that end up vandalizing public buildings, police stations and banks.
“I am scared for my children and wife,” said the Turkish investor, who currently runs a mid-size factory producing chocolate and biscuits for the Moroccan market under the Marstar brand.
“Most of my regular customers have started to cancel their orders, as they know that sooner or later their shops will be looted,” said Çiftçi.
He said that nearly 50 percent of his orders have been canceled over fears of looting. Çiftçi said most Turkish businessmen in the country communicate with locals with the help of interpreters and many do not realize the rising tensions. Many shops are closed in the northern province of Tangier and western province of Srarhna, according to Çiftçi.
Çiftçi, who employs 60 Moroccans, said, “I am seriously considering taking my family and fleeing the country,” during a phone interview. “There have recently been three police stations set on fire in Marrakech recently.”
According to him, xenophobia in the country is gaining popularity among people in the streets. “I keep receiving treating phone calls telling me to get out the country,” he said. Noting that Morocco might seem safe at the moment, he said: “No one could guarantee us there will not be similar events to Egypt and Libya. Morocco can catch fire at any time.
The Turkish Embassy in Rabat has already called Turkish firms to declare their amount of investments in Morocco, Çiftçi said.
Turkish firms to discuss risks
Still, Banu Anıl, the chairperson of the Turkish-Moroccan Business Council at Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board, or DEİK, thinks the opposite. “I have talked with the officials of the Turkish embassy a few days ago; I was informed that the situation is rather stable within the country so far,” she told the Daily News. “We have been informed of this way before the revolt started in Libya and that is why we remain prudent.”
She said a Turkish minister had canceled his trip to the country. DEİK will form a crisis center to discuss the Moroccan unrest Tuesday, with members from the DEİK board and executives of Tekfen Construction, Temsa Global Industry and Arkas Anadolu Transportation, three prominent Turkish companies.
Anıl remains hopeful of the potential for Morocco and Turkish business. Turkish firms have a total of $1.3 billion in the construction, refinery and textile sectors. Noting that there is no doubt that North African economies will be affected by the tension, she said, “I believe that the current situation will actually affect Morocco positively.”
In a written statement, Anıl said, “The reactions and protests of the Moroccans are not against the foreign investors in the country, especially not Turkish investors.”
Mustafa Nabi Başsaçık, owner of MT Plastiques Sarl, a plastic recycling firm in the western province of Kenitra said that Morocco is a promising market. “Some people have attacked banks and few textile firms have been looted,” he confirmed. “Still, there is not much damage to our business yet.”
More protests on the way
Looting remains a crucial “side effect” of the protests demanding more freedom and a more transparent country with less fraud, according to recent reports. Michael Johnston from ETFdb, an online finance database, reported that last week’s looting broke out in the midst of protests calling for changes to the constitution. “The reports indicated that at least five people had died and more than 100 buildings had been damaged in the wake of looting,” Johnston noted earlier last week.
According to Agence France-Presse, several dozen people looted shops, lit cars on fire and threw stones at public buildings in several cities including tourist-hub Marrakech and the northern port of Larache last weekend. In Marrakech, 150-200 people attacked and looted shops including a branch of McDonalds, the agency reported, quoting an eyewitness. Young protestors attacked public buildings including a police post and a customs office in Larache. Some protestors lit five cars on fire in Al Hoceima. The Moroccan government promised to inject 1.4 billion euros in subsidies to soften price hikes for food, according to AFP.
A large group of people were preparing mass protests in Moroccan capital Rabat on Saturday and Sunday, according to sources. The Moroccan Human Right Association, or AMDH, has called for massive protests all over the country this weekend.
Tensions hit textiles
Turkish textile firms have been hit by the tension in Morocco, said Hikmet Tanrıverdi, chairman of Turkish Textile and Apparel Exporters’ Union, or İTKİB, in a phone interview Thursday. He said, “Bilateral trade will be hit by the unrest as there are many Moroccan firms importing raw materials for textile industry from Turkey.” Noting his concern about the intensifying protests, he said, “Raw materials and accessory manufacturer firms planning to invest in Morocco have canceled their investment plans due to the unrests.”
Turkey’s exports to Morocco increased from $721.5 million to $957.7 million in 2008. With the effect of the global economic crisis, Turkish export volume dropped sharply to $598.5 million in 2009. Giving signs of a recovery, Turkish exports increased to approximately $624.3 million last year according to figures of the Turkish Statistics Institution, or TurkStat. Turkey’s imports increased from $198.4 million to $360.5 million in 2008 compared with the previous year. The volume of Moroccan products imported decreased to $234.7 million in 2009 and returned back to pre-crisis levels with $396.7 million by the end of last year according to official figures. Turkey has approximately $780 million in direct investment according to 2008 figures, and Turkish firms have signed contracts worth around $1.3 billion.