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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Are you raising selfish kids?

Most children are egocentric, more so in these modern times. There are ways to get them to see the world beyond themselves.

YOU often hear parents complaining about how today’s children are not as obedient, thoughtful and polite as those of previous generations.

This is especially true in Generation Y and Z kids, who are also known as “Generation Me”. Generation Y and Z includes those born in the digital age and who have been familiar with using smartphones, the Internet and digital gadgets from a young age. There are varying opinions on when exactly the generation began. Some say those born in the 1980s onwards while others point to the 1990s or even the noughties.

Gen Y and Z children have a greater sense of entitlement, demand for instant gratification and generally disregard others’ needs. In simpler terms, they appear to be more selfish than kids in generations before them. It used to be family first, community’s interests, and country’s pride. Now, it is “me” first.

Get this: The GoGetter — Land & Water puzzle will be yours if you come up with the best story on ‘Games/puzzles my kids love to play’ for June.
With all manner of advertising being thrown at us these days, it is not surprising that children don’t always know how to separate wants and needs. They seem to think they need a lot of things, with some even believing they have the right to demand for materialistic possessions. Parents who overindulge their children will give them the impression that they are entitled to these luxuries.

If a child is selfish in nature, he or she will not know how to care for others and this will eventually lead to social and relationship problems.

ParenThots shares some methods to ensure your child sees the world beyond himself or herself.

Book reviews 

Geronimo Stilton is the Famous Five of the 21st century. The comforting news is that the English in the book series is sound, the stories set in various countries offer lessons in Geography and culture, and at least your kids are reading! Definitely recommended.

Childhood Allergies is written simply so that parents can get a clear idea of what allergies are about and what symptoms to look out for.

Bully stories 

There are quite a few bully stories this week, including one from a man in his 60s who says he still can’t forget what happened when he was six years old as well as a letter to bullies from a former victim.

The voting for the best bully stories ends tomorrow. So, do click on Like at the end of the story or on the post about your favourite bully story on the ParenThots Facebook page (

Father’s Day contest 

This is the last week to win a netbook computer for your dad through the Dad Deserves An Asus contest. Just log in using your Mystar ID, answer the three objective questions and complete the sentence: “Dad needs an Asus netbook because ...”

You can enter to win for your husband, father or even yourself (if you are a father). The prize should go to a father. We will check!

The contest closes June 3.

Win a puzzle 

If your child loves puzzles and games, you will want to know about the Win A Puzzle promotion. Just write in about the topic of the month (the topic changes every month) and you stand a chance to win a puzzle. There is only one puzzle to be won every month. The puzzles are sponsored by educational toys company BRAINet.

For June, the title to write on is “Games/puzzles my kids love to play” and the word limit is 700. The prize for June is the GoGetter – Land & Water.

The last day to send in entries is June 20. Go to ParenThots for more details.

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Jun 29, 2011

China, Japan to launch yuan-yen direct trading

Play Video

Trade between Asia's two largest economies is about to get a whole lot easier. China's central bank confirmed Tuesday that the country will allow the direct trading of its currency against the Japanese yen starting Friday.

This makes the yen the first major currency besides the US dollar that can be directly traded with the RMB. The move is part of efforts made by China and Japan to strengthen cooperation in trade and financial markets. And it’s a huge step forward for the internationalization of the yuan.

After some excitement in the Asian markets yesterday. The People’s Bank of China confirmed on Tuesday that China and Japan will start to directly trade their currencies in Shanghai and Tokyo from June 1. The move will shore up trade and financial ties between Asia’s two biggest economies, and also marks another step to raise the yuan’s international role.

Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi, who announced the decision in Tokyo, stressed the cost benefits behind the move.

Azumi said, "By conducting transactions without using a third country’s currency, it will bring merits of reducing transaction costs and lowering risks involved in settlements at financial institutions. It will also contribute to improving convenience of both countries’ currencies and reinvigorate the Tokyo market."

The step eliminates the US dollar’s monopoly position to set the exchange rate between the two currencies, and follows a deal struck by the leaders of the two countries in December.

Experts say it’s an important move towards the internationalization of China’s yuan currency.

Professor Ding Zhijie, dean of School of Banking & Finance, UIBE, said, "It raises the convertibility of the yuan. And I believe the yuan trading will be accepted by more Asian economies as well as the international markets. It will also push forward the internationalization of the yuan."

Several banks in the two countries, including Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Bank of China, will start the direct trading.

Huang Jiaying, trade with Bank of China said, "The move will likely make the yuan accepted by more Japanese investors as well. It will also help boost the possibility of the yuan becoming an internationally-settled currency, which is an important move of propelling the yuan to become an international reserve currency."

And Japan, which in March pledged to buy about 10 billion US dollars of Chinese government debt, is the first economy to connect with China’s yuan. The move is likely to strengthen ties with its biggest
trading partner.

Japan, China to shore up yen/yuan trade
Japan, China to shore up yen/yuan trade

Japan and China will start trading their currencies directly in Tokyo and Shanghai from June 1 in a move that shores up trade and financial ties between Asia's two biggest economies and also marks another baby step to raise the yuan's international role.

The step eliminates the use of the dollar to set the exchange rate and follows an agreement struck by the leaders of the two countries in December, which also involves Japan buying Chinese government debt and efforts to forge a free trade pact between China, Japan and South Korea.

"This is part of China's broader strategy to reduce dependence on the dollar. The yen has been chosen because of large trade flows between the two countries," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist and strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

"Volumes of currency trading on shore are small, but this could lead to an expansion of trading with other currencies. It would be easier for China to expand into other Asian currencies."

Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi, who announced the decision in Tokyo, stressed the cost benefits of the move.

"By conducting transactions without using the third country's currency, it will bring merits of reducing transaction costs and lowering risks involved in settlements at financial institutions," Azumi told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

The People's Bank of China noted benefits for mutual trade, but also tied the decision to China's drive to boost the use of the yuan as a settlement currency for trade and financial transactions.

"Developing the direct yuan/yen trading will help form the direct yuan/yen exchange rate and reduce the trading cost for entities and promote the use of the yuan and yen in bilateral trade and investment as well as help strengthen financial cooperation between the two countries," it said in a statement.

A separate statement issued by the China Foreign Exchange Trade System said it will provide a market-making system for direct yuan/yen trading.

Until now yen-yuan rates were calculated on the basis of their respective rates against the dollar, so the move is expected to narrow trading spreads, lower transaction costs and allow more trade deals to be settled directly.

For Japan, which in March pledged to buy about $10 billion of Chinese government debt, becoming the first major economy to do so, the move could strengthen ties with its biggest trading partner.

Despite sometimes rancorous political ties between the two neighbours, Japan's economic fortunes are increasingly tied to China's economic growth and consumer demand.

Dealers in Shanghai said the near-term effect would be probably higher trading volumes and lower costs.

"Direct yuan-yen trading is likely to cut trading costs, boosting yuan-yen trading liquidity," said a dealer at a foreign bank. "Most yuan trading against the yen now goes through the dollar, because traders refer to dollar-yuan value to price yen-yuan."

But some played down the broader impact.

"From what I can see, it doesn't actually include any opening up of the capital account at all. It just allows a direct cross to be traded rather than actually increasing the amount of flow that can happen onshore to offshore," Dominic Bunning, currency strategist at HSCB in Hong Kong, said.

"It seems to be more of a technical issue rather than a major development."

The move to facilitate yen-yuan trading and the debt deal are part of Beijing's long-term efforts to elevate the yuan's status as an international currency, which so far have mainly centred on China's promotion of the yuan to settle trade.

Beijing has struck agreements with several nations from Malaysia to Belarus and Argentina on the use of the yuan in trade and other transactions. It has expanded a pilot programme started in 2009 into a nationwide one allowing firms to settle their trade in yuan.

The result has been a relative surge in the use of the currency. More than 9%of China's total trade was settled in yuan in 2011, up from just 0.7% in 2010.

Few argue against the idea that the yuan will one day become a reserve currency, given World Bank predictions that China will overtake the United States as the world's top economy before 2030. But to achieve that the yuan would need to become fully convertible and Beijing has yet to indicate any timetable for reaching that stage.- Reuters

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

How this stay at home mom made $13900 monthly income? Believe it or not?

By Erica Jones

Julie investigates a single Mom who makes over $13900+/Month. She reveals her secrets to us.

Amy Livingston of Penang , 09 never thought that she would consider it, until curiosity got the best of her and she filled out a simple online form. Before she knew it, she discovered her secret to beating the recession, and being able to provide for her family while at home with her three children.

I read Amy's blog last month and decided to feature her story in our weekly consumer report. In our phone interview she told me her amazing story. "I actually make about $15,000 to $17,000 a month working from home. It's enough to comfortably replace my old job income, especially considering I only work about 15-18 hours a week from home right now.

Working online has been a financial windfall for Amy, who struggled for months to find a decent job but kept hitting dead ends. "I lost my job shortly after the recession hit, I needed reliable income, I was not interested in the "get rich quick" scams you see all over the internet. Those are all pyramid schemes. I just needed a legitimate way to earn a living for me and my family. The best part of working online is that I am always home with the kids, I save a lot of money."
"I actually make $15,000 to $17,000 a month working from home." - Amy Livingston
I asked her about how she started her remarkable journey. "It was pretty easy, I actually received an email that sparked my interest, so I went to the site, filled out a short form and signed up for a work at home program where I got instant access to everything! Since they offered a 365 Day Money Back Guarantee - I figured I really had nothing to lose. So, I started the program and within four weeks I was making over $5,000 a month. It's really simple, I am not a computer whiz, but I can use the internet. I followed the instructions, and I don't even have to sell anything and nobody has to buy anything. This is a very stable system and they are recruiting, you should try it."

Consumers purchase Billions and Billions of dollars worth of products each year online. Every time people use the internet, go on facebook or do a search, someone is making money. This program will teach you how to get a piece of this money and free yourself from the 9-5. The internet economy has grown by leaps and bounds in the recession, so why not take advantage of the gold rush? There are plenty of scams on the internet claiming you can make $50,000 a month, but that is exactly what they are... scams. From my conversation with Amy, "I am making a good salary from home, which is amazing, under a year ago I was jobless in a horrible economy. I thank God every day that I signed up for this program."
"I am making a good salary from home, which is amazing, under a year ago I was jobless in a horrible economy. I thank God every day that I signed up for this program." - Amy Livingston
Quickly, Amy Livingston was able to use the simple The Online Income System to make it out of the recession.

Amys Step by Step Guide:

Amy had never shared her story before, and with her permission, are putting it public. Here are the steps she told us to take:

Step 1
Visit the following website and review the newsletter with all the details you need to change Your life, as it has Many others. The Online Income System (Universal).

Step 2
Follow the directions and set up an account. You will then be given all the tools you need to start posting links, and making profits. Everything is tracked in a system that will show you how much money you are making (see images above).

Related links:

The Online Income System - Official Website (Rated 2011 Top Oportunity)
Discounted Promotion Ends: Thursday, May 31, 2011

Facebook share price drops to $28, shaves $40bn off

Facebook shares fall below $30 as US authorities begin investigation into IPO

Shares continue to slump on Wall Street as lawsuits against founder Mark Zuckerberg allege company misled investors

Electronic screens show the price of Facebook shares after they began trading in New York earlier this month. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

Facebook's shares dipped below $30 Tuesday as the company's shares hit new lows and continued to struggle in the wake of its massive initial public offering (IPO).

Even as US stock markets bounced back from falls last week, Facebook's shares slumped 9.62% to end the day at $28.84 – almost $10 below the $38 price set at their IPO earlier this month. Stock markets in the US, which had been closed on Monday for Memorial Day, ended up for the day.
During the Trading Day
28.84 -3.07 / -9.62%
Data as of 4:00pm ET
Day’s Change During After-Hours   Switch to standard view »
28.78 -0.06 / -0.21%
Volume: 1,246,000  

The share slide means Facebook is now valued at $61.98bn, a sharp fall from the $104bn it was valued at when the company went public on 18 May.

The IPO has proved a disaster for Facebook and its bankers. US authorities are investigating allegations that the company gave critical information to some investors and not others. Shareholders have launched class action lawsuits against founder Mark Zuckerberg, the company and its bankers, including lead bank Morgan Stanley.

Walter Zimmermann, senior technical analyst at United-ICAP, said there was plenty of evidence that the stock could fall further. He said the share sale had represented "a mania of historic proportions".

"This was an IPO that was going to save California and uplift the western world. It was so overhyped and overvalued that it could only fall," he said.

Some traders pointed to technical reasons for the stock's continuing woes. Trading in Facebook options – contracts that allow investors to make bets on the direction of a company's shares – started Tuesday. Traders can now also "short" Facebook shares, betting that the price will fall.

Sam Hamadeh, founder of analyst PrivCo, said most of the options were "bearish" meaning traders were betting on price falls and that popular contracts were putting Facebook's share price in the mid $20s for June and July. PrivCo estimated Facebook's shares were worth $25 ahead of the IPO.

"The shares would have probably fallen anyway but this probably sped the process up a little bit," he said.

Zimmerman said discussions of technical issues missed a wider point. He said Facebook had sold so many shares – 96m – that there was little appetite from investors who had not bought shares. "Who is left to buy?" he said.

News that the company is considering building its own mobile device, an area where it has struggled to make money, seems to have been shrugged off by investors.

Last week law firm Robbins Geller launched a class action lawsuit on behalf of Facebook investors against the company and its bankers. Massachusetts' secretary of commonwealth William Galvin has sent a subpoena to Morgan Stanley demanding more details of what the bank and Facebook executives told select investors ahead of the IPO.

By Dominic Rushe in New York

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Stray dog sensation in China!

 Stray dog "Xiaosa" winds her way up to Lhasa

● Xiaosa experienced a variety of inclement weather and completed the trip
● Xiaosa gave cyclists great fun and encouragement
● Xiao Yong started a blog to broadcast Xiaosa’s journey
Play Video

A stray dog nicknamed "Xiaosa" has been following a team of cyclists for 20 days along Sichuan-Tibet Highway. The cyclists said she has given them encouragement all the way to Tibet, and are planning to bring her to their hometown in Central China’s Hubei Province.

It’s more than 1,800 kilometers from Sichuan to Tibet. Xiaosa and her new masters made their way all by themselves. During the 20-day trip, Xiaosa ran 50 to 60 kilometers every day and never fell behind.

A stray dog nicknamed "Xiaosa" has been following a team of cyclists for 20 days along
Sichuan-Tibet Highway.

Xiao Yong, a cyclist, said, "At present it runs 60 km by the farthest, just uphill."

On May 4th, Xiao Yong with his cyclist friends came across the stray dog basking in the sun. They threw her a drumstick. To their surprise, the homeless dog latched on to them and would not let go.

Xiao Yong, a cyclist, said, "At first we didn’t consider keeping her and thought she just wanted to follow us for a while. But she showed a very strong willpower and followed us all the way here."

A stray dog nicknamed "Xiaosa" has been following a team of
cyclists for 20 days along Sichuan-Tibet Highway.

Throughout the journey, the dog climbed over 12 mountains higher than 4,000 meters and experienced a variety of inclement weather.

There were about 300 cyclists on the highway, but most of them could not complete the trip. Many of them hitchhiked or took buses along the way. Only Xiaosa and another three cyclists made it.

Mr Heng, a student in Wuhan, Hubei province, had decided to cycle to Llasa as a graduation
trip with friends when he met a lonely dog.
Lu Bo, a cyclist, said, "The dog was very important to us. She brought us a lot of fun and also gave us a lot of encouragement. For example, when some of us fell behind, it would run down the mountain and bark encouragement to follow. It really gave us great strength."

Xiao Yong decided to pick the dog up. He started a blog to broadcast Xiaosa’s journey, drawing about 40,000 fans.

The dog and his friends have built up a massive following online after word got out about
their trip.

As many netizens are concerned about Xiaosa’s health condition after the long trip, her new master took her to the vet.

Yang Bo, vet, said, "Everything is fine with her, including her nose, teeth. She’s not affected by altitude sickness."

With such a successful journey under her belt, Xiaoyong decided to send Xiaosa back to Wuhan, his own hometown, by plane. Xiaoyong said he would bring the dog on journeys in the future. With a dream as the direction, he hopes the dog can run her way like Forrest Gump.

Related stories

A dog with "a heart on road" to Lhasa

 Stray dog becomes a sensation in China after following cyclists for more than 1600 kilometres over 20 days 

When a group of Chinese cyclists threw a stray dog a bone, little did they know that they were at the start of an epic journey that makes Lassie Come Home look like a walk in the park.

The cyclists, on a 1000-mile (1600-kilometre) expedition from Chengdu to Lhasa, came across the small white mongrel in the mountains around Yajiang, a Tibetan area of Sichuan, five days after starting out.
One of the riders, 22-year-old Xiao Yong, tossed the dog a chicken drumstick. To his surprise, it began to follow them - and stayed the course for 20 days to become a sensation in China.

The dog - since named Xiao Sa, or Little Sa - climbed 12 mountains higher than 13,000ft, and stuck with the group during heavy storms. Indeed, as cyclist after cyclist dropped out, exhausted by the steep mountains and the thin air of the Tibetan plateau, the dog kept him and his colleagues going, said Mr Xiao.

"There was one day when we climbed the 14,700ft-tall peak of Anjiala mountain," he said.

"We did more than 40 miles uphill and at the end I had to get off my bike and push. The dog ran ahead of me and stopped at a crossroads.

"She waited for a while, but got bored because I took so long, so ran back, put her paws on my calves, and started licking me."

He said the dog had enough energy to run with the cyclists for at least 30 to 40 miles a day, although he would occasionally carry it in a box on the back of his bike. At night, Xiao Sa slept on the cyclists' raincoats - and would share in their rations, being fed custard tarts, boiled eggs and sausages.

There were some fierce encounters with other dogs along the way. "Once, a large dog started chasing us along a series of dark tunnels and his barking drew a whole pack of others," said Mr Xiao.

"I put Xiao Sa on my bike and started peddling desperately.

"One of my bags was ripped, but otherwise we got away."

Mr Xiao said at first he suspected the dog of following them only for food, "but I can now see a bond between us from the way she looks at me. I think we have definitely moved beyond food".

He has since adopted the dog. Yesterday, Xiao Sa was travelling in a manner more befitting its celebrity: after being given a full medical by a vet in Lhasa, it was returning to Chengdu by passenger plane.

The Daily Telegraph, London
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How to avoid dogs attack you?

Learn to be safe if a dog attacks, says trainer - If a dog is coming at you, not run or turn to fact it - M.Selvamanickaraja

KUALA LUMPUR: The public should learn how to avoid being attacked by dogs following the case of a jogger who died after being mauled by a dog.

Dog trainer M. Selvamanickaraja said the risk of injury could be reduced significantly if you knew what to do when faced with an aggressive dog.

He added that local councils should also conduct awareness programmes for dog owners so they would know how to be responsible for their pets.

“After issuing licences to owners, local councils should brief them on basic things that they should do, such as keeping a proper kennel and securing their house compound so that dogs will not be able to escape,” he said at his house here.

On May 8, a miniature bull terrier cross bit Yip Sun Wah, 74, on the neck and almost tore off his left ear as he was jogging about 1km from his house in Subang Jaya. Yip died on the spot.

Selvamanickaraja, who has been training dogs for 10 years, said banning dog breeds was not the answer as mongrels could also turn aggressive.

He said that not allowing breeds such as the German Shepherd will also deprive people from owning gifted and loyal family dogs.

On what people can do when faced with a vicious dog, Selva­manickaraja said: “When a dog wants to attack you, it thinks of you as prey. You must change the dog’s perception of you as prey.

“If a dog is coming at you, do not run or turn to face it. Remain still and turn to your side, with your hands behind your back.

“Clench your fists as you do not want to leave anything exposed for the dog to bite. By doing this, you are not giving the dog space to attack,” he said.

The dog will become confused and might change its mind about attacking.

“But in its state of confusion, it might try to bite but you must stand firm. At most, it will bite once and then leave,” Selvamanickaraja said.

He said people should only attempt to run away or confront the dog if they were absolutely sure they can escape or defend themselves.

Related posts:
American Pit Bull Kills Jogger !
Dog attacks humans, it's the owner, not the breed! 

Is venture capital model no longer working?

The money manager mentality also meant that VCs became risk averse

KUALA LUMPUR: An expert on venture capitalism is of the opinion that the venture capitalist model is broken.

NOT BEYOND REPAIR: Green believes that the VC model is broken but it can still be fixed.
Jordan Green, chairman of the Australian Association of Angel Investors, said the latest generation of VCs has not been delivering results.

"Up until the mid-90s, VCs could reap a double digit return on investment on the companies they invested in," he told Bytz on the sidelines of the Asian Business Angel Forum (ABAF) 2012 here.

Green said today's VCs fail to do better than their predecessors because of their money manager mentality, and they aren't capable of advising entrepreneurs on how to viably commercialise their products.

"Venture capitalism predicated on the idea that people in the VC firm would be able to help the startups they invest in to grow effectively. But you need to have business experience to do this, " he said.

According to Green, many of today's VCs have the academic qualifications but not the experience of having run a business.

This situation arose when VC firms started to institutionalise, to give themselves bigger funds to work with, he said.

However, as the establishments got bigger, there was not enough qualified people with the right business experience to hire.

"As a result, those without any entrepreneurial skills could not properly help the startups move forward," Green said.

"And the money manager mentality also meant that VCs became risk adverse and would only fund startups when they started being profitable. This created the 'VC gap.'"

The gap is where entrepreneurs have difficulty getting funding between starting up and starting to show profitability - the period when VCs are most needed.

Green believes investing in a business requires empathy, and is not merely an intellectual exercise.

Malaysia is moving in the right direction by starting angel investor networks because this will give startups here an alternative to VCs when they need funding for their fledgling products and services, he said.

"Angels are actually replacing the VCs of yore. They are the experienced business people who can advise entrepreneurs on how to bring their products to greater heights," Green said.

The Malaysian angel investor network is still young, with two known agencies - the Virtuous Investment Circle and Pikom Angel network. Another is set to emerge later this year and is called the Malaysian Angel Business Network.

However, Green said, the VC model can still be saved if venture capitalism returns to its original investment model.

He said this will require braver institutional investors and a better understanding of how VCs should work.

"With the original intent and model, they can make better decisions and better help startups grow faster," he said.

ABAF is organised by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, which manages an investment programme that funds technology startups in the country.

The forum is aimed at bringing the best of Asia's angel investors, venture capitalists, decision makers, policy leaders and entrepreneurs to one location. Some 500 delegates gathered to hear 30 speakers at this year's event.

China's Revolutionary New Thinking On Private Capital

In a stunning series of announcements last week, Beijing opened the doors to private capital.  In the process, officials signaled a reversal of a half decade of anti-reform sentiment.

Play Video China has issued new measures on guiding non-governmental capital into the domestic banking sector.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission has stated that private investors will have equal rights with other state-owned banks. Private investors can bid for the establishment and capital increase of a rural bank.

They can now have a larger share of a rural bank, as state-owned financial institutions shareholding has been lowered to 15% from 20%.

In addition, the Chinese banking industry will strengthen its financial support for private investors.

Yesterday, for instance, the China Banking Regulatory Commission announced private capital will have the same entry standards as state capital when it comes to the country’s banks.  Specifically, private companies will be able to buy into banks through private stock placements, new share subscriptions, equity transfers, and mergers and acquisitions.  Moreover, the government will liberalize investment into the rural banks and as well as the trust, financial leasing, and auto financing sectors.

And on the day before, Beijing gave the “all-clear” for the break up of state monopolies.  The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission issued guidelines that, among other things, permit private investors to contribute cash or assets like intellectual property to state enterprises in return for equity and discourage these enterprises from placing additional restrictions on private parties when the enterprises sell their stakes in listed companies.  As SASAC noted, “The guideline reflects equal treatment of various kinds of investors and it helps ensure fairness in economic development.”

These two major developments followed a series of other recent indications of liberalization.  The China Securities Regulatory Commission announced it would allow private companies to list on domestic and foreign stock markets and to issue bonds; the National Development and Reform Commission said it is drafting rules to open the electricity, oil, and natural gas sectors to private capital; and the Ministry of Railways talked about opening railroads to private capital.  The State Council itself announced it is looking for private investment in the energy, telecom, education, and health care industries.

China, in short, is open for business, and there is no mystery surrounding the sudden change of attitude.  First, many cite the eroding profitability of state enterprises for these announcements.  In fact, official figures show that their profits fell 8.6% year-on-year in the January-April 2012 period.

Second, other factors include the decline of foreign direct investment—FDI fell for the sixth consecutive month in April—and a dramatic slowdown in economic activity—the economy showed signs of either zero growth or contraction last month.  Initial indications for this month, such as the sinking HSBC Flash PMI, are mostly bearish.

Third, Beijing technocrats realize they will fall far short of reaching their target of 36 trillion yuan of fixed asset investment because the central government can only “channel” 402 billion yuan and state enterprises are sitting on their hands.  The inescapable conclusion is that the only way to make up the difference is private capital.

Despite the country’s economic distress, it’s not clear when we will actually see implementation of the dramatic announcements.  For one thing, it is not an encouraging sign that Beijing issued precious few details.  At the moment, this looks like another instance of Chinese vaporware.

Why?  In the last few years state enterprises have become entrenched and extremely powerful in Chinese political circles.  And provincial and local governments are even more hostile to non-state capital because of the perceived divergence of interests between private investors and Party officials.

Moreover, it’s unlikely that much, if anything, will get done this year as top leaders are now embroiled in disruptive political struggles.  In fact, part of the reason for the accelerating economic slide is that for months they have been distracted by the worsening turmoil in the top reaches of the Party.  Moreover, not much may get done next year either.  Xi Jinping is slated to take over this fall, and new supremos usually take a couple years before they are able to effectively exercise power.

In any event, central government ministries, if they were truly serious about liberalization, would just implement structural changes as opposed to talking about them.  Until there is a sign he is serious this time, many will think Premier Wen Jiabao is borrowing from his 2010 playbook when he had his State Council grandly announced similar reforms that were not put into effect with real rules.

And there is one more factor suggesting private capital will not rescue the Chinese economy this time.  As domestic and foreign investors learn more about both the fundamental and cyclical problems in China, it will be increasingly unlikely that anyone will commit substantial sums to the country.

After all, you don’t see private investors heading for Greece at the moment, and in some important ways China is in far worse shape.  The internal and global narratives on the Chinese economy and political system are changing, and those changes are bound to have a negative effect on investment sentiment.

In short, Beijing’s announcements this month may evidence a welcome change of heart, but they could end up being both too little and too late to stop the country’s accelerating slide.

Gordon G. Chang
Gordon G. Chang, Forbes Contributor

I write primarily on China, Asia, and nuclear proliferation.

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Monday, 28 May 2012

The Facebook Illusion

THERE were two grand illusions about the American economy in the first decade of the 21st century. One was the idea that housing prices were no longer tethered to normal economic trends, and instead would just keep going up and up. The second was the idea that in the age of Web 2.0, we were well on our way to figuring out how to make lots and lots of money on the Internet.

Josh Haner/The New York Times Ross Doutha

The first idea collapsed along with housing prices and the stock market in 2007 and 2008. But the Web 2.0 illusion survived long enough to cost credulous investors a small fortune last week, in Facebook’s disaster of an initial public offering.

I will confess to taking a certain amount of dyspeptic pleasure from Facebook’s hard landing, which had Bloomberg Businessweek declaring the I.P.O. “the biggest flop of the decade” after five days of trading. Of all the major hubs of Internet-era excitement, Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking site has always struck me as one of the most noxious, dependent for its success on the darker aspects of online life: the zeal for constant self-fashioning and self-promotion, the pursuit of virtual forms of “community” and “friendship” that bear only a passing resemblance to the genuine article, and the relentless diminution of the private sphere in the quest for advertising dollars.

But even readers who love Facebook, or at least cannot imagine life without it, should see its stock market failure as a sign of the commercial limits of the Internet.

As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy pointed out in one of the more perceptive prelaunch pieces, the problem is not that Facebook doesn’t make money. It’s that it doesn’t make that much money, and doesn’t have an obvious way to make that much more of it, because (like so many online concerns) it hasn’t figured out how to effectively monetize its million upon millions of users. The result is a company that’s successful, certainly, but whose balance sheet is much less impressive than its ubiquitous online presence would suggest.

This “huge reach, limited profitability” problem is characteristic of the digital economy as a whole. As the George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen wrote in his 2011 e-book, “The Great Stagnation,” the Internet is a wonder when it comes to generating “cheap fun.” But because “so many of its products are free,” and because so much of a typical Web company’s work is “performed more or less automatically by the software and the servers,” the online world is rather less impressive when it comes to generating job growth.

It’s telling, in this regard, that the companies most often cited as digital-era successes, Apple and Amazon, both have business models that are firmly rooted in the production and delivery of nonvirtual goods. Apple’s core competency is building better and more beautiful appliances; Amazon’s is delivering everything from appliances to DVDs to diapers more swiftly and cheaply to your door.By contrast, the more purely digital a company’s product, the fewer jobs it tends to create and the fewer dollars it can earn per user — a reality that journalists have become all too familiar with these last 10 years, and that Facebook’s investors collided with last week. There are exceptions to this rule, but not all that many: even pornography, long one of the Internet’s biggest moneymakers, has become steadily less profitable as amateur sites and videos have proliferated and the “professionals” have lost their monopoly on smut.The German philosopher Josef Pieper wrote a book in 1952 entitled “Leisure: The Basis of Culture.” Pieper would no doubt be underwhelmed by the kind of culture that flourishes online, but leisure is clearly the basis of the Internet. From the lowbrow to the highbrow, LOLcats to Wikipedia, vast amounts of Internet content are created by people with no expectation of remuneration. The “new economy,” in this sense, isn’t always even a commercial economy at all. Instead, as Slate’s Matthew Yglesias has suggested, it’s a kind of hobbyist’s paradise, one that’s subsidized by surpluses from the old economy it was supposed to gradually replace.
A glance at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent unemployment numbers bears this reality out. Despite nearly two decades of dot-com enthusiasm, the information sector is still quite small relative to other sectors of the economy; it currently has one of the nation’s higher unemployment rates; and it’s one of the few sectors where unemployment has actually risen over the last year.None of this makes the Internet any less revolutionary. But it’s created a cultural revolution more than an economic one. Twitter is not the Ford Motor Company; Google is not General Electric. And except when he sells our eyeballs to advertisers for a pittance, we won’t all be working for Mark Zuckerberg someday.- IHT

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ) 


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Warning to Malaysian Internet Users: an Amendment to Evidence Act 2012

Onus on account owners as cyber bullies and stalkers often get away because of lack of evidence

PETALING JAYA: “It wasn't me.” That's the most common response from people when a hate or threatening message is traced to their Facebook or Twitter or any other Internet account.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission says it is almost legally impossible to take action if all that a person has to do is to deny any responsibility.

“Think of the victims. People who have been slandered or whose lives have been threatened,” commission chairman Datuk Mohamed Sharil Mohamed Tarmizi said, adding that many a time cyber bullies and stalkers who often use “the cloak of anonymity” have got away because of lack of evidence.

“As more of the young are connected online, who is going to watch over these kids when there are real people who want to harm them?” he said in an interview on the amendment to the Evidence Act passed by the Dewan Rakyat last month.

Answering critics who said the amendment was unfair in pushing the burden of proof to the accused, he said that owners of Internet accounts where hate messages had originated could easily rebut charges against them if they were innocent.

“For example, if you can produce witnesses to say that you were nowhere near your computer or any other communicating device at the time the message was sent out, you can get off,” Sharil said.

He added: “It is not easy nailing offenders to the charge. Sometimes you can find evidence and sometimes you can't.

“At least now (with the amendment), a flat denial (from the accused) cannot work anymore.”

The amendment to Section 114(a) of the Evidence Act includes the following stipulations:

> If your name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting yourself as the author, you are deemed to have published the content.

> If a posting comes from your Internet or phone account, you are deemed to be the publisher unless the contrary is proved.

> If you have the control or custody of any computer which published any material, you are presumed to be the publisher unless proven otherwise.

Asked if the amendment infringed on Internet users' personal liberties, Sharil said the authorities would still have to carry out rigorous and thorough investigations before charging anyone.

“Then there is the trial processs to go through,” he added.

He admitted that the conviction rate of suspected cyber offenders was very low.

From 2009 to 2011, 625 cases of people making obscene or offensive comments via the Internet or phone were investigated.

Only 16 were brought to court and just three were convicted.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said it was difficult to prosecute offenders before the amendment to the Act.

“It was especially difficult to prosecute offenders because the servers were located overseas.

“Everything was in a mess,” he said, and denied that the amendment was to curb dissent.

The Government does not want to stifle anyone. But we don't want people to slander or threaten others,” Nazri added.


Amendment not justified, say groups

PETALING JAYA: The amendment to the Evidence Act transfers the burden of proof to the accused, which is contrary to the principle of justice, said lawyers and Internet users.

“At any trial, whether criminal or civil cases, it is up to the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Now the burden will be shifted to the accused to disprove (the allegation against them),” said human rights lawyer Edmund Bon.

He added: “All around the world where there is Internet any reasonable person would be against the posting of hate messages. But whether the Government should step in and take such control is another matter.”

Disputing that the amendment will bring more people to justice, Bon said that it will instead reduce the need for the police and other enforcement agencies to be thorough in their investigations.

He believed that current defamation and sedition laws were enough to curb offensive and criminal messages on the Internet.

Intellectual property lawyer and Kuala Lumpur Bar Information Technology Committee co-chairman Foong Cheng Leong said the amendment would be a source of harassment to people whose identities have been abused to send offensive or threatening messages.

“Say it is an elderly person who subscribes to the Internet and does not know how to secure his wifi account.

“If someone uses that unsecured wifi to upload all these offensive postings, it's the elderly man who will get into trouble,” he said.

However, he agreed that it was difficult to trace the author of the offensive material, especially when international servers or public computers are used.

“But changing the law is taking the easy way out,” said Foong, who authored an extensive article about the amendment on the Loyar Burok website. ( See below:Grave repercussions for internet users)

Meanwhile, many have tweeted their disapproval for the amendment, claiming that people would have to “flip over backwards to prove their innocence”.

At the same time, some have voiced their support for the amendment, especially those who have been on the receiving end of hate messages.

“These anonymous writers of hate messages against me are gutless and stupid.

“They help justify the Government's proposal to amend the Evidence Act,” tweeted lawyer Roger Tan who had been criticised for writing a critique on the recent Malaysian Bar extraordinary general meeting.

Grave repercussions for internet users

The Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 was one of the bills rushed and passed by the Parliament recently. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, when winding up the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2012, said the use of pseudonyms or anonymity by any party to do cyber crimes had made it difficult for the action to be taken against them. Hence, the Evidence Act 1950 must be amended to address the issue of Internet anonymity.

The amendments introduced s. 114A into the Evidence Act 1950 to provide for the presumption of fact in publication in order to facilitate the identification and proving of the identity of an anonymous person involved in publication through the internet. In simple words, s. 114A introduces 3 circumstances where an Internet user is deemed to be a publisher of a content unless proven otherwise by him or her.

Men in masks, beware of s.114A.

Although it is stated that the amendment is to cover anonymous persons on the internet, the effect of the amendment is quite wide. You see, we, especially social media network users, generally do not use our real names on the Internet. We use nicknames and pseudonyms. Our home addresses do not appear on our account. We sometimes use fictional characters or even digitalized images of ourselves as our profile picture. All these are done to protect our own privacy. So, if none of my personal details appear on my account, does this mean I am anonymous? If someone’s identity cannot be directly ascertained from his account, I would think that he would be anonymous.

The new s. 114A(1) states that “A person whose name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting himself as the owner, host , administrator, editor or sub-editor, or who in any manner facilitates to publish or re-publish the publication is presumed to have published or re-published the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved”. In simple words, if your name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting yourself as the aforesaid persons, you are deemed to have published the content. So, for example, if someone creates a blog with your name, you are deemed to have published the articles there unless you prove otherwise. If you have a blog and someone posts a comment, you are deemed to have published it. If you have a Facebook page and an user posts something on your wall, you are deemed to have published it!<.

Subsection (2) provides a graver consequence. If a posting originates from your account with a network service provider, you are deemed to be the publisher unless the contrary is proved. In simple terms, if a posting originates from your TM Unifi account, you are deemed to be the publisher. In the following scenarios, you are deemed to be the publisher unless you prove the contrary:-.

(1) You have a home network with a few house mates sharing one internet account. You are deemed to be the publisher even though one of your house mates posts something offensive online..

(2) You have wireless network at home but you did not secure your network. You are deemed to be the publisher even though someone “piggybacks” your network to post something offensive..

(3) You have a party at home and allows your friends to access your PC or wireless network.You are deemed to be the publisher even though it was a friend who posted something offensive..

(4) Someone use your phone or tablet to post something offensive. You are deemed to be the publisher..

As for subsection (3), you are presumed to have published a content if you have custory or control of any computer which the publication originates from. Here, you are deemed to be the publisher so long your computer was the device that had posted the content. So if someone “tweetjacks” you or naughtily updates your Facebook with something offensive, you are deemed to be the publisher unless you prove otherwise Admittedly, the amendments certainly saves a lot of the investigator’s time. It is very difficult to trace someone on the Internet. It will make prosecution for, among others, defamation, offences under the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 and Computer Crimes Act 1997 and, election offences much easier. But it is not impossible to trace someone. There are many cases where perpetrators are caught and charged..

The new Bill: to like or not to like? | Source:

I do not see the logic to deem someone to be a publisher. If an investigator is unable to trace the anonymous internet user, then why should the innocent Internet user take the rap? The onus of proof should always be on the prosecuting side. In the English case of Applause Store Productions Limited & Anor v Grant Raphael [2008] EWHC 1781 (QB), the claimants were awarded £22,000 in damages against Raphael, an old school friend, who had created a false personal profile of the claimants on Facebook. The claimants convinced the Court that Raphael was the person who created the fake profile even though he claimed that he had a party at his house and someone in that party created the account.

In summary, the new amendments force an innocent party to show that he is not the publisher. Victims of stolen identity or hacking would have a lot more problems to fix. Since computers can be easily manipulated and identity theft is quite rampant, it is dangerous to put the onus on internet users. An internet user will need to give an alibi that it wasn’t him. He needs to prove that he has no access to the computer at that time of publication and he needs to produce call witnesses to support his alibi..

Clearly, it is against our very fundamental principal of “innocent until proven guilty”. With general election looming, I fear this amendment will be used oppressively. Fortunately, the amendment is not in force yet. I strongly hope that the government will relook into this amendment.