Sleep is worth millions


To perform well, many college students work from morning till evening and even during the night. Many become sleep deprived. And what happens when a hard-working student is sleep deprived for a long time? He or she starts losing the ability to learn. In the end the student just works hard but perfoms poorly.

Psychology professor James Maas worked nearly 50 years in the University of Cornell and founded a class that became the most popular course of the school. There he taught the students to sleep.

Over the years, Maas had more than 65,000 students in his sleep class. Many of them were asked to wear sleep-monitoring headbands during the class so that they would see what happens in their sleep-deprived brains.

“Literally nothing,” Maas says in AP’s article published in Herald-Tribune 2012.

”Confronting students with such photos, along with hard data on how sleep undermines academic performance, is the most effective way to change behavior,” Maas continues in the article.


In work places there are no professors or sleep courses to tell the adults that they should take care of their sleep.

Or there wasn’t, until recently.

Earlier, the mentality was that a worker has to do the job well – no matter if he or she should spend the whole night thinking about and preparing for it. But now companies have started to take an interest in workers’ rest, for the same reason as professor Maas did it at Cornell University.

The workers perform better if they sleep well.

Corporations like Google and Goldman Sachs have told that they now provide their workers with sleep consultancy and other help.

In the end, it’s not about the amount of sleep or the quality of work performances, it’s about money.

There are proofs that people who sleep well are more productive.


University of Harvard conducted a study in 2011 and 2012 to find out how insomnia affects work performance and how much sleep deprivation costs to companies and national economics.

How did they do this?

Researchers of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School gathered a national sample of 7,428 employed, over 18-year-old health plan subscribers. These people were interviewed over the phone.

They all filled WHO’s ”Health and Work Performance Questionnaire” and ”Brief Insomnia Questionnaire”.

Those who suffered from a broadly defined insomnia – 23 percent of the interviewees – were differentiated of normal sleepers.

Then associations between insomnia and health and work performance scores were compared.

Result: Insomnia did not cause absence at work but it was significantly associated with lost work performance when present at work.

The researchers counted the amount of lost work performance at individual level in one year time. They estimated that insomniacs lose 7,8 work days because of the poor ability to work due to sleeplessness.

In dollars this was in average $2,280 at individual level and $63.2 billion when generalized to the total US workforce.


Academics are still cautious to say if insomnia treatment programs at work places have desired outcomes.

This hasn’t stopped consultations firms from selling sleep programs and meditating courses to the companies. Offering people relaxation is a huge business.

But then again, as long as employer pays the sleeping consultancy, the employee is likely to benefit.


The National Sleep Foundation of America reminds us that getting less than seven hours of sleep per day is also associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

The foundation tells that because of sleep deprivation, 14 percent of U.S. adults have difficulties in taking care of simple everyday tasks like taking care of their financial affairs.

Sleep is valuable in many ways.




Other sources:

Division From The League: Catalonia’s Independence

The president of Catalonia, Artur Mas continues to fight for the region’s independence from Spain. Despite the Madrid based court voting against the independence movement, Catalonia has proceeded in its plans of break away. The regional parliament of Catalonia has already voted to begin the process of achieving independence from Spain. In a vote in the regional parliament, Catalan lawmakers voted 72 to 63 to a plan for independence from Spain by 2017. The Spanish Prime Minster, Mariano Rajoy, promised to halt the move for independence by appealing the decision in Spain’s Constitutional Court. “Catalonia is not going anywhere, nothing is going to break,” Rajoy said in a nationally televised address.

catalonia split from spain


Inspite of opposition, the Catalonian region continues to proceed with its plans. This could spell trouble for both the parties, with Spain coming worse off. The Catalan region has long been the industrial heartland of Spain – first for its maritime power and trade in goods such as textiles, but recently for finance, services and hi-tech companies. It is one of the wealthiest regions of Spain – it accounts for 18.8% of Spanish GDP, compared to 17.6% contributed by Madrid. Secession would therefore cost Spain almost 20 per cent of its economic output, and trigger a row about how to carve up the sovereign’s 836 billion euros of debt. On the other hand, Catalonia would immediately become a prominent nation. It would have a gross domestic product of $314 billion (£195bn), according to calculations by the OECD, which would make it the 34th largest economy in the world. That would make it bigger than Portugal or Hong Kong.

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Amidst all this, one of the big losses will come to the sporting world. Currently, football’s greatest and popular team Barcelona belongs to the Catalonia region. It competes in the Spanish Premier Division, with teams representing other cities from Spain. Barcelona won the division title last year. The partition of Spain, which will spell the end of this teams participation in the league will bring dissapointment to both factions, economically and socially. Barcelona generates $680 million from just the sale of tickets for the division’s games. Furthermore, the team would loose out on television streaming of the division games. Although Catalonia would have its own league, Barcelona and other teams present in the division would no longer be in the elite league. It would end up competing with weaker teams that would be added to the league, making the league less challenging. This would lead to great dissapointment amongst the fanatic supporters who are certainly less likely to be interested in the new division. This could spell further trouble for the Catalonia party. Towards the west, a new Spain would mourn the loss of one the prestigious football teams from its competition. It is less likely to be viewed as an elite competition itself. The exit of Barcelona leaves only two good teams, both from Madrid, making the competition predictable. Certainly viewership will decline in this region.

 catalonia (3)

Lastly from global point of view, the departure of Barcelona will bring an end to the century old rivalry between two of the greatest ever teams: Barcelona and Real Madrid. Also called the El Classico, the game goes beyond football. It stretches back to cultural differences that orginated a century ago. The heat in this match is the reason why it has accumulated the most viewership for any game. With an audience of about 1 billion people, the absence of this game is what will hurt people and profits. Loss of intensity and passion will meet declining viewership and merchandise sale.

An avid follower of the sport, I understand the split of Catalonia only from a footballing point of view. The rivarly between these two teams is what defines football, and obviously brings the money. They play each other this weekend, so I will be enjoying the las few between them.


In Boyle Heights, almost a Good Time to Sell Your House

Born and raised in Boyle Heights, Robert Campos, 69, has seen the unpaved dirt street in front of his house transformed into solid concrete and then asphalt. But the neighborhood where he knows every corner and turn has never been so costly and unfamiliar to him as it is now.

Rising property values and increased cost of living are reshaping many aspects of life in Boyle Heights, a community that is situated a few miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The neighborhood represents an ongoing change of demographic and economic forces in Los Angeles. While the community has become more attractive and still affordable for many young professionals, old residents inevitably face a choice: either to sell their houses and take the cash, or to stay and stand up to ever increasing living expenses.

Gentrification has undoubtedly become a controversial topic in Boyle Heights in the past few years. As home values recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, an increasing number of home owners, mostly those who have lived in the area for more than 15 years, are leaving the neighborhood and selling their properties.

“It’s getting more expensive [to live here]. The taxes have gone up a lot. And utilities have gone up a lot,” said Campos, a retiree who inherited his four-bedroom house from his mother and doesn’t have any child. “I might have to go into a small one-bedroom apartment because I can’t even afford to live here in this neighborhood.”

Campos has been seriously considering the option of putting his house up for sale, taking the cash, and renting a single-bedroom apartment for himself. A former technician of a telecommunication company, Campos fell off the pole during his routine shift in 1990, injuring both of his legs. For the past 15 years, he has been relying solely on pensions and past savings for a living.

If someone, like Campos, puts all his money in a savings account and makes no other investments, the balance would have probably looked the same since the Federal Reserve set the Federal funds rate at near-zero level in 2008.


(Robert Campos sits beside the door, reading newspaper. By Zihao Yang)

“Somebody is paying the price for low interest rates. It’s you and me who have money-market accounts which are earning 0.27 per cent,” said Raghuram Rajan, a former IMF chief economist, in an interview of the documentary Money for Nothing, “[The super-low rate] punishes the elderly and people on a fixed salary. They worked to save that money but get nothing for it.”

Strange enough, when food, property tax and utility bills stack up, getting rid of your own house and renting one instead suddenly become a realistic option for older generations with no children to bestow their properties on.

“If it gets above $350,000, I’m going to insist we sell the property,” said Campos. The struggle of old residents in Boyle Heights shows not only a case of mini urban migration in Los Angeles, but also a broader conflict of shrinking affordable housing and climbing cost of living in California.

The ongoing gentrification process has made living cost higher than ever before, and at the same time, there is a constant demand for housing, also pushing up prices.

Due to its Latino culture and vicinity to the downtown L.A., Boyle Heights has attracted a lot of young Mexican-Americans who work in downtown L.A. and Arts District. Most of them are first-time home buyers and working-class, according to Luis Negrete, the manager of a real estate agency located close to the Indiana Metro station.

The demand for housing in Boyle Heights has largely increased after the Metro Gold line was put in use in 2003, even if home prices have fluctuated tremendously during the past decade. The influx of new immigrants implicitly stimulated the cost of living to increase. New theme restaurants, bars, and fancy coffee shops opened recently and scattered in the neighborhood.

A newly-opened Starbucks in 2013 was big news for many community residents. Some old residents saw it as a sign of ongoing gentrification or even an intrusion of the well-preserved historic community, while others hailed the coffee shop because it helped boost the value of their properties.

It has been seven years since the bust of housing bubble, and home prices almost climbed back to its pre-2008 level. As of October 2015, the average home price of Boyle Heights is $340,000, which is still significantly lower than the average price of Los Angeles County, $505,700. The prices were $347,000 and $504,000 for Boyle Heights and L.A. County, respectively.

When Sergio Ramos, a real estate broker, opened his business in 1992 on the E. First St., he would have never imagined a monthly sales total of 60 to 70 residential houses. Before the housing bubble burst, some houses were selling at $500,000, the highest in Boyle Heights’ history. “After that everything just died down,” said Ramos, “but prices have gone up recently in 2015. Compared to last year, they increased about 10 to 15 percent. That’s a lot.”

Campos described a Korean investor canvassing the neighborhood, eager to buy houses with $400,000 cash in hand, just before the housing collapse in 2008. Whether there is any bubble in this round of housing boom is still open to debate, potential home buyers and investors are keeping a close eye on the market trend.


(Boyle Heights has become a new destination for people working in downtown Los Angeles. By Zihao Yang)

“It’s still affordable and location is one thing that’s undeniable,” said Ramos, as he compared the median home selling and leasing prices of Boyle Heights to those of downtown Los Angeles. Downtown L.A. has gone through a considerable increase in property value and rent prices after major revitalization plans were put into effect.

As the Federal Funds rate around 0.25 per cent, getting a mortgage and borrowing from banks come with fairly low costs, making it easier for home buyers to obtain loans.

“As years has gone by, there has been more old owners moving out. It’s little by little, but increasing,” said Ofelia Zamora, a small business owner who emigrated from Mexico to Los Angeles and has settled in Boyle Heights since 1987.

Zamora owns a shop that sells birthday and party supplies on the E. Third. St. Filled with balloons, ribbons, and handmade Mexican piñata fiesta drums, her tiny business has seen a noticeable shift of consumers in the past few years.

According to Zamora, some owners sold their houses and moved to Texas in pursuit of comparatively better living standard. Others with immigrant backgrounds moved back to either Guatemala or Colombia as their children settled well in the U.S.

But for Manuel Honorato, owner of a car repair company, whose parents currently own a house in Boyle Heights and are thinking of moving to Mexico after retirement, increasing cost of living doesn’t seem to be the only reason why his parents might consider selling the property. Gentrification has not only brought higher prices, but also many newcomers to the neighborhood.

“That forces people to move out because new immigrants don’t have that sense of community norm,” said Honorato, “The neighborhood is becoming broken down because of the prices. All of a sudden you don’t have friends because all your friends are moving out.”

The economic gap, along with the generation gap, has made Boyle Heights more divided than ever before. “On this block alone, there are probably only ten property owners,” said Campos, “my mother was the oldest person of the original owners on the block. The rest of people have just bought property in the last 20 years. I’m probably the last person who has been here for as long as I’ve lived.”

Buy Goods, Feel Good

It’s easy to bemoan the capitalistic bend of the holidays: before the Thanksgiving turkey has settled in their bellies, many Americans are already stamping their feet in lines outside of Walmart and Target, ready to trample over their fellow man for a discounted plasma screen.

But there is a brand of capitalism designed to satiate the better angels of our nature: social entrepreneurship.

For an example of this, take Macy’s “Shop For A Better World” site, which is about as direct a mission statement — and a plea — as one can hope to find.

Fairwinds Trading, a social enterprise that funds artisans in developing countries, partners with Macy's to supply consumers with "gifts that give hope."

Fairwinds Trading, a social enterprise that funds artisans in developing countries, partners with Macy’s to supply consumers with “gifts that give hope.”

Browsing the site, you’ll find “Heart of Haiti All-Horn Salad Servers” (for $42), or “Rwanda 10th Anniversary” woven baskets ($50-$60).  This may seem pricey, even for “culturally expressive” gifts, but consider that the artisans (that is, the Rwandans and Haitians making these salad servers and baskets) receive half of the wholesale price and suddenly, that price doesn’t seem so outlandish. In fact, spending that extra $20-$30 could leave you feeling pretty darn good.

And here you have the draw of social entrepreneurship. Because if you or your loved ones are going to be serving salad anyway, why not make sure you’re making the world a better place doing it?

The appeal of social entrepreneurship is that it blends traditional capitalism with solutions to societal problems big and small, like providing water to drought-stricken areas of the world or funding SMEs in Haiti. Through social entrepreneurship, start-ups blend business with creativity and create “shared value” — that is, not just economic value, but value to society.

But as widespread as the practice has become, social entrepreneurship lacks a clear definition. Wikipedia (which itself could be considered a social enterprise) defines it as “the attempt to draw upon business techniques to find solutions to social problems.” So, Kiva, which provides micro-loans to small business owners in developing nations, is a social enterprise, as is Fair Winds Trading, the company that supplies Macy’s with its Rwandan woven baskets, and (according to, Susan B. Anthony is a prime example of a social entrepreneur.

Wait, huh?

If that last example caused you to furrow your brow, you’re not alone. And that may be one of the problems confronting social entrepreneurship: if you can’t really define it, how do you know a good (or poor) example of it? How do you know if it’s working?

One way to look at it is that the consumer isn’t just purchasing a solution, but a story. For example, when you provide a $25 micro-loan with Kiva, not only do you get to personally select your borrower (each borrower is screened by Kiva and has a biography on their site), you get regular updates on how their business is going. It’s not just the appeal of lending money to a needy or deserving, but anonymous, business owner that draws people to Kiva, it’s that you get to ensure Judith from Kenya’s success by helping her buy cereals to sell at the market.

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But not only can a good story convince a consumer to open up her wallet, in the case of Sejin Kaleb Oh, founder of Gravity LA, having what he calls a “higher purpose” can keep a business owner motivated.

Gravity LA is a pretty traditional clothing retailer, selling a handful of tees, pullovers, and tanks that are “reputable” and “sweat-shop free,” according to their site.

But click on their “about us” section of their page and you’ll find the following:

“GRAVITY LA was founded on December 21, 2013 to raise money to support those that are willing to leave their comfortable homes and venture out into the unknown and dangerous to bring hope, life, and love to those that are desperately in need of it.”

How do they do this?

According to Oh, they take a percentage of whatever profit they make and donate it to charity.

That’s pretty much it.

And as close as his charitable donations are to his heart, Oh doesn’t set a percentage, so he doesn’t advertise one, and even he says the purpose of the shop isn’t exclusively to raise funds for charity. But what these donations do give him is a cause to answer to when the going gets tough — as it often does for entrepreneurs.

“It’s the story of why I exist, or it’s the story of why Gravity LA exists,” said Oh.

“If you’re just out there for money,” Oh said, “you’re in the wrong business. Because you don’t really see any return on it for years. It’s really that purpose that keeps you going. And really, I don’t know how companies do exist without a story like that or without kind of purpose driving them. I think it’s vital for the life of any business.”

Gentrification in Downtown Los Angeles

Tucked away in the quiet Arts District of downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) stands the aged brick alleyway of Daily Dose Café, which once served as the primary railroad passage to deliver goods in the city; however, it now operates as a local gathering place for the growing community of entrepreneurs, artists and young professionals settling in the area. A cluster of photographers stand at the entrance of the pathway setting up their camera equipment and preparing for a photo shoot, where a group of twenty-something year olds chat and sip their iced coffees at a nearby table. The image of downtown Los Angeles has radically changed within the last few decades. The Daily Dose Café and Arts District are prime examples of the changing socio-economic and physical landscapes that DTLA has undergone in recent years.

Timeworn structures ranging from the historic  on Broadway to the old, abandoned warehouses and factories that are scattered throughout the downtown area, especially in the Arts District, are being revitalized and transformed into lofts, hybrid industrial (HI) living and work spaces, restaurants, and bars to appease its latest residents. The redevelopment projects and revitalization efforts to repurpose these existing structures and urban neighborhoods would be considered one of the primordial stages of a process known as gentrification.

The newly renovated Clifton’s Cafeteria which reopened in September 2015 as a bar and restaurant.

Certainly there are both positive and negative sentiments that could be shared regarding the issue of gentrification depending on whom you ask. Dana Cuff, a professor of architecture and urban design at the University of California at Los Angeles, has stated that there are two problems that arise when gentrification occurs. The first problem that Cuff highlights would be housing affordability, and the second would be compromising the overall character of an existing neighborhood as a consequence of the method. Cuff has noted that individuals who own property in a neighborhood that is undergoing gentrification will always perceive the process positively, but those whom are renting or looking for new housing will experience the negative effects of the process. The practice of gentrification challenges the concept of social justice within a city amongst its residents. Gentrification leaves the lower-income residents in the city with no other option than to relocate, as they are now unable to afford the higher living costs of the area. As a result, this in turn causes individuals and families to either become homeless or are forced to transfer to higher crime rate neighborhoods that may leave them more susceptible to gang and street violence.

A few positive features often upheld regarding the justification of gentrification are that it can boost a city’s economic standing as well as establish a platform for the city to ultimately flourish. Gentrification generates jobs and property-tax revenue for a city. Cities and public figures are attracted to the concept of gentrification because it can guarantee monetary advances for the city. Loretta Lee, a professor of Human Geography at King’s College, disclosed the appeal of financial gains that gentrification presents for a city. Lee stated that gentrification aids in a city’s effort to garner tourist dollars, new residents and investors in the universal scale of capitalism and competition amongst cities. It has also been noted that gentrification reduces crime rates within cities as greater numbers of law enforcement are usually recruited to generate a sense of safety for its newest residents.

Both the positive and negative effects of gentrification could be experienced extensively within the City of Angels; the redevelopment process has even extended beyond the constraints of the central downtown area. Gentrification is occurring throughout the entire perimeters of Los Angeles County. It can be observed to the north of downtown around Echo Park and Silverlake, to the east around the Boyle Heights area and to the south and west near USC and Koreatown. There have been numerous articles published in recent years that investigate the latest desire that many young Americans possess to move to the golden coast. The New York Times recently published an article stating that many east coast natives are choosing to relocate to Los Angeles for the opportunities that are arising in the business, technology and creative industries. The influx of new residents wanting to settle in Los Angeles can be perceived positively as it will enhance the city’s economic standing, but it begs the question as to where the new occupants will reside. Therefore, there have been public hearings held at the Los Angeles City Hall recently regarding the proposal of investors and developers to begin improvement projects to the area east of downtown in hopes of transforming nonoperational factories and warehouses into hybrid industrial living and work spaces.

According to the demographics provided by the 2013 Downtown of Los Angeles Demographic study, which was published by the Downtown Center BID and the United States Census Bureau’s demographics for Los Angeles County, there are approximately 52,400 individuals that reside in downtown. Of these residents, the average household income figure is $98,700. The 2013 average household income amount is a huge increase when comparing it to the city’s 2007 average household income figure, which was around $54,000 (“Big Numbers and Big Money in Downtown Survey”). These statistics would indicate that neighborhoods in downtown have become primarily middle and upper class individuals and families. Higher housing costs would clearly create a large disparity between the type of individuals that would be residing downtown, and it would force those whom do not make enough income to move out of the area.

Gentrification is a part of our country’s past, present and will undoubtedly continue to be present in its future, and traces of gentrification can be identified in any major city within the United States. While some entities, such as civic leaders, encourage redevelopment efforts and gentrification as a measure to improve a city’s value, there remains a faction of others, such as low-income renters, whom oppose the process. Therefore, as citizens, we must truly evaluate at what cost we are paying for this change and to determine if it is really worth it both socially and economically?




What do the Paris terrorist attacks mean for French business sectors?

13_Flight_0The French stock exchange opened for business again Monday after ISIS militants killed at least 129 people in the streets of Paris. The attack was one of the worst human disasters in Europe since the end of World War II. While France recovers from the tragedy, many financial analysts expect the financial markets to take a small tumble.

This is not the first time a country dealt with a small financial crisis in the wake of violent attacks. According to USA TODAY writer Ryan Biek, Tunisia lost $515 million in the tourism industry. In 2004 and 2005, the BBC reported markets in Spain fell 2 percent and markets in the U.K. fell 1.5 percent after bombings occurred in both countries. However, the tourism industry in France represents about 7 percent of the GDP, which means this could be the section of the economy hurt the most by the actions of the terrorists.

However, the stock markets actually rose only a couple of days after the attacks, which suggests the potential for a smaller impact on the economy. Although the country seems to be recovering without too many issues, France might be facing some short-term changes in different business sectors, including tourism and defense.

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In 2013, France had about 83 million foreign tourists, making it the global leader in the tourism sector. Since tourism remains a large part of the European economy as a whole, some countries might experience a ripple effect in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. NBC News says many travelers will steer clear of neighboring countries like Belgium, where some of the terrorists are allegedly hiding. The drop in visitors mainly comes from a psychological response to the attacks: People are afraid to travel through Europe, even if the fear might be temporary.

Airlines might also struggle in the next few months even as the holiday season continues. On Tuesday, flight officials announced two Air France flights heading from the United States to Paris were diverted due to bomb threats.

In contrast, defense spending might see a boost in investment. French president Francois Hollande declared war on the ISIS militants and commissioned airstrikes on major terrorists sites in Syria. He even proposed new laws to the French parliament, including 5,000 additional paramilitary troops and no reductions in defense spending through 2019. In addition, the prolonged state of emergency prompted French police to conduct raids throughout the country.

This week, defense stocks increased, with Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman moving up 4 percent, 3.5 percent, and 4.4 percent respectively. Recent threats from ISIS against the United States have also forced congressional leaders to revisit the idea of increasing federal defense spending. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the U.S. defense budget for the fiscal year 2015 reached a low point of $562.5 billion, in comparison to the 2011 budget which was $678.1 billion. It is unclear how sharp of an increase there will be in defense spending in the United States and Europe, but the upcoming meeting between President Hollande and President Obama may shed some new light on the direction the world is heading.

Is “ECFA” a good idea?

On June 26th, 2010 in Chongqing, China, a crucial trade agreement called “ECFA” was signed between the People’s Republic of China (Mainland China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan). The general public in both countries believed that this agreement carried historical significance, being that the Chinese Civil War in 1949 had strained their relationship.

“ECFA” stands for “Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement”. According to the agreement, 539 categories of Taiwanese exports to China and 267 categories of Chinese exports to Taiwan will receive tax cuts in the following year. The agreement is expected to increase Taiwan’s GDP by 1.72%, which is more than 7 billion U.S dollars, in addition to creating more than 263,000 jobs.

Another important aspect of “ECFA” is the “Three No” negotiation principle that the Taiwanese government has brought into the trade agreement. The agreements outlined in the “Three No” negotiation are as follows: saying no to downgrading Taiwan’s sovereignty, importing China’s agriculture products, and China’s labor workers. The Taiwanese government looks forward to achieving economic development between Mainland China and Taiwan under one condition- Taiwan’s benefit must be protected.

The “ECFA” trade agreement has been a controversial issue since it was introduced to the public. President Ying-Jeou Ma, current President of the Republic of China, and his administration believe that signing “ECFA” with Mainland China will provide advantages and affect Taiwan’s market in a positive way. Compared to other Asian countries, Taiwan will gain its advantages and priority to enter China’s market. Due to the tax cut on Taiwan’s exports to China, more companies in the United States and Europe tend to utilize Taiwan as its entry point to China’s market, thus helping Taiwan transform economically.

Four years have passed since the enactment of the trade agreement. Although the initial results showed that the total value of Taiwan’s exports to China increased 35%, many still cast doubts on whether “ECFA” has brought more benefits than harm to Taiwan’s market and economy. Looking at the data provided in the initial report, Taiwan’s exports to Mainland China have continued to lose their market share even when those exports received tax cuts benefits; on the other hand, Mainland China’s exports to Taiwan have increased their market share from 24% to 30%. According to the spokesperson, Ying-Chen Wang, “For the past few years, Mainland China has vastly developed its iron and steel industry and sold its products to Taiwan in a very low price.” In the years 2011 and 2012, Mainland China and Korea sold a particular stainless product that is used to produce elevators, windows, and electronics for a price that is lower than 30% of the market price.

From a BBC news article, several Taiwanese with various occupations were interviewed and gave their opinions on the trade agreement “ECFA”. Some favored the agreement and look forward to connecting with the global economy. “It’s good for Taiwan to sign trade deals with other countries because that’s the trend nowadays – economic integration, and Taiwan needs to be integrated with the global economy”, said Yao-Ting Lin, a building manager. Others cast their doubts on the actual execution of the agreement, and are concerned about intense competitions within local markets. “Chinese flowers might come here too. They say now they will keep out agricultural products, but I don’t think they will do that forever”, said Su-Chung Liu, the owner of a flower shop.

Every coin has two sides, and so does “ECFA”. Whether “ECFA” has proven itself to boost or decrease Taiwan’s competitiveness, as it relates to global economy the outcome is still a tossup. However, what can be said for sure is that “ECFA” has served as the first step in economic cooperation between Mainland China and Taiwan.

Homeless in Hawaii

Contrary to popular belief, Hawaii isn’t the perfect paradise that many people imagine it to be. In fact, it is more of a Land of Struggle to many Hawaiians living in the island. Hawaii has one of the worst rates of homelessness in the country. According to the governor’s spokesperson Cindy McMillan, there is currently roughly 7,000 homeless people in the state of Hawaii. While the number presented is not as large as the homeless population of bigger cities like Los Angeles, which has a whopping 100,000 homeless people in the city, we have to take into account that Hawaii’s population is only about 1.36 million (according to the US Census Bureau), as compared to 10.02 million in the city of Los Angeles alone. At 465 people per 100,000 citizens, Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness per capita of any of the 50 states.


To add salt to the wound, Scott Morishige, The Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness mentioned that as homelessness increased by 23 percent between 2014 and 2015, the number of unsheltered families almost doubled. The increase was driven by years of rising costs in the island. Moreover, there were low wages and limited land for the island which prompt homeless Hawaiians to spend their night on beaches and local streets as there was no place called home that they can go back to. The government dealt with this problem by doing what they do best – chasing the homeless away.

Hawaiian civic leaders felt that the problem with visible homelessness could lead to the financial downfall of the island state because the Hawaiian economy relies so heavily on tourism. They claimed that visitors will be turned off from seeing homeless people sleeping in parks and the beach which will then decrease the rate of tourism of the island. Honolulu officials report that they do a major cleaning session regularly by disposing off unclaimed property left in the parks and beaches of Hawaii, in order to maintain Hawaii’s public image of being a paradise. Officials regularly ticket the homeless with fines, and new public park hours have been implemented. On December 2nd, 2014, Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a bill that bans people from sitting or lying down on public spaces between the hours of 5am and 11pm. Those who do so can be fined up to $1,000 and jailed for up to 30 days.


The Hawaii government has also allowed the spending of $1.3 million to expand services to homeless individuals and families. Apart from helping the homeless build new shelters, the money also would go to the state’s Housing First program.
The Housing First program is a nationally recognized best practice that is proven to be the most effective and efficient approach to getting chronically homeless people off of the streets. The program helps houses chronically homeless in permanent supportive housing which takes them off of the streets by providing them with a stable and safe home. The program has been proven as a success on many different cities in the country such as Portland and Los Angeles.

Cost of cybercrime: does anyone actually know?

Massive data breaches at Target and Home Depot. Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks. Anonymous a war with ISIS. Whether it’s the outright fraud of people stealing information from networks or the type of cyber vigilantism espoused by information leaks or “hacktivist” groups, cybercrime is all over the news.

But what does it all cost?

As much as $65 million per year for some organizations in the U.S., apparently.

So said the recently released 2015 Cost of Cyber Crime Study, produced by research house Ponemon Institute. The range for this year spanned from $1.9 million to that $65 million number—an average of $15 million per organization. The study also indicates that since 2009, the average per-organization cost of cybercrime has risen 82 percent.

Per HP Enterprise study

Per HP Enterprise study

Given the fact that this study was also an advertisement for sponsored by HP Enterprise Security, the veracity of the survey methods may be debatable, but it’s not difficult to believe the number is significant—even if the data is not exact.

I was hoping to cross-reference by looking at other studies, but the only other one I could find that wasn’t outrageously expensive was not put together by an independent analyst firm either. It came from Intel Security brand McAfee and estimated the global cost of cybercrime to be between $375 billion and $575 billion.

Apparently the best we can do globally is to get within $200 billion of an actual value. (Students everywhere wish we were afforded that kind of margin for error.)

While the cost per organization in the U.S. and the total aggregate cost to the global economy are completely different, cybercrime is a huge issue with massive economic ramifications however you slice it.

Despite this dearth of objective information, businesses of all sizes acknowledge that cybercrime is a growing concern. It’s only logical in today’s digital era that as networks continue to advance and become more pervasive, threats do as well. Unfortunately, the threats have become more advanced than the network safeguards developed to keep them out.

The old model required a threat to be defined in order for a program to find and neutralize it, but as malicious code and network intrusion techniques have become more advanced, threats embed themselves into networks and simply reside undetected. Once they’re activated and recognizable as a defined threat, it’s too late for the threat to be neutralized before data is stolen.

Advanced techniques are more proactive in nature and are able to root out some of these dormant threats and patch vulnerabilities, but the arms race between cybersecurity professionals and hacker collectives is on. And the growing costs associated with this ongoing battle are not likely to slow down anytime soon.

Airbnb Faces Safety and Insurance Challenges


Airbnb is facing steep challenges surrounding insurance and safety issues as fatal incidents occur.

Zac Stone’s father, a user of Airbnb, attracted by the rope swing on the pictures, rented a cottage in Texas on Airbnb. Rather than having a good time with the swing on Thanksgiving morning, the trunk the swing was tied to broke and directly fell onto Mr. Stone’s head, “immediately ending most of his brain activity.” Accounted Zac Stone.

Accidents like this are inevitable. The rise of Airbnb offers travelers from all over the world a new approach to traveling and discovering different places; however, despite appealing pictures online, users’ experience with Airbnb can often be disappointing, even threatening. Stories that tell horrible guest experiences with Airbnb can be found easily online. Now that Airbnb faces the challenges with safety and insurance problems, it is important that the app start to think of doing something for its users, not only its hosts but also guests.

Currently, Airbnb offers “free, automatic secondary coverage for liability, in case a host’s insurance company denied a claim.” (New York Times) Airbnb states on its website that its Host Protection Insurance program now “provides primary coverage for Airbnb hosts and landlords…against liability claims up to $1 million USD that occur in a listing, or on an Airbnb property, during a stay.” ( The Host Protection Insurance program is provided through Lloyd’s of London, one of the providers of direct and indirect insurance policies covering many types of risks.

Ever since the enforcement of its Host Protection Insurance, Airbnb announces receiving less than 50 claims filed in the US. Compared to number of fatal accidents that occur in traditional hotel industry annually, the public has yet developed severe concerns for the safety aspect of Airbnb . The downside of Airbnb, compared to hotels, is that when unfortunate accidents happen, there is no one around responsible for immediate rescue.

In addition, under the “Help Center” section, guests will find some “Safety Tips” on that specifically provide safety advice for travelers during their stays. Although guests are encouraged to look for listings that emphasizes safety features including he insurance provided to hosts are not likewise applicable to guest/travelers. Unfortunately, the protection for those who pay for their stays on the website remains missing from the company’s insurance policies.

Airbnb may advise that travelers be responsible for their own safety, but what measure it will take to prevent future incidents from happening remains questioning.–what-are-some-safety-tips-i-can-follow