Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekly Bilingual News

Dear Friends:

Hello! Welcome to a new brief analysis of the news of the end of June and beginning of July across the world. We include a chapter of bilingual vocabulary linked with the subjects of this issue.

During the last few days, a mosaic of different events was in the headlines of the papers and TV. From Cuba, the report about the surgery of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez created expectations about the political future of his country. In Syria, the government called to leaders of the opposition trying to reduce the international pressure for the repression against demonstrators of the last months. In Athens, the Greek Parliament confirmed its support with the austerity measures proposed by the Prime Minister. The International Monetary Fund named French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as its new managing director. In Monaco, the Prince Albert II married a former Olympic swimmer with all the luxury and fantasy of fairy tales. The former IMF chief Strauss-Kahn, accused of sexual assault, was released from his house arrest in New York.

To remark, on Tuesday, June 28, Afghanistan was again shook by the suicide attack of the Inter-Continental Hotel of Kabul. After near six hours of terror, helicopters of the NATO troops ended the siege by militants of the Taliban who showed that till now they have the capacity to storm in the capital of the country.

In the United States, the discussion around the cut of the federal deficit continued in a tense environment between the White House and Republican lawmakers. On Wednesday, June 29, President Barack Obama made the case for ending certain tax breaks for "millionaires and billionaires" as an option to keep the federal government from defaulting on its debt. The hot new tone from the President surprised the political analysts.

The Wall Street markets changed their direction after weeks with negative and mixed results. All the main indexes closed in the positive territory with important growths. For the week, Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 648.19 points, or 5.43% to 12582.77, while Nasdaq Composite climbed 163.14 points, or 6.15%, to 2816.03.


On Wednesday June 29, News Corp announced the sale of the social network MySpace for $35 million that had been acquired for $580 million just six years ago. The buyer is Specific Media, a small a digital media company. The huge differences between the acquisition and sale prices produced surprise from external observers.

A day later, in a special report, the TV program NewsHour of PBS (2) analyzed the case and the recent advance of Facebook, a competitor of MySpace that now is climbing to the sky with a strong valuation of its business. In connection with this subject we wrote the following comment: "The social networks alone will not change the economy because a lot of the projects are only bubbles that will disappear tomorrow. This niche of technology is more cannibalistic than other sectors. But we think the social media services associated with innovative tools could revolutionize the real and virtual worlds in the years ahead. This is important, despite the corpses that drop off on the route."

After that, in the Journal Community forum of WSJ, a group expanded the discussion asking about the current role of Internet in connection with traditional businesses. This was the question for debate: "Do you see the Internet as an opportunity or a threat to traditional business models?" We answered: "We see the Internet as a simultaneous opportunity and threat to traditional business models. Internet helps the traditional businesses in their globalization. In other words, Internet as a tool gives the opportunity to spread some good local businesses in the global way. But sometimes these very good ideas die when others take the helm of those businesses, or big investors buy the ideas, the factories, the engineering of the products and the shops, and they merge with other ideas, other factories and other products. In summary, Internet is a machine that cannibalizes businesses and we never know what will happen with our ideas or our products or our shops when they merge with others. Only a very small group of traditional business models can endure the integration with Internet as a tool without losing its roots. (June 2, 2011, Journal Community, WSJ)

Next, Zynga, a software company that produces games that work on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, entered in the big scene. This social network game developer announced its plan to sell stock in the New York financial market as a public company. A journalist from Wall Street Journal remarked that Zynga is valued near to $20 billion in a story titled: "Nothing Virtual About Zynga Profits" (2). This was our comment: "We prefer to be cautious. In a virtual business, the profits of today don't guarantee a big harvest of tomorrow."

In other article from the blog Digits of WSJ titled "What Zynga CEO's Letter Could Have Said" (3) was reproduced the official letter of Zynga announcing its IPO .This was our new comment: "Zynga is jumping into a virtual world that till now has a low value. The pioneers of the Internet's search machines have destroyed the monetary value of a lot of valuable intellectual works with the technique of cloning their creative brains. If the Zynga's philosophy expands its roots, we will see a new Renaissance of intellect that will reward the intellectual workers with real revenues. Good beginning!"

In summary, after browsing the official website of Zynga we conclude that the game developer founded by Mark Pincus in 2007 in San Francisco, California, is marking a possible turning point in the evolution of the social networks. We really enjoyed navigating through games like FarmVille, CityVille and RewardVille. Probably the virtual creatures (imaginary tractors and special goods) of these games will make history.


WHITE SMOKE AT IMF: On June 28, the conclave of election of the new "Pope" of the IMF selected Ms. Christine Lagarde after the United States and China endorsed the French Minister against the Mexico's central banker Agustin Carstens. Wall Street Journal talked about the selection process in an article titled: "France's Lagarde Named IMF Chief". These were our comment: "Ms. Christine Lagarde thinks she is a celebrity and for this reason, she deserves to become the head of IMF. But the real world doesn't begin in the Camps-Élysées. The International Monetary Fund needs a leader who will feel comfortable walking with their feet submerged in a swamp or across the smelly alleys of the poor neighborhoods of the big cities of the emerging countries." 

GOVERNMENT REFRESHMENT - On July 3, Wall Street Journal posted a story titled: "Politics Dog Possible Top Treasury Vacancy" where the journalist Damian Paletta talks about the rumors that Secretary Timothy Geithner will leave the President Obama's cabinet very soon. Our Comment: 'The potential departure of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the last opportunity of President Obama to correct the mistakes he made when he arrived at the White House. The successor has to be a brilliant professional with more knowledge than the current Secretary about the economy of every day and every corner of the nation, and with enough humbleness and intelligence to speak on the same level with Republican members of the Congress, Chinese financial authorities, colleagues of the Democratic party or a beggar at the end of a religious ceremony."

Best regards,


Domingo A. Trassens
Spanish-English Club
Electronic mail:

Questions - Preguntas:

1) From your point of view, what was the worst news for the week?
1) Desde vuestro punto de vista, ¿cuál fue la peor noticia de la semana?

2) And what was the best news from the week?
2) ¿Y cuál fue la mejor noticia de la semana?

Vocabulary - Vocabulario: 

- Afghanistan, Afghan = Afganistán, afgano, afgana
- beggar = mendigo
- brains = cerebro, inteligencia
- budget = presupuesto
- cabinet = gabinete
- cannibal = cannibal
- cannibalistic = canibalístico
- ceremony = ceremonia
- cloning = clonando, copiando en un sentido genético
- Cuba, Cuban = Cuba, cubano, cubana
- deficit = déficit
- demostrators = manifestantes
- destroy, destroyed = destruir, destruyó
- developer = desarrollador
- dog = seguir los pasos
- French = francés, francesa
- game = juego
- Greece, Greek = Grecia, griego, griega
- harvest = cosecha
- humbleness = humildad
- intellect = intelecto
- Mexican = mexicano, mexicana, mejicano, mejicana
- Pope = Papa
- refreshment = refresco
- religious = religioso, religiosa
- Renaissance = Renacimiento
- repression = represión
- reward = premio, recompensa
- siege = cerco, sitio
- smelly = maloliente
- social network = red social
- storm = tomar por asalto
- suicide = suicida
- surgery = cirugía, operación, intervención médica
- swamp = pantano, ciénaga
- Venezuelan = venezolano, venezolana


Thanks to Ann, Bob, Erika, Frederic, Gaby, Joseph, Mary, and Suzanne your messages about the previous Weekly Bilingual News.

A mosaic of different events across the world...

Sources: Zynga website, MySpace website, IMF website, Wall Street Journal, PBS NewsHour, New York Times, The Washington Post, Think Tank of Comlab.
References: (1) "Are Social Media Services the Next Tech Bubble?", NewsHour Report Air, June 30, 2011, PBS. (2) "Nothing Virtual About Zynga Profits" by Rolfe Winkler, July 2, 2011, Wall Street Journal. (3) Digits - WJS Blogs : "What Zynga CEO's Letter Could Have Said" by Tom Loftus, July 3, 2011, Wall Street Journal.(4) "France's Lagarde Named IMF Chief", by Sudeep Reddy, Nathalie Boschat and William Horobin, June 29, Wall Street Journal.

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