Cleaning Up on Fracking’s Dirty Water; 100 years ago, it took about a barrel of water to get 10 barrels of oil out of the ground. Today, generating the equivalent amount of shale-gas energy requires five times as much water


Cleaning Up on Fracking’s Dirty Water


With two recent acquisitions, Ecolab has become a top provider of water-treatment services used in energy extraction. Why the stock could still gush 20% or more higher.

It’s often said that 100 years ago, it took about a barrel of water to get 10 barrels of oil out of the ground. Today, generating the equivalent amount of shale-gas energy requires five times as much water, which is why hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, “is more of a water issue than it is about gas,” says Deane Dray, the water analyst for Citigroup. That has enhanced the long-term prospects of water-related stocks, including Ecolab (ticker: ECL). “The opportunities we’re seeing in water supply and water treatment are exciting,” says Ian Simm, CEO of Impax Asset Management in London and a fan of St. Paul, Minn.–based Ecolab. Despite a run-up in Ecolab’s stock this past year, Impax believes it can still rise further, citing the company’s strong management, the stock’s steady uptrend in a volatile environment, and its “mission-critical products,” says Simm. As much as 140 billion gallons of water are used in the 35,000 wells fracked annually in the U.S. Most of it simply disappears underground; the rest is rendered so toxic by the process that communities are wary of fracking. Plenty of companies will treat the water, but two specialists are Nalco and Champion, both owned by Ecolab.

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Dog days for hedge funds forced to cut fees

April 28, 2013 5:50 pm

Dog days for hedge funds forced to cut fees

By Sam Jones

The definition of a hedge fund, people used to joke, was a fee structure in search of an investor to fleece. However, four years on from the financial crisis, and with so far little to show for it, hedge funds’ notoriously high fees are looking less and less definable, let alone defensible. Some investors now hope that the industry’s totemic “two and 20” fee structure – 2 per cent of assets and 20 per cent of returns annually; a formula that has made many managers fantastically wealthy – may finally be beginning to crack. Challenging fees is no easy task for investors, however. Thanks to the crisis, they may well have more clout than ever before when it comes to negotiating with managers, but they are also themselves more desperate. In a time of ultra-low bond yields and high equity volatility, hedge funds are proving an irresistible draw. And as such, investing in hedge funds still seems to be a game rigged in the managers’ – and not the investors’ – favour. Read more of this post

Deadly H7N9 avian influenza may have spread to Guangdong as health authorities in Dongguan shut down the city’s live poultry trade on Sunday

Dongguan shuts down poultry trade amid fears H7N9 has hit southern China

Staff Reporter, 2013-04-29

The deadly H7N9 strain of the avian influenza may have spread to southern China as health authorities in Dongguan, Guangdong province shut down the city’s live poultry trade on Sunday, reports the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily. The Dongguan agricultural bureau confirmed on Saturday evening that it gave orders for vendors at live poultry markets in Dongcheng district to remove all live poultry from the premises by 6pm Sunday as a precaution after one tested sample revealed “abormalities.” The bureau refused to say if the sample had tested positive for H7N9, the new strain of the bird flu that has so far killed 23 people and infected a total of 120 across the eastern, northern and central parts of the country. Authorities also did not say when the market would reopen. Reporters at the scene found that in the rush to meet official orders, much of the livestock were being removed from the market without undergoing proper disinfecting procedures. Dongguan health authorities have not reported any H7N9 cases as of April 18 and are still awaiting results from latest samples. Tests for two suspected cases earlier in the month have returned negative for the virus.


Watch out for human-to-human H7N9 flu warns top US virologist Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Watch out for human-to-human H7N9 flu warns US expert

POSTED: 29 Apr 2013 4:00 AM

There is no evidence that the deadly H7N9 bird flu has yet spread between humans in China but health authorities must be ready for the virus to mutate at any time, a top US virologist has warned.

WASHINGTON – There is no evidence that the deadly H7N9 bird flu has yet spread between humans in China but health authorities must be ready for the virus to mutate at any time, a top US virologist has warned.  Read more of this post

Hong Kong Steps Up H7N9 Bird Flu Fight as floods of mainland Chinese tourists descend on HK for the Labor Day holiday

Updated April 28, 2013, 3:38 p.m. ET

Hong Kong Steps Up Flu Fight


Hong Kong immigration and hospital officials are stepping up efforts to fend off the spread of H7N9 bird flu, which surfaced outside China for the first time last week, as floods of mainland Chinese tourists descend on Hong Kong for the Labor Day holiday. The government is deploying greater manpower at the border at the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, one of the busiest border crossings in the world, to screen travelers for elevated body temperatures, and tour operators are being urged to monitor the condition of individual tourists. Some 4.2 million people are expected to cross Hong Kong’s borders during the holiday, which runs from April 27 to May 1, most crossing via Shenzhen.

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Malaysia Arson, Intimidation Cases Mount as Election Draws Near; “The violence is much more than previous elections”

Malaysia Arson, Intimidation Cases Mount as Election Draws Near

More than 1,400 cases of arson, fighting and other election-related crimes have been recorded by police since Malaysia’s parliament was dissolved for polls which will determine whether Najib Razak’s government can extend its five-decade grip on power.

“The violence is much more than previous elections,” Irene Fernandez, co-chairwoman of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections’ code of conduct committee, said by phone. “The increased tension is being driven by the fear of racial riots” and broader implementation of Islamic law among non-Muslims that’s being created in the media, she said.

At least two more campaign offices were torched by suspected arsonists this weekend as politicians held rallies nationwide, the Star newspaper reported today, citing police. The authorities earlier confirmed they were investigating three similar incidents last week, including a small explosion at an event attended by 3,000 supporters of Prime Minister Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition ahead of the May 5 vote.

Najib’s government is facing its fiercest challenge to date, after retaining power five years ago by its narrowest margin since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957. The markets have priced in Barisan Nasional retaining power in next month’s vote with a simple majority, though there is a growing risk of a hung parliament or the opposition gaining control, RHB Capital Bhd. (RHBC) said in an April 1 report. Read more of this post

H7N9 bird flu virus more lethal than SARS in 2003: medical expert

H7N9 more lethal than SARS: medical expert

CNA, 2013-04-27

The new H7N9 avian flu virus is more lethal than the strain of coronavirus that caused the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, a doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital said Friday. Citing a University of Hong Kong research report, Huang Li-min, head of the hospital’s Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, said people infected with the H7N9 virus can get sick quickly, and the disease has a fatality rate currently estimated at over 10%. “Such a ratio is higher than that of the SARS virus,” Huang said, noting that the World Health Organization estimated the mortality rate for SARS at about 8%. According to data on the website of Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control, China had 114 confirmed H7N9 cases, with 23 deaths as of 6 pm Friday, which translated into a mortality rate of about 20%. But the University of Hong Kong report said there are at least as many undiscovered cases as confirmed cases, likel putting the new bird flu strain’s fatality rate at slightly higher than 10%. The H7N9 strain of the flu was not known to infect people until March 31, when China reported its first cases of human infections of the virus. Read more of this post

iTunes is 10 years old today. Was it the best idea Apple ever had? Steve Jobs in 2003: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.”

iTunes is 10 years old today. Was it the best idea Apple ever had?

While the shares fall and the smartphone wars rage, Apple’s music store keeps growing – and tying users into its platform

Charles ArthurThe Observer, Sunday 28 April 2013

Steve Jobs launches Apples iTunes music store on 28 April 2003.

Steve Jobs launches Apple’s iTunes music store on 28 April 2003. Photograph: Paul Sakuma/AP

Steve Jobs put a new slide up on the huge screen. “We started about a year and a half ago to create a music store,” the Apple chief executivetold the audience. “That meant we have to go and negotiate with the big five music companies. Now, before we did this I was reminded of a quote from Hunter S Thompson about the music industry.”

He looked up at the screen. In giant letters it read: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.” Jobs read it out and then paused to let the slide’s final line appear: “There’s also a negative side.” Laughter from the audience. “So I didn’t know what to expect,” Jobs added.

It was 28 April 2003, and Jobs was taking Apple into entirely new territory. Its iPod music player was just 18 months old, but after years of developing hardware and software, the company was now getting into services: specifically, selling music. It was a huge gamble, but one Jobs believed in. Read more of this post

How Big Data Is Playing Recruiter for Specialized Workers

April 27, 2013

How Big Data Is Playing Recruiter for Specialized Workers


WHEN the e-mail came out of the blue last summer, offering a shot as a programmer at a San Francisco start-up, Jade Dominguez, 26, was living off credit card debt in a rental in South Pasadena, Calif., while he taught himself programming. He had been an average student in high school and hadn’t bothered with college, but someone, somewhere out there in the cloud, thought that he might be brilliant, or at least a diamond in the rough. That someone was Luca Bonmassar. He had discovered Mr. Dominguez by using a technology that raises important questions about how people are recruited and hired, and whether great talent is being overlooked along the way. The concept is to focus less than recruiters might on traditional talent markers — a degree from M.I.T., a previous job at Google, a recommendation from a friend or colleague — and more on simple notions: How well does the person perform? What can the person do? And can it be quantified? The technology is the product of Gild, the 18-month-old start-up company of which Mr. Bonmassar is a co-founder. His is one of a handful of young businesses aiming to automate the discovery of talented programmers — a group that is in enormous demand. These efforts fall in the category of Big Data, using computers to gather and crunch all kinds of information to perform many tasks, whether recommending books, putting targeted ads onto Web sites or predicting health care outcomes or stock prices.

Of late, growing numbers of academics and entrepreneurs are applying Big Data to human resources and the search for talent, creating a field called work-force science. Gild is trying to see whether these technologies can also be used to predict how well a programmer will perform in a job. The company scours the Internet for clues: Is his or her code well-regarded by other programmers? Does it get reused? How does the programmer communicate ideas? How does he or she relate on social media sites? Read more of this post

Loans Borrowed Against Pensions Squeeze Retirees with their high interest rates; “It’s simply a terrible deal”

April 27, 2013

Loans Borrowed Against Pensions Squeeze Retirees


To retirees, the offers can sound like the answer to every money worry: convert tomorrow’s pension checks into today’s hard cash. But these offers, known as pension advances, are having devastating financial consequences for a growing number of older Americans, threatening their retirement savings and plunging them further into debt. The advances, federal and state authorities say, are not advances at all, but carefully disguised loans that require borrowers to sign over all or part of their monthly pension checks. They carry interest rates that are often many times higher than those on credit cards. In lean economic times, people with public pensions — military veterans, teachers, firefighters, police officers and others — are being courted particularly aggressively by pension-advance companies, which operate largely outside of state and federal banking regulations, but are now drawing scrutiny from Congress and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The pitches come mostly via the Web or ads in local circulars. Read more of this post

Matt Taibbi: Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There’s no price the big banks can’t fix


APRIL 25, 2013


Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps. Read more of this post

Bitcoin: the Berlin streets where you can shop with virtual money; “There is no middle man involved.. I like the fact that Bitcoin scares people in suits, because if this thing were to really take off, it would bankrupt a lot of bankers.”

Bitcoin: the Berlin streets where you can shop with virtual money

The digital currency is rising in popularity among traders in the rebellious Kreuzberg area of Germany’s capital

Kate Connolly and Guy Grandjean in Berlin, Friday 26 April 2013 11.08 BST

In Kreuzberg, Berlin, Bitcoin has expanded off the internet into the local economy.Link to video: Bitcoin: world’s fastest growing currency migrates off the internet

Nadim Chebli remembers well the first of his customers who decided to pay for the records they bought with virtual currency rather than cash or credit cards. “I’d only just agreed to accept Bitcoins,” said the 36-year-old owner of the Long Player record shop, “and the first sales I made in it came pretty quickly, from a guy about my age who bought Tom Waits’s The Big Time and a young woman who bought a Beatles compilation from 1967.” In the few months since Chebli signed up to the peer-to-peer electronic cash system, he finds it hard to come up with definitive characteristics for the “typical” Bitcoin user who walks off the street into what he describes as his “vinyl living room”. “There’s no typical age group, or sex, just, well, regular folk,” he said. Florentina Martens has had the same experience since opening her Parisian-style cafe Floor’s two months ago just a couple of streets away. “There is not a prototype Bitcoin payer,” she said. “It’s random people. Not only nerds, let me put it that way.”

Like Chebli, Martens, whose Kersenvlaai (cherry cake) from her native Maastricht is rated as one of the best culinary offerings of the area, says she decided to accept Bitcoins because of the ease, cheapness and transparency of its payment system. “It’s an easier way of digital payment than credit cards, which cost me a lot of money as a business and to which I’m forced to sign up for years,” she says. Read more of this post

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.

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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

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