Zimbabwe’s Mugabe declared winner, rival challenges poll result

HARARE (Reuters) – Africa’s oldest president, Robert Mugabe, was declared winner of Zimbabwe’s election on Saturday, but his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, said he would challenge in court a result he called a fraud that would push the nation back into crisis.

MLK Anniversary To Be Celebrated In DC With Crowdfunding Conference Featuring Mark Cuban

Rodney Sampson, entrepreneur and author of Kingonomics, is hosting an event in Washington, DC on August 22nd and 23rd celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. The event will feature a conference with an emphasis on crowdfunding as a tool for economic development and a gala honoring innovators in a variety of industries.

Democratic Governors Nervous About Health Plan

MILWAUKEE — Democratic governors say they are nervous about getting the new federal health care law implemented but add they will be better positioned in next year’s elections than many of their Republican counterparts who have resisted the far-reaching and politically polarizing measure.

Several of the 12 Democratic governors shared that sense of nervousness-veiled-by-optimism at the National Governors Association in Milwaukee Saturday.

“There’s some angst, and you can see that from the decision the administration made a couple weeks ago,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. “There’s a lot of work to do.”

By next Jan. 1, most people will be required to have insurance. States have to set up exchanges by Oct. 1, when uninsured individuals can start buying subsidized private health coverage that would go into effect Jan 1, and businesses with more than 50 employees working 30 or more hours a week were supposed to offer affordable health care to their workers or risk a series of escalating tax penalties.

But businesses said they needed more time, and on July 2, President Barack Obama’s administration abruptly extended the deadline one year – to Jan. 1, 2015.

That caused some Democrats in Congress to worry the program would not be ready on time, as states are building online platforms for their residents to use to comply with the law. Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in June 2012, the Republican-controlled House has voted 40 times since Obama signed the law in 2010 to repeal, defund or scale it back, most recently Friday.

As Congress prepared to head home for a five-week recess, Obama sought to calm jittery Democrats, assuring them that they are “on the right side of history” despite problems with the law’s launch.

Republicans have stated openly they plan to use the slow economic recovery and the health care law to attack Democrats in the 2014 congressional elections.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the governors’ host and a possible 2016 Republican presidential prospect, said Obama delayed the employer mandate out of fear voters would blame Democrats in the 2014 elections if the economy suffered as a result of the new law.

“A cynic would be right to say the reason they pushed back the employer mandate had little to nothing to do with policy and everything to do with politics,” Walker said.

Most of the two dozen governors from both parties gathered at the conference expressed confidence that their states would be ready on time, especially Democrats, although they said the work is daunting.

“Any time you go and make this much change in this short a period of time, it does cause headaches,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said.

But with that pain comes progress, Hickenlooper and others argued. And those Republicans who have resisted or delayed taking action will pay the price.

Long before election day, the philosophical debate over the bill will have turned into a practical reality for millions of newly insured voters.

“Choosing ideology over jobs and affordable health care is a false choice, and it’s an example of the differences between Republicans and Democrats,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, said.

Among the challenges states are encountering are the technological requirements to allow buyers to search for insurers, rates and benefits on the exchanges. Others are training state employees to administer the program and marketing it to millions of Americans, all during a time of strained state budgets. Marketing employees were often among the first to lose their jobs.

Despite the headaches, the alternative to the status quo is far worse, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said.

“Nothing could be more complicated than doing what we were doing before, which was to throw away more and more money on more expensive care for worse results,” said O’Malley, a Democrat also mulling a 2016 White House run.

Anatoliy Melnichuk: How We Acquired 6 Companies in 1 Year

One lesson they won’t teach you in business school is that growing your user base is both difficult and expensive. In fact, it costs about $10 to get an eyeball to your website.

Today, our company – Buytopia.ca – Is one of the largest Canadian competitors in the daily deal space. But when we started two years ago, we only had $45,000 of start-up capital. With 300 competitors in the space, we needed explosive and inexpensive growth to survive.

So how did we pull it off? Acquisitions. Over the past year, we’ve bought six smaller daily deal companies including PriceDodger.com, Bargoonz.com, GoBabu.com, IndulgeLiving.com, GaggleUp.com and Dealivery.ca and consolidated them under our umbrella.

These are seven steps we took to make it happen:

1. Meet your competitors. This may seem counter-intuitive, but from the beginning we’ve spent time getting to know our adversaries on a personal basis. We attended trade shows and sometimes made cold calls just to build early relationships. Nobody understands your business the way your competitors do – after all, they’re fighting the same battles. Use this common ground to forge a relationship. These deals wouldn’t have been possible had we not nurtured these relationships early on.

2. Help your enemies. When a competitor features a problematic merchant on its website, for example, we’ll often go out of our way to notify them. We have no desire for a competitor’s reputation to be damaged and are more interested in protecting the industry for the consumer. As a result, our competitors are often grateful and from there, we can start to build a trusting relationship. And though we’d never give away our secret sauce, the trust we earn goes a long way, especially when competitors start considering offers from multiple bidders.

3. Time the market. We’re firm believers that a deal is just as much about the fit as it is timing. When we identify that a competitor is slowing down, we contact them immediately. We track our competitors’ progress through market share, website traffic, and sales data.

Khurram Shroff from GoBabu.com said, “I couldn’t believe how quickly Buytopia reached out – we had already been talking about a potential merger, partnership or acquisition; management and investors were on board, all we needed was a fair offer.”

4. Seal the first. The first transaction takes the most time. The legal contract starts from scratch and there’s no precedent for how things will go once you merge the two companies. It took us almost five months to acquire PriceDodger.com. The legal document went back and forth dozens of times and it took a lot of diligence to work through all the possible scenarios. But after you cement the first deal, it’s easy to rinse and repeat.

More importantly, there needs to be a ton of organizational energy to ensure the deal is properly executed when it closes. In our case, migrating users and sharing technology was never simple. But it was important that we executed well the first time so there could be a strong reference for future transactions.

5. Watch the mother ship. It’s easy to get caught up in deal making and take your eye off your core business, especially in a start-up where resources are constantly stretched. What worked well for us was to divide the work; Anatoliy was able to manage the acquisitions, for example, and Ryan and Michele were able to focus on the core business.

6. Eye on the prize. The market has been very harsh on Groupon in the last 18 months, but we were confident that with an increased subscriber base, we could offer better value to Canadians. When we looked to acquire competitors, we were most interested in engaging subscribers. It was critical that we didn’t pay a premium on resources that wouldn’t add value.

7. Patience. The deal ratio is 5:1. You need to be working five leads to close one deal. Every company has a massive personal investment of time, and some of the companies we acquired had millions of dollars invested in them. So be patient. Even when a deal seems lost, the market often blows a warm breeze your way.

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University of California to allow open access to new academic papers

The University of California—an enormous institution that encompasses 10 campuses and over 8,000 faculty members—introduced an Open Access Policy late last week. This policy grants the UC a license to its faculty’s work by default, and requires them to provide the UC with copy of their peer-reviewed papers on the paper’s publication date. The UC then posts the paper online to eScholarship, its open access publishing site, where the paper will be available to anyone, free of charge.

Making the open access license automatic for its faculty leverages the power of the institution—which publishes over 40,000 scholarly papers a year—against the power of publishers who would otherwise lock content behind a paywall. “It is much harder for individuals to negotiate these rights on an individual basis than to assert them collectively,” writes the UC. “By making a blanket policy, individual faculty benefit from membership in the policy-making group, without suffering negative consequences. Faculty retain both the individual right to determine the fate of their work, and the benefit of making a collective commitment to open access.”

Faculty members will be allowed to opt out of the scheme if necessary—if they have a prior contract with a journal, for example. Academic papers published in traditional journals before the enactment of this policy will not be made available on eScholarship at this time.

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China Defends Human Rights Record After Criticism From U.S. Diplomat Uzra Zeya

BEIJING — Beijing says the human rights situation in China is at a historic best, rejecting comments from a senior U.S. diplomat that the rights situation is deteriorating in China, with relatives of activists increasingly being harassed and policies in ethnic areas becoming more repressive.

In a statement issued late Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said that the Chinese are enjoying unprecedented rights but added those rights must be exercised within China’s law.

The remarks came after the annual U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue was held Tuesday and Wednesday in the southwestern city of Kunming, and after Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Uzra Zeya criticized China on Friday.

Zeya, who led the U.S. delegation at the talks, said U.S. diplomats “conveyed our deep concern about attempts to control and silence activists by targeting family members and associates of the activists.”

“This is a worrisome trend, and one which we have raised at senior levels with the Chinese government,” she said, adding the dialogue fell short of Washington’s expectations.

Rights watchers have been alarmed by the targeting of relatives of high-profile dissidents, including blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who exposed abuses in the enforcement of China’s one-child policies, and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned since 2009 on subversion charges after he campaigned for peaceful democratic change in China.

Chen’s relatives have been harassed in their hometown in Shandong province. Liu’s wife has been placed under house arrest in Beijing and her brother recently was sentenced to 11 years in prison over a business dispute, a stiff penalty in what supporters say is a vendetta against the family for Liu’s activism.

Zeya said U.S. officials questioned the pattern of arrests and extralegal detentions of China’s public interest lawyers, Internet activists and others who challenge official policies in China.

“We know that such actions are contrary to China’s international obligation and, indeed in most cases, China’s own laws and constitution,” she said.

Zeya said the U.S. raised specific cases of individuals who are imprisoned, detained or under house arrest, including activists Xu Zhiyong, Gao Zhisheng and Ni Yulan, several Tibetan, Uighur and Mongolian activists, as well as Liu and his wife. Zeya said the Americans were able to get some information on the cases, but she did not reveal details.

On Friday, a Chinese journalist, Xiaoshu, was forcibly taken out of Beijing for his public support of Xu.

Xu, who champions building a stronger civil society through his New Citizens Movement, he is in police detention on suspicion of gathering people to disturb public order.

Beijing has repeatedly rejected U.S. criticism of China’s human rights record, saying Washington is biased and distorts the situation.

“China opposes U.S. intervention of Chinese judicial system through individual cases and wishes the U.S. would respect China’s judicial sovereignty and stop its practice of badgering with individual cases,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Wang Dong, associate professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies, said having a dialogue is better than no talks, even though the two sides have sharp differences and there was no breakthrough in the latest dialogue.

“It’s a way to increase mutual understanding,” Wang said, adding the talks have led to more common ground between Beijing and Washington than two decades ago.

Libby Gill: How to Brand Your Company Right from the Start

Ask any salesperson who knows her stuff and she will tell you that it can take a dozen or more touches — or interactions — including emails, phone calls, newsletters or in-person meetings, before you begin to build a relationship with a prospect. Typically, the more complex or expensive your product, the longer the sales cycle and the more touches are required to build awareness, rapport, connection, and trust.

Your organizational brand is no different, except that instead of selling a specific product or service you are creating a connection between your prospect and your company. If you think of this relationship-building process as a series of connective touch-points with your customer, you can begin to see all the opportunities that you have to make an impression. My favorite salespeople are those who see the process not as a painful series of start-stop conversations but as a series of connective touch-points that lead to partnership. And my favourite companies are those that start the relationship off on the right foot — with open communication and top-notch service — and then continue to build from there.

Far too many companies spend their time and energy prospecting and closing new clients, and then hand them off to a lower-level associate with the person who sealed the deal never to be heard from again. Not that junior team members shouldn’t be involved. They should. But don’t send your client the message that now that you’ve gotten them signed and their check has cleared, your heavy lifting is over. They need to know that you’re with them every step of the way, even if, in fact, the junior folks are doing most of the day-to-day work. And if you’ve got account executives or staffers who will be integral to the customer relationship on a regular basis, make sure your client is comfortable with them from the initial meeting.

Here are some ideas for establishing your brand right from the start, providing your customers with personality and panache, as they deserve:

• Blow their minds with a branded welcome packet. Just letting your customers know that you actually have a process to get them set up, serviced, and clear about next steps sends a message about how serious you are about taking care of business — their business, that is. Provide documents, contact lists, and technical data in a cohesive, professionally designed print and/or digital package.

• Position the team. Set an introductory in-person, phone or Skype meeting and get your new client acquainted with anyone who will be touching their business. Give an overview of your roles, background, and how each team member will contribute to their success. This can also be a great time to set expectations and establish a communications flow, including scheduling meetings, dealing with paperwork, and handling everything from day-to-day basics to client emergencies.

• Clarify the outcome at the onset. Soon after, if not at the very first meeting, you’ll want to plant the end goal of the project firmly in the minds of your client. If you don’t define success, your client can’t possibly know it when you achieve it. Agree on a clear outcome, including a range from acceptable to ideal results, especially if it includes things not in your control. For example, a responsible publicist may tell you how they plan to position your business with the media, the action steps they will take and the relationships they have in place, but will be unlikely to promise you the front page of Time magazine or a New York Times bestseller. When you clearly qualify and quantify the anticipated outcome, then you do everything in your power to deliver, that’s when you get continued business and referrals.

• Assign meaningful homework. My clients love it when they know not only what is expected of me, but also exactly what is expected of them. If appropriate, assign homework, reading, workshops — anything that is relevant to your customer’s business growth. The only caveat is that most professionals are incredibly busy people so your assignments must be worth the effort and/or must provide a pathway to freeing up more of their valuable time.

• Surprise and delight. While your customers may expect a little something for a birthday or special occasion, a surprise gift at the beginning of your relationship can really set you apart (and pave the way for referrals.). It shouldn’t be so elaborate that it embarrasses them, but it should be significant — and relevant — enough to be meaningful. When a new speaker bureau or consulting client brings me on board, we send a beautiful handmade candle wrapped in silk, a bottle of their favorite wine, or a super trendy home-ware item that demonstrates that we’ve listened, we understand their style, and that we don’t just get it — we get them.

This post is an excerpt from Libby Gill’s book CAPTURE THE MINDSHARE AND THE MARKET SHARE WILL FOLLOW — The Art and Science of Building Brands.

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Obama Administration Vetoes Partial Ban on Apple Products

United_States_International_Trade_Commission_seal-1The Obama administration has vetoed a partial ban on the import and sale of some Apple products which was granted back in June in response to a ruling made by the USITC (United States International Trade Commission). The ban, which applied to AT&T models of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, and the 3G models of the iPad and the iPad 2, was granted after the USITC found that the aforementioned products infringed on a Samsung patent, specifically Patent No. 7,706,348, titled “Apparatus and method for encoding/decoding transport format combination indicator in CDMA mobile communication system.”

In a letter to Irving A. Williamson, the Chairman of the USITC, the United States Trade Representative Michael B. G. Froman declared the following:

After extensive consultations with the agencies of the Trade Policy Staff Committee and the Trade Policy Review Group […] I have decided to disapprove the USITC’s determination to issue an exclusion order and cease and desist order in this investigation.

The letter further went on to note that the Obama administration was “committed to promoting innovation and economic progress, including through providing adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights”.

The Verge has noted that this is the first time since 1987 that the President of the United States has interfered with a decision from the ITC. This comes after the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) recently criticised the use of sales bans (rather than monetary compensation) as a means of executing patent infringement – as it in effect harms rival products and companies and does not promote a competitive trading environment. CNet had previously cited experts who believed it was unlikely for the administration to step in on this case.

Just last week, Verizon attorney Randal Milch published an open letter calling for presidential intervention in this case to veto the ban. The ban would have otherwise gone into effect on August 5th, 2013.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the comment thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All MacRumors forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.