Man opens fire during Ethiopian Embassy protest in Washington

WASHINGTON Mon Sep 29, 2014 6:00pm EDT

United States Secret Service police stand in front of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington September 29, 2014.          REUTERS-Gary CameronUnited States Secret Service police stand in front of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington September 29, 2014.          REUTERS-Gary CameronA crime technician photographs evidence in front of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington September 29, 2014. REUTERS-Gary Cameron

1 OF 3. United States Secret Service police stand in front of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington September 29, 2014.

CREDIT: REUTERS/GARY CAMERON

(Reuters) – A gunman opened fire during a protest on the Ethiopian Embassy grounds on Monday, according to a video of the incident, but no injuries were reported.

A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service said it had detained a possible shooter after a report at about 12:15 p.m. EDT that shots were fired near the embassy in northwest Washington, D.C.

Witnesses said the gunfire took place inside the embassy compound during a protest against the Horn of Africa nation’s government.

“About half a block from the embassy, I heard at least four shots, and I thought there were people killed,” demonstrator Tesfa Simagne told Reuters Television.

A video taken inside the embassy gates and carried by the website of Ethiopian Satellite Television shows a man wearing a dark suit and brandishing a silver handgun.

He points the weapon at others who argue with him and fires a single shot. Still waving the gun and arguing with protesters, the man backs up to an embassy door and goes inside.

A separate video made by a protester and provided to Reuters showed a bullet hole in the windshield of a car protesters said was outside the embassy gates.

A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that no one was hurt. The person believed to have fired the shots turned himself in to authorities, and no arrests were made because he has diplomatic immunity, the official said.

Repeated phone calls to the embassy went unanswered.

(Additional reporting by Katharine Jackson and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Jim Loneyand Eric Walsh)

LAMBORGHINI 1st AUTOMOTIVE FIRM TO OBTAIN TÜV CERTIFICATION

Sant’Agata Bolognese, September 25, 2014 – Automobili Lamborghini has obtained certification from TÜV for its carbon fiber car repair service over the entire product range.
The certificate was presented today at the company’s Sant’Agata Bolognese headquarters in the presence of the President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, Stephan Winkelmann, and the CEO of TÜV Italia, Ettore Favia.

This certification, achieved for the first time in the world within the automotive industry, recognizes Automobili Lamborghini’s technological leadership in Research and Development in the field of composite materials.

“Quality is a fundamental value in our company philosophy and underlies our success. We are therefore proud to be the first automotive company on a global level to receive this certification, which marks a further milestone in achieving the complete satisfaction of each and every customer,” declared Stephan Winkelmann.

The certification was issued for the requirements of accountability, traceability, reliability, punctuality and accuracy of the service offered by Lamborghini following a series of audits performed by TÜV Italia experts.

Ettore Favia, CEO of TÜV Italia, commented, “When talking about performance, this certification is an exceptional tool in the monitoring of the repair service performance, and it is through this that Lamborghini can offer an additional level of qualification and guarantee to the market which, for this car, is global.”

The models in the current Lamborghini range, Aventador and Huracán, provide evidence of the leading position the company holds in the technology of carbon fiber composite materials, confirming its unique place in the global automotive industry. In fact, Automobili Lamborghini is the only manufacturer that manages the entire carbon fiber process in-house, from simulation to design, production, testing, quality control, and repair.

Thanks to its collaboration with Boeing and its Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL), the Lamborghini research laboratory in Seattle (United States), an exclusive carbon fiber chassis repair service has been provided since 2011, which guarantees assistance to the Lamborghini sales network around the world.

The repair service is offered through experts known as “Flying Doctors”, who have undergone initial training at the Boeing Co. Repair Department, with further in-depth training at Abaris Training Resources Inc. in Nevada, where they obtain the Advanced Composite Structures Damage Repair qualification, recognized by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

Alibaba vs. Amazon: Who Will Win the Global eCommerce War?

This article is by Mohanbir Sawhney, professor, and Sanjay Khosla, senior fellow, at Kellogg School of Management. They are the authors of Fewer, Bigger, Bolder: From Mindless Expansion to Focused Growth.

Move MOVE +1.29% over Amazon. There’s a new e-commerce leader in town. With its triumphant $21.8 billion initial public offering, Alibaba has eclipsed Amazon as the largest and most valuable e-commerce company in the world. In fact, based on the first day of trading, Alibaba is more valuable than Amazon and eBay combined. Alibaba’s vast e-commerce empire encompasses wholesale, retail, group buying, and payments. It has also been aggressively investing in startup firms, shelling out $8 billion just in the past six months. Alibaba’s charismatic founder, Jack Ma, has made no secret of its global ambitions. Alibaba is knocking on Amazon’s doorstep in the United States and Europe.  Meanwhile, Amazon is making efforts to expand its small presence in the lucrative Chinese e-commerce market.

As these two titans of e-commerce cross borders, who will win the global e-commerce war? Will Alibaba become a viable competitor for Amazon in the West? Will Amazon be able to compete on Alibaba’s home turf? The battle is just beginning, but we can make some predictions about how it may play out by looking at the similarities and differences between Amazon and Alibaba.

Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group

Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At first glance, the companies seem to have a lot in common. Both companies focus on helping people buy a vast variety of products at low prices without stepping into a store. Like Amazon, Alibaba has built up a massive customer base and data infrastructure and has emerged as the dominant player in its home market. But the similarities end there. Alibaba is not a traditional e-commerce company. It operates an “open marketplace” that connects buyers with sellers. It has created an e-commerce platform that helps small businesses as well as branded manufacturers reach consumers. It does not sell anything directly and does not own any warehouses. As a result, Alibaba is vastly more profitable than Amazon, with margins of almost 40% and earnings of almost $2 billion in the most recent quarter, according to its IPO filing documents.

In contrast, Amazon operates a “managed marketplace” that is closer to traditional retailing. It owns massive distribution centers, sells a majority of its products directly, and even manufacturers its own brands of smartphones and tablets. Amazon’s model gives the company far greater control over the customer experience and has allowed it to build a storied reputation for customer service. The downside: It has to make massive investments in infrastructure, employ legions of people, and operate on a wafer-thin profit margin.

Both Amazon and Alibaba have built e-commerce platforms uniquely suited to their home markets. Alibaba has a deep understanding of Chinese consumers and of nuances in terms of tone, approach, and product variety. The company has mastered the intricacies of Chinese regulations and how to work with state and national governments. Conversely, Amazon is a master of logistics and supply chain management, and it is the world leader in cloud infrastructure services. Its Kindle Fire devices rely heavily on its vast catalog of music and movies and its shipping services as well as its cloud infrastructure. Unlike the iPhone, which is a truly global product, the Kindle Fire tablet and the Fire phone cannot deliver on their value proposition without hooking up with Amazon’s data centers and distribution system.

Amazon and Alibaba will find it difficult to export their finely tuned business models to each other’s markets. Amazon will need billions of dollars and several years to build out its distribution and content delivery infrastructure in China. It will have to engage in a costly battle for market share against a firmly entrenched competitor that knows its way around China way better than Amazon can ever hope to. Similarly, Alibaba will find it very difficult to compete with Amazon’s strong brand and well-honed supply chain and logistics skills in Western markets.

So how can Alibaba or Amazon conquer the world?  They will need relentless focus on their home markets and disruptive innovation to win in their competitors’ markets. Alibaba will be well-served to continue to focus on the Chinese consumer, as the Chinese e-commerce market is still under-penetrated. It should rein in its confusing series of acquisitions and investments and focus them on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital content, and logistics. Flush with IPO cash and a lucrative stock as currency, Alibaba will be tempted to continue its acquisition spree in Western markets. But it should be cautious not to spread itself too thin and stay focused on assembling a coherent set of e-commerce platform assets in the United States and Europe.

The strategy for Amazon in China and India will also need to concentrate on building local market understanding and capabilities. This will require smart acquisitions of local e-commerce companies and a differentiated value proposition. For now, the money and the momentum is on Alibaba’s side, but success on Wall Street does not guarantee success on Main Street in the United States. The one sure winner in this battle of titans will be the e-commerce consumer.

SHOTS FIRED: Samsung Just Tweeted A Brutal Jab At Apple’s Bendy iPhone 6 Plus

samsung2 Apple’s super-sized iPhone 6 Plus is having a hard time surviving skinny jeans. The company promised to replace any faulty models, but you knew “Bendghazi” couldn’t possibly end there. It was only a matter of time before Samsung tried to deliver a snarky knockout blow as their bitter rival wobbled.

This morning, they finally chimed in with a brilliantly concise tweet that doubled as a promotion for their GALAXY Note Edge, a “limited edition concept” with a curved edge that gives way to a slick side display. It burns. It burns so good.

Inside the building where Apple tortures the iPhone 6

This is where iPhones never want to go

By Josh Lowensohn, on September 25, 2014 06:20 pm

A few blocks away from Apple’s bustling campus in Cupertino is a rather nondescript building. Inside is absolutely the last place on earth you’d want to be if you were an iPhone. It’s here where Apple subjects its newest models to the kinds of things they might run into in the real world: drops, pressure, twisting, tapping. Basically all the things that could turn your shiny gadget into a small pile of metal and glass.

“We’ve designed the product to be incredibly reliable throughout all your real world use,” Phil Schiller told me. “And in designing that we then have to validate heavily, and see how does it live up to real world use, and what are the forces and pressures on it, and how do you measure and prove that you’ve delivered on a specification.”

In case you hadn’t guessed, Apple doesn’t often show this room to outsiders. The only reason I’m here today is because Apple’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 6, bends. At least for some people. The real question up until now is just how many people that’s happening to, and whether that would happen during normal use in a human pocket.

Apple’s answer today, both in a statement and now in these testing facilities, is that the iPhone 6 is tough. It’s made with steel / titanium inserts designed to reinforce potential stress points, a special blend of aluminum Apple formulated itself, and ion-strengthened glass. But more important, Apple says, is that the iPhone 6 has been put through hundreds of tests, as well as tested in the pockets of thousands of Apple employees before consumers ever get their hands on it.

What’s the exact number of devices Apple went through before it was done? About 15,000, according to the company. “The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus are the most tested,” Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, told us today. “As we add more and more features, we have to find out a way to break them before customers do.”

Some of the testing I saw today was what can be considered torture tests, but it also puts the phones through the regular stresses that they might undergo in the wild. That includes being sat on in pockets — and being bent. The idea is to give the phones a lifetime of testing, but without spending a lifetime doing it. Apple was mum on how much the new iPhones can actually take; it pointed only to 25 kilograms, the amount of weight it puts on top of the screen to test it for the bends. Next to a machine that does this thousands of times is a small set of weights: this isn’t actually the full amount of weight the phone can take Riccio says, just what it can handle while being capable of “bouncing back” to its original form. Even so, there are limits.

“The bottom line is that if you use enough force to bend an iPhone, or any phone, it’s going to deform,” Riccio says.

Along with that press test, there’s what’s known as a “sit test,” which simulates the stresses iPhones undergo while in pockets. And not just any pockets, either. There’s a test for when people sit on a soft surface, as well as what Apple considers the “worst-case scenario,” which is when it goes into the rear pocket of skinny jeans and sits on a hard surface — at an angle.

One other test I was shown tested torsion, or when the phone is twisted (see the top image). Apple showed us an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with a MacBook Air that was being twisted from one end to the other. This will go on thousands of times, Riccio said, with the company keeping track for failure.

These are just a small portion of the facilities that Apple uses, Riccio says. The company does some here, but also at a much larger scale in China where its products go through some of the last steps before entering full-scale production.

The last time Apple let the media this deep into the fold was in 2010 for the iPhone 4. Shortly after its release, users discovered that gripping it tightly reduced the signal strength. After holding a press conference, Apple took a small group of press to visit the “black lab” where it tests its cell phone radios in anechoic chambers.

This time around, there are no free cases for people, or even a press conference. Apple’s just telling people with a phone that’s bent to take it into one of its stores to have it looked at.

“As we expected, it’s extremely rare to happen in real world use,” Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller told us. “In this case, as in many things, we tell customers that if you think something’s occurred that shouldn’t have with your device, go to AppleCare, go to The Genius Bar, and let them take a look at it. And we’ll see if your product is having an experience it shouldn’t have, and is covered under warranty.”

Hint: Use the ‘s’ and ‘d’ keys to navigate

Inside the Mind of the Western Jihadist

Shiraz Maher, a British citizen who lived the experience, describes the allure of the Islamic State for young Westerners and the deadly peril it poses.

London

On 9/11, Shiraz Maher thought to himself: “Yeah, you Americans deserve this. For meddling in the Arab world. For supporting Israel. You shall reap what you sow, and this is what you’ve sown for a long time.”

Within days the college student would quit alcohol, dump his girlfriend and join Hizbut Tahrir, a radical Islamist group he describes as the “political wing of the global jihad movement.” He quickly climbed the ranks before eventually leaving the U.K. Islamist movement and rededicating his life to countering it.

Mr. Maher is today a senior fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, King’s College London, where he researches Europe’s homegrown Islamist movement and profiles the droves of young Britons who are decamping for Syria and Iraq to wage jihad with ISIS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

These include Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a wannabe rapper from a posh west-London neighborhood who recently posted a Twitter selfie of himself holding a severed head. “Chillin’ with my homie,” read the caption, “or what’s left of him.” Abdel Bary is also suspected to be the terrorist who addresses the camera before beheading American journalist James Foley in a widely circulated online video, though Mr. Maher thinks the masked figure is a different British jihadist.

Abdel Bary is one of 500 to 600 British citizens who have joined the Islamic State, and Mr. Maher’s center estimates about 2,200 foreign fighters from Europe are operating in the region. “Globally we believe the number to be somewhere in excess of 12,000. We’ve counted 74 different nationalities that are represented on the ground.”

 

Zina Saunders

Many fighters have European passports, which means they can travel around the Continent and even enter the U.S. with relative ease. Two-hundred-fifty fighters have already returned to the U.K., according to Mr. Maher.

Not all of the foreigners in the region initially intended to join ISIS, which is only one of several groups fighting Bashar Assad’s regime. Yet in recent months the Islamic State has emerged as the most successful and prestigious outfit, while recruits to the other groups have slowed to a trickle.

ISIS proved appealing in part because it was the easiest group to join. Says Mr. Maher: “We know of a lot of people including Britons who’ve tried to join Jabhat al Nusra”—al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise—”who were turned away because Jabhat felt it didn’t know them and so couldn’t trust them. And then they went to ISIS, and ISIS welcomed them with open arms.”

Battlefield prowess was another advantage. “ISIS has been particularly successful at bringing in fighters from Bosnia and Chechnya,” Mr. Maher says. “The greatest human asset that an army can have is fighters with combat experience. And the Bosnians and Chechnyans of course have huge experience, a great deal of sophistication and knowledge about how to fight guerrilla warfare.”

Cultivating a brand helped, too. “ISIS developed a strong social-media presence,” Mr. Maher says, while “other organizations didn’t have the same glamour. And we’re dealing with young men. They want to be with a strong horse, with a winning team. At the moment, ISIS has momentum.”

Finally, the Islamic State has a veneer of authenticity. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, presides over “land that these guys regard as pure and holy,” Mr. Maher says. “There’s a lot of stuff in normative Islamic theology which talks about bilad al-Sham, the land of Syria. The Hadiths, the prophetic tradition, say that when God sends angels, they rest in Syria after their journey.”

Reverence for this angelic pit stop hasn’t stopped the Islamic State from turning it into hell on earth. “In the last 10 months we’ve seen British fighters serve as suicide bombers,” Mr. Maher says. “We’ve documented British fighters executing prisoners of war. And we have documentary evidence of British fighters torturing people in their care.”

The typical British Islamic State terrorist is male, in his 20s and from a South Asian background. “He usually has some university education and a history of Muslim activism,” Mr. Maher adds. The fighters broadly fall into three personality types.

The first is the adventure-seeker. “They’re in jihadist summer school or camp,” Mr. Maher says. “I’m with my buddies, we’re hanging out and we have these great weapons—AK-47s, RPGs.” The adventure-seekers are often involved with U.K. gangs or drugs, and they might consult “Islam for Dummies” before traveling to Syria. They publish photos of themselves eating fast food, swimming and playing soccer in al-Sham. The message they telegraph to friends back home is: “We live better lives here than we were in London—come.”

Then there are the “really nasty guys,” Mr. Maher says, “the ones who will show off a severed head on Facebook and say, ‘Yeah, I just beheaded this son of a bitch.'” These guys, Mr. Maher adds, “should definitely never come back.'”

The third type are “what you might call idealistic or humanitarian jihadists for want of a better phrase,” Mr. Maher says. “They would say, ‘Look, haven’t you seen what’s happened to the women and children of Aleppo?’ ” Over time, they become hardened and no longer mention the innocents they came to rescue. “The land belongs to Allah,” they now say. “We’re here to impose Islam.”

Mr. Maher himself fits the third type most closely, and had he been born a decade later he might not be sitting across from me at a restaurant eating steak tartare and sipping Guinness. “If I were younger and instead of 9/11 it was the Syrian conflict,” he says, “there’s a very, very good chance I would go. Instead of studying them, I would be the one being studied.”

Shiraz Maher was born in 1981 in Birmingham to British-Pakistani parents. When he was still an infant, his father’s accountancy practice took the family to Saudi Arabia. “I never had a concern about what kind of society Saudi Arabia was,” he says. “We lived in a Western compound, with everything you could want: tennis courts, swimming pools, cricket, basketball, bike races, all gender-mixed.”

Yet the political atmosphere in Saudi Arabia became more tense after the first Gulf War. When he was 11, he owned a Daffy Duck T-shirt with the slogan “I Support Operation Desert Storm.” One day an ordinary Saudi asked why he’d wear such a shirt. “I said, ‘Why not? Saddam’s a terrible man.’ The man said: ‘No. This is an American conspiracy. These people use us as an excuse to establish bases on holy soil.’ “

In 1995, at age 14, Mr. Maher moved back to the U.K., and five years later he enrolled at Leeds University, in northern England. Then came 9/11, an event that he says “activated” latent anti-American ideas he’d imbibed while growing up in Saudi Arabia. By the time the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, he had recovered his Muslim faith, changed apartments so he could live across the street from the local mosque, and joined Hizbut Tahrir.

Hizbut Tahrir—Arabic for “Party of Liberation”—campaigns for a global Islamic state but advocates a broad, political path to the caliphate. “It’s not anti-violence per se,” Mr. Maher says. “It applauds suicide bombers but believes suicide bombing is not a long-term solution.”

Mr. Maher says the U.K. government for years looked the other way as a generation of British Muslims was radicalized. “In the late 1980s, early ’90s,” he says, “this country opened its doors to radical Islamist preachers from around the world who began to preach a very hard-line, totalitarian message about what Islam should look like. That message has always been a minority view,” he says, but it is persistent.

Hizbut Tahrir, for example, organized a 1994 conference in London about the need to establish a caliphate. The event drew Islamists from Sudan to Pakistan, yet Mr. Maher says U.K. law enforcers took a blasé attitude: “These exotic guys with beards are talking about a new state. OK.” The result was that the “idea of having an Islamic state had been normalized within the Muslim discourse,” Mr. Maher says, and young Muslims were taught to think of their British identity as something “filthy.”

Government missteps continued even after 9/11. The 2003 “Prevent” counterterror strategy, as Mr. Maher describes it, involved “empowering fairly radical people, like Abu Hamza, who were saying to people: ‘Don’t blow anything up here, go abroad and do it. That’s fine.’ ” Abu Hamza, an Egyptian imam who for years led London’s notorious Finsbury Park Mosque, currently awaits sentencing in the U.S. on terrorism charges.

Today, Mr. Maher says, London is much more aware of the need for the “ideology of Islamism to be tackled.” In 2005 when he began to have doubts about Hizbut Tahrir, Mr. Maher was alone and without support. He’d risen from a cell leader to a regional director and even been invited to join the group’s U.K. executive committee. Yet during graduate study at Cambridge, Mr. Maher encountered more pluralistic strands of Islam and came to conclude that Hizbut Tahrir’s radical ideology “will lead to terrorism. It’s also basically rubbish.”

He left the group on July 7, 2005—the day the London Underground bombings killed 52 people and maimed more than 700. The bombers were from Leeds. They weren’t Hizbut Tahrir members but belonged to the same radical milieu. “Were we, was I, part of the flame that warmed up the anger?” he asks. “Absolutely. I don’t go around feeling guilty, but we contributed to the momentum of hatred and anger.”

Does his own journey from Islamist to anti-Islamist give Mr. Maher hope? On a positive note, secular dissidents, moderates and Muslim liberals have found a voice in the West and in the Middle East. Thanks in part to his own efforts, the British branch of Hizbut Tahrir has been decimated. The group tells its members that the “party is your umbilical cord to Islam,” Mr. Maher says, and young Muslims having second thoughts need confidence: “Tell them: ‘You’ve been in a cult. There’s a world outside.’ ” Hizbut Tahrir rallies used to draw 20,000 supporters. Today “they struggle to get 1,000.”

But those gains are overshadowed by breathtaking jihadist advances in Syria and Iraq. Save for a small minority of idealistic Islamic State members who question the group’s brutality and long to come home, Mr. Maher says that “most of these guys have to be fought. Militarily we have to confront them, and when I say ‘we’ I mean the United States and Britain.”

It didn’t have to be this way. “Bashar Assad is one monster,” he says. “Had we gone in and taken him out, there would have been other monsters but not at this level. The jihadists needed this crisis. They needed the power vacuum.

“Did bin Laden win? Yes. He did not want there to be a strong hand in the region for the world’s greatest and most powerful force for good—the United States. And voluntarily we chose to disengage, and watched as these radical millenarians came in and took over.” He knocks on our table for emphasis: “This is a disgrace and a humiliation.”

Mr. Ahmari is a Journal editorial-page writer based in London.