Archive for the ‘Top Stories’ Category
Numa manhÃ£ nublada na capital de Ruanda, Kigali, Ginger Baker testou a grande aposta da Visa Inc.
neste pequeno paÃs africano: tentou pagar um cafÃ© com o seu cartÃ£o de crÃ©dito. Mas o atendente nÃ£o sabia como funcionava o equipamento. Baker, diretora-gerente da Visa no paÃs, telefonou entÃ£o para o banco que licenciou o cartÃ£o e pediu que o ensinassem a usÃ¡-lo.
Essa atenÃ§Ã£o minuciosa Ã© crucial para ajudar a empresa americana a lucrar mais com os clientes de menor renda em mercados distantes. “NÃ³s andamos por aÃ, inserimos nosso cartÃ£o e vemos o que acontece”, disse Baker, uma americana de 35 anos.
A Visa enfrenta pressÃ£o global de concorrentes como o sistema de pagamentos on-line PayPal, do eBay Inc.,
e a firma de pagamentos com dispositivos mÃ³veis Square Inc. Mas seu principal concorrente Ã© o dinheiro vivo. Agora, apÃ³s a recente introduÃ§Ã£o do plÃ¡stico como uma alternativa Ã s notas e moedas em Ruanda, a empresa tambÃ©m estÃ¡ firmando uma parceria com o governo para um sistema de pagamento por celular.
O uso do telefone para pagamento pode ser visto como algo nÃ£o prioritÃ¡rio em um paÃs onde a renda mÃ©dia anual Ã© de US$ 750 e a maioria dos 12 milhÃµes de habitantes nÃ£o tem acesso a Ã¡gua encanada ou eletricidade. Mas a Visa estÃ¡ auxiliando o paÃs a renovar a sua rudimentar infraestrutura financeira como parte da meta do governo de transformar Ruanda na “Cingapura da Ãfrica”. Para a Visa, isso representa um importante projeto piloto que ela espera repetir em outros mercados emergentes de rÃ¡pido crescimento.
Pelo novo sistema mÃ³vel de pagamento, o mVisa, os celulares vÃ£o enviar, receber ou poupar dinheiro sem que os usuÃ¡rios visitem um banco ou passem o cartÃ£o em uma mÃ¡quina. A iniciativa pode levar milhÃµes de pessoas para o sistema bancÃ¡rio formal pela primeira vez.
Ruanda pode ajudar a Visa a atingir sua meta de, em 2015, gerar mais da metade da receita anual fora dos EUA. Esse faturamento hoje representa 44%.
A Visa fatura cada vez que um pagamento eletrÃ´nico Ã© processado. Elizabeth Buse, que comanda os negÃ³cios da Visa na Ãsia, Europa Central, Oriente MÃ©dio e Ãfrica, diz que a empresa gostaria de levar sua tecnologia mÃ³vel para outros mercados emergentes.
A Visa nÃ£o informa o quanto estÃ¡ investindo em Ruanda. Em 2011, ela pagou US$ 110 milhÃµes Ã Fundamo, empresa de pagamentos mÃ³veis da Ãfrica do Sul, para conduzir o projeto. Alguns analistas nÃ£o tÃªm grandes expectativas porque a Visa teria que repetir o projeto em Ruanda muitas vezes para alcanÃ§ar a sua meta de receita fora dos EUA.
Enquanto a rival MasterCard Inc.
tambÃ©m finca sua bandeira em paÃses como TanzÃ¢nia e Uganda, muito do foco da empresa estÃ¡ em mercados emergentes maiores, com mais concentraÃ§Ã£o de renda, como Ãndia, Turquia e PolÃ´nia. “Esses paÃses tÃªm oportunidades enormes e quero chegar lÃ¡ antes e ajudar os consumidores a se livrarem do dinheiro vivo”, diz Ajay Banga, diretor-presidente da MasterCard.
Desde a chegada da Visa, hÃ¡ mais de um ano, a emissÃ£o de cartÃµes quintuplicou em Ruanda, para cerca de 100.000. Todos os nove bancos comerciais do paÃs agora licenciam cartÃµes de dÃ©bito e de crÃ©dito da Visa. Quase 400 hotÃ©is, restaurantes e varejistas hoje aceitam cartÃµes da marca.
O grande motivo que fez a Visa eleger Ruanda foi o presidente Paul Kagame. Ele liderou os rebeldes que colocaram fim ao genocÃdio de 1994. Grupos de direitos humanos o acusaram de intimidar oponentes polÃticos. Mas ele tem ajudado a impulsionar o crescimento econÃ´mico, que hoje Ã© de cerca de 8% ao ano.
A infraestrutura do sistema financeiro, porÃ©m, continua frÃ¡gil. Antes de a Visa chegar, era preciso pagar passagens aÃ©reas em dinheiro vivo.
Em 2011, Baker mudou-se com o marido e o filho de um ano e meio de San Francisco para Kigali. No inÃcio, pensou que o sistema mÃ³vel de pagamento fosse tomar a maior parte do seu tempo. Em vez disso, ela precisou lanÃ§ar uma campanha de alfabetizaÃ§Ã£o financeira.
Hoje, a Visa Ã© um nome conhecido em Ruanda, diz Claver Gatete, diretor do banco central do paÃs. “Se vocÃª falar com um estudante, um aldeÃ£o ou um lojista, eles sabem que a Visa Ã© nossa parceira”, diz.
Agora a Visa se concentra no sistema de pagamento mÃ³vel. Os usuÃ¡rios digitam um cÃ³digo para solicitar opÃ§Ãµes como “enviar dinheiro” ou “pagar lojista”. O banco e a Visa cobram uma taxa, do mesmo modo que ocorre com os cartÃµes de crÃ©dito e dÃ©bito.
O lanÃ§amento do mVisa estava marcado para setembro, mas teve uma sÃ©rie de atrasos. Baker diz que a Visa jÃ¡ esperava os problemas e se manterÃ¡ firme atÃ© que o novo sistema de pagamentos comece a funcionar. “Logo poderemos implantÃ¡-lo em Madagascar, IndonÃ©sia ou qualquer outro lugar”, diz ela.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will walk a fine line between fostering a U.S. ally in China’s backyard and trying to defend human rights when the president of Myanmar becomes the first head of his country to visit the White House in 47 years on Monday.
Rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers fear Obama has moved too quickly since forging a dramatic breakthrough in relations in 2011 after half a century of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
U.S. officials argue that reforms by President Thein Sein’s quasi-military government – freeing democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of political prisoners, scrapping censorship, legalizing trade unions and protests – are transformative and deserve support from Obama, who confirmed the end of Myanmar’s pariah status with the West with a landmark visit last November.
However, ethnic or sectarian violence, particularly in the western state of Rakhine, has worsened since Washington started easing sanctions, and a Reuters special report published last week found apartheid-like policies segregating minority Muslims in prison-like ghettos there.
At least 192 people died last year in violence between ethnic Buddhists in Rakhine and Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship by Myanmar. Most of the victims, and the 140,000 people made homeless in the attacks, were Muslims.
The Myanmar government’s rights record has long been poor, especially in resource-rich areas inhabited by ethnic Shans, Karens and Kachins.
The Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma says 1,100 ethnic Rohingya and 200-250 Kachin have become political detainees in the past year, and the situation has led some to question how far Washington should go in its policy shift.
“When they abuse ethnic minorities, it really undercuts their credibility and undermines our ability to work with them,” said Republican Representative Trent Franks, one of a group of U.S. lawmakers arguing for lifting U.S. sanctions more slowly.
Obama administration officials believe that to deepen and sustain the reforms, Thein Sein has to be able to demonstrate tangible benefits to overcome opposition from powerful military leaders. To back that, Washington has narrowed the scope of its ban on business dealings with Myanmar officials and businessmen.
“Yes, there is still more work to do but … the progress they have made has been significant and they have put in place an ambitious reform agenda and we encourage them to keep doing more,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday, after Myanmar freed 23 political prisoners.
On Monday, the two countries are expected to announce plans to work out a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement that would lead to regular talks on boosting trade, labor standards and investment, a business leader familiar with the issue said.
Even critics in Congress of Obama’s Myanmar policy support the U.S. strategic goal of bringing Myanmar, a nation of 60 million people tucked between China and India, out of its isolation from the West.
The long U.S.-Myanmar estrangement was a drag on America’s relations with ASEAN, the 10 nation Southeast Asian regional grouping that looks to Washington as a counterbalance to the more assertive China of recent years.
Ernest Bower, senior adviser for Southeast Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said improving relations with Myanmar fits into the wider U.S. policy of revitalizing its Asia-Pacific relationships.
“Myanmar is the keystone state that links China, Southeast Asia and India, and if we didn’t get it right, we wouldn’t be able to play the chess game that is required in order to deal with China,” he said.
But the concerns about rights abuses are holding back a fuller U.S. embrace of Thein Sein, a retired general, who was taken off the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals visa blacklist last year to facilitate engagement.
Thein Sein was a close confidante of former military ruler Than Shwe, who ran Myanmar for 19 years, a period that saw mass jailing of opponents, the gunning down of pro-democracy protesters and widespread abuses in ethnic minority areas.
Jennifer Quigley, head of the U.S. Campaign for Burma, said that even without the killings in Rakhine, the Myanmar military’s heavy hand in forced land seizures and corrupt trade in natural resources in Kachin and other states in multi-ethnic Myanmar should give Western countries pause.
Myanmar’s most coveted resources – natural gas, minerals, gems and timber – lie in ethnic areas that have been war zones for decades and remain largely untouched by reforms, she said.
“Our biggest concern about welcoming Thein Sein to the White House is that it reinforces this positive impression of him and of what is going on in Burma, while we have serious misgivings that he is not interested in pursuing critical reforms,” said Quigley.
The military has run Myanmar since a 1962 coup by Ne Win, whose 1966 visit to Washington at the invitation of President Lyndon Johnson was the last such visit by the country’s head of state.
The European Union has moved faster than the United States on Myanmar, lifting its last sanctions on trade, the economy and individuals last month, although it retains an arms embargo.
Earlier this month, Obama scrapped a ban on U.S. entry visas to Myanmar’s military rulers and their associates but kept sanctions on investing or doing business with figures involved in repression since the mid-1990s.
Franks and Democratic U.S. congressman Rush Holt are using budget legislation to press the Obama administration to hold back on expanding nascent U.S. military ties with Myanmar’s armed forces until the country stops abuses of ethnic groups and enacts reforms to reduce the military’s huge role in the economy.
“The Burmese military is the historic perpetrator of human rights abuses, and, one may presume, also the current perpetrator, so sanctions against them should be the last to go,” said Holt.
(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Editing by Alistair Bell)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Saturday that advanced weapons supplied by Russia to war-torn Syria could end up in the wrong hands and be used against the Jewish state.
A Russian shipment of Yakhont anti-ship missiles to Syria was condemned by the United States on Friday and Israel is also alarmed by the prospect of Russia supplying S-300 advanced air defense missile systems to Damascus.
While Israel has declined to take sides in the civil war between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels trying to topple him, Western and Israeli sources say it has launched air strikes inside Syria in a bid to destroy weapons it believes are destined for the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Army Radio: “(Weapons) could reach others in Syria or Lebanon and be used against Israel.”
“These are not just any weapons, they are tie-breakers, and that’s why there is a responsibility with all world powers, certainly Russia, not to supply such arms,” Livni said, adding that Israel had the right to defend itself.
Israel has neither denied nor confirmed reports that it attacked Iranian-supplied missiles stored near Damascus this month that it believed were awaiting delivery to Hezbollah, an Assad ally which fought a war with Israel in 2006.
Senior Israeli defense official Amos Gilad said the S-300 and the Yakhont would likely end up with Hezbollah and threaten both Israel and U.S. forces in the Gulf.
“If Hezbollah and Iran are supporting Syria and propping the (Assad) regime up, then why shouldn’t it transfer those weapons to Hezbollah? You don’t even have to be an intelligence expert, it makes sense that they will,” Gilad told Channel Two television’s Meet the Press.
In comments to Israel Radio on Friday, Gilad said: “If you ask the Russians if these weapons will be passed on to Hezbollah, they will say: ‘No, that is against Russian law.’ But it’s not certain that Russian law is something they will respect. So if Hezbollah can put its hands on them, it will.”
The two-year-old civil war in Syria between Assad’s forces and rebel fighters has killed at least 80,000 people and driven 1.5 million abroad.
(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
Story By: by Katrine Dermody
KFC is delivered in one of the many underground smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt to the Gaza Strip city of Rafah.
Hundreds of underground passageways wind like a maze beneath the Egypt-Gaza border, providing a way for Gazans to maneuver around the 2007 Israeli-led economic blockade that took effect after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip.
And while subterranean tunnels may seem like something out of a thrilling spy movie, the reality and practicality of these channels is somehow not surprising.
After all, with the amount of conflict that continually plagues the region, it’s no wonder that such extreme measures have been taken to provide safe(r) channels through which to access supplies generally unavailable in this controversial sliver of land.
According to Businessweek, these tunnels have often facilitated the flow of weapons and militants into and out of Gaza from the Egyptian North Sinai. However, reports have surfaced recently stating that these tunnels are also being used to â wait for it â smuggle lukewarm KFC into the Gaza Strip.
Yes, it would appear that the regular absence of raw materials, as well as the Israeli restrictions on Gaza crossings have, among other things, made it exceedingly difficult to open an international fast food branch in the region. But now, unfulfilled-crave frustration has finally hit a tipping point, forcing Gazans to resort to not-so-fast food smuggling to get their quick fix.
A crucial link in this supply and demand food chain is the Al-Yamama delivery company, which has made eating KFC in Gaza a greasy, miraculous reality.
Though according to Mohammed Al-Madani, an accountant at the Al-Yamama company, the new venture was something born out of chance rather than business strategy.
“We ordered and arranged to bring some meals for us and they arrive after four hours,” he said.
They posted a picture of Colonel Sanders’ iconic chicken on their company’s website, and soon thereafter, the orders started to roll in.
The price of a KFC family meal is about 80 Egyptian pounds (or roughly $11) at el-Arish KFC restaurant, but getting it in Gaza costs as much as 100 Israeli Shekels due to transportation and smuggling fees ($30).
As it turns out, Gazans have a fever, and the only prescription is more KFC â and they can get it, but it is going to cost ‘em.
Before the seventh D: All Things Digital conference, which took place last week in Carlsbad, Calif., we declaredâwith our tongues firmly planted in our cheeksâthat Web 2.0 was over and Web 3.0 had begun.
The Journal Report
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While we were poking fun at Silicon Valleyâs incessant need to stick a hyped-up catchphrase on each and every development, the use of such jargon was actually important, because we think that the digital sector is now moving full bore into an entirely new cycle of profound change.
As we wrote in our opening essay for the conference:
âSo whatâs the seminal development thatâs ushering in the era of Web 3.0? Itâs the real arrival, after years of false predictions, of the thin client, running clean, simple software, against cloud-based data and services.â The Apple iPhone and iPod Touch are the tip of this spear.
Itâs more than just those two products, of course, but itâs what they represent: the complete integration of computing into every part of our lives in a way that is seamless, ubiquitous and, ideally, dead simple.
From using easy gestures to grab any piece of information from the Web to having powerful computers in the palm of your hand to being able to quickly dip into complex social networks to getting real-time information from across the globe as it happens, this is an era when computing could become as integrated and invisible as electricity and just as important.
And at D7, speaker after speaker talked about grabbing pieces of itâand figuring out how to be paid for it, at a time when consumers want it all free and are hurting financially.
While we could make a lot of lofty predictions, in truth, no one knows where it will all lead. More important, few can predict the impact it will have on all kinds of businesses.
But, as you will see from some of the onstage interview excerpts we have selected for your perusal here, there are a lot of very smart people from all aspects of society trying to figure it out.
Because whatever name you want to slap onto whatâs happening, the pace of change does not wait to be defined.
For decades Costa Rica has stood out for its stability and has benefited from the most developed welfare system in the region.
Tourism is Costa Rica's main source of foreign exchange. Its tropical forests are home to a profusion of flora and fauna, including 1,000 species of orchid and 850 species of birds, such as macaws and toucans.
The Caribbean coast with its swamps and sandy beaches is also a big draw. But Costa Rica is trying to shake off its reputation as a destination for sex tourists.
Costa Rica has been used as a transit point for South American cocaine and there have been allegations that drug-tainted money has found its way into the coffers of the two main political parties.
Once dubbed the "Switzerland of Central America", the country's self-image was badly shaken in 2004 when allegations of high-level corruption led to two former presidents being imprisoned on graft charges.
Detectives are continuing to question a 26-year-old man arrested over the attempted murders of three police officers on the outskirts of Belfast.
Up to six shots were fired as the officers got out of their vehicle at Foxes Glen on Thursday afternoon. No-one was injured.
They were responding to bogus reports of a burglary in the area.
The man was arrested on Thursday night. A number of searches are also ongoing in greater Belfast.
Chief Inspector Darrin Jones said: "It is despicable that police officers who were simply trying to give assistance to a person they believed needed them, should be attacked so ruthlessly.
"I feel extremely fortunate and incredibly grateful that those responsible for this attack failed in their goal to murder.
"We could so easily have been dealing with an unimaginable tragedy had the person or persons who pulled the trigger had their evil way."
The PSNI said one line of inquiry is that the officers may have been "lured" to the area to be targeted.
The gun attack happened at about 13:00 BST on Thursday.
The street was busy with children returning from school and playgroups at the time.
Editor’s note: Christiane Amanpour is anchor of CNN’s “Amanpour.” This open letter to the girls of the world is part of the “Girl Rising” project. CNN Films’ “Girl Rising” documents extraordinary girls and the power of education to change the world. Watch it June 16 on CNN.
There are more than 7 billion people in the world. Half of them are women and girls.
Just imagine the whole world rising, as it will, when all women and girls are empowered.
It has to start with education. All the number crunchers have it right on this one: education = empowerment, from here in the United States to Uruguay and Ulan Bator.
The United Nations, the World Bank and any organization you can think of say that an educated girl is a girl who can get a job, become a breadwinner and raise herself, her family, her village, her community and eventually her whole country. All the stories and statistics show that a healthy society is one whose women are healthy and productive.
Look at what women and girls are achieving for Rwanda, 19 years after the genocide there. The country leads the way in Africa in every way: education, health, the economy, the environment and in elected politics, powered by the force of its women. It is an amazing story. In contrast, the Arab world, which is so rich in natural resources such as oil and gas, is way behind in all development indicators, because half their populations, their women, are denied basic rights. It’s why the Arab Spring must liberate and fully empower women, for the good of those countries.
Write your own open letter to girls of the world
Did you know that if female employment were to match male employment in the United States, gross domestic product would rise by 5%. And in developing countries that figure soars by double digits — for instance, GDP would rise 34% in Egypt if women and men had equal employment opportunities.
And this is where education comes in. According to a 2004 report co-authored by Gene Sperling (now a senior economic aide to President Barack Obama), a woman can expect a 10% to 20% rise in earning power with every additional year of primary education beyond average. Another economist, Paul Schultz, found that number increased to 15% to 25% higher earning power with each additional year of secondary school.
OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc invests in dozens of businesses, and a new book tries to explain it all to young readers, from A to Z.
Two Omaha residents, author Nancy Rips and illustrator Tom Kerr, have teamed up on “My First Berkshire ABC” to teach children about one of the world’s best-known companies, and a little about the local billionaire behind it.
More than 1,000 copies were sold at Berkshire’s annual meeting on Saturday, which draws thousands of people to Omaha, and where Buffett has a say on what gets sold.
“You need something to bring home to your kids and grandkids to explain Berkshire,” Rips, who has also written three books about Jewish holidays, said in a joint interview with Kerr.
Most pages show companies that Berkshire owns or invests in.
G, for example, is for “Geico,” and features the car insurer’s talking gecko. And W is for “Wells Fargo”, and features the bank’s familiar stagecoach.
The book’s theme changed at Buffett’s suggestion.
“Our first effort was things like, âS is for sharing. Mr. Buffett believes in sharing. K is for being kind,’” Rips said.
“I got an email back from Warren saying, it’s too laudatory, they will lampoon him in the news,” she continued. “And I wrote a whole new proposal: A is for Acme (Brick), B is for Borsheim’s (jewelry), C is for Clayton Homes, D is for Dairy Queen. I got an email back: âYou’re in the show.’”
Kerr has worked at many newspapers and drew McGruff, the Crime Dog for the National Crime Prevention Council.
“Part of what Warren talks about is investing in things that you know,” he said. “Virtually everything in here is something that somebody can relate to and touch and understand.”
Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger is shown under “Q,” stamping boxes of “quality” merchandise.
Rips and Kerr have not heard from Buffett on whether he likes the book. Buffett’s assistant Carrie Sova had no comment on that question.
Kerr depicted Buffett just four times, including on the cover holding his usual Cherry Coke.
“This book is not all about Warren Buffett,” Kerr said. “I picked my spots. He’s so synonymous with Dairy Queen that I wanted him there, and obviously on the cover with Coca-Cola.”
“Cherry Coke,” Rips interjected.
“Yep,” Kerr said. “She had me change that.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Vicki Allen)