Lego Slithers Into Digital Age With Biting Robot Serpent

Lego Slithers Into Digital Age With Biting Robot Serpent

Lego fans no longer need to fret about the cat or dog knocking over their constructions. When bothersome housepets or other pests come too close, they can ward off the intruder with one of their plastic-brick creations. The R3PTAR, a robotic snake from Lego A/S, can be programmed from a smartphone app to attack felines, canines, and siblings — or simply scuttle along the floor and give them something to chase. Equipped with a snapping mechanical jaw and fangs, the serpent might just send even courageous hounds, pusses and pesky kid brothers packing.

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Cheung Kong Losing Luster for Billionaire Li: Chart of the Day

Cheung Kong Losing Luster for Billionaire Li: Chart of the Day


Li Ka-shing is buying the fewest shares of his flagship Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. in at least eight years as he considers selling assets in Hong Kong, the city that helped make him Asia’s richest person. The CHART OF THE DAY tracks Li’s monthly purchases in the company he founded against the stock’s weekly performance since June 2005. The 85-year-old, nicknamed “Superman” by the local media for his investing acumen, bought HK$28.3 million ($3.6 million) of shares since September 2012. That’s the smallest amount for any 12-month period since at least 2005, according to filings with the city’s stock exchange. Read more of this post

Brand-hungry LVMH seeks new niche as Vuitton flags

Brand-hungry LVMH seeks new niche as Vuitton flags

5:07am EDT

By Astrid Wendlandt and Pascale Denis

PARIS (Reuters) – Neverfull – the name of Louis Vuitton’s best-selling handbag – sums up well its parent LVMH: even if it snapped up all of the world’s last remaining independent luxury brands, it would still have room for more. The French group’s insatiable appetite for acquisitions has been tolerated by investors while its cash cow Louis Vuitton, which contributes half of group profit, grew revenues at a rate of more than 10 percent in the past two decades. Read more of this post

Supreme Owner Made a Billionaire Feeding U.S. War Machine

Supreme Owner Made a Billionaire Feeding U.S. War Machine

Chemical warfare and car bombings are just a few of the hazards working in war-torn countries such as Iraq and Syria. For Supreme Group BV, it’s the cost of doing business. Dubai-based Supreme delivers fuel and food — 100,000 meals a day — to troops stationed in some of the most inhospitable parts of the world, including Liberia, Mali and Sudan. The perilous business, where contractors dodge bullets fired by the Taliban and explosives set by insurgents, has made the company’s majority owner, Stephen Orenstein, a billionaire. “Our mantra is to provide the same quality of service in Rwanda or Somalia as we do for restaurant chains in Germany,” Orenstein, 49, said in a phone interview from his office in Dubai. “We took a developed world standard and brought it to the developing world.” Read more of this post

Just what is in that chicken nugget? Stand-up comedians have long joked that some things, like the actual components of chicken nuggets, are better left mysterious

Just what is in that chicken nugget?

Fri, Oct 4 2013

By Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Stand-up comedians have long joked that some things, like the actual components of chicken nuggets, are better left mysterious. Recently, Mississippi researchers found out why: two nuggets they examined consisted of 50 percent or less chicken muscle tissue, the breast or thigh meat that comes to mind when a customer thinks of “chicken.” The nuggets came from two national fast food chains in Jackson. The three researchers selected one nugget from each box, preserved, dissected and stained the nuggets, then looked at them under a microscope. Read more of this post

Pearson Drops as Investors Call for Faster Drive to Digital

Pearson Drops as Investors Call for Faster Drive to Digital

Pearson Plc (PSON) shares have lagged behind peers since hitting a 12-year high in July as a restructuring at the publisher of everything from textbooks to Tom Clancy’s thrillers failed to convince investors of its digital strategy. The owner of the Financial Times newspaper has dropped 9 percent since the end of July, when it reported sales that topped analysts’ estimates. While the stock is up 4.3 percent this year in London trading, it’s the worst performer in the 48-company Bloomberg World Media Index. Reed Elsevier NV jumped 30 percent and Wolters Kluwer NV (WKL) climbed almost 25 percent. Read more of this post

London Cash Buyers Send Banks North to Riskier Loans

London Cash Buyers Send Banks North to Riskier Loans

The risky loans that helped cause the U.K.’s real-estate crash are making a comeback as cash buyers from abroad limit lending opportunities in London and banks instead venture into the weakest markets. Five years after Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY), the U.K.’s biggest mortgage lender, were bailed out by the government, the number of mortgages with down payments of 15 percent or less rose almost 50 percent in August from a year earlier. In London, where prices are rising fastest, only 1 in 25 borrowers took out a low down payment loan. In the north of England, the country’s most-volatile housing market, it’s about one in five, according to property appraisal firm e.surv Ltd. Read more of this post

Finns Foraging for Cheap Food Shows Price of AAA Obsession

Finns Foraging for Cheap Food Shows Price of AAA Obsession

Finland’s efforts to protect its stable AAA pedigree aren’t helping its consumers. Households in the highest-rated euro nation are looking for ways to cut costs on the most basic of staples such as milk and bread after struggling through their second recession since Europe’s crisis hit four years ago. Finland’s plight shows that euro-zone governments going out of their way to comply with the bloc’s budget rules aren’t being spared economic pain. Prime MinisterJyrki Katainen has defended tight fiscal policy as his country’s ticket to low interest rates and sustainable growth. Yet the measures agreed on by his six-party coalition have so far led to a shrinking workforce while food prices are rising at almost double the average pace in the European Union. Read more of this post

Debt Dwarfing Manchester United Shows Turkish Soccer Rot

Debt Dwarfing Manchester United Shows Soccer Rot: Turkey Credit

Turkish soccer champion Galatasaray’s $57 million of debt due in the next 12 months, racked up by hiring coach Roberto Mancini and players including former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, is drawing whistles from investors. The team, standing 10th in the Turkish Super Lig as of Oct. 4, and beaten 6-1 by Real Madrid last month in European competition, has seen its shares slump 25 percent this year amid deteriorating finances. Its $4.5 million in cash at the end of September wouldn’t cover one season of salary for Mancini, the former coach of English team Manchester City, hired last week on a $17 million three-year contract plus bonuses. Ivory Coast forward Drogba has a 10 million-euro ($13.6 million) contract. Read more of this post

DoCoMo Loses Most Users Ever as IPhone Fails to Halt Slide

DoCoMo Loses Most Users Ever as IPhone Fails to Halt Slide

NTT DoCoMo Inc. (9437), Japan’s largest mobile phone carrier, lost the most subscribers on record even after adding Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhones to its lineup as it attempts to regain market share from SoftBank Corp. (9984) and KDDI Corp. (9433) DoCoMo lost 66,800 net users in September, the company said in an e-mail today. SoftBank added 270,700 and KDDI 232,700 users, according to the carriers. DoCoMo’s share of mobile users slumped to 46 percent in September, compared with 52 percent in 2008, as first SoftBank Corp. and then KDDI Corp. won Japanese consumers with Apple handsets. Read more of this post

Facebook to sell advertising on its Instagram photo service, the first effort to make money from the acquisition

Facebook’s Instagram to Add Advertising: SF Mover

Facebook Inc. (FB), operator of the world’s most popular social network, rose in trading today after it said it would sell advertising on its Instagram photo service, the first effort to make money from the acquisition. Shares rose 3.8 percent to close at $51.04 in New York, near their all-time high. Instagram promotions will start to appear on the mobile application, which lets users share images from smartphones, in the next couple of months in the U.S., Facebook said in a blog post yesterday. Read more of this post

Workers Using Their Own Mobile Devices Propel Globo Shares

Workers Using Their Own Mobile Devices Propel Globo Shares

Globo Plc (GBO) is the top performer on London’s FTSE AIM 100 Index this year as a surge in people bringing their own mobile phones to work increases demand for its software in markets from Asia to Latin America. The stock has almost quadrupled this year, giving the Athens-based company a market value of 276 million pounds ($443 million). The number of bring-your-own-devices in the U.S., U.K., Germany, India, China and Brazil will climb to 405 million by 2016 from 198 million this year, according to Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), the biggest maker of computer-networking equipment. Read more of this post

Beijing Smog Closes Highways as Travelers Return After Holiday

Beijing Smog Closes Highways as Travelers Return After Holiday

Air pollution in Beijing, China’s capital city, reached a heavy level today with smog causing flight disruptions and the closure of expressways in the nation’s northern region at the end of a week-long holiday. Air quality index readings for most of Beijing’s urban areas were above 200 as of 8 a.m. today, indicating a level of heavy pollution, according to data on the website of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. Police closed six expressways linking the capital city to Shanghai, Tianjin and Harbin yesterday, and 47 flights at Beijing Capital International Airport were affected. Millions of Chinese travelers will be seeking to return home today, the last day of a week-long holiday that started Oct. 1. Some parts of the expressways linking Beijing to Shanghai and Tianjin were still closed as of 9:40 a.m. because of haze, according to Beijing Capital Highway Development Group Co., which operates the highways. Read more of this post

Value Investing and the Two Wolves in Asia: The Case of the Collapse of Singapore’s Speculative Stocks (Bamboo Innovator Insight)

The following article is extracted from the Bamboo Innovator Insight weekly column blog related to the context and thought leadership behind the stock idea generation process of Asian wide-moat businesses that are featured in the monthly entitled The Moat Report Asia. Fellow value investors get to go behind the scene to learn thought-provoking timely insights on key macro and industry trends in Asia, as well as benefit from the occasional discussion of potential red flags, misgovernance or fraud-detection trails ahead of time to enhance the critical-thinking skill about the myriad pitfalls of investing in Asia at the microstructure- and firm-level.

Spore Syndicate

How enlightened are you? — it doesn’t have to be religion

How enlightened are you? — it doesn’t have to be religion


OCT 4, 2013

We’ve all heard of enlightenment: awakening to the ultimate truth of life, usually achieved by relief from suffering. With the stresses of modern life — careers, love, family, Facebook — all that mental and physical pain, who wouldn’t want to suffer a little less? Who wouldn’t want enlightenment? According to the Japanese Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi (774-835), enlightenment is obtainable within our own lifetimes. And you may even be able to prevent suffering in all lifetimes to come as well. Hot dog — sign me up! What are we waiting for? On the other hand, most of us have heard the prerequisites for achieving enlightenment: intensive meditation (no way, José!), detachment from physical and material things (that’s everything I’ve worked so hard for!), non-violence (get real!) and good will to all living beings (I don’t wanna go vegan!). No wonder more people don’t go for enlightenment. So Kobo Daishi, what do we do now? I think if Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon-shu Esoteric Buddhism in Japan, were here now, he would tell us all to calm down and take a good look at ourselves. After all, life has changed a lot since his time. Yes, enlightenment takes patience and a great deal of maturity to achieve, but it is not out of our realm. And I don’t think he’d tell us to give up the material things we’ve worked so hard for. I doubt he’d even recommend becoming a spiritual hermit these days. Instead, I think he’d politely tell us that what we really need to do to achieve enlightenment is to cultivate a better mindset. While the idea of enlightenment is a Buddhist concept, it is not unique to Buddhism and you do not have to be Buddhist to reach personal enlightenment. Think of Mother Theresa, and Mahatma Gandhi (religious pluralism) — both role models of enlightenment. Rather than attempt the path to enlightenment a Buddhist monk or a spiritual leader takes, we can take our own individual path. It doesn’t even have to be religious. It does, however, have to adhere to certain accepted principles of enlightenment, many you’re already familiar with such as mindfulness and compassion for others, for example. Here are some basic things that all enlightened individuals share. Read more of this post

Passion for swords led Briton to forge career as expert

Passion for swords led Briton to forge career as expert

Paul Martin seeks to broaden the appeal of Japanese swords for the younger generations



OCT 4, 2013


Paul Martin cares for swords kept at the British Museum. Right: Martin is crowned the 1993 English karate champion in the lightweight division, a title he held three times. | COURTESY OF PAUL MARTIN

Tucked away in a quiet residential street in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, the Japanese Sword Museum offers a glimpse into an era where men staked their honor and their lives on the blade. The museum appears to be something of a hidden gem, since many residents do not seem aware that it exists. However, it is surprisingly popular with overseas tourists, who come to soak up the history. One frequent visitor to the museum is Briton Paul Martin, an expert on Japanese swords and their history, who now makes his home in Tokyo. Entering the museum on a recent weekday morning, he is warmly greeted by the staff. “I’ve done most of the English translation for the exhibits,” he notes. Read more of this post

To This Fan Club, Vanguard Founder John Bogle Is a Star; The Bogleheads gather online and in person to celebrate index investing and their idol

Updated October 6, 2013, 4:51 p.m. ET

To This Fan Club, Vanguard Founder John Bogle Is a Star

The Bogleheads gather online and in person to celebrate index investing and their idol


Fan clubs exist to enable enthusiasts to bond over everything from Porsches to poodles. But a fan club for mutual funds? “I remember being excited and telling my wife, ‘There is a group of people that hang out on the Internet that are low-cost investors just like we are,’ ” says Ed Rager, a retiree from Annandale, Va. Mr. Rager and his wife, Patti, are members of the Bogleheads, also known as the Vanguard Diehards—an online and increasingly offline community whose members tend to favor long-term, low-cost index investing inspired by Vanguard Group Inc. founder John Bogle. Read more of this post

Why So Many Trees in Fund Names? It’s a way to convey an image of security and the promise of growth

October 6, 2013, 4:50 p.m. ET

Why So Many Trees in Fund Names?

It’s a way to convey an image of security and the promise of growth


In the mutual-fund business, it seems, every day is Arbor Day. Dozens of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds are named after trees. There are red oaks, black oaks and white oaks, along with sequoias, aspens, sandalwood and pine—even a whole forest of WisdomTree ETFs. Why are so many fund companies tying themselves to trees? The most obvious answer is that portfolios—like trees—don’t grow overnight, but can reach substantial heights. Companies are looking to evoke thoughts of “firmly rooted” funds capable of “long-term growth and the ability to withstand the elements,” says Catherine Weigel, senior vice president and editorial director for Carpenter Group, a marketing and creative agency specializing in the financial-services industry. The sense of long-term security that tree names convey may be particularly appealing to people saving for retirement, says Howard Breindel, co-chief executive of DeSantis Breindel, a branding and marketing firm that has experience with financial-services companies. Long-term-oriented portfolio managers will often use the tree theme to attract buy-and-hold investors instead of those who are looking “to ride a wave,” Mr. Breindel says. Read more of this post

Beyond cost cutting

2013-10-06 14:23

Beyond cost cutting

Choi In-hyuk


The list of challenges facing corporate leaders today is lengthy. It includes globalization, rapidly shifting market dynamics, fallout from the European debt crisis, and a potential slowdown in Asia. As global economic pressures intensify, corporate leaders must focus on creating a competitive and sustainable cost structure. It is not enough to slash costs through short-term measures such as shuttering facilities, and reducing head count. What is required is true cost excellence in an intelligent and sustainable way in order to protect against another upward creep in costs in the future. Read more of this post

Rich People Just Care Less: The poor are more attuned to social relations, because they have to be. Reducing the economic gap may be impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy

OCTOBER 5, 2013, 2:25 PM

Rich People Just Care Less


Turning a blind eye. Giving someone the cold shoulder. Looking down on people. Seeing right through them. These metaphors for condescending or dismissive behavior are more than just descriptive. They suggest, to a surprisingly accurate extent, the social distance between those with greater power and those with less — a distance that goes beyond the realm of interpersonal interactions and may exacerbate the soaring inequality in the United States. A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. Higher-status people are also more likely to express disregard, through facial expressions, and are more likely to take over the conversation and interrupt or look past the other speaker. Read more of this post

Berkshire Hathaway’s unit TTI buys third Israeli company: Ray-Q; Deal for aerospace connectivity maker closed seven years after purchase of Iscar

Berkshire Hathaway buys third Israeli company: Ray-Q

Deal for aerospace connectivity maker closed seven years after purchase of Iscar.

By Yisrael Fischer and Ora Coren | Oct. 6, 2013 | 5:00 PM |  2

U.S.-based electronic components distributor TTI is acquiring the Israeli electronics company Ray-Q Interconnect, it announced over the weekend. The financial specifics of the purchase were not disclosed. TTI is wholly-owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The acquisition still requires approval from Israeli regulatory authorities. This would be Berkshire Hathaway’s third acquisition in Israel, following the 2006 deal to buy blades-maker Iscar for $6 billion all told. (The second tranche of that deal was completed in May of this year.) The Iscar purchase had been Buffett’s first acquisition outside North America. Also in 2006, Berkshire Hathaway unit CTB International acquired a controlling interest in AgroLogic, which develops technology for agriculture. Read more of this post

Singapore’s Blumont, Asiasons Shares Plunge; Sentiment for small-cap stocks hit; Ossia International, Asia-Pacific Strategic Investments queried by SGX over “substantial” share price falls

October 6, 2013, 10:42 p.m. ET

Blumont, Asiasons Shares Plunge

Companies Lose More Than 85% of Respective Share Values After Trading Resumes


SINGAPORE—Blumont Group Ltd. A33.SG -75.57% and Asiasons Capital Ltd.5ET.SG -74.04% lost more than 85% of their respective share values on early Monday, after the Singapore Exchange S68.SG +0.28% lifted trading suspensions on both stocks and applied stricter trading rules to them. Blumont’s share price dropped by as much as 85% to 12.8 Singapore cents (10 U.S. cents), down from S$0.880—its last traded price before its suspension on Friday. Shares of Asiasons lost as much as 90% of their value, falling to 10 Singapore cents, compared with the S$1.04 last traded price on Friday before the suspension. Read more of this post

Taking stock of the private banks rush in China

Taking stock of the private banks rush



Chinese private firms have rushed to apply to set up private banks under government regulations designed to open up the much-hyped market. But the nascent sector still has a long way to go before better serving the real economy and facilitating financial reform. Over 20 listed private companies on China’s A share market have so far tried or showed interest in establishing private banks, causing related shares to surge for a string of days. Read more of this post

More Chinese design trips by smartphone apps

More Chinese design trips by smartphone apps

Updated: 2013-10-04 13:51

( Read more of this post

Online fashion shops booming in China

Online fashion shops booming

Updated: 2013-10-06 07:07

By Yan Yiqi in Hangzhou ( China Daily) Read more of this post

Meikka: Luxury Handbag Rental Service

Meikka: Luxury Handbag Rental Service

By Emma Lee on September 30, 2013

China has become world’s largest market for luxury products in the wake of the economic development and the formation of middle class. However, the daunting prices of luxury handbags are still not affordable for every handbag-conscious fashionistas. Meikka, a Chinese Rent the Runway clone focused on handbags, can ease the torture of luxury enthusiasts by allowing them to hire designer handbags such as Channel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, etc., for a fraction of the retail price. The platform will deliver and pick up the handbags from customers who can rent with around 0.6% of the retail price per day.

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Macy’s Rethinks Web Plans in China; Retailer Puts Online-Expansion Effort on Hold Amid Economic Slowdown

October 6, 2013, 2:12 p.m. ET

Macy’s Rethinks Web Plans in China

Retailer Puts Online-Expansion Effort on Hold Amid Economic Slowdown


Macy’s Inc. has shelved an online-expansion plan in China, the latest retailer to do so as economic growth slows in the world’s second-largest economy. The company had planned to begin online sales of a private-label brand in China in the spring, after buying a minority stake last year in Chinese retail company VIPStore Co. Macy’s, one of the largest U.S.-based department-store operators, has put those plans on hold because it needs to learn more about Chinese shoppers, not because it is concerned about China’s slowing economy or appetite for luxury goods, said Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski. Read more of this post

Company cashes in on business of sounds; China’s first sound property rights exchange,, went online officially in Hefei, Anhui, on July 1

Company cashes in on business of sounds

Updated: 2013-10-06 07:07

By Shi Jing in Shanghai ( China Daily) Read more of this post

China’s ‘Golden Week’ losing its luster; Critics say the holiday causes traffic chaos, large crowds and high levels of stress

‘Golden Week’ losing its luster

Updated: 2013-10-06 08:58

By He Na and Tang Yue ( China Daily) Read more of this post

Animation more than a fantasy; It took Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio to make the blockbuster Kung Fu Panda – and both the martial art and animal are Chinese icons

Animation more than a fantasy

Updated: 2013-10-05 09:30

By Eric Jou ( China Daily) Read more of this post

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