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White House makes it official: US “at war” with IS

So The U.S. Is At War With ISIS, White House Says

So The U.S. Is At War With ISIS, White House Says

Washington (AFP) – The White House declared Friday the United States was at war with Islamic State radicals, seeking to rub out another semantic flap over its Syria policy.

In a series of television interviews Secretary of State John Kerry had appeared to be reluctant to term the expansion of US operations against IS in Iraq and Syria as “war.”

But pressed to clear up doubts about how President Barack Obama sees the conflict, the White House and Pentagon left little doubt.

“The United States is at war with ISIL in the same way that we are at war with Al-Qaeda and its Al-Qaeda affiliates all around the globe,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said that the US was not fighting the last Iraq war and used similar language to Earnest.

“But make no mistake, we know we are at war with ISIL in the same way we’re at war and continue to be at war with Al-Qaida and its affiliates,” he said.

Obama is scheduled to be in Tampa, Florida Wednesday to receive a briefing from top commanders at US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East.

In interviews on Thursday, as Kerry toured the Middle East building an anti-IS coalition, he was reluctant to use the term “war” in referring to the US campaign, telling people not to indulge in “war fever.”

“We’re engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it’s going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation,” Kerry told CBS News.

“I think ‘war’ is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity,” Kerry said.


- ‘Different’ from last war -


The dispute over wording may seem trivial when American planes and drones have been pounding Islamic State targets in Iraq for weeks in more than 160 operations.

But it indicates the administration is skittish about using language that could alarm Americans weary of years of foreign conflict and who embraced Obama’s vow to “end” the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during two presidential election campaigns.

“The first thing that’s important for people to understand is the president has made clear how the strategy that he is pursuing in Iraq and Syria to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL is different than the strategy that was pursued in the previous Iraq War,” said Earnest on Friday.

Obama’s new strategy, announced in a prime-time televised address on Wednesday, expands US air strikes in Iraq against IS and envisages new action against the group in Syria.

In addition, Obama plans to train “moderate” Syrian rebels to take on IS and to reconstitute the Iraqi army, parts of which fled an IS blitzkreig across northern and western Iraq.

But he has insisted that there will be no deployments of US ground troops in the operation — especially none that would recall the vast US land armies that were targeted by insurgents in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The debate over the word “war” is only the latest verbal kerfuffle to hamper Obama’s attempts to clarify his increasingly under-fire foreign policy.

Two weeks ago, the president sparked a political storm by admitting he did not “yet” have a strategy for combating IS in Syria after the beheading of two US journalists.

Critics also accused the administration of seeking to “manage” the problem of Al-Qaeda rather than seeking to decimate it.

On Wednesday, Obama said that his goal was to “destroy” IS.


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The Case for Executive Assistants

Among the most striking details of the corporate era depicted in the AMC series Mad Men, along with constant smoking and mid-day drinking, is the army of secretaries who populate Sterling Cooper, the 1960s ad agency featured in the show. The secretary of those days has gone the way of the carbon copy and been replaced by the executive assistant, now typically reserved for senior management. Technologies like e-mail, voice mail, mobile devices, and online calendars have allowed managers at all levels to operate with a greater degree of self-sufficiency. At the same time, companies have faced enormous pressure to cut costs, reduce head count, and flatten organizational structures. As a result, the numbers of assistants at lower corporate levels have dwindled in most corporations. That’s unfortunate, because effective assistants can make enormous contributions to productivity at all levels of the organization.

At very senior levels, the return on investment from a skilled assistant can be substantial. Consider a senior executive whose total compensation package is $1 million annually, who works with an assistant who earns $80,000. For the organization to break even, the assistant must make the executive 8% more productive than he or she would be working solo—for instance, the assistant needs to save the executive roughly five hours in a 60-hour workweek. In reality, good assistants save their bosses much more than that. They ensure that meetings begin on time with prep material delivered in advance. They optimize travel schedules and enable remote decision making, keeping projects on track. And they filter the distractions that can turn a manager into a reactive type who spends all day answering e-mail instead of a leader who proactively sets the organization’s agenda. As Robert Pozen writes in this issue: A top-notch assistant “is crucial to being productive.”

That’s true not only for top executives. In their zeal to cut administrative expenses, many companies have gone too far, leaving countless highly paid middle and upper managers to arrange their own travel, file expense reports, and schedule meetings. Some companies may be drawn to the notion of egalitarianism they believe this assistant-less structure represents—when workers see the boss loading paper into the copy machine, the theory goes, a “we’re all in this together” spirit is created. But as a management practice, the structure rarely makes economic sense. Generally speaking, work should be delegated to the lowest-cost employee who can do it well. Although companies have embraced this logic by outsourcing work to vendors or to operations abroad, back at headquarters they ignore it, forcing top talent to misuse their time. As a longtime recruiter for executive assistants, I’ve worked with many organizations suffering from the same problem: There’s too much administrative work and too few assistants to whom it can be assigned.

Granting middle managers access to an assistant—or shared resources—can give a quick boost to productivity even at lean, well-run companies. Firms should also think about the broader developmental benefits of providing assistants for up-and-coming managers. The real payoff may come when the manager arrives in a job a few levels up better prepared and habitually more productive. An experienced assistant can be particularly helpful if the manager is a new hire. The assistant becomes a crucial on-boarding resource, helping the manager read and understand the organizational culture, guiding him or her through its different (and difficult) personalities, and serving as a sounding board during the crucial acclimation. In this way, knowledgeable assistants are more than a productivity asset: They’re reverse mentors, using their experience to teach new executives how people are expected to behave at that level in the organization.

Getting the Most from Assistants

Two critical factors determine how well a manager utilizes an assistant. The first is the executive’s willingness to delegate pieces of his or her workload to the assistant. The second is the assistant’s willingness to stretch beyond his or her comfort zone to assume new responsibilities.

Delegating wisely.

The most effective executives think deeply about the pieces of their workload that can be taken on—or restructured to be partially taken on—by the assistant. Triaging and drafting replies to e-mails is a central task for virtually all assistants. Some executives have assistants listen in on phone calls in order to organize and follow up on action items. Today many assistants are taking on more-supervisory roles: They’re managing information flow, dealing with basic financial management, attending meetings, and doing more planning and organizing. Executives can help empower their assistants by making it clear to the organization that the assistant has real authority. The message the executive should convey is, “I trust this person to represent me and make decisions.”


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iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus: The Differences Between The New Apple iPhones


Apple AAPL -1.1%’s much heralded September 9 launch has come and gone and as expected we have two new iPhones: the ‘iPhone 6’ and the ‘iPhone 6 Plus’. Also as expected they come in two new, much larger sizes: 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches. But their differences are far more than skin deep so let’s break them down:

Design – Curves And An Aluminium Unibody

The leaks were on the money. Both new iPhones ditch the hard angles and glass backs of their predecessor, the iPhone 5S, in favour of a more rounded, unibody anodized aluminium chassis available in silver, gold or ‘space gray’. The Apple logo on the back will be in stainless steel.

One area of concern for some is the confirmation of a protruding camera (more later), but on the whole the new chassis promises a significant step forward in durability. There is also a sensible evolution with Apple moving the power button to the side to make it easier to reach (HTC take note).

Read full story here


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Is Aging In Place A Pipe Dream?


Former secretary of HUD Henry Cisneros’ mom lived in the house she and her husband bought in 1945 until last month, two weeks after her 90th birthday, when she was hospitalized, and the doctor said it wouldn’t be responsible to let her go home because her disorientation and forgetfulness would likely result in another incident. Cisneros reluctantly helped her moved to a memory care facility, and the visits are wrenching. “The truth is she doesn’t want to be there; she wants to go home. She ends up crying, and I want to go out to the car and cry,” Cisneros said in his keynote speech at a conference on housing and aging yesterday.

Housing is the linchpin of our well-being, according to the AARP Foundation and the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies which held the conference in conjunction with the release of a new report, Housing America’s Older Adults—Meeting the Needs of An Aging Population. The experts explored the mismatch between the nation’s housing stock and Americans’ desire to age in place at home. And they issued a warning: as the baby boomers age and the number of Americans over age 85 swells (triples!) to 20 million by 2030, “our country must face the basic fact that we are aging and we are not ready,” Cisneros said.

Cisneros’ mom, Elvira, intended to live out her days in her 1920s bungalow in the West Side neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas where Cisneros was mayor before he headed the U.S Housing and Development Agency under President Clinton (he now heads housing developer CityView). Cisneros even held her up as a model of aging in place in his 2010 book “Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America.”

The reality is that for some people, you can age in place—but only up to a point. Most Americans live in isolated detached, single family homes in suburban or rural neighborhoods without access to transportation services. “The existing housing stock is unprepared to meet the escalating need for affordability, accessibility, social connectivity and supportive services,” the report concludes. The conference speakers offered a range of solutions. The audience favorite: Age-Friendly NYC’s program that enlists doormen (through the building services union) to refer tenants to city agencies and social services if they show signs of elder abuse or cognitive decline.

Here are some ideas for the rest of us.

Pay off your mortgage. More than 70% of homeowners aged 50 to 64 are still paying off their mortgages in 2010, with an average loan-to-value ratio of 56%. And 40% of homeowners aged 65 and over are paying off their mortgages, with an average loan-to-value ratio of 45%.

Trying to get to a situation where you’re not facing mortgage payments in retirement is key, says 53-year-old Chris Hebert, acting managing director of the Joint Center. Herbert said he’s aiming to pay down his home loan in the next 10 years. If your house is paid off, you can better handle property insurance, taxes, and day to day expenses, and have a cushion to pay for health care and caregiving services.

Renovate with universal design. “Where older people live now is likely where they’ll be living,” Herbert says, noting that people are making decisions about housing they’re going to occupy later in life in their 50s and early 60s. He tried to get his 63-year-old brother-in-law who was embarking on a major home renovation project to think ahead, but he didn’t do anything to make his house accessible. Nobody in the process—the architect or builder—egged him on to do so. One thing that allowed Cisneros’ mom to stay in her house as long as she did was ramps and an accessible bathroom that were originally installed for her late husband.

The five key features for an accessible home are: a no-step entry, single floor living, wide doorways, accessible electric switches and outlets, lever-style door handles and faucets. Only 21% of houses have at least three of these features.

Talk about who will help mom. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of people over the age of 75 living alone will nearly double from 6.9 million to 13.4 million, the majority of whom will be women. And the majority of those women will have caregiving needs. About one in four older adults has a cognitive, hearing, mobility or vision difficulty. By age 85, however, more than two in three adults face at least one of these difficulties.

The family care ratio is going in the wrong direction, notes Herbert, who says he pools resources with four siblings to care for his mom, but he and his wife have only two kids to eventually call on for caregiving support. And then there are the childless who will rely on friends and extended family to help them through old age. Of the youngest baby boomers, aged 50 to 59, 16% do not have children who might take care for them in older age, the Joint Center found.

“The Joint Center is often referred to as the Joint Center for gloom and doom,” Herbert jokes. But the message he hopes people will take away is that individuals and their families need to recognize these issues and take steps now to prepare.


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I care about safe drinking water. Do you?


We all know we are screwing ourselves by finding every possible way to extract more fossil fuels.  Like a good junkie, we don’t care.   We need our fix, even though we know it is killing us.Cant we get out of this denial and start going to OilAnnon meetings?

I cared enough to write my Congress Person.   Do you?  I don’t care what political affiliation you have.  Our kids deserve a decent life.


September 5, 2014

Dear Mr. Ulrich,

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts about the process of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.” I appreciate the time you took to write to me.

As you know, fracking involves tens of thousands of gallons of water, sand and chemicals that are injected at high pressure into underground rock formations to blast them open. Fracking often occurs near underground water sources, but the Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains an exemption for this industry in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). No other industry has a similar exemption.

This exemption should be repealed because fracking fluids are believed to contain highly toxic chemicals such as benzene, toluene, methanol and formaldehyde. These compounds, which can contaminate drinking water, are kept secret from the public as “proprietary information.” Even low concentrations of toxic chemicals can have adverse health and environmental consequences.

In the 113th Congress, I’m a cosponsor of H.R. 1921, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, which takes important steps in this area. This legislation repeals the oil and gas industry’s SDWA exemption; ensures that drinking water supplies are protected; requires the public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids; and allows safe hydraulic fracturing operations to continue.

Thank you again for writing to me, and if you have any other questions or comments, let me hear from you. I value what my constituents say to me, and I always need your thoughts and benefit from your ideas.

To stay in touch, please visit my website at, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

Most gratefully,

Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress



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10 Things Bosses Never Tell Employees, But Should

Even if you’re an exceptional boss — and here’s how to tell if you’re an exceptional boss –there’s a lot you don’t know about your employees.

There’s also a lot employees don’t know about you.

Here are a few things bosses wish they could say to their employees… but never do:

1. “I really do care whether you like me.”

I want you to like me. When I come off like a hard-ass who doesn’t care about your opinions, it’s mostly because I’m insecure or uncertain of my authority.

If I’m the owner, my business is an extension of myself. If I’m your boss, the company is at least partly an extension of myself. So I want you to like your job.

And I definitely want you to like me– whether it seems like it or not.

2. “I don’t think I know everything.”

A few people stepped in, without being asked, and made a huge difference in my professional life. I will always be grateful to them.

So I don’t offer you advice because I think I’m all knowing or all-powerful. I see something special in you, and I’m repaying the debt I owe to the people who helped me.

3. “I like when you’re having fun.”

You don’t have to lower your voice and pretend to be working really hard when I walk by. I know it’s possible to perform at a high level and have a little fun at the same time. Before I started acting all serious, I used to work that way, too.

When you enjoy what you do it makes me feel a little better about our company and about myself.

I get to feel like I’m part of something more than just a business.

4. “I really would like to pay you more.”

I would love to be the employer of choice in our area. But I can’t, mostly due to financial constraints. And if I own the business, the financial risk I’m taking deserves a reasonable return. (If I go out of business tomorrow, you lose your job. That’s terrible, I know. But I lose my business, my investment, my credit, my house… I might loseeverything.)

Someday, if you become a boss – or especially if you start your own business – I promise you’ll understand.

5. “I hope you work here forever.”

Job-hopping may be a fact of business life, but as a boss it’s a fact of business life I hate. I don’t see you as a disposable part. When you leave, it hurts. A part of me feels like I’ve failed.

I want to run the kind of business people hope to retire from.

6. “We sell what we can sell.”

I know you despise filling certain types of orders or doing certain types of work. It’s aggravating, it makes you fall behind, it makes it tough to hit your targets and goals… it’s a pain. You wish we would sell other work.

Unfortunately (from your point of view at least) sometimes the jobs that takes the most time are actually the most profitable for our company. And even if they aren’t that profitable, sometimes the least desirable work (from your point of view) is the only work we can sell.

And sometimes we take terrible jobs because it’s the only way to keep the lights on.

7. “I would love to turn you loose.”

I know you can’t stand to be micromanaged. And that’s good, because I hate to micromanage. But freedom is earned, not given. Show me you can fly on your own and I’ll gladly focus on something or someone else.

In fact, if you feel I’m micromanaging you, tell me. Say, “I can tell you don’t quite trust me to handle this well. I understand, so I’m going to prove to you that you can trust me.”

Pull that off and not only will I get off your back… I’ll respect you even more.

8. “I do notice when others don’t pull their weight.”

I’m not blind. But I won’t discipline anyone in front of you. Every employee, no matter how poorly they perform, has the right to confidentiality and privacy.

And sometimes I won’t discipline those people at all, because occasionally more is going on than you know. You wouldn’t realize that, though, because oftentimes…

9. “There are some things I just can’t tell you.”

Even though I would love to, and even though you and I have become friends. Still, I can’t. Especially if it regards other employees.

10. “I worry — about everything.”

I worry about sales. I worry about costs. I worry about facilities and employees and vendors and customers and… you name it, I worry about it.

So occasionally I’m snappy. Occasionally I’m distracted. Occasionally I’m tense and irritable and short-tempered. It’s not your fault. I’m just worried.

More than anything, I’m worried about whether I can fulfill the trust you place in me as your boss.

Now it’s your turn: What do you wish you could tell your employees?


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How to Handle Tough Market Conditions For Your Business Survival? Learn The Basic Strategies

Every business has to undergo some kind of good and hard times. If a business develops proper strategies, uses the right tools and knows the tricks of making the most out of favourable conditions, it can go through the tough times in a relatively easier way. The article gives you an in-depth view of business strategies which can help you successfully through the economic contractions.

Before getting into the business world, entrepreneurs need making up their minds that they are likely to come across different situations both – favourable and unfavourable and those, who know the skills of going through each step successfully, become the spearheads.

Economic fluctuation is not just the dilemma, the under-developed countries; rather every state, region or country undergoes some kind of economic changes. As economy of an area or country sees an expansion, the conditions are considered favourable for businesses and in-case of a contraction, the situation gets reversed.

Usually, the entrepreneurs surviving successfully through tough times are those, who develop proper business plans and strategies. Their proper groundwork not only helps them getting through the economic contractions successfully but they also make the most out of good market conditions.

Let’s get into some of the useful online business strategies which may help you become one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Keep Exploring

The more you explore, the more you learn, knowledge has no limit. Like every other department of your company, you need to allocate a special team that could keep a track of the latest trends, methods, market conditions and other similar stuff. Even you can encourage the new ideas, innovations and news from every department. With the latest technological developments and excessive internet usage, the task of exploring has become much easier. Go for every source, to gather knowledge, about the business, market, consumers, technologies, buying behaviours and much more. The purpose of having both –personal experience by visiting market in person and exploring others’ work on the internet is to broaden your vision because you might find differing results for the same thing.

Stay Focused

No matter, how much you go farther in your assessments, do not ever lose focus because it may make you lost. Exploring things while keeping a focus on your core business strategies and goals helps you learn useful tactics.

Play Smarter

Do not ever underestimate your competitors. You need to do a smart work by staying up-to-date with present market conditions, customers’ buying behaviours, new technologies, the good tactics your competitors are using to go through the tough situations and much more. Instead of remaining trapped into multiple technologies (both old and new), pick up the one that replaces other in the best possible ways. For instance one of the online business tools, live chat software has been proved highly helpful. It is evident form the different market surveys and results that the tool has diminished the importance of other customer service and support channels like email and telephone. By using these tools, you would not only make your tasks simpler and faster but you would also be able to cut down the overheads to a greater extent.

Simplify Your Business Practices

Simplifying never means that you should cut down some major practices but to refine your tasks. Let us suppose if you want to catch international customers, using telephone or emails would not be a feasible option, because the former source charges huge amount whereas using the latter is a time taking option. For each support channel, you need preparing a separate team. However, if you use live chat support, you can reduce the expenses in various ways. Incorporating this channel into your e-commerce website is much easier and economical. It invests you a minor or no amount to catch overseas customers. Additionally, the online channel works faster than any other means of communication. No matter how far a particular customer is located, you can catch up every potential client at your earliest.

Make the Most of New Opportunities

Making the most during favourable conditions helps you go through the tough times. Do not lose the golden opportunities of making sales, earning repute and making a stronger customer base. Usually, good economic conditions and special occasions help you boost your sales and online clientèle.

Set Your Priorities

Every business may have its own preferences but looking at the present-day market scenario all across the globe, the best option is to prioritize your customer service because this serves to be the lifeline of a successful online business.

By adopting the right strategies, picking up the appropriate business tools and making the most out of golden opportunities, you can keep flourishing your online company in all kinds of market situations.


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