Category Archives: World News

PayPal Lifts Ban on Fundraising Account for WikiLeaks


PayPal has lifted its ban on the account of Courage to Resist, an organization that has raised a substantial portion of the funds needed for the legal defense of Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old former U.S. army private accused of leaking classified U.S. information to WikiLeaks in 2010.

In a blog post, PayPal declared that the original suspension had nothing to do with the organization’s support of Bradley Manning. Rather, the account had been suspended because it had failed to comply with a stated policy that requires non-profits to link a bank account to their PayPal account.

“Upon review, and as part of our normal business procedures, we have decided to lift the temporary restriction placed on their account because we have sufficient information to meet our statutory ‘Know Your Customer’ obligations. The Courage to Resist PayPal account is now fully operational,” Anuj Nayar, PayPal’s director of communications, wrote.

The explanation was posted in response to a widely circulated blog post on the Bradley Manning Support Network’s website Thursday, which accused the payment service of suspending the account because of its fundraising efforts on Manning’s behalf.

Manning has been held in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, since June 2010, and is not expected to face court martial until October 2011. His legal defense is estimated to cost more than $100,000.

The ban on WikiLeaks’s PayPal account remains in place.

 


Obama to Meet With Zuckerberg & Other Tech Execs During San Francisco Trip


U.S. President Barack Obama is paying a visit to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbuerg and a roster of other technology executives during a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area this week.

On Thursday, February 17, Obama is slated to sit down with Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs at a private dinner during his overnight trip to the West Coast. President Obama will not be making any public appearances in the San Francisco area.

According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, “The focus of the discussion is innovation and job creation, and these are representatives of businesses… who know a lot about private sector job growth.

 


AOL Acquires Huffington Post for $315 Million


AOL has acquired Huffington Post for $315 million in its biggest move since it became an independent company in 2009.

The acquisition will create a new online media conglomerate that already owns news websites TechCrunch and Engadget. According to The New York Times, the deal is worth $300 million in cash with $15 million in stock.

As part of the deal, Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington will be appointed president editor-in-chief of all of AOL’s content. She will not only run The Huffington Post, but will lead AOL’s news, tech, women, local, multicultural, entertainment video and community content businesses in an AOL entity that will be known as the Huffington Post Media Group.

The Huffington Post Media Group will also be in charge of MapQuest, AOL Music, AutoBlog, Patch, Engadgetand TechCrunch. Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau and Chief Revenue Officer Greg Coleman will be leaving Huffington Post, according to AllThingsD.

“By combining HuffPost with AOL’s network of sites, thriving video initiative, local focus, and international reach, we know we’ll be creating a company that can have an enormous impact, reaching a global audience on every imaginable platform,” Arianna Huffington said moments ago in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

AOL now claims that the combined entity reaches 117 million unique visitors per month in the U.S. and 270 million worldwide. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong says the new organization will be “a next-generation American media company” focused on content, community and social experiences.

 


Toy fair opens in Nuremberg


The Nuremberg Toy Fair, the world’s biggest toy expo, opened Thursday in Germany with one of its focuses on packaging boys’ toys to make them more attractive to girls.

Within an hour of the opening, the city’s exhibition centre was already packed with people. Organizers expect 76,000 trade visitors, mainly purchasing executives and merchants, to visit by the closing day Tuesday.

Nearly 2,700 exhibiting companies from around the world have about 1 million products available in their catalogues. Manufacturers say 70,000 are new, though that includes long-standing toys that are being offered in additional colours or from new plastic moulds.

On Wednesday, toy professionals attended a ‘building our future’ conference in Nuremberg on why toys tend to be firmly aimed at either boys or girls.

Richard Gottlieb, who chaired the discussion, said Thursday in an interview, the photographs on the packaging often spread the message that a boy will usually end up in charge of a science toy or a ride- on toy.

Where girls are shown in the images, they are usually only helpers or onlookers, the US-based consultant said. Gottlieb said he had been urging manufacturers to change the packaging.

The fair also focuses on rising consumer demand for toy manufacturers to be environmentally sensitive. German ecology groups claimed the previous day that plastic used for toys contained too much of certain toxic substances.

 


Rising wages in China, Toy Industries in shock!


Rising wages in China are sending a jolt through the world toy industry, prompting a revival of factory capacity in the West, industry leaders are saying ahead of the Nuremberg Toy Fair.

The bulk of dolls on view at the annual toy expo, which opens Thursday in Germany, traditionally are western-designed and carry western brands but are churned out by low-pay, plastic-moulding factories in southern China.

Chinese factories saw timber into wooden blocks, they weld and bolt together ride-on tractors and scooters. They assemble diecast toy cars and electronic robots. In Germany, Europe’s biggest toy market, nearly 80 per cent of today’s toys are Chinese made.

But not for much longer.

For a start, western shoppers are suspicious after several toy-safety scares in recent years involving toxic paint and small, detachable parts that babies might swallow. Chinese factories were blamed.

Now inflation in China is also driving up both wages and factory- gate prices. Officially, Chinese inflation is running at 5 per cent for consumers, but the true figure seems higher. The renminbi exchange rate is up, and China’s supply of cheap labour is running out.

Retail toy prices in Europe seem likely to jump as much as 30 per cent this year, and vendors say China is a major reason for that.

German companies say the prices Chinese factories are asking are getting steeper, and some believe that manufacturing in Europe is affordable by comparison. European inflation and pay are flat.

The trend is likely to be a hot topic at the toy expo, which is only open to the wholesale trade. German professional buyers returning from China say the days when southern China’s factories could rely on an endless supply of cheap migrant labour are over.

‘The workers are leaving to move over to higher-value manufacturing,’ explains Martin Boeckling, chief of a German purchasing cooperation, Spiel und Spass. He says Beijing no longer recognizes toys as a priority manufacturing sector.

Although an estimated two-thirds of toys sold worldwide are Chinese made, the sector contributes only 1.5 per cent of China’s gross domestic product.

Beijing has decided that its available labour resources need to be redirected into manufacturing types that add more value, including cars and electronics.

China is leaving the low-profit toy business behind and there is no obvious successor in the low-wage countries.

In centralized fashion, Beijing would also like to spread factories back to the places where Chinese people live, and reduce the vast migrations by China’s job nomads at times of festivities.

Reducing the concentration of manufacturing in the south would help stop some of the snarl-ups on China’s roads and railways. The rebuilding of those same roads and railways is also sucking away labour.

Otto Umbach, chief of another German purchasing cooperative, Idee und Spiel, adds another point: ‘Chinese universities are graduating 6.5 million people per year. They don’t want to work on factory assembly lines.’

China, he forecasts, faces a shortage of unskilled manual labour. Toy factories will have to hike pay 10 per cent this year.

European importers might be able to absorb that, but not combined with a jump in the price of raw materials and the cost of sea- freight.

‘At the start of 2009 you could land a shipping container in Europe from China for about 600 dollars,’ said Boecklin.

‘Today it’s costing 1,400 or 1,500 dollars.’

Several European companies are thinking of manufacturing closer to home.

Simba Dickie Group, a German company based near Nuremberg, has set up a new factory in France and has modernized its German plants.

Paul Heinz Bruder, head of a small German company, Bruder Spielwaren, is one of those who does not need to return. He never left. He said the logistics of supplying European shops from European plants always made better sense and ensured quick order fulfilment.

 

 


LinkedIn into IPO


The flotation, expected to value founder Reid Hoffman’s $21.4% stake at up to $642m, is thought likely to happen within the next few months and will involve the sale of at least $175m of new shares as well as the disposal of some existing stock by LinkedIn’s current investor

LinkedIn is growing at breakneck speed, almost doubling its membership to more than 90 million users last year in 200 countries. Speaking about the relative merits of LinkedIn and Facebook at an Internet conference in San Francisco in November, chief executive Jeff Weiner said the secret to LinkedIn’s long-term success would be that people like to keep their professional and private lives separate. “While many of us in college probably were at parties having a good time, I don’t know that many of us would look forward to having a prospective employer have access to pictures of those events,” Weiner said.

LinkedIn inched into profit in the first nine months of 2010, recording a $10m surplus, as revenues more than doubled to $161.4m. It offers a free service allowing members to create personal profiles emphasising their business qualifications, but makes its money through a premium subscription service, costing up to £63 a month, which gives members a greater level of contact with potential business contacts and employers and offers up its database to help users locate the people they need.


Egypt cuts off internet access


Egypt appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night, in a move that has concerned observers of the protests that have been building in strength through the week. “According to our analysis, 88% of the ‘Egyptian internet’ has fallen off the internet,” said Andree Toonk at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks.

The cutoff appears to have happened around 10.30pm GMT on Thursday night. Only one internet service provider appears to still have a working connection to the outside world: the Noor Group, for which all 83 routes are working, and inbound traffic from its connection provider, Telecom Italia.


Help this poor child, sorry content is in malayalam



Mattel make Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For


Mattel Inc., the El Segundo-based toy giant, was ranked 69th on Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.

This was the annual list’s 14th year.

It was also the fourth time Mattel has made the list. The company moved up nine spots from No. 78 last year.

The list is based in part on survey answers from randomly selected company employees. Questions include attitudes about management’s credibility, job satisfaction and camaraderie.

The employee survey is two-thirds of the score given to each company. The other third is based on pay and benefit programs, hiring practices, internal communications, training, recognition programs and diversity efforts.

 


Reliance Retail to open 20 Hamleys toy stores in India


Reliance Retail plans to open 20 toy stores of the UK-based Hamleys in India over the next seven years at an investment of Rs 120 crore.

With strong growth for the toy market in India, Reliance retail today inaugurated the second Hamleys toy store at Express Avenue.

UK-based toy store Hamleys holds an exclusive tie-up with Reliance Retail for merchandising its famous toys for children.

“Our first store in Mumbai which is spread across 21,000 square foot has got a very good response. It was a pilot store. Now this is a large store.With this we have plan to open 18 stores in India over the next seven years”, Reliance Retail President and Chief Executive Officer Bijou Kurien told reporters.

The Indian toy market was valued to be at Rs 1,500 crore and growing at a rate of 10-15 per cent every year.

As part of expanding its footprint, he said, “We will open 18 more stores under the ‘Pilot Store-Large store’ strategy.

The investments required would be around Rs 120 crore for opening these 18 stores which would be spread across 11,000 square foot and 21,000 square foot, he said.

Hamleys Global CEO Gudjon Reynisson said they always hold a “local partnership” for merchandising their toys in any country.

“Currently our toys are available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark.. Wherever we operate we have a local partner…Our association with Reliance Retail is that they have good knowledge about the market and also konw the cultural diversities of a vast country like India…,” he said.

The new Hamleys store has a display of toys for girls and boys.It also hosts exclusive Hamleys merchandise. The store is designed by Hamleys United Kingdom team and the staff inducted were trained at Hamleys Academy .


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