Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
London bids grand farewell to Olympic Games

US and China predictably emerged as the powerhouses by taking the first and second spots in the medals tally, while hosts Britain produced their best-ever show to take the third position. India too had its moments of glory at the Olympic Games as it notched up its best ever medal tally of six

London: Some of Britain's greatest singers and celebrities provided a touch of glamour and vibrance as London bid a grand farewell to bring down the curtains on the 30th Olympic Games with a heady mix of music, culture and dazzling fireworks, reports PTI.


The skyline lit up with breath-taking fireworks and the swanky Olympic stadium was virtually transformed into a jukebox as some of Britain's biggest pop stars and singers performed in an engrossing 'after show party' Sunday night.


At the end of a three-hour ceremony, the Olympic flame was ceremoniously extinguished, marking the end of the 17-day sporting extravaganza, which saw many Olympic and world record being re-written and many new heroes emerging.


More than 10,500 athletes from 204 countries took part in the Games staged in this historic city for an unprecedented third time.


US and China predictably emerged as the powerhouses by taking the first and second spots in the medals tally, while hosts Britain produced their best-ever show to take the third position. India too had their moments of glory at the Olympic Games as it notched up its best ever medal tally of six.


Similar to the opening ceremony, Britain again showcased its rich music repertoire combined with some stunning visual and lighting effects at the closing ceremony watched by an estimated two billion global audience.


Billed as the biggest 'after show party', the Spice Girls appeared atop London's black taxis singing some of their chart-bursting numbers and there were others such as The Who, George Michael, Muse and Ed Sheeran who enthralled the capacity crowd of 80,000 who thronged the stadium.


The closing ceremony celebrated the achievements of athletes at the Games and also saw London handing over the baton to Rio de Janeiro, which will be hosting the 2016 Games.


The Ceremony provided an opportunity for the world to view the creative expressions of Artistic Director Kim Gavin, his team and the culture of United Kingdom.


The Closing Ceremony, titled 'A Symphony of British Music', celebrated the fact that music has been one of Britain's strongest cultural exports over the last 50 years.


More than 4,100 performers, including 3,500 adult volunteers and 380 school children from the six East London Host Boroughs, took part in the ceremony.


The ceremony began with a show depicting a journey through a day in the life of the city -- from early morning rush to glittering sunset.


Singer Emeli Sande was driven around the track in a newspaper rubbish truck, singing "read all about it". Soon Julian Lloyd Webber could be seen playing cello.


The figure of former PM Winston Churchill, played by Timothy Spall, then appeared with his cigar and proclaimed words from Shakespeare's The Tempest.


Michael Caine then appeared on the big screen and his voice from the iconic British film "The Italian Job" echoed around the stadium, followed by the exploding doors of a car.


As the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" came to an end, the central knot of roads, traffic and buildings pulled apart in a dramatic burst.


British-Irish boy band 'One Direction' performed 'What Makes You Beautiful', followed by a performance of percussion group 'Stomp'. Thirty gymnasts from 'Spellbound' then performed on and around the buildings, dressed as a gang of clown-headed city businessmen. British rock band 'Kinks' also had their moment, performing the 'Waterloo Sunset' song.


After the initial concert, the flag-bearers of the participating delegations, including India's bronze medal winning woman boxer M C Mary Kom, entered the Stadium in single file, closely followed by the athletes.


At the Closing Ceremony, athletes marched together, not by nationality. This was a tradition that began at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games and is a way of bringing the athletes of the world together as 'one nation'.


Indian athletes like Poonia and members of hockey team could be seen enjoying the ceremony.


The show had a segment showcasing Bhangra drummers, clad in a white dress and a group of performers, who heaved 303 white boxes, representing the number of Olympic events, towards the centre of the stage. These boxes then formed into a pyramid, on which the highlights of the Games were screened.


A victory ceremony of the men's marathon, one of the last events of the Games, then followed where the top three finishers were given away the medals by IOC president Jacques Rogge. Some of the Games volunteers then climbed the podium and their contribution to the Olympics was acknowledged.


An original footage from the famous 'Imagine' photo shoot done in 1971, remastered by Beatles singer John Lennon's wife Yoko Ono, was shown on the big screen even as a group formed a pattern out of 101 fragments to resemble his face, which then broke up as the song ended.


Celebrated British singer George Micheal then joined the ceremony, singing "Freedom 90" and "White light", enthralling the spectators, who gave him a huge applause.


Fifty scooters, with lead singer Ricky Wilson riding pillion in one of them, entered the stadium, while Indie rock band 'Kaiser Chiefs' performed on stage.


Top models like Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss then walked the ramp, followed by a singing performance by Scottish singer-songwriter Annie Lennox, who stood on top of a makeshift dark skeletal boat which 'sailed' into the stadium.


Singer Ed Sheeran then performed Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here' as tightrope walkers dressed as businessmen walked on the rope before one of them 'went up in flames'.


Next was comedian Russell Brand who sang Pure Imagination from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, followed by performances by British DJ Fatboy Slim, singers Jessie J and Taio Cruz and rapper Tinie Tempah, who regaled the audience by chorusing a song from the film Saturday Night Fever.


'Spice Girls' also performed a medley of songs, atop their cabs, which were driven around the stadium. The audience also got a glimpse of English rock band 'Beady Eye' as they performed 'Wonderwall'.


To provide an Indian flavour, a host of bhangra dancers dressed in colourful costumes performed with English comedian Eric Idle, much to the delight of the audience.


British rockers 'Muse' then performed the London 2012 Olympic song "Survival". Soon former 'Queen' singer, Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991, came alive on screen, followed by a performance by band member Brian May.


May and Jessie then gave an electrifying performance with a rendition of the Queen anthem 'We will rock you'.


After the musical extravaganza, the formal part of the ceremony started. The Mayor of the Host City, Boris Johnson joined Rogge on the rostrum and gave him back the Olympic flag after a traditional wave. Rogge then presented the flag to the Mayor of the next Host City of the Olympic Games.


Three national flags were then hoisted on flagpoles one at a time, while the corresponding national anthems were played: the flag of Greece to honour the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the flag of the Host Nation (UK), and the flag of the country hosting the next Summer Olympic Games (Brazil).


There was also a short presentation of Brazilian culture, music and dance and a surprise appearance of legendary footballer Pele with his country's troupe of dancers.


London Games organising chief Sabastian Coe then gave a thanksgiving speech, before Rogge declared the 30th Games closed after a speech in which he called upon the youth of the world to assemble at Rio de Jenerio for the 31st Olympiad four years later.


The Olympic Flame, which has been burning in the Thomas Heatherwick-designed cauldron since the opening of the Games, was then extinguished - a poignant and moving moment for all those involved in the Games and the audience at large.


The 204 charred "petals" of the cauldron will be given to each competing country. The pixels that were used to such effect to light up the stadium seats during the opening ceremony were put to even greater use, with the audience encouraged to pick them up and wave them around.


As the show concluded, a spectacular display of fireworks and more music provided the grand finale to the biggest sporting extravaganza.


Significant challenges before India for 9% growth: YV Reddy

Admitting that there are policy difficulties, the former governor of RBI said the initiative would depend on political and economic considerations and we should also be realistic that how much our social context, political context permits us to do

New Delhi: India faces "significant challenges" in achieving 9-10% growth rate and special efforts would be required to revert to the pre-crisis GDP levels, YV Reddy, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said, reports PTI.


"...there are significant challenges for India to achieve 9-10 per cent growth rate under evolving conditions of global economy in the short-term and, of course, in the new normal over the medium to long term," Reddy said delivering the 17th Prem Bhatia Memorial Lecture.


Overall, he added, policy headroom available for many developing economies is limited in the current global economic environment.


India's economic growth, which was around 9% for few years before the global crisis, slumped to a near decade low of 6.5% in 2011-12 due to various global and domestic factors.


To a query regarding policy inaction in the government, he said policy making has become complex in all countries due to the prevailing political and economic environment.


"So I would not agree that there is policy paralysis. There are policy difficulties and the initiative would depend on political and economic considerations. We should also be realistic that how much our social context, political context permits us to do," Reddy said.


The former Governor of the RBI said India is vulnerable to shocks on external sector, both on current account front due to fuel prices and food prices and on capital account because of volatile FII inflows.


"The medium to long-term rate of growth of output should ideally take into account the buffers that have to be created to absorb the shocks without serious disruptions to the smooth functioning of economy and social cohesion," Reddy said.


He also suggested that given the economic situation in advance countries, India should make efforts to position itself prominently in the emerging markets and increase its trade relation with them.


"Economic activities in developing countries in the global economy are likely to increase significantly and hence trade among developing countries is likely to grow faster than trade between advance and developing economies," he said.


Life Exclusive
Google to pay $22.5 million for breaching privacy on Apple’s Safari browser

Google, however has said the whole affair was a ‘mistake’ and said it has discontinued the practice of placing unauthorized cookies on users’ machines

US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has directed Google to pay $22.5 million for violating consumer privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser. It is the largest civil penalty ever assessed by the FTC for violating its order. What irked the Commission was that Google said that the privacy violation was not deliberate.


Google has said the whole affair was a ‘mistake’ and said it has discontinued the practice of placing unauthorized cookies on users’ machines as soon as the Wall Street Journal published a story about it.


However, David Vladeck, Director of Consumer Protection at the FTC said, “I think that defence raises red flags to regulators.”


“Their intent is immaterial. It’s troubling to us that Google says they didn’t know it was going on. A company like Google is the steward of personal information from hundreds of millions of people and they have to do better,” Vladeck added.


In addition to the civil penalty, the FTC order also requires Google to disable all the tracking cookies it had said it would not place on consumers’ computers. 


In the conference call, James Kohm, Associate Director for Enforcement at the FTC, said that most of the illicit cookies have already been removed but said that under the terms of the order, Google has until 15 February 2014 to remove all of them. “The extra time is because they can only remove the cookies when somebody visits a site in their ad network,” Kohm said.


It’s the latest in a long series of ‘accidental’ privacy violations by Google. It pales in comparison to the so-called “Wi-Spy” case in 2010, when Google admitted it invaded Wi-Fi networks and downloaded private data from those networks as its fleet of gadget-encumbered cars crept through neighbourhoods around the world, collecting information for its street-mapping project.


The Commission in April fined Google $25,000, saying it was obstructing the agency’s investigation of the matter. As usual, Google said any such obstruction was inadvertent. It didn’t apologize.


Last year, in a settlement with the Justice Department, Google agreed to pay a $500 million penalty for promoting and advertising unlawful sales of prescription drugs through its ubiquitous AdWords program. It said its role in establishing a global network of illicit drug sites was unintentional.


Responding to queries about whether the penalty was adequate, Vladeck said Google was “paying a heavy price.”


“$22.5 million may not seem like a lot of money to Google but given the magnitude and duration of this violation, we think it's quite substantial,” he said. “We have Google under order for another 19 years and this sends a message that the FTC isn’t kidding around,” he added.


In its complaint, the FTC charged that for several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google’s DoubleClick advertising network, although Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of such tracking, as a result of the default settings of the Safari browser used in Macs, iPhones and iPads.


According to the FTC’s complaint, Google specifically told Safari users that because the Safari browser is set by default to block third-party cookies, as long as users do not change their browser settings, this setting “effectively accomplishes the same thing as (opting out of this particular Google advertising tracking cookie).”  In addition, Google represented that it is a member of an industry group called the Network Advertising Initiative, which requires members to adhere to its self-regulatory code of conduct, including disclosure of their data collection and use practices.


The FTC charged that Google’s misrepresentations violated a settlement it reached with the agency in October 2011, which barred Google from—among other things—misrepresenting the extent to which consumers can exercise control over the collection of their information.  The earlier settlement resolved FTC charges that Google used deceptive tactics and violated its privacy promises when it launched its social network, Google Buzz.


(Courtesy: ConsumerAffairs.com/ James R Hood)


Read the original article here: Google Pays $22.5 Million for Privacy Violations


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