April 2008 Archives

April 8, 2008

California shown as part of Mexico in Absolute Vodka advertisment

Absolute vodka company set off a minor controversy by showing California, Texas and much of the Western U.S.as part of Mexico in advertisements in Mexico. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The campaign, which promotes ideal scenarios under the slogan “In an Absolut World,” showed a 1830s-era map when Mexico included California, Texas and other southwestern states. Mexico still resents losing that territory in the 1848 Mexican-American War and the fight for Texas independence.

But the ads, which ran only in Mexico and have since ended, were less than ideal for Americans undergoing a border buildup and embroiled in an emotional debate over illegal immigration from their southern neighbor. .. Absolut said the ad was designed for a Mexican audience and intended to recall “a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal.”

“As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market, and for that we apologize.” Vin & Sprit, Absolut’s Sweden-based parent company, will be acquired by French spirit maker Pernod Ricard SA under a deal reached last week.

Filed under Foreign Relations, Media and Entertainment, Mexico, Sweden by

Intel starts $500 million China investment fund

Intel Corp.’s venture capital arm announced that it has set up a new $500 million fund to invest in Chinese technology startups. The new fund, Intel Capital China Technology II, will invest in Chinese companies involved in wireless broadband, technology, media, telecommunications and environmentally friendly technologies. Intel Capital President Arvind Sodhani said the company’s second China fund plans to invest its US$500 million over five to seven years. The company set up in June 2005 its first fund targeting China, the $200 million Intel Capital China Technology Fund. That fund was meant to spend its allotment over the same period as the new fund but ended up spending all its capital in less than three years.

Filed under China, Venture Capital by

Another California Gold Rush?

As everyone knows, California ‘s modern history began with the gold rush of 1849. Now, because of the soaring price of gold, it may be happening again. As reported in the New York Times:

Driven by record high prices and a suburban thirst for new outdoor activities, tens of thousands of ’08ers are taking to historically rich streams and hills all across the West in search of nuggets, flecks and — more often than not — specks of gold. “Anywhere gold has been found in the past,” said Corey Rudolph, the field operations director for the Gold Prospectors Association of America. “That’s where they’re going again.”

Perhaps nowhere is the rush more spirited than in California, home of the Sierra’s famed Mother Lode, where the discovery of gold in 1848 caused a national migration. Like their forebears, many of today’s prospectors have little more than a pan, a shovel and a dream.

Unlike the original forty-niners, though, some of today’s caravans involve minivans, wetsuits and cellphones. And while many current prospectors say they hold out hopes of big scores, their clubs also act as social networks, where members exchange stories of the joys of sluicing and the unexplainable, often unattainable, thrill of shouting “Eureka!” at the sight of a nugget.

Filed under California culture, Travel and Tourism by

Disney to buy Chinese game developer

The Walt Disney Co.’s video game arm will buy a Chinese game developer as the U.S. entertainment giant expands in China. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Disney Interactive Studios plans to buy Chinese company Gamestar, Founded in 2002, Gamestar has offices in the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Wuhan, according to the company. The acquisition will contribute to his Disney’s “global growth plans” and new products, said Graham Hopper, general manager for Disney Interactive. Gamestar had previously done outsourcing work for Disney, according to the Chronicle report and terms of the deal were not disclosed. Following the acquisition, Gamestar will help with existing projects but may move on to developing original games for the Chinese market. Walt Disney Internet Group has also reached a deal with China’s Shanda Interactive Entertainment to launch Disney-themed Internet-based video games.

Filed under China, Media and Entertainment, Mergers and Acquisitions by

Two arrested for attempting illegal camera exports from LAX

Two men stopped from boarding a plane to China were charged with trying to illegally export sensitive infrared cameras that authorities say are restricted because of their potential military uses. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Beijing residents Zhi Yong Guo, 49, and Tah Wei Chao, 52, were named in a criminal complaint alleging they knowingly exported or attempted to export restricted items without a license, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors said both men were a flight risk and asked that they be held without bail. Both were scheduled to be arraigned on April 28. Chao’s attorney Richard Goldman said he did not yet know how his client planned to plead. “I believe in the presumption of innocence,” Goldman said..

Guo and Chao each face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted. The men were arrested Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport after they tried to board a plane to China with 10 thermal imaging cameras in their luggage without the proper export licenses, the government said.

The cameras, which are primarily used by law enforcement, fire departments and the military, are carefully controlled for national security reasons, and are treated as munitions under the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. They produce heat-based images invisible to the naked eye.

Federal authorities had been investigating the men since last August, when an Oregon-based company informed them of an order for three of the cameras from a new customer — Printing Plus Graphics of San Gabriel, Calif., according to an affidavit from Special Agent Steve Huerta of the Department of Commerce. The company, Flir Systems of Wilsonville, Oregon, repeatedly warned the customers that they could not export the cameras without a license, and shared Chao’s e-mail address and other documents with authorities.

Filed under China, Legal and Criminal Issues by

Google to help United Nations track refugees

Mountain View-based Google is working with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on a mapping service that tracks the movement of refugees. The project is expected to help humanitarian work by focusing attention on millions of refugees who have been forced from their homes because of hardship or violence. “All of the things that we do for refugees in the refugee camps around the world will become more visible,” U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees L. Craig Johnstone said. Google Earth can be focused on areas such as Darfur, Iraq and Colombia, and the U.N. will provide information on the problems faced by refugees.

Filed under Information Technology by

April 21, 2008

California signs MOU with U.N. to help China curb greenhous gasses

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. It certainly sounds like a good idea- afterall, California has spent a huge amount of time and money to reduce the smog and pollution in our major cities, only to find that we are now the recipients of Chinese pollution. It remains to be seen whether this agreement will be purely symbolic or not. I am especially curious as to how the State intends to “encourage private entities in California to support climate change projects in China”. The State of California has few effective business programs. Will these projects go mostly to business associates of of the Governor, or channeled through shadowy lobbying organizations such as the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy?

California’s top environmental official on Tuesday plans to sign an agreement with the United Nations to help China reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The memorandum of understanding drafted by the U.N. Development Programme pairs California with one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. California produces more greenhouse gases than any other state but also has taken strides to significantly reduce its output. That includes attempts to roll back auto and factory emissions, while trying to institute an emissions-trading system for industry.

California promises to share policy ideas and research for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the four-page agreement to be signed on Earth Day in Beijing. The state also would mobilize public agencies and encourage private entities in California to support climate change projects in China.

“I think it will help show them they can indeed reach set targets and move forward on environmental protection and maintain a strong economy as California has,” Linda Adams, California’s Environmental Protection Agency secretary, said…

California’s agreement with the development program, a subsidiary of the U.N. that promotes economic development, follows several years of international outreach by the state. In 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an environmental agreement with the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau to help improve air quality and water quality. The agreement was amended in 2007 to further bolster California’s support of Beijing’s air quality programs.

Schwarzenegger also has entered agreements with other states and parts of Canada to implement a carbon-trading program. The governor has said those agreements will help California meet the goals of a 2006 law seeking to cut greenhouse gases roughly a quarter by 2020.

On Monday, Schwarzenegger said the state’s agreement with China recognizes that climate change requires a global solution. “America has to lead, and we are doing so with or without Washington,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “California is not waiting for the federal government to take action.”… While California is pursuing its climate change goals, state regulators and politicians are bickering over how best to implement the landmark 2006 greenhouse gas law.

Filed under China, Environment and Climate, Foreign Relations by

Schwarzenegger to meet with Afghan governors

Governor Schwarzenegger is meeting with eight governors from Afghanistan as part of a U.S. State Department exchange program, Associated Press has reported. The governors are spending five days in California during their three-week visit to the U.S. to learn about federalism, American elections and agriculture. Schwarzenegger plans to meet briefly with the governors on Monday. He will talk about his job and how he works with local and federal officials. The Afghan leaders also were meeting with state lawmakers and agriculture and trade officials. e U.S. State Department says the governors are among hundreds of world leaders who have taken part in the International Visitor Leadership Program.

Filed under Afghanistan, Foreign Relations by

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