Alibaba Singles’ Day Sales Hit $8.6 Billion in First Hour

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. kicked off its annual Singles’ Day shopping bonanza, logging $8.6 billion in sales within the first hour.

Shoppers from at least 192 countries and regions swarmed the e-commerce giant to scoop up discounted lobster, iPhones and refrigerators, at a rate of as many as 256,000 transactions per second. The Chinese company hosted a star-studded gala enlisting tennis star Maria Sharapova and American rapper Pharrell Williams to pump sales. As the event got underway, 93 percent of transactions were done via mobile.

Analysts are expecting another record day on Alibaba’s platforms, with Citigroup Inc. predicting a 31 percent rise in transactions to 158 billion yuan ($23.8 billion). While that’s only half of last year’s growth rate, it still dwarfs other events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Billionaire founder Jack Ma is using this year’s event as a testing ground for his plans to revamp China’s $4 trillion traditional retail sector with technology, an experiment that could help the behemoth gain an edge in China’s saturated retail market.

“The work that’s been done in the integration of offline and online, not just in terms of the technology integration, but the data and efficiencies for brands and the consumer through personalization has been enormous,” Alibaba President Mike Evans said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “We see the impact of it in our day-to-day business.”

Nov. 11 emerged as a counter-cultural antidote to the sentimentality surrounding Valentine’s Day. It takes its name from the way the date is written numerically as 11/11, which resembles “bare branches,” a local expression for the unattached.

Shopping Bonanza

Now, it’s become an excuse for people to shop and binge on entertainment shows.  Hangzhou-based Alibaba is using the occasion to test the limits of its cloud computing, delivery and payments units — businesses that could benefit from roping in traditional retailers as customers.
To that end, Alibaba teams fanned out across the nation ahead of Nov. 11 to help outlets — some 600,000 mom-and-pop convenient stores and some 1,000 brands — upgrade their computer systems. Those retailers, many in prime city locations, will become delivery and storage centers.

To connect a 10th of China’s 6 million convenient stores to the internet, Alibaba uses an app called Ling Shou Tong, meaning “connect retail.” Convenience stores are provided suggestions on what to procure and how to display merchandise. The goods are shipped from dedicated Alibaba warehouses, obviating the middlemen they would otherwise have dealt with. In theory, that improves their profit.

The company is also converting 100,000 retail outlets into so-called smart stores. Brands including Levis and L’Oreal are taking part. If one shop runs short on certain inventory, customers can track availability at other locations. They can also get goods delivered to their home.

Rivalry With Amazon

It’s early days in Alibaba’s grand retail experiment, but if it works, it could deepen a lead over Jeff Inc. in the fragmented world of physical retail. Ma’s company spent billions buying into grocers, shopping malls and even department stores years before Amazon announced its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc.

Alibaba is already starting to see the initiative trickle into the top line. Revenue from new retail — mainly its Hema supermarkets and Intime department store — more than quintupled in the September quarter. As with convenience stores, Alibaba is trying to franchise the Hema model that combines a supermarket, restaurant and fulfillment center in a single location on its technology platform.

The company recently bought control of the unprofitable delivery business Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd. It oversees a coterie of more than a dozen shipping partners, orchestrating deliveries carried out by millions of people across more than 600 cities. Alibaba has said Cainiao expects 3 million people to handle packages during the 24-hour-period, also known as 11-11.

“On the back of 11-11, we will probably have to distribute north of 700 million packages,” Evans said. “That is a massive, massive number of packages that requires a robust logistics network both in China and outside of China, and we will continue to invest in that business, and by moving to a controlling position, we will be able to ensure the right degree of quality.”

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    North Korean official: Take hydrogen bomb threat ‘literally’

    Pyongyang (CNN)A senior North Korean official has issued a stern warning to the world that it should take “literally” his country’s threat to test a nuclear weapon above ground.

    Speaking on a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly last month, Ri Yong Ho, the foreign minister, raised the possibility that North Korea could test a powerful hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. The threat came hours after US President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea in a speech to the UN.
    “The foreign minister is very well aware of the intentions of our supreme leader, so I think you should take his words literally,” Ri told CNN in Pyongyang.
      North Korea carried out the strongest of its six-ever nuclear tests in early September, claiming to have used a hydrogen bomb.
      The UN responded to the test by imposing fresh sanctions on the rogue state.
      North Korea’s continued threats have put its neighbors in the Pacific on high alert. In September, Pyongyang flew a ballistic missile over Japan. When North Korea it carried out its sixth nuclear test, it claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb that could fit atop a ballistic missile.
      And during the back-and-forth barbs with Washington, Pyongyang at one point said it would fire missiles into the waters off the US Pacific territory of Guam.
      Ri also implied that diplomatic channels between the US and North Korea were nonexistent, despite US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterating over months that they are still open.
      “The US is talking about a military option and even practicing military moves. They’re pressuring us on all fronts with sanctions. If you think this will lead to diplomacy, you’re deeply mistaken,” Ri said.
      Ri’s remarks come after Trump on Sunday boasted that the US was “prepared for anything” when it came to the North Korea nuclear crisis.
      “We’ll see what happens. … We are so prepared, like you wouldn’t believe,” he said in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
      “You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be,” he added.
      “Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows, who knows, Maria.”
      President Trump will be in South Korea during his trip to Asia next month but will most likely forgo a visit to the heavily fortified border with between North Korea, a senior White House official told CNN.

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      ‘This is a revolution’: Saudis absorb crown prince’s rush to reform

      Consolidation of power in Mohammed bin Salmans hands has upended all aspects of society, including previously untouchable ultra-elite

      Outside a Riyadh shopping centre last month, Zeina Farhan was walking with her headscarf around her shoulders when the religious police pulled up. She froze in fear as a man in the drivers seat lowered his window. Please madam, can you just cover your hair during prayer time, he asked. I said OK, he said thank you, and he drove off. That was it. It was stunning.

      For all of her adult life, a run-in with the feared enforcers of Saudi Arabias societal norms would have led to a much harsher outcome. A woman who dared uncover her hair in public at any time, let alone during prayer, probably would have faced a fine and maybe jail. Insults, prisons, whippings, shame, said Farhan, 32. To see them like that showed how much things have changed.

      The religious police, the bane of many Saudi womens lives, have been steadily stripped of their roles over the past year, losing powers to arrest and to define what is right or wrong. Last week, a decree was signed to absorb them into the interior ministry a death knell for an organisation central to generations of social and religious austerity in a kingdom resistant to change.

      The Ritz Carlton in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where the purged royals and other prominent citizens remain detained. Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images

      Most of what was known about the opaque kingdom has in the past six heady months been thrown out and steadily replaced by a series of reforms that are upending all aspects of Saudi society. A transformation started by the new Saudi leadership of King Salman and his son and heir, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has already shaken most corners of the country; on Saturday it reached the previously untouchable ultra-elite, when 30 senior royals were arrested on graft charges.

      To say that was a shock to the system is an understatement, said a senior Saudi official. This was a message to the people here and to the world that we are open for business, but on your terms, not ours. Investors need to have confidence that they can come here and do business transparently.

      As the royals and scores of other prominent citizens remain detained in one of Riyadhs most opulent hotels, the Ritz Carlton, Saudi citizens were on Monday trying to make sense of what marks a profound departure from the way rulers have done business throughout the modern history of the kingdom.

      He is shredding a moribund system that had favoured the royals above all else, said a senior Saudi businessman. He is shattering the accommodation that had existed between the elite and the state. They were one and the same. This is at least partly about creating citizens from subjects.

      In a country long governed by conferring and consensus especially among the tribes of the various branches of the founding monarch, Abdulaziz the arrest of the royals alone goes straight to the heart of a new form of governance. Add to that the cultural reforms that next year will allow women to drive and enter sports stadiums, for concerts to be held, and tourists to visit archeological sites that pre-date the Islamic era.

      The founding monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz, seated, poses with his son Prince Saud. Photograph: AP

      The message is that everything that used to be Saudi Arabia is no longer the case, said a senior minister, who like all other officials refused to put his name to his views. This is a revolution, he explained. Everything is so sensitive. We must be patient until it all settles down.

      Underpinning the cultural reforms is Prince Mohammeds pledge last month to return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam, in effect a commitment to break the founding alliance between clerics who adhere to the rigid teachings of 17th century preacher Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and the kingdoms modern rulers.

      The crown prince said a hardline interpretation of Islam had taken root in Saudi Arabia after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. We didnt know how to deal with it, Prince Mohammed told the Guardian. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.

      No Saudi leader has previously come close to confronting the accommodation between clerics and rulers.

      Dr HA Hellyer, senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, said the sharp change in rhetoric did not necessarily mean that the new Saudi leadership was disavowing Wahhabism.

      A change of philosophical levels, where the Saudi religious establishment is no longer Wahhabi? That would be a monumental shift, and Im not sure MBS [Prince Mohammed] is all that interested in taking that up.

      If we were to expect a non-conservative religious approach to take root in Saudi, I think were daydreaming, he said. But the question is how much such a society can genuinely revert to a more normative religious outlook especially over a short period of time. The approach thus far seems to be about restraining the more radical impulses, rather than getting into the root of where that comes from. 1979 is crucial in understanding how the Saudi state was restricting or loosening the amount of space the religious establishment had not in terms of the religious basis of that establishment.

      Several members of Saudis business elite, with regular access to Prince Mohammed, disagreed. He is positioning himself as leader of the Sunni world, said one senior figure. And the only way he can do that is if he publicly and strongly acknowledges that we lost our way as a society.

      A second veteran business leader said: The only way that this could take place change of this scale was if there was a young leader who had the patience. Every Saudi leader before him has been 70 or 80 years old when they took the throne and they have not had the capacity to attempt anything like this.

      Yes, you can say that people are too afraid to talk, because power is so centralised now. But he is doing what he has to do. He is consolidating his power as anyone must in this situation. There will always be casualties.

      Prince Mohammeds critics say his headlong rush to revolutionise is driven by a push for unprecedented power, which the 32-year-old can leverage over many decades as monarch. Among those arrested are family rivals who are opposed to many aspects of the reforms. How can you get away with something like this? asked a relative of one of the arrested princes. Dont mistake peoples silence for consent.

      In the same hotel as the arrested royals, highly paid consultants from Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and Deloitte have been drafting plans to overhaul an economy that has been anchored by patronage networks, which have often required foreign companies to partner with a royal to start any venture. A sclerotic public sector has made the going tough for investors and locals alike, and the economic reforms are seen as essential to winning the backing of a sceptical and conservative base, many of whom are unsettled by such change.

      This is change management and shock tactics rolled up as one, said the senior minister. People will get used to it. They have to.

      Additional reporting: Nadia al-Faour

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      MLB Catcher Who Knelt For National Anthem Arrested On Gun Charges In Arizona

      This story just seems… bizarre.

      Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell has been arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, because he allegedly pulled a gun on a food delivery woman on Saturday night in Scottsdale, Arizona.


      Crazy, scary stuff — we’ll be back with updates if we learn what led up to this incident, or anything else of consequence.

      [Image via Getty Images.]

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      The Harry Potter movies are heading to HBO

      Galloping-freaking-gargoyles. HBO announced Thursday that it will be the only place to stream all eight Harry Potter movies starting Jan. 1, 2018. That’s all eight movies on HBO GO, HBO NOW, and HBO On Demand whenever the heck you need them.

      HBO currently has the streaming rights for the Harry Potter universe film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and has recently streamed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but not at the same time. Notably, whichever Potter film was streaming on HBO would be absent from Freeform’s famous Harry Potter Weekends to keep things fair.

      As the press release notes, this is the first time that all eight Harry Potter movies will be available for streaming in one place. They will also air back-to-back on New Year’s Day – commercial free, this is HBO after all – to ring in the new year. HBO will air one film per night for the following week, ending with Fantastic Beasts on Jan. 10.

      “We are delighted to welcome the Harry Potter films to our catalogue of award-winning original programming and crowd-pleasing theatrical films,” said Bruce Grivetti, Executive Vice President, Business Affairs and President, Film Programming. “HBO has a long-standing reputation as the home of the best classic and recently released Hollywood movies, and having the Harry Potter franchise furthers our objective to bring quality entertainment to our subscribers across all of our platforms.”

      HBO also happens to be owned by Time Warner, the same parent company that owns Warner Bros., which produced the Harry Potter films. Keep it in the fam.

      Harry Potter starts streaming on HBO Jan. 1.

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      In both whisky and business, it pays to play the long game

      The Balvenie Malt Master David C. Stewart MBE is blessed with more than a great nose and palate, he operates with what appears to be a sixth sense. The longest serving malt master in the industry, Stewart’s ability to plan 40 or even 50 years in advance is nothing short of extraordinary. From choice of oak to the careful selection of the special casks that will one day become decades-old bottles of The Balvenie, Stewart has mastered the art of playing the long game. 

      Stewart’s expertise may not be rooted in the business world, but it’s surprising how many commonalities his craft shares with entrepreneurship — chief among them patient forecasting, confidence to forge ahead while learning from mistakes, and keeping an eye on both long term planning and short term solutions.

      An adept entrepreneur must understand the fundamentals of business — things like cash flow, value proposition, and marketing tactics — in order to build a foundation for a thriving company. But, more than one astute observer has made the comparison between a startup’s success and a chemistry equation. The Harvard Business Review published an entire series about the chemistry of business as it relates to team dynamics. Similarly, a Malt Master at a beloved whisky label must be skilled at crafting something smooth and beautiful from the combination of raw, elemental components of nature. 

      Image: the balvenie

      Then there’s the artistry side of the equation. Business acumen goes beyond what’s taught in business school. There’s something innate to entrepreneurship — qualities that most successful entrepreneurs share — such as good judgment, “big-picture” foresight, and a willingness to take calculated risks.   

      Again, these same principles apply to whisky making. The Balvenie’s unique range of whiskies are hand-crafted to perfection — and the journey from barley to bottle is an inextricable element of the final product. Bringing these parallels to light is The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3 — a unique collection of whiskies selected by Stewart. The title and theme for Chapter 3 is “Secrets of the Stock Model,” a reference to the dizzying projections Stewart needs to make to ensure The Balvenie can produce and sustain a full range of matured, “age-statement” whiskies, some as old as 55 years.

      With the launch of The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3, Mashable had the chance to sit down with Stewart and The Balvenie’s Global Brand Ambassador Dr. Sam Simmons (“Dr. Whisky”) to gain some sage insights into the art of distillation. Here are five surprising parallels between this centuries-old craft and the process of starting and maintaining a new business in today’s fast-paced startup world:

      Cherish early adopters and reward brand loyalists

      Beta testers have the potential to become valuable brand advocates — for life. When a startup begins to gain steam, it can be tempting to neglect early adopters in favour of focusing exclusively on growth. But savvy businesspeople know the merit of rewarding loyalty. There are persuasive numbers behind the practice of customer retention strategy: In fact, it can be 20 times as expensive for a company to court new customers as it is to cater to existing ones. 

      One of the best ways to ensure customers stick around? Maintain a sincere commitment to quality.

      The Balvenie understands the importance of its fervent loyalists. The Balvenie’s range of exquisite whiskies, starting with the DoubleWood 12, is engineered specifically to reward adventurous aficionados. These whisky and Scotch enthusiasts aim to continuously surprise their palates; they relish new and interesting tastes and finishes, but appreciate the foundational, hallmark flavor of The Balvenie in each bottle.

      Image: the balvenie

      The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3 whiskies — which include the oldest whisky ever to be released by the distillery (a 55-year-old from 1961) — are crafted with dedication, patience, and the sincerest commitment to craftsmanship.

      Get comfortable with failure and learn from loss

      Startups fail more often than they succeed, and entrepreneurs who accept that reality will be better prepared for the long term. It’s been widely documented that some of today’s most successful startups began with countless rejections from VCs, or even complete about-face pivots away from an original business model. The Lean Startup methodology, widely cited and adopted by many successful entrepreneurs today, emphasises the importance of “failing fast.” 

      In the whisky world, failure isn’t as cut and dry as being snubbed by venture capitalists. Loss, for example, is a part of every cask at The Balvenie: The “Angel’s Share” is the term applied to the whisky that’s lost via evaporation over the course of the ageing process. 

       And just as seasoned entrepreneurs know to expect the unexpected, and the same holds true for malt masters. Two identical casks might mature in completely different ways, which presents challenges. But hand in hand with this challenge is the promise of possibility for new, delightful flavour profiles: Bold single malts that take the drinker on an unexpected journey.

      Embrace evolving consumer tastes — but stay true to core values

      “Always be iterating” is a favoured mantra of Silicon Valley startups and established corporations alike. That said, there is no quicker way to disillusion a core customer base than by straying from established values.

      Whisky making, too, is an evolving art that relies heavily upon tradition and history. “While I’m not sure if it is Scottish modesty or the truth, every whisky maker will tell you they are always learning,” says Simmons.

      Remaining true to The Balvenie’s core values means staying resolute about producing the highest caliber product. “At The Balvenie, as with many distilleries, we are observing that demand is outstripping supply,” explains Simmons. “We laid down a limited numbers of casks 10, 15, and 30 years ago, and therefore have finite stocks to draw from today.” Despite this growth in Scotch drinkers, says Simmons, The Balvenie maintains a commitment to the quality whisky that the brand’s loyal customer base has come to expect and cherish.

      Stewart — who this year celebrates his 55th year with William Grant & Sons, The Balvenie’s parent company — confirms that a blend of experimentation and loyalty to crafting an elevated product is at the heart of what makes The Balvenie’s whiskies so special. “We experiment a lot with different cask types to fill with mature Balvenie liquid and these have not always been successful,” he says. “If we are not happy with the final quality, we won’t bottle it.”

      A human touch goes a long way

      In a world inundated with technology, today’s consumers are particularly appreciative of a business that champions the human element. Of course, staying on top of the latest technology trends is also paramount — so it’s crucial to find the right formula of tech-infused tools and old-fashioned manpower. In business, this may mean relying on a real, live human to respond to customer service inquiries (instead of being tempted by the trendiest AI-infused chatbot). 

      At The Balvenie, it means that each and every step of the distillation process is touched by human hands. 

      Image: the balvenie

      “When you visit our distillery and see more people than computers, see Maltmen turning barley by hand, Stillmen manually selecting the ‘heart of the run’ as the spirit flows into the safe, Coopers dismantling and raising casks without glue or nails … you cannot help but feel inspired,” says Simmons.

      Play the long game

      In today’s startup-laden society, it’s likely you’ve personally experienced the shrapnel of a burgeoning business’s epic failure. Perhaps you backed a promising product on Kickstarter that fell far short of its marketing promises. Maybe you excitedly signed on to beta test an app, only to find the user experience full of glitches. 

      The core problem underpinning many startup misfires relates back to one thing: Timing. Perhaps the company moved out of beta mode before it was prepared to handle increased user demand, or launched its website before its servers could handle the influx of traffic. 

      On the flip side of the coin, when the pieces of a budding business fall into place in a way that seamlessly works, it’s a beautiful thing. 

      Those intimately acquainted with the whisky business know all too well the importance of perfect timing — and by extension, patience. 

      “Nothing happens quickly, whether it is filling an experimental new spirit, or trialing mature Balvenie experiments — this can take many months and years for the final outcome to become apparent,” says Stewart. “So I’ve learnt to be patient.”

      Image: The Balvenie

      “The patience a distiller exercises in waiting for the perfect balance of cask, spirit, and time almost always pays off,” Simmons goes on to say. “Whether that is three years or 30 years varies case by case. Certain flavour compounds can only fully develop in a spirit over lengthy periods in oak, through extractive and reactive interactions — as well as those complex ones that cannot be expedited through exposure to oxygen.”

      Who would have thought that the ancient art of whisky distillation would hold such relevant and time honoured advice for entrepreneurs? Whether you’re distilling a fine cask of whisky or launching a new startup venture, it pays to remember that success comes from staying true to your roots while viewing the journey as an opportunity for experimentation, leading to an ever more refined product. And like a cask of complex whisky left to mature for decades, playing the long game in business promises to deliver an outcome well worth the wait.  

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      Portraits of the New York terror attack victims

      (CNN)Eight people — six foreign tourists and two Americans — were killed Tuesday in the deadliest terror attack that New Yorkers have seen since 9/11.

      A man drove a rented pickup truck down a crowded bike path near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, crushing and striking cyclists and pedestrians. In addition to those killed, about a dozen people were hurt.
      Here’s what we know about those killed:

        Nicholas Cleves

        The 23-year-old software developer had recently started his first job out of school, one of his friends told CNN affiliate WABC.
        “He was a really, really kind, not heartless, intelligent and curious person. We always had conversations about what he was studying at school,” Bahji Chancey told WABC.
        Cleves recently graduated from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. The college said in a statement that Cleves also worked as an analyst and web developer.
        “An incident of terrorism that takes the lives of innocent people anywhere in the world touches each of us in our fundamental humanity,” the statement said. “But the effect is more pronounced — and far more personal — when our community is directly linked to such a horrendous event.”
        Cleves grew up biking around the city and would bike everywhere around town, Chancey said.

        Darren Drake

        Drake, 32, was an avid reader and was always helping his parents.
        “He had everything going for him. Everything you can imagine,” Drake’s father, Jimmy, told CNN affiliate WCBS.
        Drake lived in New Milford, New Jersey, but worked in New York as a project manager for Moody’s Analytics, an economics research firm.
        When his parents couldn’t reach him hours after the attack, they drove to Bellevue Hospital in New York, where they were told he had died.
        “At the moment, I just lost it,” Jimmy Drake said. “You see the child you loved for 33 years.”
        Darren Drake would have celebrated his birthday in two weeks, his father said.
        Drake was remembered as “a good man with a soft touch and huge heart” in a statement released by the New Milford Public School District, where he served on the local board of education from 2009 to 2013.
        “He is respected for his unwavering commitment to the children of New Milford and their education,” Superintendent Michael Polizzi wrote of Drake. “In addition to his insights into the needs of students, he brought to the board significant business acumen, intelligence and humor. He was friendly, fully engaged and forward-thinking.”

        Ann-Laure Decadt

        Decadt, 31, was traveling with her two sisters and mother in New York at the time of the attack.
        The Belgian mother of two died Tuesday night at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to a statement from her husband, Alexander Naessens.
        Decadt’s mother and two sisters were not harmed, he said.
        She had been cycling on the bike path when she was hit from behind by the truck, CNN Belgium affiliate VTM reported.
        Decadt “was a fantastic wife and the most beautiful mom to our two sons of 3 months and 3 years old. This loss is unbearable and difficult to understand,” Naessens wrote.

        Five friends from Argentina

        The group had traveled thousands of miles for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation.
        Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi died in the attack, Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
        The men were from Rosario, a town nearly 200 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.
        Jose Nunez, a representative in Argentina’s national congress, was a friend of Erlij’s. He told CNN en Español that Erlij was a successful businessman who loved his family of four children.
        “We are losing a great man, a great businessman and a great family man,” Nunez said.
        On Twitter, Argentine President Mauricio Macri said he was “deeply moved by the tragic deaths … in NY. We put ourselves at the disposition of the families of the Argentinian victims.”
        President Donald Trump tweeted late Wednesday that he had a conversation with Macri.
        “Just spoke to President Macri of Argentina about the five proud and wonderful men killed in the West Side terror attack,” Trump said. “God be with them!”
        An Argentine national who lives in the Boston area, Martin Marro, was injured during the attack. He is still hospitalized. He was told Thursday that his friends had been killed, Argentinian Consul General Mateo Estreme said at a news conference in New York.
        CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly spell the name of Ann-Laure Decadt.

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        I didn’t understand how widespread rape was. Then the penny dropped | David Graeber

        Im a lefty academic versed in feminist theory. Still, I rebelled against the idea that rich and powerful men regularly rape or attempt to rape women

        This is a very difficult column for me to write because its about my mother.

        A week or two after the then IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested for sexually assaulting a chambermaid in a posh New York hotel in 2011, there was another case when an Egyptian businessman was briefly arrested for a similar assault at another such New York hotel.

        This first struck me as puzzling. It could hardly be a copycat crime; considering the drama surrounding the arrest and travails of DSK, it was inconceivable that anyone would see this and say: Oh good idea, Ill attack a chambermaid as well.

        Then it dawned on me.

        The only logical explanation was that businessmen, politicians, officials and financiers rape, or attempt to rape, hotel workers all the time. Its just that normally, those assaulted know theres nothing they can do about it.

        In DSKs case, someone for whatever complex political reasons must have refused to make the usual phone call. There was a scandal. As a result, when the next assault took place, the survivor must have said to herself, Oh, so does this mean we actually are allowed to call the cops now if a customer tries to rape us? and acted accordingly. And sure enough this is precisely what turned out to have happened. (In the end, both women were silenced, and neither man convicted of any crime.)

        What I really want to draw attention to here is my initial reaction of disbelief: Sure things are bad; but it cant be that bad. Even a lefty academic versed in feminist theory instinctively rebelled against the idea that rich and powerful men regularly rape or attempt to rape the women cleaning their rooms, that this happens all the time, that everyone in the hotel industry knows it happens (since they must know), and that those rich and powerful men in turn know they could get away with it because if any woman they attacked did protest too strenuously, everyone would move in lockstep to do whatever was required to make the problem go away.

        Its of course this very disbelief that allows such things to happen. We are loth to accept people we might know might practice pure, naked aggression. This is how bullies get away with what they do. Ive written about this.

        Bullying is not just a relation between bully and victim. Its really a three-way relation, between bully, victim and everyone who refuses to do anything about the aggression; all those people who say boys will be boys or pretend theres some equivalence between aggressor and aggressed. Who see a conflict and say it doesnt matter who started it even in cases where, in reality, nothing could possibly matter more.

        It makes no difference if theres a real physical audience or if the audience just exists inside the victims head. You know what will happen if you fight back. You know what people will say about you. You internalize it. Before long, even if nothing is said, you cant help wonder if these things they would say are actually true.

        Sexual predation is a particular variety of bullying but like all forms of bullying it operates above all in precisely this way by destroying the victims sense of self.

        I had another, similar, horrified moment of realization in reading Dame Emma Thompsons remarks about Harvey Weinstein. Not because of her observation that his predations were, as she said, the tip of the iceberg this is surely true, but not entirely unknown; what startled me was one word. She described Weinsteins behavior as typical of a system of harassment and belittling and bullying and interference that women had faced from time immemorial.

        The word that struck me was belittling.

        This is where the story becomes personal.

        Let me tell you about my mother. Mom was a prodigy. Arriving in America at age 10, speaking not a word of English, she skipped so many grades she was in college by 16. Then she dropped out of college to help the family (it was the Depression) by getting a factory job sewing brassieres.

        The union had the crazy idea at that time to put on a musical comedy performed entirely by garment workers. The play (Pins and Needles) surprised everyone by becoming a smash hit on Broadway, with mom (then Ruth Rubinstein) as female lead.

        She was hailed as a comic genius, which I can attest she definitely was, was featured in Life, met FDR and Gypsy Rose Lee, and for three years hobnobbed with celebrities and was gossiped about in gossip columns. Then she went back to working in the factory again.

        Mom was a prodigy. Photograph: David Graeber

        Eventually she met my father, then a sailor; he found work in offset lithography, she dedicated herself to raising me and my brother, along with a variety of local activist projects and occasional part-time jobs.

        As a child it never occurred to me to ask why she never continued in the theatre, even though she followed it avidly, or went back to college, even though she filled the house with books, or pursued her own career.

        When I later asked shed just say, I lacked self-confidence. But once I remember the phrase casting couch came up and I asked her if such things had existed in her day. She threw her eyes up and said, Well, why do you think I never pursued a career in show business? Some of us were willing to sleep with producers. I wasnt.

        This is why Id like to get my thumbs on the throat of Harvey Weinstein. Its not just that creeps like him drove my mother off the stage. Its that in the process, they broke something. I dont know what actually happened, or if any one specific thing even did happen; but the result was to leave her convinced she was unworthy; intellectually superficial; not genuinely talented; a lightweight; a fraud.

        Because just as everyone associated with hotels falls into lockstep to tell chambermaids they are unworthy of protection from rapists, so did everything in my mothers environment conspire to tell her she had no grounds for complaint if someone told her was unworthy to continue to perform on stage, whatever her attainments, without also performing in private as a part-time sex worker.

        As a result, her sense of self collapsed.

        All of us are heirs to a thousand forms of violence. Many shape our lives in ways well never know. My mother was an enormous human stuck in a tiny box. Late in her life she was still hilariously funny; but she also collected tea towels with inscriptions like dont expect miracles.

        She raised me to assume I was destined for greatness (like her, I was considered something of a prodigy), then, would fall into inexplicable depression for days that would invariably end with her lashing out at me as a terrible, selfish, uncaring person for not properly cleaning my room.

        Only now do I understand she was really lashing out at even having to care about my room. Later she lived in part vicariously through me but also I have to assume was racked by guilt for any indignation she could not help but feel that this was the only way she could live the kind of life she should have had.

        In endless ways, the violence of powerful men plays havoc with our souls. It makes us complicit in acts of mutual destruction. Its too late now for my mother. She died 10 years ago, taking the details of what happened with her. But if we can do anything for her now, cant we at least break out of lockstep?

        Lets stop pretending these things cant really be happening and then, as soon as we learn it did happen, tell the person it happened to, Well, what else did you expect?

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        Coming Soon to Washington: An Anti-Trump Hotel for Liberals

        The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Eaton Workshop, a hotel opening in late spring 2018 in Washington, is a custom-commissioned video art installation by AJ Schnack, shown on a series of vintage-style television screens. All day long, it’ll broadcast a montage of footage from the presidential elections of 2012 and 2016 that’s built around one pointed question: How did our country get where it is today?

        It’s not a subtle statement, and it’s not meant to be.

        In Trump’s Washington, Eaton is planting a clear flag as a haven for Democrats. It’s the world’s first politically motivated hotel, the flagship for a global brand that’s built around social activism and community engagement. And it comes with a pedigree: As the daughter of Ka Shui Lo, the creator and executive chairman of Hong Kong-based Langham Hospitality Group Ltd., founder Katherine Lo knows a thing or two about luxury hotels and world-class service.

        The Big Idea

        An artist’s rendering of the reception desk of the Eaton.
        Source: Gachot Studios

        Lo firmly believes that hotels ought to be catalysts for good. In a world where we can be conscious consumers—of everything from clothing to food to baby products—she argues there’s a place for conscious hotels, too. This isn’t a revolutionary idea: Already, 1 Hotels has built a small collection of luxury properties entirely around the idea of sustainability, and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts has made a significant, brand-wide commitment to bolster community programming for disadvantaged children in all of its destinations. It’s one of many five-star brands that have a conscious ethos but choose not to flaunt it.

        Eaton Workshop is different. With a premise that’s built around liberal activism and civic engagement, the brand will weave a liberal philosophy into every aspect of the guest experience, some more obvious than others.

        Among the subtler points is the significance of the company’s name: a nod to the high-end shopping mall of that name in Montreal that captured the fascination of Ka Shui Lo when he fled the Cultural Revolution in China. The mall, says Katherine, was a beacon of freedom to her father—and when she found an archival photo bearing its old motto, “Progress and better living,” the two Eatons became forever intertwined.

        The Washington hotel—which has 209 rooms just north of the National Mall—will be the brand’s flagship, with a second location opening in Hong Kong in 2018 and new constructions set to rise in San Francisco and Seattle no sooner than 2019.

        A Hotel With an Agenda

        The lobby of the Eaton.
        Source: Gachot Studios

        Among the Washington location’s programming signatures will be a sort of TED talk series driven by the liberal agenda, consisting of fireside chats and rooftop lectures that Lo hopes will be free, open to the public, and streamable as Eaton-branded podcasts. Then comes the art program, which—aside from the political statement piece at check-in—will include commissions from at least a half-dozen up-and-coming local artists and a street-facing exhibition window curated in partnership with local museums and institutions. A co-working space will prioritize memberships for progressive startups, activists, and artists, while a wellness program will offer “inner-health-focused treatments” such as Reiki and sound baths, rather than facials and massages. (Some of these features will roll out a few months after the hotel opens.)

        Just as important, partners and staff will be brought on board, both for their skills in the food and beverage worlds and their activist track records. For instance, Lo saw the cocktail director of the famed Columbia Room, Derek Brown, as a perfect fit to be the hotel’s beverage director—not just because he’s won such awards as magazine’s Bartender of the Year but because he “cares deeply about social justice.” To wit, Brown actively champions policies that fight sexual harassment in the bartending industry and acts as chief spirit advisor for the National Archives.  

        Similarly, Lo says that the “amazing life story” of house chef Tim Ma “perfectly expresses our brand ethos.” The Chinese-American culinary up-and-comer was an engineer at the National Security Agency for years before discovering his true passion in food. At Eaton’s to-be-named restaurant, Ma is planning a menu with a heavy focus on vegetables from an on-site garden.

        A guest who does nothing other than check in, sleep atop Eaton’s organic mattresses, and check out will still have a sense of the hotel’s mission, says Lo. “We plan to have new ideas in the minibar—an activist toolkit, for example, that includes sheets with information to help you call your congresspeople. And if we’d been open during this year’s Women’s March, I could have seen us putting poster boards and markers in the rooms!”

        Political statements such as these will be tailored to each property. In Hong Kong, for instance, Lo says she’d like to replace Bibles in the nightstand drawers with copies of the United Nations Declaration for Human Rights.

        A Place for Thought Leaders (but Not All of Them)

        The library at the Eaton
        Source: Gachot Studios

        Lo understands that Eaton Workshop isn’t for everyone. “Self-selection is definitely one of our strategies,” she says about branding and marketing materials that directly appeal to the “woke” crowd. “We wanted to emphasize that it’s a place for people who are thinking outside the box and want to effect a change in the world,” she says.

        Though she repeatedly talks about fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, Lo also tells Bloomberg that “the goal isn’t to bring together left and right.” Instead, she wants to create “a diversity of fields and backgrounds as well as gender and ethnicity.” In other words, her hotel should represent the antithesis of the Trump hotel that’s just a few blocks away, offering an intellectual playground to those who may feel marginalized by the current administration’s agenda.

        This is partisan politics playing out on the city’s hotel scene; whether that will hurt or help Lo’s bottom line remains to be seen. But if the Trump Hotel is any indication, Lo may be poised for big success. According to the , the president’s hotel brought in $1.97 million in profits during the first four months of the year, despite business projections that had forecast a loss of $2.1 million.

        “It’s Like a Non-Profit but Better”

        Though her goal is to create a successful, scalable business, Eaton Workshop is not built to pad Lo’s pockets. On the contrary, she sees the entire enterprise as a means to a philanthropic end, and hopes to use the hotel profits to fund community arts initiatives in the brand’s respective destinations. 

        Each location will have a radio station, cinema, and music venue so local talent can produce or showcase work in a state-of-the-art space at low—or no—cost. In Washington, the building’s history as a printing venue has inspired Lo to create a writer’s residency, where investigative reporters can be hosted on site for several months while pursuing important stories.

        Artists will be invited to create short films, podcasts, or other types of content under the emblem of Eaton’s in-house multimedia studio; the results will be available for guests to stream on personal devices, and each piece will feature a clear activist message and a call to action.

        “We’re hoping that our hotel revenues will propel our creative projects,” says Lo, who likens the hotel to “a non-profit, but better.” Still, room rates won’t be extravagant; prices in Washington are likely to hover in the upper $200s. Thankfully, for members of both political parties—who are, no doubt, tired of dropping Benjamins for vodka drinks at the Trump International—the price of a martini should be less radical.

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          Kids at this hospital were terrified of the machines until they got a makeover.

          When industrial designer Doug Dietz went to the hospital to see the inaugural scan of a brand-new MRI machine he designed, what should’ve been an exciting event quickly turned somber.

          The patient coming in for a scan was a young girl. And she was petrified.

          The huge, hulking machine had the girl in tears — and that was before the loud whirring noise started up (the average MRI machine is about as loud as a rock concert, and not nearly as fun).

          “As [the family] got even closer to me, I notice the father leans down and just goes ‘remember we talked about this, you can be brave,” he recalled to GE Health, explaining that the parents looked horrified too — feeling helpless to find a way to make their daughter feel comfortable in the giant machine.

          Dietz went back to the drawing board.

          He was determined to use his design know-how to make the hospital environment for kids feel more like an adventure instead of a nightmare.

          All photos by GE Healthcare,  used with permission.

          After interviewing kids, parents, and doctors about what might make the experience of getting a medical scan a little less scary, Dietz and his team from GE Health got to work, along with partners from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

          It wasn’t just the machines that got a makeover.

          The whole exam room needed some love. From the sterile, beige decor, to the frank instruction placards (Dietz calls them “crime scene stickers”). Even the patter (or conversation/instructions) from doctors and nurses needed some livening up.

          The team developed themes that could bring each exam room to life.

          MRI rooms, for example, became space voyages. CT scans became pirate adventures.

          The redesigned MRI machine and rooms turned the kids into active participants in their own fantastic adventure stories, with themed books given ahead of time to prepare them for the journey.

          Inside the scanning machines, the children get special goggles that allow them to watch a DVD during their scans — which can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.

          When the first newly designed rooms were put into action at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, they worked like a charm. Not only did they calm the kids down and keep their minds occupied, Dietz recalled hearing one child ask her parents if she could have “another scan tomorrow.”

          “That was probably the biggest reward I could ever have,” he told the Journal Sentinel.

          Dietz’s designs are so popular and successful that many other hospitals have joined in on the fun.

          The project, called the Adventure Series, isn’t just something that makes kids smile. It allows the hospital to help more people.

          According to an article in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the fear of machines and tests is so bad that Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh had to sedate over 80% of kids who needed an MRI or CT scan, prior to the updates.

          Sedating and calming anxious patients takes extra time, elongating the length of each scan. If the kids don’t need sedation, but don’t hold still during the duration of the test, the whole thing has to be redone. These issues take up precious time that ultimately resulted in the hospital serving fewer patients.

          After implementing the Adventure Series, the hospital only had to sedate a quarter or less of its patients, making their work far more efficient.

          Making the experience less frightening for kids is a big win here — for the patients and hospitals too. There’s nothing that can completely erase the anxiety that comes with needing serious medical testing or care, but just knowing there are people who care enough to try is likely a big comfort to these families.

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