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The New Cuba: Behind Baracoa’s Forthcoming Capitalism

August 13, 2015 by  

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Robert Schrader in Baracoa, Cuba “Quieres hacer un foto aquí?” The driver stopped the car in front of Baracoa’s very own secadera de madera. Dora and I looked at each other, then I answered. “No, gracias.” I placed my hand on the back of his seat, then continued, a bit more emphatically this time. “Ahora, preferemos ir directamente a la playa.” “Claro,” he pressed the gas, although not very hard – road conditions aren’t the best near the eastern tip of Cuba. Pepino, who said he was a personal friend of Sonia, the woman who manages our casa particular in Baracoa, was clearly trying to act as more of a tour guide than a chauffeur as we sped – as much as you can around these parts – toward Playa Manguana. While I won’t deny that my eagerness to reach the beach contributed to my lack of patience, the fact is that I generally don’t like tour guides. Actually, that’s too harsh – I respect the tour guide profession and indeed, the fact that many travelers find their services indispensable. I just don’t like it when their bullshit rants of facts I could find on Google…

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The United Nations Turns 70 in San Francisco, Where It All Began

July 2, 2015 by  

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Last Friday, I was invited together to attend an anniversary event held at San Francisco’s City Hall which celebrated the 70 years the United Nations Charter was signed. I was selected as one of 70 Bay Area Digital Leaders to participate in the event together with ambassadors from around the globe. Deemed a Charter Commemoration Ceremony, remarks and speeches were given by Governor Edmund Brown, Mayor Ed Lee, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon shortly after the Boys Choir entertained the audience. Even without the UN Anniversary celebration in play, it was already a day San Franciscans would never forget — earlier that morning, the SCOTUS ruling was announced and same sex marriage was legally voted in, which had a profound impact on the city where it all began. As I made my way up the City Hall entrance, hundreds were gathered on the front steps, joyful screams of the positive outcome echoing into the morning air. The Governor talked about the significance of the Charter and San Francisco’s role back then and of course how San Franciscans can be involved in the UN’s work in the years…

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The 2014 Washington Ideas Forum Explores Issues Under the Hood

December 4, 2014 by  

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A good indication that a thought provoking conversation has taken place is the “legs” it has in your mind and in the minds of others who share the experience. Such is the case with the Washington Ideas Forum – sponsored by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute. And with the recent news of Chuck Hagel stepping down as Secretary of Defense, one of the most compelling speakers at the Conference, capturing a taste of it seemed even more appropriate.  So, at the invitation of Steve Clemons, DC Editor at Large for The Atlantic, I spent two incredible days listening to all things innovative and important. Now, my sister (Marlene Colucci, Executive Director, US Business Council) and I have known Steve for about 30+ years. When he ran the Japan America society in Los Angeles, I always enjoyed tagging along and engaging in compelling discussions surrounding the East-West debate of the 90’s. Steve has a penchant for creating thought provoking conversations and visibility into issues and verticals that lack transparency. So we both knew this was going to be one great show. It appears he’s matched in that passion…

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The Aspen IdeasFestival Turns 10

July 3, 2014 by  

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In keeping with the spirit of “WeBlogTheWorld” and having a global perspective, I flew from Stockholm to Oslo to London to Washington, D.C., to San Francisco en route to Aspen, Colorado to cover the second half of the 10th Anniversary of the Aspen IdeasFestival, an annual gathering of luminaries meeting in this alpine paradise to discuss burning issues of the day. In the middle of the six day, two session marathon of seminars, talks and panel discussions spanning 16 topical tracks is an “afternoon conversation” plenary involving attendees of both segments.  This year, interviewees included Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, former vice president Al Gore, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, and former CIA director David Petraeus. Impressive that the first three speakers on this top profile stage in the Benedict Music Tent were women, as was noted by David Gergen, who interviewed Al Gore. Watch this space over the remainder of this week for highlights and themes from this august gathering. Of course, if you are reading this, you…

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DLD: Digital Life & Design Hits New York City’s Chelsea For First Time

May 8, 2014 by  

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The DLD (Digital-Life-Design) Conference has been around for awhile albeit more well known in Europe than in the states. It makes sense since it started in Munich Germany in 2005 and only expanded in recent years, first in Israel and most recently to the states with their first official U.S. conference in New York City from April 30-May 1, 2014. Vertical Business for Internet panel (7) Their mission is to act as a global network on innovation, digitization, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and influencers for crossover conversation and inspiration. DLD is organized by DLD Media, which is part of Burda Digital and originally founded by Steffi Czerny and Marcel Reichart. DLD has also hosted events in Beijing, San Francisco, London, Moscow, New Delhi, Rio, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv, where there is a growing community because of the efforts of Israeli-based Yossi Vardi who acts as Chairman of the conference together with Hubert Burda. Yossi and Steffi DLDNYC (2)
Who attends? The conference is invite only, but the categories and interests of those who make up the audience are aligned with the content. Think creative communities,…

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INK Women Event in Mumbai on March 8

March 6, 2014 by  

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Since INK started four years ago, INK has built an impressive global community of changemakers and thinkers. With so many incredible women who deserve to be in the spotlight, it only felt right to give these women their own platform to connect, share, and learn, and that is how INK Women was born. INK Women celebrates the struggles, triumphs, and passions of women. The program will connect women with cutting edge technology and ideas, presented by speakers from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds. From women working with women’s issues such as public health and safety, to women at the top of their field, be it finance, science, medicine, or fashion, will come together under the same roof at INK Women. It will be held in Mumbai India on March 8, 2014. INK Women 2014
NCPA, Mumbai
March 8th, 2014

More Info: inktalks.com/events/inkwomen2014


Protests in Thailand: What It All Means!

January 27, 2014 by  

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Bangkok, Thailand Protest I was relaxing in the Asiana Lounge at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport Friday evening, waiting to board a flight to Bangkok, when the news report came on. “Dozens of people were injured by the explosions,” the anchor said dramatically, “which are the latest chapter in a wave of dangerous protests that have taken the Thai capital hostage since November.” “You scared?” One of my fellow passengers asked. I shook my head and took another swig of chardonnay. See, if travel has taught me one thing – or, more accurately, if it has reinforced one thing I’ve always known – it’s that members of the mainstream media, in their quest to hold the greatest share of the world’s TV consumers captive, use fear at their primary weapon, often at the expense of the truth. To be sure, I visited Egypt just after the 2011 revolution, Greece at the height of its economic collapse, Myanmar before it was officially open to outsiders and The Palestinian Territories…well, according to the powers that be, it’s never a good idea to go there. In each of these instances, I was not only not harmed, but found the…

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Leader in Chinese Cultural Revolution Apologizes for Past

December 16, 2013 by  

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It’s not often we get a window into the past and a glimmer of a person’s inner thoughts, but an article on a regretful leader of the Mao’s Cultural Revolution (International NY Times) allowed us just that insight. Indeed, a public apology to his fellow citizens for past wrongs, in a culture that reveres face and maintaining a public profile of dignity and honor, is a powerful admission. Chen Xiaolu, a onetime student leader during the Revolution is one of several who have made such a public confession in an effort to move beyond this past blight. It is a remarkable act in his culture; an action taken because many feel the imperative to de-romanticize the past.
Do you think that his confession will create a more realistic view of this time in history? Do you think it says anything significant about face and saving face in China?


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