Sepang (Malaysia) (AFP) – Sebastian Vettel stunned world champion Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on Sunday with an audacious Malaysian Grand Prix victory which ignited the Formula One season.
The Ferrari man took advantage of an early safety car as he hit the front and held off Hamilton and Nico Rosberg after pitting only twice, compared to three for the Mercedes pair.
The four-time world champion has now racked up 40 career wins but it is his first with Ferrari, breaking a dry spell which stretches back to his last race with Red Bull in 2013.
Few of the German’s victories can have been as telling or as satisfying as Sunday’s, since he shattered assumptions of Mercedes’ unassailable superiority in 2015.
“Fantastico, fantastico!” he screamed down the team radio in Italian. “Yes boys, can you hear me? Thank you, thank you. Forza Ferrari!”
Further back, there were also celebrations for Max Verstappen as the 17-year-old finished seventh, becoming the youngest points-scorer in Formula One history.
Carter Murray is the incredibly affable, worldwide CEO of global advertising agency FCB.
He is responsible for more than 8,000 people, in 120 offices, across 80 countries. He spends his days traveling between those locations, visiting clients, fronting pitches, attending big industry events like the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and with his wife and two young twins in New York.
And somehow in-between all of that, he finds time to update his Instagram account. With great frequency.
It’s rare for such a high-powered executive to have such an active Instagram account: Sure many have Twitter or Facebook accounts that are heavily neutralized by corporate communications teams, but Instagram offers us a glimpse into the more personal, down-to-earth sides of Murray’s life.
We met up with Murray at FCB’s offices in London and asked why Instagram is so important to him. Essentially, it’s all down to getting closer to his staff and proving to his friends and family that, yes, he does still have a job.
“Instagram is a really good way of demythologizing the CEO, the CEO perceived as being in an ivory tower and nobody knows what they do. It’s about celebrating our agency, and our people,” Murray said.”And the really silly thing: It’s my personal account too — all my friends and family follow me, because nobody’s more shocked that I’m employed than them.”
Murray says he’ll usually update his Instagram account between three to five times a day. Given that he’s a high-earning chief executive, who gets to visit opulent locations, like dining at The Ivy in London, I asked whether he tries to keep those photos to a minimum.
“I try not to [post those kinds of photos.] The only photo I’ve ever posted where any of my friends gave me that kind of feedback was when I traveled with the twins and I had six suitcases — ‘That’s a bit spoilt’ [,they said.],” Murray told us.
“Don’t you have those friends on Facebook who photograph their First Class tickets? That’s just really disgusting. I try not to do that. I use Instagram because I love photography. I don’t want to do Twitter as I’m a frustrated writer. I’ve got a half-written book and I’d be like Woody Allen if I had a Twitter account, every time I try to write I have 85 balls of paper next to the table,” he said.
We asked whether there was anything, from a professional point of view, that was strictly off-limits from Murray’s Instagram account.
“I have to be careful not to photograph clients because I don’t want them to think I have a favorite…and I don’t want people to see our new business clients, so I try to keep that minimal. There was one new business meeting where I was in a particular building and I took a photo but then thought: ‘If I Instagram this, everyone will know where I was,” Murray said.
Internally, staff seem to enjoy it.
“The reason people seem to like [my Instagram account] is because…I want people at the company to know that I care and also it’s a really nice way to celebrate our people. What they’ve told me they like is being able to see the different offices around the world. And I know my mum, my stepmother, my wife are watching it. It’s just fun, I don’t want it to overtake everything else I’m doing,” Murray said.
He added: “But when I was going up through the ranks, getting these long corporate emails, signed off by corporate communications teams, for me that seems old fashioned. I think at least people get to see what I’m doing — but I do write long internal letters too, although I try to keep it to a minimum because otherwise people will get bored of them.”
He responded: “My personal profile is something I struggle with. The truth is, it’s a balance. Nobody is bigger than the agency. Sometimes you do see CEOs and it’s all about them. People do want to know how you are leading the company, and clients like it if they see press: It gives a sense of pride, for clients and the holding company. And of course I enjoy it, I’ll post an article on Facebook if it’s a decent article, and it’s nice to get support from friends and family, I’m not going to lie, I enjoy it…But it’s hard to get the balance right: I do recognize it’s important to have a profile, but I worry that sometimes it’s too much…You have to be careful with it.”
Ultimately, he’d rather let FCB’s work do the talking — like its recent “This Girl Can” campaign for Sport England, which is receiving tons of plaudits in the advertising trade press and national media.
Sanaa (AFP) – Arab coalition warplanes targeting Iran-backed rebels bombed the runway at the Yemeni capital’s international airport and killed 15 pro-rebel troops elsewhere in Sanaa, military and aviation sources said Sunday.
On the fourth night of raids against Shiite rebels and allied troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, Saudi-led strikes paralysed the airport in the rebel-controlled capital.
“This was the first time they hit the runway” since the campaign began, an aviation source said, a day after UN staff were evacuated from Sanaa. “The airport is completely out of service,” he said.
Witnesses reported hearing three loud explosions and seeing a large fire when the air facility was hit around midnight (2100 GMT Saturday).
Meanwhile, overnight air strikes hit the headquarters of the rebel republican guard at Al-Subaha base in Sanaa, killing 15 soldiers, a military official said.
A medic at a military hospital in the capital said it had received 12 bodies and 18 wounded soldiers after the raid.
Air strikes also targeted an airbase in rebel-held Hudaida, in western Yemen, witnesses said, as part of efforts to destroy air defence capabilities.
Other raids targeted a base of the First Artillery Brigade in Saada, the northern stronghold of the Huthi Shiite rebels.
Lagos (AFP) – Voters unable to cast their ballot because of technical problems in Nigeria’s general election returned to the polls on Sunday, as the main parties traded blows over the use of the technology.
The country’s electoral commission said some 300 of the 150,000 polling stations would be open from 0700 GMT to accredit voters after handheld devices to read biometric identity cards failed.
Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called the situation a “huge national embarrassment” after President Goodluck Jonathan was affected by the malfunction as he tried to register on Saturday.
The ruling party said repeatedly throughout the campaign that the technology should not be used as it was untested and there were questions about officials’ ability to use it.
The main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) backed the new system as a way of curbing widespread vote-rigging that has hit previous elections.
With the election closely fought, both parties looked set to keep the issue alive. Voters will be accredited throughout the morning either with the devices or if they fail again, by hand.
The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, sought to downplay the malfunctions, saying it was limited to “only about 450″ card readers.
But he told the private Channels television that provision for a second day of voting was granted because it was a democratic right for citizens.
“It (the technical problems and extension) will not affect returns on (the) presidential election,” he said.
On Saturday, many voters camped overnight or arrived early at polling stations to have their credentials checked before returning to vote in the afternoon and long into the night.
The final voters cast their ballot in the dark and the count was started at many polling stations by flashlight, with Nigeria hit by regular, daily power cuts.
Government spokesman Mike Omeri claimed it was a “record high voter turnout”, without giving figures, adding that it was a “triumph of Nigerian democracy” despite the polling problems.
Melbourne (AFP) – New Zealand were bowled out for 183 in 45 overs after winning the toss against Australia in the World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Grant Elliott top-scored with 83, with Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner taking three wickets each.
A Comedy Central spokesperson said that the network will edit the incendiary material out of the March 30 telecast.read more
Moscow (AFP) – It’s been a torrid time of late for the Russian economy as the fallout from Ukraine and tumbling oil prices have plunged the country into financial crisis.
But an unexpected recent rebound by the ruble has partially reversed months of pain for the nosediving national currency and fired hope among harried officials in Moscow that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Few analysts were betting on a bounce after the ruble lost over 40 percent of its value in 2014 and carried on the slump into this year.
But a drop in fighting in east Ukraine and the steadying of oil prices seems to have combined with the tax payment season and a Kremlin drive to get money repatriated to fire an unlikely recovery.
Since briefly hitting a low of some 80 to the dollar and 100 to the euro in December, and sparking panic among Russians, the ruble has now climbed back to some 57 against the greenback and 62 to the euro.
“The economic situation is still complicated but we are seeing some significant signs of stabilisation,” Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said in a rare upbeat statement this week.
With things starting to look up, Ulyukayev predicted that the drop in GDP this year could be less than the 3 percent that is officially forecast — still dire, but not as bad as feared.
Inflation has reached a high of around 17 percent but has also appeared to stabilise of late and the finance ministry is already claiming that the recession could be over by the third quarter of this year.
- Oil be back -
Analyst Timur Khairullin at VTB24 said that the ruble’s “firm dynamic” was being bolstered by both external and internal factors.
Among them is that fact the time for firms to pay their taxes in the country has only just passed meaning there has been a spike in demand for the ruble.
Also Khairullin said the bump could have been helped by the promise by President Vladimir Putin of an amnesty — now being considered by parliament — to try to encourage vast sums being stashed overseas to be repatriated to Russia.
Neil Shearing at Capital Economics said that the most important factor has been the “stabilisation and then rebound in oil prices”, but added that the extent of the ruble’s earlier plunge was likely an overreaction in the first place.
“The ruble probably overshot to the downside during the sell-off before Christmas. Some form of correction was always likely and now strains in the financial system have started to ease that has come through,” Shearing said.
Despite the recent rise Shearing warned that unless oil prices pick up even more then “it’s difficult to make the case for a sustained strengthening in the ruble.”
“The economy is sliding into recession, elements of the banking system remain vulnerable and financial sanctions remain in place,” he said.
As calm returns to the Russian economy after the panicked turmoil of late last year, some analysts said that this would give authorities breathing space to fend off the worst.
The steadying of inflation meant that for the second time in a few months the central bank was able to cut its key interest rate after a monster hike in December.
“Effectively there is a recession but it is not as deep as we anticipated,” said Natalia Orlova at Alfa bank.
“The crisis of confidence isn’t getting any worse, and that is good news.”
Paris (AFP) – European dairy farmers are facing the end of three decades of milk quotas on Wednesday with a mixture of anticipation and angst as it will allow them to serve growing demand in emerging markets, but could also cause a crash in prices.
Starting April 1, farmers will be allowed churn out as much milk as they want.
While the quotas had been increased in recent years — growing 1 percent a year between 2009 and 2013 — the complete liberalisation of the market is seen as a game changer for producers.
In northern Europe, farmers have hailed the move as a chance to cash in on the growing global thirst for milk, particularly in China.
Ireland has already announced plans to boost its milk output by 50 percent by 2020. The Netherlands and Germany, Europe’s largest producer, are gearing up for increases of 20 percent.
“We’re happy the quotas are being scrapped. We’re prepared,” said Karl-Heinz Engel, president of the German dairy industry association, MIV, insisting that the sector was “export-orientated and competitive”.
But many farmers in France, Europe’s second-biggest milk producer, have adopted a wait-and-see approach, preferring to wait for the demand to pick up before ploughing money into boosting their output.
The quotas were introduced in the mid-1980s to staunch the infamous milk lakes and butter mountains that had built up on the back of generous EU production subsidies.
- ‘Incredible opportunity’ -
“The quotas were introduced because there was too much milk on the market compared with demand but the situation has changed greatly since then,” Rene van Buitenen, a spokesman for the Dutch dairy association NZO, told AFP.
The upshot of the quotas had been to give “the United States and New Zealand an advantage” in the global market, he complained, calling the lifting of the quotas an “incredible opportunity”.
That opportunity is China, where since a tainted milk powder scandal in 2008 left six dead and more than 300,000 sick, Chinese consumers have preferred imports, particularly for baby formula.
Chinese companies have sought to cash in on the European reputation for quality, teaming up with dairies in France and Denmark to invest hundreds of millions of euros into milk drying towers to produce powdered milk and baby formula for export.
And prices have been rising internationally recently, with the price of powdered milk picking up by 500 euros over the past month to 2,350 euros per tonne.
But a surge in production could easily push down prices, and in Germany many farmers already receive no more than a paltry 0.28 euros per litre.
“Twenty-eight cents is the equivalent of being on life-support. I’m for a price of, say, thirty-five cents,” said Richard Reiss, who runs the 1,200-cow Heideland farm a hundred kilometres (61 miles) south of Berlin.
Heideland has invested 8 million euros over the past few years to modernise and expand its facilities, including a milking carrousel and a machine to massage the cows to ensure peak performance.
Germany has over the years developed lots of large farms, where efficiency can help them survive thin margins, and can serve processor orientated towards exports.
- Quality over quantity -
But in France, many dairy farmers are opting for the opposite strategy: generating higher margins on value-added products from consumers willing to pay more for quality and traditional methods.
In the land of a thousand cheeses, there are strict rules governing location and production methods to ensure the quality of the delicacies under the Protected Designation of Origin (AOC) label.
“We don’t produce milk here, we produce comte,” said Richard Moyotte, as he prepared to milk by hand his 24 ochre and white Montbeliarde cows in the pastures above the village of Lozay.
The breed is native to the eastern region along the border with Switzerland, and each cow must have a hectare (2.5 acres) of grass to make comte.
The strong, slightly sweet hard cheese made from unpasturised cow’s milk is one France’s most popular AOC label cheeses.
Farmers in the region who meet the strict comte criteria can fetch 0.50 euros per litre, compared to the national average of around 0.35 to 0.38 euros.
“You could say our ancestors had a good nose for business,” said Damien Pobelle, a farmer and head of the Groupement, one of the 165 cooperatives in the Franche-Compte region that makes comte.
“We aren’t interested in increasing volume, but increasing value,” said Patrick Roulleau, head of the Sevre cooperative, one of the dairies producing Echire AOP butter in the Poitou-Charentes region in western France.
“I ask, please, may I crush your head?” the president’s alter ego said to Sen. Ted Cruz.read more
Angelina Jolie’s speech, Chris Pratt’s pie and Nick Jonas’ slime tease made for some head-turning moments.
Entertainment execs Bill Damaschke and John McIlwee purchased the estate after the former president’s estate put it on the market in 2012.read more
The actress underwent surgery earlier this month to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after doctors detected early signs of possible cancer.read more
Gun control advocates have an internet target on their backs. An app called Gunfree Geo Marker – which identifies the homes and work addresses of outspoken anti-gun violence activists – was discovered by aggrieved Thursday morning.Read more… →
Comedian Ari Shaffir went after fellow comedian Damienne Merlina’s physical appearance in a stand up special that aired recently on Comedy Central. Shaffir begins by calling Merlina “so annoying,” and “the worst” then moving on to make nicer, more charming comments about her body like: “She has one arm. I only tell you because if you ever saw her you’d be like is that her or not?” And rounding out the whole confounding bit with: “She had that fat smell.” That was the whole joke. Punch line TK, apparently.
This might be the wildest, most bizarre sports fight I have ever seen. Massive brawls between teams or alcohol-fueled fights in the stands I get, but this? Why did the goalkeeper trip the celebrating player, why did the second guy trip him, and WHY DI… →