Corruption Rankings Released

Perceptions are a telling guideline in measuring the damage done by corrupt practices in international trade.  Having just studied the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, I was pleased to see this timely release of the latest “perception” study of corruption in global markets.

Our friends in New Zealand win this year’s Lily White status; Kiwis are true straight shooters.  Anyone care to guess where the USA ranks?  If you guessed top 20, you’re wrong.

See more here.

Free Trade Agreements Approved; Good News for Employers Across US

Hemingway Acceptance Speech, 1954 Nobel Literature Prize

Sometimes, doing a better job in our chosen fields means listening to how legends in other fields define their path to greatness. Ernest Hemingway was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature, and this is his acceptance speech, recorded in Cuba.

While my career goals do not include literary legend, I always strive to improve my writing, as a means of imparting maximum impact and value to the solutions I provide to my clients.  To me, it helps to hear what this giant of our age thinks about gaining such a prestigious honor as the Nobel.  Listen here.

Opportunities to Do Business in Brazil

Free Trade Agreements: White House Transmits Bills

Progress announced today in ratifying trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia.  These three trade agreements support American companies seeking export growth.

Read more in this news release by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Free Trade Agreements: Compromise Leading to Passage

Senate leaders reach agreement on Colombia, South Korea, Panama trade deals – 2chambers – The Washington Post.

Looks like compromise is underway to soften ratification of three, vital Free Trade Agreements for the US. A tie-in that will preserve the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program to provide aid and retraining to workers who have lost their jobs due to outsourcing brought about by FTA activity.

Last month, the European Union ratified its FTA with South Korea. Even though the US lost its “first in, best dressed” place in line, once this and other two FTAs (Panama, Colombia) are enacted our nation’s brands and innovation will attract new customers through reduced and eliminated tariffs and quotas.  Industry growth numbers will spike, jobs will be secured, and local and regional tax coffers will fill.

 

SBA Pilots Trade and Export Promotion Program

The US Small Business Administration announces its State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) pilot grant initiative, a multi-year, $90 million program to assist qualifying small business expand through exports.

Here’s a chance for US businesses who see potential growth overseas, but may lack short-term operating funds to reach the next level of their company’s growth strategy.

Companies can work through their local offices for SBA, Department of Commerce, or other administrative contacts. (In California, the grant is administered via the statewide network of Centers for International Trade, hosted by area community colleges)

Check the program out at at SBA’s website here.

Via Lucis and ARTstor Collaboration

I’m pleased to share news about Via Lucis, our venture to document Romanesque and Gothic churches in France and Spain through high-resolution photography.

ARTstor digital library in New York is collaborating with Via Lucis \to share approximately 2,000 high-resolution images, taken by photographers Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey, from their extraordinary and unique collection of medieval Christian churches in France and Spain.

The collection primarily features interior architecture, especially the arches, vaults, domes, and buttressing that define the Romanesque and Gothic styles. The collection also features a selection of images of the Vierges Romanes, stylized wooden statues of the Madonna and Child, from the 11th century to the 13th century. A subset of these sculptures includes the Black Madonnas, which are particularly venerated in Spain and France.

Dennis Aubrey explains, “The intent of the photography is both to document these magnificent structures and to capture the mystery and hidden presence of medieval spirituality.”

“As the member of a military family who lived in France for seven years while growing up, I was always aware of these churches and felt a deep personal connection to them,” Aubrey continued, “This is a great opportunity to be able to share what we have documented with a larger audience, to allow others to experience them as PJ and I have.”

Via Lucis Photography and Via Lucis Press are parts of a long-term project to document Romanesque and Gothic churches throughout Europe. The projects include the photographs in the collection and a forthcoming book, Light and Stone. The book includes the Via Lucis photographs accompanied by text from Dennis Aubrey, edited by Ann Hanson. The images are high-resolution representatives from a library of over 45,000 images of over 300 churches and cathedrals throughout France and Spain.

We consider Via Lucis to be a spiritual descendent of two earlier undertakings – the famed “Missions Héliographiques” and the “Éditions Zodiaque”,” said PJ McKey. “It is a very personal project for us and being able to capture these churches in a way they have never been captured before is inspiring. We bring our own photographic eyes to the churches, but let them speak for themselves in their beauty and history.”

In 1837, the French government established the Commission des Monuments Historiques. The inspector of monuments then commissioned the Missions Héliographiques: a group of five photographers whose task was to photograph various monuments throughout France. The Editions Zodiaque was a publishing house started by three monks from the tiny French monastic community of La Pierre Qui Vire. From 1950-1995 they traveled throughout France and Europe photographing Romanesque churches as photographer-pilgrims. The team printed many superb volumes illustrated with their extraordinary photography.

Christine Kuan, Chief Content Officer & VP of External Affairs for ARTstor stated, “The ARTstor Digital Library is delighted to be disseminating this important Via Lucis archive for teaching and research purposes. European Romanesque and Gothic Churches remain one of the most studied areas in the history of art and architecture and it’s wonderful that this collection will be reaching a wide range of educational and scholarly users at the more than 1,350 institutions in 45 countries we serve today.”

“We are pleased that the photographs will be made available to the scholarly and academic communities through this arrangement with ArtStor,” Aubrey said. The ArtStor Digital Library in New York serves educators, scholars, curators, librarians, and students at more than 1,350 universities, colleges, museums, and libraries in 45 countries worldwide.

About Via Lucis
Via Lucis Photography and Via Lucis Press are part of a long-term project to document Romanesque and Gothic churches in France and Spain. The photographs represented here are high-resolution images of Romanesque and Gothic churches in those countries. The photographers, Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey, have created a library of more than 45,000 images.

About ARTstor
ARTstor is a non-profit initiative, founded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with a mission to use digital technology to enhance scholarship, teaching, and learning in the arts and associated fields. ARTstor consists of: A repository of hundreds of thousands of digital images and related data; the tools to actively use those images; and a restricted-usage environment that seeks to balance the rights of content providers with the needs and interests of content users.

Solar Powered LEDs Light Up Ghana

Another great example of public-private partnerships to build a better world: an innovative research center at University of California Santa Barbara is teamed with Engineers without Borders and Ghana Telecom University to create and distribute solar-powered LED lights to households in emerging nations such as Ghana, Haiti and Kenya.

Reading Lights Advance Education, WorldwideThe spring issue of UC Santa Barbara Today reports that the partnership’s intent is to replace kerosene as a power source for lighting in homes, with LEDs that operate at 8 times more efficiency than incandescent bulbs. The device developed at UCSB yields one hour of lighting from two hours of daylight.

A Santa Barbara-based nonprofit called Unite to Light is taking on the ambitious goal to ship 100,000 lamps to hard-working households in a total of seven countries.

Read more here: Engineers Without Borders. Unite to Light. And UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency.

GPS Fleet Tracking for the Small Guys, Too

News from EyeforTransport.com of a new business model for fleet tracking via GPS, tailored for small to mid-sized companies. It’s Cloud-based, enterprise-caliber software solutions based upon GPS tracking, made affordable and scaled down.

Based in Stockholm, GPS Gate Server also deploys tracking clients for Windows, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Symbian devices.  Yup, there’s an App for that…

Great solution for community-based businesses who might think GPS tracking is beyond their means, as well as public agencies, non-profits, and such service providers as online grocers, auto towing, or medical supply home delivery… all of which are often locally-owned and operated businesses.

Read more here.

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