Chinese Scientists Warn Danger of People-to-People Transmission of H7N9; Three “staircases” of the virus genome have been displaced; the fourth displacement will result in people-to-people transmission

Chinese Scientists Warn Danger of People-to-People Transmission of H7N9

04-27 11:11 Caijing

Three “staircases” of the virus genome, which is like a spiral stairs, have been displaced, Li said.

A group of Chinese scientists have warned the danger of H7N9 spreading from people to people as China has confirmed 120 cases of infection of the new strain of bird flu, with 23 fatal. A research group of professors from China’s top universities led by Li Lanjuan, a H7N9 expert, has found that the bird flu virus is increasingly apt to infect mammals, which adds to the risk of people-to-people contraction, according to a Friday’s report by Qianjiang Evening, a newspaper based in southeast China’s Zhejiang Province. Three “staircases” of the virus genome, which is like a spiral stairs, have been displaced, Li said. Stability of the stairs would be sabotaged and people-to-people transmission could become reality if displacement of a fourth should appear, she warned.   “Hopefully there won’t be a fourth displaced staircase,” said Li Lanjuan who vowed closer monitoring. An investigation group of the World Health Organization (WHO) Wednesday called for closer international and domestic cooperation as it said experts still have limited knowledge of the virus. The group reiterated that there’s not enough evidence showing the virus being transmitted from people to people.  No typical symptoms have been found in poultry carrying the virus, which makes it harder to track, the group said. Taiwan reported its first case of H7N9 infection Tuesday, someone who stayed in Suzhou, Zhejiang Province from March 28th to April 9th. Zhejiang is the most-hit area in the mainland, reporting 45 people infected by H7N9, with 6 of them being killed. The bird flu strain has been spread to 11 provinces including Taiwan.

H7N9 bird flu spreads to central China’s Hunan; total infections rise to 119 with 24 dead

H7N9 bird flu spreads to central China’s Hunan

AFP News – 51 minutes ago

China’s deadly outbreak of H7N9 bird flu has spread to the central province of Hunan, local health authorities said Saturday, the third announcement in three days of a case in a new location. A 64-year-old woman in Shaoyang City, who developed a fever four days after coming into contact with poultry, was confirmed to have the virus, the Xinhua state news agency reported. It follows the first confirmed cases in the eastern province of Jiangxi on Thursday and the southeastern province of Fujian on Friday. More than 110 people in mainland China have been confirmed with H7N9, with 23 deaths, since the government announced on March 31 that the virus had been found in humans. Most cases have been confined to eastern China. The island of Taiwan has also reported one case. A Chinese expert earlier this week warned of the possibility of more cases in a wider geographical area. “Until the source of H7N9 avian influenza is… brought under effective control, sporadic cases might continue to appear,” said Liang Wannian of China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission. Poultry has been confirmed as the source of the H7N9 flu among humans, but experts fear the prospect of such a virus mutating into a form easily transmissible between humans, which could then have the potential to trigger a pandemic.

Building A Culture That Works: The CEO As The Cultural Epicenter

Building A Culture That Works: The CEO As The Cultural Epicenter


posted 33 mins ago

Editor’s note: Peter Levine is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. He has been a lecturer at both MIT and Stanford business schools and was the former CEO of XenSource, which was acquired by Citrix in 2007. Prior to XenSource, Peter was EVP of Strategic and Platform Operations at Veritas Software, where he helped grow the organization from no revenue to more than $1.5 billion, and from 20 employees to over 6,000. Follow him on his blogand on Twitter @Peter_Levine.

As a former CEO and senior executive, there was a time when I did not quite understand the profound impact a CEO has on the culture of a company, even though I always knew culture was important. The organization reflects the behavior and characteristics of the CEO, and that establishes the culture. Foster an environment of open communication and the organization inherits a culture of open communication. Operationally detailed? The organization becomes operationally detailed. Political? The organization becomes political. Curse a lot? The organization curses. Angry? The organization gets angry. Have a big office? Everyone wants a big office. It doesn’t matter what’s written on a coffee mug or on a “culture” slide, what you do as a CEO, day in and day out, and how you behave will define your company’s culture. Read more of this post

Invest in people, not resources; Most workplaces seem diabolically designed to kill creativity, intelligence, and productivity, and thus drive away talent

Invest in people, not resources

ON APRIL 26, 2013

There is a supply-and-demand paradox brewing in the software business, and it’s getting worse by the day. Companies are searching for rock-star talent, while at the exact same moment talented people are searching for great work. People on both sides of this issue are frustrated — companies can’t find the right workers, or enough of them and talented workers feel stifled, bored, and in many cases exhausted, and even oppressed, by the work they do find. It’s an easy field for employers to stand out in, and yet so few fail to create the kind of engaging workplaces that attract top talent. Most blame their troubles on the market or a lack of money, but it’s hard to take this argument seriously when Wikipedia attracted an army of volunteers with seemingly little effort, and then produced so much value it drove Microsoft’s well-funded Encarta out of business. How did Wikipedia attract and motivate so much unpaid talent, and how does this hugely popular project keep doing it?

The secret to hiring top talent is simple — but not easy. Most workplaces seem diabolically designed to kill creativity, intelligence, and productivity, and thus drive away talent. If you want to hire well, you need to first engage and inspire the talent you do have, and that’s not about money. It’s about treating people like people. It’s a matter of helping them align toward a compelling common vision, giving them the tools and environments they need, then getting out of their way.

Read more of this post

Sibling success: When brothers and sisters work together in a family business the scope for problems is huge. But if managed carefully these relationships can be both productive and fulfilling



There’s hardly a sadder tale of sibling problems than that of the Chadha brothers, the family behind Indian conglomerate Wave. The beginning of the story will be familiar to many families – a migrant father who started a small retail business and a second generation that took that company to a new level, turning it into a successful empire with interests in food processing, technology, distilling and real estate among others. But behind the scenes, things were far from rosy. Much has been reported recently about the problems between the second-generation brothers, although little has been confirmed. But it’s fair to say eldest brother Gurdeep Singh Chadha, better known as Ponty, who drove the changes at the family business, and younger sibling Hardeep didn’t always see eye to eye. And in an incident that grabbed headlines around the world, both ended up dead last year after a shootout, allegedly over the ownership of family assets (the funeral pictured, right). An investigation is ongoing. It might be an extreme case, but sibling rivalry is nothing new. Indeed, it’s in some of mankind’s oldest myths and most enduring and resonant stories. Think of Cain and Abel, or Joseph and his brothers. Think of the rivalry King Lear created among his daughters. More prosaically, look at the long-running and gruesomely fascinating slanging matches between musicians Noel and Liam Gallagher.

The world of family business is also full of stories of siblings who didn’t see eye to eye. There’s the very public and long-running spat between the Ambani brothers, Asia’s richest siblings, whose family business Reliance had to be split following their father’s death. In Europe, the brothers behind the Aldi supermarket empire decided to divide the company in two, rather than work together. In Canada, a similar story played out with McCain brothers Harrison and Wallace. Despite working well together in their frozen-food empire for years, a feud over succession saw Wallace forced out of the company in the 1990s. He later took over rival Maple Leaf Foods. Read more of this post

Made-in-Taiwan school still standing amid China’s Sichuan Ya’an earthquake rubble

Made-in-Taiwan school still standing amid Ya’an rubble

Hong Chao-chun and Staff Reporter, 2013-04-26


One of the school buildings. (Photo/Hung Chao-chun)

The quality of the Made in Taiwan brand has passed the test after a Taiwan-designed elementary school withstood the 7.0 earthquake that destoyed thousands of buildings and caused 193 deaths in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, our sister paper Want Daily reports.

Taiwanese architect Hsu Yan-chi designed and built the elementary school in Ya’an city after the May 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, which devastated the region and left 87,000 people dead or missing. Last week’s earthquake ocurred on the morning of April 20, with the epicenter just south of the provincial capital Chengdu. Public buildings in the city of Ya’an were almost completely leveled except for the school designed by the Taiwanese architect. The building was funded by donations from Taiwan’s public. Read more of this post

Meet The Accidental Designer Of The GitHub And Twitter Logos

Meet The Accidental Designer Of The GitHub And Twitter Logos



Simon Oxley was drinking beer and watching TV on his couch (like any good freelancer) when he noticed that a hot new startup called Twitter was using his art as a logo. At first, he thought he was drunk. “I checked the label on the beer I was drinking and called my wife to come see,” he says. “It was a total, surreal surprise.”

Oxley, who is British-born and Tokyo-based, was (and is) a freelance contributor to iStockphoto, one of the web’s most popular resources for stock photos and illustrations. He originally joined the service because Adobe Creative Suite came with a free membership. But since then, he’s become a power user, uploading almost 10,000 images and selling 100,000. He was even asked to design iStockphoto’s own logo, in 2009.

His biggest sales, though, have been from startups like Twitter, who paid “a relatively small amount of money” for a library of images including the bird and the robot, which still appears when you visit a broken link. The tweeting bird has since been replaced by a succession of avian variations, but thanks to the long memory of the Internet, it resurfaces every now and then. “It always makes me laugh when I still see organizations using my bird to link to their Twitter feed,” Oxley says. “Thank you!”

Shortly after his name emerged as the designer of Twitter’s original mark, Oxley was approached by GitHub, the open source code community. They purchased a package of graphics from Oxley’s stock library as well, including their Octocat logo, for a flat fee. As you might imagine, the GitHub community remakes the logo on a regular basis: there arehundreds of iterations, including a Homer Simpson version, a Shepard Fairey version, and–predictably–a Nyan Cat version. Read more of this post

Ex-Buffett in-law looks behind his success

Ex-Buffett in-law looks behind his success

Thanong Khanthong
The Nation April 27, 2013 1:00 am


Will Warren Buffett live forever? He might not, but his legendary value-investment strategies will certainly outlive any other.

And who is in a better position to know him and relate his ideas and messages better than Mary Buffett, his former daughter-in-law, who spent 12 years in the family? At a talk-show event called “Exploring Buffettology with Mary Buffett” in Bangkok yesterday, she provided several insights and anecdotes related to the investmtne guru, apart from laying down his strategies that beat the stock market for the long haul. Read more of this post

How Jenna Lyons transformed J.Crew into a cult brand





Jenna Lyons is in her corner office sucking on an iced coffee as if it were manna. The room looks like a cross between a boudoir and an artist’s loft, with a peach fur draped over a white leather eames chair. The industrial windows stretch up and up, like Lyons’s legs, which are punctuated by a pair of metallic, sparkled 3-inch stilettos. But the coffee just isn’t cutting it. “I’m so hungry. I haven’t eaten in 10 days,” says the executive creative director and president of J.Crew, not hyperbolically. “I was like,errrr! errrr! with every pair of pants,” she adds, making that grunting sound familiar to all women at some point in their lives. Turns out even the most fashionable manager in America can have a bad clothing day. “The inside button would pop before I even zipped it. I was like, Oh, God!” So Lyons went on an organic-juice-cleanse-plus-Isogenics bender and has consumed nothing but liquids for more than a week. “I’m a little bit mangry. Hangry mangry,” she confesses, within five minutes of my arrival.

It’s surprising, though comforting, to find out that Lyons is humanly imperfect. Since her coronation as creative head of J.Crew in 2008, the company once known for its preppy Nantucket ancestry has become a force in fashion, with Lyons at the center of its evolution. She has created a high-low look that reflects her own boy-girl style–androgyny with some sequins and a dash of nerdy glasses. Along with annual revenue that has more than tripled to $2.2 billion since 2003, the cult of J.Crew has blossomed like a CMO’s fantasy, with fashion blogs wholly devoted to the brand (fromJCrewIsMyFavStore to TheJCRGirls) and a fan base that includes Michelle Obama and Anna Wintour. At Fashion Week this February (J.Crew’s fourth season there, itself a symbol of the retailer’s growing influence), one attendee whispered, as if Lyons were Madonna or Bono, “I am just totally obsessed with Jenna.” Read more of this post

Can You Get a Refund From a Bad Hedge Fund?

April 26, 2013, 5:08 p.m. ET

Can You Get a Refund From a Bad Hedge Fund?



Disgruntled hedge-fund investors might be able to make new use of an old technique to erase some of their losses. Earlier this month, David Blass, chief counsel of the division of trading and markets at the Securities and Exchange Commission, gave a speech before an investment-law group in which he warned that many “private funds”—hedge funds, private-equity portfolios and the like—might be breaking the law when they sell to investors. Mr. Blass’s message wasn’t entirely new. Unless they can meet a series of tests to be exempt, private-fund managers have long been required to register as broker-dealers if they solicit outside investors by selling interests in their funds. Registering compels them to follow SEC rules on how they sell their wares. But Mr. Blass’s speech also threw a fresh spotlight on the question of whether the hedge-fund industry has been following the law. And it reminded alert investors of an unusual—but rare and difficult—way to bail out of a rotten fund.

Read more of this post

The Criminal Mind: Advances in genetics and neuroscience are revolutionizing our understanding of violent behavior—as well as ideas about how to prevent and punish crime

April 26, 2013, 7:28 p.m. ET

The Criminal Mind

Advances in genetics and neuroscience are revolutionizing our understanding of violent behavior—as well as ideas about how to prevent and punish crime.



Donta Page’s brain scan, left, shows the reduced functioning of the ventral prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain that helps regulate emotions and control impulses—compared to a normal brain, right.

In studying brain scans of criminals, researchers are discovering tell-tale signs of violent tendencies. WSJ’s Jason Bellini speaks with Professor Adrian Raine about his latest discoveries. The scientific study of crime got its start on a cold, gray November morning in 1871, on the east coast of Italy. Cesare Lombroso, a psychiatrist and prison doctor at an asylum for the criminally insane, was performing a routine autopsy on an infamous Calabrian brigand named Giuseppe Villella. Lombroso found an unusual indentation at the base of Villella’s skull. From this singular observation, he would go on to become the founding father of modern criminology. Lombroso’s controversial theory had two key points: that crime originated in large measure from deformities of the brain and that criminals were an evolutionary throwback to more primitive species. Criminals, he believed, could be identified on the basis of physical characteristics, such as a large jaw and a sloping forehead. Based on his measurements of such traits, Lombroso created an evolutionary hierarchy, with Northern Italians and Jews at the top and Southern Italians (like Villella), along with Bolivians and Peruvians, at the bottom. These beliefs, based partly on pseudoscientific phrenological theories about the shape and size of the human head, flourished throughout Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lombroso was Jewish and a celebrated intellectual in his day, but the theory he spawned turned out to be socially and scientifically disastrous, not least by encouraging early-20th-century ideas about which human beings were and were not fit to reproduce—or to live at all. Read more of this post

How three Australians took Twitter into music

How three Australians took Twitter into music



Richard Slatter, Michael Doherty, Stephen Phillips, who sold their business to Twitter in November. Photo: Mark Medeo


The three unknown Australians behind the biggest digital product launch of the year had an unusual induction to Twitter. Having quietly signed a dream deal with the microblogging site in November – a deal that has made the trio from Brisbane and their backers a small fortune – they were secreted away to a nondescript office block in downtown San Francisco. It was just 10 minutes away from Twitter’s Market Street headquarters. But there would be no yoga room, free cafeteria, roof-top garden and colourful couches for Richard Slatter, Stephen Phillips and Michael Doherty. No casual contact with the mothership was allowed until the deal was announced four months later. Their new colleagues were to be kept completely in the dark.

It was an unlikely welcome to Silicon Valley, the technology hub that heaves on networking events and where introductions are like oxygen. But the Australians were happy to be working under the radar. The amount Twitter paid for their start-up, We Are Hunted, has not been disclosed but the price tag is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Even for a technology company as big as Twitter – with its more than 200 million active users and 500 million registered accounts – it was a big bite. The new employees understood the need for secrecy as they worked away to meet the deadline for a highly orchestrated launch. Read more of this post

Bee venom has become the buzziest antiaging ingredient. The ingredient appears in a number of high-end beauty products from Guerlain to Manuka Doctor; “Your brain thinks that [you’ve been] bitten and it sends back a signal that the skin needs to heal itself”

April 26, 2013, 2:50 p.m. ET

Here’s the Sting

Bee venom has become the most buzzed-about antiaging ingredient



The toxic ingredient appears in a growing number of high-end anti-aging serums, masks and moisturizers from various companies. Manuka Doctor, a line from New Zealand, boasts a purifying process that removes extraneous elements such as pollen dust or bee bits. The U.K. brand Heaven Skincare claims to use a secret ingredient that activates the bee venom.

The key ingredient is said to improve skin by setting off an elaborate chain reaction. “Your brain thinks that [you’ve been] bitten and it sends back a signal that the skin needs to heal itself,” said Maria Hatzistefanis, founder of Rodial, a London-based skin care line known for its use of exotic ingredients, which recently debuted bee venom products. Once this brain signal has been sent, as the theory goes, blood rushes to the area, triggering an increase in the production of wrinkle-smoothing collagen. Deborah Mitchell, maker of Heaven, describes venom products as a topical, natural alternative to Botox. “Straight away, the skin tightens and firms,” she said, noting that many users report a slight tingling—a sign the product is working. Read more of this post

Instant noodle sales top 100 billion units a year

Instant noodle sales top 100 billion units a year

“The results show that instant noodles have become a global standard dish,” said Norio Sakurai, an official with the Osaka-based association. -AFP
Fri, Apr 26, 2013, AFP

Tokyo – Global sales of instant noodles have topped 100 billion units annually, an industry group said Friday – more than one monthly serving of the portable meal for every person on the planet. Five decades after the easy-to-cook food’s launch, sales climbed again last year with China, Indonesia and Japan rounding out the world’s top-three consumers, according to the Japan-based World Instant Noodles Association. “The results show that instant noodles have become a global standard dish,” said Norio Sakurai, an official with the Osaka-based association. “We think global sales will continue growing particularly in some developing nations.” Of the 101.4 billion units sold worldwide last year, China, including Hong Kong, accounted for 44.0 billion servings, followed by Indonesia with 14.1 billion units, Japan at 5.4 billion units and Vietnam close behind with 5.1 billion units. Instant noodles, which come dried or pre-cooked and can be boiled quickly with accompanying flavour packets, were invented in Japan by Momofuku Ando, founder of major noodle maker Nissin Foods, in 1958.


Retailers concerned as Li-Ning, “China’s Nike”, holds fire sale to clear stock, offering discounts of up to 80%; Most items on sale were priced between 39 yuan and 79 yuan (US$6-$13)

Retailers concerned as Li-Ning holds fire sale to clear stock

Staff reporter, 2013-04-27

Leading Chinese sportswear company Li-Ning held a 48-hour online sale on April 22, offering discounts of up to 80%, the state-run China News Service reported on its website. Most items on sale were priced between 39 yuan and 79 yuan (US$6-$13), and everything was sold before the sale period ended, said the report. This was Li-Ning’s second 48-hour sale this month aimed at clearing out its backlog of unsold stock. The company reported a loss of 2 billion yuan (US$321 million) in 2012, the first time it had lost money since it began trading publicly in 2004. Yet the poor performance didn’t prevent the company from spending 1.32 billion yuan (US$212 millon) on advertising and marketing, which included the recruitment of NBA star Dwyane Wade to endorse its products for ten years for a fee of US$100 million. Some buyers were critical of the fire sale despite the attractive discounts, with some complaining that many of the products were from 2010 and long out of fashion, while others questioned the quality of the goods because of the low prices. Yan Yaolong, a market analyst with the online store JD, said that while Li-Ning may have thought it was a good idea to offload its inventory, the plan could backfire in the long term, as consumers may now wait for future sales rather than pay full price for its products — or be reluctant to wear the brand if it becomes perceived as cheap. The sales could also hurt the relationship between Li-Ning and its retailers, who complained that the low prices offered online would prevent customers from coming to their stores, said reports.

Weak yen puts POSCO, Hyundai out on limb

2013-04-26 17:01

Weak yen puts POSCO, Hyundai out on limb


Korean automobile, steel and electronics manufacturers are singing the blues due to falling margins from exports, caused by the yen’s weakness, while Japanese rivals are seeing an uptick in global sales

By Na Jeong-ju

South Korean firms are suffering heavy setbacks in global markets due to the weakening yen, while their Japanese rivals are rebounding strongly on their price competitiveness. Hardest hit are Korean automobile, steel and electronics manufacturers that compete neck-and-neck with Japanese firms in major markets around the world. The yen’s weakness has cut the earnings of Korean exporters. Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, said its first-quarter net profit dropped 14.9 percent from a year to 2.08 trillion won ($1.8 billion), compared with 2.4 trillion won a year earlier. In the January-March period, sales rose 6 percent on-year to 21.3 trillion won, but operating profit dropped 10.7 percent to 1.8 trillion won. “We earlier predicted the yen-dollar rate would move between 86 to 87 yen in the first quarter, but the average rate was 94 yen. That negatively affected our profitability,” an executive of Hyundai Motor said. Hyundai Motor, which competes with Toyota, Honda and other Japanese carmakers, could lose its competitive edge for some time as the yen’s weakness is expected to continue for the time being. Kia Motors, the second-largest automaker affiliated with Hyundai Motor, also announced its first-quarter net profit fell 34.7 percent from a year earlier to 783.9 billion won during the same period. Its operating profit dropped 35.1 percent to 704.2 billion won, as sales fell 6 percent to 11.08 trillion won. POSCO, the country’s leading steelmaker, also suffered damage. Its first-quarter net profit sank 54 percent from a year earlier to 292 billion won. Sales dipped 10.6 percent on-year to 14.58 trillion won, and operating income also dropped 4.7 percent to 717 billion won. The poor performances by Korean exporters are in stark contrast to a strong recovery of Japanese firms. Read more of this post

Beyond Korean style: Shaping a new growth formula; Reduce housing payments + End the education “arms race.” + Create an entrepreneurial SME sector

Beyond Korean style: Shaping a new growth formula

April 2013 | byWonsik Choi, Richard Dobbs, Dongrok Suh, Jan Mischke, Eunjo Chon, Hangjip Cho, Boyoung Kim, and Hyunmin Kim


Beginning in the 1960s, South Korea has set economic-development records with a growth formula that focused on heavy-industry and manufactured exports. GDP has tripled in just the past 20 years, and South Korea became the first nation to go from being a recipient of aid from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to being a member of its donor committee. South Korea is the leading supplier of LCD screens, memory chips, and mobile phones and is the world’s number-five automaker. Yet the nation’s GDP growth is increasingly decoupled from the lives of its middle- income citizens. The number of middle-income households—earning 50 to 150 percent of median income—has fallen from 75.4 percent of the population to 67.5 percent since 1990, and more than half of middle-income households are cashflow constrained when the full costs of housing payments are counted. The squeeze contributes to trends that could affect future growth, including a plummeting personal-saving rate and one of the world’s lowest fertility rates. Beyond Korean style: Shaping a new growth formula, a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), explores the causes of these economic challenges and makes specific recommendations for combatting them. Among the report’s findings: Read more of this post

Changing times force Taiwan to raise welfare spending

24 April 2013 Last updated at 21:05 GMT

Changing times force Taiwan to raise welfare spending

By Cindy SuiBBC News, Taipei

Working six days a week at a Taipei noodle stall, Hsu Ching-ni earns only $500 a month, not nearly enough to support her family of seven including three children, or even pay rent.

Instead, they have to survive on welfare. “I’m the only one in my family working. My husband suffered a stroke and can’t work. My parents-in-law are elderly. If it weren’t for the welfare, I don’t know where we’d be,” says Ms Hsu. The number of people like her in Taiwan is on the rise. But whereas in previous decades residents mostly depended on themselves, the government has been forced to restructure its social welfare system to help them. Read more of this post

The Rise of the ‘Aztec Tiger’: Under a charismatic new leader, Mexico is roaring toward a turnaround

April 26, 2013, 7:33 p.m. ET

The Rise of the ‘Aztec Tiger’

Under a charismatic new leader, Mexico is roaring toward a turnaround


images (9)

Two decades ago, one of Mexico’s leading social critics proclaimed Los Angeles “the heart of the Mexican dream.” Pedro P. agreed, leaving behind his native Oaxaca for work as a gardener in the city’s San Fernando Valley. After 14 years as an undocumented immigrant, however, Pedro, age 44, is heading home at the end of April, drawn by an economic resurgence south of the border that has led some observers to label Mexico the “Aztec tiger.” Read more of this post

China Top Leaders Warn on Financial Risks as Rebound Falters as PSC, China’s top decision-making group, held a special economy-focused session, the first time since 2004

Chinese leaders more worried about financial risks than slower growth

Kate Mackenzie

| Apr 26 07:59 | 14 comments Share

China’s Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s top decision-making group, held a special session yesterday to discuss the economy — apparently the first time they’ve held this sort of economy-focused meeting since 2004, according to Xu Gao at China Everbright Securities (via Bloomberg).

So what came out of it? It’s always hard to tell, but it probably wasn’t good news for anyone hoping for big stimulus measures.

The official Xinhua report is here and its headline suggests some worry at the economic growth rate. “China needs to cement its domestic economic growth momentum and guard against potential risks in financial sectors,” seems to be the key line, from the third paragraph, although it goes on to point out that Q1′s 7.7 per cent growth that had many China watchers worried was in fact higher than the 7.5 per cent official target. Read more of this post

Built in LA report shows that the LA startup ecosystem has come a long, long way

Built in LA report shows that the LA startup ecosystem has come a long, long way

ON APRIL 26, 2013

There has been no shortage of talk both in and out of Los Angeles about the rise of the LA startup ecosystem over the last 12 to 18 months. As someone who’s been on the ground and deeply embedded in the community, I can attest that it has been a period of astounding growth and maturation. The problem has always been that there was little data available to back up otherwise subjective claims like these. That’s no longer the case, thanks to a new Built In L.A. 2012 Digital Startup Report. The report, released on Wednesday of this week, details the year that was arguably the most prolific in terms of company creation than any in the city’s history. In total, some 220 startups launched in Los Angeles in 2012 – and believe it or not, not all of them came out of Mike Jones and Peter Pham’sScience. The ecosystem as a whole raised $847 million during the year from 170 different VCs and angel investors, with more than 100 companies securing funding of at least $1 million during the year. There were 11 fundings over $20 million in size, another 12 between $10 million and $20 million, and 20 more between $5 million and $10 million.

Additionally, 43 LA-based companies were acquired, the most of any year on record. The largest check written was Tencent’s acquisition of majority interest in Riot Games for $400 million, in a transaction valuing the company at $472 million. This deal was followed closely by Sony’s $380 million acquisition of Gaikai (which was located a few miles south in Orange County). Read more of this post

The great surveillance boom; Video surveillance is already big business. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, expect it to get even bigger

The great surveillance boom

April 26, 2013: 4:56 PM ET

Video surveillance is already big business. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, expect it to get even bigger.

By Keith Proctor

FORTUNE — Video surveillance is big business. Expect it to get bigger. After law enforcement used closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to help identify last week’s Boston bombing suspects, lawmakers and surveillance advocates renewed calls for increased numbers of cameras nationwide. “We need more cameras, and we need them now,” ran a Slate headline. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) agrees. In an interview the day after the bombings with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, he called for more video surveillance so that we can “stay ahead of the terrorists.” “So yes, I do favor more cameras,” said King, who sits on the U.S. House Homeland Security and Intelligence committees and has also called for increased monitoring of Muslim Americans. “They’re a great law enforcement method and device. And again, it keeps us ahead of the terrorists, who are constantly trying to kill us.” Law enforcement officials in New York are almost certain to oblige. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly wants to “increase significantly” the amount of surveillance equipment in Manhattan, which already has one of the country’s most robust systems.

The argument for greater surveillance is straightforward. Horrible events in places like Boston remind us that we’re vulnerable. The best way to limit events like last week’s bombings, the argument goes, is to accept 24-hour surveillance in public spaces. And when you see someone maimed by bomb shrapnel, privacy concerns sound coldly abstract. No amount of security can completely eliminate risk, so it’s difficult to know where to draw the line. Are 10,000 cameras really twice as good as 5,000? In tragedy’s aftermath, it can be tough to have a serious conversation about how much to invest. But when the goal is to push risk as close to zero as possible, spending can asymptotically stretch into infinity. Read more of this post

Britain to honor Winston Churchill on new banknote; The “blood, toil, tears and sweat” quotation will be inscribed beneath a portrait photograph taken in 1941

Britain to honor Winston Churchill on new banknote

8:33am EDT

Winston Churchill on next £5 bank note

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is set to honor its revered wartime leader Winston Churchill with a banknote featuring his portrait and famous declaration “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat”.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, traveled to Churchill’s former home Chartwell in Kent, southern England on Friday to announce plans for Churchill’s image to appear on a new five-pound ($8) note to be issued in 2016.

“Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer. Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world,” outgoing central bank governor King told members of the Churchill family. Read more of this post

Germans fascinated by Nazi era eight decades later

Germans fascinated by Nazi era eight decades later

7:48am EDT

By Gareth Jones

BERLIN (Reuters) – An exhibition chronicling the Nazi party’s rise to power draws tens of thousands of visitors. Millions of TV viewers tune in to watch a drama about the Third Reich. A satirical novel in which Hitler pops up in modern Berlin becomes an overnight bestseller.

German interest in the darkest chapter of their history seems stronger than it has ever been as the country marks several key anniversaries this year linked to the Nazi era.

On TV talk shows, in newspapers and online, people endlessly debate the Nazi era – from what their own grandparents did and saw, to how the regime’s legacy constrains German peacekeepers on overseas missions today, or why unemployed Greek and Spanish protesters lampoon Chancellor Angela Merkel as a new Hitler.

Next month, Germans will also be painfully reminded that the Nazis can still pose a threat today, when a young woman allegedly inspired by Hitler’s ideology goes on trial over a spate of racist murders committed since 2000. Read more of this post

Japan casino lobby in legalization push; market could out-strip Vegas

Japan casino lobby in legalization push; market could out-strip Vegas

7:14am EDT

By Nathan Layne and Farah Master

TOKYO/HONG KONG (Reuters) – After Singapore, Japan?

A pro-casino group of Japanese lawmakers has tapped an influential member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as its leader and plans to submit legislation this year aimed at opening the world’s third-largest economy to casino gambling. Although casinos are illegal, Japanese are already active gamblers, and a pinball-like game called pachinko generates some $200 billion in revenue each year – about the same as Toyota Motor Corp. Japan is often touted as the next major casino market after Chinese enclave Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, which raked in revenue of $38 billion last year.

A large and wealthy population coupled with a proximity to Shanghai and Beijing has the potential to transform Japan into a lucrative gaming center, providing tax revenues to shore up the state’s ailing finances, analysts say. Broker CLSA estimates Japan’s gaming market could be worth at least $10 billion if two large-scale integrated resorts are approved – more than Singapore’s $5.9 billion and Las Vegas’ $6.2 billion in 2012. Read more of this post

Don’t just do something, sit there; Fund managers trade too much. Retail investors can learn not to

Don’t just do something, sit there; Fund managers trade too much. Retail investors can learn not to

Apr 27th 2013 |From the print edition


CALL it hyperactivity, call it the temptation to fiddle. Chief executives have a tendency to make acquisitions just to show they are doing something. Similarly, fund managers, sitting at their desks all day, have the urge to trade. Otherwise why go into the office at all?

But these trades inevitably incur costs, and not just in the form of fees disclosed to mutual-fund investors as part of a fund’s total expense ratio. When a large fund sells its stake in a small company, for example, the share price may fall significantly as supply overwhelms demand. A recent paper* in the Financial Analysts Journal (FAJ) found these hidden costs were, on average, higher than the funds’ declared expenses and had a significant negative impact on returns. The academics looked at the record of 1,758 American equity mutual funds between 1995 and 2006. They estimated trading costs by looking at changes in portfolio holdings (which are revealed every quarter), checking the bid-ask spreads for the stocks concerned and making an allowance for the price impact of trades. Relying on portfolio-turnover statistics is not sufficient. Smaller stocks are less liquid than shares in multinationals, and the costs of trading in the small-cap sector are much greater. The paper found that the difference in total expense ratios between small-cap and large-cap funds was just a third of a percentage point (1.39% compared with 1.07%). But the difference in aggregate trading costs, once the price impact was factored in, was much larger, at over two percentage points a year (3.17% versus 0.84%). Read more of this post

Perverse advantage; A new book lays out the scale of China’s industrial subsidies

Perverse advantage; A new book lays out the scale of China’s industrial subsidies

Apr 27th 2013 | Shanghai |From the print edition


CHINA is the workshop to the world. It is the global economy’s most formidable exporter and its largest manufacturer. The explanations for its success range from a seemingly endless supply of cheap labour to an artificially undervalued currency. A provocative new book* by Usha and George Haley, of West Virginia University and the University of New Haven respectively, points to another reason for China’s industrial dominance: subsidies.

The Chinese government does not report all subsidies made to domestic industrial firms, so the Haleys plugged the holes with information from industry analysts, policy documents, non-governmental outfits and companies themselves. By looking at the gaps between end-user prices and benchmark prices, they have cobbled together numbers on many of the subsidies enjoyed by the biggest industrial state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

On their conservative calculations, China spent over $300 billion, in nominal terms, on the biggest SOEs between 1985 and 2005. This help often came in the form of cheap capital and underpriced inputs unavailable to international rivals. The glass industry got soda ash for a song, for example. The auto-parts business got subsidies worth $28 billion from 2001 to 2011 through cheap glass, steel and technology; the government has promised another $10.9 billion by 2020. The subsidies to the paper industry topped $33 billion from 2002 to 2009. All industrial SOEs benefited from energy subsidies. Read more of this post

3D printing: A new brick in the Great Wall; Additive manufacturing is growing apace in China vs “subtractive” technology of lathes, milling machines and cutting tools

3D printing: A new brick in the Great Wall; Additive manufacturing is growing apace in China

Apr 27th 2013 | BEIJING |From the print edition


ALTHOUGH it is the weekend, a small factory in the Haidian district of Beijing is hard at work. Eight machines, the biggest the size of a delivery van, are busy making things. Yet the factory, owned by Beijing Longyuan Automated Fabrication System (known as AFS), appears almost deserted. This is because it is using additive-manufacturing machines, popularly known as three-dimensional (3D) printers, which run unattended day and night, seven days a week.

The printers require an occasional visit from a supervisor to top them up with the powdered materials they use as their “inks”, or to remove a completed item, but apart from that they can be left on their own. They build up the objects they are making one layer at a time, as the ink is sintered into place with a laser in a way that creates little waste and can make shapes impossible to achieve using the traditional “subtractive” technology of lathes, milling machines and cutting tools. Read more of this post

Titans of innovation: What can business learn from Big Science?

Titans of innovation: What can business learn from Big Science?

Apr 27th 2013 |From the print edition


AS A technical feat, ATLAS takes some beating. It is the world’s biggest microscope, used by physicists at CERN, a large laboratory near Geneva, to probe the fundamental building blocks of matter. Its barrel-shaped body, 45 metres long, 25 metres tall and weighing as much as the Eiffel tower, was assembled in a cavern 100 metres beneath the Swiss countryside from 10m parts, nearly twice as many as in a jumbo jet. It generates more data each day than Twitter does.

It is also a remarkable organisational achievement. The components were designed by hundreds of scientists and engineers from dozens of institutions. They were subsequently sourced from 400-odd suppliers on four continents, at a cost of $435m. At any one time the experiment involves more than 3,000 researchers from 175 institutes in 38 countries. Read more of this post

The debt to pleasure; A Nobel prizewinner argues for an overhaul of the theory of consumer choice

The debt to pleasure; A Nobel prizewinner argues for an overhaul of the theory of consumer choice

Apr 27th 2013 |From the print edition

“SOVEREIGN in tastes, steely-eyed and point-on in perception of risk, and relentless in maximisation of happiness.” This was Daniel McFadden’s memorable summation, in 2006, of the idea of Everyman held by economists. That this description is unlike any real person was Mr McFadden’s point. The Nobel prizewinning economist at the University of California, Berkeley, wryly termed homo economicus “a rare species”. In his latest paper* he outlines a “new science of pleasure”, in which he argues that economics should draw much more heavily on fields such as psychology, neuroscience and anthropology. He wants economists to accept that evidence from other disciplines does not just explain those bits of behaviour that do not fit the standard models. Rather, what economists consider anomalous is the norm. Homo economicus, not his fallible counterpart, is the oddity.

To take one example, the “people” in economic models have fixed preferences, which are taken as given. Yet a large body of research from cognitive psychology shows that preferences are in fact rather fluid. People value mundane things much more highly when they think of them as somehow “their own”: they insist on a much higher price for a coffee cup they think of as theirs, for instance, than for an identical one that isn’t. This “endowment effect” means that people hold on to shares well past the point where it makes sense to sell them. Cognitive scientists have also found that people dislike losing something much more than they like gaining the same amount. Such “loss aversion” can explain why people often pick insurance policies with lower deductible charges even when they are more expensive. At the moment of an accident a deductible feels like a loss, whereas all those premium payments are part of the status quo. Read more of this post

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