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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 7:40 pm 
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Russian cyber attackers used two unknown flaws: security company
By Joseph Menn
18 April 2015

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A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture.
Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Files

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A widely reported Russian cyber-spying campaign against diplomatic targets in the United States and elsewhere has been using two previously unknown flaws in software to penetrate target machines, a security company investigating the matter said on Saturday.

FireEye Inc, a prominent U.S. security company, said the espionage effort took advantage of holes in Adobe Systems Inc’s Flash software for viewing active content and Microsoft Corp's ubiquitous Windows operating system.

The campaign has been tied by other firms to a serious breach at U.S. State Department computers. The same hackers are also believed to have broken into White House machines containing unclassified but sensitive information such as the president’s travel schedule.

FireEye has been assisting the agencies probing those attacks, but it said it could not comment on whether the spies are the same ones who penetrated the White House because that would be classified as secret. FireEye said that Adobe had issued a fix for the security weakness on Tuesday, so that users with the most current versions should be protected. The Microsoft problem by itself is less dangerous, since it involves enhanced powers on a computer from those of an ordinary user. A Microsoft spokesman said the company was working on a patch.

In October, FireEye said the group it calls APT28 had been at work since 2007 and had targeted U.S. defense attaches and military contractors, NATO alliance offices, and government officials in Georgia and other countries of special interest to the Kremlin.

Days before that report, security firm Trend Micro Inc described a campaign it called "Pawn Storm" against computers in the State Department, Russian dissidents, NATO and other Eastern European nations. Because Pawn Storm and APT28 used some of the same tools and hit the same targets, other information security professionals concluded they were the same hackers. On Thursday, Trend Micro said that the Pawn Storm hackers had increased their activity recently and had targeted bloggers who had interviewed President Barack Obama. It also said the group had “probably” stolen online credentials of a military correspondent at an unnamed major U.S. newspaper.

Though the security flaws APT28 used are new, it had been well established that the group was highly skilled. Saturday’s report is one in a flurry generated by rival firms ahead of the RSA Conference next week in San Francisco, the largest annual technology security gathering in the country.

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
Source: Reuters.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 6:11 pm 
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Retired Generals Say Kids Today Are Too Fat To Fight
April 30, 2015

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Some former top-ranked military officials say prioritizing gym class and healthier school meals are a matter of national security.

A group of retired generals from Minnesota say 69 percent of the young adults in our state cannot serve in the military due to poor health. Their organization, called “Mission: Readiness,” is encouraging changes so more people can enlist. They include encouraging walking and biking, promoting fitness and academic achievement, and providing healthy school meals.

“Walking and biking, it’s good exercise,” said retired Brig. Gen. Dennis W. Schulstad at a press conference on Thursay. “Experts are recommending that all children should have a minimum of one hour of vigorous walking or biking, or physical activity, every day.”

The group’s new mission report, titled “Too Fat, Frail and Out-of-Breath to Fight,” highlights health problems active military members face, such as respiratory problems and weak bones. It also applauds Minnesota for encouraging activity, expanding the state’s bike trail systems and updating nutrition standards at schools.

Source: CBS.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 7:36 am 
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US consumers, artists dump TV for internet streaming
8 May 2015
By Valerie Hamilton

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Los Angeles (dpa) - US actress Jennette McCurdy canceled her cable television subscription two years ago.

"I don't see any reason" to have it, said the 22-year-old former star of cable channel Nickelodeon's iCarly.

It's not that the TV celebrity skips her favourite shows. Like millions of Americans, McCurdy has moved to internet streaming service Netflix - both for her new series, Between, and her own home entertainment. "I don't know any of my friends who are watching something on anything other than an online streaming service," McCurdy said, in a press roundtable in Los Angeles hosted by Netflix. Cable TV is "a thing of the past," she said.

Americans watch on average five hours of TV a day. But as residential broadband internet speed improves in the United States, more than 7.6 million consumers have canceled their cable television subscriptions, so many that they have their own nickname: cord-cutters.

Since August 2014, more Americans subscribe to broadband internet than to cable TV. Online streaming services, which offer a selection of television series and movies on demand for a monthly subscription price, are increasingly picking up where cable left off. Netflix calls itself the "world's leading internet television network," and is larger by far than its half-dozen or so competitors, including Hulu, Amazon Prime and Apple TV. More than 42 million people in the US subscribe to Netflix, close to half of all US households. An additional 20 million have signed up in another 49 countries in the Americas and Europe. "By the end of 2016, we plan to be pretty much everywhere in the world," Netflix said on its investor website.

Netflix took in 5.5 billion dollars in revenue in 2014. That buying power has allowed Netflix to become not only a major distributor of movies and TV series but a major producer in its own right. The company produced 320 hours of original programming for 2015, following on the success of hit, online-only series including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

On-demand TV and film have inspired new ways of consuming media, as viewers "binge-watch," tuning in for back-to-back episodes of series that are posted all at once, rather than once a week as on conventional television. In an April survey in the US, 68 per cent of respondents said they had binge-watched at least three episodes of a series at once.

That's inspiring new approaches to TV as well. Artists say series made for streaming, rather than broadcast, allow creative freedom that conventional productions don't. Unfettered by content restrictions and tight schedules, filmmakers say the internet allows them to explore new ways of telling stories.

Film actress Daryl Hannah stars in a new Netflix series, Sense 8, a complex, 12-hour, international science fiction drama directed by film's Wachowski siblings, set to premiere June 5. The series represents a "new paradigm," she said at a press roundtable hosted by Netflix. "It's not really a movie, and it's not TV." She said Sense 8 never could have been made in a conventional format, relying on advertisers who would have nixed the series' envelope-pushing scenes including an orgy and a live birth. Producing for online "really does give you so much more of a palette to work with, so much more freedom," she said. "It's going to create a new form of entertainment."

Source: dpa.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 4:47 am 
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Are women losing ability to give birth naturally? They're relying too much on C-sections and drugs, says expert
By Sophie Borland
25 May 2015

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Dr Michel Odent said women's ability to give birth naturally is under threat

Women are losing their power to give birth naturally by relying on caesareans and other interventions, according to a renowned medical expert.

Dr Michel Odent also warned that the increasing tendency towards women having their labours induced could impair their ability to breastfeed. He urged midwives to do more to encourage natural births and even suggested they should calm mothers-to-be by knitting in the corner of the room. In a stark warning, he said that if current trends continue, the ‘future of the human capacity to give birth is at risk’.

More than a quarter of births in the UK now involve a caesarean, with rates having doubled since 1990. This has largely been blamed on doctors being more cautious and keener to intervene if the labour is slow as well as a reluctance among women to go through birth without medication.

Dr Odent also highlighted figures showing that women who gave birth between 2002 and 2008 took an average of two and a half hours longer during the first stage of labour compared to those between 1959 to 1966. The French obstetrician believes that women are becoming increasingly dependent on other interventions such as forceps, epidural pain-relieving injections and other drugs. He also warned against women routinely being given the drug oxytocin to induce labour or speed the process up. This is a naturally occurring hormone and Dr Odent said that giving it to women via drips suppressed their ability to produce it themselves. The hormone is also known as the ‘cuddle chemical’ as it is thought to play a crucial role in enabling a mother to bond with the newborn and produce milk

Dr Odent warned that if women lost their ability to produce it naturally, they would find it harder to breastfeed. Last year, 25 per cent of births were induced using oxytocin, a 7 per cent rise compared to the previous year.

Dr Odent, 85, formerly head of the surgical and maternity units at Pithiviers hospital in Northern France, said: ‘To me it demonstrates the obvious — that women are losing the capacity to give birth. 'That is the primary phenomenon . . . the number of women who give birth to babies naturally is becoming insignificant. I believe that the human oxytocin system — oxytocin being the hormone of love, fundamental to birth and bonding, even in adulthood — is growing weaker.’

He urged midwives to become the ‘protectors of the evolutionary process’ and to protect women from those doctors who are keen to intervene. And he suggested they sit quietly in the corner of a darkened labour room knitting, which would calm the mother to be and enable her to produce the natural hormones needed for birth.

His remarks are made in his book Do We Need Midwives, and also in a contribution to another book, Mama: Love, Motherhood and Revolution, by Antonella Gambotto-Burke. It is not the first time he has spoken out against convention and in 2008 he said men should never be allowed to be present during labour. He said they prevented women ‘relaxing into labour’.

Soo Downe, professor in midwifery studies at the University of Central Lancashire, said: ‘Odent has in the past said things that seem preposterous but a few years later are borne out by the evidence. Giving women synthetic oxytocin interferes with the balance of hormones. Evidence is growing that there are long-term consequences.

    HOW BREASTFEEDING PROTECTS BABIES FROM POLLUTION

  • Breastfeeding babies for at least four months wards off the effects of pollution which could harm their development, says a study.
  • Researchers in Spain are looking into how tiny particles in the air and nitrogen oxide from vehicles and factories affect very young babies. These can impair the development of the brain and nervous system and newborns are particularly vulnerable.
  • Early findings by University of Basque Country researchers showed breastfed babies appear to have been protected, and infants with the lowest concentrations of pollutants in their blood developed more quickly. These babies had generally been breastfed for at least four months. Some 638 pregnant women and their babies were monitored.
  • They live in a region of northern Spain where there are 11 steel factories and a major motorway running through.
  • In Britain, the NHS says 82 per cent of new mothers start off breastfeeding, but this drops to 55 per cent after six weeks. Just one mother in 100 does it for six months, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
  • Other research has shown breastfeeding protects babies from infections and allergies and may even boost IQ.

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:59 pm 
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Utah school creates 'texting lane' for phone-focused walkers
By LINDSAY WHITEHURST
June 18, 2015

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A Utah Valley University student walks up the bright green lanes painted on the stairs to the gym Thursday, June 18, 2015, at Utah Valley University, in Orem, Utah.
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — One Utah university is giving students glued to their cellphones a place to call their own: a designated lane for texting while walking.

The neon green lanes painted on the stairs to the gym at Utah Valley University were intended as a lighthearted way to brighten up the space and get students' attention, spokeswoman Melinda Colton said Thursday. And it worked. A picture of the lanes — which divide the stairs into sections for runners, walkers and texters — created widespread buzz on social media this month after it was posted online.

Though the lanes are limited to the school's recreation center, 22-year-old student Tasia Briggs wouldn't mind seeing them catch on across campus. "There's nothing worse than walking behind someone who's texting, and you can't get around them and go anywhere," Briggs said. She added smartphone messaging — whether through texts, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram — is a big part of how her generation communicates, and it's cool to see the college acknowledge it.

Utah Valley University is in Orem, 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, and has an enrollment of about 31,000. Student Chelsea Meza, 22, says the lanes touch on a cultural reality in an age of ubiquitous cellphones. "It's kind of funny. You walk down the hallway and instead of saying hi, everyone is walking and texting," she said. Though the lanes weren't designed to curb a texting problem on campus, about half of students who see the lanes really use them, Meza said.

Though Colton says she hasn't heard of the concept at any other colleges, it's not the first time anywhere that it's been tried. The Chinese city of Chongqing last year created a smartphone sidewalk lane that was intended to be ironic while also reminding people that staring at phones while on the go can be dangerous.

Officials said they got the idea from a similar stretch of pavement in Washington, D.C., created by National Geographic Television as part of a behavior experiment. The smartphone lanes attracted attention there too, but people using their phones generally didn't notice them.

At Utah Valley University, the idea came from a group of students and staff who wanted to spice up a gray staircase in the new Student Life & Wellness Center, said Sam Hadlock, a student designer on the team. The typographic design installed June 7 was a favorite of student government leaders. The concept is a bit different from the red-brick-and-ivy aesthetic typically associated with university campuses, said Hadlock, a 26-year-old recent graduate. "I think it's fun, and great to see current design on a university campus," he said.

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Source: Yahoo! AP

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:59 pm 
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Closure of iconic New York toy store is end of childhood wonderland
14 July 2015
By Chris Melzer

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FAO Schwarz - © Andrew Gombert, EPA

New York (dpa) - The oldest toy store in the United States is about to close its doors, but the soldiers at the entrance - who dress a bit like the guards at Buckingham Palace in London - still smile and welcome shoppers.

They stand at the entrance to FAO Schwarz in New York City, which is something of a kingdom of childhood dreams. The store with a history stretching back more than 150 years will close on Wednesday, and the Big Apple will lose one of its icons. In addition to being a paradise for children it's been a stage for Hollywood movies and a tourist magnet.

FAO Schwarz sounds German and even more so when the names that the first three letters stand for are spelled out: Friedrich August Otto. The founder of the store was born in the northern town of Herford, Germany, in 1836 and at the age of 20 emigrated to the US with his three brothers.

Schwarz sold office supplies and some toys on the side. But when he discovered the toys he imported from Germany were more successful than the office supplies, he opened a toy store. Schwarz became a wealthy man. He died in 1911, but his legacy lives on in the brand he created. His great-grandson, FAO Schwarz Junior, still lives in New York and goes by the name Fritz, and the store that will close on Wednesday still carries German toys.

FAO Schwarz always saw itself as something special. Personal shoppers are on hand, and children's birthday parties for families with money to spend were also part of the programme. Little revellers had reserved time to jump on the giant piano keys embedded in the floor just like Tom Hanks in the 1988 movie Big or the Smurfs in their 2011 movie. Woody Allan also used the store as a backdrop for scenes in his 1995 movie Mighty Aphrodite.

"For me FAO Schwarz is a part of my childhood," said Brad Ciani, 37. When he was a kids in the '80s, the store on Fifth Avenue was his wonderland. "Our dad took us there and for Christmas we could point at toys for the wish list. Of course it was every year totally too much." For Ciani and his sister - and countless other New Yorkers - the store holds a special place in their childhood, making its closure on Wednesday particularly sad.

FAO Schwarz belongs to the US-based toy store chain Toys R Us, which says the rent for the store, which sits opposite the exclusive Plaza Hotel, is too expensive. "The decision to vacate this space is due to the continuing rising costs of operating a retail location on Fifth Avenue in New York City," Toys R Us said in a statement. The store has had its ups and downs since the Schwarz family sold it in 1963 exactly 101 years after it was founded. It's had more than a half dozen owners since then, including some who held it for as little as a year.

Branches were opened and closed. In 2003 FAO Schwarz filed for bankruptcy - twice. The store on Fifth Avenue closed and a half year later opened again under new ownership. It's belonged to Toys R Us since 2009. "We all have hope there will be a new beginning," said one sales clerk.

Toys R Us also confirmed that the store could reopen sometime in the future at another location. "The company is committed to the FAO Schwarz brand and growing its legacy," the Toys R Us statement said. "In fact, it is actively searching for another location in midtown Manhattan where FAO Schwarz can welcome shoppers from around the world."

"That would be great," said Ciani, who has two children of his own. "But it will not be the same."

Source: dpa.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 5:24 am 
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Legalizing the horn trade – a way to save rhinos?
25 June 2015
By Kristin Palitza

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Legalizing the horn trade, a way to save rhinos? - © Daniel Irungu, EPA

Cape Town (dpa) - Albano Mapie lives in a small village in southern Mozambique.

He has been unemployed for years. Every day is a struggle for survival - until strangers offer him 1,500 dollars to kill a rhino in neighbouring Kruger National Park and saw off its horn. A few days later, Mapie is dead. Rangers catch him red-handed and shoot him when he tries to escape.

When one poacher is caught, dozens of poverty-stricken others are ready to take his place, says South African zoologist John Hanks, using Mapie's story to highlight the futility of the fight against poaching. Hanks believes there is a better way to protect the threatened animals: by legalizing the rhino horn trade. The expert's call is backed by 320 members of the South African Private Rhino Owner Association (PROA), who have recently taken the government to court to overturn a domestic ban of the horn trade.

The sale of rhino horn has been prohibited in South Africa since 2009. The trade has been banned internationally since 1977. But despite the restriction, rhinos continue to be slaughtered for their horn. A staggering 1,215 rhinos were killed last year in South Africa, which is with an estimated 25,000 of the animals home to the world's largest rhino population. This was a 21 per cent increase in poaching from the previous year, according to the government. "The ban has completely failed to stop the demand," argues PROA member John Hume, the world's biggest private breeder, who owns 900 rhinos on his farm in South Africa's north-eastern Mpumalanga province.

Rhino horn - which is primarily made of keratin, a protein also found in hair and fingernails - is in high demand in Asia, where it is believed to boost sexual potency but also used in traditional medicine to cure cancer and other illnesses. Customers are willing to pay about 66,000 dollars per kilo on the black market, according to British international affairs think tank Chatham House. Chinese demand for the powdered horn is particularly high. "We must find a way of supplying the demand without killing the rhino. If there was a legal, ethical source of supply, I believe we would stand a chance," says Hume.

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Legalizing the horn trade, a way to save rhinos? - © Michael Reynolds, EPA

The world-renowned Kruger Park, where about half of South Africa's rhinos live, has been worst affected by poaching, even though it invests millions of dollars in conservation. More than 250 soldiers are stationed here full-time to help rangers in the fight against poaching. They have helicopters, drones and a specially trained dog unit. But because the wildlife park is with almost 20,000 square kilometres roughly the size of Israel, international criminal syndicates continue to find ways to kill rhinos. "We can't win the battle by chasing poachers. At any one time, an average of ten groups of poachers come into Kruger Park undetected," says Hanks.

Dehorning of rhinos is already a recognized anti-poaching technique. Parks and private owners regularly cut off the horn to render the animals worthless to poachers. That means horns are readily available for sale in a well regulated and tightly controlled market, pro-trade experts argue. Dehorning is expensive at about 650 dollars per procedure, but since a female rhino produces one kilo of horn per year and a male twice as much, legal trade could generate huge sums of income that would balance out the cost and also finance conservation.

Many wildlife experts remain skeptical, however. Rhino horn trade is impossible to regulate, they say, because it is too difficult to trace the source of a horn, especially once it has been ground into powder. "Significant investment would be required to establish the necessary regulatory mechanisms, not only in South Africa as the source country, but right along the trade chain to the consumer to prevent laundering of illegal horns into the legal market," says Jo Shaw, rhino programme manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature in South Africa.

It's been tried before with the ivory trade whose legalization failed to stop elephant poaching, adds Mary Rice, executive director of global advocacy organization Environmental Investigation Agency. "The legalized trade has only made matters worse. The demand in China remains high and is growing," says Rice. "The price for legal ivory is so high that illegal traders can undercut the market and still make a hefty profit."

Horn trade or not, only one thing is certain: until experts find a way to deter poachers, the rhino species will remain threatened.

Source: dpa.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 9:01 am 
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Cuba plans boating boom as US luxury ships head to Havana
By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN
August 7, 2015

HAVANA (AP) -- A $3 million yacht left Key West this week with two barbeque grills, 250 channels of satellite TV and a just-in-case plan for rescuing stranded Cuban rafters encountered in the Florida Straits.

After four hours smooth sailing, the Still Water tied up at Havana's Hemingway Marina. The well-heeled passengers breakfasted on smoked salmon and pastries, then boarded an air-conditioned Cuban government bus for a day of touring the city.

The Cold War made the Florida Straits into a stage for nuclear showdown and a graveyard for thousands of Cuban rafters seeking better lives in the United States. Now, normalization of the long-tortured U.S.-Cuba relationship is transforming the 90 miles between the U.S. and Cuba back into a playground for hulking cruise ships and sleek luxury yachts,

For the first time in decades, the U.S. government is authorizing a wide range of large-scale sea travel to Cuba. Since declaring detente in December, the Obama administration has issued permits to dozens of sailboats, at least five ferry companies, four cruise lines and the Palm Beach-based yacht broker that chartered out the Still Water. The 78-foot yacht features satellite Internet, four staterooms and a wet bar. "It's a little bubble. You can have the comforts of home in Havana," said Jim Friedlander, president of Academic Arrangements Abroad, which helped organize the trip.

Cuban tourism officials and U.S. boating aficionados and entrepreneurs are salivating about a possible return to the go-go days before Cuba's communist revolution, when thousands of well-heeled Americans a year sailed to Havana for long weekends of tropical leisure. "What's the natural market for nautical tourism in Cuba? The United States of America - the No. 1 country in the international yachting market," said Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, commodore of the International Hemingway Nautical Club of Cuba. "We're talking about tens of thousands of yachts that might come."

Fidel Castro in 2005 called cruise ships "floating hotels" that "leave their trash, their empty cans and papers for a few miserable cents." But under his brother and successor as president, Raul Castro, the government appears to have no such reservations. Cuba has been rapidly approving port calls by U.S. cruise ships and planning new marinas with thousands of slips for yachts in the polluted Bay of Havana and at the white-sand resort of Varadero, about a 90-minute drive away.

Even the first stirrings of a boating boom are giving rise to surreal, startling contrasts as increasing numbers of expensive pleasure boats ply waters where Cuban fishermen bob on taped-together chunks of packing foam and a rising flood of emigrants head north on rickety rafts.

Tourism per se remains illegal under the embargo. Yacht broker Paul Madden received Obama administration permission last month to operate yacht charters for "people-to-people" trips with U.S. and Cuban government guides jointly shepherding groups through daylong activities on shore meant to foster interaction between U.S. citizens and Cubans. Newly licensed cruise ships will operate under the same model.

The rise in leisure boat trips is a sign of the two countries' eagerness to make normalization irreversible by future U.S. administrations, experts say. "For a long time the atmospherics weren't right. Cocktail hour on the poop deck and cruising were redolent of tourism. (But) the Obama administration as it goes into overdrive in its legacy building on Cuba doesn't appear to me to have a lot of time to worry about that sort of thing," said Robert Muse, a specialist in U.S. law on Cuba who represents a newly licensed U.S. ferry company.

Muse said he thinks boat travel to Cuba will remain limited because of mutual sensitivities about the Florida Straits, the scene of high sea dramas such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Mariel boatlift.

Still, Cuban tourism experts seem confident about an imminent end to restrictions on boat travel to Cuba, which have been loosened and tightened in cycles since President Jimmy Carter briefly legalized travel to the island in 1977. Many U.S. yachters, including several docked at the Hemingway Marina on Thursday, have quietly stopped in Havana for years on their way to or from other ports, the same way U.S. air travelers head to Cuba from Canada or Mexico in defiance of rarely enforced American laws.

The hottest point of discussion among such Cuba specialists now is whether the island can swiftly meet what they expect will eventually be strong demand for high-end boating facilities. "The elimination of restrictions on nautical tourism by the U.S. government appears as if it will happen over the short term," said Jose Luis Perello, a tourism professor at the University of Havana. "That won't just open the doors to U.S. yachters and other tourists, but (also) to many from other countries and yacht clubs."

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:30 am 
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Do You Have Change for a Bowie? The Advent of Artisanal Cash
By DAN CRANE
August 9, 2015

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A psychedelic £5 note designed by the artist Jeremy Deller for the Brixton area of London.

LONDON — Though paper money here typically bears the visage of Queen Elizabeth, the Brixton district of the city last month released a new 5-pound note designed by Jeremy Deller, an artist who won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2004.

It features a fuzzy, psychedelic image of an androgynous face surrounded by rainbow clouds and coruscating, swirling etchings. “I wanted something old-fashioned looking,” Mr. Deller said. “Something almost pre-currency.”

One hundred and twenty miles west of Brixton, in the city of Bristol, a pound note issued after a design competition that was open to locals displays a colorful lemur striding atop a vibrant cityscape. The back has magenta-hued, hand-cut stencil illustrations of accomplished denizens, including the author J. K. Rowling and Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.

As Bitcoin, PayPal and other electronic forms of payment grow in popularity in the global economy, cash in a growing number of places — not only Bristol and Brixton, but also Amsterdam; Ithaca, N.Y.; and elsewhere — is becoming quite literally an artisanal object.

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In England, a £10 note in Brixton, designed by Charlie Waterhouse and Clive Paul Russell, honors David Bowie.

These are small-batch currencies designed by locals and lovingly handled by millennials, who came of age during the rise of the Internet, the meltdown of the stock market and Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency revelations, and would be forgiven for becoming more wary of credit and debit cards. Many are already opting for standard paper money over plastic (when not resorting to freeganism or bartering, that is).

Once a marker of a business with suspicious tax practices, the phrase “cash only” has come to signify hipster entrepreneurialism at places like Stumptown Coffee at the Ace Hotel in Midtown Manhattan or the Emerson Bar in Brooklyn. The term even arrived as a motto on a 3.1 Phillip Lim tank top sold by the boutique Blue & Cream (and now that it’s been marked down 50 percent to $97.50, you won’t need a suitcase of bills to pay for it).

Many of the new alternative currencies have the look and feel of the regular legal tender accepted at such places. Most include anticounterfeiting measures like holograms and serial numbers. But they are more eye-catching. At the Effra Social, a Brixton pub, Ewan Graham, 31, an architect, was impressed upon examining one of the district’s special pound notes for the first time. “I’d be more inclined to save money if it all looked like that,” he said. The back of the note displayed a Karl Marx quote about capital and its “occult ability to add value to itself.” The £10 note, meanwhile, pictured David Bowie, a Brixton native (stardust, or other powdery substance, not included). It’s easy to imagine such notes being fetishized as audiophiles do vinyl.

The local currency, though, is intended not as collectible but to encourage trade at the community businesses where they are accepted, rather than chain stores, where money taken in tends to flow out of town and into the coffers of multinational corporations. (Compare it to the farmers’ market: Homegrown lettuce now has a whole new meaning.)

“If you use a local currency, you keep the money local, and that has a ‘lifts all boats’ vibe to it,” said David Wolman, the author of “The End of Money.” Unfortunately, Mr. Wolman noted, farmers’ markets are an easier sell to consumers. “You have to work really hard to teach people what on earth your alternative currency is and convince them to jump on board, whereas anyone driving by a farmers’ market will be like, ‘Oh, look, some fresh strawberries!’ ”

Image
A £20 note in Bristol, by the Orca Design Company, has a playful scene.

One success story has been the BerkShare, a currency used in the region of Great Barrington, Mass. First issued in 2006, BerkShare notes were supported by research and development funding secured by the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. The notes, of which nearly $1 million worth were printed and roughly $138,000 worth are in circulation, highlight historical figures, like W. E. B. Du Bois and Norman Rockwell, and showcase the work of local artists.

The bills themselves are adorned with pastoral landscapes, cavorting native fauna and still-life paintings of turnips, evoking the bucolic scenery of the region.

“The idea of creating a currency that has our landscape and has our values right on the bill, that’s creating a sense of place that we don’t always have in America,” said Alice Maggio, the program coordinator of BerkShares Inc. “Particularly as we move towards a more globalized and homogenized culture.” Their introduction coincided with the rise of Etsy and the introduction of books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan in 2006, and “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver in 2007. “BerkShares allowed that idea of buying local to crystallize,” Ms. Maggio said. “I think people are drawn to them for the same reason they’re drawn to handmade things and local food.”

And one need look no further than the argument about which woman should be depicted on the new $10 bill to realize that the symbolic and aesthetic value of paper currency can be nearly as meaningful to consumers as its quantified worth. “When some people hold a bank note, it makes them furious about fiat money and the debt,” Mr. Wolman said, “but for others, those symbols embedded in that paper mean a lot — the note conjures feelings of togetherness or nationalism — and the state wants you to have that feeling.”

One perhaps surprising alternative-currency enthusiast is the former central banker Bernard Lietaer, who was an architect of the European Currency Unit, the convergence system between 12 currencies that led to the euro. Now a professor of money and sustainability at the Sorbonne in Paris, he believes that money is “an extraordinarily emotional object,” the immense power of which he likens, psychologically, to sex. Alternative currencies, he suggested, provide an “implicit incentive: I want to give priority to — and I’m willing to make an effort for — my region or community.”

Image
The BerkShare is a currency used in the region of Great Barrington, Mass. The notes highlight historical figures, like W.E.B. Du Bois and Norman Rockwell, and showcase the work of local artists.

One reason that secondary currencies are appealing to currency experts like Mr. Lietaer is that they have the potential to influence spending patterns, just as frequent-flier miles encourage airline loyalty. Mr. Lietaer pointed to the Chiemgauer, a complementary currency that began in 2003 in Bavaria, Germany, as an example. “It functions the same as the BerkShare, but with a bigger impact,” he said. “They’re specializing in organic food and cheese. So I buy Chiemgauers with euros, but I know these currencies will circulate in my community, specifically with organic products, and this gives motivation to produce more and have more organic producers.”

Since its debut, according to the organization in charge of the Chiemgauer, 14 million euros have been exchanged into the currency, which operates in both cash and electronic formats.

Mr. Lietaer suggested that Greece, currently in bailout talks, should create a complementary electronic currency that could be accepted for the payment of taxes and usable on a local basis. This secondary currency, which he called a “neo-drachma,” could be usable via mobile phone (“every Greek family has at least one,” he said) to purchase local goods and services, and could fluctuate against the euro. “If a Greek person wants to buy a German car, he would have to buy it in euros, at the exchange on the currency that’s accepted with the euro,” Mr. Lietaer said. “At the same time, for a haircut? I don’t see any reason to use euros.”

Regardless of whether it can solve major debt crises, there is an appeal to smaller, homespun, physical money, starting with the greater privacy it affords.

“As the government and corporations try to soak up more information from consumers, there are still going to be people that adhere to the good old medium of handing over dollar bills to exchange for goods and services,” said John Bush, 31, a so-called liberty activist and the owner of Brave New Books in Austin, Tex. “More people want to move away from mediums where the government can track your every purchase,” he said, adding that he prefers Bitcoin, barter or precious metals, though his store does accept credit cards.

Nonetheless, the use of traditional paper money is clearly on the wane. Perhaps these smaller, more attractive artisanal paper notes are merely last bursts of glory before it disappears entirely. Though as Mr. Deller, the artist behind the latest Brixton pound, said, “As long as there are drug deals and criminality, there’ll be a need for cash.”

Source: New York Times.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2015 6:24 pm 
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Hu most common surname among new Lombardy entrepreneurs
28 August 2015

Milan, Italy (ANSA) - The Chinese surname Hu has become the most common among new entrepreneurs in the region of Lombardy, followed by Chen and the Indian Singh.

The first Italian surname in the standings is Ferrari at fourth place only, followed by Colombo. The information compiled by the chambers of commerce of Monza and Brianza regards new firms created in the region from January to August.

After 5th placed Colombo the next Italian surname is not until 13th placed "Signor Rossi" preceded by Ahmed, Lin, Mohamed, Zhou, Wang and Liu. In Bergamo province the 'winning surname is Locatelli, in Como and Lecco it is Colombo, in Monza and Brianza it is Villa, in Pavia the Ferrari, while the Hu beat everyone in Milan and the Singh are the most common in Brescia, Cremona, Lodi and Mantua.

Hu also is the most common name among the owners of firms started in the Veneto and Piedmont regions between January and August 2015 while Hossain wins in Lazio and Chen in Tuscany. Italian surnames prevail in Puglia with Greco and in Emilia Romagna there is a tie between Hu and Rossi.

Source: ANSA

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:41 pm 
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Ahmed Mohamed swept up, 'hoax bomb' charges swept away as Irving teen's story floods social media
By AVI SELK
15 September 2015

image
David Woo/Staff Photographer - Ahmed Mohamed, 14, shows a photographer some of the electronics components in the bedroom that doubles as his workshop at his family’s Irving home. At left is Ahmed’s 3-year-old sister, Fatima Mohamed.

Irving's police chief announced Wednesday that charges won’t be filed against Ahmed Mohamed, the MacArthur High School freshman arrested Monday after he brought what school officials and police described as a “hoax bomb” on campus.

At a joint press conference with Irving ISD, Chief Larry Boyd said the device -- confiscated by an English teacher despite the teen’s insistence that it was a clock -- was “certainly suspicious in nature.” “The student showed the device to a teacher, who was concerned that it was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb,” Boyd said.

School officers questioned Ahmed about the device and why Ahmed had brought it to school. Boyd said Ahmed was then handcuffed “for his safety and for the safety of the officers” and taken to a juvenile detention center. He was later released to his parents, Boyd said. “The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there’s no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm,” Boyd said, describing the incident as a "naive accident."

During the news conference, Boyd touted the “outstanding relationship” he’s had with the Muslim community in Irving. He said he talked to members of the Muslim community this morning and plans to meet with Ahmed's father later today. Asked if the teen's religious beliefs factored into his arrest, Boyd said the reaction “would have been the same” under any circumstances. “We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school,” he said. “Of course we’ve seen across our country horrific things happen, so we have to err on the side of caution.”

Irving ISD spokeswoman Lesley Weaver also addressed the media, saying that information “made public to this point has been very unbalanced.” She declined to provide details on how school officials handled the incident, citing laws intended to safeguard student privacy. “We were doing everything with an abundance of caution to protect all of our students in Irving,” she said.

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne took to Facebook to defend the actions of the school district and police, saying their daily work helped make Irving “one of the safest cities in the country.” “I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat,” Van Duyne wrote. “We have all seen terrible and violent acts committed in schools. ... Perhaps some of those could have been prevented and lives could have been spared if people were more vigilant.” The mayor later amended her post, acknowledging that she would be “very upset” had the same thing happened to her own child. “It is my sincere desire that Irving ISD students are encouraged to use their creativity, develop innovations and explore their interests in a manner that fosters higher learning,” Van Duyne wrote. “Hopefully, we can all learn from this week’s events and the student, who has obvious gifts, will not feel at all discouraged from pursuing his talent in electronics and engineering.”

Shortly after the press conference, President Barack Obama extended a Twitter invitation for Ahmed to bring his “cool clock” to the White House. “We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great,” the tweet read. Josh Earnest, Obama's press secretary, said the case goes to show how stereotypes can cloud the judgment of even the most “good-hearted people.” “It’s clear that at least some of Ahmed's teachers failed him,” Earnest said. “That’s too bad, but it’s not too late for all of us to use this as a teachable moment and to search our own conscience for biases in whatever form they take.” The White House also extended the teen an invitation to speak with NASA scientists and astronauts at next month’s Astronomy Night.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also joined the social media chorus, extending an open invitation to visit and exhorting Ahmed to “keep building.” “Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest,” Zuckerberg wrote. “The future belongs to people like Ahmed.”

Earlier Wednesday at a modest, red-brick house in central Irving, Ahmed and his family welcomed media crews at the front door and in the backyard as they tried to come to grips with the boy’s overnight ascension to international celebrity. His sisters, 18-year-old Eyman and 17-year-old Ayisha, could hardly keep up with the tweets and stunning news about their little brother. Because Ahmed was never much for social media, the girls set up a Twitter account for him, @IStandWithAhmed, and watched it balloon to thousands of followers within hours. “We’re trending No. 1!” Ayisha cried to her sister, holding a cellphone over a stuffed coffee table in the living room.

“It's a blessing and a curse,” Ayisha said of Ahmed’s arrest and subsequent fame. “I don’t think he’ll ever be able to live normally again.” But they were happy for invitations to visit companies including Google and to move and study in other cities, and for the tweets of support, including one from Hillary Clinton. They recalled how, barely two days earlier, their brother described struggling to hold back tears in front of police officers after his arrest.

image
The homemade digital clock that led to Ahmed Mohamed's arrest. (Irving Police Department)

Ahmed, after finishing up another interview in the backyard, recalled his emotions as he was handcuffed at Irving MacArthur High School and removed from campus. “I was really mad,” Ahmed said as he looked at a much-retweeted photo of himself in handcuffs. “I was like, ‘Why am I here?’”

A Council on American Islamic Relations representative then hustled Ahmed and his family off to talk to a lawyer. After they left, Ahmed’s grandmother, Aisha Musa, lay on a bed in the dining room, resting her feet. She had immigrated from Sudan with the rest of the family years ago. She doesn’t speak English or know her exact age, but her granddaughters translated her take on her grandson’s celebrity: “I want my son’s son to grow old and have a good job. I thank God there’s nothing people can say but [that] we are good people.”

Update at 10:09 a.m. Wednesday: Former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidiate Hillary Clinton joined the tidal wave of tweets supporting Mohamed Ahmed after his arrest Monday for bringing a homemade digital clock to school. "Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe -- they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building,” Clinton's tweet read.

Irving ISD officials and Irving police will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Irving Criminal Justice Center. We will continue to update this story as new developments emerge.

Update at 9:32 a.m. Wednesday: After the story of Ahmed Mohamed's arrest for bringing a homemade digital clock to school went viral Tuesday, triggering an outpouring of support for him on social media, Ahmed tweeted a thank-you early Wednesday.

Staff writers Avi Selk, Naheed Rajwani, Todd Gillman and Robert Wilonsky contributed to this report.
Source: Dallas News.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:51 am 
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This Company Is Still Making Audio Cassettes and Sales Are Better Than Ever
by Jeniece Pettitt
September 1, 2015

phpBB [video]


The audiocassette tape is not dead.

In fact, one Springfield, Mo., cassette maker says it has had its best year since it opened in 1969. “You can characterize our operating model as stubbornness and stupidity. We were too stubborn to quit,” said National Audio Company President Steve Stepp.

NAC is the largest and one of the few remaining manufacturers of audiocassettes in the U.S. The profitable company produced more than 10 million tapes in 2014 and sales are up 20 percent this year. “Probably the thing that has really enlarged our business at a faster phase than anything is the retro movement,” Stepp said. "There's the nostalgia of holding the audio cassette in your hand.”

NAC has deals with major record labels like Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group as well as a number of small contracts with indie bands. About 70 percent of the company’s sales are from music cassettes while the rest are blank cassettes. “There was a drive from the independent bands to get that warm analog sound again, and it just continued to grow and grow,” said NAC Production Manager Susie Brown.

The company still uses machines built in the 1970s in its production lines.

Source: Bloomberg.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:09 am 
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Wikileaks release of TPP deal text stokes 'freedom of expression' fears
by Sam Thielman
Friday 9 October 2015

Image
President Obama meets with agriculture and business leaders to discuss the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for American business and workers. Photograph: Martin H Simon/EPA

Wikileaks has released what it claims is the full intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the controversial agreement between 12 countries that was signed off on Monday.

TPP was negotiated in secret and details have yet to be published. But critics including Democrat presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, unions and privacy activists have lined up to attack what they have seen of it. Wikileaks’ latest disclosures are unlikely to reassure them.

One chapter appears to give the signatory countries (referred to as “parties”) greater power to stop embarrassing information going public. The treaty would give signatories the ability to curtail legal proceedings if the theft of information is “detrimental to a party’s economic interests, international relations, or national defense or national security” – in other words, presumably, if a trial would cause the information to spread. A drafter’s note says that every participating country’s individual laws about whistleblowing would still apply.

“The text of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter confirms advocates warnings that this deal poses a grave threat to global freedom of expression and basic access to things like medicine and information,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of internet activist group Fight for the Future. “But the sad part is that no one should be surprised by this. It should have been obvious to anyone observing the process, where appointed government bureaucrats and monopolistic companies were given more access to the text than elected officials and journalists, that this would be the result.”

Among the provisions in the chapter (which may or may not be the most recent version) are rules that say that each country in the agreement has the authority to compel anyone accused of violating intellectual property law to provide “relevant information [...] that the infringer or alleged infringer possesses or controls” as provided for in that country’s own laws.

The rules also state that every country has the authority to immediately give the name and address of anyone importing detained goods to whoever owns the intellectual property. That information can be very broad, too: “Such information may include information regarding any person involved in any aspect of the infringement or alleged infringement,” the document continues, “and regarding the means of production or the channels of distribution of the infringing or allegedly infringing goods or services, including the identification of third persons alleged to be involved in the production and distribution of such goods or services and of their channels of distribution.”

TPP is now facing a rough ride through Congress where President Obama’s opponents on the right argue the agreement does not do enough for business while opponents on the left argue it does too much. Obama has pledged to make the TPP public but only after the legislation has passed.

Michael Wessel was one of the advisers who was asked by the US government to review what he said were woefully inadequate portions of the document. Wessel said the thrust of the TPP does nothing for Americans. “This is about increasing the ability of global corporations to source wherever they can at the lowest cost,” he said. “It is not about enhancing or promoting production in the United States,” Wessel said. “We aren’t enforcing today’s trade agreements adequately. Look at China and Korea. Now we’re not only expanding trade to a far larger set of countries under a new set of rules that have yet to be tested but we’re preparing to expand that to many more countries. It would be easier to accept if we were enforcing today’s rules.”

Wessel said that ultimately, the countries currently benefiting from increased outsourcing of jobs by American firms aren’t likely to see wages rise above a certain level. “If you look in other countries, Mexico and India and others – there’s been a rise in the middle class but there’s been stagnation for those we’re hoping to get into the middle class,” Wessel said. “Companies are scouring the globe for countries they can get to produce most cheaply.” That, he said, results in constant downward pressure on American wages. “Companies are not invested here the way we’d like them to; they’re doing stock buybacks and higher dividends,” Wessel continued. “They may yield support for the stock-holding class but it’s not creating jobs.”

Source: Guardian UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
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Nudes Are Old News at Playboy
By RAVI SOMAIYA
October 12, 2015

Image
Playboy's 1953 debut, with Marilyn Monroe.

Last month, Cory Jones, a top editor at Playboy, went to see its founder Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion.

In a wood-paneled dining room, with Picasso and de Kooning prints on the walls, Mr. Jones nervously presented a radical suggestion: the magazine, a leader of the revolution that helped take sex in America from furtive to ubiquitous, should stop publishing images of naked women.

Mr. Hefner, now 89, but still listed as editor in chief, agreed. As part of a redesign that will be unveiled next March, the print edition of Playboy will still feature women in provocative poses. But they will no longer be fully nude. Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. “That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance.

Playboy’s circulation has dropped from 5.6 million in 1975 to about 800,000 now, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Many of the magazines that followed it have disappeared. Though detailed figures are not kept for adult magazines, many of those that remain exist in severely diminished form, available mostly in specialist stores. Penthouse, perhaps the most famous Playboy competitor, responded to the threat from digital pornography by turning even more explicit. It never recovered.

Previous efforts to revamp Playboy, as recently as three years ago, have never quite stuck. And those who have accused it of exploiting women are unlikely to be assuaged by a modest cover-up. But, according to its own research, Playboy’s logo is one of the most recognizable in the world, along with those of Apple and Nike. This time, as the magazine seeks to compete with younger outlets like Vice, Mr. Flanders said, it sought to answer a key question: “if you take nudity out, what’s left?”

It is difficult, in a media market that has been so fragmented by the web, to imagine the scope of Playboy’s influence at its peak. A judge once ruled that denying blind people a Braille version of it violated their First Amendment rights. It published stories by Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami among others, and its interviews have included Malcolm X, Vladimir Nabokov, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jimmy Carter, who admitted that he had lusted in his heart for women other than his wife. Madonna, Sharon Stone and Naomi Campbell posed for the magazine at the peak of their fame. Its
A look back at what made Playboy magazine and the lifestyle Hugh Hefner represented so prominent for decades.

Even those who disliked it cared enough to pay attention — Gloria Steinem, the pioneering feminist, went undercover as a waitress, or Playboy Bunny, in one of Mr. Hefner’s spinoff clubs to write an exposé for Show Magazine in 1963.

When Mr. Hefner created the magazine, which featured Marilyn Monroe on its debut cover in 1953, he did so to please himself. “If you’re a man between the ages of 18 and 80, Playboy is meant for you,” he said in his first editor’s letter. “We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex ...” He did not put a date on the cover of the first issue, in case Playboy did not make it to a second.

Mr. Hefner “just revolutionized the whole direction of how we live, of our lifestyles and the kind of sex you might have in America,” said Dian Hanson, author of a six-volume history of men’s magazines and an editor for Taschen. “But taking the nudity out of Playboy is going to leave what?”

The latest redesign, 62 years later, is more pragmatic. The magazine had already made some content safe for work, Mr. Flanders said, in order to be allowed on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, vital sources of web traffic.

In August of last year, its website dispensed with nudity. As a result, Playboy executives said, the average age of its reader dropped from 47 to just over 30, and its web traffic jumped to about 16 million from about four million unique users per month.

The magazine will adopt a cleaner, more modern style, said Mr. Jones, who as chief content officer also oversees its website. There will still be a Playmate of the Month, but the pictures will be “PG-13” and less produced — more like the racier sections of Instagram. “A little more accessible, a little more intimate,” he said. It is not yet decided whether there will still be a centerfold.

Image
Cory Jones, chief content officer of Playboy, presented Mr. Hefner with the idea of eliminating nudity from the magazine last month. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Its sex columnist, Mr. Jones said, will be a “sex-positive female,” writing enthusiastically about sex. And Playboy will continue its tradition of investigative journalism, in-depth interviews and fiction. The target audience, Mr. Flanders said, is young men who live in cities. “The difference between us and Vice,” he said, “is that we’re going after the guy with a job.”

Some of the moves, like expanded coverage of liquor, are partly commercial, Mr. Flanders admitted; the magazine must please its core advertisers. And all the changes have been tested in focus groups with an eye toward attracting millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 30-something, highly coveted by publishers. The magazine will feature visual artists, with their work dotted through the pages, in part because research revealed that younger people are drawn to art.

The company now makes most of its money from licensing its ubiquitous brand and logo across the world — 40 percent of that business is in China even though the magazine is not available there — for bath products, fragrances, clothing, liquor and jewelry among other merchandise. Nudity in the magazine risks complaints from shoppers, and diminished distribution.

Playboy, which had gone public in 1971, was taken private again in 2011 by Mr. Hefner with Rizvi Traverse Management, an investment firm founded by Suhail Rizvi, a publicity-shy Silicon Valley investor, who has interests in Twitter, Square and Snapchat among others. The firm now owns over 60 percent. Mr. Hefner owns about 30 percent (some shares are held by Playboy management).

The magazine is profitable if money from licensed editions around the world is taken into account, Mr. Flanders said, but the United States edition loses about $3 million a year. He sees it, he said, as a marketing expense. “It is our Fifth Avenue storefront,” he said.

He and Mr. Jones feel that the magazine remains relevant, not least because the world has gradually adopted Mr. Hefner’s libertarian views on a variety of social issues. Asked whether Mr. Hefner’s views on women were the exception to that rule, Mr. Flanders responded that Mr. Hefner had “always celebrated the beauty of the female figure.” “Don’t get me wrong,” Mr. Jones said of the decision to dispense with nudity, “12-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it’s the right thing to do.”

Source: New York Times.

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 Post subject: Re: Sign of the times
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:29 pm 
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China passes U.S. for number of billionaires
15 October 2015

Rome (ANSA) - A survey has found China has passed the United States in the number of billionaires, driven by the rise of fortunes in information technology and manufacturing.

The Hurun Report, which follows China's wealthy, said Thursday that the number of mainland Chinese billionaires rose by 242 this year to 596. It said that surpassed the 537 the company found in the United States. No. 1 on this year's list was Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, which operates hotels, shopping malls and cinemas, at $34.4 billion. No. 2 was Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, at $22.7 billion.

New additions to the list include Cheng Wei of taxi-hailing app Didi-Kuaidi.

Source: ANSA

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