Numbers — B4

Unique email users in August (thousand):

Facebook: 69,256, 348% change from a year earlier

Gmail: 82,921, 64%

MySpace: 105,716, 33%

Hotmail: 255,342, 9%

Yahoo Mail: 254,942, -1%

AOL email: 49,561, -9%

US game console sales in August:

Nintendo Wii: 404,000

Microsoft XBox 360: 277,000

Sony PlayStation 3: 131,000

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The First Parking Meter –B1

The first parking meter was installed in 1935 in Oklahoma City. Before that, parking on the street is free in cities. However, as more cars pouring in, it’s becoming chaotic. Finding a parking space on the street is often impossible. Some merchants deliberately parked their cars in front of competitors’ stores to stop costumers dropping by. Large cities began banning street parking at downtown areas. But the regulation brought severe damage to the business district. Shoppers wouldn’t even walk a few blocks from their cars to a store. In 1932, the Oklahoma City tried to figure a way out this chaos. A local newspaper editor, Carl Magee invented the park-o-meter. First meter was installed in July, 1935. People found it hard to believe that they had to pay to park on the street, after they had paid all kinds of taxes to the government. Probably for fun and to protest, two couples set up a folding table and four chairs in a parking space, deposited a nickel in the meter and played a rubber of bridge.

Bridge Loans — C1

How the deal get done in private equity buyouts?

  1. Private equity firms make an offer to buy a company, taking it private
  2. The company shareholders approve the deal and it closes.
  3. Private equity firms use short-term bridge loans from banks to pay off shareholders.
  4. Together private equity firms and their bankers make a plan to sell the bonds to investors to pay back the bridge loan.
  5. Now, investors who buy these bonds are pushing back, refusing to buy bonds with features that make them riskier and benefit the private equity firm.

Your Mortgage, Their Business

  1. You, the borrower, work with a broker or directly with a lender to get a home-purchase loan or a refinancing.
    • Get: money needed for a house purchase or cash from refinancing.
    • If the loan goes bad: house can be repossessed
  2. Broker: Finds a lender who can close the loan. They usually have a working arrangement with multiple lenders.
    • Get: Takes fees for doing the preliminary sales and paperwork.
    • If the loan goes bad: May get cut from lender’s approved broker list.
  3. Lender: Often funds loan via ‘warehouse’ line of credit from investment bank. Then sells loan to investment bank.
    • Get: Take up-front fees for making the loan
    • If the loan goes bad: Can be forced to take back loan if there’s an early default or documentation is questionable.
  4. Investment Bank: Package the loans into a mortgage-backed bond deal, often known as a securitization. Sells the securitization sorted by risk to investors. Lower-rated slices take the first defaults when mortgages go bad, but offer higher returns.
    • Get: Collects fees for packaging the loans into bond deal
    • If the loan goes bad: May push back loan to lender, or be forced to eat any loss.
  5. Investors: Choose what to buy based on their appetites for risk and reward.
    • Get: Earn intesests on the bonds and absorb any gain or loss in price of the bond.
    • If the loan goes bad: May have legal recourse against bank if they can show the quality of the loan or loan documentation was misrepresented.

Castes in India –front page

Rooted in Hinduism, India’s complex caste system includes 3000 castes and 25000 sub-castes, all traditionally related to occupation. They fall under four basic “varnas” or categories:

  • BRAHMINS: priests, scholars and teachers. Famous members include: Jawaharlal Nehru, first president of independent India; Rahul Dravid, captain of India’s cricket team.
  • KSHATRIYAS: warriors and rules. Famous members include: Vasundhara Raje Scindia, chief minister of the India state of Rajasthan.
  • VAISHYAS: traders. Famous members include:Lakshmi Mittal, chief executive of Arcelor Mittal steel company; Mohandas Gandhi, Independence leader, the “father of the nation”.
  • SUDRAS: manual workers and servants
  • and the DALITS: formly known as ‘Untouchables,’ Dalits perform unpleasant jobs like cleaning or leather tanning. Famous members include: KR Narayanan, former president of India; BR Ambedkar, political leader and chief architect of the India constitution.

DDT controversy — Opinion

I have never imaged people are still debating about DDT, something disappeared for about 20 years as I remember. Well, I don’t know malaria is still killing thousands of people in poor countries, either.

DDT is the first modern pesticide and was used with great effect to combat mosquitoes spreading malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne human diseases after the discovery in early World War II. With the help of DDT, US and Europe eradicted malaria by 1960. In 1962, American biologist and environmentalist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, which questioned DDT for the environmental impacts and human health concerns. US banned DDT usage in 1972 after the large public outcry stirred by the book. Many countries around the world followed the ban.

DDT is still the single most effective pesticide to fight malaria, the mosquito-borne disease. And it’s one of the cheapest, too. In 1960s, Uganda tested DDT in the Kanungu district and reduced malaria by 98%. But the poor country lacked the resources and public health infrastructure to sustain the program. Now, with the help from foreign organizations, Uganda resumed the DDT spraying operation in households and reduced the malaria parasite dropped from 30% to 3% of local populations in the test regions.

The author is complaining that international environmentalists are undermining Uganda’s anti-malaria effect by discouraging G-8 leaders from supporting DDT usage.

Update: According to National Geographic Magazine, malaria is the leading disease killing human being, more than HIV-related disease and cancer. In Africa, 3000 people die everyday from malaria, primarily pregnant mothers and children under five.