Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Sponsors react to Fifa scandals.


One man's vision to combine YouTube with learning is shaking up the education industry. CNN's Dan Simon reports.

Apple to unveil own cloud service

31 May 2011

Apple to unveil own cloud service.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been away from the public eye after taking medical leave earlier this year.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs will announce a range of new products, including a widely anticipated cloud service, at its developer conference next week.

iCloud is likely to offer services rivaling that of Google and Amazon.

Attendees will also see Lion, the latest version of Apple's Macintosh operating system, and an upgraded version of mobile system iOS.

Mr Jobs, who is on medical leave, has not appeared in public since March.

Details of the products on show came via an Apple press release ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) - an unusual step for a company which is usually very secretive ahead of its flagship event.

Rumours of the iCloud have been circulating since it was reported that Apple bought the "iCloud.com" domain name in April.

Two things stand out from Apple's announcement about next week's event.

First, the news that Steve Jobs will take to the stage. Apple's charismatic boss has been on sick leave for months, so this appears to be welcome evidence that he is in reasonable shape.

Then, as well as confirming that the conference will see the unveiling of the next generation of Mac OSX, there's the revelation that iCloud - "Apple's upcoming cloud services offering" - will also be on show.

While the music industry has been buzzing for months, even years, with speculation that Apple would launch a streaming music service, it is unusual for a company that guards its secrets so jealously to give us even this much detail in advance.

The eyes of Google, Amazon and Europe's Spotify will be on Steve Jobs' keynote on Monday.

They will all be wondering whether the company that has dominated the digital download market now has plans to take control of the cloud too.

However, it is unclear whether the iCloud will be a purely music streaming tool or if it will be a wider cloud service for storage such as the one offered by, among others, Dropbox.

Amazon and Google have already launched streaming music services, but so far have not managed to get big record labels on board - meaning they can only offer streaming of tracks already owned by the user.

Unconfirmed reports have hinted that Apple have managed to seal deals with several labels.

If true, this would make it a fierce competitor to Spotify, an already well-established music service with over 10m members. Spotify is not yet available in the United States.

Last year, Mr Jobs said Lion - the eighth version of its Mac OSX operating system - would bring "many of the best ideas from the iPad back to the Mac, plus some fresh new ones".

Also on show will be the fifth version of iOS, the software which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

However, official details about the next iPhone have yet to be publicised.


I'll drink to that!

Pernod Ricard, the world's No. 2 drinks company, is filling up more glasses at gatherings around the world and hopes it can use Absolut vodka as the focus of its push to grab more of the U.S. market.

Spanish cucumbers blamed for outbreak

Spanish cucumbers are being blamed for an E.coli outbreak that killed 10 people in Germany and sickened hundreds.

Energy drinks make children fat, not fit, says study

 31 May 2011

Parents are are making their children fat and ruining their teeth by buying them sports or energy drinks and should give them water instead, doctors have warned.

The drinks contain extra calories that may be contributing to growing obesity because so few children do enough exercise to burn them off, a study found.

Both types of drink were condemned for their potential threats to child health, but energy drinks are products that "should never" be given to children. Marketing strategies that target young people were also criticised by the researchers.

Energy drinks contain stimulants, especially caffeine. Doctors found that caffeine in energy drinks could be in quantities up to 14 times greater than in other soft drinks, taking them to a level considered toxic, according to the study. Caffeine has been linked to seizures, diabetes, heart problems, behavioural disorders and early death.

Except for the most serious adolescent athletes, the report warned, energy drinks are unnecessary and potentially harmful.

Both types of drink can usually be replaced adequately by a drink of water, the researchers said. "For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best," said Dr Holly Benjamin, a lead author of the report and a doctor at the Comer Children's Hospital, part of the University of Chicago in the US.

"Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don't need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay. It's better for children to drink water during and after exercise, and to have the recommended intake of juice and low-fat milk with meals. Sports drinks are not recommended as beverages to have with meals."

Among the energy brands highlighted in the report were Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar. Sports drinks cited included All Sport, Gatorade and Powerade.

Dr Marcie Beth Schneider, joint lead author and a member of the American Academy of Paediatrics' Committee on Nutrition, said there was widespread confusion among consumers as to the differences between sports and energy drinks. She called for manufacturers to do more to make the differences clear.

"There is a lot of confusion about sports drinks and energy drinks, and adolescents are often unaware of the differences in these products," she said.

"Some kids are drinking energy drinks – containing large amounts of caffeine – when their goal is simply to rehydrate after exercise. This means they are ingesting large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, which can be dangerous.

"In many cases, it can be hard to tell how much caffeine is in a product by looking at the label. Some cans or bottles of energy drinks can have more than 500mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans of soda."

The report was also critical of advertising campaigns which have aimed the drinks at children and have suggested that consumers can reach peaks of athletic performance by drinking them in large quantities. "Sports and energy drinks are being marketed to children and adolescents for a wide variety of inappropriate uses," the researchers said in the report published in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers were also concerned at the impact that sports and energy drinks have on teeth. Many of them have low ph levels which is closely associated with tooth decay.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Quiz: Summit 2 - Vocabulary check - Units 5 and 6

Apple tops brand study over Google

Apple has overtaken Google as the world's most valuable brand, ending a four-year reign by the Internet search leader, according to a new study by global brands agency Millward Brown Optimor.

Google's cash-free shopping

Google wants U.S. shoppers to leave wallets at home, and use the wave of a smartphone for future purchases, teaming up with MasterCard to launch a mobile cash service.

World GDP

May 25th 2011, 16:37 by The Economist online

Where will the next $10 trillion of GDP come from?

World GDP over the past 12 months was about $65 trillion. In the year to September 2013, global output will be about $10 trillion bigger, according to the IMF’s projections. But where will that next $10 trillion be added? That depends on the size of a country’s economy, its growth rate and the appreciation of its real exchange rate. Focusing on any one of those things, to the exclusion of the others, can be a misleading guide to a market's potential. For example, China’s economy in 2013 will still be smaller than America’s. But because it is growing so fast, it will add $1.65 trillion compared to America’s $1.43 trillion. Japan—a slow-growing economy—will contribute $410 billion, less than Russia ($698 billion) or Brazil ($461 billion). But because Japan is so big, it will still contribute more than India ($392 billion).


Keeping secrets in the age of tweets

Britain’s privacy law is a mess—and increasingly unsustainable

May 26th 2011

TAKE the common-law principles of fairness, add a European human-rights legislation, a lucrative tabloid trade in kiss-and-tell stories, an ineffective press, a touch of anger about secret justice and a technology that makes everyone into a publisher, and what do you get? The mess of Britain’s privacy laws.

The latest and most spectacular episode involves a married footballer, Ryan Giggs of Manchester United, who went to court to stop news organizations reporting on his alleged affair with a woman who, a judge said, may have been trying to blackmail him (she denies this). Mr Giggs gained the remedy he wanted, but not the result: his private life became a public scandal, with his name featuring in fans’ catcalls in the stadium, used as a catchphrase on talk-shows, broadcast by 75,000 Twitter users and ultimately, on May 23rd, mentioned in the House of Commons by a Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming. David Cameron, said the situation was “unsustainable”. Few would disagree.

Britain, unlike France, does not have a formal privacy law. The European Convention of Human Rights, incorporated into national law in 1998, made things messier by adding two principles: a strong defense of freedom of speech, and a more qualified right to the “respect of private life”. For example, the courts ruled that the Daily Mirror was justified in 2001 in printing most parts of a story of a model, Naomi Campbell, visiting a drug-rehabilitation clinic (because it exposed her as a hypocrite), but not the accompanying pictures (which intruded on her privacy).

Punishing those who gratuitously destroy privacy is one thing—and features in legal systems all over the world. Penalties for those who identify rape victims, for example, are usually severe. The real problem comes when judges try to protect privacy by stopping newspapers from publishing it in the first place.

The argument is a strong one: that a breach of privacy causes irreversible harm. In libel cases, untruthful damage to a reputation can be restored by an apology and damages; but once embarrassing private information has been disclosed, it stays public, no matter how the leaker is punished. However, the practical difficulties of protecting court-ordered privacy are increasingly difficult.

And it does not stop a story—or perhaps exaggerated or incorrect versions of it—appearing on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Tracing the identities of those who post such illicit material on social-networking sites, mostly based overseas, may prove impossible.

Once the news is out on the internet, Britain’s fiercely competitive tabloids become frenzied in their attempts to reveal the full story first. In Mr Giggs’s case, the big breach came when a Scottish paper, the Sunday Herald, ignored the injunction issued by the London court. This is a legal grey area: Scotland has its own legal system, and prudent lawyers usually make sure that they apply for an “interdict” there to match any injunction obtained elsewhere. Mr Giggs’s did not.

Diagnosing the problem is one thing, solving it is another. Mark Stephens, a media lawyer, argues that tabloid stories are soon forgotten if not accompanied by a legal struggle. “You take it on the chin and it’s tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper,” he counsels (although betrayed spouses may not be so sanguine). In other words, treat privacy like libel, with penalties and remedies available only after publication.

Many, not just self-serving tabloids, fear that such a law would be twisted by the rich, powerful and well-lawyered to hide their wrongdoings. Yet the idea of the press taking Twitter as its benchmark of newsworthiness seems equally distasteful. Privacy law, like the lives it tries to protect, is a messy business.


Internet economy: Bigger than Canada

May 26, 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Internet has dramatically transformed business and culture over the last two decades. But what's it worth?

A group of researchers is trying to put a value on the Internet's contribution to the global economy -- and they think it's larger than the entire economies of Canada or Spain.

McKinsey Global Institute released a study Wednesday that claims the Internet accounts for 3.4% of economic activity in 13 of the world's largest countries.

The Internet contributed about $1.67 trillion to global gross domestic product in 2009, the study's researchers found.

That slightly past the entire GDP of Canada, which came in at $1.34 trillion that same year, and the $1.46 trillion economy of Spain.

About 2 billion people now use the Internet and exchange $8 trillion each year through e-commerce.

"In two decades, the Internet has changed from a network for researchers and geeks to a day-to-day reality for billions of people," the study said.

And while the Internet's impact has also killed some jobs, it creates about 2.6 jobs for every one destroyed, McKinsey said.

"Companies using the Internet with a high intensity grow twice as quickly as low-intensity Web companies, export twice as much as they do, and create more than twice as many jobs," the researchers wrote.

In the United States alone, the Internet drove 15% of the country's economic growth between 2004 and 2009, thanks largely to its business-boosting effects. Internet maturity -- measured by local penetration and usage frequency -- also correlates closely with rising living standards and increased labor productivity, McKinsey found.

The study examined the G8 countries, along with Brazil, China, India, South Korea and Sweden. Those nations overall account for 70% of the global economy. Among those countries, the Internet contributed an average of 11% to gross domestic product during the five-year period the researchers studied.


Path founder Dave Morin talks about his social network that limits users' connections.

Hollywood's favorite toy.

CNN's Icon travels to Marrenello, Italy, to take a tour of the Ferrari headquarters.

Sony posts a $3.2 billion loss and faces challenges after hackers breach its network

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Apple’s App Store Surpasses Half-a-Million Apps

May 24, 2011

After less than three years of existence, Apple’s App Store has accumulated half-a-million mobile apps.

The iTunes App Store, which launched in the summer of 2008, surpassed the 500,000 milestone Tuesday morning, according to 148Apps, an iPhone app reviews blog that has been tracking the store closely.

To be clear, that’s 500,000 apps that Apple has approved — they’re not necessarily live yet. In the United States, the App Store is just reaching 400,000 apps available for download.

“The fact that it has taken less than three years to reach this number is remarkable,” said Jeff Scott, editor of 148Apps.

Since its birth, Apple’s App Store has expanded rapidly, from 500 apps on day one to 100,000 about one year later. On the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, the App Store is the only official channel for customers to download and purchase third-party software with the tap of a button.

The App Store’s purchasing process provided an efficient business model for the software industry. Prior to the App Store, independent software coders had a difficult time competing against larger software companies with big budgets. By tying the App Store to iTunes and including the store on every iPhone, Apple created a captive audience and an effective marketing platform for distributing software, where programmers both big and small had an equal chance to make serious money. A handful of lucky developers struck it rich with hot app sales. Angry Birds has held the number 1 paid spot more than any other app at 275 days total.

After the App Store exploded, other competitors launched their own app stores. Google’s Android app market, which launched eight months after the App Store, is the closest rival, with about 300,000 apps to date.

At one point does quantity no longer matter? Nobody needs 500,000 apps, but I’ve argued in the past that the more apps an app store holds, the more likely it can fill every need for various professions, hobbies and special interests.


Travel chaos returns to Europe as the ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano spreads

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Internet bosses are meeting in Paris at a two-day forum arranged by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

24 May 2011 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has opened the first ever e-G8 forum in Paris.

The event brings together leading figures from the technology industry to discus the impact of the internet.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Google's Eric Schmidt are among those due to speak.

Critics have claimed that the e-G8 is too focused on handing net control to companies and governments.

Addressing those concerns, President Sarkozy said that states were subject to the will of their citizens who were currently engaged in a revolution, empowered by the internet.

However, President Sarkozy claimed that countries could not remain neutral and allow completely unchecked internet use.

"The world you represent is not a parallel universe where legal and moral rules and more generally all the basic rules that govern society in democratic countries do not apply."

In the past, the French president has been characterised as someone who favours the rights of content creators and rights holders over internet users.

France has passed one of the toughest laws to crack down on people who download content without paying for it.

Repeat offenders face a range of punishments, including disconnection from the web.

A number of prominent rights-holders including News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch and BBC director general Mark Thompson were also due to speak at the event.

Addressing delegates, Mr Sarkozy said the role of government regulation was to promote creativity and prevent criminality, but he also acknowledged the claims of his critics that he intends to follow China's policy of blocking sites such as Tweeter, Youtube and others when necessary.

"I know and I understand that our French idea of copyright laws is not the same as in the United States and other countries.

"Nobody can have his ideas, work, imagination and intellectual property expropriated without punishment," he said.

American media commentator Jeff Jarvis challenged President Sarkozy, during a question and answer session, to vow to "do no harm" to the internet.

The suggestion was met with some indignation, with the President suggesting that asserting controls on illegal activity could never be regarded as harmful.

Speaking to the BBC afterwards, Mr Jarvis said that President Sarkozy's comments betrayed the true intent of many world leaders.

"At least Sarkozy acknowledged that he doesn't own the internet and his government doesn't own the internet. However,  he is claiming that he is the owner of the Internet here and so will the G8 and I have fear in that.

"Perhaps out of best intentions they will try to change the architecture of the internet and how it operates, but we don't even know what it is yet. It is too soon to regulate the beast," he said.


Behind Google's tablet war with Apple.

Twitter vs UK injunctions.

An injunction is a Court order forbidding something from being done such as names being published. A person may file for an injunction and be granted an injunction.

Quiz: Face2Face Elementary - Unit 1 to 3

Smoking Ban Little Noticed in Times Square

Carrefour: Doubling up in Brazil?

Reports in the French press that Carrefour is considering a merger of its Brazilian unit with Grupo Pão de Açúcar, the country’s largest retailer, had economists scratching its head.

After all, a quick scan through the French retailer’s 2010 results seems to paint a picture of a Brazilian business that is in good health (especially when compared with the poor performance at Carrefour’s European hypermarkets).

Sales in the South American powerhouse rose 5.5 per cent last year. At €12.5bn, sales from Brazil accounted for over eight percent of total group sales and makes the country Carrerfour’s third largest market by sales after France (where sales rose 1.4 per cent) and Spain (down 2.6 per cent).

In total, Carrefour has around 500 stores in Brazil, including more 50 cash-and-carry Atacadão stores, 49 Bairro supermarkets and around 160 hypermarkets.

This compares with Pão de Açúcar which, following its merger with Casas Bahia, a household goods chain, employs 140,000 people in 1,800 stores, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, cash-and-carries, chemists and petrol stations.

However, what the news doesn’t show is the problems that Carrefour has had with its operations in Brazil. Years of mismanagement of its hypermarket stores and accounting irregularities forced the French retailer to take a €550m charge last year to its results.

In this context, merging its Brazilian business with Pão de Açúcar to gain a bigger slice of the fast-growing Brazilian consumer market could make sense.

As one leading sector analyst pointed out, local purchasing scale in food matters. And a merger between Carrefour’s Brazilian unit and Pão de Açúcar could save Carrefour 2 per cent on purchasing costs. Moreover, the analyst said, Pão de Açúcar is better run and so could transfer best practice to Carrefour’s scandal hit unit.

But that is assuming a deal takes place – which many in the sector think is unlikely.

Not least because Carrefour’s French arch-rival Casino owns 34 per cent of Pão de Açúcar. It also has an option to increase this stake to 41 percent next year – a move that would allow to take voting control of the business.

Given how important Brazil has become to Casino (the country generated €15bn in revenue in 2009 for the retailer), it is unlikely that Jean-Charles Naouri, the group’s chief executive, would want Carrefour to crash its party.


Monday, 23 May 2011

Quiz: Summit 2 - Unit 6 - Conditional Tenses.

The importance of being a failure

Digital Lifestyle Expert Mario Armstrong has some apps that will help you on your journey.

Rolls Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes shares his secrets of success and his biggest mistakes.

Initiative cracks down on sex tourism.

America's labour market.

AMERICA'S recovery has not been an easy one for workers. For months, the economy expanded without doing much at all to create jobs and bring down unemployment. And recently, the economy has shown signs of falling again, raising the possibility that in 2011 recovery would once more fail to bring meaningful gains to workers.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics has given American workers a big reason to hope, however. This morning, the BLS released payroll employment numbers that show a labour market growing progressively stronger. American firms added 244,000 jobs in April, and the private sector added 268,000. Payroll figures for February and March were both revised upward. Over the past three months private-sector employment has risen by an average of over 250,000 jobs per month.

Encouragingly, retail employment grew strongly in April, by 57,000, suggesting that consumers are spending despite high petrol prices. Rising employment may well boost spending, reinforcing this trend. Manufacturing employment rose yet again. That sector has added 141,000 jobs in 2011 alone.

With so many unemployed remaining, it's difficult to be too cheerful. But with every month that the economy adds over 200,000 jobs, the sustainability of recovery is less in doubt.


Health activists want to fire the world’s best-known clown.

May 19th 2011

FEAR of clowns is known as coulrophobia. Some health activists are so afraid of the impact that a certain red-haired clown has on children that they want him to retire. On May 18th several American newspapers carried ads paid for by Corporate Accountability International (a group that helped to kill cigarette Joe Camel) in support of a shareholder resolution at the annual meeting of McDonald’s the following day urging the fast-food chain to stop marketing burgers to children. The activists want an end to Happy Meals, and they want Ronald McDonald to hang up his outsized shoes.

McDonald’s says it has no intention of throwing the 48-year-old clown into the deep-fat fryer. He is a “force for good”, says the company, which started calling him a “balanced, active lifestyles ambassador” as long ago as 2004. Nowadays, when he appears in ads he is shown playing sports, with not a burger in sight. Ironically, this seems to have gone down badly with the public; the ads have reportedly tested poorly, with many viewers finding them “weird”.

Meanwhile, on May 17th, McDonald’s hosted a special ceremony in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, to celebrate a customer consuming his 25,000th Big Mac. Don Gorske, aged 57 and slim, claimed to have low cholesterol and recently to have been given a clean bill of health.


How to Minimize Airport Security Hassles

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Reworked Spider-Man musical pulls in crowds

17 May 2011 Share this page

Reworked Spider-Man musical pulls in crowds

The show returned to the stage last week after a three-week break.

Broadway's troubled Spider-Man musical has performed well since reopening in a reworked version after a three-week break, box office figures have shown.

According to data released on Monday, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has played at 95% capacity since reopening its doors on Thursday.

The latest version of the show will have its official opening on 14 June.

The show has been dogged by accidents and technical problems since it first began previewing in November.

The overhaul followed the departure of Julie Taymor, the musical's original director, in March.

The version now running at New York's Foxwoods Theater includes new songs from the show's composers, U2 members Bono and the Edge, and is said to have more humour.

"This is almost a brand-new show," said producer Michael Cohl last week.

Among the cast is Christopher Tierney, who has returned to the production following a serious on-stage accident in December.

The actor suffered a fractured skull, a fractured shoulder, four broken ribs and three broken vertebrae after falling 30ft.

The show is the most expensive ever produced on Broadway at a price tag of $65m.


Retailers feel price squeeze

May 17 -Summary of business headlines:
Wal-Mart, TJX, Home Depot results show consumers struggling, but luxury looks strong at Saks; Housing construction slumps; Dell raises outlook, but HP cuts forecast; Wall Street ends mixed.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

What are the Chinese buying in New York?

Key words:

property developer
high income

How Oprah has influenced our lives.

An Internet craze proves deadly as Network Ten's Travis McNamara explains.

Quiz: Past Perfect - face2face Intermediate.

Quiz: Summit 2 - Unit 1 to 5.

Quiz: Pronouns and Possessives.

Moving back to America.

Tuesday May 17th 2011

Moving back to America


“WHEN clients are considering opening another manufacturing plant in China, I’ve started to tell them to consider alternative locations,” says Hal Sirkin of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). “Have they thought about Made in USA?”

When clients are American firms looking to build factories to serve American customers, Mr Sirkin is increasingly likely to suggest they stay at home, not for patriotic reasons but because the economics of globalisation are changing fast.

Labour arbitrage—taking advantage of lower wages abroad, especially in poor countries in outsourcing — has never been the only force pushing multinationals to locate offshore, but it has certainly played a big part. Now, however, as emerging economies boom, wages there are rising. Pay for factory workers in China; for example, soared by 69% between 2005 and 2010. So the gains from labour arbitrage are starting to shrink, in some cases to the point of irrelevance, according to a new study by BCG.

“Sometime around 2015, manufacturers will be indifferent between locating in America or China for production for consumption in America,” says Mr Sirkin. That calculation assumes that wage growth will continue at around 17% a year in China but remain relatively slow in America, and that productivity growth will continue on current trends in both countries. It also assumes a modest appreciation of the yuan against the dollar.

The year 2015 is not far off. So firms planning today for production tomorrow are increasingly looking close to home. BCG lists several examples of companies that have already brought plants and jobs back to America. Caterpillar, a maker of vehicles, is shifting some of its excavator production from abroad to Texas. Sauder, an American furniture-maker, is moving production back home from low-wage countries. NCR has returned production of cash machines to Georgia (the American state, not the country that is occasionally invaded by Russia). Wham-O last year restored half of its Frisbee and Hula Hoop production to America from China and Mexico.

BCG predicts a “manufacturing renaissance” in America. Rather than a many plants coming home, “higher wages in China may cause some firms that were going to move back in the US to keep their options open by continuing to operate a plant in America,” says Gary Pisano of Harvard Business School. The announcement on May 10th by General Motors (GM) that it will invest $2 billion to add up to 4,000 jobs at 17 American plants supports Mr Pisano’s point. GM is probably not creating many new jobs but keeping in America jobs that it might otherwise have exported.

Even if wages in China explode, some multinationals will find it hard to bring many jobs back to America, argues Mr Pisano. In some areas, such as consumer electronics, America no longer has the necessary supplier base or infrastructure. Firms did not realise when they shifted operations to low-wage countries that some moves “would be almost irreversible”, says Mr Pisano.

Many multinationals will continue to build most of their new factories in emerging markets, not to export stuff back home but because that is where demand is growing fastest. The best example of which is Apple, with a deal with Foxxconn, has decided to bring its production of iPhone and iPad not back to the US but closer to it. Brazil was chosen for offering reasonable labor costs and logistic facilities. And companies from other rich countries will probably continue to enjoy the opportunity for labour arbitrage for longer than American ones, says Mr Sirkin. Their labour costs are higher than America’s and will remain so unless the euro falls sharply against the yuan.

A growing number of multinationals, especially from rich countries, are starting to see the benefits of keeping more of their operations close to home. For many products, labour is a small and diminishing fraction of total costs. And long, complex supply chains turn out to be riskier than many firms realised. When oil prices soar, transport grows more expensive. When an epidemic such as SARS hits Asia or when an earthquake hits Japan, supply chains are disrupted. “There has been a definite shortening of supply chains, especially of those that had 30 or 40 processing steps,” says Mr Ghemawat.

Firms are also trying to reduce their inventory costs. Importing from China to the United States may require a company to hold 100 days of inventory. That problem can be reduced if the goods are made nearer home (though that could be in Mexico rather than in America).

Companies are thinking in more sophisticated ways about their supply chains. Bosses no longer assume that they should always make things in the country with the lowest wages.

Increasingly, it makes sense to make things in a variety of places, including America.


New York cab of the future?

Key Words:


Monday, 9 May 2011

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Does stress help us succeed?

We're constantly told to relax and take it easy, but stress may actually help us to focus and succeed in life.
Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Don't worry – and it might happen. Worrying may be a key to survival; a first step in the body's defence strategy when faced with threats. Pioneering research using brain scanners has located the worry centre of the brain and suggests for the first time that it is an area involved in survival and the evaluation of threats and risks.

The same team of researchers has also shown that drugs used to treat worry or anxiety disorder have an effect on humans' defensive reactions.

"Feelings like worry and anxiety may be unpleasant, but it seems they are part of our defensive repertoire and help keep us safe and it is only when they become exaggerated do they represent an illness," says Dr Adam Perkins of King's College London. "Our ultimate aim is to improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, such as anxiety, where there are unusually strong and debilitating forms of worry."

Fear prepares the body to confront the threat or run away, by triggering physiological changes including a tensing of muscles ready for action and a faster heartbeat to get more blood flowing.

Most people are in the middle of the "worry continuum". They worry about money, children and everyday things, but it doesn't interfere with their daily lives. In fact, mild-to-moderate anxiety has been shown to have tangible benefits. A study of patients having minor surgery showed that those with moderate anxiety did better post-operatively than those with high or low anxiety levels. One theory is that moderate anxiety about real threats helps people cope with those challenges. There are those who worry all the time and for whom anxiety is a disabling, excessive, irrational fear of everyday situations.

"Biographical information about Charles Darwin, for example, suggests he was plagued for much of his adult life with severe anxiety, but he was also substantially more intelligent than the average person.

"People who worry and are also blessed with high IQ tend to be visionaries, planners, creators and inventors. People who do not worry much at all, but are also highly intelligent, tend to be the successful implementers in frontline, stressful situations. For example, fighter pilots typically have low levels of anxiety and are able to operate their planes on highly-dangerous combat missions."

While some worrying is necessary and protective, both too little and too much, it seems, can be dangerous.

Excessive worrying is not only potentially unhealthy, it has absolutely no value and purpose.

As the American novelist Alice Caldwell Rice, put it: "It ain't no use putting up your umbrella 'til it rains."


A study finds children who eat frequent meals with their families are healthier.


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Amid Economic Challenges, Ford Profit Grows

Despite rising material costs and gasoline prices, Ford Motor reported its best first quarter in 13 years. Ford's Chief Financial Officer Lewis W.K. Booth talks with WSJ's Alan Murray about the effect of the Japan tsunami on the auto maker's supply lines and the growing importance of auto exports for the U.S. economy.

The Joy of Researching the Health Benefits of Sex.

MAY 3, 2011.

The Joy of Researching the Health Benefits of Sex .


Is sex good for your health—or is that just a fantasy?

Many studies suggest that sex is as good for your health as vitamin D and broccoli. It not only relieves stress, improves sleep and burns calories; it can also reduce pain, ease depression, strengthen blood vessels, boost the immune system and lower the risk of prostate and breast cancer.

Yet, does sex make people healthier or do healthier people have more sex?

Some benefits of sex—beyond producing a baby, that is—are obvious even without scientific evidence. "When you have good sex, there's a relaxation response and…you lie there and life is great," says Dr. Goldstein, who is also the director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, Calif.

Much of that is due to chemistry—the rush of hormones and neurotransmitters that rise and fall during sexual activity. Sex boosts dopamine, which activates the brain's centers of desire and reward "just like chocolate and winning at gambling," says Erick Janssen, a senior scientist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.

Sex also increases oxytocin which reduces fear and stimulates endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, which is why sex can bring temporary relief from back pain, migraines and other body aches.

Dopamine levels fall after orgasm, and levels of prolactin rise, bringing on feelings of satisfaction and sleepiness, particularly in men. "That's the nice, relaxed feeling afterwards," says Stuart Brody, a psychologist at the University of the West of Scotland who has conducted numerous studies on sex and health. Of course, timing isn't always perfect. In a 2006 survey of 10,000 British men, 48% admitted to having fallen asleep during sex.

Sex is also seen as good exercise—but the effect is actually modest. Although couples obviously differ, sex generally burns an estimated five calories per minute, or roughly 50 to 150 calories total.

Sex does increase heart rate and blood pressure—as high as 125 beats per minute and to 160 peak systolic rate—about as much as walking up two of stairs. And several studies suggest that having it regularly can protect against cardiovascular problems. One British study found that men who reported having three or more orgasms per week experienced 50% fewer heart attacks than those who engaged less frequently—perhaps because orgasm triggers the release of the hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which helps with circulation and arterial dilation.

Frequent sex may benefit men's health another way: by boosting testosterone, which in turn is linked to stronger muscles, more energy and better cognition. (Sex's effect on testosterone was shown in a now-famous article in Nature in 1970. A man stranded on a remote island with no women saw his beard stop growing. Then it resumed when he returned to civilization and sex again.)

Sex also improves women's moods—although how it does is controversial. One 2002 study of 293 college women at the State University of New York in Albany found that those who engaged in unprotected sex were less likely to be depressed than those whose partners use condoms or who don't have sex at all. The researchers noted that semen contains testosterone, estrogen, prolactin and prostaglandins, which can pass through vaginal walls into the bloodstream and elevate mood.

Some of the most intriguing findings suggest that frequent sex can lower the risk of some types of cancer. A 2004 study of 29,000 male health professionals in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who reported having the most frequent ejaculations—21 or more a month—had a much lower risk of prostate cancer than those reporting four to seven per month.

Several studies also suggest that having sex extends life in general. A study in the British Medical Journal found that men who had sex less than once per month were twice as likely to die in the next 10 years than those who had sex once per week. A 25-year study of 270 men and women aged 60 to 96 conducted at Duke University found that the more men had sex, the longer they lived. Women who said they enjoyed their sex lives lived seven to eight years longer than those who were indifferent. But factors such as intelligence, health and activities also played a role in living longer, too.


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