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— July 2009 —

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July 30, 2009

Airbus A320 Assembled in China

A320 Airbus Maiden Flight


Photo: The first A320 aircraft assembled on the Airbus Final Assembly Line China (FALC) successfully completed its maiden flight. © Airbus S.A.S.

A320 Airbus


Photo: Arrival of the initial A320 Family aircraft segments marked an important milestone for the new single-aisle assembly line in Tianjin, China. © Airbus S.A.S.

Airbus delivered the first A320 aircraft assembled at its Final Assembly Line China (FALC) in Tianjin. At a grand ceremony, the aircraft was handed over by Airbus President and CEO, Tom Enders, to the Chairman of Dragon Aviation Leasing, Li Hai. The aircraft will be leased to and operated by Sichuan Airlines.

Tianjin Party Secretary Zhang Gaoli, Mayor of Tianjin, Huang Xingguo, as well as German State Secretary (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology) Hartmut Schauerte and the President of Sichuan Airlines, Lan Xinguo were present at the ceremony attended by more than 1000 guests.

"The highly reliable and efficient Airbus aircraft are very valuable assets of aircraft leasing companies. As a China-based company, Dragon Aviation Leasing is proud to take delivery of the first Airbus aircraft assembled in China," said Li Hai, Chairman of Dragon Aviation Leasing.

"Sichuan Airlines was the first Chinese airline to introduce the A320 Family aircraft in China in 1995. Today, we are proud to become the operator of the first A320 assembled in China. We believe that the Airbus aircraft further enhances our profitability and competitiveness with low operational costs and high reliability," said Lan Xinguo, President of Sichuan Airlines.

China Airbus A320


Photo: The initial Chinese-built A320 - the first Airbus aircraft produced outside Europe - was delivered to Dragon Aviation Leasing during a ceremony at the Tianjin final assembly line. © Airbus S.A.S.

China Airbus


Photo: A gala ceremony marks delivery of the first Chinese-built A320 to Dragon Aviation Leasing for operation by Sichuan Airlines - a milestone for Airbus' newest final assembly line. © Airbus S.A.S.

"Our Final Assembly Line here in Tianjin and this first aircraft delivery outside Europe mark an important milestone in our strategic long-term partnership with China and the Chinese industry," said Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO. "This FAL is state of the art, second to none in the world. And so are the aircraft manufactured here in Tianjin. I would like to thank all our partners and employees who worked very hard during the last three years to make this happen."

The Export-Import Bank of China, a strategic long term partner to Dragon Aviation Leasing, has been supporting the financing for the purchase of the aircraft. The A320 to be operated by Sichuan Airlines will be in a two-class configuration, with eight first class seats and 156 economy seats. The aircraft will be deployed on domestic trunk routes between the airline's base of Chengdu to such major cities like Beijing and Shanghai. It entered into service on 24th June on the route from Chengdu to Beijing. The aircraft joins the existing fleet composed of 40 Airbus single-aisle aircraft.

Final Assembly Line China (FALC) is a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC). Eleven A319 and A320 aircraft are scheduled for delivery in Tianjin in 2009 and the FALC production rate will be ramped up to four aircraft per month by the end of 2011.



The Art of Statecraft (Where Applicable)

A great nation is one to which the streams descend. It is the meeting place, the female of the world. Quiet, passive, overcoming the male by humble submission.

A great nation lowers itself to the smaller and thus wins the smaller nation; a smaller nation lowers itself beneath the greater and thus wins the greater nation. So, some lower themselves to win others; some are already low, and therefore win others.

• A great nation wants more people; a small nation wants more room. When both are dedicated to these ends, the greater nation should humbly yield. (Translator: Frank J. MacHovec).

• The great state only wishes to unite men together and nourish them; a small state only wishes to be received by, and to serve, the other. Each gets what it desires, but the great state must learn to abase itself. (Translator: James Legge).

• What a big country wants is but to shelter others. And what a small country wants is but to be able to come in and be sheltered. Thus (considering) that both may have what they want -- A big country ought to place itself low. (Translator: Lin Yutang)

-- Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 61. StumbleUpon reddit Facebook Google Plus Tweet This Seed This on Newsvine

Edited & Posted by the Editor | 3:24 AM | View the original post

July 28, 2009

Around the Americas Ocean Conservation Expedition

Funded by Rockefeller Family and Tiffany Foundation, Around the Americas project demonstrates global warming and climate change impacts on the environments and ecosystems, its Ocean Watch crew departs Barrow, hopes for a safe journey through the ice encrusted Amundsen Gulf.


Photo: 64-foot Ocean Watch makes its way into the Northwest Passage on the first part of a 25,000 mile ocean conservation expedition around North and South America.

After eight weeks at sea following its departure on May 31 from Seattle, the crew of Ocean Watch - the 64-foot steel-hulled sailboat - representing the 13 month- long Around the Americas expedition has turned east into the ice-filled Northwest Passage after traveling a predominantly northerly course.

The expedition is focused on the realities of global warming and climate change. Captain Mark Schrader describes in the latest Captain's Log what the boat and crew face as they enter the Northwest Passage.

"(Sunday) at 0745 the anchor was up and Ocean Watch headed to Point Barrow, approximately 8nm to the north. At Point Barrow we make a sharp turn east, exit the Chukchi Sea, enter the Beaufort Sea and finally point our bow into the Northwest Passage. With Cambridge Bay roughly 1050nm (nautical miles) due east and still blocked by ice in Amundsen Gulf. We'll make several stops along the way while waiting for the forecast mid-August breakup.

"The next community with a sheltered harbor, fuel and services with enough depth for OW [Ocean Watch] is Tuktoyaktuk (Tuk), 490nm down the line. All of our ice reports indicate the passage from here to Tuk is currently open. The predicted winds for the next few days should keep the ice away from the shore and leave plenty of room for us. If the conditions change we have some options; Thetis Island, Stockton Island, Kaktovik and Herschel Island can all afford some protection from wind and ice. Herschel Island with its long and rich whaling and over-wintering-for-stranded-sailors-history is on our 'must visit' list."


Photo: Captain Mark Schrader, leader of the 25,000 mile ocean conservation project Around the Americas, gives steering directions through the ice in the Northwest Passage.

Ocean Watch is carrying the message of the Around the Americas expedition that the oceans surrounding North and South America are very fragile and we need to be aware of the problems and make changes in our lives to help correct them. Led by Captain Mark Schrader, the first American to solo circumnavigate the earth via the five southern capes, the 25,000-mile voyage will be one of only about 100 boats to have travelled through the Northwest Passage in the past 100 years.

Schrader continues in the Log, "Writing this was just interrupted by a whale sighting off the bow, then a Polar Bear sighting on the beach. The beach is a little less than 1/3 nm away, the bear appears to be sleeping. The helmsperson also just announced we're finally turning east. Ocean Watch hasn't sailed an easterly course since leaving Seattle, some 3,400nm and 8-weeks ago. This is a significant waypoint for us - we're now truly going 'over the top' and into the Passage."

With a permanent crew of four experienced sailors, a scientist and educator on board, Ocean Watch will traverse the treacherous frozen waters of the Northwest Passage for the next four to six weeks making scientific observations and collecting information.

Around the Americas is a 25,000-mile clockwise-circumnavigation of the North and South American continents, never before undertaken in continuous fashion. The sailboat, equipped with some of the latest technology, along with scientists and educators who join during various legs of the voyage, is making 31 stopovers in 13 months to draw attention to the changing condition of the oceans. With major funding support from Tiffany & Co. Foundation, a non-profit consortium has been formed to make the public more aware of the plight of the oceans.

Source: Around the Americas

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July 27, 2009

Canada's Tallest Hotel Tower

Hilton Hotel & Suites Niagara Falls Fallsview Opens its Doors on Major Expansion.

Niagara Falls Hotel

Photo: The Hilton Hotel & Suites Niagara Falls-Fallsview has changed the skyline in Niagara Falls, Canada. As Canada's tallest hotel tower, the Hilton Hotel & Suites rises 500 meters (more than 5 football fields) over the thundering Falls.

After months of construction and anticipation, Canada's tallest hotel tower has opened its doors and forever changed the skyline in Niagara Falls, Canada. With the best views, the new Hilton Hotel & Suites Niagara Falls - Fallsview rises 500 meters (more than 5 football fields) over the thundering Falls.

The Hilton Hotel & Suites began its transformation to become the tallest hotel tower in Canada in January 2007. Now the largest resort in Niagara Falls, it boasts over 1,000 hotel rooms and suites, including two spectacular Presidential Suites on the 52nd Floor. Each elegantly appointed 2-bedroom suite features a sitting room with a fireplace, magnificent city or falls views and wireless technology.

Source: Hilton Hotel & Suites Niagara Falls Fallsview

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July 23, 2009


Industry's top study measuring customer satisfaction in design, content, and vehicle performance.




Photo: 2010 Porsche 911 GT3.

The automotive industry achieves a three-year high in appeal for new and redesigned models, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

In 2009, the APEAL score for all-new and redesigned models averages 790 on a 1,000-point scale--11 points higher than in 2008 and 15 points higher than the 2009 score for carryover models. In addition, seven all-new and redesigned models rank highest in their respective segments, including the Dodge Challenger, Ford F-150 (in a tie), Ford Flex, Hyundai Genesis, Nissan Maxima, Volkswagen CC and Volkswagen Tiguan.

"Most automakers are on track in terms of designing new models that are highly appealing," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "The greater challenge for manufacturers lies in creating models that launch with both strong appeal and high quality, which ultimately lead to improved sales through greater customer loyalty and advocacy."

"Throughout the years, vehicle models achieving high APEAL scores have been shown to benefit from faster sales, less need for cash incentives and higher profit margins on each vehicle sold."

The average APEAL score for all models in 2009 has improved considerably to 779 from 770 in 2008, driven primarily by increased owner satisfaction with fuel economy. This higher satisfaction comes from three main sources. First, fuel prices have decreased significantly during the past year, which has reduced owner concerns about gas mileage. Second, owners are switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles--in 2009, more than one-half of all vehicles included in the study are powered by four-cylinder engines, compared with just 39 percent in 2008. Third, automakers are designing models to be more fuel efficient than their predecessors.



Photo: BMW X6M at the 2009 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).

"Although lower fuel prices and the switch to smaller vehicles have undoubtedly helped, there are also many individual vehicles that have made strong improvements in fuel economy ratings," said Sargent. "For example, the Ford F-150, Cadillac Escalade, Volkswagen Jetta and redesigned Dodge Ram have all made major strides in owner satisfaction with fuel economy through the introduction of more efficient powertrains."

In 2009, domestic brands comprise the four most-improved nameplates. Dodge posts the largest improvement, followed by Pontiac, Buick and Cadillac, respectively. In addition, the three most-improved models are from domestic manufacturers, including the Dodge Ram, Buick Lucerne and Ford F-150.

"Consumers have a great array of appealing vehicles to choose from by both domestic and import brands," said Sargent.

The overall gap in APEAL scores between domestic and import models has narrowed considerably during the past several years and is just five index points in 2009, compared with 15 points in 2008 and 27 points in 2007. Among premium models, import nameplates retain a slight edge, while among non-premium models, domestic brands have a similar edge.

Audi Q5


Photo: All-New 2009 Audi Q5 Crossover Vehicle.



Photo: Hyundai all-new 2010 Genesis Coupe.

Volkswagen captures four segment-level awards--more than any other vehicle nameplate in 2009--for the CC, GTI, Passat and Tiguan. Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan each garner two awards. Ford receives model-level awards for the F-150 (in a tie) and Flex. Honda models receiving awards are the Odyssey (for a fifth consecutive year) and Ridgeline (for a fifth consecutive year). Mercedes-Benz earns awards for the S-Class (for a third consecutive year) and SLK-Class. The S-Class achieves the highest APEAL score of any model in the industry. Nissan receives awards for the Armada and Maxima.

Also receiving awards are the Chevrolet Avalanche (for a second consecutive year), in a tie; Dodge Challenger, Hyundai Genesis, MINI Cooper (for a second consecutive year); Porsche Cayenne (for a second consecutive year); and smart fortwo.

Porsche is the highest-ranking nameplate in APEAL for a fifth consecutive year.

The APEAL Study examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of more than 90 vehicle attributes. The 2009 APEAL Study is based on responses gathered between February and May 2009 from more than 80,900 purchasers and lessees of new 2009 model-year cars and trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership. The APEAL Study complements the recently released J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership.



Photo: Members of the Maxima launch team hold the banner as the first all-new 2009 Nissan Maxima rolls off the line at the Nissan Vehicle Assembly Plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

2009 APEAL Nameplate Ranking
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Porsche ------ 869
Jaguar ------ 859
Cadillac ------ 852
Audi ------ 846
BMW ------ 844
Mercedes-Benz ------ 841
Lexus ------ 837
Infiniti ------ 828
Land Rover ------ 822
Lincoln ------ 820
Acura ------ 818
MINI ------ 817
Volkswagen ------ 807
Buick ------ 801
Volvo ------ 793
Ford ------ 785
Dodge ------ 784
GMC ------ 784
Saturn ------ 779
Industry Average ------ 779
Honda ------ 778
Mazda ------ 778
HUMMER ------ 773
Scion ------ 772
Pontiac ------ 769
Nissan ------ 768
Mitsubishi ------ 767
Smart ------ 767
Chevrolet ------ 764
Hyundai ------ 763
Mercury ------ 763
Chrysler ------ 757
Toyota ------ 756
SAAB ------ 754
Kia ------ 748
Subaru ------ 738
Jeep ------ 727
Suzuki ------ 715

Top Models per Segment

Car Segments

Sub-Compact Car
Highest Ranked: smart fortwo
Scion xD
Honda Fit

Compact Car
Highest Ranked: MINI Cooper
Volkswagen Jetta
Mitsubishi Lancer

Compact Sporty Car
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen GTI

Compact Premium Sporty Car
Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
Nissan Z

Entry Premium Vehicle
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen CC
Cadillac CTS
Audi A4/5

Midsize Sporty Car
Highest Ranked: Dodge Challenger

Midsize Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Hyundai Genesis
Jaguar XF
BMW 5 Series

Large Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Lexus LS

Midsize Car
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen Passat
Mazda 6
Honda Accord

Large Car
Highest Ranked: Nissan Maxima
Pontiac G8
Toyota Avalon



Photo: Y'Anna Crowley, winner of BET's 'Sunday Best' Competition in front of the 2009 Lincoln MKS, Lincoln's Flagship Luxury Sedan.

Results from the study show the Ford brand improving by 17 points and moving up six rank positions among nameplates from last year. The Lincoln brand improved by 18 points and climbed two spots in the survey from a year ago. Mercury improved by eight points and Volvo's score increased by two points.

The Ford Flex and F-150, both segment leaders, scored better than the segment average in every category, performing especially well in fuel efficiency and exterior styling. Ford's new F-150 improved 52 points from last year and scored 16 points better than all redesigned trucks in this survey.

"Ford's quality rankings continue to climb consistently year after year and we intend to keep the momentum going to become the best in the industry," said Bennie Fowler, group vice president, Global Quality. "To do so, we're raising the stakes and redefining what it means to deliver a quality product by giving consumers more than just defect-free cars and trucks; we're exceeding their expectations with features they would expect to find only in high-priced luxury lines."

APEAL asks customers what they like about the performance, execution and layout of their new vehicle after the first three months it is in service. Customer's rate their level of "gratification" on a variety of vehicle attributes, including safety, fuel economy, cargo space and roominess, exterior styling and price.



Photo: 2010 Ford Fusion.

"At Ford, we are accelerating the development of vehicles customers will fall in love with at first sight and grow even fonder of over time," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. "To deliver on that promise, our goal is nothing less than product excellence in design, feature content, safety and quality--all at an exceptional value."

Ford explains that since "gratification" is difficult to define and even harder to measure, Ford looked for new ways to understand how customers define it. Researchers combed through surveys, looked at historical trends and studied customer satisfaction rates. They spoke with people who recommended Ford to their friends, and to those who dismissed the brand out of hand. By discovering what makes customers feel good about their cars, Ford was able to develop a unique set of criteria that came to be known as product DNA.

"This strict set of guidelines is designed and built into every vehicle for a consistent feel and sound that is unmistakably Ford. Every Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicle, from sub compact cars to full size crossovers, is designed to evoke a positive emotional response from its owner."

This "emotional engineering", which focuses on the senses of sight, sound and touch, is helping Ford deliver vehicles that are satisfying to own and drive.

To ensure the company's quality criteria are met, Ford says it formed a Global Craftsmanship team of engineers who examine how harmoniously the vehicle is put together. "Like assembling a puzzle, the team analyzes every inch of the vehicle to check for gaps, mismatches or inconsistencies of all of the parts individually and as a whole. Their work is divided into four interior and exterior vehicle review categories: visual quality; touch and feel quality; sound quality, and illumination harmony."



Photo: 2010 Volvo XC60.

To add structure to its DNA strategy and increase customer satisfaction, Ford put its quality criteria into three categories:

• Basic quality - the fundamental reliability of a vehicle.
• Performance quality - includes attributes such as fuel economy and quietness.
• Excitement quality - those unexpected convenience features that surprise and delight the customers.

While continuing to improve on basic quality and performance quality, Ford has increased its focus on excitement quality - the parts of the vehicle that surprise and delight. According to Ford, "Excitement quality includes features ranging from seats specially designed for comfort, materials and surfaces that look good and feel right, interiors with ambiance and paint that flows like liquid across the vehicle's surface."

"When applying the three categories, it's never about either/or; it's all three," said Kuzak. "We're still consumed with basic quality, but we're now also very focused on providing appeal and excitement."

"Creature comforts, good fuel economy, elegance, style, durability and quality craftsmanship, all come together to complete the ownership experience." says Ford.

Sources: J.D. Power and Associates and Ford Motor Company.


Our Opinion

"FORD ADVERTISING: Now, when the advertising of its domestic competitors is low-key (they have just emerged from bankruptcy), Ford Motor Company is in an advantageous position to strike in North America and consolidate its nameplates and brands."

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July 19, 2009

Steinway White House Grand Pianos of 1903 and 1938

Steinway & Sons are promoting the Steinway piano as a cornerstone of American music and culture.


According to them, since 1853, Steinway pianos have set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty and investment value and Steinway remains the choice of 9 out of 10 concert artists, and it is the preferred piano of countless musicians, professional and amateur, throughout the world.

"We've always known that Steinway & Sons is a great American original," says Todd Sanders, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Steinway & Sons. "By producing the finest handcrafted instruments available, our factory in Queens has contributed to a significant part of American culture for more than 156 years. Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Billy Joel, among many other legendary composers and performers, have all drawn their inspiration from the Steinway piano. We're proud to take a moment to consider how important our company has been in our nation's history. The White House pianos are also a great reminder of this."



Photo: White House Steinway & Sons Model D Concert Grand Piano, designed by Architect Eric Gugler. The piano was presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, commemorating the production of Steinway's 300,000th piano. The case is made of Honduran Mahogany, with gold leaf accents by artist Dunbar Beck. This magnificent instrument currently resides in the East Room of the White House. Photo courtesy of the White House Historical Association.

• In 1903, to celebrate the creation of the company's 100,000th piano - and the 50th anniversary of the firm's founding - Steinway & Sons offered to transform its standard concert grand piano into an artwork suitable for use in the East Room of the White House. The "Gold Grand" was presented to the White House, and President Theodore Roosevelt accepted the $18,000 Steinway "on behalf of the nation." The piano served through the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt; it was then donated to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

• The second White House piano was built and presented to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 to commemorate the production of Steinway's 300,000th piano. The new piano, designed by New York architect Eric Gugler, was more than nine feet long, with a case of Honduran mahogany and gold leaf by artist Dunbar Beck. Last renovated in 1992 during the administration of George H. W. Bush, the piano remains today in the East Room of the White House.

Source: Steinway & Sons



"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy."

-- Ludwig van Beethoven

Enjoy a little Piano! StumbleUpon reddit Facebook Google Plus Tweet This Seed This on Newsvine

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July 16, 2009

America's Best Hospitals 2009-10 As Ranked By U.S. News Media Group


U.S. News Media Group today announced the 2009-10 publication of America's Best Hospitals, accessible today online and on sale at newsstands Tuesday, July 21.

Now in its 20th year, the multi-platform 2009-10 America's Best Hospitals guide is the most extensive hospital ranking to-date. It includes rankings of 174 medical centers nationwide in 16 specialties -- with full data available online for another 1,500 unranked hospitals. In addition, the Best Hospitals "Honor Roll" highlights 21 medical centers that were ranked at or near the top in at least six specialties.

The 16 ranked specialties are cancer; diabetes & endocrine disorders; digestive disorders; ear, nose, and throat; geriatric care; gynecology; heart and heart surgery; kidney disorders; neurology and neurosurgery; ophthalmology; orthopedics; psychiatry; rehabilitation; respiratory disorders; rheumatology; and urology.


"When the stakes are high, you want the best care you can get for someone close to you," said Avery Comarow, health rankings editor. "These are hospitals that are used to getting the sickest patients."

The 2009-10 Best Hospitals guide also includes a web video series on where visitors can watch HealthiNation Chief Medical Editor Dr. Holly Atkinson interview Comarow and Dr. Bernadine Healy, U.S. News health editor, to capture their expertise and insight into the Best Hospitals ranking process. The videos take viewers behind the scenes of the rigorous selection process, include profiles of top winners across categories, and reveal what it takes for a hospital to be named one of "America's Best."

"Over the past two decades, America's Best Hospitals has proven to be an essential resource for consumers facing difficult healthcare decisions," said Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News & World Report.



Of the medical centers ranked in the 2009-10 America's Best Hospitals, 21 earned Honor Roll status, demonstrating excellence and breadth of expertise by ranking at or near the top in at least six specialties.

The top hospitals in the 2009-10 Honor Roll are:

1. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
2. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
3. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
4. Cleveland Clinic
5. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
6. New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
7. University of California, San Francisco Medical Center
8. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
9. Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University, St. Louis
10. Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
10. Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
12. University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle
13. UPMC-University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
14. University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor
15. Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, Calif.
16. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville
17. NYU Medical Center, New York
17. Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Conn.
19. Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York
20. Methodist Hospital, Houston
21. Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus

In addition to the hospitals that appear in one or more specialty rankings in the print magazine, the 2009-10 America's Best Hospitals package includes an online consumer guide where readers can find information on more than 1,500 hospitals that qualified for rankings, but did not score high enough to be ranked.

Source: U.S. News Media Group



"The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm."

-- Florence Nightingale StumbleUpon reddit Facebook Google Plus Tweet This Seed This on Newsvine

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July 9, 2009

G8 Summit Opens in Italy

The 2009 G8 Summit is being held in L'Aquila, Italy, from 8 to 10 July. The main issues on the Italian Presidency's agenda are the economic crisis and a boost to growth, relaunching international trade, welfare policies, climate changes, development in the poor countries and in Africa, food security and safety, access to water, health, and the resolution of regional crises.

Obama Italy


Obama G8


Obama G8


Photos: July 8, 2009, first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and US President Barack Obama while visiting the historical center of L'Aquila destroyed by the earthquake of 6 April. Ansa photos: Maurizio Brambatti

Japan G8


Photo: Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

Russia G8


Photo: The President of the Russian Federation , Dmitry Medvedev, signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

Italy G8


Photo: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

Germany G8


Photo: German Chancellor, Angela Merkel , signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

Sweden G8


Photo: Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

Britain G8


Photo: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

EU Commission G8


Photo: The EU Commission President, Manuel Barroso, signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

France G8


Photo: French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

Obama USA G8


Photo: The President of United State, Barack Obama, signs the G8 logo plaque on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

G8 Italy


Photo: The G8 logo plaque with all the leaders' signatures, on the first day of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

G8 Italy


Photo: The interior of the Main Conference hall, where the Summit meetings are to be carried out in the premises of the Coppito Guardia di Finanza campus. Photo taken on 7 July 2009, the eve of the G8 Summit. ANSA Photo: Ettore Ferrari

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July 6, 2009

UNESCO and Microsoft Announce Higher Education ICT Task Force for Long-Term Skills and Sustainable Development

Collaboration to promote greater access and use of ICT for higher education enhancements.



The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Microsoft Corporation today announced in Paris a joint task force to help higher education institutions worldwide meet the growing challenge of supporting economic stimulus efforts and work-force development strategies. The UNESCO-Microsoft Task Force on Higher Education and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will create a strategic plan of action to identify how ICT can be used by governments as a catalyst for change.

Unesco Paris

The announcement was made at the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education (WCHE), which opened today and is being attended by close to 100 ministers of education, senior education officials and policy advisors. The WCHE is also focusing on critical issues around reduced funding for education globally as a result of the economic crisis and the need for governments to find affordable measures for short-term skills training and work force enhancement in support of economic recovery and growth. Many delegations in attendance from developing regions emphasized the longer-term challenges of sustainable higher education reform and capacity-building.


The UNESCO-Microsoft Task Force on Higher Education and ICT will analyze the findings and recommendations of the WCHE, in addition to feedback from global higher education experts and stakeholders, to identify key initiatives that will promote more effective use of ICT in post-secondary teaching, learning and research.

"Higher education is increasingly strategic for building up skilled work forces in countries. Our focus has been on ensuring that tertiary institutions address the key long-term requirements of our increasingly knowledge-based societies and that students today are best equipped to drive and support economic growth and to address major development challenges from education to health to the environment," said Nicholas Burnett, UNESCO assistant director-general for education. "Through the creation of the UNESCO-Microsoft Task Force on Higher Education and ICT we will help mobilize critical strategic resources to better assist ministries of education worldwide."


The current economic downturn combined with rising demand for higher education places governments under enormous pressure to fund enhancements in higher education and support programs needed to train the next generation of work forces with the new skills necessary for economic recovery. Under the umbrella of the UNESCO-Microsoft Task Force on Higher Education and ICT and through the Microsoft Education Alliance , Microsoft will provide a tailored package of resources for short-term higher education enhancements, including curriculum, training and affordable access to collaboration and development software.

"We believe that technology has a vital role to play in building up 21st-century skills, broadening access to education and personalizing the learning experience to adapt teaching to the unique needs of each learner," said Michael Golden, corporate vice president, Education Products Group at Microsoft. "This program makes technology resources more accessible than ever before to governments and students across the world. We will continue to support UNESCO and our newly formed UNESCO-Microsoft Task Force on Higher Education and ICT in every way we can."

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the UN agency responsible for the promotion of international cooperation in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 10:11 AM | View the original post

July 2, 2009

Companies Stockpiling Cash, Credit Access Still Tight

42% increase short-term holdings; most move to more conservative vehicles.


With little easing in access to credit, U.S. organizations are continuing to stockpile cash, according the Association for Financial Professionals' 2009 Liquidity Survey. Almost three-quarters (72%) of companies had increased or maintained their U.S. cash balances during the first part of 2009.

According to the new AFP survey, 42% of organizations increased their U.S. cash and short-term investment balances between December 2008 and May 2009, while 30% saw no significant change in short-term cash balances. More than a quarter (28%) of organizations saw their U.S. cash and short-term investment balances deteriorate over the six-month period. Organizations with non-investment grade ratings were more likely to have seen their cash and short-term investment balances shrink.

Investment Chart


"Despite unprecedented government action, the lack of any significant thaw in short-term credit access is extremely troubling and many companies are reacting by stockpiling cash," said Jim Kaitz, President and CEO of AFP. "While, many organizations with their strong cash positions will be well-positioned once the economy begins to improve, overall economic conditions will not improve until organizations can begin using their cash in activities that foster growth."

The fourth annual AFP 2009 Liquidity Survey was underwritten by The Bank of New York Mellon.

Bank of New York Mellon

Despite reports of an easing in the corporate credit markets, over half (59%) of respondents indicated that their organizations' access to short-term credit had not changed significantly since the beginning of 2009. A larger percentage of organizations reported that credit was less available (27%) than those who indicated that credit access had improved (14%). Two-thirds expect their access to short-term credit to remain the same over the next year.

Overall, only one-quarter (27%) of organizations expect to decrease their U.S. short-term cash and investments balances over the next year.

"The turbulence of the present period has had no small impact on the liquidity needs and practices of individuals and corporations worldwide," said Eric Kamback, the Bank of New York Mellon's CEO of Treasury Services. "The survey also revealed that many believe the tightening of available credit will persist in 2009, so conservative, safety-based investment strategies can be expected to continue."


Organizations have moved to a more conservative investment strategy for their short-term balances and have reduced the number of vehicles they use for short-term investments, allocating 78% of their short-term investment balances to three safe and liquid vehicles: bank deposits, money market mutual funds and Treasury securities.

The use of commercial paper, separately managed accounts and auction-rate securities declined significantly over the past year. While investment policies allow for the use of four or more investment vehicles, on average, organizations use 1.6 investment vehicles compared to 2.4 options in 2008, the report says.

AFP 2009 Liquidity Survey (PDF)

Source: Association for Financial Professionals


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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 2:53 AM | View the original post

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