Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Most Memorable Entertainment Photos Of 2012

via Business Insider: 

Beyoncé’s baby was finally shown to the world, Tupac resurrected for a hologram performance, and George Clooney was arrested. 

We gathered together the most memorable celebrity moments of the year in pictures.

From Angelina’s leg to Clint Eastwood’s bizarre chair stare, these are the best photos of 2012.

 

February 10: Beyoncé and Jay-Z showed off photos of daughter Blue Ivy Carter on a Tumblr account.

February 12: Adele managed to handle holding all six of her awards at the 54th annual Grammys.

February 12: Adele managed to handle holding all six of her awards at the 54th annual Grammys.

Mark J. Terrill / AP

February 12: Nicki Minaj’s strange levitation act during her Grammy’s performance.

February 18: The Prudential Center in Whitney Houston’s hometown of Newark, N.J. displayed a marquee in memory of the late singer.

February 18: The Prudential Center in Whitney Houston's hometown of Newark, N.J. displayed a marquee in memory of the late singer.

Mel Evans / AP

February 26: Sacha Baron Cohen dumped the “ashes” of Kim Jong Il all over Ryan Seacrest on the Oscar red carpet while dressed as his “Dictator” character.

February 26: Sacha Baron Cohen dumped the "ashes" of Kim Jong Il all over Ryan Seacrest on the Oscar red carpet while dressed as his "Dictator" character.

E! screencap

Seacrest didn’t look too pleased afterward.

February 26: Angelina Jolie’s black velvet Atelier Versace gown with a thigh-high split inspired the Twitter feed @AngiesRightLeg.

February 26: Angelina Jolie's black velvet Atelier Versace gown with a thigh-high split inspired the Twitter feed @AngiesRightLeg.

AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

The twitter handle now has more than 41,000 followers.

February 26: Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez diverted the crowd’s attention at the Oscars.

February 26: Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez diverted the crowd's attention at the Oscars.

AP

February 26: One of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s last photos together at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party before their divorce announcement at the end of June.

February 26: One of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise's last photos together at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party before their divorce announcement at the end of June.

Evan Agostini /AP

March 16: George Clooney and his father Nick were arrested during a protest at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

March 16: George Clooney and his father Nick were arrested during a protest at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Cliff Owen /AP

March 29: Lindsay Lohan left Los Angeles Superior Court smiling after a progress report ended her supervised probation.

March 29: Lindsay Lohan left Los Angeles Superior Court smiling after a progress report ended her supervised probation.

Reed Saxon / AP

April 6: Amanda Bynes’ mugshot after being arrested for allegedly hitting a police car while intoxicated.

April 6: Amanda Bynes' mugshot after being arrested for allegedly hitting a police car while intoxicated.

April 15: Snoop Dogg rapped with a hologram of Tupac at the Coachella Festival in California.

May 30: Lifetime Television released this photo of Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor for her tv movie, “Liz and Dick.”

May 30: Lifetime Television released this photo of Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor for her tv movie, "Liz and Dick."

Richard McLaren / AP, Lifetime

July 3: Katy Perry did her best Mary Poppins impression at the premiere of her movie, “Part of Me,” in Britain.

July 3: Katy Perry did her best Mary Poppins impression at the premiere of her movie, "Part of Me," in Britain.

Joel Ryan / AP

July 24: Christian Bale and his wife Sandra Blazic visited the memorial in Aurora, Colorado after “The Dark Knight Rises” shooting.

July 24: Christian Bale and his wife Sandra Blazic visited the memorial in Aurora, Colorado after "The Dark Knight Rises" shooting.

Joshua Lott / Getty Images

July 27: Daniel Craig, the Queen, and Corgis during the London Olympic opening ceremony.

July 27: Daniel Craig, the Queen, and Corgis during the London Olympic opening ceremony.

BBC

August 12: The Spice Girls reunited in a performance during the Olympics’ Closing Ceremony.

August 12: The Spice Girls reunited in a performance during the Olympics' Closing Ceremony.

Charlie Riedel / AP Photo

August 12: Miley Cyrus chopped off all of her hair, doubling for a mini-me of Pink.

August 12: Miley Cyrus chopped off all of her hair, doubling for a mini-me of Pink.

@MileyCyrus / Twitter

August 13: Robert Pattinson and Jon Stewart ate ice cream together on “The Daily Show” after his quick break up with Kristen Stewart.

August 13: Robert Pattinson and Jon Stewart ate ice cream together on "The Daily Show" after his quick break up with Kristen Stewart.

Comedy Central screencap

August 30: We can’t forget Clint Eastwood’s bizarre speech with an empty chair representing President Obama during the Republican National Convention.

August 30: We can't forget Clint Eastwood's bizarre speech with an empty chair representing President Obama during the Republican National Convention.

Lynne Sladky, AP

September: Lady Gaga’s Vogue cover shoot received a lot of flak for Photoshopping.

September 6: Pink was lowered on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards on a lip couch.

September 6: Pink was lowered on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards on a lip couch.

Getty Images / Christopher Polk

September 11: Britney Spears’ face while at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for the season two premiere of “The X Factor.”

September 11: Britney Spears' face while at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre for the season two premiere of "The X Factor."

AP/Invision/Jordan Strauss

September 17: Prince William and Kate Middleton danced with the women of the Vaiku Falekaupule in Tuvalu.

September 17: Prince William and Kate Middleton danced with the women of the Vaiku Falekaupule in Tuvalu.

Getty Images

September 22: Joseph Gordon-Levitt shocked everyone when he performed a “Magic Mike” strip tease on “Saturday Night Live.”

September 22: Joseph Gordon-Levitt shocked everyone when he performed a "Magic Mike" strip tease on "Saturday Night Live."

NBC screencap

September 23: Jon Cryer’s face when he beat Jim Parson’s two-year winning streak for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for “Two and A Half Men” at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.

September 23: Jon Cryer's face when he beat Jim Parson's two-year winning streak for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for "Two and A Half Men" at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.

John Shearer / Invision / AP

Also that night, Aaron Paul kissing Giancarlo Esposito after beating his “Breaking Bad” co-star for best Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Also that night, Aaron Paul kissing Giancarlo Esposito after beating his "Breaking Bad" co-star for best Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Getty Images / Kevin Winter

September 28: Jay-Z performing his first concert opening up the Barclays concert in Brooklyn, New York.

September 28: Jay-Z performing his first concert opening up the Barclays concert in Brooklyn, New York.

Evan Agostini / Invision / AP

October 9: Dave Matthews Band performed for the Dalai Lama at Syracuse University’s One World Concert.

October 9: Dave Matthews Band performed for the Dalai Lama at Syracuse University's One World Concert.

Twitter.com/Dalai Lama

October 29: Al Roker tweeted this photo of himself at Point Pleasant, New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy.

October 29: Al Roker tweeted this photo of himself at Point Pleasant, New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy.

Twitter.com/AlRoker

(Twitter)

October 30: George Lucas signing over the rights of “Star Wars” and Lucasfilm to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

November 12: In a rare moment, Kanye West tweeted “My baby” sharing a photo of his affection for girlfriend Kim Kardashian.

November 12: Kristen Stewart’s see-through dress worn during the premiere of the final installment of the “Twilight” films.

November 12: Kristen Stewart's see-through dress worn during the premiere of the final installment of the "Twilight" films.

Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP

November 18: Taylor Swift’s abrupt costume change during her American Music Awards performance of “I Knew You Were Trouble” showed us the rocker in the glam country pop star.

November 18: Taylor Swift's abrupt costume change during her American Music Awards performance of "I Knew You Were Trouble" showed us the rocker in the glam country pop star.

AP

The same night MC Hammer and Psy performed their hits “Hammer Time” and “Gangnam Style” on stage.

The same night MC Hammer and Psy performed their hits "Hammer Time" and "Gangnam Style" on stage.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

November 29: Rihanna instagrammed this photo with Chris Brown convincing everyone she was back with the singer.

December 4: Rihanna came out from behind a veil of smoke to perform at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

December 4: Rihanna came out from behind a veil of smoke to perform at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Evan Agostini / Invision / AP

 

The 11 Most Shocking Entertainment Moments Of 2012

via Business Insider: 

In a year full of babies, alleged sex scandals, and arrests, what were the stories that surprised us the most? 

We’ve counted down the top headlines that made us do a double take.

So, who made the list — Kim Kardashian? Kate Middleton? Kristen Stewart?

From unexpected deaths and breakups to Hollywood shake-ups, these are the stories that made people talk this year.

 

10. Mommy porn became a thing.

10. Mommy porn became a thing.

Shutterstock

E.L. James‘ erotic book series “Fifty Shades of Grey” not only made it okay for women to get hot and bothered while reading erotica on public transportation, but simultaneously helped stimulate the economy with a boost in erotic play toys and rope among other items.

9. The tumultuous year of Lindsay Lohan.

After 2011, we thought this year may have been a quieter year for Lohan. However, the starlet’s Playboy strip at the start of the year became overshadowed by her arrests, alleged hit and runs, and trouble when it comes to veracity with cops.

Since September, she’s had four separate run-ins with the law.

8. Jessica Simpson is already pregnant again.

8. Jessica Simpson is already pregnant again.

After recently signing with Weight Watchers for a reported $4 million, the singer confirmed she’s expecting baby number two via Twitter only several months after giving birth to daughter Maxwell.

7. Rihanna and Chris Brown … Back together?

Ever since the two swapped an embrace and kiss at MTV’s Video Music Awards, everyone wondered whether the former couple was back together.

Their latest duet, “Nobody’s Business,” and a series of tweets and Instagram photos would have us thinking yes. The two stepped out in their first public appearance in years recently at a Laker’s game.

6. News of the Royal Baby

6. News of the Royal Baby

AP

We knew it was only a matter of time, but after a year filled with nude photosPrince Harry partying in Vegas, and baby rumors nearly every other month, the Royal Palace confirmed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would welcome the future King or Queen.

5. Angus T. Jones’ bizarre spiritual realization that made him lash out at “Two and a Half Men.”

5. Angus T. Jones' bizarre spiritual realization that made him lash out at "Two and a Half Men."

YouTube

Everyone knew the “Two and a Half Men” actor’s name after he went on a spiritual rant in November telling people to stop watching his show because it’s “filth.”

5. The Elmo Sex Scandal

5. The Elmo Sex Scandal

AP

The long-time voice of Elmo, Kevin Clash, initially took a leave of absence after underage sex accusations. However, after a second accusation emerged, the actor promptly resigned from his role as the popular “tickle me” puppet.

4. Kristen Stewart’s affair with the married director of her film, “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

4. Kristen Stewart's affair with the married director of her film, "Snow White and the Huntsman."

Getty Images / Kevin Winter

Stewart’s relationship with “Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders not only rattled her relationship with “Twilight” costar Robert Pattinson – for a little bit anyway –  however, it alsojeopardized her role in the upcoming “Snow White” sequel.

Though Stewart was recently confirmed to return in the lead, Sanders won’t be back to work on the next film.

3. Disney’s $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm.

The only thing that may have been more shocking than George Lucas signing over his rights of Lucasfilm may have been Disney’s announcement of more “Star Wars” films starting in 2015.

2. Tom and Katie filed for divorce.

2. Tom and Katie filed for divorce.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise at “The Kennedys” world premiere in March 2011.

Shutterstock / s_bukley

After five years of marriage, Katie Holmes reportedly blind-sided Cruise – and everyone else – with news of wanting to separate.

Less than two weeks after the announcement, the two reached a settlement, one of the fastest Hollywood splits to have ever occurred.

1. Whitney Houston’s death

1. Whitney Houston's death

Mel Evans / AP

The entire music world was floored when the singer unexpectedly passed away in February … from reportedly drowning.

The 20 Most Inspiring Companies Of 2012

via Business Insider: 

Many local and global companies make it a priority to give back to their communities, whether it is a core part of their mission or not. 

This year, we’ve seen many companies go above and beyond to protect the environment, help people in need, and solve the world’s biggest problems.

We compiled a list of the 20 most inspiring companies based on their actions for good this year. These inspiring organizations, listed alphabetically, are role models for their efforts in social responsibility year-round.

 

Airbnb

Airbnb

Who they are: billion dollar startup which lets people rent out their apartments to other people for short periods.

Why they’re inspiring: Last year saw some less than flattering headlines about destroyed or ransacked apartments, but the company’s more than made up for it this year. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Airbnb not only waived its fees for hosts and guests in the affected area, but created a whole new platform for discounted and free listings for refugees.

Clever

Clever

Who they are: A startup launched in June of this year, which helps third party developers integrate school data with their apps.

Why they’re inspiring: From attendance records to grades and test scores, students produce a great deal of data, which schools keep electronically. Unfortunately, there’s no standard way that this data’s organized. Clever is attempting to solve that problem and create an API for education, so developers can create products that are tailored to individual students.

 

Code for America

Who they are: An organization that pairs professional coders with city governments to create accessible and efficient apps.

Why they’re inspiring: Code for America brings innovative ideas and cutting-edge technology to local government. Programs like these are increasingly important for areas looking to serve their citizens well with reduced budgets.

The group’s professional coders have already developed 28 apps for cities from Philadelphia to Chicago and beyond. This year, the organization launched an accelerator for disruptive civic technology startups and over 235 companies applied.

Flowers For Dreams

Flowers For Dreams

Flowers for Dreams

Who they are: A flower delivery service and floral event caterer that donates a backpack full of school supplies to a student in need for every bouquet sold.

Why they’re inspiring: The Chicago-based business was started in March of this year by Steven Dyme, who believes there should be a social impact in everything you do. The company’s flowers are sourced organically, grown sustainably, and delivered locally in and around Chicago and Boston.

After their first six months of operating, Flowers for Dreams had donated 1,750 backpacks to students in Chicago and 525 to students in Boston, according to Dyme.

Girls Who Code

Who they are: An organization that teaches high school girls coding, programming, and computer science.

Why they’re inspiring: Girls Who Code was founded by Reshma Saujani, a local New York City politician who saw the gender income gap and the inequalities girls faced in the tech industry.

Girls involved in the program “learn how to build websites and mobile apps and start their own companies. There will also be workshops on topics such as financial literacy, computer science and robotics,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The program launched this past summer and Saujani hopes to expand to other cities in 2013.

Goldman Sachs

Who they are: A major global investment banking and securities firm.

Why they’re inspiring: This past year, Goldman started the 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) program, an initiative to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital, and business and legal support services. The program has already helped entrepreneurs start 881 businesses in 10 different cities.

In November, Warren Buffet met with participants of the 10KSB program in Cleveland, where business owners could deliver their growth opportunities pitches to him and receive advice.

Härnu

Who they are: A website that encourages people around the world to discuss global issues and foreign news in their own languages.

Why they’re inspiring: Härnu, which is Swedish for “here” and “now,” hopes to inspire people around the world to have direct conversations, form friendships, and talk about issues and news in their areas.

Härnu co-founders started the site earlier this year when they became troubled by the increasing lack of interest in foreign news, especially among Americans. Co-founder Jason Gowans tells us that within the first few months thousands of users from more than 100 countries signed up for Härnu. These users are posting articles from their local papers and engaging in thoughtful conversations and live group chats.

IBM

Who they are: One of the world’s largest technology companies.

Why they’re inspiring: IBM was recently named the world’s greenest company by The Daily Beast. It’s at the forefront of helping companies measure, and then reduce, their resource consumption. It puts those tools into action itself, and uses water that cools a supercomputer in Zurich to heat nearby buildings.

On the social front, IBM’s CEO and Chairman is Virginia Rometty, one of the most powerful female CEOs in the world and the most powerful woman in business according to FORTUNE Magazine. She also may have indirectly caused indirectly caused the Augusta National golf club to finally get rid of its policy prohibiting female members.

Karmio

Who they are: Karmio is an e-commerce site that promotes local businesses while benefiting global nonprofits.

Why they’re inspiring: Karmio’s goal is to help local businesses thrive while encouraging them to give back to the community and the world. The startup, which just launched this year, brings deals and discounts on anything from clothing to furniture to piano lessons from your favorite local stores and retailers. Those businesses then donate a portion of their sales to nonprofit organizations.

Sibté Hassan, founder and CEO of Karmio, wants to drive a movement for “business-led consumer empowerment” on the web. Hassan says that what makes Karmio different from its competitors, like Living Social or Groupon, is that anyone with anything to sell can sign up, as long as they partner with a nonprofit and donate a part of the sales they bring in through Karmio to that nonprofit.

Here’s how it works: the business signs up on Karmio and posts a deal or discount for a product or service. The business then picks the nonprofit they want to partner with and designates the percentage of each purchase that will go to that nonprofit. Both the business and the nonprofit organization will advertise the deal to capitalize on the partnership.

Khan Academy

Who they are: A non-profit that provides free, world-class education to anyone anywhere in the world via video-recorded lessons.

Why they’re inspiring: Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, believes that quality education is a right, not a privilege. Khan, who has three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard, left his hedge fund job and founded Khan Academy in 2008.

The site, which has demos, live examples, and homework lessons, now has over 3,600 video lessons, some of which have been adopted in some schools. Celebrities, such as LeBron James, serve as guest teachers, making classwork fun for students.

Khan Academy also released an app for iPhone and iPad.

Kiva.org

Who they are: A non-profit organization that arranges microloans for aspiring entrepreneurs in underprivileged areas around the world.

Why they’re inspiring: Kiva’s mission is simple, but very ambitious: to alleviate poverty around the world by giving entrepreneurs the starting capital they need to run successful businesses. And Kiva is making tremendous progress. Since the organization was founded in 2005, they have generated $386,557,225 in loanswith the help of 859,659 lenders in 67 different countries.

And the entrepreneurs pay back their lenders; Kiva.org sees a 99.01 percent repayment rate among the entrepreneurs receiving loans.

Novo Nordisk

Who they are: A Danish pharmaceutical company which focuses primarily on diabetes equipment and medicine.

Why they’re inspiring: Novo Nordisk takes its responsibility to the environment very seriously. It was named the world’s most sustainable company this year by Corporate Knights.

Though the company makes a point of having low carbon emissions, their commitment to sustainability goes beyond that. Susanne Stormer, the company’s vice president of global sustainability, told us that the forward-thinking company factors in society and the environment in all of its endeavors.

“If we want, as a company, to be sustainable, it means we have to [be in] business for the next 100 years,” Stormer said. “We have to consider, how do we interact with society and what does society look like? So the basis for our sustainability work is to say we believe that a healthy society, healthy environment, and healthy communities are the foundation for success as a business.”

The company reports its social and environmental targets and results right next to its financial results in its annual reports to investors, which Stormer credits with keeping them accountable.

Neighborland

Who they are: A tool to help you connect with your neighbors and make your city a better place.

Why they’re inspiring: Neighborland allows residents anywhere in the U.S. to connect with and get the support of their neighbors to make improvements to their neighborhoods.

Neighborland started as an experiment in New Orleans in 2011, and quickly caught on in other places in America. And it seems to actually be working. Already this year, users banded together to reprogram a dangerous traffic light in Houston and launch the first mobile transit app in New Orleans. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is using Neighborland to rally support for a plan to end gun violence in Manhattan, in light of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Quicken Loans

Who they are: An online retail and residential mortgage lending company.

Why they’re inspiring: Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert is moving his company from the suburbs to the city of Detroit in order to encourage other businesses to move there and stimulate the city’s economy. The company will even cover the Detroit income tax for its 1,700 employees.

Gilbert grew up in Detroit, so he feels a personal stake in the city’s well-being. Some of the efforts he is spearheading include financing efforts to improve the city’s riverfront,  developing a light rail system, and providing seed capital for other entrepreneurs in Detroit. Forbes calls him “the city’s most visible champion these days.”

Sherpaa

Sherpaa

Who they are: A startup that provides companies with affordable health care and round-the-clock access to doctors.

Why they’re inspiring: The founder and CEO, Jay Parkinson, is a doctor himself and hopes to solve what he sees as some huge problems in healthcare. He lays it out succinctly in his blog:

Say, for example, you cut your finger slicing a bagel a few minutes ago. You send us an email with a photo you just took with your iPhone. We look at it and then text it to our network of plastic surgeons in the area to see who has the bandwidth to sew you up in the next hour or so.

Our goal is to give you a great experience, and as a side-effect, also decrease your costs. Because it’s quite idiotic that triage has been allocated to the ridiculously expensive ERs and ridiculously inaccessible primary care doctors.

Social+Capital Partnership

Social+Capital Partnership

Treehouse

Who they are: A venture capital fund from former Facebook Vice President Chamath Palihapitiya, whose investors include Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman.

Why they’re inspiring: The fund focuses particularly on technically risky, early stage investments in healthcare, education, and financial services, which Palihapitiya thinks are most resistant to change.

The company seems to believe that venture capital “can solve the biggest problems, filling a void left by the shrinking scientific ambitions of governments, foundations, and international organizations,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Social+Capital Partnership has invested in Integrated Plasmonics, a low cost medical diagnostics startup that uses nanotechnology; Brilliant, which gives gifted kids around the world a shot at Western universities; and Yammer, an enterprise social network which made the fund money after Microsoft bought it.

SolarCity

Who they are: The company helps governments, businesses, and homeowners design, finance, and install solar power systems.

Why they’re inspiring: SolarCity is bucking a trend in which a number of high profile solar ventures have faltered. Backed by Elon Musk (he’s the chairman), SolarCity went public in early December and the stock is up 30 percent since.

One of the company’s most innovative solutions is a solar lease program that significantly reduces, and can even eliminate, the upfront costs for homeowners or businesses that want to use a more sustainable form of energy.

Tesla Motors and Space X

Tesla Motors and Space X

Tesla Motors

Who they are: Respectively, an electric car manufacturer and space transport company, both started by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

Why they’re inspiring: Space X was founded in 2002 and Tesla Motors a year later in 2003, but both companies have taken huge leaps in 2012.

Tesla’s Model S sports car was named car of the year by Automobile Magazine, the first fully electric vehicle to win that honor. It won based on performance, design, and innovation, rather than its loftier goal of reducing greenhouse emissions.

SpaceX made history in May when its Dragon capsule became the first private craft to successfully dock with the International Space Station. That was a test run, and it successfully brought cargo to the station in October.

Virgin Group/Virgin Unite

Who they are: The non-profit arm of Virgin Group, created by Richard Branson and Virgin employees in 2004.

Why they’re inspiring: Unite was formed to be a model for businesses, with a voice that says corporations can, and should be, forces for good. Virgin Unite operates in three areas to create lasting impact: Business Action, to provide businesses with different services and advice; Leadership and Advocacy, to incubate new leadership initiatives and global advocacy campaigns; and Our Community, to bring together a group of people who want to do what’s right for people and the planet.

In 2012, Virgin Unite partnered with Virgin Galactic and UNCF to launch a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) scholarship program for young women who want to pursue the sciences in college.

Zappos

Zappos

Aimee Groth, Business Insider

Who they are: An online shoe and apparel retailer headquartered near Las Vegas, Nev.

Why they’re inspiring: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is investing $350 million of his own money into revitalizing downtown Las Vegas, where the company is based. (The company is in the process of moving its headquarters from suburban Henderson, Nev., to Las Vegas’s old City Hall building.)

Through the Downtown Project, Hsieh is investing $200 million into real estate and residential properties, $50 million into tech startups, $50 million into small businesses, and $50 million into arts, education and culture.

Hsieh’s goal is to foster a thriving community where people can live, work and play within walking distance. Essentially, he wants to create one of the world’s next greatest cities.

And his enthusiasm has caught on: many Zappos employees and friends of Hsieh have devoted themselves to the Downtown Project and are bringing new life to the city.

20 Inspiring Rags-To-Riches Stories

via Business Insider: 

In a time of rising inequality and sluggish growth, rags to riches stories are harder than ever to come byIndeed, many of the richest people in the world were born into their wealth. 

That makes it even more essential that we remember the people who started with nothing, and through hard work, talent, grit, and a bit of luck, managed to rise to the very top.

These 20 stories remind us that it’s possible to overcome just about anything, from parents passing away, to extreme poverty, and more.

 

Maria Das Gracas Silva Foster escaped a Brazilian shantytown to become Petrobras’ first female CEO

The current head of Brazilian oil giant Petrobras spent her childhood in Morro do Adeus, an extremely poor neighborhood that became a shantytown. Her mother worked constantly and her father was an alcoholic. She collected cans and paper to make extra money.

She started as an intern at Petrobras in 1978, but broke through barriers to become the company’s first female head of field engineering. Bloomberg reports that her tireless work ethic has earned her the nickname Caveirao, for the armored vehicles police use to clean up crime ridden Brazilian neighborhoods. She became the company’s first female CEO in February.

Source: Bloomberg

Do Won Chang worked three jobs to make ends meet before starting Forever 21

Do Won Chang and his wife, Jin Sook, moved to America from Korea in 1981. When they first arrived, Do Won was forced to work three jobs at the same time to support them, as a janitor, a gas station attendant, and in a coffee shop. Eventually, they were able to open their first clothing store in 1984.

That one store grew into Forever 21, which pioneered fast fashion and is now a multi-national, 480 store empire that generates around $3 billion in sales a year. It’s a family business, with the couple’s daughters Linda and Esther helping to run the company.

Source: Forbes

Harold Simmons grew up in a shack without electricity and became a multi-billionaire

Now a billionaire several times over, Harold Simmons grew up in the extremely rural town of Golden, Texas, where he lived in a “shack” that had no plumbing or electricity. He still managed to make it to the University of Texas, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. and masters in Economics.

His first venture was a series of drugstores, the first of which was almost entirely financed with a loan. That became a 100 store chain that he sold to Eckerd for $50 million. From there he went on to become a master of the corporate buyout. He currently owns 6 companies traded on the NYSE, including Titanium Metals Corporation, the world’s largest producer of titanium.

Source: ForbesD Magazine

Zdenek Bakala fled communist Czechoslovakia with only $50 and is now a coal magnate

In 1980, when he was 19 years old, Bakala fled communist Czechoslovakia with a $50 dollar bill wrapped in plastic wrap hidden in a sandwich. He made it to Lake Tahoe, where he washed dishes at a Harrah’s casino.

He eventually got an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Dartmouth. He went into banking, and eventually back to his home company, opening Credit Suisse First Boston’s first officer in Prague after the Wall fell. presides over a coal company with a $2.52 billion market cap and eight production sites across Central Europe, which broke ground on the first privately owned coal mine in Central Europe since 1992.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary to become one of the world’s most successful investors

George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary after his father paid a government employee, whose Jewish wife he had helped hide in the countryside, to let him pose as his godson. After the war, he escaped the country, which had come under communist rule, in 1947, to stay with relatives in London. Soros put himself through the London School of Economics by working as a waiter and railway porter.

After graduating, Soros sold goods at a souvenir shop before writing managing directors at merchant banks in London until he finally got a job. That was the beginning of a long and enormously successful career in finance, including his famous bet against the British pound in 1992, which earned him more than a billion dollars in profit in one swoop.

Source: Soros: The Life And Times Of A Messianic BillionaireThe Telegraph

Guy Laliberté ate fire on the streets before introducing Cirque du Soleil to the world

Guy Laliberté ate fire on the streets before introducing Cirque du Soleil to the world

mission_canadaviaFlickr

The Canadian-born Laliberté began his circus career busking on the streets: playing accordion, walking on stilts and eating fire. He gambled by bringing a successful troupe from Quebec to the Los Angeles Arts Festival in 1987, with no return fare. The bet paid off, and the circus group was eventually brought to Las Vegas, where they became the world famous Cirque du Soleil we know today.

Today, Laliberté is the CEO of Cirque, a professional poker player and space tourist, with a total net-worth of $2.5 billion.

Source: Celebs101

John Paul DeJoria lived in his car before John Paul Mitchell Systems took off

John Paul DeJoria lived in his car before John Paul Mitchell Systems took off

Getty Images

As a first generation American, DeJoria had it rough from the beginning. His German and Italian parents divorced when he was two, and he sold Christmas cards and newspapers to help support his family before he turned 10. He was eventually sent to live in a foster home in Los Angeles.

DeJoria spent some time as an L.A. gang member before joining the military. After trying his hand as an employee for Redken Laboratories, he took a $700 dollar loan and created John Paul Mitchell Systems. He hawked the company’s shampoo door-to-door, living out of his car while doing so. But the quality of the product could not be denied, and now JPM Systems is worth over $900 million annually. He also created Patron Tequila and has a hand in a variety of industries, from diamonds to music.

Source: Forbes

Ursula Burns grew up in a housing project on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and now runs Xerox

Ursula Burns grew up in a housing project on Manhattan's Lower East Side and now runs Xerox

Before the Lower East Side was cool, it was a hub for gangs. Burns was raised by her single mother in a housing project there. Her mother ran a daycare center out of her home and ironed shirts so that she could afford to send Ursula to Catholic school. She went to NYU, and from there became an intern at Xerox.

She’s now Xerox’s CEO and chairwoman. Burns is the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 Company.

Source: Bloomberg

Howard Schultz grew up in the Brooklyn projects before becoming CEO of Starbucks

Howard Schultz grew up in the Brooklyn projects before becoming CEO of Starbucks

AP

Schultz grew up in the Bayview projects of Canarsie, Brooklyn. He always wanted to climb “over the fence” and go beyond the lifestyle provided by his truck-driving father. Despite destitution, he excelled at sports and earned a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan.

After graduating with a degree in communications, Schultz went to work for Xerox before discovering a small coffee shop called Starbucks. Enamored with the coffee, he left Xerox to become the company’s chief executive in 1987. After beginning with 60 shops, Starbucks now has over 16,000 outlets worldwide, giving Schultz a net worth of $1.5 billion. He even went on hiatus and came back as CEO to lead Starbucks out of a decline.

Source: Mirror News

Li Ka-shing quit school at 15 to work in a plastics factory and is now the world’s richest East Asian

Li Ka-shing quit school at 15 to work in a plastics factory and is now the world's richest East Asian

The family of Li Ka-shing fled mainland China for Hong Kong in 1940, and Li’s father died of tuberculosis when  he was just 15. Quitting school to work to support his family, Li made plastics and later plastic flowers for U.S. export.

By 1950 Li was able to start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. While at first manufacturing plastics, the company later moved into real estate. Similarly, Li expanded his ownership of different companies, and today has his hand in banking, cellular phones, satellite television, cement production, retail outlets, hotels, domestic transportation, airports, electric power, steel production, ports and shipping, and investing in cool apps, among other industries.

Source: Harvard Business Publishing

Francois Pinault was a high school dropout who now leads luxury goods group PPR

Pinault quit high school in 1947 after being teased for his poor background. He joined his family’s timber trading business and in the 1970s began buying up smaller firms. His ruthless business tactics — including slashing jobs and selling his timber company only to buy it back at a fraction of the cost when the market crashed — gave him a reputation as a “predator.” He had similar tactics in the real estate business, and did well buying French junk bonds and taking government money to save businesses from bankruptcy.

His self-made worth helped him start PPR, a luxury goods group that sells brands like Gucci and Stella McCartney. At one point the richest man in France, Pinault and his family are now worth an estimated $13 billion, and have historic homes around the world.

Source: xfinity

Leonardo Del Vecchio was an orphaned factory worker whose eyeglasses empire today makes Ray-Bans and Oakleys

Leonardo Del Vecchio was an orphaned factory worker whose eyeglasses empire today makes Ray-Bans and Oakleys

Getty Images

Del Vecchio was one of five children who could not be supported by his widowed mother. After growing up in an orphanage, he went to work in a factory making molds for auto parts and eyeglass frames, where he lost part of his finger.

At 23, he opened his own molding shop. That eyeglass frame shop expanded to the world’s largest maker of sunglasses and prescription eyeware. Luxottica makes brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley, with 6,000 retail shops like Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters. His estimated net worth is now $11.5 billion dollars.

Source: Forbes

Kirk Kerkorian went from boxer and Royal Air Force pilot to Las Vegas mega-resort owner

Kirk Kerkorian went from boxer and Royal Air Force pilot to Las Vegas mega-resort owner

scenestriz5viaFlickr

Kerkorian, who learned English on the streets, dropped out of 8th grade to become a boxer. His family was a casualty of the Great Depression, and Kerkorian went about finding skills to help bring income home. He became a daredevil pilot for the Royal Air Force during World War II, delivering supplies over the Atlantic on routes that would crash one in four planes.

From the money he made running supplies, Kerkorian became a high roller on the craps table and eventually a real estate magnate in Las Vegas: he bought The Flamingo and built The International and MGM Grand, stalwarts of the Vegas scene. He’s worth a few billion dollars today.

Source: Smart Money Daily

Sheldon Adelson is another Las Vegas hotels magnate who tried his hand at a few industries

Sheldon Adelson is another Las Vegas hotels magnate who tried his hand at a few industries

the7eye.orgviaFlickr

Adelson grew up in tenement housing in Massachusetts, where he shared a bedroom with his parents and three siblings.  His father was a Lithuanian taxi driver and his mother had a knitting store. When he was 12 years old, he started selling newspapers and a few years later ran a vending machine scheme on the same corner.

Adelson tried his hand at a few different industries, from packing hotel toiletries to mortgage brokering. His biggest break came from developing a computer trade show. He turned that wealth into a purchase of the Sands Hotel & Casino, and later the mega-resort The Venetian.

Source: Minyanville

Ingvar Kamprad was born in a small village in Sweden and created a mail-order business that became IKEA

Ingvar Kamprad was born in a small village in Sweden and created a mail-order business that became IKEA

Getty Images

Kamprad lived the farm life growing up. But he always had a knack for business, buying matches in bulk from Stockholm to sell to his neighbors. He later expanded to fish, Christmas decorations, and pens.

Not satisfied with the small stuff, Kamprad took money from his father (a reward for good grades) and created a mail-order business that eventually became IKEA (the name comes from his initials plus those of his village and family farm). Furniture became the company’s biggest seller, and Kamprad’s use of local manufacturers kept his prices low. Once one of the world’s richest men, his net worth has fallen recently to a an estimated $3 billion.

Source: Smart Money Daily

Roman Abramovich was an orphan who turned an expensive wedding gift into an oil empire

Roman Abramovich was an orphan who turned an expensive wedding gift into an oil empire

Getty Images

After his parents died when he was just four, the Russian Abramovich was raised by his uncle and grandmother. Abramovich got his first break from an expensive wedding gift from his in-laws. He dropped out of college to pursue his entrepreneurial interests, which at first included selling plastic ducks out of an apartment in Moscow.

He managed a take over of oil giant Sibneft at a bargain price in 1995. He continued to flip his investments into even larger acquisitions, including Russian Aluminum and steelmaker Evraz Group. Over the years Abramovich has been accused of shady dealings, from paying out bribes and protection money to having a role in the gang feuds over aluminum smelters. It seems that being ruthless has paid off for the billionaire: he now owns the largest private yacht in the world, as well as a ton of other cool stuff. He’s also the owner of the Chelsea Football Club.

Source: Hubpages

Richard Desmond went from living above a garage to creating an empire that published magazines like Penthouse

Desmond grew up the son of a single mother after his parents divorced. The two of them lived above a garage, during which time Desmond described himself as “very fat and very lonely.” He quit school at 14 to focus on being a drummer, working as a coat-checker to help pay bills. Though he never became rich from his own musical talents, he later opened his own record shops.

Eventually Desmond published his first magazine, International Musician and Recording World. The Desmond magazine empire would expand to publications like a British version of Penthouse and Ok!, a worldwide favorite. He now owns publications around the globe and is involved in philanthropic work.

Source: The Observer

J.K. Rowling lived on welfare before creating the Harry Potter franchise

J.K. Rowling lived on welfare before creating the Harry Potter franchise

In the early 1990s, Rowling had just gotten divorced and was living on welfare with a dependent child. She completed most of the first “Harry Potter” book in cafes, as walking around with her daughter, Jessica, was the best way to get her to sleep.

The “Harry Potter” franchise has become a worldwide success and J.K. Rowling is now worth an estimated $1 billion.

Source: Biography

Before Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart, he milked cows and sold magazines in Oklahoma

Before Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart, he milked cows and sold magazines in Oklahoma

Walton’s family lived on a farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. In order to make ends meet, he helped his family out by milking the cow and driving the milk out to customers. He also delivered newspapers and sold magazine subscriptions.

By 26, he was managing a variety store after graduating from the University of Missouri with a B.A. in economics. He used $5,000 from the army and a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law to buy a Ben Franklin variety store in Arkansas. He expanded the chain, and then went on to found Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. He died in 1992, leaving the company to his wife and children.

Source: Biography

Oprah Winfrey turned a life of hardship into inspiration for a multi-billion-dollar empire

Oprah Winfrey turned a life of hardship into inspiration for a multi-billion-dollar empire

ap

Oprah spent the first six years of her life living with her grandmother wearing dresses made out of potato sacks. After being molested by two members of her family and a family friend, she ran away from home at age 13. At 14, her newborn child died shortly after he was born. She went back to live with her mother, but it wasn’t until her mother sent her to live with her father that she turned her life around.

She got a full scholarship to college, won a beauty pageant —where she was discovered by a radio station — and the rest is history. The Oprah name became an empire, and according to Forbes she is worth $2.7 billion.

Source: Academy of Achievement

 

Syrian conflict threatens to fracture Iraq

via CSMonitor:

Semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and the central Iraqi government are on a collision course as the Kurds increasingly side with the Syrian opposition and Baghdad stands by the Assad regime.

 

 

In September, as the Iraqi government reached one of its lowest points in relations with Turkey in years, Ankara welcomed Iraqi Kurdistan‘s President Massoud Barzani as a guest of honor at a convention hosted by the ruling Justice and Development Party.

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government(KRG) in northern Iraq and the federal government inBaghdad have not seen eye to eye for years, and the gap between the two is now widening, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. That’s been put in stark relief by the ongoing civil war in Syria, which has shifted the fortunes of Iraq’s Kurds.

A decade ago, Iraq was a Sunni Arab-dominated dictatorship that shared many problems with the Sunni Turks to the north. Both countries had restive ethnic-Kurdish separatist movements and uneasy relations with their Shiite and Persian neighbor, Iran.

Today, Iraq has a Shiite-dominated government that is close to Tehran, which is supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime in Syria’s civil war. Turkey, still eager to prevent Kurdish separatist sentiments within its borders, now sees the Iraqi Kurds as a potential ally in opposition to the interests of Iran, Baghdad and Damascus.

The emerging sectarian alliances have prompted Baghdad and the KRG to throw themselves into opposing camps in the Syrian war, creating conflicting interests in the supposedly unified country.

As regional and Western diplomats point fingers at Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for aiding embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – a charge which Baghdad vehemently denies – Iraqi Kurds are increasingly involved with the opposition, lured by the possibility that in a post-Assad Syria, Kurds there might achieve some degree of autonomy. That would allow the KRG to expand its foothold.

The KRG has hosted leaders of the Syrian opposition in its regional capital, Erbil, much to Baghdad’s dismay. It has also lent support to Kurds in northeastern Syria – Barzani publicly admitted in July that his government is providing them with military training. And now some of the Kurdish factions there are holding talks with the mostly Arab Syrian opposition to decide whether and how to join them in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad, even though the relationship between the two camps has been strained by several bouts of fighting.

“The Syria crisis is forcing everyone around Syria to choose sides,” says Joost Hiltermann, who follows Iraq for the International Crisis Group (ICG). “Maliki is worried about the emergence of a post-Assad Sunni Islamist order in Syria… he finds that he has to support Assad by default. This puts him de facto in the Iranian camp and in conflict with Turkey.”

The Iraqi Kurds are at the opposite end of the equation from Maliki. Though Turkey treats its own Kurdish population poorly, the KRG’s deep mistrust of Baghdad has seen a tactical relationship developing between Ankara and Erbil and, by extension, the regional Sunni powers backing the Syrian uprising.

Although the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims, Hiltermann says the KRG’s interest is not about religion, but an attempt to further nationalist goals. “They [Kurds] have long-term aspirations to independence, and today this means allying themselves with Turkey, which is encouraging them to take distance from Baghdad,” Hiltermann says.

Although Iraq’s constitution gives the federal government theoretical control of the country’s foreign policy, the KRG seldom defers to Baghdad on matters of international relations.

Iraq’s Kurds have enjoyed a high level of autonomy in northern Iraq since the 1990s, when the West backed a no-fly zone to protect the Kurds during an uprising against Saddam Hussein‘s regime. The KRG has its own diplomatic representatives in some key international capitals – WashingtonLondonParis, andMoscow among them – and more than 20 countries, including the US, have diplomatic missions in Erbil.

To say that Baghdad has a problem with the KRG’s overtures to the Syrian opposition and its backers is to put it mildly.

“They have completely gone their way and are sometimes on a collision line with the federal government [in Baghdad],” says Saad al-Muttalebi, a prominent figure in Maliki’s coalition. “Unfortunately the KRG behaves as if it’s an independent state and sets up its own international policies… without any consideration to the central government.”

Politicians in Baghdad are particularly unhappy with KRG’s closer ties to Turkey, which harbored exiled Sunni Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi after he fled Iraq earlier this year. Mr. Muttalebi, who used to serve as an adviser to Maliki, lashed out at Turkey for choosing “an unwise course of action” and “misusing its relations with Iraq.”

But Erbil sees Ankara as a critical counterbalancing factor against Baghdad, which the Kurdish government accuses of being increasingly heavy-handed.

“It is true that there is a federal broad-based coalition government in Baghdad, but day after day we see it becoming more autocratic,” Safin Dizayee, the official spokesperson for the KRG, told The Monitor at his office in Erbil.

“[Iraq’s] foreign policy is determined not by the institutions of the state, but by certain individuals within the state or a certain party,” Dizayee explains, referring indirectly to Maliki and his Shiite Dawa Party. “And when it comes to the policy of that party toward Syria, that might be actually questionable.”

Turkey’s annual trade with Iraq stood at around $11 billion in 2011, according to Turkish government’s figures, but Kurdish officials say about 70 percent of the trade occurs with the Kurdish region. The discovery of large oil reserves in Iraqi Kurdistan has only made the energy-thirsty Turkey more interested in developing closer ties with the KRG without much regard for Baghdad’s opposition. Erbil has been happy to go along.

But for a country with a long history of internal conflict and instability, the current regional shift may not pay off in the end.

“Baghdad and Erbil are taking decisions that they believe will enhance their regional and domestic positions,” says Ahmed Ali, a Middle East analyst at Georgetown University. But in a region of ever-shifting alliances, there is danger in charting “domestic policy while thinking that regional alliances are permanent and will help them fulfill their plans.”

Matt Damon gives up on politics…‘Game is rigged’

via Politico: 

 

Matt Damon is shown. | Reuters

 

Matt Damon rather infamously said in 2011 that he wouldn’t mind if President Barack Obama — whom the actor had supported in 2008 — was a one-term president because he’d rather have a “one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done.” (The comment even earned Damon some flak from the president himself.)

But, he still did his part to give Obama a second term, admitting that he still voted for him in November.

“I assume there will be some Supreme Court appointments in this next term; that alone was reason to vote for him,” Damon told Playboy magazine in its January 2013 issue. “I don’t think I said anything a lot of people weren’t thinking. It’s easier now more than ever in my life to feel the fix is in, the game is rigged and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter.”

Damon also was asked for his thoughts on Clint Eastwood’s performance at the Republican National Convention (the two worked together on 2010’s “Hereafter”).

“I heard the backlash, but I never saw the whole thing because I just didn’t want to see my friend … you know. Look, his knowledge of filmmaking is so vast and deep that he can wing it beautifully on the set. What he did at the RNC was an unrehearsed bit he decided to do at the last minute. You can’t go onstage and do 12 minutes of stand-up completely unrehearsed. But I agree with what Bill Maher said — Clint killed it at the convention for 12 minutes, and the audience loved him. I wouldn’t do that unless I spent a month rehearsing.”

Damon’s newest flick, “Promised Land,” has him playing a salesperson trying to persuade homeowners to sell their natural gas drilling rights, which means that their land will ultimately be “fracked,” a term used to describe a process by which gas is released through drilling and pressurized fluid. The issue of fracking has become a political hot potato lately, in part because of the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary, “Gasland” (and subsequent counter-movies, including “Truthland” and “FrackNation”). In May, Al Gore put his supportbehind Vermont’s effort to ban fracking, citing environmental concerns.

Damon explained what politics, if any, are behind “Promised Land.”

“We went to the studio saying, ‘Who f—king wants to go see an anti-fracking movie?’ and were all in agreement. When we were working on the script, it was about wind farms, but we changed it to fracking — a good issue because the stakes are so high. That sh*t is real. They’re debating about letting it happen in New York now. To us, the movie was really about American identity. We loved the characters because they felt like real people making the kinds of compromises you have to just to live your life.”

Damon said he isn’t so naive to think that any politician would ever move to make serious action against fracking.

“We’re at a point where politicians don’t really get any benefit from engaging with long-term issues. Instead, it’s all about the next election cycle. Those guys in the House don’t do anything now but run for office. So unless they can find some little thing that zips them up a couple of points in the polls, they’re not interested. There’s a consensus among scientists, though, that we face serious long-term issues. They’re saying that unless we engage with those issues, we’re genuinely f*cked. The way it looks, we’re going to wait until one of those big issues smacks us.”

Newly-released Margaret Thatcher documents shed light on relationship with Ronald Reagan

via CBS: 

 

(CBS) Declassified documents released Friday shed new light on 40th President Ronald Reagan and his special relationship with Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The documents show moments of both affection and irritation between the president and Thatcher.

 

This was Thatcher’s public line on the Falkland Islands: “The United States came down firmly on our side over the Falklands and we are very grateful for them being such staunch allies.”

 

A tiny, British-ruled island group off South America was invaded by Argentina in 1982. The British sent troops and war ships to retake it.

 

But behind the scenes, there was conflict, with Mr. Reagan urging her to negotiate a truce during the conflict which she angrily rejected, and her asking for his support. “You are the only person who will understand,” she wrote.

 

She was not always happy with his responses, describing one of his late-night messages regarding the Falkland invasion as “so vague I didn’t think it was worth reading.”

 

But one letter shows the woman the British nicknamed “The Iron Lady” could have a velvet side, adding a P.S. to the president who was a bit under the weather: “Warm personal regards and a rapid recovery to full health and strength … the world needs you … yours sincerely, Margaret Thatcher.”

 

The documents released by the Britain’s National Archives also show the president’s advisers asking their British counterparts for fashion advice about what Mr. Reagan should wear for a horseback ride with the queen during a June, 1982, visit. The answer? “Smart but casual, not formal riding attire.” It was advice the president took.

 

As for that ride with the queen, the British were concerned that it took so long for the president to accept. A White House official said later he thought perhaps it was because Mrs. Reagan needed time to consult her astrologer and decide if it was an auspicious moment for such a trip.

 

 

Hobby Lobby contraception appeal denied

via UPI: 

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked Hobby Lobby’s request for an emergency injunction to block contraceptive insurance coverage requirements.

The court said Wednesday it won’t decide the craft chain’s case — along with Christian bookseller Mardel, both owned by the Green Family of Oklahoma City — before lower courts have ruled.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the stores don’t meet extremely high standards required for an emergency injunction, a document on the Supreme Court’s Web site stated.

“Even without an injunction pending appeal, the applicants may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts. Following a final judgment, they may, if necessary, file a petition” for the Supreme Court to hear the case, she wrote.

The stores have challenged the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s provisions pertaining to certain employer-funded contraception devices and pills that will go into effect Jan. 1.

The suit was assisted by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman reported.

In November U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that contraception health laws don’t violate the stores’ owner’s religious beliefs. He said in a ruling on a preliminary injunction the retailers were “secular, for-profit corporations” and didn’t have free-exercise rights under the First Amendment.

Hobby Lobby is the largest non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the coverage mandate.

Hobby Lobby Chief Executive Officer David Green, in a statement at the time, said the company is operated “in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” He said he had no moral objection to what he termed “preventive contraception” and would continue to cover those under Hobby Lobby and Mardel health insurance plans.

India Makes First Big Concession To Rape Protesters

via Business Insider: 

The Indian government is to publish the names, photographs and addresses of thousands of convicted sex offenders in a bid to tackle a wave of sexual violence against women, and head off growing anger at what has been seen as an inadequate and tardy response by elderly political leaders out of touch with a rapidly changing society.

india protest

The controversial measure, announced by the minister of state for home affairs, RPN Singh, is to start in the capital, where angry protests sparked by the gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student 10 days ago are continuing. The victim of the hour-long attack, who suffered serious internal injuries, has now been moved to a specialist hospital in Singapore. Her condition remains critical. Police chiefs and officials are to meet activists and experts on Friday to discuss implementation of the scheme.

“We are planning to start the process [of identification] in Delhi. Photographs, names and addresses of the rapists will be uploaded on the Delhi police website also,” Singh told reporters.

There are fears that identifying convicted rapists will lead to vigilante attacks. Others point out that with a conviction rate averaging 25% nationwide for rape cases, many charges taking several years to reach court and enormous numbers of incidents going unreported, the measure can only have a limited effect. Women’s rights campaigners have however backed the idea.

“It is true that there is a risk of such attacks but at the moment it is the victim who has to suffer the shame and social ostracism,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of Delhi’s Centre for Social Research. “She can’t get married, for example. This will make sure the rapist is shamed. He won’t get a job, or somewhere to live and will be cut off from society. This is a powerful deterrent,” Kumari, who is also a member of the national commission for empowerment of women, told The Guardian.

Authorities, already under fire for their failure to prevent the original attack, which took place on a Sunday evening in a bus moving on busy public roads, are now under pressure for their mishandling of the protests around India. Images of riot police beating back demonstrators carrying placards with slogans against violence who have attempted to reach parliament, the president’s official residence and the official homes of top officials in the centre of Delhi, have reinforced the impression of an uncaring, out-of-touch government.

Earlier this week, Abhijit Mukherjee, the president’s son and an MP with the ruling Congress party, was forced to apologise after calling protestors “painted women” who “have little connection with ground reality” and “have nothing better to do”. The incident has revealed deep fissures within Indian society. Described as “eve teasing”, sexual harassment is endemic and rape systematically blamed on irresponsible women behaving in ways that are “un-Indian”.

Police routinely ignore complaints of sexual violence; senior officers have even suggested women fight rape by hurling chilli powder at their attackers. Bollywood films typically feature an initially distant girl who finally gives in to her determined, and often physically aggressive, suitor.

“India is currently in a Twilight Zone, when the traditional social norms have lost their resonance while modern values based on individual liberty have not yet gained acceptance,” said the financial newspaper Mint, in an editorial.

The six men responsible for the incident in Delhi included a driver of an unlicensed private bus, a vegetable seller and an assistant in a gym. Most had grown up in deeply conservative parts of rural India before moving to the capital. One consequence of the focus on sexual violence against women in the media in recent days has been coverage of incidents that normally would either be relegated to local editions of newspapers or not be covered at all.

A second alleged gang rape, this time of a 42-year-old woman, in a moving vehicle in Delhi made headlines. All major TV channels on Thursday reported the suicide of an 18-year-old woman near Patiala, a town in the north-western Punjab province two weeks after a serious sexual assault.

When she told local police she had been raped by three men from her village, their response was to jeer, relatives said. Officials have admitted a case was only registered – the first step in a criminal investigation in India – after her suicide last month. And in Bhopal, a 21-year-old has told police she was raped in the office of a senior politician six weeks ago.

Among demands by protesters are more severe punishments for rapists, including the death penalty. However laws protecting women are already on Indian statute books, the problem is haphazard implementation.

Kumari, one of those who suggested the public sex offenders’ register, said she was pleased by the government’s move but disappointed that finances devoted to women’s schemes had been cut at a meeting earlier this week.

“How are they going to make all these ideas to protect women work if they are not going to fund them? There is a fundamental lack of priority and political intent,” she said.

This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk

Another New Yorker Dies In Subway Pushing, Police Searching For Heavy-Set Hispanic Woman

via Business Insider: 

For the second time in recent weeks, a New Yorker has been killed after getting pushed in front of an oncoming subway train.

subway 7 train

It reportedly occurred at 8 p.m. yesterday at the 40th St. station on the 7 in Sunnyside Queens.

From The New York Post:

Witnesses told investigators that the woman had been sitting alone on a bench, mumbling, but sometimes getting up to pace back and forth.

“She was acting weird and crazy,” the source said.

After the attack, she fled down the stairs to Queens Boulevard.

“She was so fast. I was like, ‘Stop the lady!’ ” said Tegeng, who chased the woman with several others.

Tegeng did not hear any arguing beforehand. Others also reported no interaction between the two.

The man had his back to the woman and the two didn’t speak before the incident, NBC New York reported Friday morning.

The suspect has been described as a heavy-set Hispanic woman who was wearing a blue, white, and gray ski coat and gray Nike shoes, Bloomberg reported Friday morning.

She is reportedly 5 feet 5 inches tall and has brown or blonde hair.

Police still have not released the man’s identity.

“I heard it,” Jiovanni Briones, who works near the scene, told NBC New York of the incident. “One of my customers was on the train and heard it going over the body,”

The NYPD released surveillance video showing a woman running from the station. They are now searching for that woman.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne was quick to reassure New Yorkers that this week’s attack was not related to the death of Ki-Suck Han, who was pushed onto the subway tracks earlier this month.

Naeem Davis was arrested in connection with Han’s death.

“It’s sometimes in the back of peoples’ minds because of the incident preceding this one, but there’s no indication that it is related in any way or inspired it,” Browne told Bloomberg of the two attacks.