Monthly Archives: May 2013

Russia slams EU decision to arm Syrian rebels

Published May 28, 2013

May 28, 2013: This image from amateur video obtained by a group which calls itself Ugarit News, which is consistent with AP reporting, shows rebel fighters in Daraa, Syria. Europe’s decision to allow member states to arm Syrian rebels and Russia’s renewed pledge to send advanced missiles to the Syria regime could spur an arms race in an already brutal civil war and increasingly turn it into a East-West proxy fight.
Russia on Tuesday harshly criticized Europe’s decision to allow the arming of Syrian rebels, saying it undercuts international efforts to negotiate an end to the civil war, and a rebel general said he’s “very disappointed” weapons won’t come fast enough to help opposition fighters defend a strategic Syrian town.

The European Union decision, coupled with a Russia’s renewed pledge to supply Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s regime with advanced missiles, could transform an already brutal civil war into an East-West proxy fight. Israel, meanwhile, threatened to strike such air defense missiles systems if delivered to Syria, portraying them as a threat to the Jewish state and raising the risk of regional conflagration.

The possibility of an arms race in Syria overshadowed attempts by the U.S. and Russia to bring representatives of the Assad regime and Syria’s political opposition to peace talks at an international conference in Geneva, possibly next month.

The talks, though seen as a long shot, constitute the international community’s only plan for ending the conflict that began more than two years ago and has killed more than 70,000 people.

In Syria, the commander of the main Western-backed umbrella group of rebel brigades told The Associated Press he urgently needs Western anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to prevent further regime gains on the battlefield. The rebels’ weapons are no match for the Syrian regime’s modern tanks and warplanes, he said.

“We are very disappointed,” Gen. Salim Idris, military chief of the Free Syrian Army, said of the European Union’s apparent decision not to send weapons, if at all, until after the Geneva conference. “We don’t have any patience (any) more.”

In any case, Europe might think twice about sending such weapons into a chaotic war zone where they could quickly be seized by Islamic militant rebels, some of whom have pledged allegiance to the al-Qaida terror network.

Britain, which along with France had pushed for ending the EU arms embargo, wants to use the threat of arming the rebels as leverage to ensure that Assad negotiates in good faith.

Syria’s fractured opposition, which has not yet committed to the Geneva talks, could also be lured to the table if attendance is linked to receiving weapons in the event that talks fail. Opposition leaders have said they will only participate in talks if Assad’s departure from power tops the agenda, a demand Assad and his Russian backers have rejected.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said peace talks are a priority and that “as we work for the Geneva conference, we are not taking any decision to send arms to anyone.”

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that recent actions by the West “willingly or unwillingly are undermining the idea of the conference.” He denounced the lifting of the EU arms embargo as an “illegitimate decision,” saying that supplying weapons to non-governmental groups “goes against all norms of international law.”

At the same time, Lavrov’s deputy affirmed Tuesday that Russia won’t abandon plans to send long-range S-300 air defense missile systems to Syria, despite strong Western and Israeli criticism. It is not clear if Russia has already sent some of the missiles, which would be a major boost for Syria’s air defense capabilities, including against neighboring countries that oppose Assad’s regime.

Britain and Russia traded allegation of hypocrisy over potential weapons shipments.

U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Washington welcomes the EU decision as a show of support for the Syrian opposition and as a message to the Assad regime that such support will only grow. He said the Obama administration will continue to provide non-lethal assistance to the rebels, and hasn’t made a decision on whether to arm them.

He condemned Moscow’s decision not to drop plans to sell S-300 missiles to Syria. “We’re talking about a regime that’s willing to go to enormous lengths to use massive force against civilians, including Scud missiles and other types,” he said. “We condemn all support of arms to the regime.”

Further raising the risk of a regional war, Israel warned that it would be prepared to attack any such missile shipments. Israeli Defense Moshe Yaalon said Israel believes the Russian missiles have not yet been shipped, but that the Israeli military “will know what to do” if they are delivered.

Earlier this month, Israeli airstrikes hit suspected shipments of advanced Iranian missiles near the Syrian capital of Damascus that were purportedly intended for Assad ally Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia that is fighting alongside Syrian regime forces.

Israel has said it would not hesitate to attack again to disrupt the flow of game-changing weapons threatening its security.

France and Britain so far have not specified what weapons they might send. But the strategy of threatening to arm the rebels as a way of bolstering diplomacy could easily fail.

Assad’s regime has provided no sign of any intent to cede power in Syria, a key opposition demand before entering any talks. Meanwhile, the opposition could try to make a public show of willingness to attend the talks, only to demand that weapons deliveries from Europe start right away if the hoped-for Geneva process breaks down.

The regime and the opposition are both still trying to win militarily. The two sides remain largely deadlocked, but in recent weeks the regime has scored a number of battlefield successes that might make it less inclined to negotiate.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the EU decision exposes the “mockery” of European claims to be supporting a political solution to the crisis based on national dialogue, while “encouraging terrorists and extending them arms.”

On the other hand, Idris, the rebel commander, said his fighters could lose control of a strategic town in western Syrian in the coming days unless he gets weapons quickly.

He said thousands of Hezbollah fighters are participating in an offensive against Qusair that began May 19, and that his fighters are outnumbered by more than 3-to-1.

“Time is a very important factor now in the battle in Qusair,” he said. “When they wait for a week (to send weapons), maybe Qusair will be under the control of Hezbollah. Then we don’t need their (the West’s) help, we don’t need their support.”

If Assad retakes the town, he would shore up his hold on the land corridor linking his stronghold in Damascus with loyalist areas along the Mediterranean coast. For the rebels, losing Qusair would mean losing a supply line to nearby Lebanon.

On Monday, Idris accompanied U.S. Sen. John McCain into a rebel-held area in northern Syria for a meeting with about a dozen local commanders. In a comment on Twitter, the Arizona Republican on Tuesday praised the “brave fighters” battling Assad and renewed his call for the Obama administration to move aggressively militarily to aid the opposition.

Michael Clarke, director of London’s Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the EU decision will mean little on the ground for now. He said it is a message to Assad that “the Geneva process is the last good chance you’re ever going to have of getting out of this situation without the civil war getting considerably worse — and in one piece.”

He said it’s also telling the Russians that “we are not going to be intimidated by a lot of Russian huffing and puffing at the moment.”

This originally appeared here.

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Mothers now top earners in 4 out of 10 American households

Published May 29, 2013

WASHINGTON –  A record number of American women are now the sole or primary breadwinners in their families, a sign of the

Answering the nation's need for womanpower, Mr...
(Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

rising influence of working mothers, a new study finds. Mothers now keep finances afloat in 40 percent of households with children, up from just 11 percent in 1960.

While most of these families are headed by single mothers, a growing number are married mothers who bring in more income than their husbands, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

As the numbers have shifted, however, public attitudes have remained mixed regarding the impact of working mothers on families. People are not at all sure that it’s a good thing.

Demographers say the change is all but irreversible and is likely to bring added attention to child-care policies as well as government safety nets for vulnerable families.

“This change is just another milestone in the dramatic transformation we have seen in family structure and family dynamics over the past 50 years or so,” said Kim Parker, associate director with the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project. “Women’s roles have changed, marriage rates have declined — the family looks a lot different than it used to. The rise of breadwinner moms highlights the fact that, not only are more mothers balancing work and family these days, but the economic contributions mothers are making to their households have grown immensely.”

The trend is being driven mostly by long-term demographic changes, including higher rates of education and labor force participation dating back to the 1960s women’s movement. Today, women are more likely than men to hold bachelor’s degrees, and they make up nearly half — 47 percent — of the American workforce.

But recent changes in the economy, too, have played a part. Big job losses in manufacturing and construction, fields that used to provide high pay to a mostly male workforce, have lifted the relative earnings of married women, even among those in mid-level positions such as teachers, nurses or administrators. The jump in working women has been especially prominent among those who are mothers — from 37 percent in 1968 to 65 percent in 2011 — reflecting in part increases for those who went looking for jobs to lift sagging family income after the recent recession.

At the same time, marriage rates have fallen to record lows. Forty percent of births now occur out of wedlock, leading to a rise in single-mother households. Many of these mothers are low-income with low education, and more likely to be black or Hispanic.

In all, 13.7 million U.S. households with children under age 18 now include mothers who are the main breadwinners. Of those, 5.1 million, or 37 percent, are married, while 8.6 million, or 63 percent are single. The income gap between the families is large — $80,000 in median family income for married couples vs. $23,000 for single mothers.

Both groups of breadwinner moms — married and unmarried — have grown sharply.

Among all U.S. households with children, the share of married breadwinner moms has jumped from 4 percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 2011. For single mothers, the share has increased from 7 percent to 25 percent.

How does the general public feel about that?

While roughly 79 percent of Americans reject the notion that women should return to their traditional roles, only 21 percent of those polled said the trend of more mothers of young children working outside the home is a good thing for society, according to the Pew survey.

Roughly 3 in 4 adults said the increasing number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children.

Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University, said that to his surprise public attitudes toward working mothers have changed very little over the years. He predicts the growing numbers will lead to a growing constituency among women in favor of family-friendly work policies such as paid family leave, as well as safety net policies such as food stamps or child care support for single mothers.

“Many of our workplaces and schools still follow a male-breadwinner model, assuming that the wives are at home to take care of child care needs,” he said. “Until we realize that the breadwinner-homemaker marriage will never again be the norm, we won’t provide working parents with the support they need.”

Other findings:

–There is a gender gap on attitudes. About 45 percent of women say children are better off if their mother is at home, and 38 percent say children are just as well off if the mother works. Among men, 57 percent say children are better off if their mother is at home, while 29 percent say they are just as well off if she works.

–The share of married couples in which the wife is more educated than the husband is rising, from 7 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 2011. Still, the vast majority of couples include spouses with similar educational backgrounds, at 61 percent.

–The number of working wives who make more than their husbands has been increasing more rapidly in recent years. Among recently married couples, including those without children, the share of “breadwinner wives” is roughly 30 percent, compared to 24 percent of all married couples.

The Pew study is based on an analysis of census data as of 2011, the latest available, as well as interviews with 1,003 adults by cellphone or landline from April 25 to 28. The Pew poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

This article originally appeared here.

Five Best iPhone Cases

Five Best iPhone Cases

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Five Best iPhone Cases

If you have an iPhone, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cases to choose from. Some are slim and protect your phone without adding weight or bulk, others add pockets and other features at the expense of size and shape. This week, we’re going to look at five of the best iPhone cases, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you to tell us which iPhone cases you think are the best, whether they’re the feature-packed, wallet-replacements or the slim and trim bumpers or hard-shells that you might not even notice are there. Sadly, because Android devices differ so much in size and shape, there’s no set of universal go-to Android cases, so this week’s Hive is just for iPhone users. Here’s what you said:

The poll is closed and the votes are counted! To see which of these five took the top spot, head over to our hive five followup post to check out the winner and discuss the results!

Otterbox Defender/Commuter

Otterbox’s history of making great cases for all types of phones is well established. They’ve been at it for a long time. Otterbox’s high-impact Defender series feature a soft silicone bumper for your device that slides neatly into a hard polycarbonate body, which then connected to a hard polycarbonate screen and face protector, offering complete armored protection on all sides. It definitely adds a little bulk to your phone, but if you’re hard on your phone, or take it with you hiking, biking, or any other outdoorsy activity, you may appreciate the extra protection. It also comes with a belt clip, if you’re the type who wants one. The Commuter on the other hand is a little trimmer (I actually own one for my Android phone). Your phone slips into a silicone sleeve that then slides into a polycarbonate body that protects the side and back, but leaves the front easily accessible (although all models come with a screen protector). The Commuter is a touch thinner than the Defender, but it cuts down on the bulk considerably. If you want either one, the Defender (above on the left) starts at $50 for all iPhone models (and can go up to $60 if you choose a customized model), and the Commuter (above on the right) is $35 for all models, regardless of the color or design you purchase.

Case-Mate Tough Cases

Case-Mate makes a huge variety of cases for all types of phones. Some are rugged and designed to keep your phone safe from drops, bumps, and scratches, while others in Case-Mate’s lineup are more about personalization and designer looks. You nominated the Case-Mate Tough series, which, as part of their new “Olo” sub-brand, do a good job at keeping your phone in good condition without breaking the bank or adding a ton of bulk or extra weight to the device. iPhone 4/4S users have their choice of the $40 Tough Xtreme, a sleek, full-body protective case that’s actually military-graded (seriously, it’s passed the Mil-STD-810F, last year’s test grade for field use in miltary equipment). It’s a two-piece case that protects the front and back, shields the phone’s ports (but still grants access), and added soft buttons for easy control. iPhone 5 users have the $40 Tough case or the $35 Naked Tough case to choose from, which is slightly less robust but super slim (2.5mm thick). They both feature a shock-absorbing silicone bumper and a protective hard plastic shell. All of their cases are available in blanks, if you want to use Case-Mate’s I Make My Case customization service.

Twelve South BookBook for iPhone 4/4S and 5

Twelve South’s products for the Mac and iPhone are some of the well-crafted and design-forward accessories you’ll find. Unlike other cases though that are designed to keep your phone safe from drops and shocks or scratches, the BookBook is different. It’s designed to be both a case and a wallet, and disguise your phone as a small book. The BookBook has pockets and sleeves you can use to store cash, credit cards, ID, and other important documents you may want to keep with you. The bottom has access to the 30-pin (iPhone 4/4S) or Lightning (iPhone 5) port so you can charge or sync without removing it from its case, and the headphone port is unobstructed so you can use that too. The cover is leather-wrapped from edge to edge, so your device has complete protection (except along the right side, where the case opens), and the top and bottom are hard firm sheets, so dropping something on the top of the BookBook won’t damage your screen. There’s a hole for your camera, so you can use it with the case on (although it’d probably be a bit awkward). It’s not the toughest of the cases in the roundup, so don’t take it mountain climbing, but it’s a great all-in-one case if you want a case that’s also a wallet replacement. Both the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 models will set you back $60.

Five Best iPhone Cases

Magpul Field Case

The Magpul Field Case walks the line between being a rigid, firm protective case and one with a little give and flexibility that won’t add a ton of bulk to your phone. They’re made of tough synthetic rubber, are available for virtually every iPhone model (3G/3GS/4/4S/5), in a variety of colors. All of their cases have ribbing across the back for an improved grip, and the rubber body of the cases cover the sides so the case can absorb shocks and drops. Don’t think that because the case is rubberized that it’ll be tough to get in and out of your pocket though—it actually doesn’t catch when used. It snaps in and out of place easily, and offers unobstructed access to all of your iPhone’s ports while attached. All models are available now, and while the iPhone 5 case isn’t available directly from their website, it is (along with all of their other cases) availableat Amazon. The 3G/3GS and 4/4S Field Case will set you back $10, and the iPhone 5 model is $13 retail, although all of them are a bit cheaper at Amazon depending on the color you want.

Five Best iPhone Cases

Diffr3nt Wallet and Slim Cases

Diffr3nt is actually a small, Kickstarter-funded company out of Connecticut with a fan base active enough that they came to vote in droves to get their favorite company represented in the Hive Five. The company makes two types of cases, the Wallet and the Slim Case, and as their names imply the Slim is designed to offer protection to your iPhone without adding a ton of bulk, while the Wallet has a slot on the back for your ID, cash, credit cards, and other important documents. Each case is hand-crafted canvas, lined with a shock-absorbing material to keep your phone in place and add extra protection. The canvas body slides in and out of your pocket easily, and is tough enough to keep up with the bumps and scrapes of daily life. It’s a full fold-over model, so it keeps the screen protected as well. Plus, it’s available in a ton of great colors. If you want one, the Wallet will set you back $42 for the iPhone 4/4S model and $50 for the iPhone 5 model. The Slim retails for $35 for the iPhone 4/4S and $45 for the iPhone 5.

There you have it, your five favorite cases for the iPhone! Now it’s time to put them to a vote and determine the all-out winner.

What’s The Best iPhone Case? (Poll Closed)

Total Votes: 5,284

Before we get to the honorable mentions, I should note that Brian Lam, currently heading upThe Wirecutter (and formerly of Gizmodo, check our recent interview with him to see how he gets things done!) stopped by and had this to say:

Hey Brian here, formerly from Gizmodo, now at The Wirecutter. We spend like 40 hours checking cases and also worked with Nick Guy from ilounge, the best case reviewer we have seen so far (ever) as far as iphone and ipad protection goes. We both agree the Switcheasy Case is our favorite. It’s slim but protective, and has a great grippy texture. I like it a lot and it’s saved my phone from a dozen spills.
Here’s a longer explanation of what I just said
, by the way.

There you have it – the professional opinion. The Switcheasy picked up some nominations in our Call for Contenders thread, but not enough to make the top five unfortunately. Still, if you’re looking for a good case, you would do well to trust The Wirecutter’s opinion.

Honorable mentions this week go out to Speck Cases, specifically the PixelSkin HD, which is available for a variety of devices and in tons of different colors. It’s a soft, rubberized case that protects your device’s back and sides without obstructing any of the ports. Also worth an honorable mention are Lifeproof Cases, designed to put up with an incredible amount of punishment, including being dropped in the water. If you’re hard on your phone, they’re seriously worth a look.

I also have to throw in a personal rec for Element Cases, which I’m surprised didn’t get the nominations I thought they would. They can be pricey, but they’re really sharp looking, and come in a variety of materials, from straight wood to high-tech-looking carbon fiber. If none of the above do it for you, take a look, I think you’ll like them.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email!

Photo by Miki Yoshihito.

This originally appeared here.

Top Dem calls for public testimony on Benghazi

Top Dem calls for public testimony on Benghazi

Associated PressBy PHILIP ELLIOTT | Associated Press – Mon, May 13, 2013

  • In this photo provided by CBS News Sunday, May 12, 2013, Ambassador Thomas Pickering speaks on CBS's "Face the Nation" in Washington Sunday. Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led an investigation of the Benghazi attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others. His report about security at the Benghazi outpost was highly critical, but he stands by his assessment that decisions about the consulate were made well below the Secretary of State level. (AP Photo/CBS News, Chris Usher)

  • Associated Press/CBS News, Chris Usher – In this photo provided by CBS News Sunday, May 12, 2013, Ambassador Thomas Pickering speaks on CBS’sFace the Nation” in Washington Sunday. Pickering and retired Adm. …more 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Democrat on the House Oversight panel said Monday that the authors of an independent investigation into the deadly assault in Benghazi, Libya, should answer questions about their work at a congressional hearing, not in a private deposition that the Republicans want.

“If our committee is truly interested in improving the security of American diplomatic personnel overseas, members of our committee and the American public should hear first-hand from the individuals who have done the most exhaustive review of these attacks,” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland wrote in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the panel’s chairman.

In a Sunday talk show appearance, Issa said he would seek sworn testimony from veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two conducted an independent investigation of the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Their report was highly critical of the State Department’s handling of at the U.S. outpost. Pickering, who also appeared on the Sunday shows, defended his scathing assessment but absolved former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“We knew where the responsibility rested,” said Pickering, whose career working for Republican and Democratic administrations, spans four decades.

Issa said he wants to know with whom the pair spoke to reach their conclusions about Clinton. Cummings suggested that they testify in public before the committee on May 22.

“This is a failure, it needs to be investigated. Our committee can investigate. Now, Ambassador Pickering, his people and he refused to come before our committee,” Issa said Sunday.

Pickering, sitting next to Issa during an appearance on one Sunday show, disputed the chairman’s account and said that he was willing to testify before the committee.

“That is not true,” said the former top diplomat, referring to Issa’s claim that he refused to appear before the committee.

In a separate interview, Pickering said he asked, via the White House, to appear at last Wednesday’s hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in which three State Department officials testified. He said he could have answered many of the questions lawmakers raised, such as whether U.S. military forces could have saved Americans had they dispatched F-16 jet fighters to the consulate, some 1,600 miles away from the nearest likely launching point.

“Mike Mullen, who was part of this report and indeed worked very closely with all of us and shared many of the responsibilities directly with me, made it very clear that his view as a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that there were nothing within range that could have made a difference,” Pickering said.

Republicans and Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, have questioned why the military couldn’t move faster to stop the two nighttime attacks over several hours. Hicks, who testified before the House Oversight panel, said a show of U.S. military force might have prevented the second attack on the CIA annex that killed security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Robert Gates, a former Defense secretary, defended the decisions made at the time, saying: “I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were,” adding “getting somebody there in a timely way — would have been very difficult, if not impossible.”

The Accountability Review Board, which Pickering headed with Mullen, did not question Clinton at length about the attacks but concluded last December that the decisions about the consulate were made well below the secretary’s level.

In her last formal testimony as secretary of State, Clinton appeared before two congressional committees investigating the Benghazi attacks. She took responsibility for the department’s missteps and failures leading up to the assault, but said that requests for more security at the diplomatic mission in Benghazi didn’t reach her desk.

Pickering and Mullen’s blistering report found that “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” of the State Department meant that security was “inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”

Issa spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Pickering spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” CBS’ “Face the Nation” and NBC. Gates appeared on CBS.

This originally appeared here.

GM spending $1.3 billion to create Cadillacs, jobs in China

At American icon that now made in China General Motors spending one point three billion dollars to start producing cadillacs — new jobs in Shanghai.
This after getting fifty billion bailout bucks from US taxpayers — GM.
Saying it wants to stay competitive in China’s growing luxury vehicle market but critics say.
Our bailout dollars were used to rev up our American jobs not jobs in — so lives right.
Hi everybody I’m David has been welcome to Forbes on FOX let’s go into focus is let’s Carl Mark — on girl Elizabeth MacDonald bill ball what.
And might go — you back your fired up about I — Listen I’m not an anti free trade luddite and neither you — what we’re talking about it’s a politicized bail out.
In the what’s happening here is — — China gets a job so we’re stuck with — — — very pay for vanity projects like the Chevy Volt and no jobs here.
I’m — for GM building — China I promise that.
This is a political bail out there were not allowed to restructure and get Toyota or Korean company to — GM and have been a bankruptcy.
And make it even healthier so they could pay back.
I mean to avoid having to do a bailout with — — by the way — still owes us twenty billion dollars.
We’re word they’re reluctant to holders of of GM’s stock which is not — its original price our — guard guard the disproportionate Aliyev the spending is is what bothers a lot of people.
They’re spending eleven billion dollars in China by 2016.
And here’s where — — said — Wall Street Journal GM has invested only eight point five billion.
In US operation since its bankruptcy and since 2005 the number of workers and employees here in North America — actually fallen.
By 76000.
The bailout was for American jobs are Chinese jobs.
I share your outrage about the bailout but we have to look forward the Chinese luxury car market is the largest in the world believe it or not.
And it’s only getting bigger the Cadillac Escalade — — SUV is the highest profit margin personal vehicle that.
General Motors — so to sell the highest profit margin product into the largest luxury car market.
Is an opportunity for General Motors that cannot be passed up it’s and everyone’s interest shareholders employees the US government tax payers.
For General Motors to be successful — and this helps them be success and.
— it is absolutely true that that the luxury car market is growing in trying to so that is one aspect of of their move their decision but should — US subsidized company.
Be paying for Chinese jobs will I think suddenly this is just the opening chapter in what is a grand plot.
To move all of its manufacturing some day to low wage countries and it’s a shame.

This originally appeared here.

Brits, Colombians Top List of Sexiest Nationalities

May 13, 2013 1:28pm
gty sofia vergara thg 130513 wblog Brits, Colombians Top List of Sexiest Nationalities                                                                            (Image Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Call it the Sofia Vergara effect. Colombian women top the list of the world’s sexiest nationalities, according to a new survey, with one in four U.S. men claiming it as the favorite country when it comes to the ladies.

The unscientific, online survey of 44,000 single Americans  conducted by travel dating website found U.S. women don’t share the penchant for Latin culture. British men came out on top of the list of the world’s sexiest, with one in five U.S. women claiming them as the top pick.

Sexiest Nationalities for Women: (based on preferences of 13,259 U.S. Men)

1. Colombian
2. Brazilian
3. American
4. Spanish
5. Russian
6. Dutch
7. French
8. Bulgarian
9. Swedish
10. Italian

Sexiest Nationalities for Men: (based on preferences of 30,741 U.S. women)

1. British
2. Irish
3. Brazilian
4. Swedish
5. American
6. Spanish
7. Scottish
8. French
9. Greek
10. Puerto Rican

The nationality poll also asked men and women to rank which features determined attractiveness when dating abroad, with 34 percent of men ranking “body type” above all other qualities and 47 percent of women ranking “accent” as the top quality. Other qualities included culture, style and physical appearance.

Both sexes rated “physical appearance” as the third most important quality to determine attractiveness.

“Considering Americans didn’t top either list, one could to deduce that the melting pot doesn’t provide enough variety as we crave,” Brandon Wade, founder and CEO of, said. “It’s like eating bread all your life, and then one day someone slips you a piece of cake, and then you discover a whole new world of baked goods that you didn’t even know existed.”

This originally appeared here.

Can A Crowdsourcing Invention Company Become ‘The Best Retailer In The World?’

J.J. Colao, Forbes Staff

All of the blood, sweat and tears of entrepreneurship.


Every Thursday night Quirky ‘s Manhattan headquarters turns into a television studio. On a recent April evening the airy Chelsea loft is host to a buzzing mix of beer-sipping twentysomethings, businessmen in dark suits and a dozen 10-year-olds from the Concord, N.H. Young Inventors Club. Facing the audience, at the center of a Last Supperish array of panelists, stands Ben Kaufman, Quirky’s CEO, dressed in his signature black T-shirt and jeans. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he booms, “welcome to Quirky product evaluation!”

“Eval,” as they call it, is the centerpiece of Quirky’s freewheeling brand of capitalist democracy. Tonight Kaufman, 26, runs through 15 ideas submitted by the company’s 405,000-member online community of would-be inventors. Among the items: a coin-counting, app-connected piggy bank; a plastic overlay to turn a staircase into a slide; and a device to extract Popsicle-shaped chunks of watermelon. After a few minutes of debate the room votes. A simple majority kicks off a process: Quirky will design, manufacture and sell the product. Inventors, along with community members who contribute to a product’s design and branding, get a small cut of sales.

This is what industrial production looks like, American Idolstyle. Quirky’s crowdsourcing process has already created such hits as Pivot Power (a flexible power strip that bends to fit large three-prong plugs in each outlet) and Crates (modular plastic milk crates used as shelving), as well as bombs like Silo (a dry-food container that pours premeasured amounts) and Travelstacks (mini-storage units that attach to car cupholders). Most of its items are kitchen gadgets, electronics accessories and home organizers.

Venture capitalists love the model. Since launching in June 2009 Quirky has raised $91 million, including a $68 million kick from Andreessen Horowitz at a reported $150 million-plus valuation last September. Last year Quirky launched 121 new products, selling 2.3 million units through retailers likeTarget TGT +1.51%Bed Bath & Beyond BBBY +0.62% and Best Buy BBY +3.86%. The company had revenue of $18 million in 2012, and, while it lost money, Kaufman insists that profits will be there whenever it chooses to rein in investment. Sales this year will reach $50 million, he predicts, without a hint of modesty, with “a huge chance of us crushing the s–t out of that number.”

That’s contingent, though, on Quirky solving its distribution problem. While retailers sell 95% of its inventory, the company’s idea machine is starting to churn out far more stuff than the pipeline can handle. “There’s no store big enough in the world,” says Kaufman, “that’s going to be able to launch three products a week.” So Quirky is moving quickly–and expensively–to build its own branded stores.

It’s an audacious move for someone who in school would’ve been voted least likely to succeed … at anything. With jet-black hair and a teddy-bear build, he grew up in Melville, N.Y., a terrible high school student (GPA: 1.7) who once scored a 4 out of 100 on a chemistry test.

But his cerebral cortex wasn’t dead. Struggling to listen to his iPod without tipping off his math teacher, Kaufman designed a hollow lanyard to conceal the headphone wires up to his neck. He demanded backing from his parents to mass-produce his furtive product. “They realized there was nothing they could do to stop me,” he recalls. “They knew I would’ve been calling up my dad’s friends asking for money if they didn’t give it to me.”

His mother, Mindy, a retail strategist, forced him to create a detailed business plan for the lanyard headphone startup, which he named mophie, a portmanteau based on the names of the family dogs. In return for $185,000, his parents took 90% of the equity, allowing Ben to regain ownership after he repaid the loan. “I’ve raised $100 million since then,” he says, “and that was the hardest money I ever got.”

A week before high school graduation he flew to China to meet with manufacturers, knowing nothing about production, packaging, merchandising, logistics or sales. His parents’ cash disappeared “on the backstreets of Shenzhen,” as the headphones went through five redesigns. Back in the States he expanded into iPod cases, having persuaded Vermont angel investors to invest $500,000. After winning a Best in Show award at MacWorld in 2006 for designs of iPod cases that were half-baked, mophie raised $1.5 million from a Vermont venture fund.

But Kaufman lost control of his company. Investors, smelling promise, hired an experienced CEO, and the 20-year-old founder left. Mophie, meanwhile, now based in Kalamazoo, Mich., sold $150 million in iPhone and iPad accessories last year.

The experience wasn’t a total loss: Kaufman took enough money out of the company to sow the seeds of Quirky. For a year and a half a team consisting of Kaufman and three others worked out of his apartment in Manhattan’s East Village, slogging through the details of building an online community for devising new products. They launched Web pages for contributors to pitch ideas, tested feedback tools, devised voting systems and selection criteria, and established rules for divvying up credit among the community.

Here’s how it works. Once a product is out of the chute, Quirky sells it to retail partners at wholesale. Ten cents of every revenue dollar is held as a royalty for those who contributed to a product’s creation. The inventor gets 42% of royalties; the community that tweaked designs, voted on names and responded to market research surveys splits the rest. For sales from Quirky’s online store, the group divvies up a more generous portion: 30% of sales. Quirky, meanwhile, makes a 20% to 60% margin on each item sold to retailers, as well as a $10 fee from those who submit ideas.

Today the company employs 140 people, split among design, branding, engineering and sales teams. The offices hold $2 million worth of 3-D printing and prototyping equipment. Twenty employees in Hong Kong oversee manufacturing in China. Inventory sits there in company warehouses, as well as in Ontario, Calif. and Allentown, Pa. Each week the Quirky crew combs through 3,000 idea submissions, settling on 15 to discuss at Eval.

But does the world really need another smartphone-connected pet food dispenser or mousetrap? Scott Weiss, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz and Quirky board member, thinks Kaufman’s could easily be a $1 billion company. “He’s disaggregating the entire process of invention,” says Weiss. “Could this be the next Procter & Gamble?”

But there’s a wide stretch between here and there, especially given the grand plans to open up stores, starting with three–likely in New York, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City–perhaps next year. (Quirky originally planned to open up stores this year. During the writing of this story, the company decided that timeline was too ambitious. ) Kaufman does seem a whiz at packaging: Each product carries the Quirky logo, as well as a photo and bio of the inventor. But retail? “I will have this figured out by July 4,” boasts Kaufman. He envisions a hands-on Sharper Image, where customers can either come in to pitch inventions or buy others. ”From the very beginning we said we wanted to be the best product machine in the world so we could be the best retailer in the world.”

Even in the best of circumstances, opening stores will drain capital and distract from the core business of making stuff; in the worst case it could end up another backstreets-of-Shenzhen-like disaster. “I don’t know whether it’s the smartest thing for them to do,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst for Forrester. “One of the scariest things about opening a physical store is that you get one shot. It’s very difficult to pivot or change.”

If that happens Kaufman risks repeating his mophie experience. While he refuses to discuss his equity stake, all that venture funding almost surely means he’s ceded absolute control.

Not that he seems concerned. Back at Eval the clear winner is the large plastic overlay that folds over a staircase to create a slide. The Young Inventors whoop with excitement. “This is an insurance killer,” warns Charlie Kwalwasser, Quirky’s general counsel. Kaufman sides with the 10-year-olds. “The kids don’t care about how much our insurance costs,” he declares to laughter, “nor should they!”

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Midas List 2013: The Top 10

Courtesy of Accel PartnersJim Breyer

Jim Breyer

Rank: 1Jim Breyer takes the Midas crown again this year largely due to his firm’s early $12.7 million bet on Harvard drop-out Mark Zuckerberg. With an 11% stake at the IPO, Accel Partners was Facebook’s second largest shareholder after Zuck (Breyer is on Facebook’s board but recently announced he would be stepping down). To wit, he’s an investor in Legendary Pictures, the company behind “The Dark Knight,” as well as Spotify.

This originally appeared here.

10 Reasons Why Humor Is A Key To Success At Work

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tasteful humor is a key to success at work, but there’s a good chance your co-workers aren’t cracking jokes or packaging information with wit on a regular basis–and your office could probably stand to have a little more fun.

“Humor, by its nature, tends to have an edge to it, so people typically tone it down at work,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do at Work (Portfolio, 2013), and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio, 2012). “It’s hard to do well and easy to do badly. Plus, we all have a tendency to take ourselves way too seriously.”

Michael Kerr, an international business speaker, president of Humor at Work, and author of The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank (Dec. 2013), says the amount or type of humor you’ll find in any given workplace depends almost entirely on the culture. “In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves–that are less hierarchical and more innovative–people tend to be more open with their humor,” he says. “Even people who aren’t always comfortable sharing their humor tend to do so in more relaxed environments where the use of humor becomes second nature with everyone’s style.”

Then there are workplaces with employees who tone down their humor, often with the desire to be taken more seriously, he adds. “Yet, this can backfire as people who take themselves overly seriously are often, ironically, taken less seriously by the people around them.”

Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, believes employees are much more comfortable using humor with colleagues than they are with their bosses. “You face a higher risk factor when joking around with your boss because you just don’t know how your lightheartedness may be taken. So, you generally find greater reticence to use humor with senior managers.”

Other reasons workers might hold back: A fear of offending someone; a fear of not being funny—that their humorous attempts will crash and burn; or the unwillingness to “get the ball rolling.”

“Many leaders, especially introverts, don’t know how to safely encourage the use of more humor at work and are unsure how to express it in their own leadership style,” Kerr explains. “Many of my clients also simply cite a lack of time as a key dampening factor.  The desire is there, but they simply don’t know how to bring more humor into their busy work life.”

Whatever the reason may be, if you or your colleagues tend to be dry and dull in the office, you’ll want to work on injecting more humor into your workday.

Kerr says dozens of surveys suggest that humor can be at least one of the keys to success. A Robert HalfInternational survey, for instance, found that 91% of executives believe a sense of humor is important for career advancement; while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humor do a better job. Another study by Bell Leadership Institute found that the two most desirable traits in leaders were a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor.

“At an organizational level, some organizations are tapping into what I’d call ‘the humor advantage,’” Kerr says. “Companies such as Zappos and Southwest AirlinesLUV +2.65% have used humor and a positive fun culture to help brand their business, attract and retain employees and to attract customers.”

Taylor says humor demonstrates “maturity and the ability to see the forest through the trees.” You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian, she adds, “but well-placed humor that is clever and apropos to a business situation always enhances an employee’s career.”

Here are 10 additional reasons why humor is a key to success at work:

People will enjoy working with you. “People want to work with people they like,” Vanderkam says. “Why wouldn’t you? You spend huge chunks of your waking hours at work, so you don’t want it to be a death march. Humor–deftly employed–is a great way to win friends and influence people. You need to be funny, but not snarky (that’s not good for team building) and you can’t offend anyone.”

Humor is a potent stress buster. “In fact, it’s a triple whammy,” Kerr explains. “Humor offers a cognitive shift in how you view your stressors; an emotional response; and a physical response that relaxes you when you laugh.”

It is humanizing. “Humor allows both employees and managers to come together, realizing that we all seek common ground,” Taylor says.

It puts others at ease. Humor is a way to break through the tension barrier, she says.

“Research shows that humor is a fabulous tension breaker in the workplace,” Kerr adds. “People who laugh in response to a conflict tend to shift from convergent thinking where they can see only one solution, to divergent thinking where multiple ideas are considered.”

Ha + ha = aha! “Humor is a key ingredient in creative thinking,” Kerr says. “It helps people play with ideas, lower their internal critic, and see things in new ways.” Humor and creativity are both about looking at your challenges in novel ways and about making new connections you’ve never thought about before, he adds.

Taylor agrees. She says humor “establishes a fertile environment for innovation because people are more inspired when they are relaxed.”

It helps build trust. “You can build trust with the effective use of humor because humor often reveals the authentic person lurking under the professional mask,” Kerr says.

He explains that numerous studies suggest that people who share a healthy, positive sense of humor tend be more likable and are viewed as being more trustworthy. “Humor is also viewed as sign of intelligence,” he adds. “All of these characteristics, as well as the fact that humor is a fabulous icebreaker and can tear down walls, can help people build relationships in the workplace, and especially these days, relationships are critical to success.”

It boosts morale. Humor boosts morale and retention while reducing turnover because employees look forward to coming to work, Taylor says. “Employees like to work for and with others who have a sense of humor. We all prefer to have fun at work. It should not feel like an indentured servitude environment.”

People who use humor tend to be more approachable. The more approachable you are, especially as a leader, the more honest and open people around you will be, Kerr says. “And the more honest and open people tend to be, the more successful and innovative teams tend to be.”

Humor can allow your company to stand out.“It can help companies stand out and go beyond with their customer service, garnering them a huge loyal following,” he says. If you want to stand out from the pack, using humor with your service is an effective way to do that.

It can increase productivity. “Humor creates an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, and a feeling that there are few risks in thinking outside the box. All that leads to greater productivity,” Taylor explains. “It also stands to reason that if you’re in a more jovial atmosphere, you’ll have more passion for what you do. Your work ethic will increase, and your enthusiasm will likely be contagious. It’s a win-win for you and your employer.”

Jacquelyn Smith

Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff

If it has to do with leadership, jobs, or careers, I’m on it.

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This article originally appeared here.

Expert Opinion About Electronic Cigarettes Join The Electronic Cigarette Revolution Today! The stories about electronic cigarettes producing a chemical that’s in anti-freeze were pure propaganda! In the one test that the FDA did do they found traces of a substance called diethylene glycol, which is an ingredient found in anti-freeze but the main ingredient in anti-freeze is water!

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