Men twice as likely to contract the lethal H7N9 bird flu than women: report

Men twice as likely to contract H7N9 than women: report

Staff Reporter, 2013-04-30

Men are twice as likely to contract the deadly H7N9 avian influenza than women, according to Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center. Based on analysis of existing H7N9 cases reported in China, which have risen to 125 as of Sunday, including 23 deaths, the center found that there were twice as many male victims than there were female. In terms of age, those 50 years or older account for 74% of all cases, with patients aged between 30 to 39 following at 11%, and those aged between 40 and 49, accounting for 7%. Patients aged between 20 and 29 account for 5%, while only 3% of victims are under ten years old. Read more of this post

Technology Start-Ups Take Root in Berlin

APRIL 29, 2013, 9:06 PM

Technology Start-Ups Take Root in Berlin


BERLIN — Near the Rosenthaler Platz subway station here, signs of the city’s high-tech future blend seamlessly with its communist past. Decrepit breweries and stables have been converted to communal offices decked out in colorful Ikea furniture. Achingly cool coffee shops with names like Betahaus and St. Oberholz are packed with programmers in their 20s and 30s hunched over shiny new laptops. And even as the city’s unemployment broadly remains high, vintage clothing stores selling patent-leather Dr. Martens boots for 180 euros, or $235, entice technology transplants from across Europe with promotions in English. “I got sucked into Berlin,” said Henrik Berggren, a Swedish college dropout who moved here in 2011 to work on his e-book venture, ReadMill. “It became clear that this was the place to be.”

More than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital has gone from a cold war relic to one of the fastest-growing start-up communities. Engineers and designers have flooded into Berlin in recent years, attracted by the underground music scene, cutting-edge art galleries, stylish bars and low rent. Read more of this post

How LinkedIn Saved Its Engineers From Marathon Late-Night Coding Sessions

How LinkedIn Saved Its Engineers From Marathon Late-Night Coding Sessions

Max Nisen | Apr. 29, 2013, 8:11 PM | 3,462 | 12

LinkedIn is a favored company among tech investors. It had a massive IPO, lived up to expectations afterwards, and continues to impress with the amount and variety of its revenue sources. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some bumps along the way. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance writes that as the company grew, “when LinkedIn would try to add a bunch of new things at once, the site would crumble into a broken mess, requiring engineers to work long into the night and fix the problems.”

Late nights are a part of Silicon Valley’s culture, they’re a right of passage and a bonding activity, but by the fall of 2011, the infrastructure problems were intolerable. So some of LinkedIn’s top engineers decided to completely stop engineering work on new features and dedicate the whole department to fixing the site’s core infrastructure. They called the effort “Project Inversion.”  It took about two whole months. But they ended up with something that was also much more efficient. Now algorithms do much of the review work humans had to do in the past, and new features can be added directly into the site. All of the company’s code is centralized and everyone can work on it continuously. There are fewer late night cram sessions and there’s more time to develop new and innovative features.  Read more of this post

Most Chinese Cities Don’t Need And Can’t Afford The Subway Systems They’re Building: The Economist

Most Chinese Cities Don’t Need And Can’t Afford The Subway Systems They’re Building

The Economist | Apr. 29, 2013, 10:30 AM | 1,604 | 7

NOT many global cities of nearly 9m people lack an underground line, but until the end of last year the eastern city of Hangzhou was one of them. Now city slickers and rural migrants squeeze together inside shiny new carriages, checking their smartphones and reading free newspapers like commuters the world over. There is standing-room only in the rush hour and, with tickets at less than a dollar, the metro is revolutionising the way people travel across town. Two other Chinese cities—Suzhou and Kunming—have also opened their first underground lines in the past year, and the north-eastern city of Harbin is preparing to open one too. Four more cities have just added a new line to their existing systems. At least seven others have begun building their first lines.

If all the metros approved by central officials are built, 38 cities will have at least one line by the end of the decade, with more than 6,200km (3,850 miles) of track (London has nearly 400km.) As with many infrastructure projects in China, including the high-speed rail network above ground, questions abound about the wisdom and potential wastefulness of such ambitions. Many of the underground systems are needed, but some are being built in cities that are too small to justify the exorbitant expense. By some estimates the total bill could approach $1 trillion, not including the cost of operation. Zhao Jian of Beijing Jiaotong University reckons that metros in fewer than 20 of the 38 designated cities make sense. He says that perhaps ten of those could be replaced with cheaper light rail, which runs above ground. The minimum core urban population that can qualify a city for an underground system is 3m people, but even a place that big may find the operating costs crippling. Mr Zhao says the systems in Harbin and Kunming are unnecessary. Read more of this post

Effortless Perfection: Do Chinese Cities Manipulate ‘Blue Skies?’

Effortless Perfection: Do Chinese Cities Manipulate ‘Blue Skies?’

Dalia Ghanem University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Junjie Zhang University of California, San Diego

April 16, 2013

It is alleged that some Chinese cities manipulate their air pollution data to comply with the air quality standards set by the central government of China. This paper tests this hypothesis by using a unique data set. First, we employ a discontinuity test to detect the cities that reported dubious pollution data around the cutoff for “blue-sky days.” Then, we propose a panel matching approach to identify the conditions under which irregularities may occur. Over the period 2001-2010, 55% of cities reported dubious PM10 pollution levels that led to a discontinuity at the cutoff. Suspicious data reporting tends to occur on days when the potential manipulation is least detectable. Our findings indicate that the official daily air pollution data are not well behaved, which provides suggestive evidence of manipulation.

13 year-old cancer girl from Florida fashions her big dream

Cancer girl fashions her big dream


Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013
The New Paper

At 13, she has already been made a honorary face of CoverGirl, a US cosmetics brand. Talia Joy Castellano also has a video blog on YouTube which has generated about 39 million views so far. Talia is from Orlando, Florida, and despite having terminal cancer, dreams big. She has now achieved another dream – to become a fashion designer. Talia is set to launch a collection for teenagers with Los Angeles-based designer, Urbana Chappa, the Daily Mail reported. Ms Chappa, who runs a women’s wear label called Maison De Urbana, decided to help fulfil Talia’s dream of becoming a fashion designer after hearing the teen’s inspirational story on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last year. She flew to Florida on April 15 to meet her at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, to help bring her design ideas to life. They discussed about launching the brand in the coming weeks. Talia said she wanted to “show young teens that they can express themselves with clothes”. Read more of this post

Hong Kong-based Richland Capital is shutting down its hedge funds despite outperforming peers, an unexpected move for a successful operator in an Asian industry which is struggling to raise assets

Hong Kong-based Richland to shut hedge funds in surprise move

Mon, Apr 29 2013

By Nishant Kumar

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong-based Richland Capital Management Ltd is shutting down its hedge funds despite outperforming peers, four sources said, an unexpected move for a successful operator in an Asian industry which is struggling to raise assets. Richland is one of Asia’s best-known hedge funds. It manages $100 million between two funds and advises on an additional $150 million for wealthy clients, according to a fund information document obtained by Reuters. The hedge fund, founded in 2006 by former HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) trader Alex Au with Eva Lo, who earlier worked at Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.VX: QuoteProfile,ResearchStock Buzz), has made money for its main Richland Asia Absolute Return Fund each year since launch, including a 5.3 percent gain in 2008. An e-mail to Lo and Au remained unanswered. The sources, who have direct knowledge of the matter, declined to be named as they were not authorized to speak on the matter. It was not immediately clear why Richland was closing. Typically, hedge funds shut down in response to poor performance or clients withdrawing large amounts of money, but Richland has suffered from neither. “Today is the day when funds are winding down,” one of the sources said. Launched in December 2006 with $10 million, the Richland Asia Absolute Return Fund managed about $75 million in February this year, the fund document showed. The fund gained 14.1 percent in 2012 and was up about 6 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to fund performance data seen by Reuters, outperforming a 10 percent gain in the benchmark Eurekahedge Asia index last year and 5.8 percent in the March quarter. The second fund, Richland Emerging Opportunities Fund, returned 13.1 percent last year and was up about 18 percent in the first quarter of 2013. So far, 23 hedge funds have shut down in Asia, compared with 18 launches, according to data from Eurekahedge. Last year, 169 hedge funds closed in Asia, exceeding 139 launches.

CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law

CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law

Former fashion jewelry saleswoman Rebecca Gonzales and former Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson have one thing in common: J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) no longer employs either. The similarity ends there. Johnson, 54, got a compensation package worth 1,795 times the average wage and benefits of a U.S. department store worker when he was hired in November 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gonzales’s hourly wage was $8.30 that year. Across the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of companies, the average multiple of CEO compensation to that of rank-and-file workers is 204, up 20 percent since 2009, the data show. The numbers are based on industry-specific estimates for worker compensation. Almost three years after Congress ordered public companies to reveal actual CEO-to-worker pay ratios under the Dodd-Frank law, the numbers remain unknown. As the Occupy Wall Street movement and 2012 election made income inequality a social flashpoint, mandatory disclosure of the ratios remained bottled up at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which hasn’t yet drawn up the rules to implement it. Some of America’s biggest companies are lobbying against the requirement.

Read more of this post

Why the China Dream Might Be a Mirage; Will the vested interests getting obscenely rich in Beijing let President Xi rewrite China’s model?

Why the China Dream Might Be a Mirage

If global economists are distraught over the gloomy numbers coming out of China, imagine how Xi Jinping must feel. China’s president, officially in the post for barely a month, is still consolidating his power. At home, he confronts a widening rich-poor gap and endemic pollution, not to mention bird flu and rivers overrun with dead pigs. Abroad, China’s erstwhile ally North Korea is looking increasingly unhinged. Now Xi faces intense pressure to retool the Chinese economy if he wants to build on gains the Communist Party has delivered over the last 30 years. Xi could be excused for feeling a tad bitter. He’s in this awkward position largely because of the failings of his predecessor, Hu Jintao. That may sound like an odd way to characterize Hu’s tenure. During his decade in office, China grew at rates of more than 10 percent, surpassed Japan to become the world’s No. 2 economy and matured into a key diplomatic actor. Hu and his premier, Wen Jiabao, should have used this time to wean the Chinese economy off its obsessive reliance on exports and investment. Yet too many well-placed figures were getting too rich. Modestly paid politicians mysteriously became multimillionaires. Local governments amassed mountains of debt for boondoggle projects. Hu and Wen presided over a robber-baron era that would have made Cornelius Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan blush.

By contrast, Xi has been saying all the right things about revamping the economy so that domestic demand, not sweatshop labor, drives growth. He talks about the need to attack chronic graft and to preserve the environment. He has made noises about increasing spending on research and development, and has promised to institute a more inclusive urbanization strategy. One of the most tantalizing questions in economics is whether Xi has the courage to oversee such an ambitious rewriting of China’s model. Yet the real question is this: Will the vested interests getting obscenely rich in Beijing let him? Read more of this post

Japan’s “Abenomics” detractors brace for “I told you so” moment

Japan’s “Abenomics” detractors brace for “I told you so” moment

Mon, Apr 29 2013

By Tomasz Janowski and Chikako Mogi

TOKYO (Reuters) – In the shadows of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s formidable PR machine, a small, tenacious group of “Abenomics” detractors is battling to be heard and waiting for their “I told you so” moment. Being a contrarian in a society that values consensus and conformity is hard enough, but it is even harder for academics, commentators and investors who are attacking Abe’s economic revival plan as misguided and potentially dangerous. The plan relies so much on changing attitudes formed during years of decline that critical voices are more than just part of the political debate. Criticism could undermine Abe’s efforts and there are many skeptics reluctant to openly challenge policies that are giving Japan long-forgotten optimism and hope.

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New gene therapy trials aim to mend broken hearts

Published: Tuesday April 30, 2013 MYT 8:06:00 AM

New gene therapy trials aim to mend broken hearts

LONDON: British scientists are stepping up clinical tests of gene therapy in a bid to help people with advanced heart failure pump blood more efficiently. Researchers said on Tuesday they planned to enrol patients into two new clinical trials using Mydicar, a gene therapy treatment made by privately held U.S. biotech company Celladon. After more than 20 years of research, the ground-breaking method for fixing faulty genes is starting to deliver, with European authorities approving the first gene therapy for an rare metabolic disease last November. In the case of heart failure, the aim is to insert a gene called SERCA2a directly into heart cells using a modified virus, delivered via a catheter infusion. Lack of SERCA2a leads to ever weaker pumping in people with heart failure. Although drugs offer some relief, there is currently no way of restoring heart function and the prognosis for those with advanced disease is worse than for many cancers. Read more of this post

Online Ads Can Now Follow You Home

April 29, 2013, 8:06 p.m. ET

Online Ads Can Now Follow You Home

Firms Are Helping Brands Like Expedia Serve Ads to Users Across PCs and Mobile Devices


Advertisers already know what people are up to on their personal computers. But understanding their online whereabouts on smartphones or tablets has remained elusive. A number of companies are trying to better pinpoint mobile users’ online activity with new software and techniques they say could help advertisers track users across devices. By harvesting cross-screen identities, the ad industry could serve ads to mobile phones based on the interests people express when surfing the Web on their PCs. “Every retailer is trying to figure out cross-platform activities,” said Jeff Warren, vice president of mobile and online partner marketing at online travel company Expedia Inc.EXPE -4.27%

MK-CC833_mobile_G_20130429180034 Read more of this post

Iris Scans Seen Shrinking $7 Billion Medical Data Breach

Iris Scans Seen Shrinking $7 Billion Medical Data Breach

Iris scanners aren’t just for airport border-control agents and spy movies anymore.

Clinics and hospitals around the world are acquiring technology that identifies people based on physical traits to improve patient safety and stamp out fraud. HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA) hospitals in London, as well as health-care providers across the U.S., are buying so-called biometric technologies.

Biometrics makers, such as Safran SA (SAF), Fujitsu Ltd. (6702) and closely held AOptix Technologies Inc. and M2Sys Technology, say demand from health-care providers is growing. While ensuring the right person gets the right treatment is the main reason for buying biometrics, hospitals and patients see another benefit: reducing the risk of data breaches that can lead to identity theft.

“It’s a form of health-care fraud,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a San Diego-based nonprofit research organization. “You can make a lot of money very quickly as a criminal with a low probability of getting caught. It’s a far easier crime to commit than robbing a bank.”

Identify theft is leaving hospitals with unpaid bills and consumers on the hook for costly treatment they didn’t receive. Data breaches, which include lost and stolen information, may cost the health-care industry in the U.S. as much as $7 billion a year, according to a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, a Traverse City, Michigan-based organization that studies privacy, data protection and security. Read more of this post

Goldman Sachs Jim O’Neill’s Farewell Letter

Jim O’Neill’s Farewell Letter

Tyler Durden on 04/29/2013 12:03 -0400

Over the years, Jim O’Neill, former Chairman of GSAM, rose to fame for pegging the BRIC acronym (no such luck for the guy who came up with the far more applicable and accurate PIIGS, or STUPIDS, monikers, but that’s neither here nor there). O’Neill was correct in suggesting, about a decade ago, that the rise of the middle class in these countries and their purchasing power would prove to be a major driving force in the world economy. O’Neill was wrong in his conclusion as to what the ultimate driver of said purchasing power would be: as it has become all too clear with the entire world drowning in debt (and recently China), it was simply debt, which moved from the funding developed world consumption to handing out credit cards to consumers in the developing world. O’Neill was horribly wrong after the Great Financial Crisis when he suggested that it would be the BRIC nation that would push the world out of depression. To the contrary, not only is the world not out of depression as the fourth consecutive year of deteriorating economic data confirms (long since disconnected with the actual capital markets), but it is the wanton money (and bad debt) creation by the central banks of the developed world (as every instance of easing by China has led to an immediate surge of inflation in the domestic market) that has so far allowed the day of reckoning, and waterfall debt liquidations, to take place (and certainly don’t look at the stock index performance of China, Brazil, India or Russia). Despite his errors, he has been a good chap having taken much of the abuse piled upon him here at Zero Hedge somewhat stoically, as well as a fervent ManU supporter, certainly at least somewhat of a redeeming quality. Attached please find his final, farewell letter as Chairman of the Goldman Asset Management division, as he moves on to less tentacular pastures.

From Jim O’Neill

The World.

For my last Viewpoint, I have chosen to focus on the world. Attached is the opening presentation I gave at the 2013 GSAM Growth Markets Summit last Thursday in New York. It was a brilliant event and I wanted to thank all our guests who joined us as speakers, panellists, and in particular our clients who attended. The main theme was the growth that has taken place in the evolving world and the challenges that go with it.

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