Monthly Archives: May 2015
As Hillary Clinton readies her second presidential campaign, one issue stands out above the rest. How will Hillary, a former first lady, senator, failed presidential candidate and secretary of state, re-brand herself for a fifth time to appeal to the audience of voters she needs to secure the presidency?
To ready her branding for the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton recently hired a team of consumer marketing specialists to join her trusted team of political advisers, the Washington Post reports.
Their job? Refreshing an already-established personal brand to paint a picture of a winning Democratic candidate and capable leader. Unlike the virtually unknown members of the GOP currently eyeing a bid for the presidency, Clinton is a universally known figure with more than two decades in the public eye.
Consequently, from Clinton’s economic opportunity agenda to the design of the “H” in her campaign logo, no detail is too big or too small.
“It’s exactly the same as selling an iPhone or a soft drink or a cereal,” Peter Sealey, a longtime corporate marketing strategist, explained. “She needs to use everything a brand has: a dominant color, a logo, a symbol. . . . The symbol of a Mercedes is a three-pointed star. The symbol of Coca-Cola is the contour bottle. The symbol of McDonald’s is the golden arches. What is Clinton’s symbol?”
Email marketing is one of the strategies that helped Barack Obama strengthen his brand during both his 2008 and 2012 campaigns. In his 2012 bid for re-election, Obama’s email marketing campaign brought in more than $690 million in donations. For Clinton, employing a strong email marketing presence could help win the supporters and campaign dollars she needs; for every $1 spent on email marketing, there’s usually a $40 return.
Clinton will also need to wield the power of big data in order to deliver results at the polls. From building and developing massive voter databases to interpreting voter behavior by looking at social media metrics, big data holds a wealth of information the Clinton campaign can use to its advantage.
Ultimately, Clinton will have to shape her brand by recognizing what she is — a powerful, shrewd and capable politician — as she faces her biggest political challenge yet.
“Look at Budweiser,” said a former campaign adviser of President Obama’s, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “That’s what Hillary Clinton is. She’s not a microbrew. She’s one of the biggest, most powerful brands ever in the country, and recognizing that is important.”
|Other Eastern European women have claimed to be “Human Barbie dolls” before, but is there a new contender who could seriously take the title?
Twenty-six-year-old Angelica Kenova, from Moscow, claims that her parents have molded her into a real-life Barbie by managing every aspect of her life.
Kenova told the press that she still lives with her parents and depends on them financially. Her mother even picks out her clothing “to choose attire that clings to my figure and emphasize my good features,” she said.
But that’s not all her parents are controlling.
Her parents have also restricted her diet and dictated her exercise regimen, so although she wears a size 32E bra, she weighs just 89 pounds and has a 20-inch waist.
This Barbie’s parents won’t even let her find a real-life Ken on her own. Her mother, Natalia, accompanies her on all of her dates.
One thing that Kenova hasn’t had, however, is plastic surgery. This distinguishes her from the reigning “Human Barbie,” Valeria Lukyanova of Ukraine. Lukyanova has had multiple procedures to change her facial features and shrink her waist.
In fact, Kenova said she doesn’t need cosmetic surgery — “Cosmetic work is only necessary when an individual has serious faults with their face or body,” she said to the press, according to the International Business Times.
Many people would likely disagree with her views. In 2011 alone, Americans spent almost $10 billion on surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures, and in 2012, there were 6.1 million Botox injections performed, which are the most popular non-invasive cosmetic treatment in the U.S.
But Kenova’s look, natural or not, and her strange doll-like lifestyle, haven’t had any effect on her ambition. Kenova said that she wants to become a Playboy Playmate because they are “very beautiful.”
In the meantime, she also models.
|Making it to high school graduation can be tough for teens with autism. According to federal education data released last year, only 61% of public high school students with disabilities get their high school diplomas.
So when 19-year-old Jacob Hanson, who has autism, was slated to walk with his graduating class in Colorado this May, his mom Christine wanted to celebrate by throwing him a graduation party. When she asked him how many invitations he wanted to give to school friends, however, she was heartbroken by his response.
“He said, ‘I just need like four or five. That’s not too many is it?’” she told the local news channel. As many people with autism do, Jacob has always struggled to make friends at school.
Hoping to at least get a few congratulatory cards for her son, Christine turned to her friends on Facebook. Her plea, however, went viral.
Hundreds of cards started pouring in from people who had seen the online posting. They came from not only the U.S., but also England, Germany and even Japan.
Many came from a sixth-grade class at Rocky Top Middle School, also in Colorado. Their teacher, Liz Darnell, says she is always trying to encourage random acts of kindness — and her students enthusiastically jumped in.
Jacob has also received letters from others with autism, saying that he’s an inspiration.
“This story is important. Traditional society and most high schools are pretty tough on teens because of the public high school environment and because of the adolescent experience,” said Laura Lemond, CEO of Mosaic Weighted Blankets.
Christine put a public message on Facebook May 28 about the hundreds of cards that have been received thus far. “The response has been overwhelming, and we are very thankful for everyone taking a minute out of their busy day to drop a card in the mail. It has meant the world to Jacob and myself,” she wrote.
She also relayed a message from her son: “[It has been] pretty cool to get a box of cards from people I don’t even know. It’s nice to know that people who don’t even know me actually care.”
“Social media has come a long way to build awareness and perspective on what the autistic community needs in way of support,” said Lemond. “It sounds like they stepped up mightily for this child in giving him nice cards and positive messages on his big day. Jacob’s story teaches us all to be more empathetic and encourages adults and kids to embrace the special needs community. Congratulations Jacob!”
If you want to send a card congratulating Jacob on his graduation, the family’s mailing information is available on Facebook.
|After a stellar four years at Clemson University in South Carolina, offensive lineman Kalon Davis is fighting a back injury in order to make it to the National Football League (NFL).
TigerNet.com reports that the Carolina native graduated from Clemson last December and was considered a top pick for the NFL draft on April 30th. However, soon after graduation, Davis developed intense pain in his back, due to a herniated disc he got during his freshman year.
It didn’t exactly surprise him.
“It’s just kind of one of those things that builds up over time,” Davis said. “There’s nothing that really sets it off, it’s just a build up and [it] eventually hits the breaking point.”
Herniated discs and other back injuries can be treated by a chiropractor. There are about 44,000 chiropractors in the United States today.
The injury kept him off the roaster of Clemson’s “Pro Day,” an open practice composed of 19 former Clemson Tiger football players. Representatives from all 32 NFL teams were in attendance for scouting opportunities, including at least three coaches — New England’s Bill Belichick, Philadelphia’s Chip Kelly, and Buffalo’s Rex Ryan. Although Davis was slated to go, he could not do much of anything on the field.
That was March 5th. By April 30th, the date of the NFL draft, Davis’s injury still had not improved. Teams formerly interested in him started to balk at any offers — including during the draft itself, directly.
“During the draft, there were a couple of teams that actually called me and said, “Hey, we don’t know if we’ll pick you just because of your injury. It’s going to be risky and we may not want to make that pick,'” he recalled.
A few teams still expressed interest, however, and he came very close to a deal with the Denver Broncos. He even traveled to their training camp. He was ultimately unsuccessful after he failed a physical.
Despite the setbacks, Davis is hopeful that he can join the NFL fairly soon. He is planning on taking the NFL physical in July. Though not totally certain, he remains confident that he’ll pass it.
“I’m rehabbing now in Clemson,” he said, “and if I pass that, my agent says he is still in contact with about five teams, so I’ll probably be going to camp with one of those teams. I definitely feel like I’m going to be good to go. I’ve done a lot on my own and I’m expecting to be fine come camp time.”
|An Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat fired warning shots at a Singapore-flagged commercial ship in the Gulf, a U.S. official has said. The Iranian ship fired across Singapore’s vessel in international waters in an apparent attempt to disable it over a financial dispute regarding damages to an Iranian oil platform.After firing the warning shots, Singapore’s MT Alpine Eternity headed towards the United Arab Emirates’ territorial waters. The Iranians then opened fire with machine guns, according to the unnamed U.S. official. The MT Alpine Eternity issued a call for help, which the UAE coast guard responded to, causing the Iranians to leave the area.
Attacking a nation’s cargo shipping fleet is no small move, as the industry serves as an influential economic force. Asia was the poorest continent on the face of the earth just 40 years ago — twice as poor as Africa is today — but now has one of the fastest growing economies and is twice as rich as Africa, thanks to its trade industry.
According to the U.S. official, the Alpine Eternity’s financial dispute with Tehran began on March 22 when it accidentally struck an Iranian oil platform. The ship, which was also damaged from the accident, went into port for repairs, during which time the Iranians informed the company that owns the Alpine Eternity that it must pay for the damages to the oil platform.
Perhaps the most troubling thing about the incident is that it was the second recent significant incident involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy and a commercial vessel in the Gulf. In late April, Iran seized a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, and detained it for over a week. Similar to the incident with Singapore, Iran claimed the Danish shipping company that chartered the ship’s voyage owed money to an Iranian firm. Officials have not said whether any money was actually paid, though The Guardian (and other newspapers) reports that the dispute has been settled.
As to whether or not the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy will continue to strong-arm money from the companies of other nations is yet to be seen, though a disturbing pattern appears to be developing.
Romney Will Be Hosting the Fourth Annual E2 Summit in Utah This June To Benefit GOP Presidential Contenders
|Mitt Romney decided against taking up a third presidential bid for the 2016 elections, but according to the latest reports from Washington, he’s not disappearing from politics any time soon. The Washington Post has recently reported that Romney is planning to host the 2015 Experts and Enthusiasts Summit (or E2 Summit, as it’s usually called) in Utah this summer, targeting some of the state’s biggest donors in order to raise money for GOP presidential hopefuls.The Summit will be held June 11 – 13 in Deer Valley, a sky resort town just east of Salt Lake City. This will be the fourth Summit for Romney, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, and in past years it has been a popular event for business executives, local politicians, and Republican party voters.
Most businesses (over 50%) list marketing and sales as their top choices for investments, while investments in political campaigns have become increasingly controversial over the past decade as hints of corruption and power abuse have surfaced (Exhibit A: The Koch Brothers).
Nevertheless, the E2 Summit is expected to draw a big crowd this year, partly thanks to Romney’s popularity in Utah, and partly thanks to the impressive lineup of attendees, including five presidential GOP contenders: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham have all confirmed that they will be in attendance. Jeb Bush, former Florida Gov., was invited but had already scheduled a trip to Germany, Poland, and Estonia during that week.
Many Americans were disappointed when Romney announced in January this year that he would not seek another presidential bid — some people are even hoping that he will reconsider his decision — but as TSLT states, “The E2 Summit is another chance for him to put his stamp on the political world.”
|Old photo digitization is a project that many of the world’s major museums have embarked on. After all, over 3.5 trillion photos have been snapped since the invention of the photograph 186 years ago. The Rijksmuseum, located in Amsterdam, is no different — but what sets their digitization project apart is that it may be the single most ambitious and exhaustive effort ever.By 2020, the museum has its sights on digitizing all one million objects in its impressive collection, which contains prized items such as masterpieces from Rembrandt and Vermeer, Delft pottery, silk brocade gowns, and matchlock muskets. So far, 25% of the museum’s collection — including most of its paintings — is currently available for high-resolution download from the museum’s website, with new uploads added nearly every day.
In addition to the sheer size of the Rijksmuseum’s collection of historical objects, what distinguishes their digitization program is a very liberal approach to copyright laws. Works are assigned a Creative Common’s status of “0”, which allows them to be modified and disseminated in almost any way. Some images have been exploited for commercial use — downloaded art has been used for iPhone cases, scarves, and even a tattoo.
The museum, however, encourages patrons to experiment, and hosts creative contests that offer free .tiff files to those who want to republish images in larger formats.
“It’s really a fundamental belief of the management at the Rijksmuseum that sharing is the new having,” explained Cecile van der Harten, the head of the museum’s image department, who has dedicated the past 10 years leading the digitization project. “It means you want to try do anything and everything to let people enjoy the collection, whether it’s live or online.”
While some view this perspective as altruistic, others simply see it as a concession or recognition of the current dynamics of the internet. If the Rijksmuseum chose not to make its digitized collection public, lower-quality reproductions would still surface online.
“The thought was people will steal it anyhow,” Ms. Van der Harten said. “So the least we could do is try to convince people that they should use the best version available for free. Then we can guarantee the quality.”
In the United States, hard, contaminated water can include sulfur or hydrogen sulfide — a chemical capable of corroding plumbing — but in third world countries like Nepal, contaminated water can prove to be far more dangerous. For this reason, UNICEF is appealing to people all over the world for donations, which will be used to provide emergency water kits.
Following the devastating earthquake that recently hit Nepal, about 1.7 million children are now in urgent need of aid in the worst-hit areas. Drinking water is often scarce or unsafe to drink following such natural disasters, so people need to find a source of safe water, or a way to treat and store drinkable water. Destroyed housing also leads to overcrowded camps, which creates a lack of toilets and excreta disposal, creating a serious challenge to personal hygiene.
When drinking water becomes contaminated, it can spread diarrhea, cholera, and other diseases. Children are the most vulnerable, as their immune systems are developing. Even diarrhea can prove to be fatal without proper health treatment. After the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, thousands died from cholera outbreaks.
“The earthquake has caused unimaginable destruction,” said Rownak Khan, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nepal, in a press release. “Hospitals are overflowing, water is scarce, bodies are still buried under the rubble and people are still sleeping in the open. This is a perfect breeding ground for diseases.”
UNICEF is also working hard to deliver trucks of water to camps to provide displaced peoples with safe drinking water, establish toilets in camps, and conduct communication campaigns on hygiene and handwashing.
“We have a small window of time to put in place measures that will keep earthquake-affected children safe from infectious disease outbreaks — a danger that would be exacerbated by the wet and muddy conditions brought on with the rains,” said Khan. “That’s why it’s so crucial to get essential medicine, medical equipment, tents and water supplies out to these areas now.”
First Lady and Wife of VP Celebrate Mother’s Day and Helping Military Families at White House Tea Party
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, welcomed military members and their families to the annual Mother’s Day tea on May 8, 2015. The event was held at the White House and included service members, their spouses and children, along with wounded warrior caregivers and veterans, as part of the military’s Joining Forces initiative.
This celebration in particular was aimed at service members who are mothers, and mothers who have children in the military. Gold Star Mothers, an organization of mothers whose children died in military service, were also in attendance.
The day coincided with National Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which Obama and Biden pointed out as they spoke to guests in the State Dining Room.
“We couldn’t have picked a better day to show you how much we care and how grateful we are for the service that you provide for our country,” Obama said.
Life is often rough for military families, Obama noted, as they move from state to state every few years. This upheaval means saying goodbye to friends, putting their children in new schools and having to build new lives for themselves over and over.
“You’ve been separated from your loved ones,” Obama said, “whether you’ve been deployed yourself or you’ve had someone overseas.”
Military families are often the first to volunteer to help others in their communities, despite their already active lives, the first lady said. Yet those families are often in need of help as they rebuild their lives with each move or deployment.
Helping military families often takes a community. Some prefer to give clothing donations, which total about 14.3 million tons in the United States alone; others volunteer their time with veterans’ organizations and causes that make life easier for children of military members.
Obama and Biden got together four years ago to redouble the efforts to aid members of the armed forces and their families and started the Joining Forces initiative. Today the Joining Forces initiative has become a support system for veterans and military spouses, and it has also helped 850,000 veterans and spouses find employment since its inception.
Joining Forces has also put an end to veteran homelessness in some areas, including in New Orleans.
The Mother’s Day tea was the perfect time to give back to some of the nation’s military families, according to Obama and Biden. The Bidens have a son, Beau, who is an Iraq War veteran and a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.
“We ask a lot of our military families,” Biden told guests, “and I believe that each of us — no matter where we live, no matter whether we’re connected to military ourselves — all of us should make our best efforts to show our military spouses, kids, siblings and parents how much we appreciate their service and their sacrifice.”