Monday, 22 November 2010

Airlines fares.

Airlines find new route to profitability: fees for baggage, meals and other services. Casey Wian reports.

unbundling: The separate pricing of goods and services.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Quiz: Signs in English.

Brazilian Billionaire Eike Batista Reportedly Wants An Apple Computer Factory

Brazilian Billionaire Eike Batista Reportedly Wants An Apple Computer Factory.
Nov. 19 2010

Eike Batista, Brazil’s richest man and by Forbes’ count the world’s 8th richest person, is trending on Twitter today. Why? The most likely reason: He told Brazilian business magazine Exame that he wants to build an Apple computer factory in Brazil. Whether that will come to pass is hard to say. Given the enormously valuable oil and gas empire that Batista has built in recent years, he might just have a chance.
But Apple keeps a tight lid on its suppliers. Whether Apple and those suppliers can be convinced to open shop in Brazil is likely at the heart of the issue.

Batista told Exame that he had begun having conversations with two Asian suppliers to Apple. A couple of things are driving these talks: 1) The very high price that Brazilians have to pay for iPads –Batista told Exame that Brazilians pay two and a half times more for iPads (presumably in comparison to what we pay in the U.S.) 2) Batista’s own business interest. He’s got a logistics company called LLX that has a campus north of Rio de Janeiro with space for a factory.
Batista acknowledged to Exame that Apple would have to approve the deal. I don’t know whether Batista has met Steve Jobs or not, but he appears to have absorbed some of the Steve Jobs casual black fashion sense: he’s got a sort of Steve-Jobs-like outfit on (if you don’t count the blazer) in the Exame photo.

Batista is keen on building up Brazil as a country while he builds his own businesses. When asked recently by Forbes to pick the 7 most powerful people in South America, 6 of those he picked were Brazilians, as my colleague Keren Blankfeld points out. Adding Apple factories to his portfolio would certainly raise Batista’s stature –and Brazil’s consumer electronics profile.


Watch the video: 'Brazil's richest man builds port.' here, please.

Luxury Brands Draw Crowds at Vienna Fair

"Luxury, Please," a Viennese fair dedicated to all things costly and luxurious celebrates its fifth anniversary this weekend, showcasing brands such as Rolls Royce, Donna Karan and Ferrari

Vending machines.

CNN's Nadia Bilchik talks about a vending machine in Tokyo that uses face recognition technology.

Movie tip: The kids are all right.

A tip for the weekend: The kids are all right.
Don't miss it! Gripping, moving, funny and intelligent!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The gene for zzzzzzz.

The Gene for Zzzzzzzz

9 November 2010

The genetics of sleep. DNA may determine why some individuals sleep longer than others.

Many of us are zombies without 8 hours of sleep, while envied others seem to get by just fine on much less. Now geneticists have found the first gene in the general population that seems to influence how much sleep we need.

Sleep interests biologists in part because it varies with other factors, such as weight, that make people more prone to diabetes or heart disease. (The larger a person's body mass index, the less they generally sleep.) In search of sleep genes, a group of European researchers studied populations in seven countries, from Estonia to Italy, for a total of 4260 subjects. Each one filled out a simple questionnaire asking about his or her sleep habits and donated a DNA sample. The researchers then scanned the participants' DNA for thousands of genetic markers, looking for ones that were more common in people who slept more than those who slept less.

Sleep duration correlated strongly with a single genetic marker in a gene called ABCC9.
The ABCC9 gene codes for a protein called SUR2 that is part of a potassium channel, a structure that funnels potassium ions into and out of cells.

ABCC9 is the first gene with such a strong association with sleep duration detected in the general population. Allebrandt says that because the SUR2 protein is also involved in heart disease and diabetes, the finding that it impacts sleep should also interest researchers working on those diseases.


Apple Approves Google Voice App for iPhone

Apple approved a Google Internet phone application for use on the iPhone, more than a year after an initial rejection of the app led to scrutiny by federal regulators. Amir Efrati discusses. Also, Katie Boehret discusses the new Nook Color, which offers smart ways to share your books with friends.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Quiz: Replies - Social Expressions in English.

How to avoid a possible currency war.

CNN's Felicia Taylor takes a closer look at the looming currency battle and how some economists want to fix it.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

15 years of Harry Potter.

As the 7th film hits theaters, CNN's Becky Anderson takes a look at the lucrative "Harry Potter" franchise.

Who's buying luxury?

As CNN's Felicia Taylor finds out, high-end goods are now making a comeback.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Ultra-Luxury Boats on Display in Florida.

There are yachts, and then there are Yachts. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show showcased more than a thousand of the biggest, most luxurious skiffs of the seas at prices of up to $82 million... or a mere $650,000 a week. WSJ's Judy Reich reports.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Is QE2 a good idea?

CNN's Richard Quest talks to former Bank of England adviser David Blanchflower about the U.S. Fed's actions.

China, Germany and South Africa criticise US stimulus.

5 November 2010.

China, Germany and South Africa criticise US stimulus.

The US central bank hopes that the move could boost the US economy's recovery .
Germany, China, Brazil and South Africa have criticised US plans to pump $600bn (£373bn) into the US economy.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the US policy was "clueless" and would create "extra problems for the world".
The US Federal Reserve could weaken the US dollar and hurt exports to America.
China's Central Bank head Zhou Xiaochuan urged global currency reforms, while South Africa said developing countries would suffer most. He did not elaborate how the system should be changed.
The US policy "undermines the spirit of multilateral co-operation that G20 leaders have fought so hard to maintain during the current crisis," he said.
The heads of state and government of the G20 group of the world's leading nations is due to meet in a week in South Korea, with currencies and trade imbalances high on the agenda.
The US central bank announced on Wednesday that it would spend $600bn to buy government bonds, in the hope that the cash injection can kickstart the country's economy.
However, this weakens the dollar, making imports from around the world more expensive for US consumers.
"If the domestic policy is optimal policy for the United States alone, but at the same time it is not an optimal policy for the world, it may bring a lot of negative impact to the world," said Mr Zhou.
China's Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said the Federal Reserve had the right to take steps without consulting other countries beforehand, but added: "They owe us some explanation."
Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on German television that "with all due respect, US policy is clueless."
"It is not that the Americans have not pumped enough liquidity into the market and now to say let's pump more into the market is not going to solve their problems."
He added that the German government was going to hold bilateral talks with US officials and also discuss the topic at the G20 summit in Seoul next week.
On Thursday, Brazil's finance minister Guido Mantega had warned that the Fed's move would hurt Brazil and other exporters.
The latest move by the Fed has been dubbed QE2 as it follows the central bank's decision to pump $1.75tn into the economy.


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cartoon of the day.

Quote of the day.

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."

by Albert Einstein

Exercise can prevent a cold.

2 November 2010.

Exercise 'can prevent a cold', a study shows.

People who exercise regularly are less likely to get a cold, researchers say.
A study of 1,000 people found that staying active nearly halved the odds of catching cold viruses and, failing that, made the infection less severe.
Experts told the British Journal of Sports Medicine that this could be because exercise helps bolster the immune system to fight off bugs.
But you may not have to actually do much exercise - those who merely think they are fit enjoy the same lower risk.

Adults can expect to suffer two to five colds per year. This latest research suggests there are lifestyle choices you can make to improve your odds of either avoiding them, or suffering too badly from them.

For their study, US researchers asked the healthy volunteers to keep a record of any coughs and sniffles they experienced over a three-month period during the autumn and winter.
The volunteers were also asked to say how frequently in any given week they would do exercise lasting at least 20 minutes and intensive enough to break a sweat. And they were questioned about lifestyle, diet and recent stressful events, as these can all affect a person's immune system.

Being older, male and married seemed to reduce the frequency of colds, as did eating plenty of fruit.
But the most significant factors that cut colds was how much exercise a person did and how fit they perceived themselves to be.

Feeling fit and being active cut the risk of having a cold by nearly 50%.

People who were physically active on five or more days of the week were unwell with a cold for about five days of the three-month period, compared to nine days for those who did little or no exercise. And even when they were ill, they suffered less with their symptoms.

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "This is yet more evidence for doing exercise. It reflects what we have believed for some time.

"Exercise makes us feel better and now here's more evidence that it is good for us."

Tips for fighting off a cold from members of the public and BBC Breakfast's Dr Rosemary:


Mossberg: New MacBook Airs Feel Like an iPad

Walt Mossberg tests two new MacBook Air laptops and finds they really do offer the different, more iPad-like experience that Apple claims they do. But if you're a heavy-duty user, who needs lots of power and file storage they may be too lightweight.

Pandora wants to be in your car.

Founder Tim Westergren talks about integrating his online radio station into car stereos and how mobile apps have grown his business.

Marijuana legal in California?

Californians head to the polls to decide whether to make pot legal for recreational use. CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.

Telecoms in emerging markets.

Mobile phones not only connect the developing world, they also make it richer.


It is more dominant than ever. But the competition within television is brutal.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Quiz: Past Simple or Present Perfect?

Face2Face Intermediate - Past Simple or Present Perfect?

Face2Face Upper-Intermediate: Past Simple or Present Perfect?

Drunkorexia: Swapping Food for Booze

College Students Are Skipping Meals In Order To Drink More Alcohol. Health Officials Fear The Practice Is Encouraging Eating Disorders.

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

Alcohol is the most harmful drug.

Study: Alcohol 'most harmful drug,' followed by crack and heroin

The study uses a new scale to rank the harmfulness of 20 drugs.
Alcohol is the most harmful overall, according to panelists.

London, England (CNN) -- Alcohol ranks "most harmful" among a list of 20 drugs -- beating out crack and heroin -- according to study results released by a British medical journal.

A panel of experts weighed the physical, psychological and social problems caused by the drugs and determined that alcohol was the most harmful overall, according to an article on the study released by The Lancet Sunday.
Using a new scale to evaluate harms to individual users and others, alcohol received a score of 72 on a scale of 1 to 100, the study says. That makes it almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco, according to the article, which is slated to be published on The Lancet's website Monday and in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals, the study says, while alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others.

Panelists also noted that the rankings confirm other studies that say that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy."

"Overall, alcohol is the most harmful drug because it's so widely used.

"Crack cocaine is more addictive than alcohol but because alcohol is so widely used there are hundreds of thousands of people who crave alcohol every day, and those people will go to extraordinary lengths to get it."
He said it was important to separate harm to individuals and harm to society.

The Lancet paper written by Prof Nutt, Dr King and Dr Lawrence Phillips, does not examine the harm caused to users by taking more than one drug at a time.
Gavin Partington, spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said millions of people enjoyed alcohol "as part of a regular and enjoyable social drink".


Etiquette classes.

CNN's Alina Cho looks at the increased popularity of etiquette classes.

Leisure-time exercise reduces depression risk.

Leisure-time exercise 'reduces depression risk'

The fact that people get more enjoyment from exercising during their leisure time is key .

People who take regular exercise during their free time are less likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety, a study of 40,000 Norwegians has found.
But physical activity which is part of the working day does not have the same effect, it suggests.
Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers said it was probably because there was not the same level of social interaction.

The charity Mind said that exercise and interaction aids our mental health.
Higher levels of social interaction during leisure time were found to be part of the reason for the link.
Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London teamed up with academics from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Bergen in Norway to conduct the study.

Participants were asked how often, and to what degree, they undertook physical activity in their leisure time and during the course of their work.
Researchers also measured participants' depression and anxiety using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. People who were not active in their leisure time were almost twice as likely to have symptoms of depression compared to the most active individuals, the study found.

But the intensity of the exercise did not seem to make any difference.

Lead researcher Dr Samuel Harvey, from the Institute of Psychiatry, said: "Our study shows that people who engage in regular leisure-time activity of any intensity are less likely to have symptoms of depression.
"We also found that the context in which activity takes place is vital and that the social benefits associated with exercise, like increased numbers of friends and social support, are more important in understanding how exercise may be linked to improved mental health than any biological markers of fitness.

"This may explain why leisure activity appears to have benefits not seen with physical activity undertaken as part of a working day."
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said that lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise are known to have a positive impact on mental well-being.
"Exercise gives you a natural high and is a great way to boost your mood. However, another mental health benefit of physical activity is derived from social interaction.

"So going out with a running club, taking part in a team sport or working on a communal allotment is far better for your mental well-being than a physically demanding job.

"Mind has found that after just a short country walk 90% of people had increased self-esteem," Mr Farmer said.


Saturday, 30 October 2010

Severe Drought Damages Brazil's Amazon Region

Severe Drought Damages Brazil's Amazon Region.
A severe drought pushes river levels in Brazil's Amazon region to record lows, isolating communities and strangling vital boat transport links.

Cartoon of the day.

Apple Working on Embedded SIM for iPhone?

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by


Is Apple about to dump carrier partners in Europe? Some sources seem to confirm, Steve Jobs and company are setting out on their own -- by partnering up with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto-- in a move which would allow consumers to buy an iPhone via the web or at an Apple store -- and hook up service on their own.

We’re checking out the cord-cutting conspiracy from GigaOm, PC World, TechEye, and SlashGear.

GigaOm broke this story -- and has some of the details. It says, if Apple succeeds, it will do so where others have failed.

“ could do what Google with its NexusOne could not... Much like it helped cut operators out of the app store game, Apple could be taking them out of the device retail game.”

This could work well in Europe, where competition is stiff. PC World notes, if it DOES work, consumers would be the big winner.

“...[It] means users may be able to easily switch between carriers depending on which one is offering the better deal. ...[Consumers] would likely make the switch via iTunes or perhaps directly through Apple or their new carrier.”

But TechEye says, before consumers go dancing in the streets, they may want to think about the larger ramifications.

“... the downside of this is that it would mean that the Apple blessed SIM would be hardwired into the phone. It would make it much harder to jailbreak and mean that you could only run the phone on Apple blessed telcos.”

...A point one consumer protested quite strongly, in a comment on SlashGear’s coverage of the potential iPhone deal.

“I don’t think this move bypasses ‘carriers’, it bypasses ‘users’. 
Apple clearly isn’t a fan of the freedom of their users – first they made the sim card ridiculously hard to swap by requiring a metal clip to tear it out of the phone. Then they required you to physically cut your sim card (which effectively meant that putting a sim card in a iPhone 4 became a one-way operation).”

So what do you think? More freedom? Or more control for Big Bro Apple?

Liveability ranking.

Liveability ranking.

Cities in Canada and Australia are the most liveable in the world .

Canadian and Australian cities account for six of the top ten spots in the Economist Intelligence Unit's latest liveability ranking. All of the cities in the top ten scored well over 80.0, the threshold below which difficulties are apparent in day-to-day living. Vancouver is still the world’s most liveable city, with a rating of 98.0; Sydney and Zurich, sharing ninth place, achieved a score less than 2% lower than Vancouver’s. The worst-performing locations are in Africa or Asia, where civil instability and poor infrastructure present significant challenges. The unfolding political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe makes Harare the least desirable city in the survey. Locations within Afghanistan and Iraq are not included.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual's lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. The categories are compiled and weighted to provide an overall rating of 1–100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal.


The job market's impact on millennials.

Not a Lost Generation, but a 'Disappointed' One: The Job Market's Impact on Millennials.

October 27, 2010.

They are one of the biggest generations in American history, and they are certainly the best educated. But for Generation Y -- a group of young people of about 70 million between the ages of 15 and 30 -- the future doesn’t seem bright.

With a national unemployment rate of 9.6%, many of them cannot find jobs. Some have had to move back home with their parents; others are forced to work with low-level jobs that is not enough to pay back the loans they took out for college.

The bad news for Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, does not stop there: Numerous studies indicate that entering the job market during a recession has both immediate and long-term negative impacts. "We have seen from previous recessions that groups who enter the workforce during a downturn pay a persistent penalty in terms of wages and benefits," notes Bidwell. "It takes them longer to get into the workforce so they are not acquiring the skills they need. In addition, they are more apt to take a lower level job or an unpaid internship. And once the economy improves and they land a better job, it takes these workers longer to climb the ladder because they have to learn skills they should have been developing immediately out of college. In the meantime, they are at risk of being leapfrogged by new graduates."

The great fear of economists who study employment has to do with workers who are forced out of the labor market during a recession and never return. But with this particular generation, a more apt concern might be for those who never have the opportunity to enter it in the first place, Bidwell suggests. "If you don't get a decent job in your first five years in the workforce, do you ever? You don't develop the stable work habits or the self-esteem to move up the corporate ladder," he says. "It's a horrendous waste of human capital."

Several recent studies indicate that entering the job market during a recession has a long-lasting, negative effect on wages. One study, by Lisa Kahn, an economics professor at the Yale School of Management, found that for each percentage point rise in the unemployment rate, those who graduated during the recession earned 6% to 8% less in their first year of employment compared to people who graduated during a better economy.

The earnings gap that these recession-era graduates contend with will not have much of an overall impact on the U.S. economy. Economists say that one group amid a very big population does not have the power to greatly effect consumption levels. But, they say, the discrepancy will have significant implications for how these individuals carry out their adult lives. The Millennials will lack the spending power of more fortunate boom-time graduates, which means that many of their life milestones, such as buying a first house, getting married or even starting a family, will be delayed.

"Everything gets pushed back," Allen notes. "It's a problem that's not well appreciated. People's careers are being damaged. People who are in their 20s and 30s are not being promoted, they are not getting raises and they are not getting opportunities [to progress in their careers] because the people above them are not moving. They can't leave their jobs because they probably won't be able to find work elsewhere. So they're stuck. This is a serious issue: It's setting people back a few years and they never really recover."

Millennials are a generation that "expected the world would be the way it has been for the past 20 years," Allen adds. "They had expectations that they would find jobs and make lots of money. This will be a disappointed generation, but young people entering the labor market during good times tend to believe that all jobs come easy, and they count on big paychecks. Graduating into a bad economy is a more sobering experience, he says. "We saw that people who graduated during the boom of the late 1990s -- who had their pick of jobs, and were getting big signing bonuses and buying BMWs -- had a hard time adjusting to the downturn," he notes. "There is something quite important about entering a labor market in a downturn.... It shapes your worldview. It makes you more modest and more realistic."


Why women are losing ground on Wall Street.

Why Women are Losing Ground on Wall Street.

October 27, 2010 .

The recession has not been kind to women on Wall Street. Consider these recent reports in the financial press: Even though women hold a minority of financial sector jobs, five times as many women as men were laid off after the start of the recession, according to Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, the pay gap between men and women in the industry, Bloomberg adds, actually widened between 2000 and 2007. The result is that while women in the broader work force have made significant progress toward pay and opportunity parity, they have actually lost ground on Wall Street.According to The Wall Street Journal, 9.6% more men are working in finance now than 10 years ago, but 2.6% fewer women. Among young workers, the numbers are even starker: 16.5% fewer women aged 20 to 35 and 21.8% fewer women aged 20 to 24.

In short, the number of women even choosing to work on Wall Street has dropped, and many of those who do start out there are deciding to leave or are being pushed out.

Many back-office and administrative jobs -- those often held by women -- have been lost for good due to technology and outsourcing, according to the Journal.

Why, after so many years of Wall Street apologizing for its poor treatment of women and promising to do better, do things seem worse? And are there consequences? If women are not interested in these jobs and are finding more opportunities with better pay parity in other sectors of the economy, does it matter that they are not on trading desks, doing merger deals or managing IPOs?

The conventional wisdom is that women value work-life balance. Since they know they will not find that on Wall Street, they are steering clear of finance for careers that have less pressure, shorter hours and more time for family. But the reality isn't that simple. "I resist looking at this as an issue of 'women don't want to work as hard,'" says Monica McGrath, an adjunct professor of management at Wharton. "They do work hard and want to, but they want it to pay off." And on Wall Street, she notes, it's not clear that it will. "Women were less likely to say they identified with finance jobs, especially investment banking. [Because] these jobs were seen as macho, the women believed that companies would be looking for more macho attributes" and thus would be less likely to hire women. Instead, he notes, female MBAs gravitated toward business development and marketing. Those who studied finance tended to put that interest to work in general management jobs.


Germany's economic boom.

October 26, 2010
CNN's Diana Magnay reports on the bounceback of the German economy.

'Cell phone' spotted in silent film from 1928.

It's not shocking to see a woman talking on her cell phone while walking down the street. It is, however, shocking when the woman is an extra in a silent film from 1928.

Charlie Chaplin's "The Circus" is getting internet buzz with a clip from the black-and-white comedy spreading at viral speed.

The clip -- a DVD extra spotted by filmmaker George Clarke -- shows a woman holding what some say appears to be a mobile phone to her ear and talking.

The only explanation: She's a time traveler.

At least that's the word on the Web.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Road to Grammar.

A good site: Road to Grammar.

Thanks to:

Today's quote:

"There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."

~ James Truslow Adams, as quoted in "The Crisis of the Humanities and Obama's Town Hall" (New Yorker)


Big Mac index.

Oct 15th 2010

From The Economist online

A weak currency, despite its appeal to exporters and politicians, is no free lunch. But it can provide a cheap one. In China a McDonald’s Big Mac costs just 14.5 yuan on average in Beijing and Shenzhen, the equivalent of $2.18 at market exchange rates. In America the same burger averages $3.71. That makes China’s yuan one of the most undervalued currencies in our Big Mac index, which is based on the idea of purchasing-power parity. This says that a currency’s price should reflect the amount of goods and services it can buy. Since 14.5 yuan can buy as much burger as $3.71, a yuan should be worth $0.26 on the foreign-exchange market. At just $0.15, it is undervalued by about 40%. The tensions caused by currency misalignments prompted Brazil’s finance minister to complain last month that his country was a potential casualty of a “currency war”. The Swiss, who avoid most wars, are in the thick of this one. Their franc is the most expensive currency on our list.

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?

Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It's not the Netherlands.)

Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don't enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal's drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead? Under Portugal's new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail.

The question is, does the new policy work? At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to "drug tourists" and exacerbate Portugal's drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise.

The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.

"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."

Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

Portugal's case study is of some interest to lawmakers in the U.S., confronted now with the violent overflow of escalating drug gang wars in Mexico. The U.S. has long championed a hard-line drug policy, supporting only international agreements that enforce drug prohibition and imposing on its citizens some of the world's harshest penalties for drug possession and sales. Yet America has the highest rates of cocaine and marijuana use in the world, and while most of the E.U. (including Holland) has more liberal drug laws than the U.S., it also has less drug use.

"I think we can learn that we should stop being reflexively opposed when someone else does [decriminalize] and should take seriously the possibility that anti-user enforcement isn't having much influence on our drug consumption," says Mark Kleiman, director of the drug policy analysis program at UCLA. Kleiman does not consider Portugal a realistic model for the U.S., however, because of differences in size and culture between the two countries.


Death of the Walkman.

After three decades and 200 million sold, Sony pulls the plug on the cassette Walkman. CNN's Zain Verjee reports.

Brazil's richest man builds port.

October 21, 2010
Brazil's richest man tackles a logistics bottleneck with a mega port project. Shasta Darlington reports.

What is the most popular name in UK today? And what does it mean?

CNN's Atika Shubert reports on the top baby names for boys in Britain.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Quiz: Face2Face Upper-Intermediate Review - Vocabulary - Unit 1 to 11.

face2face Upper-Intermediate - Vocabulary Review
Unit 1 to 11

A Story of Loss and Love .

A Story of Loss and Love:
In 2004 Deb and Dan Dunham lost their son Jason to an insurgent's grenade in Iraq. Now the Scio, N.Y., couple is healing -- and being healed by -- another wounded Marine: Gunner, a bomb-sniffing dog traumatized by war.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Technology Killed the Video Store.

Blockbuster's bankruptcy last week has made it official: Technology is killing the video rental store-and a piece of American culture with it. Jessica Vascellaro joins Simon Constable and Lauren Goode to discuss how services like cable on-demand, Netflix and even 3-D movies are impacting the video rental model.

Why So Many People Can't Make Decisions.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2010

Why So Many People Can't Make Decisions.

Some people meet, fall in love and get married right away. Others can spend hours in the sock aisle at the department store, weighing the pros and cons of buying a pair of wool instead of cotton.

Seeing the world as black and white, in which choices seem clear, or shades of gray can affect people's path in life, from jobs and relationships to which political candidate they vote for, researchers say. People who often have conflicting feelings about situations—the shades-of-gray thinkers—have more of what psychologists call ambivalence, while those who tend toward unequivocal views have less ambivalence.

High ambivalence may be useful in some situations, and low ambivalence in others, researchers say. And although people don't fall neatly into one camp or the other, in general, individuals who tend toward ambivalence do so fairly consistently across different areas of their lives.
Now, researchers have been investigating how ambivalence, or lack of it, affects people's lives, and how they might be able to make better decisions. Overall, thinking in shades of gray is a sign of maturity, enabling people to see the world as it really is. It's a "coming to grips with the complexity of the world," says Jeff Larsen, a psychology professor who studies ambivalence at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

If there isn't an easy answer, ambivalent people, more than black-and-white thinkers, are likely to procrastinate and avoid making a choice, for instance about whether to take a new job, says Dr. Harreveld.

Researchers can't say for sure why some people tend towards greater ambivalence. Certain personality traits play a role—people with a strong need to reach a conclusion in a given situation tend to black-and-white thinking, while ambivalent people tend to be more comfortable with uncertainty. Individuals who are raised in environments where their parents are ambivalent or unstable may grow to experience anxiety and ambivalence in future relationships, according to some developmental psychologists.

Culture may also play a role. In western cultures, simultaneously seeing both good and bad "violates our world view, our need to put things in boxes," says Dr. Larsen. But in eastern philosophies, it may be less problematic because there is a recognition of dualism, that something can be one thing as well as another.

One of the most widely studied aspects of ambivalence is how it affects thinking. Because of their strongly positive or strongly negative views, black-and-white thinkers tend to be quicker at making decisions than highly ambivalent people. But if they get mired in one point of view and can't see others, black-and-white thinking may prompt conflict with others or unhealthy thoughts or behaviors.

People with clinical depression, for instance, often get mired in a negative view of the world. They may interpret a neutral action like a friend not waving to them as meaning that their friend is mad at them, and have trouble thinking about alternative explanations.

Ambivalent people, on the other hand, tend to systematically evaluate all sides of an argument before coming to a decision. They scrutinize carefully the evidence that is presented to them, making lists of pros and cons, and rejecting overly simplified information.

Ambivalent individuals' ability to see all sides of an argument and feel mixed emotions appears to have some benefits. They may be better able to empathize with others' points of view, for one thing. And when people are able to feel mixed emotions, such as hope and sadness, they tend to have healthier coping strategies, such as when a spouse passes away, according to Dr. Larsen. They may also be more creative because the different emotions lead them to consider different ideas that they might otherwise have dismissed.

In the workplace, employees who are highly ambivalent about their jobs are more erratic in job performance; they may perform particularly well some days and poorly other times, says René Ziegler. Positive feedback for a highly ambivalent person, such as a pay raise, will boost their job performance more than for someone who isn't ambivalent about the job, he says.

Every job has good and bad elements. But people who aren't ambivalent about their job perform well if they like their work and poorly if they don't. Recognizing that a partner has strengths and weaknesses is normal, says Dr. Mikulincer. "A certain degree of ambivalence is a sign of maturity," he says.


Cartoon of the day.

Market Leader - Business Vocabulary in Use.

Career coaches: worth the investment?

Face2Face Pre-Intermediate - Unit 8

Career coaches: Worth the investment?

By Rachel Zupek,

( -- In the current state of our economy, more than 15 million people are unemployed. That's 15 million people who are all looking for a little help in the job search, writing a résumé, interview advice, networking or even finding a new career.

Many times, people who need job-search help hire a professional. Career coaches and counselors are usually certified professionals who focus on career exploration or choice, changing careers or helping you improve your résumé and perfect your interview skills.

In the 2009 International Coaching Federation Global Coaching Client Study, 15 percent of coaching clients said career opportunities are the most important reason to hire a coach, compared with business management (14 percent) and self-esteem or self-confidence (13 percent).

The study, which included input from more than 2,000 coaching clients in 64 countries, also cited more than 80 percent of respondents indicating a positive change in areas such as interpersonal skills, work performance and team effectiveness.

While career coaches can definitely be a useful resource, good advice doesn't come cheap. In a 2007 study by the coaching federation, which focused on coaches rather than clients, the average fee for a career coaching session was $161 per hour. Depending on your financial situation and employment status, considering you want more than one session, that's a high investment.

Although some people think their investment in a career coach was a waste of money, others think it was money well-spent.

Sixty-eight percent of individuals surveyed indicated that they had at least made back their initial investment in coaching in increased earnings from personal salaries or investments, or through increased savings through debt reduction, according to the coaching foundation study, which was conducted by Association Resource Centre and PricewaterhouseCoopers.


World Bank President on Global Economy.

October 4, 2010
World Bank president Robert Zoellick talks to Richard Quest ahead of the annual World Bank meeting in Washington.

Is a rented friend a real friend?

5 October 2010.

Is a rented friend a real friend?
By Claire Prentice New York

Claire and Jenny: good friends - for a fee 

Friend rental services are launching in more and more countries, including the UK. But would you rent a friend for the day?

Waiting in a cafe in Greenwich Village, New York, I wonder how I'll recognise my friend Jenny. She's running late and I'm starting to feel nervous. The truth is I've never met her before. All I know about Jenny Tam is that she just turned 30 and she rents herself out as a "friend" in her free time.

"Hi, I'm Jenny, it's good to meet you," says a woman smiling and extending her hand. After the waitress comes over and takes our order, we start chatting.

"I moved to New York from Los Angeles a year ago and I thought this would be a good way to make friends," says Jenny.

Over lunch we chat about where we're from, our families and our interests, just as you would on a first date. It feels like a strangely formal way to get to know a complete stranger, but in New York people are forever striking up conversations with people they've just met.

As the weirdness of the situation subsides and we start to chat about everything from astrology to literature and politics, it becomes apparent we have a lot in common.
It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but it was all arranged online via And if I want to see her again it'll be in the knowledge that I have to pay for it.

"There are so many ways to meet people now. People marry people they meet online, so why not friends," says Jenny. "Rentafriend opens me up to meeting new people that I otherwise wouldn't meet."

She says she rarely charges the people who hire her. Instead she opts to let them pay for whatever social activity they get up to - bowling, dinner, the cinema, drinks.

"I guess some people who use the site are losers and maybe disconnected from a regular social life, but most people I've met seem normal. In a big city like New York it's not always easy to meet people," she says.

Rentafriend is the brainchild of Scott Rosenbaum. He got the idea after reading about similar websites in Asia, where people would hire someone to take to a work or family event. In transplanting the idea to North America, he decided to make it more of a friendship-cum-social networking site, designed to take advantage of the fact that nowadays people often live far away from where they grew up and work long hours, leaving limited time to meet new people. After starting in America and Canada, Rentafriend is now in countries as far afield as China, Chile, Israel, India and Italy. A UK site was launched earlier this year. Rosenbaum says there are an estimated 285,000 friends available for rent worldwide on his sites, and 2,600 paid members.

It is not, he insists, a form of escort or dating service, something which is explicitly stated on the site. But by getting people to pay for friendship, aren't you just exploiting their insecurities?

"No, we are helping people," says Mr Rosenbaum. "As the internet has replaced face-to-face time, there are a lot of people out there who want to get out and socialise with new people but it has got harder to meet people."

So what do the sites say about our changing attitudes to friendship?

"With new technology, we've expanded the definition of friendship," says Keith Campbell, a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, who has conducted studies on the changing nature of human relationships. 'Friend' has become a word we use unthinkingly and it's almost ruined as a result. It started before we had 'friends' on Facebook whom we've never met. But the abuse of this crucial part of human existence surely sinks even lower with the notion that you can rent a friend. "You just need to look at Facebook where people have hundreds, even thousands of friends. They are not true friendships as defined in the past."

Though they might offer the benefits of convenience and efficiency, some question the effects on your self esteem of paying people to spend time with you. In Manhattan, some "friends" rent themselves out like personal assistants to do tasks like collecting laundry or walking the dog. Others are a hired shoulder to cry on.

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