Until two years ago, the Danish shipping conglomerate Maersk had been sending its cargo ships across the seas at full throttle, vying to get supplies to their destination as fast as possible–and every other shipping company was doing the same. It seemed at the time the most efficient way of doing business. But in order to do so, the company was running its ships at far beyond the maximum fuel efficiency levels. So, two years ago, Maersk decided to slow things down. Now, a trip that used to take 3 weeks instead takes a month. But they’re reaping huge savings in fuel use, costs and greenhouse gas reductions–by as much as 30%.
Last week, the world’s largest retailer, WalMart, laid down a challenge to its more than 100,000 suppliers around the world: it told them it intends to cut 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from its supply chain within five years.
The Vatican was today rocked by a sex scandal reaching into Pope Benedict’s household after a chorister was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.
Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness, was caught by police on a wiretap allegedly negotiating with Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29-year-old Vatican chorister, over the specific physical details of men he wanted brought to him. Transcripts in the possession of the Guardian suggest that numerous men may have been procured for Balducci, at least one of whom was studying for the priesthood.
The explosive claims about Balducci’s private life have caused grave embarrassment to the Vatican, which has yet to publicly comment on the affair.
The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on “fear” of President Barack Obama and a promise to “save the country from trending toward socialism.”
The strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO, which also outlines how “ego-driven” wealthy donors can be tapped with offers of access and “tchochkes.”
The presentation was delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida on February 18, a source at the gathering said.
In neat PowerPoint pages, it lifts the curtain on the often-cynical terms of political marketing, displaying an air of disdain for the party’s donors that is usually confined to the barroom conversations of political operatives.
European MEPs from Greece, the Czech Republic and Germany have submitted a declaration opposing ACTA, the secret copyright treaty that is the first piece of global Internet law to be negotiated in private, without participation from poor countries, the public, or the press. Now they have 90 days to get their fellow MEPs to sign onto it, and if they make it, the opposition will be formally adopted by the European Parliament.
If you’re a European, please write to your MEP (contact info here) and ask for their support for the “Written declaration on the lack of a transparent process and potentially objectionable content concerning the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) from – Zuzana Roithova (CZ, EPP), Stavros Lambrinidis (GR, S&D), Alexander Alvaro (DE, ALDE) and Françoise Castex (FR, S&D).”
Games maker Ubisoft drew global ire when it announced that all its new titles, starting with Silent Hunter 5 and Assassin’s Creed 2, would henceforth be crippled with a DRM that would kick you off the game and wipe out your play if your Internet connection dropped for even a moment. From soldiers on forward-fire bases to people who just don’t want to have to be online to play a single-player game, gamers all over the world treated Ubisoft’s announcement as a declaration of war on the rights of game-buyers to enjoy their property in legitimate ways.
Now comes the news that Ubisoft’s DRM was broken less than 24 hours after release, which isn’t such a surprise, really.
I call it the Zynga moment, and every Web company, even Google, has it — it’s when you start out saying there’s all these scumbaggy things we’ll never do because they’re just too evil, but then when Plan A doesn’t generate any revenue, and Plans B and C fail too, well, your investors hold a come-to-Jesus meeting and here comes your Zynga moment, when you realize that you’re just going to have to give in and start doing all those things you said you’d never do. If you’re Zynga, or Yelp, you’re doing this to stay alive, and you rationalize it by saying that (a) your investors made you do it; or (b) even if you sell a little bit of your soul that’s just so you can stay in business and accomplish the really, really important and transformative things that were the original goal of the company. If you’re Google, you’re doing it not to stay alive, but because you realize that your core business model, as wonderful as it is, can only take you so far, and if you want to achieve any kind of growth, well, it’s time to start fucking people over.
FWIW, the best indication that Yelp is a mess is the fact that not long ago, Bono’s investment company, Elevation Partners, said it would invest up to $100 million into the company. I don’t mean to be a dick, but Elevation’s other big investments have been in Forbes magazine, which may or may not still be in business, and Palm, which is in business but won’t be for long. Not saying Yelp is doomed or anything, because let’s face it, blackmail is a hell of a business. But Elevation does not have a record of backing winners. They’re bottom feeders, and if they back you it probably means that someday, down the road, they’re going to take you apart and sell you for scrap.