Business Feed

Meet Russian billionaire 'Tsarina'

CNN - Business Feed - Wed, 02/19/2014 - 10:02am
She's been dubbed the Russian "Tsarina," a former circuit-board-equipment seller who happened to sit next to one of the world's richest business moguls on a plane -- and now heads his company.
Categories: Business Feed

YouTube's secret weapon

CNN - Business Feed - Wed, 02/19/2014 - 10:01am
YouTube has a new boss and she has a "healthy disregard for the impossible" -- according to Google CEO Larry Page.
Categories: Business Feed

Empty Office Buildings in Trinidad's Capital

Global Voices - Business Feed - Wed, 02/19/2014 - 7:48am

The huge potential supply of State-built, unfinished office buildings in our capital is the ‘Elephant in the Room‘.

Afra Raymond confronts it in an effort to address “the viability of the long-term and large-scale investments which have been made in Port-of-Spain by private and public capital.”

Categories: Business Feed

Photographers Snap Over Online Accreditation for Trinidad Carnival

Global Voices - Business Feed - Tue, 02/18/2014 - 9:38pm

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is a spectacle, heavily marketed as “the greatest show on earth” – and nowhere is it more of a spectacle than on social media.

Facebook and Twitter have taken every aspect of the Carnival scene online. You have easy access to fete schedules and flyers to help you decide where is the best place to party on any given night. While said fete is in progress, you can scan through scores of photographs to see who's there and what they're wearing. Missed Panorama semi-finals? YouTube is sure to have videos of the best steel pan performances. From soca tunes to costumes, social media has significantly expanded the reach of the festival – there are even entire businesses dedicated to documenting the social aspects of the season – but this year, the National Carnival Commission (NCC), the body charged with coordinating the organisational, promotional and commercial aspects of all things Carnival, finds itself in the midst of managing a controversy over accreditation rights and the use of Carnival imagery on social media.

Contention of this sort is unfortunately nothing new to the NCC, but the origin of the directive concerning online copyright is unclear. The National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) has said that did not come from them (one unnamed company, according to reports, has allegedly secured the online publishing rights for the entire festival) while the NCC maintains that their attitude towards Carnival coverage is that it should be as far reaching and accessible as possible.

Two photographers who have spent much of their careers documenting Trinidad and Tobago Carnival have expressed their opinions about the whole affair. Abigail Hadeed posted a detailed status update on Facebook, the first part of which questioned where her accreditation fees were going:

As a photographer who has dedicated all of my working life to the documentation and archiving of Carnival and Traditional Mas, I have since 1985 paid for press passes. For all of these decades the people from whom I purchased the passes have never been able to adequately give me a break down of what I am paying for, or how they arrived at the cost. I have experienced everything form the hostile response ‘If you don’t like it you have a choice!’ to ‘it’s for the copyright — the designers get this money.’ Well I have spoken to many of the people I have photographed over these two decades and none have ever received a cent of the money collected.

She was “really disheartened” upon hearing reports of the selling of all the social media rights to one company, saying:

It seems that ignorance, greed and a lack of accountability is (sic) yet again the order of the day.

Hadeed went on to lament the unprofessionalism of the accreditation process as well as the lack of proper facilities for media:

Until 2 or 3 years ago [the process] provided neither a place to sit, nor a media area for photographers, far less access to toilets, parking, or a safe place to be when waiting on bands. At no time in the decades of my photographing carnival has anyone suggested to those constructing the stages that thought should be given to where the media needs to be, to adequately do their job. That said, if you attend any major event such as the Olympics, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, large concerts, etc…there are areas dedicated to media only — centers for the media to recharge batteries, upload images and so on…Here in Trinidad we behave like carnival is something new and every year treat it with a level of surprise and disorganization, so the same old arguments arise with no solutions found and this cycle continues year in and year out.

So disillusioned is Hadeed about the entire process that she decided not to pay for accreditation this Carnival:

I am now considering my further involvement in the photographing and documenting of our cultural heritage. Why should I continue to spend thousands of dollars for accreditation that is not justified and does not serve my needs as a photographer? The way things are now structured the cost of photographing carnival does not make financial sense. If we as a people do not care about being the keepers of our cultural heritage to the extent that we essentially obstruct rather than support the documentation and dissemination of our heritage, I am left wondering what will be there for future generations. It seems as though institutions outside of Trinidad have more of an appreciation for our culture than we do.

Fellow photography veteran Mark Lyndersay, who blogs here, republished a statement from the photographer who questioned the NCC accreditation process late last week and was told that whatever fee he paid would not include online rights:

For at least the last six years Zorce Publications Ltd. has successfully sought accreditation to shoot still photos for archive use on the internet. Prior to this we were not aware of the accreditation process.

On February 11th, around 2pm, we came to the NCC office to meet the usual pleasant and familiar people to apply once more for our accreditation.

Since the NCBA representative was present, a lady that we are accustomed to seeing each year for our interview, we proceeded with reading through this year's NCBA application form. The NCBA lady recalled that Zorce was on a list of companies that were to be told this year that no internet-related permissions would be allowed. She clarified that this meant no social media (e.g. Facebook), no websites or no web-streaming of any photos or video. She conveyed that she was told to let everyone on the list, which was presumably every entity that was internet accredited last year was to be told the same except one company that bought the exclusive rights this year from the NCBA. She then called the NCBA office and verified that this was in fact so.

The statement described, in further detail, why it was important for his company to be allowed online publishing rights – the fees for the remaining options of print and private archives were too expensive:

I reminded her that being a car-related publication and website, we fundamentally thought that it would be a good idea to promote T&T by inviting our web users to view our online archives and subsequently our social media albums; with the hope of attracting a different sector of tourists along with our regular readers.

She indicated that while she understood our position clearly, and she knows us from processing our permissions each year, she could only abide by the instructions she was given and suggested that anyone who wished to take the issue further could speak with the CEO of the NCBA.

The statement noted the highlights of the conversation and the pressing questions arising out of them:

• Who is the mystery person or organisation who was the exclusive right to internet related Carnival 2014 Mas content through the NCBA?
• What exactly is being paid for with respect to copyright fees with NCBA?
• Exactly who [does] the NCBA now represent/protect?
• What do the NCBA-protected gain?
• Can the NCBA assume control over an independently owned portal such as Facebook or the entire internet?
• What about tourists or simple amateur public photographers seeking to enjoy the event in their own non-commercial way?
• If a photographer or media producer has the direct permission of (a) band/bands via a signed, stamped letter from their bandleader(s) to put their content in an approved location inclusive of any specified print medium, website or social media outlet…where does the NCC stand on granting accreditation passes that indicate permission to shoot Mas?

Narend Sooknarine, the photographer, summed up his experience by saying:

Indirectly, it seems the NCC accreditation badge does not fully cover all permissions for all venues at this time since the NCBA does not represent many of the large and popular bands that form the bulk of our Carnival content.

Quite frankly for most photographers who are seeking to ‘do the correct thing’ this is proving to be unreasonable.

Mark Lyndersay, in a follow-up post, asked a perfectly legitimate question:

The first thing that’s worth considering here is why there is accreditation at all.
The only sensible answer is that there is a limited amount of space available with good access to the performances of Carnival.
If that’s the reason, then there are several aspects of that which need to be interrogated.

His analysis supported Abigail Hadeed's testimony of poor facilities and constrained access:

First, why is the physical space so limited? In fact, after all this time, the access area for most Carnival events is growing smaller and more hostile to photographers and videographers, which is somewhat strange, since it ensures that our coverage of Carnival is becoming less interesting and more constrained.

It also pushes people keen to make better pictures into defying stage rules and authority.
Given the nature of the festival, there has always been more people who want to capture images of events than there will be space to accommodate them comfortably.

Since this will always be a small group who should be in it?
It stands to reason that working media should be first on the list. These are the people who are responsible for the public record of Carnival, and their efforts ensure that there is archival testimony of the work that Carnival’s creators invest every year.

Lyndersay also acknowledged the power of social media, saying:

There is now more to effective communication of the festival’s virtues than just traditional media. There are bloggers, social media attractors and documentarians working aggressively on commenting on and recording the festival in a way that goes well beyond what we see in the coverage done by local media.

If someone is extending the public understanding of Carnival with good results and an impressive audience online, they are likely to be doing it on their own dime. Should they be punished for that by having daunting fees levied on them or rewarded for their educated engagement with the event?

He continued:

The simple truth is that these fees have ruined the coverage of Carnival. Imposing hefty fees on people producing documents recording Carnival may seem to be a good idea for the people receiving the cash (no doubt a pittance to the bandleaders who have pressed for it), but it has created a lowest common denominator ethos among those who do produce such publications and broadcasts.

There is no room for careful thought, intellectual analysis or adventurous image creation in such documents. They must ensure a return on their investment, who we now have Carnival “magazines” with cover to cover images of half-naked women and little else. These documents must make their money back, inclusive of the fees harvested in the dubious name of copyright early in the dance, and the results have been putrid for more than a decade now.

Even if the fees were removed this year, it will take decades to get back to the pinnacle of such Carnival records.

Both photographers tempered their criticism with tangible suggestions for improvement. Hadeed felt that “an open dialogue between the stakeholders and the photographers is absolutely necessary”:

Unfortunately, unless there are clearly defined standards as to what should be provided for media accreditation, along with some training for those members who police judging points, photographers will always be open to the hostility of the people working for NCBA, Pan Trinbago etc. Regardless if you have a pass or not, the video teams get preference, and the photographers are constantly pushed, shoved and beaten at will by the misplaced anger of officials who take their position as if they were the guardians of the mas!

I ask that the organizations responsible for accreditation take responsibility for their decision making by simply inviting all of the stakeholders to meet and seek responsible solutions that address the breadth and depth of the issues at hand.

Lyndersay suggested several ways to revamp the process:

Loosen the restrictions of official access to Carnival in the interests of getting more of the record into the public domain. It can only improve the festival and bring more paying visitors to T&T.

Acknowledge the importance of documentarians and new media practitioners in bringing more attention to the festival, particularly those aspects of it which are dying through a lack of attention.

Improve the actual accommodations. Better line of sight angles and preplanning of the actual visual coverage of the event would satisfy more image makers and lead to better images emerging from Carnival 2014.

Ensure that accredited image makers actually have a chance to do the work they have come to do. This isn’t a party for us. Control your stages with clear rules or let madness reign.

Remove the fees for documentary publication in print and video for local producers. What’s happened since they were imposed has been far more costly than any money that’s been earned.

Will any of these improvements happen, though? According to Lyndersay, the powers that be have been moving in the wrong direction for decades:

As everything about Carnival becomes shorter and more pointed, it begins to resemble nothing less than a gladius on which we are relentlessly impaling our creative future.

An effective copyright regime for Carnival will call for work to earn the real rewards that are due, but everyone’s too busy lining up at the trough to lap up much easier money, even if it's only a thin gruel.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Nicholas Laughlin, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.
Visit Nicholas Laughlin's flickr photostream.
Categories: Business Feed

Adapting to Extreme Climate Change in Mali and Madagascar

Global Voices - Business Feed - Tue, 02/18/2014 - 3:38am

Forest in the Kayes region of Mali CC-NC-2.0

Mali and Madagascar have faced many similar challenges over the past five years. Political turmoil punctuated by coup d'états that saw the removal of their president-elects before the end of their terms. As a consequence, both economies had steep dives in terms of GDP. Today, Madagascar and Mali are both trying to rebuild their broken political systems via newly elected executive branches.

A lesser known challenge that both countries face is their struggle against extreme climate change. Fragile countries are often more vulnerable to extreme weather, but that adage could not be more evident than in the recent evolution of the ecosystem in Madagascar and Mali.

An undeniable impact

In Mali, the forest is slowly given way to the Sahara desert in the north. The Kayes region is symptomatic of the seemingly unstoppable progression of the desert in a region that used to host a buoyant forest and is now home to vast areas of sands and rocks.

Adrien de Chaisemartin and his colleagues from the McKinsey's Johannesburg office reported on the impact of climate change in the Malian region:

Mali is a mostly dry nation, subject to frequent droughts. Increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall tell of a shift in climate zones as the desert moves south over productive land. In these regions, farmers dependent on agriculture and livestock already face trying periods of drought and have few options to overcome them. Many are moving to the cities, others to the country’s less arid south.

Kayes region in Mali at the border with Senegal via wikipedia CC-BY-2.0

Here is how they assess the current situation and the potential economic loss for the country:

The climate zone shift—the combined effect of rising average temperatures and declining average rainfall—has already pushed the country’s agroecological zones to the south over the past 50 years, with average rainfall down by about 200 millimeters and average temperatures up by 0.5°C over the same period. [..] The pessimistic high-change scenario could involve losses of about $300 million annually (some 15 percent of the value of agriculture and livestock); the optimistic scenario, losses of $120 million annually (6 percent)

In Madagascar, the impact of climate change was even more dramatic. Following two consecutive cyclones (Giovanna in 2012 and Haruna in 2013) that made landfall on the island and displaced at least 100,000 people, the southern region was plagued by a locust invasion. How those events are related is explained by Emmanuel Perrin on maxisciences [fr]:

Le cyclone Haruna a touché l’île de Madagascar. Or, son passage a créé les conditions d'humidité favorables à la prolifération de criquets migrateurs. Les autorités n’ont pas réagi à temps et, aujourd’hui, leur population atteint 500 milliards d’individus, estime une récente mission de comptage.

Cyclone Haruna hit the island of Madagascar and its landfall has created the humid conditions that favors the massive proliferation of locusts. The authorities did not react in time, and today their population reached 500 billion in the most recent estimates.

Locust invasion in downtown Fianaratsoa, Madagascar

The World Food Programme states that 60 percent of rice production will be affected by the locust invasion. Cyclone Haruna's direct impact was also dramatically felt by southern farmers as 6,351 hectares of their crop fields were flooded. Raw footage of the floods can be seen in this video from YouTube user ongbelavenir:

How to adapt

So what can local population do to withstand the climate assault on their way of life? Here are a few ideas by Michael Kleine and his fellow scientists or researchers from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations solutions (IUFRO):

New modes of governance should enhance effective stakeholder and community participation, transparent and accountable decision-making, and the equitable sharing of benefits. And strategies for adapting forests to climate change must be coordinated with those of other sectors and integrated into national and regional development programmes and strategies.

In the field, new strategies are dependent on the local context and the type of activities in the region. For instance, declining crop yields can be countered with the following measures: increase crop diversification and plant early maturing crop varieties such as the NERICA rice variety. 

Dr. Balgis Osman Elasha emphasized the importance of grasping the local context and gaining buy-ins from community leaders to implement the new measures:

The same policy could yield contrasting results ,for different sectors or different activities in the same sector, e.g. removing subsides on inputs, from agriculture produced positive impact on traditional rain fed sector (using minimum inputs), and negative impacts on mechanized irrigated agriculture (using intensive inputs) [..] Community Leaders are key players in the policy process , they possess a wealth of indigenous knowledge regarding the wise use and conservation of natural resources, moreover, customary rules and orders issued by them , are considered sacred by their local community. 

Categories: Business Feed

Could Barbados’ Economic Crisis Spread to Other Islands?

Global Voices - Business Feed - Mon, 02/17/2014 - 8:16am

Abeng News Magazine's Mark Lee says that the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) Country Report “reads like a good cop bad cop interrogation of the Barbados economy”. Read the details, here.

Categories: Business Feed

Algerian Cartoonist Faces 18 Months in Jail for Mocking President

Global Voices - Business Feed - Mon, 02/17/2014 - 2:41am

[All links lead to French-language web pages.]

His name is Djamel Ghanem, and he's a young Algerian cartoonist. His job is no fun in a country where censorship and prosecution await those who dare to speak their minds. Ghanem faces 18 months in prison for an unpublished caricature of Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika that was deemed offensive by the authorities. 

Djamel Ghanem via Algérie Focus. Used with permission

In fact, President Bouteflika is not represented or even directly mentioned in the unpublished cartoon. The drawing portrays two citizens mocking the fourth term the current president is seeking after ruling Algeria for 15 years. The caricature compares the fourth mandate to baby diapers. With the drawing, Ghanem wanted to convey the idea that Algerians are treated like children.

For that, he was taken to court and threatened with imprisonment. The district attorney of Oran, the second largest city in Algeria, located 400 kilometers northwest of the capital Algiers, wanted the cartoonist to admit that he had the intention of insulting the president. But Ghanem categorically denied that he had such intention. 

Neither Bouteflika nor his advisers filed the suit against Ghanem. It was Ghanem's former employer, La Voix de l'Oranie (Voice of Oran), a daily newspaper known for its pro-regime editorial line, who sued him for the cartoon which was never published in the media. 

Sued by his own newspaper, Ghanem saw all the doors of Algerian media closing in his face. Interviewed by Algerie-Focus, Ghanem explained that he has had difficulties finding a lawyer to defend his cause along with other challenges: 

Le directeur de publication d’un autre quotidien a été menacé si jamais il me recrutait. Je suis devenu persona non grata. A travers moi, ils veulent abattre l’opposition algérienne qui dit non à un quatrième mandat

the director of another newspaper was advised to not hire me. I became persona non-grata. Through me, they want to thwart the opposition who is fighting against a fourth term for the president.

After the case's first hearing, the judges requested an 18-month prison sentence against Ghanem. The final ruling is expected next month on March 4. Meanwhile, netizens are voicing their support for and solidarity with Ghanem. An online petition demands that Ghanem be let go:

Si les médias et l’opinion se taisaient sur cette atteinte à la liberté d’expression et ces violations des droits d’un citoyen dans les bureaux d’un juge, les tribunaux pourraient demain condamner un journaliste pour avoir pensé du mal du président de la république, d’un gradé de l’armée, d’un ministre ou d’un élu. Nous signataires de cet appel exigeons l’arrêt des poursuites judiciaires engagées contre Djamel Ghanem

If the media and the opinion keep quiet on this infringement of freedom of expression and the violation of a citizen's rights, then tomorrow any court can charge a journalist for criticizing the president of the republic, an army official, a minister or a deputy. With this petition, we demand an end to the prosecution against Djamel Ghanem.

By shielding the president against any criticism, the administration is trying to impose a totalitarian ideology upon its citizens. Freedom of expression is at risk in Algeria. Ghanem's case is a typical example of how dire the situation is for cartoonists and other people willing to speak up.

Categories: Business Feed

Ending Illegal Logging and Launching Forest Carbon Credits in Madagascar

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/14/2014 - 11:19am

Illegally logged rosewood from Masoala and Marojejy in Antalaha, Madagascar via wikipedia CC-BY-2.0

The new administration in Madagascar is seemingly making a concerted effort to curb down deforestation in Madagascar. First, new president Hery Rajaonarimampianina has made ending illegal logging of Madagascar rosewood a priority at his first executive meeting[fr]. Second, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced that the Government of Madagascar has approved carbon sales with Microsoft and its carbon offset partner, The CarbonNeutral Company, and Zoo Zurich. The funds from carbon sales will be used by Makira REDD+ Project for conservation, capacity building, and enforcement activities related to conservation of Madagascar's rainforest. It is yet to be seen whether these measures will be implemented in the field. 

Categories: Business Feed

Air New Zealand to innovate

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 9:21pm
CEO Christopher Luxon shares why he thinks the aviation industry isn't innovative enough and what he's doing about it.
Categories: Business Feed

Air New Zealand to innovate

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 9:21pm
CEO Christopher Luxon shares why he thinks the aviation industry isn't innovative enough and what he's doing about it.
Categories: Business Feed

Was Flappy Bird too popular?

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 9:19pm
"Flappy Bird" is no longer available for download. Was it a victim of it's own popularity. CNN's Samuel Burke reports.
Categories: Business Feed

Olympics travel: 7 really useful tips for visiting Russia

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 5:25pm
Be prepared to glam up and act the gentleman or lady. But, no, you don't have to drink vodka.
Categories: Business Feed

Olympics travel: 7 really useful tips for visiting Russia

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 5:25pm
Be prepared to glam up and act the gentleman or lady. But, no, you don't have to drink vodka.
Categories: Business Feed

Twitter bios: Don't be a 'rock star guru'

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:49pm
If you're a "zombie aficionado," a "Web marketing guru" or a "social media evangelist," you may be doing Twitter wrong.
Categories: Business Feed

Twitter bios: Don't be a 'rock star guru'

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:49pm
If you're a "zombie aficionado," a "Web marketing guru" or a "social media evangelist," you may be doing Twitter wrong.
Categories: Business Feed

Protecting the U.S. team in Sochi

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:20pm
The U.S. Ski and Snowboarding team is taking extra security precautions for its Olympic athletes. Zain Asher reports.
Categories: Business Feed

Protecting the U.S. team in Sochi

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:20pm
The U.S. Ski and Snowboarding team is taking extra security precautions for its Olympic athletes. Zain Asher reports.
Categories: Business Feed

Where The Beatles really started

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:20pm
CNN's Jim Boulden visits The Casbah Club outside Liverpool, claimed to be the true starting spot for The Beatles.
Categories: Business Feed

Where The Beatles really started

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:20pm
CNN's Jim Boulden visits The Casbah Club outside Liverpool, claimed to be the true starting spot for The Beatles.
Categories: Business Feed

Can bitcoin succeed in China?

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:18pm
Bitcoins are still a bit of a mystery to many of us. It is billed as a digital currency, but it's not regulated. Can it succeed in China? CNN's Pauline Chiou looks at the regulation.
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