Business Feed

Dubai ruler reacts to doping scandal

CNN - Business Feed - Tue, 02/25/2014 - 9:52am
One of the world's most successful horse racing operations has undergone a major reshuffle in an attempt to close the stable door on a damaging doping scandal.
Categories: Business Feed

Dubai ruler reacts to doping scandal

CNN - Business Feed - Tue, 02/25/2014 - 9:52am
One of the world's most successful horse racing operations has undergone a major reshuffle in an attempt to close the stable door on a damaging doping scandal.
Categories: Business Feed

Police Repression Legalized as Mining Protests Grow in Peru

Global Voices - Business Feed - Tue, 02/25/2014 - 7:28am

This article, written by Luis Manuel Claps, was originally published on the NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America) blog Extractives in Latin America. Luis Manuel Claps studied Communications at the Buenos Aires University. He has followed mining in Latin America since 2004 as editor of the Mines and Communities Website. He is based in Lima, Perú.

Elmer Campos Álvarez, a 32-year-old farmer, is from the Caserío Tupac Amaru in the province of Celendín, Cajamarca Region, Northern Peru. On November 24, 2011, Elmer, along with some friends, set out for the mountains of Cajamarca to protest against a massive open-pit gold mine proposed for the districts of Sorochuco and Huasmín. Elmer and his friends call themselves los defensores de las lagunas (the Defenders of the Lakes). See Elmer's video testimony [es] published by La Mula in January 2012.) Still defending the lakes, anti-mining protesters such as Elmer face a new threat in a new law that allows police to use deadly force without fear of consequences.

Three days later they reached the Maque-Maque crossroads, between the Azul and El Perol lakes, two of the four lakes threatened by the project. Meanwhile, a general regional strike had been declared in opposition to the mine. In the early morning of November 29, a confrontation broke out when some 30 police officers contracted by Minera Yanacocha to guard the concession site ordered the protestors to go away. The police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition.

When the police started firing, Elmer went to aid one of his friends and was shot in the back. He lost consciousness and was taken to the city of Chota, and then to the coastal city of Chiclayo, where he was hospitalized for a week. He lost a kidney and his spleen, and suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the waist down. An estimated 24 other protestors were injured in the Maque-Maque crackdown.

(infoconga.wordpress)

People in Cajamarca know all too well of the impacts of large scale gold mining. For the past two decades, Newmont Mining and Buenaventura have operated the Yanacocha mine, the largest open-pit goldmine in South America. A planned expansion known as the Conga project is said to assure another twenty years of production. The total investment tops $4.8 billion, one of the biggest ever in Peru’s mining sector. A plant with the capacity to process 92,000 tons of rock a day would produce 3.1 billion pounds of copper and 11.6 million ounces of gold (an executive summary of the project's Environmental Impactv Study, or EIA, is accessible here [es]).

Compañía de Minas Buenaventura is Peru's largest publicly traded precious metals company and a major holder of mining rights throughout the country. It has two big U.S. partners: Denver-based Newmont Mining at Minera Yanacocha in Cajamarca and Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan at Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde in Arequipa. Peru is the world's sixth-largest gold producer.

Protesters have challenged the Conga mine for the past several years, and police repression is currently the subject of two legal proceedings in Peru. The first is a criminal investigation against the two commanding police officers the day of the attacks, Coronel Amador Bacalla Guadalupe and Captian Wagner Ocampo Huamán. The second is a civil lawsuit against the police authorities [es] and responsible government officials.

Elmer simply wants justice [es]: “I didn’t do any harm and the authorities have been very cruel. I don’t know what will happen to me, the doctor says there is nothing that can be done to my spinal cord.” Mar Pérez, a lawyer at the National Human Rights Coordinator, representing Elmer, adds: “We seek justice, accountability, and greater protection for human rights, and to end a culture of impunity for police repression of legitimate protest activity.”

The struggle has returned to the United States as well. On January 2, 2014, EarthRights International (ERI), representing Elmer Campos, filed a federal court motion in Newmont's hometown, Denver, Colorado, seeking information held by the company including photographic and video evidence, reports of Yanacocha security or employees, records of communications with the police, and internal company communications, that shed light on the events of that day and for the benefit of the Peruvian legal proceedings. The action was filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a law which allows parties in foreign legal proceedings to obtain documents and information from individuals or companies in the United States.

“Police repression of social protest against mining operations is endemic in Peru,” said Benjamin Hoffman, ERI’s Amazon Staff Attorney. “The problem is exacerbated in cases like this where public police officers are deployed in the service of private security.”

Elmer and ERI’s legal action attracted considerable attention in late January in the Peruvian press [es] and social media. This coincided with a coordinated offensive to present the local leaders opposed to Minera Yanacocha in Cajamarca as “backed by foreigners interested in blocking the economic development of our country,” as a researcher associated with the mining sector claimed recently [es] in El Comercio newspaper. The propaganda campaign [es] to delegitimize local leaders also targeted the Piura region, where Buenaventura wants to develop the El Faique gold project.

A Violent Consensus

Starting with a strong precedent under former President Alan García, government response to protest in Peru has been overwhelmingly militarized. Steven Levitsky calls it the “Lima consensus” [es]: Lima elites adhere to orthodox neoliberalism, such that the use of lethal force seems to be a legitimate way to deal with social protests in mining areas. Despite the fact that Ollanta Humala’s administration has sometimes sought more political and negotiated means, this consensus remains in place.

A report released in December 2013 by Peruvian NGOs Grufides, Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras (Human Rights without Borders), the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (National Coordinator for Human Rights, CNDDHH), and the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) of Switzerland, revealed that foreign mining corporations have signed agreements with the National Police to secure their operations. These agreements allow them to request permanent police presence or ask for rapid deployment of larger units to repress social protests. In some cases, the report reveals, the companies provide the police with full financial and logistical support.

International human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others, have asked President Humala to prevent the unlawful use of lethal force by security forces during crowd-control operations. But Peru’s government seems to be going in the exact opposite direction, as an article in the penal code was modified last month in a way that critics say allows police and the military to use deadly force without facing consequences. The new Law 30151 says that members of the Armed Forces and the National Police are “exempt from criminal responsibility” if they cause injury or death through the use of their guns while on duty.

In a statement [es] condemning the law, the Public Ombudsman’s office recalled that since mid-2011, 34 civilians have been killed and more than 949 people wounded in social conflicts, including five military and 357 police. A number of national [es] and international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [es] have also condemned Law 30151.

As Yanacocha comes to exhaustion, mining operations need to expand. The Conga project is one of these expansion plans, perhaps the most ambitious. A long history of mining conflicts in Cajamarca suggests that Elmer’s struggle for justice will be a long one, and in all likelihood, one of many.

Categories: Business Feed

Police Repression Legalized as Mining Protests Grow in Peru

Global Voices - Business Feed - Tue, 02/25/2014 - 7:28am

This article, written by Luis Manuel Claps, was originally published on the NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America) blog Extractives in Latin America. Luis Manuel Claps studied Communications at the Buenos Aires University. He has followed mining in Latin America since 2004 as editor of the Mines and Communities Website. He is based in Lima, Perú.

Elmer Campos Álvarez, a 32-year-old farmer, is from the Caserío Tupac Amaru in the province of Celendín, Cajamarca Region, Northern Peru. On November 24, 2011, Elmer, along with some friends, set out for the mountains of Cajamarca to protest against a massive open-pit gold mine proposed for the districts of Sorochuco and Huasmín. Elmer and his friends call themselves los defensores de las lagunas (the Defenders of the Lakes). See Elmer's video testimony [es] published by La Mula in January 2012.) Still defending the lakes, anti-mining protesters such as Elmer face a new threat in a new law that allows police to use deadly force without fear of consequences.

Three days later they reached the Maque-Maque crossroads, between the Azul and El Perol lakes, two of the four lakes threatened by the project. Meanwhile, a general regional strike had been declared in opposition to the mine. In the early morning of November 29, a confrontation broke out when some 30 police officers contracted by Minera Yanacocha to guard the concession site ordered the protestors to go away. The police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition.

When the police started firing, Elmer went to aid one of his friends and was shot in the back. He lost consciousness and was taken to the city of Chota, and then to the coastal city of Chiclayo, where he was hospitalized for a week. He lost a kidney and his spleen, and suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the waist down. An estimated 24 other protestors were injured in the Maque-Maque crackdown.

(infoconga.wordpress)

People in Cajamarca know all too well of the impacts of large scale gold mining. For the past two decades, Newmont Mining and Buenaventura have operated the Yanacocha mine, the largest open-pit goldmine in South America. A planned expansion known as the Conga project is said to assure another twenty years of production. The total investment tops $4.8 billion, one of the biggest ever in Peru’s mining sector. A plant with the capacity to process 92,000 tons of rock a day would produce 3.1 billion pounds of copper and 11.6 million ounces of gold (an executive summary of the project's Environmental Impactv Study, or EIA, is accessible here [es]).

Compañía de Minas Buenaventura is Peru's largest publicly traded precious metals company and a major holder of mining rights throughout the country. It has two big U.S. partners: Denver-based Newmont Mining at Minera Yanacocha in Cajamarca and Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan at Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde in Arequipa. Peru is the world's sixth-largest gold producer.

Protesters have challenged the Conga mine for the past several years, and police repression is currently the subject of two legal proceedings in Peru. The first is a criminal investigation against the two commanding police officers the day of the attacks, Coronel Amador Bacalla Guadalupe and Captian Wagner Ocampo Huamán. The second is a civil lawsuit against the police authorities [es] and responsible government officials.

Elmer simply wants justice [es]: “I didn’t do any harm and the authorities have been very cruel. I don’t know what will happen to me, the doctor says there is nothing that can be done to my spinal cord.” Mar Pérez, a lawyer at the National Human Rights Coordinator, representing Elmer, adds: “We seek justice, accountability, and greater protection for human rights, and to end a culture of impunity for police repression of legitimate protest activity.”

The struggle has returned to the United States as well. On January 2, 2014, EarthRights International (ERI), representing Elmer Campos, filed a federal court motion in Newmont's hometown, Denver, Colorado, seeking information held by the company including photographic and video evidence, reports of Yanacocha security or employees, records of communications with the police, and internal company communications, that shed light on the events of that day and for the benefit of the Peruvian legal proceedings. The action was filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a law which allows parties in foreign legal proceedings to obtain documents and information from individuals or companies in the United States.

“Police repression of social protest against mining operations is endemic in Peru,” said Benjamin Hoffman, ERI’s Amazon Staff Attorney. “The problem is exacerbated in cases like this where public police officers are deployed in the service of private security.”

Elmer and ERI’s legal action attracted considerable attention in late January in the Peruvian press [es] and social media. This coincided with a coordinated offensive to present the local leaders opposed to Minera Yanacocha in Cajamarca as “backed by foreigners interested in blocking the economic development of our country,” as a researcher associated with the mining sector claimed recently [es] in El Comercio newspaper. The propaganda campaign [es] to delegitimize local leaders also targeted the Piura region, where Buenaventura wants to develop the El Faique gold project.

A Violent Consensus

Starting with a strong precedent under former President Alan García, government response to protest in Peru has been overwhelmingly militarized. Steven Levitsky calls it the “Lima consensus” [es]: Lima elites adhere to orthodox neoliberalism, such that the use of lethal force seems to be a legitimate way to deal with social protests in mining areas. Despite the fact that Ollanta Humala’s administration has sometimes sought more political and negotiated means, this consensus remains in place.

A report released in December 2013 by Peruvian NGOs Grufides, Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras (Human Rights without Borders), the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (National Coordinator for Human Rights, CNDDHH), and the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) of Switzerland, revealed that foreign mining corporations have signed agreements with the National Police to secure their operations. These agreements allow them to request permanent police presence or ask for rapid deployment of larger units to repress social protests. In some cases, the report reveals, the companies provide the police with full financial and logistical support.

International human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others, have asked President Humala to prevent the unlawful use of lethal force by security forces during crowd-control operations. But Peru’s government seems to be going in the exact opposite direction, as an article in the penal code was modified last month in a way that critics say allows police and the military to use deadly force without facing consequences. The new Law 30151 says that members of the Armed Forces and the National Police are “exempt from criminal responsibility” if they cause injury or death through the use of their guns while on duty.

In a statement [es] condemning the law, the Public Ombudsman’s office recalled that since mid-2011, 34 civilians have been killed and more than 949 people wounded in social conflicts, including five military and 357 police. A number of national [es] and international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [es] have also condemned Law 30151.

As Yanacocha comes to exhaustion, mining operations need to expand. The Conga project is one of these expansion plans, perhaps the most ambitious. A long history of mining conflicts in Cajamarca suggests that Elmer’s struggle for justice will be a long one, and in all likelihood, one of many.

Categories: Business Feed

Sony Jackson clip disappoints fans

CNN - Business Feed - Tue, 02/25/2014 - 6:35am
Sony has announced a tie-up with the estate of Michael Jackson, allowing them to use his music to promote the release of a new smartphone. But the announcement left some Jackson fans unimpressed.
Categories: Business Feed

'Got Milk' becomes 'Milk Life'

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/24/2014 - 10:53pm
The iconic tagline behind the milk industry, "Got Milk?," has been replaced with "Milk Life" in hopes of higher sales.
Categories: Business Feed

Joburg's incredible Jenga building

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/24/2014 - 10:49pm
A developer in the South African city of Johannesburg has transformed an old grain silo into trendy residences, re-purposing the entire ten-storey building and topping it with disused shipping containers to provide extra living space.
Categories: Business Feed

Giant robot cops tackle city traffic

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/24/2014 - 5:51am
How do you solve the problem of choking road traffic in one of the world's bustling megacities? You bring in the robot cops.
Categories: Business Feed

Indian Blogger Exposes Fuel Pump Cheating With Viral Video

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/23/2014 - 3:25pm

Screenshot from the video uploaded by Kiruba Shankar

In India, where fraud at gas pumps is commonplace and many complaints remain unresolved, a blogger's viral Facebook video has helped shed light on the problem.

Kiruba Shankar, a digital entrepreneur, author, teacher, farmer and long-time blogger in Chennai, India, explained how he first discovered the fraudulent practice:

I just caught the staff red-handed at Bharath Petroleum fuel station on Mount Road. They tried stealing Rs.700 worth of petrol. I paid Rs.2000 for the fuel and as the meter reached Rs.1300, one of the guys tried distracting me by asking me for my car number. Immediately, his accomplice manning the fuel pump stopped the pump and quickly reset the meter. As soon as the guy asked me for the number, I smelled a rat and saw the pump just when the guy was resetting it.

This incident took place in the Bharath Petroleum's Mount Road outlet in Chennai. Kiruba uploaded the video to Facebook, and the one-minute, 44-second-long video went viral with more than 6,000 shares and 3,000 likes. Many people shared their similar experiences in the comments section and local media started reporting on it.

Rajesh Murugesan, a commenter on the video, said:

Hey guys why blame only Bharat Petroleum, it happens with all petrol bunks. our Indian officer's just need to fill their pockets and are not worried about others. These officer's to be punished or teased in public.

Yashwanth Vee, another commenter, wrote:

It is a good thing that you came out and posted this on a social network. Hope the responsible person sees this video and takes some kind of action.

Kiruba posted updates on how the authorities reacted:

The social media outrage coupled with the coverage in national dailies has brought this incident right up to the CMD and top management of Bharath Petroleum.

They requested Mr.Kshitij Midha, Area Sales Manager for South Chennai to meet me in person. He is incharge of overseeing 35 fuel stations, including the one where the incident took place. [...]

The BPCL official did an investigation with the owner and staff at Ashwini Automobiles (the franchisee who runs the fuel station). After cross examining, they did find the two men guilty and they have been fired from their jobs. [...]

BPCL has the official complaint numbers displayed in all petrol pumps but most of the customers don’t take the extra effort to lodge a complaint. He encouraged people to complain which will keep the staff grounded.

Blogger Shushant Kulkarni from Pune advised how not to get cheated in a petrol station:

You might be getting fooled if you are not paying close attention. [...] I have noticed this a lot many times, have gotten first hand experience getting cheated a couple of times :), but eventually learned the pattern. You have experienced these or may be you are not paying attention to these.

The Allrounder blog also has similar tips to share. Vinaya Naidu at Lighthouse Insights blog lauded the role of social media in exposing malpractice in the society:

A rampant malpractice at most fuel stations in the country, one that needs to be tackled in these times of high fuel prices. It is interesting to observe how social media can play an important role in eliminating this, if leveraged fruitfully as Kiruba did.

Categories: Business Feed

Indian Blogger Exposes Fuel Pump Cheating With Viral Video

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/23/2014 - 3:25pm

Screenshot from the video uploaded by Kiruba Shankar

In India, where fraud at gas pumps is commonplace and many complaints remain unresolved, a blogger's viral Facebook video has helped shed light on the problem.

Kiruba Shankar, a digital entrepreneur, author, teacher, farmer and long-time blogger in Chennai, India, explained how he first discovered the fraudulent practice:

I just caught the staff red-handed at Bharath Petroleum fuel station on Mount Road. They tried stealing Rs.700 worth of petrol. I paid Rs.2000 for the fuel and as the meter reached Rs.1300, one of the guys tried distracting me by asking me for my car number. Immediately, his accomplice manning the fuel pump stopped the pump and quickly reset the meter. As soon as the guy asked me for the number, I smelled a rat and saw the pump just when the guy was resetting it.

This incident took place in the Bharath Petroleum's Mount Road outlet in Chennai. Kiruba uploaded the video to Facebook, and the one-minute, 44-second-long video went viral with more than 6,000 shares and 3,000 likes. Many people shared their similar experiences in the comments section and local media started reporting on it.

Rajesh Murugesan, a commenter on the video, said:

Hey guys why blame only Bharat Petroleum, it happens with all petrol bunks. our Indian officer's just need to fill their pockets and are not worried about others. These officer's to be punished or teased in public.

Yashwanth Vee, another commenter, wrote:

It is a good thing that you came out and posted this on a social network. Hope the responsible person sees this video and takes some kind of action.

Kiruba posted updates on how the authorities reacted:

The social media outrage coupled with the coverage in national dailies has brought this incident right up to the CMD and top management of Bharath Petroleum.

They requested Mr.Kshitij Midha, Area Sales Manager for South Chennai to meet me in person. He is incharge of overseeing 35 fuel stations, including the one where the incident took place. [...]

The BPCL official did an investigation with the owner and staff at Ashwini Automobiles (the franchisee who runs the fuel station). After cross examining, they did find the two men guilty and they have been fired from their jobs. [...]

BPCL has the official complaint numbers displayed in all petrol pumps but most of the customers don’t take the extra effort to lodge a complaint. He encouraged people to complain which will keep the staff grounded.

Blogger Shushant Kulkarni from Pune advised how not to get cheated in a petrol station:

You might be getting fooled if you are not paying close attention. [...] I have noticed this a lot many times, have gotten first hand experience getting cheated a couple of times :), but eventually learned the pattern. You have experienced these or may be you are not paying attention to these.

The Allrounder blog also has similar tips to share. Vinaya Naidu at Lighthouse Insights blog lauded the role of social media in exposing malpractice in the society:

A rampant malpractice at most fuel stations in the country, one that needs to be tackled in these times of high fuel prices. It is interesting to observe how social media can play an important role in eliminating this, if leveraged fruitfully as Kiruba did.

Categories: Business Feed

China Internet Giant Tencent's New Acquisition Follows Online2Offline Trend

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/23/2014 - 3:18am

China is the fastest growing consumption market in the world. As the economy shifts from manufacturing to the service industry, the driving force of the country's GDP will be consumption; online to offline commerce is definitely a fierce battlefield.

A recent example of this is Chinese Internet giant Tencent's acquisition of a 20-percent stake worth 400 million US dollars in Yelp-like website Dianping to further expand its online to offline (O2O) commerce.

Founded in 2003, Dianping is the largest online ratings and reviews platform in China. It provides urban guide for consumption, which includes merchant information, consumer reviews, discount, group buying, online restaurant reservations and take-out ordering services. It had more than 90 million monthly active users and more than eight million local businesses covering nearly 2,300 cities across the Chinese mainland by the fourth quarter of 2013.

Upon the acquisition, the online service platform will be integrated with Tencent's social communications platforms, in particular its instant messaging mobile applications – WeChat's online payment service, as well as Tencent's mobile map application. WeChat has gained about 600 million users by the end of 2013.

Zhang Tao, founder and CEO of Dianping, stated that Tencent's social network and traffic would boost Dianping’s growth and that he would continue to seek for an independent initial public offering for Dianping after Tencent’s investment.

As people's shopping habits have changed from offline to online, O2O commerce has become a golden goose for China's three major Internet giants – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, collectively known as BAT – to compete for. In the past two years, the three corporations have made some strategic moves respectively.

To establish the O2O business, the connection between online social groups and offline services through social media platforms is most crucial. Tencent made the move by integrating WeChat with online shopping platforms, such as JD.com and consumption guides such as Dianping. Baidu invested in Nuomi, a group-buying service. Alibaba merged with microblogging website Sina Weibo to expand its Alipay online payments for businesses including Meitun, China's biggest group-buying site, and Kuaidi, a taxi-hailing app, as well as Citic 21CN Co., a medicine purchase platform.

Tech manager “Yu Feng” commented on the competition between Tecent and Alibaba:

?????????O2O?????????????????????????????????????????????????……????????+??????????????+?????????????

It’s a key move for Tencent to push O2O. Alipay has grown quickly because it’s been based on huge trading volume of Taobao. The growth of WeChat payments need a trading scenario……It’d be better understood when you see WeChat payments + Dianping as another Alipay + Taobao [China's biggest online shopping platform].

In the midst of fierce competition among the BAT, whether or not online e-commerce platforms can gain from the integration process remains a question. Tech Journalist “Zhao Nan100″ pointed out that Dianping has paid a large amount of “entrance fee” to Tencent in the acquisition:

?????“?????”??????????????????4???????????6.9????????????????????????????????IPO???????????20???????????????????????????????“?????”?????????

Practically Dianping has not taken 400 million from Tencent, instead it’s paid Tencent 690 million in shares for a seat on WeChat’s “my bank cards” [Tencent's online payment system]. Had Dianping listed as in stock market now, it would be worth a lot more than $2 billion. The discounted part become the fee paid to Tencent. Other online business starters can see the price to buy a seat on WeChat's “my bank cards”.

Zhang Pang, a business blogger, believed that such integration will become a trend as O2O commerce continues to expand:

???????????????????????????????????“???”????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The trend is getting more obvious. It is more and more difficult for Chinese online businesses to remain independent and stay out of the “clans”. The giants will not only inject capital but its resources and it will affect the environment and future of the business sector. Such a trend will have serious impact on the developmental path of Internet start-ups.

However, netizen “Classmate Ji” disagreed with the technological deterministic view, writing that informative consumer information is more important than “payment connection”:

????APP???????????8000??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????O2O????????????????????????????????

Dianping’s independent users have risen to over 80 million last year. Does it need to buy a WeChat entrance? Don’t think you can do everything by owning an entrance. Don’t forget the Koubei.com case, which had battled with Dianping using high traffic and resources from Yahoo, but ended in failure. O2O needs down-to-earth offline work rather than playing around with Internet concepts.

Categories: Business Feed

China Internet Giant Tencent's New Acquisition Follows Online2Offline Trend

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/23/2014 - 3:18am

China is the fastest growing consumption market in the world. As the economy shifts from manufacturing to the service industry, the driving force of the country's GDP will be consumption; online to offline commerce is definitely a fierce battlefield.

A recent example of this is Chinese Internet giant Tencent's acquisition of a 20-percent stake worth 400 million US dollars in Yelp-like website Dianping to further expand its online to offline (O2O) commerce.

Founded in 2003, Dianping is the largest online ratings and reviews platform in China. It provides urban guide for consumption, which includes merchant information, consumer reviews, discount, group buying, online restaurant reservations and take-out ordering services. It had more than 90 million monthly active users and more than eight million local businesses covering nearly 2,300 cities across the Chinese mainland by the fourth quarter of 2013.

Upon the acquisition, the online service platform will be integrated with Tencent's social communications platforms, in particular its instant messaging mobile applications – WeChat's online payment service, as well as Tencent's mobile map application. WeChat has gained about 600 million users by the end of 2013.

Zhang Tao, founder and CEO of Dianping, stated that Tencent's social network and traffic would boost Dianping’s growth and that he would continue to seek for an independent initial public offering for Dianping after Tencent’s investment.

As people's shopping habits have changed from offline to online, O2O commerce has become a golden goose for China's three major Internet giants – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, collectively known as BAT – to compete for. In the past two years, the three corporations have made some strategic moves respectively.

To establish the O2O business, the connection between online social groups and offline services through social media platforms is most crucial. Tencent made the move by integrating WeChat with online shopping platforms, such as JD.com and consumption guides such as Dianping. Baidu invested in Nuomi, a group-buying service. Alibaba merged with microblogging website Sina Weibo to expand its Alipay online payments for businesses including Meitun, China's biggest group-buying site, and Kuaidi, a taxi-hailing app, as well as Citic 21CN Co., a medicine purchase platform.

Tech manager “Yu Feng” commented on the competition between Tecent and Alibaba:

?????????O2O?????????????????????????????????????????????????……????????+??????????????+?????????????

It’s a key move for Tencent to push O2O. Alipay has grown quickly because it’s been based on huge trading volume of Taobao. The growth of WeChat payments need a trading scenario……It’d be better understood when you see WeChat payments + Dianping as another Alipay + Taobao [China's biggest online shopping platform].

In the midst of fierce competition among the BAT, whether or not online e-commerce platforms can gain from the integration process remains a question. Tech Journalist “Zhao Nan100″ pointed out that Dianping has paid a large amount of “entrance fee” to Tencent in the acquisition:

?????“?????”??????????????????4???????????6.9????????????????????????????????IPO???????????20???????????????????????????????“?????”?????????

Practically Dianping has not taken 400 million from Tencent, instead it’s paid Tencent 690 million in shares for a seat on WeChat’s “my bank cards” [Tencent's online payment system]. Had Dianping listed as in stock market now, it would be worth a lot more than $2 billion. The discounted part become the fee paid to Tencent. Other online business starters can see the price to buy a seat on WeChat's “my bank cards”.

Zhang Pang, a business blogger, believed that such integration will become a trend as O2O commerce continues to expand:

???????????????????????????????????“???”????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The trend is getting more obvious. It is more and more difficult for Chinese online businesses to remain independent and stay out of the “clans”. The giants will not only inject capital but its resources and it will affect the environment and future of the business sector. Such a trend will have serious impact on the developmental path of Internet start-ups.

However, netizen “Classmate Ji” disagreed with the technological deterministic view, writing that informative consumer information is more important than “payment connection”:

????APP???????????8000??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????O2O????????????????????????????????

Dianping’s independent users have risen to over 80 million last year. Does it need to buy a WeChat entrance? Don’t think you can do everything by owning an entrance. Don’t forget the Koubei.com case, which had battled with Dianping using high traffic and resources from Yahoo, but ended in failure. O2O needs down-to-earth offline work rather than playing around with Internet concepts.

Categories: Business Feed

Pro-Maidan Video Goes Viral Thanks to Pavel Durov, Russia's Zuckerberg

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 11:22pm

Screen capture from “Fear Is Not Real.” YouTube.

Pavel Durov, the creator of Russia's most popular online social network, Vkontakte, is an unusual man. Young and fabulously wealthy (he made nearly half a billion dollars [ru] last month divesting from VK), Durov has something of a mixed reputation. In December 2011, he gained a reputation for defending civil rights, when he publicly defied a police request to delete certain Vkontakte groups formed in opposition to United Russia, the country's dominant political party. Early last year, however, Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia's best established anti-regime newspapers, revealed evidence that Durov may have cooperated with the authorities in more subtle ways. In the last year, Durov has been at the center of a shareholders conflict with United Capital Partners, an investment group that bought 48% of Vkontakte in April 2013. Last month, Durov sold his remaining 12% in the company to a close ally of Alisher Usmanov, preserving Mail.ru Group's majority control.

While he's no longer a part-owner in the website, Durov remains Vkontakte's CEO. That arrangement might not last much longer. Indeed, there is widespread speculation in Russia that Durov will soon be forced out of the company entirely. Durov has fought hard to remain at Vkontakte, but his recent divestment suggests he may finally be acquiescing. (Losing his creation undoubtedly costs him some sleep, but Durov can now toss and turn on a bed of 420 million dollars, thanks to the stock sale.) 

Besides selling off his shares, Durov did something else recently that could signify his impatience with keeping himself in the good graces of Russia's powerful. On February 20, 2014, Durov republished an evocative two-minute video featuring combat footage from Kiev, narrated in a dramatic male voice cheering on demonstrators. The video is thoroughly pro-Maidan, challenging protesters to overcome the fear of battle and encouraging them to continue resisting. At the time of this writing, Durov's post has almost 32 thousand views and over 17 thousand “likes.”

Given the political climate in Russia now, Durov's willingness to stake such an unabashedly pro-opposition position on the Ukraine crisis is rather astounding. Durov leads a multi-billion-dollar company—the “Facebook of the Russian Internet”—where an unpredictable competition between two investment tycoons will decide his future. Outside Vkontakte, Russian politicians have been on a spree of attacks against anyone who promotes “extremism” (read: any kind of support for Ukraine's opposition). As I've documented in past Global Voices posts, there have been assaults on television and radio stations, websites, and individuals—sometimes for behavior as innocuous as a bad joke. Is Durov's daring a show of open defiance? 

The video: “Fear Is Not Real”

Artist Alexander Makedonskiy originally authored the video that Durov published on Vkontakte. YouTube hosts the clip, as well, on Makedonskiy's channel and other accounts. The commentary in the video is a curious mix of dialogue from two Hollywood movies: the 2013 film After Earth, starring Will Smith, and the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone's sixth and final Rocky installment. (The scenes harvested for the narration include father-and-son moments from each film, and the speech Rocky delivers to the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, when he tries to renew his boxing license.)

What follows is a transcription [ru] of the “Fear Is Not Real” Maidan video, with the original English text from the two films mentioned above. The video itself, with English subtitles, can be viewed below.

?????? ? ?????????? ???!
????? ????? ? ????? ???????? ? ????? ?????? ? ???????.
????? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ????????.
?? ?????????? ??? ?????? ???? ???? ???! ? ???????? ?? ????? ??-???-??!
??? ? ?????? ???????.
?? ?????? ????? ???? ?????????!
????????? ??? ???????? ????, ?? ????? ??? ???? ?????!
? ????? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???????. ??? ?? ????? ????????? ? ???????????.
??? ????? ??????? ? ??????? ?????.
???? ?????? ???? ???????, ?? ????????? ? ????? ???? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ????????!
?? ??, ?? ? ?? ??? ?? ????? ?? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ?????!
?????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ??????? , ? ????? ????? ??????? ????.
??? ?????????? ? ????? ?????? ???? ??? ???? ? ??????? ?? ????????!
?????? ??? ?????????!
???? ?????? ???? ?? ???????! ??? ???? ????!
?? ???? ????? ????? ??????!
? ?? ????????? ? ??????? ” ? ?????? ?? ??????? ??-?? ??? ??-?? ??? ? ??-?? ????-??. ??? ?????? ????? ? ?? ?? ????!!! ??? ????? ?? ?????!
???? ??????? ??? ????? ?? ??? ?? ???????, ????? ?????????? ??????, ??? ????? ????????? ????! ? ????? ????-?? ?? ??? ???? ????-?? ????????.?! ????-?? ? ??? ??????, ????-?? ?? ????????. ? ??? ?? ???? “???” ??????? ? ?????.
??? ????? ????? ??? ??????? “????” ?? ??? !
??????? ??? ?????? ? ????? ??????? ??? ?????????. ????? ??????? ??? ?????? ??? ??? ?? ??????? ???!

Fear is not real.
The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future.
It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist.
That is near insanity.
Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.
It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.
But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
How much you can take and keep moving forward.
That’s how winning is done!  
Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth!
But you gotta be willing to take the hits.
And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody!
Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that! 
Because if you’re willing to go through all the battling you've got to go through to get where you wanna get—who’s got the right to stop you? Maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to somebody—something!—and you’re told “No,” even after you pay your dues?
Who’s got the right to tell you that? Who? Nobody!
It’s your right to listen to your gut. It ain’t nobody’s right to say “No” after you earned the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do.

Categories: Business Feed

Pro-Maidan Video Goes Viral Thanks to Pavel Durov, Russia's Zuckerberg

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 11:22pm

Screen capture from “Fear Is Not Real.” YouTube.

Pavel Durov, the creator of Russia's most popular online social network, Vkontakte, is an unusual man. Young and fabulously wealthy (he made nearly half a billion dollars [ru] last month divesting from VK), Durov has something of a mixed reputation. In December 2011, he gained a reputation for defending civil rights, when he publicly defied a police request to delete certain Vkontakte groups formed in opposition to United Russia, the country's dominant political party. Early last year, however, Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia's best established anti-regime newspapers, revealed evidence that Durov may have cooperated with the authorities in more subtle ways. In the last year, Durov has been at the center of a shareholders conflict with United Capital Partners, an investment group that bought 48% of Vkontakte in April 2013. Last month, Durov sold his remaining 12% in the company to a close ally of Alisher Usmanov, preserving Mail.ru Group's majority control.

While he's no longer a part-owner in the website, Durov remains Vkontakte's CEO. That arrangement might not last much longer. Indeed, there is widespread speculation in Russia that Durov will soon be forced out of the company entirely. Durov has fought hard to remain at Vkontakte, but his recent divestment suggests he may finally be acquiescing. (Losing his creation undoubtedly costs him some sleep, but Durov can now toss and turn on a bed of 420 million dollars, thanks to the stock sale.) 

Besides selling off his shares, Durov did something else recently that could signify his impatience with keeping himself in the good graces of Russia's powerful. On February 20, 2014, Durov republished an evocative two-minute video featuring combat footage from Kiev, narrated in a dramatic male voice cheering on demonstrators. The video is thoroughly pro-Maidan, challenging protesters to overcome the fear of battle and encouraging them to continue resisting. At the time of this writing, Durov's post has almost 32 thousand views and over 17 thousand “likes.”

Given the political climate in Russia now, Durov's willingness to stake such an unabashedly pro-opposition position on the Ukraine crisis is rather astounding. Durov leads a multi-billion-dollar company—the “Facebook of the Russian Internet”—where an unpredictable competition between two investment tycoons will decide his future. Outside Vkontakte, Russian politicians have been on a spree of attacks against anyone who promotes “extremism” (read: any kind of support for Ukraine's opposition). As I've documented in past Global Voices posts, there have been assaults on television and radio stations, websites, and individuals—sometimes for behavior as innocuous as a bad joke. Is Durov's daring a show of open defiance? 

The video: “Fear Is Not Real”

Artist Alexander Makedonskiy originally authored the video that Durov published on Vkontakte. YouTube hosts the clip, as well, on Makedonskiy's channel and other accounts. The commentary in the video is a curious mix of dialogue from two Hollywood movies: the 2013 film After Earth, starring Will Smith, and the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone's sixth and final Rocky installment. (The scenes harvested for the narration include father-and-son moments from each film, and the speech Rocky delivers to the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, when he tries to renew his boxing license.)

What follows is a transcription [ru] of the “Fear Is Not Real” Maidan video, with the original English text from the two films mentioned above. The video itself, with English subtitles, can be viewed below.

?????? ? ?????????? ???!
????? ????? ? ????? ???????? ? ????? ?????? ? ???????.
????? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ????????.
?? ?????????? ??? ?????? ???? ???? ???! ? ???????? ?? ????? ??-???-??!
??? ? ?????? ???????.
?? ?????? ????? ???? ?????????!
????????? ??? ???????? ????, ?? ????? ??? ???? ?????!
? ????? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???????. ??? ?? ????? ????????? ? ???????????.
??? ????? ??????? ? ??????? ?????.
???? ?????? ???? ???????, ?? ????????? ? ????? ???? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ????????!
?? ??, ?? ? ?? ??? ?? ????? ?? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ?????!
?????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ??????? , ? ????? ????? ??????? ????.
??? ?????????? ? ????? ?????? ???? ??? ???? ? ??????? ?? ????????!
?????? ??? ?????????!
???? ?????? ???? ?? ???????! ??? ???? ????!
?? ???? ????? ????? ??????!
? ?? ????????? ? ??????? ” ? ?????? ?? ??????? ??-?? ??? ??-?? ??? ? ??-?? ????-??. ??? ?????? ????? ? ?? ?? ????!!! ??? ????? ?? ?????!
???? ??????? ??? ????? ?? ??? ?? ???????, ????? ?????????? ??????, ??? ????? ????????? ????! ? ????? ????-?? ?? ??? ???? ????-?? ????????.?! ????-?? ? ??? ??????, ????-?? ?? ????????. ? ??? ?? ???? “???” ??????? ? ?????.
??? ????? ????? ??? ??????? “????” ?? ??? !
??????? ??? ?????? ? ????? ??????? ??? ?????????. ????? ??????? ??? ?????? ??? ??? ?? ??????? ???!

Fear is not real.
The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future.
It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist.
That is near insanity.
Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.
It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.
But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
How much you can take and keep moving forward.
That’s how winning is done!  
Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth!
But you gotta be willing to take the hits.
And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody!
Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that! 
Because if you’re willing to go through all the battling you've got to go through to get where you wanna get—who’s got the right to stop you? Maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to somebody—something!—and you’re told “No,” even after you pay your dues?
Who’s got the right to tell you that? Who? Nobody!
It’s your right to listen to your gut. It ain’t nobody’s right to say “No” after you earned the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do.

Categories: Business Feed

Peek inside the world's most expensive hotel

CNN - Business Feed - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 1:14am
At $83,200 a night, the Royal Penthouse Suite at Geneva's Hotel President Wilson is the most expensive hotel room in the world. Guests are not left wanting for much: the suite has 12 bedrooms and 12 marble bathrooms, plus a wraparound terrace with views of the Alps that have been said to move a handful of famous musicians to song (there's a Steinway piano, should the backdrop not be enough). VIPs traveling without an entourage can make use of the private staff -- butler, chef, personal assistant.
Categories: Business Feed

A history of hotel perks

CNN - Business Feed - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 1:13am
Categories: Business Feed

Nigerian President Suspends Central Bank Head for ‘Financial Recklessness’

Global Voices - Business Feed - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 10:36am

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was relieved of his job on February 20, 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan for “financial recklessness and misconduct”. He has since been replaced by the most senior CBN deputy governor Dr. Sarah Alade.

press release from the presidential adviser for media and publicity detailed the reasons for suspending Sanusi: 

Having taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline;

Being also deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate; and  

Being determined to urgently re-position the Central Bank of Nigeria for greater efficiency, respect for due process and accountability, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has ordered the immediate suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the Office of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.  

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Image by David Shankbone and released under the Creative Commons licence.

It's not the first time the former chief banker of Nigeria has been in the news. Last year, the contents of a letter he wrote to the president were leaked to the press

Mr. Sanusi’s had in September written a letter to to President Goodluck Jonathan detailing the theft of close to $50 billion in oil proceeds by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The letter later to the press and became a subject of public discourse.

Although Mr. Sanusi later revised the figure of the missing funds down to $12 billion, reportedly due to threats by associates of President Jonathan to make an issue of his reckless spending and philandering, the president concluded that the CBN governor’ pronouncement is set out to embarrass his government and demean his office.

However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation denied the allegations from the former bank chief, saying he was playing politics in a report by the Daily Trust newspaper:

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday denied reports credited to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Sanusi Lamido Sanusi  that it withheld $49.8bn (equivalent N8 trillion) representing 76% of the total crude oil revenues from January 2012 to July 2013.

NNPC spokesman Omar Farouk Ibrahim said in a statement that the allegation is borne out of misunderstanding of the workings of the oil and gas industry and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the Federation Account.

A defiant Sanusi late last month once again accused the NNPC of corruption, according to a report by Premium Times

Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido, struck a defiant tone again Tuesday, accusing state-run oil firm, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, of failing to pay to the federation account at least $20 billion of government oil revenues.

Prior to the announcement, a YouTube video uploaded by Chime Asonye titled “Overcoming the fear of vested interest, Sanusi Lamido at TEDxYouth@Maitama” had gone viral in Nigeria's blogosphere.

The suspension of the bank chief has drawn the ire of Nigerian netizens. Namama thought it's another imprudent decision by the president:

GEJ has made so many unforgivable mistakes, from mass looting, mass killings to replacing professionals for selfish resons #SanusiSack

— Namama (@Muneermaisaje) February 20, 2014

Tunde Bakare asserted that suspending Sanusi will not arrest the corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC):

Is the suspension of mallam sanusi the solution to the corrupt practices going on in the NNPC? #Sanusi #SanusiSack — Tunde Bakare™ (@Backarray) February 20, 2014

Helen Alfred insisted that Nigerians deserve the truth about the missing funds that Sanusi spoke about:

We deserve to know the truth regarding #whereisourmoney So why sack the Sanusi for telling us. Or is it the manner of telling? @ocupynigeria

— Helen Alfred (@HelenAlfredi) February 20, 2014

Another tweep accused the government of double standards:

.@stellaoduah and @diezanimadueke keep their jobs while investigations are ongoing. SLS [the suspended governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi] gets suspended. #Noted. #20BNNPC ….. — A Nation @ War (@_yemia) February 20, 2014

Not all tweets were critical of the government though. For instance, blogger and writer, Willy Wonka wondered about the uproar on Twitter:

Twitter is up in arms over #Sanusi sack. But the people on the street are rejoicing. Am I missing something?

— Willy Wonka (@sirwebs) February 20, 2014

Categories: Business Feed

Nigerian President Suspends Central Bank Head for ‘Financial Recklessness’

Global Voices - Business Feed - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 10:36am

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was relieved of his job on February 20, 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan for “financial recklessness and misconduct”. He has since been replaced by the most senior CBN deputy governor Dr. Sarah Alade.

press release from the presidential adviser for media and publicity detailed the reasons for suspending Sanusi: 

Having taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline;

Being also deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate; and  

Being determined to urgently re-position the Central Bank of Nigeria for greater efficiency, respect for due process and accountability, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has ordered the immediate suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the Office of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.  

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Image by David Shankbone and released under the Creative Commons licence.

It's not the first time the former chief banker of Nigeria has been in the news. Last year, the contents of a letter he wrote to the president were leaked to the press

Mr. Sanusi’s had in September written a letter to to President Goodluck Jonathan detailing the theft of close to $50 billion in oil proceeds by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The letter later to the press and became a subject of public discourse.

Although Mr. Sanusi later revised the figure of the missing funds down to $12 billion, reportedly due to threats by associates of President Jonathan to make an issue of his reckless spending and philandering, the president concluded that the CBN governor’ pronouncement is set out to embarrass his government and demean his office.

However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation denied the allegations from the former bank chief, saying he was playing politics in a report by the Daily Trust newspaper:

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday denied reports credited to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Sanusi Lamido Sanusi  that it withheld $49.8bn (equivalent N8 trillion) representing 76% of the total crude oil revenues from January 2012 to July 2013.

NNPC spokesman Omar Farouk Ibrahim said in a statement that the allegation is borne out of misunderstanding of the workings of the oil and gas industry and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the Federation Account.

A defiant Sanusi late last month once again accused the NNPC of corruption, according to a report by Premium Times

Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido, struck a defiant tone again Tuesday, accusing state-run oil firm, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, of failing to pay to the federation account at least $20 billion of government oil revenues.

Prior to the announcement, a YouTube video uploaded by Chime Asonye titled “Overcoming the fear of vested interest, Sanusi Lamido at TEDxYouth@Maitama” had gone viral in Nigeria's blogosphere.

The suspension of the bank chief has drawn the ire of Nigerian netizens. Namama thought it's another imprudent decision by the president:

GEJ has made so many unforgivable mistakes, from mass looting, mass killings to replacing professionals for selfish resons #SanusiSack

— Namama (@Muneermaisaje) February 20, 2014

Tunde Bakare asserted that suspending Sanusi will not arrest the corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC):

Is the suspension of mallam sanusi the solution to the corrupt practices going on in the NNPC? #Sanusi #SanusiSack — Tunde Bakare™ (@Backarray) February 20, 2014

Helen Alfred insisted that Nigerians deserve the truth about the missing funds that Sanusi spoke about:

We deserve to know the truth regarding #whereisourmoney So why sack the Sanusi for telling us. Or is it the manner of telling? @ocupynigeria

— Helen Alfred (@HelenAlfredi) February 20, 2014

Another tweep accused the government of double standards:

.@stellaoduah and @diezanimadueke keep their jobs while investigations are ongoing. SLS [the suspended governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi] gets suspended. #Noted. #20BNNPC ….. — A Nation @ War (@_yemia) February 20, 2014

Not all tweets were critical of the government though. For instance, blogger and writer, Willy Wonka wondered about the uproar on Twitter:

Twitter is up in arms over #Sanusi sack. But the people on the street are rejoicing. Am I missing something?

— Willy Wonka (@sirwebs) February 20, 2014

Categories: Business Feed

Spain's Love-Hate Relationship With The New York Times

Global Voices - Business Feed - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 4:46am

A news stand in Madrid. Photo by Flickr user Juanedc. CC BY 2.0

When The New York Times reports on Spain, Spanish media report on The New York Times. The American newspaper's coverage of the country throughout the crushing economic crisis of the last several years has routinely made headlines, and a February 18, 2013 story about the relative lateness of Spain's national schedule was no exception.

The article, titled “Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if It’s Time to Reset Clock“, profiles a small movement that wants to bring the country's traditional schedule – with its late bedtime, long lunches and even longer workdays – in line with the rest of Europe in the hopes of boosting productivity. 

The Gray Lady's story, which ran on the front page of the print edition below the fold, made its way into the Spanish news cycle throughout the day, appearing on more than a dozen news sites. Criticism was heaped on reporter Jim Yardley for evoking the stereotypical siesta, or midday nap, a thing of the past for most working people in Spain and a sore spot for Spaniards fed up with skewed foreign coverage. 

Some outlets used headlines claiming that The New York Times “criticizes the Spanish lifestyle” or was outright “against the siesta and Spanish schedule.” A poor translation of the story's own headline that traded “Spain [...] Asks if It's Time to Reset Clock” for the more accusatory “Spain, [...] Ask Yourselves if It's Time to Change Schedules” (“España, el país de las cenas a las 10 P.M, preguntaos si no es hora de cambiar los horarios“) further fanned the flames.

While some Spaniards got behind the idea of dialing back their country's clock, others took to social media to defend Spanish culture.

Y todos somos toreros y tocamos la guitarra http://t.co/N9YJwIQBbd

— Pedro Luis García (@pedrol2013) February 18, 2014

And we're all bullfighters and play the guitar

Parece que para trabajar en The New York Times es imprescindible odiar a España y sus costumbres

— Adriana LópezÁlvarez (@AdrianaAlvarezz) February 18, 2014

It seems that to work at The New York Times it's essential to hate Spain and its customs

Totalmente a favor de cambiar nuestros hábitos horarios, pero prefiero mi cena a las 10 que tener una pistola en casa http://t.co/akNpFuUGZz

— Alberto Bonilla (@albertobonillaz) February 18, 2014

Totally in favor of changing our schedule habits, but I prefer dinner at 10 than having a handgun at home

Kick ‘em when they're down

It's not the first time during the economic crisis that The New York Times or other American and British media have acted as a rallying point for Spaniards who see the reporting as sensationalized or arrogant. British newspaper The Telegraph ruffled feathers with a similar report in September 2013 (“Time's up for siestas, delayed meetings and late nights, Spaniards told in effort to make them work better“) on a Spanish parliamentary commission's call to reform the working schedule. A photo of a shirtless pot-bellied man sleeping upright in a chair outdoors originally accompanied the story, but was swapped after the paper received complaints for a less crude shot of a man in a button-up shirt and newsboy cap napping in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Much more outcry followed another front-page, below-the-fold story published in The New York Times in 2012 that featured a black-and-white photo of a man rummaging through a dumpster. The article detailed the problem of hunger against the backdrop of Spain's high unemployment – about a quarter of all Spaniards are out of work, while the number is closer to 50 percent for young people. It also cited Catholic charity Caritas’ report that it had provided meals for nearly one million Spaniards in 2010, more than twice the number in 2007 before the crisis. A slide show of photos capturing scenes of protest and poverty was published online alongside it.  

The story and accompanying photos sparked heated discussions online. An Internet campaign #paraNYTimes countered the narrative by collecting more positive snapshots of daily life. One user on Reddit-like website Menéame wrote:

Sensacionalista, podría poner fotos similares sobre los EEUU, en blaco y negro y todo, y hacerlos parecer un país tercermundista.

Sensationalized, you could find similar photos about the US, in black and white and everything, and make it seem like a third-world country

In a different discussion thread, user “josejon” argued

El reportaje da una imagen parcial de España: realidad cierta, pero no completa. Es comprensible que media docena de fotos no pueden abarcar todo un país, y que el fotógrafo tiene derecho a escoger y mostrar una parte del todo, según su interés o el tema que desea reflejar, pero después nos encontramos con la opiníon generada por ello en quienes, desde el desconocimiento y la distancia, juzgan el todo por la parte, lo unifican y España entera somos los de las fotos. No es así, y lo sabemos.

The report gives a partial image of Spain: true fact, but not complete. It's understandable that half a dozen photos can't cover the whole country and that the photographer has the right to choose and display only a selection according to his interests or the theme that he wishes to convey, but afterward we are left with the opinion that it generates in people who, in ignorance and from a distance, judge the whole by the part and put it together that all of us in Spain are those in the photos. It's not like that, and we know it.

Holding up a mirror

Others saw the story as confirmation that the situation in Spain had indeed gone from bad to worse. Responding to an analysis published by online news site eldiario.es, “What happens when the most influential newspaper on the planet gives you the third degree,” commenter “kio” wrote:

Muy de marca españa eso de invertir más energía en preocuparse más por la imagen que se da al exterior, “el que dirán”, que de arreglar las cosas de casa. No importa que haya gente que pase o se muera hambre, lo importante es que no se enteren los de fuera. Patético.

Very much in line with the Spanish brand, all this investment of energy in worrying more about the image being broadcast to the world, “what they will say”, than about fixing things at home. It doesn't matter that there may be people starving or dying of hunger. The important thing is that those abroad don't hear about it. Pathetic.

When it was revealed last summer by an ex-Popular Party treasurer that current Spanish President Mariano Rajoy had received payments from a secret slush fund for years, the international media coverage was taken by some as an important echo of the corruption in the country's politics. 

Qué vergüenza…hasta The New York Times dice que Rajoy debe pirarse. Qué pena da España, joder…

— Lorenzo Chedas (@LorenzoChedas) July 15, 2013

Shameful…even the New York Times says that Rajoy should beat it. How pitiful Spain is, damn…

Hasta el Financial Times habla ya mal de Rajoy, a ver si le queda un poquito de dignidad, que lo dudo y dimite de una vez #RajoyDimision

— Daevandi70 (@daevandi) September 20, 2012

Even the Financial Times is talking bad about Rajoy, let's see if he has a little bit of dignity left, I doubt it, and steps down once and for all

And a New York Times piece from May 2013 detailing the culture of corruption in local and national politics – about 1,000 officials were under investigation at the time, according to the article – stirred up similar reactions.

“I hope the damage that this New York Times article causes to this rotten system makes it so that there are more and more people who are ready to change this terrible reality of corruption, abuse and power,” a Menéame commenter wrote.

The power of foreign coverage 

But why is so much attention given to foreign media's editorial choices? With tourism a major driver of the Spanish economy, accounting for 10.9 percent of the country's economic output in 2012 according to Spain's National Institute of Statistics, many worry about the marca España, or Spanish brand, being portrayed to the rest of the world.

Positive coverage can certainly have an impact. After The New York Times included Burgos in its list of “46 Places to Go in 2013,” the northern Spanish city saw a staggering 145 percent jump in American tourists, what one local paper dubbed “the New York Times effect.” And the level of confidence that potential overseas investors have in the stability of a country can make or break their decision to put money there. 

But with foreign coverage sticking to its largely negative focus and the country's political and economic struggles still ongoing, #MarcaEspaña has become go-to sarcastic commentary on social media for Spaniards unhappy with the current state of affairs.

Still, others recommend ignoring the coverage. For better or worse, foreign media will continue to report on Spain how they want.

The New York Times escribe un artículo sobre España y nos revolucionamos. Cuando deje de acomplejarnos lo q opinan los demás seremos mayores

— David Fernandez (@davfernandez) February 18, 2014

The New York Times writes an article about Spain and we get upset. When we stop getting worked up about what others think we will be better off

L. Finch is a journalist, translator, lead Global Voices sub-editor and Spanish-language lover. Originally from the US Midwest, she now calls Madrid home.
Categories: Business Feed

Spain's Love-Hate Relationship With The New York Times

Global Voices - Business Feed - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 4:46am

A news stand in Madrid. Photo by Flickr user Juanedc. CC BY 2.0

When The New York Times reports on Spain, Spanish media report on The New York Times. The American newspaper's coverage of the country throughout the crushing economic crisis of the last several years has routinely made headlines, and a February 18, 2013 story about the relative lateness of Spain's national schedule was no exception.

The article, titled “Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if It’s Time to Reset Clock“, profiles a small movement that wants to bring the country's traditional schedule – with its late bedtime, long lunches and even longer workdays – in line with the rest of Europe in the hopes of boosting productivity. 

The Gray Lady's story, which ran on the front page of the print edition below the fold, made its way into the Spanish news cycle throughout the day, appearing on more than a dozen news sites. Criticism was heaped on reporter Jim Yardley for evoking the stereotypical siesta, or midday nap, a thing of the past for most working people in Spain and a sore spot for Spaniards fed up with skewed foreign coverage. 

Some outlets used headlines claiming that The New York Times “criticizes the Spanish lifestyle” or was outright “against the siesta and Spanish schedule.” A poor translation of the story's own headline that traded “Spain [...] Asks if It's Time to Reset Clock” for the more accusatory “Spain, [...] Ask Yourselves if It's Time to Change Schedules” (“España, el país de las cenas a las 10 P.M, preguntaos si no es hora de cambiar los horarios“) further fanned the flames.

While some Spaniards got behind the idea of dialing back their country's clock, others took to social media to defend Spanish culture.

Y todos somos toreros y tocamos la guitarra http://t.co/N9YJwIQBbd

— Pedro Luis García (@pedrol2013) February 18, 2014

And we're all bullfighters and play the guitar

Parece que para trabajar en The New York Times es imprescindible odiar a España y sus costumbres

— Adriana LópezÁlvarez (@AdrianaAlvarezz) February 18, 2014

It seems that to work at The New York Times it's essential to hate Spain and its customs

Totalmente a favor de cambiar nuestros hábitos horarios, pero prefiero mi cena a las 10 que tener una pistola en casa http://t.co/akNpFuUGZz

— Alberto Bonilla (@albertobonillaz) February 18, 2014

Totally in favor of changing our schedule habits, but I prefer dinner at 10 than having a handgun at home

Kick ‘em when they're down

It's not the first time during the economic crisis that The New York Times or other American and British media have acted as a rallying point for Spaniards who see the reporting as sensationalized or arrogant. British newspaper The Telegraph ruffled feathers with a similar report in September 2013 (“Time's up for siestas, delayed meetings and late nights, Spaniards told in effort to make them work better“) on a Spanish parliamentary commission's call to reform the working schedule. A photo of a shirtless pot-bellied man sleeping upright in a chair outdoors originally accompanied the story, but was swapped after the paper received complaints for a less crude shot of a man in a button-up shirt and newsboy cap napping in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Much more outcry followed another front-page, below-the-fold story published in The New York Times in 2012 that featured a black-and-white photo of a man rummaging through a dumpster. The article detailed the problem of hunger against the backdrop of Spain's high unemployment – about a quarter of all Spaniards are out of work, while the number is closer to 50 percent for young people. It also cited Catholic charity Caritas’ report that it had provided meals for nearly one million Spaniards in 2010, more than twice the number in 2007 before the crisis. A slide show of photos capturing scenes of protest and poverty was published online alongside it.  

The story and accompanying photos sparked heated discussions online. An Internet campaign #paraNYTimes countered the narrative by collecting more positive snapshots of daily life. One user on Reddit-like website Menéame wrote:

Sensacionalista, podría poner fotos similares sobre los EEUU, en blaco y negro y todo, y hacerlos parecer un país tercermundista.

Sensationalized, you could find similar photos about the US, in black and white and everything, and make it seem like a third-world country

In a different discussion thread, user “josejon” argued

El reportaje da una imagen parcial de España: realidad cierta, pero no completa. Es comprensible que media docena de fotos no pueden abarcar todo un país, y que el fotógrafo tiene derecho a escoger y mostrar una parte del todo, según su interés o el tema que desea reflejar, pero después nos encontramos con la opiníon generada por ello en quienes, desde el desconocimiento y la distancia, juzgan el todo por la parte, lo unifican y España entera somos los de las fotos. No es así, y lo sabemos.

The report gives a partial image of Spain: true fact, but not complete. It's understandable that half a dozen photos can't cover the whole country and that the photographer has the right to choose and display only a selection according to his interests or the theme that he wishes to convey, but afterward we are left with the opinion that it generates in people who, in ignorance and from a distance, judge the whole by the part and put it together that all of us in Spain are those in the photos. It's not like that, and we know it.

Holding up a mirror

Others saw the story as confirmation that the situation in Spain had indeed gone from bad to worse. Responding to an analysis published by online news site eldiario.es, “What happens when the most influential newspaper on the planet gives you the third degree,” commenter “kio” wrote:

Muy de marca españa eso de invertir más energía en preocuparse más por la imagen que se da al exterior, “el que dirán”, que de arreglar las cosas de casa. No importa que haya gente que pase o se muera hambre, lo importante es que no se enteren los de fuera. Patético.

Very much in line with the Spanish brand, all this investment of energy in worrying more about the image being broadcast to the world, “what they will say”, than about fixing things at home. It doesn't matter that there may be people starving or dying of hunger. The important thing is that those abroad don't hear about it. Pathetic.

When it was revealed last summer by an ex-Popular Party treasurer that current Spanish President Mariano Rajoy had received payments from a secret slush fund for years, the international media coverage was taken by some as an important echo of the corruption in the country's politics. 

Qué vergüenza…hasta The New York Times dice que Rajoy debe pirarse. Qué pena da España, joder…

— Lorenzo Chedas (@LorenzoChedas) July 15, 2013

Shameful…even the New York Times says that Rajoy should beat it. How pitiful Spain is, damn…

Hasta el Financial Times habla ya mal de Rajoy, a ver si le queda un poquito de dignidad, que lo dudo y dimite de una vez #RajoyDimision

— Daevandi70 (@daevandi) September 20, 2012

Even the Financial Times is talking bad about Rajoy, let's see if he has a little bit of dignity left, I doubt it, and steps down once and for all

And a New York Times piece from May 2013 detailing the culture of corruption in local and national politics – about 1,000 officials were under investigation at the time, according to the article – stirred up similar reactions.

“I hope the damage that this New York Times article causes to this rotten system makes it so that there are more and more people who are ready to change this terrible reality of corruption, abuse and power,” a Menéame commenter wrote.

The power of foreign coverage 

But why is so much attention given to foreign media's editorial choices? With tourism a major driver of the Spanish economy, accounting for 10.9 percent of the country's economic output in 2012 according to Spain's National Institute of Statistics, many worry about the marca España, or Spanish brand, being portrayed to the rest of the world.

Positive coverage can certainly have an impact. After The New York Times included Burgos in its list of “46 Places to Go in 2013,” the northern Spanish city saw a staggering 145 percent jump in American tourists, what one local paper dubbed “the New York Times effect.” And the level of confidence that potential overseas investors have in the stability of a country can make or break their decision to put money there. 

But with foreign coverage sticking to its largely negative focus and the country's political and economic struggles still ongoing, #MarcaEspaña has become go-to sarcastic commentary on social media for Spaniards unhappy with the current state of affairs.

Still, others recommend ignoring the coverage. For better or worse, foreign media will continue to report on Spain how they want.

The New York Times escribe un artículo sobre España y nos revolucionamos. Cuando deje de acomplejarnos lo q opinan los demás seremos mayores

— David Fernandez (@davfernandez) February 18, 2014

The New York Times writes an article about Spain and we get upset. When we stop getting worked up about what others think we will be better off

L. Finch is a journalist, translator, lead Global Voices sub-editor and Spanish-language lover. Originally from the US Midwest, she now calls Madrid home.
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