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Sunday, September 21, 2014

New York City Climate Change March Could Be Largest of Its Kind

New York City Climate Change March Could Be Largest of Its Kind


New York City Climate Change March Could Be Largest of Its Kind

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 10:02 AM PDT

More than 100,000 people are taking to the streets of New York City on Sunday to take part in the People’s Climate March. Here’s what you need to know about the historic event:

What’s the goal?

The march is taking place ahead of Tuesday’s United Nations climate-change summit, which is convening to discuss an international carbon emissions agreement. Those marching hope their participation will put pressure on world leaders expected to attend, such as President Barack Obama, to take policy action to curb the climate change damage.

Where is this happening?

People from all over the country and North America have traveled to take part in the Manhattan event, but activism on the issue is worldwide — close to 2,700 climate-related demonstrations are in the works in more than 150 countries such as Tanzania, Germany and Colombia in addition to this march, the New York Times reports.

Who organized it?

Bill McKibben, the author of 1989’s The End of Nature, one of the first major books about climate change. He’s also the founder of 350.org, a climate movement organizing site that takes its name from the level of carbon dioxide parts-per-million (ppm) in the atmosphere that scientists say is the safety threshold for the planet. NASA says the atmosphere is currently at 400 ppm. Other activist groups have helped him organize the event.

Why is it significant?

The event is believed to be the largest climate change-related demonstration in history. It may also be the loudest — demonstrators are using horns, speakers and other noise-making methods to literally sound the alarm on climate change. “It’s going to be beautiful,” McKibben told NBC News. “It’s like sounding a burglar alarm on the people who are stealing the future.”

Who’s marching?

All kinds of people. Passionate activists, concerned citizens, scientists, politicians (like Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid), celebrities (like Mark Ruffalo and Russell Brand), non-profits, indigenous peoples groups, religious organizations and LGBT communities are just some of the participants. More than 1,400 partner organizations have signed on to participate, MSNBC reports. Even Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, planned to attend ahead of his organization’s summit.

 

Yemen’s Prime Minister Resigns Amid Violence

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 09:07 AM PDT

SANAA, Yemen — Yemen’s prime minister resigned Sunday, the state news agency reported, following days of violence that left more than 140 dead and prompted thousands to flee their homes.

The official SABA news agency gave no details on the move by Mohammed Salem Bassindwa, and it was not immediately clear if his resignation had been accepted by the president.

Bassindwa took office shortly after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down in 2012. He has been in office since February 2012 and has since been the target of sharp criticism for his inability to deal with the country’s pressing problems.

The resignation came as Shiite rebels, known as Hawthis, took control of a key military base and Iman University on Sunday afternoon in the capital Sanaa, according to military officials. The university was seen as a bastion of Sunni hard-liners that is seen as a recruitment hub for militants.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters. There were no official casualty figures from Sunday’s violence.

Hawthi rebels on Saturday captured the state television building. The Hawthis have in recent months routed their Islamist foes in a series of battles in areas north of Sanaa, and have in recent days consolidated and expanded their grip on areas just to the north of the capital.

Their foes have traditionally been Islamist militias allied with the government or the fundamentalist Islah party. The Hawthis have been pressing for a change of government and what they see as a fair share of power.

The Defense Ministry and the General Staff issued a joint statement calling on military units in Sanaa and nearby areas to remain at their posts, be on high alert and safeguard their weapons and equipment.

On Saturday, the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, had signaled that an agreement was reached to halt the violence, and that preparations are underway to sign the accord.

How to Move From Corporate Exec to Entrepreneur

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 09:00 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Follow Sallie Krawcheck on LinkedIn. This post is part of a series titled “Behind the Scenes” in which Influencers explain in detail one aspect of their work. LinkedIn Editor Isabelle Roughol also provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that participated in the package.

I get it. You want to be an entrepreneur. Enough of the drab cubicle or undersized office. Enough of the super-long meetings with the formal agenda. Enough of the – ugh – corporate cafeteria. On to the exposed brick walls, casual wear and foosball tables. Oh, and eventually becoming a zillionaire.

I’ve made the switch from corporate executive to entrepreneur. Before you do it, it’s worth recognizing that it can be a very tough move, and being an entrepreneur can be a very tough undertaking. In fact, I tell anyone who asks that being an entrepreneur is tougher than running Merrill Lynch. That’s not to say it’s not an unbelievable experience… but it’s not for everyone. Here’s how to make the switch.

First, the practical. Do you have enough money to support yourself? As the founder of a start-up, it’s not about how much cash you can make, but how littleyou can make and for how long. Firstly, that cash can help the business to be successful; and, secondly, if you are going to be successful, the value of that dollar working in the start-up is worth massively more than in your bank account. So before you make the switch, do the math and shore up the bank account.

Then there’s the soul searching you need to do. Are you after the idealized portrait of a start-up? Or do you really want to build something and create something from nothing? Are you so passionate about the idea that you’re ready to go all-in? This takes being deeply honest with yourself about what motivates you and how you best operate. Do you live for the feedback in the formal year-end review? Forget it; the market is your review. Boss choosing work and setting deadlines for you? Nope. Procrastinator? Not good. Like to spend half the day at the water cooler complaining about your colleagues or comparing notes on last night’s game? You’re doomed.

That’s because you can make a number of wrong decisions or have a batch of “I’m in a coasting mood” days at large companies. If you’re not pulling as hard that day, someone else likely is. And if they’re not, that 15% profit margin on those billions of dollars of revenues absorbs some good number of mistakes. A cash burn-rate counted in months means you can’t make many mistakes that take months to correct.

And, at smaller, hyper-growth companies, everything matters. Again, at a large company, you never want Joe-the-talented-up-and-comer to quit. Ever. But if he does, it’s going to be some time for the loss of that one guy (out of 1,000 or 10,000 or more) to hurt the p&l. At a smaller, growth company, everything matters… and everything matters pretty quickly. I remember when I ran Bernstein: of our 18 research analysts, if one left, there was an immediate, direct and negative impact on the p&l.

Thus, it takes a certain mindset to be an entrepreneur. Someone who is a self-starter, passionate about a business, optimistic (some even to the point of marginal delusion), who can handle the heat and the stress. Someone who can let go of corporate trappings and pageantry.

And, to be successful, it helps to be someone who is ready to go “all in.” That can mean drawing on what you’ve built, such as your network. I’ve met any number of people who’ve told me that they view calling on their networks for funding and introductions to potential customers as “cheating.” (Yes, I’ve really heard this… quite a bit, actually.) Well, strong networks have been shown to be one of the key differentiators of success for entrepreneurs. And getting to success can mean going all in emotionally and risking failure and rejection. Because you will fail; it’s just a matter of what you fail at and how quickly you recover. And you will be rejected; it’s just a matter of getting past the rejections.

Not quite there? Then, if possible, put a toe in the water before taking the plunge. I spent time with entrepreneurs, advising them both formally (as part of their advisory boards) and informally. They got access to the expertise I had built and I got to “test drive” the idea of working outside of corporate America.

Sallie Krawcheck is the Chair of Ellevate Network (formerly 85 Broads), the global professional women’s network.

Box Office: The Maze Runner Outruns A Walk Among the Tombstones

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 08:55 AM PDT

Post-apocalyptic young-adult fiction scored yet another victory at the box office this weekend, as The Maze Runner became the weekend’s number-one movie with a $32.5 million gross in North America.

The adaptation of James Dashner’s YA novel, starring Teen Wolf‘s Dylan O’Brien, squashed the $13.1 million gross of the second-place film, the Liam Neeson action flick A Walk Among the Tombstones, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Coming in third place was Shawn Levy’s This Is Where I Leave You, which grossed $11.9 million despite a star-studded ensemble cast featuring Tina Fey, Jason Bateman and Jane Fonda. In the new issue of TIME, Levy said that Hollywood studios often consider nuanced, character-driven, dramatic comedies like this adaption of Jonathan Tropper’s best-selling novel to be a financial risk, so he took a pay cut and promised to make the movie for under $20 million in order to minimize the risk.

“There are a lot of really great movies that are made every year that don’t have superheroes in them and don’t have things getting blown up,” Bateman told TIME at the Toronto International Film Festival. “But they don’t get the kind of attention and release they deserve.”

Hear a Preview of the Creepy Gone Girl Score

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 08:39 AM PDT

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have done it again. The Nine Inch Nails frontman and his frequent collaborator have created unsettling scores for David Fincher movies such as The Social Network (for which they won an Academy Award) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and now they’re set to do the same with Gone Girl.

A preview of the score for the film, an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s hit thriller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, is available on the Nine Inch Nails website ahead of the Oct. 3 theatrical release, and it features a familiar mix of industrial sounds, electronic instrumentation and creepy atmospherics inspired by — of all things — spa music.

“Think about the really terrible music you hear in massage parlors,'” Reznor told the Wall Street Journal. “The way that it artificially tries to make you feel like everything’s OK. And then imagine that sound starting to curdle and unravel.”

Kim Jong-un Won’t Like the New Trailer for The Interview

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 08:25 AM PDT

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has called The Interview, an upcoming James Franco-Seth Rogen comedy about journalists on an undercover mission to assassinate him, an act of war — which makes you wonder what he’ll do when he hears the colorful word James Franco calls him in the new Red Band trailer for the movie.

Jong-un reportedly plans to see the movie, which stars Rogen as a TV news producer eager to cover hard news, and Franco as the star journalist who’s granted a rare interview with the dictator. It’s a dream come true for the duo, until a CIA agent played by Lizzy Caplan shows up and asks them to turn their meeting into assassination.

But don’t worry if you haven’t kept up with international news lately: “This is not a political movie,” Caplan told TIME earlier this year about the film, which comes out on Christmas Day. “There’s a long line of comedies and satires taking on real, sad, scary situations. It’s just one in a long line of that.”

Afghanistan Finally Has a New President

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 08:12 AM PDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates signed a power-sharing deal on Sunday that makes one president and the other chief executive, ending months of political wrangling following a disputed runoff that threatened to plunge the country into turmoil and complicate the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Ending an election season that began with first-round ballots cast in April, the election commission named Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as the winner and next president. But the commission pointedly did not release final vote totals amid suggestions that doing so could inflame tensions.

Ghani Ahmadzai and new Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah signed the national unity government deal as President Hamid Karzai — in power since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban — looked on. It took weeks of negotiations to form a power-sharing arrangement after accusations of fraud in the June runoff vote.

The candidates signed the deal at the presidential palace, then exchanged a hug and a handshake.

“I am very happy today that both of my brothers, Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, in an Afghan agreement for the benefit of this country, for the progress and development of this country, that they agreed on the structure affirming the new government of Afghanistan,” Karzai said after the signing.

The deal is a victory for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who first got the candidates to agree in principle to share power during a July visit to Afghanistan. Kerry returned to Kabul in August and has spent hours with the candidates, including in repeated phone calls, in an effort to seal the deal.

A White House statement lauded the two leaders, saying the agreement helps bring closure to Afghanistan’s political crisis.

“This agreement marks an important opportunity for unity and increased stability in Afghanistan. We continue to call on all Afghans — including political, religious, and civil society leaders — to support this agreement and to come together in calling for cooperation and calm,” the White House statement said.

Jan Kubis, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, said the uncertainty of the past months took a heavy toll on Afghanistan’s security, economy and governance. NATO said in a statement that it hoped both leaders could move forward “in the spirit of genuine political partnership.”

The decision not to release vote totals underscores the fear of potential violence despite Sunday’s deal. One of Abdullah’s final demands was that the election commission not release the vote count because of the fraud he alleges took place.

Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, chairman of the election commission, said the final ballot counts have been shared with both candidates and that the commission would announce the numbers publicly later.

A Ghani Ahmadzai supporter — Halim Fidai, a former governor — said Sunday that Kubish, the U.N. representative, told the commission not to release vote tallies. A U.N. official who insisted on anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly said the allegation was not true and that the U.N. was only facilitating dialogue between the candidates and the election commission regarding the release of the results.

A senior U.S. official said the vote result is transparent but may be released slowly over fears of violence. The official insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to be identified publicly.

Ghani Admadzai supporters and election commission reports circulating on social media said that the final vote gave Ghani Ahmadzai roughly 55 percent and Abdullah roughly 45 percent.

The four-page power sharing contract says the relationship between president and chief executive — a position akin to prime minister — must be defined by “partnership, collegiality, collaboration, and, most importantly, responsibility to the people of Afghanistan.”

It spells out the powers for the new chief executive position: participation with the president in bilateral meetings, carrying out administrative and executive affairs as determined by presidential decree, and parity in selection of key security and economic ministries.

The deal specifies that the president leads the Cabinet but that the chief executive manages the Cabinet’s implementation of government policies. The chief executive will also chair regular meetings of a council of ministers.

An inauguration ceremony to see Ghani Ahmadzai replace Karzai as president and swear in Abdullah as chief executive was expected within days. Abdullah’s spokesman Fazel Sancharaki said the event could be held on Sept. 29.

As talks dragged on, Abdullah’s mostly northern supporters had threatened to form a parallel government or react violently to any outright victory by Ghani Ahmadzai, a former finance minister and World Bank official whose power base is in the country’s south and east. Ghani Ahmadzai said he always maintained that ethnic politics in Afghanistan demand some sort of power sharing deal and not a winner-takes-all government.

Abdullah believes he won the first round of the election in April with more than 50 percent of the vote, which would have precluded a runoff. But the official results showed him winning about 45 percent of that vote in a crowded presidential field of 10.

He also believes he won a June runoff with Ghani Ahmadzai. But initial results totals showed Ghani Ahmadzai with about 56 percent of the vote. After the recount the election commission invalidated 1 million of the approximately 8.1 million cast in the runoff, according to the un-released vote counts, suggesting that fraud was indeed widespread.

Though the White House statement said that “respect for the democratic process” is the only viable path forward for Afghanistan, the next Afghan government to many has the appearance of a product of more of negotiations than vote tallies.

A power-sharing deal was almost sealed about a week ago, but Abdullah then demanded that no vote totals from the runoff be released.

The U.S. official said the United States government believes the new president was declared as the result of quantitative electoral results from many millions of legitimate votes and that though a political agreement was made to form a unity government the government is headed by a president decided upon by an electoral process.

U.N. and Afghan election officials spent weeks auditing the runoff results after allegations of fraud, a common occurrence over Afghanistan’s last two presidential elections. Abdullah’s side maintained the fraud was so sophisticated it was undetectable.

The U.S. has been pushing for a resolution so the next president can sign a security agreement that would allow about 10,000 U.S. forces to remain in the country after combat operations wrap up at the end of the year. Karzai refused to sign it; Ghani Ahmadzai has said he will.

The 13-year war against the Taliban has largely been turned over to Afghan security forces, a development that has seen casualties among Afghan soldiers rise significantly this year.

The U.S. and international community will continue to fund the Afghan army in the coming years but the Afghans themselves will have to fend off Taliban attempts to again take over wide areas of the country.

Russia Says Scottish Referendum Could Have Been Rigged

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 07:51 AM PDT

Scotland’s historic election on independence did not meet international standards for constitutional referendums, the head of a Russian voting rights organization has said, with procedures that left the result subject to rigging and vote-tampering.

Igor Borisov, chairman of the Public Institute of Suffrage in Moscow (also translated as the Russian Public Institute of Electoral Law), said the voting took place according to United Kingdom voting rules, which differ from the international community’s accepted procedures for such votes, Russian news agency Ria Novosti reports.

The unusual criticism comes just months after the international community rejected the results of a referendum in Crimea. The White House said the March ballot had been “administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.”

Borisov said the chief concern in Scotland was the counting of the votes, which he alleges was not secure and was open to potential voter fraud and rigging. Borisov noted that the vote-counting room was the size of an “aircraft hangar,” which opened up the democratic process to tampering.

“Even if you want to, it’s impossible to tell what’s happening,” he said. “It’s also unclear where the boxes with ballot papers come from.”

[Ria Novosti]

Jay Z and Beyoncé Are All Things to All People on HBO’s On The Run

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 07:24 AM PDT

There has never been a concert film like HBO’s On The Run, because there has never been a pop star like Beyoncé or a hip-hop star like Jay Z or a celebrity couple like Beyoncé and Jay Z. The pair, massively successful and talented individuals who toured together for the first time this year, have become so much more than themselves. Their burning, multihyphenate success casts long shadows as musicians, entrepreneurs, spouses, and parents. HBO and director Jonas Åkerlund — filming over two September shows in Paris and adding a host of effects (slow-mo, black-and-white, lightning strikes!) — stuck a kaleidoscope on what is already our nation’s Rorschach-iest couple. On The Run says nothing new, but it says it all at once.

With six albums between them in their six years of marriage, and as many public appearances and touring dates, there’s a lot for fans to feast on. A litmus test is: Who is your favorite Beyoncé? Mine is the mic-drop face she made after her rumor-dispelling a capella performance of the national anthem in front of a room full of cameras. Or is your favorite Beyoncé the one who makes the word “daddy” sound like both a come-on and a put-down, both exhortation and exultation? Or is it the one who invited Nicki Minaj into the studio? And Jay Z: Do you prefer him as the gangster mogul or Teflon hustler? They’re all here.

The tour we see is pretty much the tour that has been described for months, from its nouvelle vague opening on through to the home videos at the end. HBO’s only contribution is embellishment, which sounds simple and even cheap (the lightning strikes they use look like 3D clip-art and they come with matching fog). But it’s a simple process that hypnotizes, streamlining the show into a bombardment of images. You always know where to look; and whenever Beyoncé appears, it feel like time slows — because it usually does.

Another game: Why do we first see Jay-Z wearing sunglasses and Beyoncé in mesh head-gear, so we see her eyes but not his? Put another way: Why do most of Jay-Z’s costume changes kind of look the same and how often did you catch HBO sneaking in a shot of Beyoncé’s body (her legs; her torso) as it rolled to the music?

The fun of this is the myth-making, which no longer feels like it has a downside. With the release of her last album, Beyoncé incorporated her every contradiction into her art. This is the next level: HBO signing on to help us incorporate every contradiction about the pair into their union. The various controversies surrounding them—Elevatorgate, the apparently baseless rumors about their marriage–have been absolved by fame. Or, put another way: joy.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z style themselves as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde (Lily Rothman has more on why that comparison is less than historically accurate). But why settle for bank robbers? The pair, African Americans who write, produce, and perform their own music, are never just one thing to anyone. It has been a horrible, no good, very bad summer — for them, for all of us — but On The Run, a symphony of spectacles, absorbs all of that into something small that feels huge: the most important marriage in pop culture. The night doesn’t end with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, but with the audience, filling the stadium with sound as they embrace, giddy. Whatever happens, we’ll always have Paris.

See the Worst Place to Breathe in America

Posted: 21 Sep 2014 07:00 AM PDT

If you think about smog, you’re probably picturing a major city like Los Angeles, where in the 1960’s and 70’s the air was so bad that smog alerts telling people to avoid outdoor activity were regular occurrences. The air has improved in L.A. and other big cities in recent years, thanks to cleaner cars and air pollution regulation.

But the real capital of air pollution in the U.S. is a farming city that sits to the northwest of L.A: Bakersfield.

Bakersfield is in the San Joaquin Valley, a major agricultural area that stretches through much of California. The San Joaquin Valley contains some of the richest, most productive agricultural land in the country. But its geography—the valley is surrounded on all sides by mountains—creates a bowl that traps air pollution. Levels of soot and ozone—which in warm weather, which the valley has much of the year, can create smog—are some of the highest in the country. And while air in much of the U.S. has improved, in Bakersfield and other towns in the southern San Joaquin Valley, the air quality is as bad as ever—if not worse.

How bad? School officials in Bakersfield have used colored flags to indicate air quality: green for good, yellow for moderate, orange for unhealthy for sensitive groups and red for unhealthy for all groups. But this winter, the air became so bad that officials had to use a new color on the worst days: purple, even worse than red. Because of high levels of air pollution, asthma is prominent throughout the region, and the bad air can also raise levels of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

Photographer Lexey Swall grew up in Bakersfield, and in this collection of photographs, she shows the human cost of living in one of the most polluted cities in the country. For Bakersfield residents, there’s simply no room to breathe.

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