Thursday, June 30, 2011

Art Van Furniture - Mix Modern Demonstration

Art Van Furniture - Mix Modern Demonstration

Art Van Furniture - Mix Modern DemonstrationMix Modern is the newest collection in our Michigan HOMES furniture series, created exclusively for Art Van Furniture by designer and inventor ...

Lovely apartments from my future city

As some of you might already know, in August I am moving to DC because my boyfriend will be attending GWU in the fall to get his masters. While I grew up in MD, I only ever went to DC for school field trips, so I don't really know much about the different neighborhoods. So yesterday before attending Manvi from Mochatini's fabulous tabletop decorating how-to party, which I'll be sharing pics from later, I drove around and explored some recommended neighborhoods. I checked out Columbia Heights, Shaw, Foggy Bottom, Dupont, Silver Spring (MD suburb), and Capitol Hill. It's ultimately going to come down to the $$/space ratio. Anyway, enough of that - here are some fab. DC apartments...

The vintage chic split level apartment is in Cleveland Park.

LoVe the widow seat

This charming loft is in the adorable Logan Circle in the The Louise Hand Laundry Loft

Love the rug

Great bed

via Apartment Therapy

Indoor Fun!

On Monday I headed to Walmart crossing my fingers that they carried Americolor food gel. On a whim I decided to replicate these adorable {yet very labor intensive} rocket cookies, adding the them to the 4th of July cookie platter that I am making for my husband to take to work tomorrow : ) Since I didn't plan on adding them to my mix {I couldn't resist because A.) they are so cute, and B.) I'm always up for a challenge} I needed just one food gel color that I didn't have on hand. I didn't want to trek allllll the way to Hobby Lobby for just one teeny tiny thing. But as it turned out, that's exactly what I had to do. And naturally, I left that store {like I pretty much always do} with more than just that $1.49 item. Anyhow, while I was at Walmart, I picked up a bag of 100 plastic balls.
What would we need all these balls for you ask?.....

For Ilah's inflatable Dora Butterfly Garden ball pit {that my mom bought for her for Christmas}.....
The ballpit came with just 20 balls, so naturally we had to add more to the mix!.....
It's so funny. I swore that my house wouldn't be overun with an ubundant amount of plastic toys when we had a child. And then enters a three foot plastic ball pit! Ha! Really though, you just can't help it. You want your child to enjoy the fun things in life!

Ilah loves climbing in and out. And speaking of of yesterday she can climb onto the couch all on her own and get back down. And she's insistent on coming DOWN the stairs on her own now {she scoots down on her bottom} - I have to refrain from being too hands on because I do want her to master it, but we are always there to protect her if she loses her footing...which hasn't happened; she has always been very balanced.

I was taking the above picture of Ilah through one of the holes in the ballpit and when she heard me click the camera, she stuck her face right up to the hole. Ha ha!! I LOVE MY GIRL!!!!

We've been enjoying our summer both outside and inside!

didn't make the cut!

So here are some more photos of my HG shoot that didn't make the cut....

Also I have had tons of questions about my Suzani ottoman seen below....

I posted a little tutorial about it way back when,  GO HERE to see

Inspired = Lyford Cay Club - Bahamas

I'm smitten with Tom Scheerer's design for the Lyford Cay Club. It delivers so many wonderful elements; pagoda designs, grass cloth, faux bamboo, corals, pink, yellow and chocolate, antique mirrors. etc. etc. Most of Tom's designs use these materials. His work is amazing.
I'm not sure I'll ever make  it past the pink entry gates, but a girl can dream right? A little beach shack in the Bahamas would do. {see Tom's home here - I am in love with this casual beauty}
How amazing is this tented dining area?

And the Lyford Cay inspired Pagoda print by Quadrille {of course}

Images: Lyford Cay Club - via Town and Country and, Pagoda Images: Coastal Living, Meg Braff

White Fiberglass Skull Chair By Pool.

This simple, modern white fiberglass skull chair, by Léa Padovani & Sébastien Kieffer of Pool, made its debut at the 2011 Milan Furniture Fair.

"Souviens toi que tu vas mourir, chair” (translated :"Remember that you will die") is described by the designers as "an emblematic monobloc chair reinterpreted as an expression of vanity. This memento mori represented by a skull acts as a leitmotiv for those who seek the comfort of a chair and the ceremonial act of being seated."

photos ©Benjamin Le Du

material : fiberglass
dimensions : L55cm W50cm H88cm

Pool is Léa Padovani & Sébastien Kieffer. They live and work in Paris.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Before you read on, we strongly recommend that you carefully read our article about the adsense pricing model since the strategy we will be discussing is mainly based on taking advantage of the adsense pricing model.
As you probably know, there are three main ways to increase adsense income on a website: 
•  more traffic 
•  higher CTR 
•  higher CPC 
The strategy we are to reveal aims at getting a consistently higher CPC
Double adsense earnings showing fewer ads: A case studyLet's consider the following case: you run a website with some traffic and three ad units (Top banner, Right Hand Skyscraper and a half banner at the bottom) and you make $ 130 a month. 
Let's see how you could double your income by showing fewer ad units. Here are some details about your website: 
•  Traffic: 9.000 visits and 25.000 pages viewed in average every month. 
•  AdSense Stats:Ad unitCTRCPC ($)Revenue ($)Top banner1,00%0.2357,5Skyscraper1,20%0.1133Half banner4,00%0.0440Unless you have understood the adsense pricing model, you may be wondering why CPC is so different from one ad unit to another. Anyway, this is normal since the ad that gets the higher paying ads is the one that first appears on the HTML code (the Top banner) and is followed by the second one (Skyscraper) then comes the third (Half banner).
Let's now cut down the number of our ad units keeping only the Bottom Half banner. This means the half banner shows first on the HTML and so gets the two best paying ads. Since it is the first ad unit, it should have the same CPC the top banner used to have. Moreover, a banner shows 4 ads where a half banner shows only 2. This will result in a considerably higher average CPC for the half banner (due to more competition). CTR will at least stay at 4% since we kept the same placement, same colours. but could also increase to something like 5% because your advertising will be less intrusive. 
Let's now see how much money you will be making with no change in your traffic stats:
ScenarioCTRCPCRevenue14,00%0.2323024,00%0.3030034,50%0.2325944,50%0.30338As you can read on the chart you could easily make $ 230 in the most pessimistic scenario while an optimistic scenario could yield more than $ 300!!! with no change to your traffic and a better reader experience.
Can I use it on my website?Yes most adsense publishers can use it. However, there are some preliminary conditions to getting the most out of it:
•  If you are in a low paying market (like arcad and games related websites) where CPC is around 5 cents no matter how high your ad is in the HTML code, don't use this strategy as it won't do much for you. On the opposite, if you are in a high paying niche this strategy could work great for you. 
•  You also need an ad unit with high CTR, compared to the other units on the same page, while having a lower CPC. The bigger the differences are, the more you could increase your revenue. 
If you can fulfil the two above conditions, then hurry up and remove those ads that keep you from making real money. 
Want more money?OK! Now that you have reduced the advertising pressure on your visitors, you can choose to sit down and watch increased loyalty from your readers, more links... (long term results) or choose to get even more money now (short term) by adding ads to the space you have saved.
As you know, link units and referral products are perfect for that since they do not compete with ad units (so you can add them with no risk to the above strategy). 
Of course you can use other advertising programs instead of adsense but we won't discuss that as this is a "make money with adsense" website!! 
 How do I create advanced reports ?The first thing you are asked to set to your needs is the product data you want to analyse. Below the "choose product" heading, you will find a drop down menu covering all three AdSense products:adsense for contentadsense for searchrefferalsOnce you have choosen the product, you will need to define a date range. You can either use the drop down menu to define a period of time like today, yesterday, las 7 days... or define your own customised date range like from Sept 5 2006 to Oct 31 2006 to see how the Septembre update affected your performances. 
Next you will need to tackle the "Show data by" section. I understand this is quite confusion so I advise you to choose the default criterion which is "Page". However, advanced adsense users must be able to use any additional data provided by google so let's take a look at how the adsense team explains it. I have modified the text to make it a bit clearer. 
Advanced reports provide the option to view your performance by page, ad unit, or individual ad. We've highlighted the differences between each report below. 
Page reports will show an impression every time a user views a page displaying Google ads. We'll only report one page impression no matter how many Google ads are displayed on a page.Ad unit reports will show an impression every time a user views a Google ad unit on your page. For example, if a page with one half banner and one vertical banner is viewed once, we'll display two ad unit impressions.Individual ad reports will show an impression for each individual ad that's shown in any ad unit (remembre that a single ad unit can contain more than one idividual ad). For example, if a page with one half banner and one vertical banner is viewed once, it will generate three ad impressions.The last decision you need to make is choosing between displaying "aggregate data" and "channel data". 
Unless you want a summary of your overall performance on a daily basis or that you have not defined any channels, I think you should opt for "channel data" option that will give you valuable data on the performance of every channel you set up earlier. 
Once you choose "channel data", more options are displayed. This is a little confusing at first but if you are familiar with SQL queries and databases you shouldn't have any difficulty using these options. For others I have tried to list some guidelines: 
select at least one channel you want to analyseset grouping to "date" or "channel", avoid using bothtry many combinations till you get what you wanttry to understand the data and you will see what other data you needOptimize your advertising strategy - Part 1
In its AdSense program, google offers an array of products : 
Adsense for contentAdsense for searchRefferalsThe first critical task (after understanding each product), is to come up with the best possible combination of these products.
Of course, each website is unique and so requires a unique " Advertising strategy " combining AdSense and other advertising techniques. To help define the best AdSense strategy for your website we suggest you try and answer these simple questions : 
Do you have many returning visitors ?This is tipycally the case for a blog or a portal with constantly updated content (news, forums...). If this applies to you, we think you should not rely on refferals to yield much income as they only pay for "a first time install". Once the majority of your readers will have installed the reffered product (firefox, picasa, adwords, adsense subscription...) you won't be getting any more money from these ads. 
On the contrary, if you have mostly first time visitors, then refferals can be a good choice. 
Where do your visitors come from ?Again, if you are considering refferals, you should keep in mind that these can be restricted to some regions of the globe. For example, the google pack installation won't pay you any cent unless the person installing it is from the USA. Thus, if the majority of your visitors comes from England it is useless to put this product on your website. 
Is your design flexibleIn some cases, and particularly with some blogging services, you do not have total control over the lay out of your website. Then you may have only one place to put your ads which is less than 20 pixels high. In this case for example, you cannot put any ad unit since there is no suitable format offered. 
In some other situations, you may be using a CMS (Content Management System) to build your site and be confronted to the hard fact that the only region you can personalise is the menu (or sidebar). In that case we strongly recommend you use link units because they can be harmonously integrated into any menu.

Pakistani community in France neglected, abandoned

PARIS: Pakistani community in France has unlimited complaints from the Pakistani embassy in Paris and term it as alien place for them. They also criticized the staff attitude as non-cooperative and cut off from its own community.
Ahmad Jalal, member of Pakistani Community in Paris, shared his personal experience in the Pakistani embassy, told the Express Tribune, “As I applied for my national identity card in December this year but yet to get it and have no response from the embassy as well. What I believe, our embassy is not linked with majority of the Pakistanis but only with few people. Overall they are cut from the Pakistani community. Pakistani community does not have that access to the embassy which should have them. They need to integrate more with the Pakistani community.”
Narrating, a practical incident occurred when President Asif Ali Zardari was here, attending an exhibition of Gandhara Art,  he said, “The day President Asif Ali Zaradari was here, a French friend of mine called me and told that she could not get access to her library because somebody was there and they had closed all the area to the public which really created a negative image on the local about Pakistan because if other dignitaries come here, they don’t block the roads.
He also criticized PIA and said, “If you go to the PIA office you will find two Chinese attending Pakistani clients which is little strange. The PIA office doesn’t help people the way they should do comparatively other airlines are perfect by every means.
Junaid Khan, a student of Higher Education in Paris was not really happy with the embassy, while narrating his story he told the Express Tribune, “
“My passport was robbed after three weeks of my arrival to France in October, 2009. Upon requesting new passport from the Embassy of Pakistan in Paris, they issued me a new passport with six months validity and was told that five year validity passport needs verification from Pakistan and required a maximum of two months.  So I kept inquiring the embassy for my verification but even after four months, neither could I get any positive answer nor a reason of delay. Disappointing,  I went to the Pakistan embassy in Rome to get a new computerized passport which was issued in 10 days. This was a period of tension besides spending so much money, which was hardly affordable for a student.”
He also complaint about the attitude of the staff in the embassy at the customer service and said that they are harsh and un-professional and don’t give sufficient and accurate information to their citizens.
There is another issue of non availability of Bannk but the only branch of a National bank located in a walking distance due to which going there, a customer often miss then embassy time and practically attending both Bank and Embassy services is not possible.
Shaukat Hussain, a senior member of Pakistani community, who has been living in Paris for 30 years, told the Express Tribune, “Even the clerical staff of the embassy behaves negatively. When they come to office, their first priority is to seek currency rates and gets excited when the rates of dollars are higher. Though their personal offices are grand and specious but the customer service room is very much narrow with low standard facilities. The embassy provides limited tokens which can be got early in the morning. But many more people who come from out of the Paris often cannot get it and they have to stay in hotels. Then those with tokens have to wait in a long queue outside of the embassy which gives very bad impression on the passersby while in other embassies there is a proper system for their communities.
When the Express Tribune approached the embassy of Pakistan in Paris, Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui, Minister/DHM Charge d’Affari, told the Express Tribune, “If the people have genuine complaints, they have every right to speak open and we will redress it but it is also fact that sometime people make issues of non-issues. The very long standing issue people faced here was the non availability of the machine readable passport which has been solved now for them.”
Regarding token and queue issues outside of the embassy, Siddiqui negated the waiting queue complaint and said, “I have never seen any line standing here. Though with the limited resources, we try to provide best services. First we issued 25 tokens but now extended to 40. There is a proper sitting arrangement inside the embassy.”
About the delay in achieving National Identity Card he said that they did the process in time but it got delayed from Pakistan. He also said that unlike India, Pakistani embassy has not cultural centre. “We don’t have funds for cultural promotion and whatever we do in this regard, we do generate it from our own recourses.  As concerned, the culture promotion, so we arrange different activities regularly. For six months consecutively we organized exhibition of Gandhara art here in a museum but our community is not so much interested in it.”
“We have even helped and assisted our community on the off days. Whenever we come to know a Pakistani with an issue, our officers come to the office even on off days and sort out their problem.” He added.

US cost of war at least $3.7 trillion and counting

NEW YORK: When President Barack Obama cited cost as a reason to bring troops home from Afghanistan, he referred to a $1 trillion price tag for America’s wars.
Staggering as it is, that figure grossly underestimates the total cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the US Treasury and ignores more imposing costs yet to come, according to a study released on Wednesday.
The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion, according to the research project “Costs of War” by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.
In the 10 years since US troops went into Afghanistan to root out the al Qaeda leaders behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, spending on the conflicts totaled $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.
Those numbers will continue to soar when considering often overlooked costs such as long-term obligations to wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012 through 2020. The estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments coming due and many billions more in expenses that cannot be counted, according to the study.
In human terms, 224,000 to 258,000 people have died directly from warfare, including 125,000 civilians in Iraq. Many more have died indirectly, from the loss of clean drinking water, healthcare, and nutrition. An additional 365,000 have been wounded and 7.8 million people – equal to the combined population of Connecticut and Kentucky – have been displaced.
“Costs of War” brought together more than 20 academics to uncover the expense of war in lives and dollars, a daunting task given the inconsistent recording of lives lost and what the report called opaque and sloppy accounting by the US Congress and the Pentagon.
The report underlines the extent to which war will continue to stretch the US federal budget, which is already on an unsustainable course due to an aging American population and skyrocketing healthcare costs.
It also raises the question of what the United States gained from its multitrillion-dollar investment.
“I hope that when we look back, whenever this ends, something very good has come out of it,” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, told Reuters in Washington.
Sept 11, 2001: The damage continues
In one sense, the report measures the cost of 9/11, the American shorthand for the events of Sept 11, 2001. Nineteen hijackers plus other al Qaeda plotters spent an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 on the plane attacks that killed 2,995 people and caused $50 billion to $100 billion in economic damages.
What followed were three wars in which $50 billion amounts to a rounding error. For every person killed on Sept 11, another 73 have been killed since.
Was it worth it? That is a question many people want answered, said Catherine Lutz, head of the anthropology department at Brown and co-director of the study.
“We decided we needed to do this kind of rigorous assessment of what it cost to make those choices to go to war,” she said. “Politicians, we assumed, were not going to do that kind of assessment.”
The report arrives as Congress debates how to cut a US deficit projected at $1.4 trillion this year, roughly a 10th of which can be attributed to direct war spending.
What did the United States gain for its trillions?
Strategically, the results for the United States are mixed. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are dead, but Iraq and Afghanistan are far from stable democracies. Iran has gained influence in the Gulf and the Taliban, though ousted from government, remain a viable military force in Afghanistan.
“The United States has been extremely successful in protecting the homeland,” said George Friedman, founder of STRATFOR, a US-based intelligence company.
“Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was capable of mounting very sophisticated, complex, operations on an intercontinental basis. That organization with that capability has not only been substantially reduced, it seems to have been shattered,” Friedman said.
Economically, the results are also mixed. War spending may be adding half a percentage point a year to growth in the gross domestic product but that has been more than offset by the negative effects of deficit spending, the report concludes.
Comprehensive study
Some US government reports have attempted to assess the costs of war, notably a March 2011 Congressional Research Service report that estimated post-Sept 11 war funding at $1.4 trillion through 2012. The Congressional Budget Office projected war costs through 2021 at $1.8 trillion.
A ground-breaking private estimate was published in the 2008 book “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” by Linda Bilmes, a member of the Watson Institute team, and Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. That work revealed how much cost was added by interest on deficit spending and medical care for veterans.
The report draws on those sources and pieces together many others for a more comprehensive picture.
The report also makes special note of Pakistan, a front not generally mentioned along with Iraq and Afghanistan. War has probably killed more people in Pakistan than in neighboring Afghanistan, the report concludes.
Politicians throughout history have underestimated the costs of war, believing they will be shorter and less deadly than reality, said Neta Crawford, the other co-director of the report and a political science professor at Boston University.
The report said former President George W. Bush’s administration was “shamelessly politically driven” in underestimating Iraq war costs before the 2003 invasion.
Most official sources continue to overlook costs, largely because of a focus on just Pentagon spending, Crawford said.
“Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war,” Obama said in last week’s speech on reducing US troop levels in Afghanistan. At the very least, he was rounding down by $200 billion to $300 billion, when counting US congressional appropriations for the post 9/11 wars.
“I don’t know what the president knows, but I wish it were a trillion,” Crawford said. “It would be better if it were a trillion.”
Elusive number
In theory, adding up the dollars spent and lives lost should be a statistical errand. The US Congress appropriates the money, and a life lost on battlefield should have a death certificate and a casket to match.
The team quickly discovered, however, the task was far more complicated.
Specific war spending over the past 10 years, when expressed in 2011 dollars, comes to $1.3 trillion, the “Costs of War” project found. When it comes to accounting for every dollar, that $1.3 trillion is merely a good start.
Since the wars have been financed by deficit spending, interest must be paid – $185 billion of accumulated so far.
The Pentagon has received an additional $326 billion to $652 billion beyond what can be attributed to the war appropriations, the study found.
Homeland security spending has totaled another $401 billion so far that can be traced to Sept 11. War-related foreign aid: another $74 billion.
Then comes caring for US veterans of war. Nearly half of the 1.25 million who have served in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan have used their status as veterans to make health or disability claims at an expense of $32.6 billion to date.
Those costs will soar over the next 40 years as veterans age. The report estimates the US obligations to the veterans will reach $589 billion to $934 billion through 2050.
So far, those numbers add up to a low estimate of $2.9 trillion and a moderate estimate of $3.6 trillion in costs to the US Treasury. No high estimate was offered.
“We feel a conservative measure of costs is plenty large to attract attention,” said report contributor Ryan Edwards, an economist who studied the war impact on deficit spending.
Those numbers leave out hundreds of billions in social costs not born by the US taxpayer but by veterans and their families: another $295 billion to $400 billion, increasing the range of costs to date to some $3.2 trillion to $4 trillion.
That’s a running total through fiscal 2011. Add another $453 billion in war-related spending projected for 2012 to 2020 and the total grows to $3.668 trillion to $4.444 trillion.
The human toll
If the financial costs are elusive, so too is the human toll.
The report estimates between 224,475 and 257,655 have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, though those numbers give a false sense of precision. There are many sources of data on civilian deaths, most with different results.
The civilian death toll in Iraq – 125,000 – and the number of Saddam’s security forces killed in invasion – 10,000 – are loose estimates. The US military does not publish a thorough accounting.
“We don’t do body counts,” Tommy Franks, the US commander in Iraq, famously said after the fall of Saddam in 2003.
In Afghanistan, the civilian death count ranges from 11,700 to 13,900. For Pakistan, where there is little access to the battlefield and the United States fights mostly through aerial drone attacks, the study found it impossible to distinguish between civilian and insurgent deaths.
The numbers only consider direct deaths – people killed by bombs or bullets. Estimates for indirect deaths in war vary so much that researchers considered them too arbitrary to report.
“When the fighting stops, the indirect dying continues. It’s in fact worse than land mines. The healthcare system is still in bad shape. People are still suffering the effects of malnutrition and so on,” Crawford said.
Even where the United States does do body counts – for the members of the military – the numbers may come up short of reality, said Lutz, the study’s co-director. When veterans return home, they are more likely to die in suicides and automobile accidents.
“The rate of chaotic behavior,” she said, “is high.”

Online censorship: What Pakistan's low ranking on Google's list means

The Pakistani government made less than 10 requests to Google to remove content for the period July – December 2010.
This was revealed in the most recent Transparency Report published by American multinational public corporation, Google Inc.
The preamble of the report states that government agencies and courts from various countries often send requests to the internet company to remove content from Google. They also request that Google hand over user data.
In a statement included in the report, Google states the nature of various countries’ reservations:
“Some content removals are requested due to allegations of defamation, while others are due to allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography.”
Commenting on Pakistan’s place on the list, Aleem Bawany, General Manager of Online Strategy and Development, Express Media Group says that the low ranking is not necessarily indicative of less censorship.
“Pakistan, as we have seen in the past, has taking some drastic censorship measures. That’s because PIE (Pakistan Internet Exchange) has control over blocking entire domains locally,” says Bawany.
He added that while PIE is a global filter, other countries with a better legal setup don’t need a global filter.
“They can send a court order to all known Internet providers and ask them to block an offending domain.”
Others on the list
The United Kingdom tops the chart with 93,518 items requested to be removed, out of which 158 items were not removed. Other countries in the top five were South Korea, Brazil, Germany and the United States. All countries in the top five had a high percentage of request compliance.
India ranked number six on the table with 282 item removal requests. Google only fulfilled 22% of these requests.
Google also received 1,699 requests for information on users of Google accounts or services, 79% of these requests were fulfilled. A majority of the Indian removal requests came via law enforcement agencies, including one requesting the removal of a blog and YouTube videos critical of senior government officials of Indian States.
The highest number of removal requests cited defamation as the reason, followed by privacy and security, impersonation and government criticism.
The top 10 countries on the list are:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. South Korea
  3. Brazil
  4. Germany
  5. United States
  6. India
  7. Libya
  8. Italy
  9. France
  10. Argentina

India appoints new foreign secretary

He’s quiet, low profile and uncontroversial. The diplomat of diplomats, Ranjan Mathai, India’s ambassador in France was appointed foreign secretary on Monday. Mathai will succeed Nirupama Rao who has been named India’s ambassador to the US.
A 1974-batch IFS officer, 59-year-old Mathai will assume charge on August 1 and will have a two-year term, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash announced. He will occupy the top post at a time when India’s relations with Pakistan are gradually getting back on track and its strategic partnership with the US has reached new heights. Mathai was chosen above two other colleagues: Sharat Sabharwal posted as ambassador in Pakistan; and Hardeep Puri, India’s permanent representative in the United Nations. Puri has been retained in the UN to ensure a degree of continuity.
Mathai, who did his M A in political science from Pune University, has served in Indian missions in Vienna, Colombo, Washington, Tehran and Brussels.
As joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi between January 1995 to February 1998, he headed the division dealing with India’s relations with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives. He held the post of Deputy High Commissioner in India’s mission in the UK from August 2005 to January 2007.

Bin Laden son seeks to free family in Pakistan

DOHA: A son of Osama bin Laden said he is working with the United Nations to obtain his family’s release from Pakistan after the US raid that killed the former al Qaeda leader in May.
Omar bin Laden, who has written an autobiographical book, also said he doubted if his father was dead after US President Barack Obama decided not to publish photographs from the raid.
“I want to send a message to the leaders of Pakistan: they should help the children of Osama bin Laden to go wherever they want to go. The Pakistani government should protect them, because they are just innocent children and women,” Omar bin Laden told Reuters.
Omar, who is said to bear little resemblance to his father, said he has been based in the Qatari capital for a year to start his own property development company, Qatar bin Laden Group.
The bin Laden family amassed fortunes in construction and real estate, wealth that enabled Osama to fund and plan attacks against the United States and its ally Saudi Arabia, which he accused of going against the principles of Islam.
After the attacks in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden was the subject of a massive manhunt that forced him into hiding.
At his last hiding place, a compound north of Islamabad, one of bin Laden’s widows Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, along with two other wives and several children, were among 15 or 16 people detained by Pakistani authorities. He is believed to have about 20 children from several wives.
Pakistan has blamed intelligence lapses for a failure to detect bin Laden, while Washington has worked to establish whether its ally had sheltered the al Qaeda leader, a charge Islamabad vehemently denies.
Omar said all of his relatives except for his sister Fatima and her husband have left Iran, where several of Osama bin Laden’s children with his first wife Najwa fled in 2001.
“Thank god all except one have gotten out,” Omar said.
He added that he was not convinced his father was killed in the US military operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May. He was also unsure whether his father had lived for five uninterrupted years at the compound where the raid took place.
“Why hasn’t the US shown the photos? If we haven’t seen the body, we can’t be completely sure,” he said.
US authorities say they decided not to release pictures because of the potential to incite violence and be used as an al Qaeda propaganda tool.
Omar said, however, that he was sure his brother Khalid was killed in the raid: “I saw the picture, and knew it was him.”
Osama bin Laden’s fourth-eldest son, Omar broke with his father in 2001 after living in Afghanistan for much of 1996 to 2001.
In “Growing up bin Laden,” a book written by US author Jean Sasson with Omar bin Laden and his mother, Omar said he wanted to tell his story to show the damage done by war.

Smartphones: Not so popular in Pakistan

Smartphone usage worldwide has jumped 79% in the past year. Around 450 million smartphones are expected to ship worldwide this year.
Despite this worldwide popularity, smartphones in Pakistan haven’t picked up any steam. Currently, there are 105 million SIMs in operation in Pakistan and phone density is 63% (according to PTA, other estimates from different institutes provide a lower figure), but smartphone usage is limited.
Estimates suggest that the smartphone share in Pakistan is 5% of the total mobile phone market. E-Series from Nokia and Blackberries are counted in this.
The low penetration of smartphones in Pakistan is due to high prices. In the UK and other countries, the model adopted by network providers which is popular is contract based. So an iPhone 4 might cost around $199 dollars which translates to Rs17, 000 on contract. But the same iPhone here costs around Rs55,000.
Those networks, like in the UK, offer the phones for lower prices because they can recover their money and make profits from the data plans offered in contracts.
The phones only run on the network with which you have a contract and these networks have huge user bases so even if they break even in the seventeenth month of a two year contract, they will still make substantial profits.
This model is not suitable for an environment like Pakistan, so telecom companies here have done what they can.
Ufone and Zong have taken good initiatives to increase the popularity of the Android platform, which in many regions is already the number one platform for smartphones, by releasing an affordable series of handsets running the OS.
The cheapest of them, Ideos, is available from both operators for a price of approximately Rs10,500. Ufone further offers two more Android handsets, the Image and Verve.
Mobilink has also periodically released smartphones into the market.
The Android is only going to grow in popularity in Pakistan with the help of affordable offerings from these operators, but these offerings also raise a few questions. Why aren’t other providers like Warid and Telenor stepping into this market?
The competition in the Pakistani market is tough right now, and naturally providers would be looking for any way to increase their market share and gain an advantage over their competitors.
That is the reason we have seen the recent surge in handset offers from these providers. Due to the popularity of Android abroad, Ufone and Zong had the right idea to offer a phone running on Android for a low price and tap into a potentially big demographic.
Though all operators have released quite a few BlackBerry phones and have given them a reputation for brands that cater to the business community, changing trends suggest that the Android is replacing BlackBerries.
Telenor also jumped in, providing the BlackBerry 9800 Torch and Nokia E7.
But these are relatively high end phones which not a lot of people can afford to buy.
The better deals for smartphones are only being offered by Ufone and Zong, and these are also limited. They need to expand their inventory by introducing more handsets like the Ideos and if possible, at lower prices.
Others also need to take note and cater to the younger mobile phone generation. Smartphones are big business, and it’s only a matter of time before Pakistan is caught up in their fever too. Only time will tell which provider will come out on top when it happens.
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