Pivotal Emerging-Market Elections to Watch

Published on WSJ.com on  March 29, 2014

Voters in Turkey, India, and Brazil head to the polls this year along with other big developing countries. Tired of slowing economic growth and alleged corruption, many are seeking change, while longtime leaders and ruling parties in some nations are maneuvering to stay in power.

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Underlying some of these elections are also social tensions between religious conservatives and secular moderates, with “traditional values” candidates gaining sway ahead of some races. Here’s an overview of significant elections, and why they matter.

5 Things to Know About MERS

The MERS virus has made its way from the Middle East into Europe, Africa, South Asia and North America, with two cases confirmed in the U.S. As the number of cases continues to grow, health authorities are calling for more urgent measures to control the potentially fatal virus that has infected hundreds of people globally. Read the full story at WSJ.com.


Authorities suspect animals may have first transmitted MERS to humans.

MERS, which stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is a deadly virus that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and now has been reported in at least 18 countries. Most people diagnosed with MERS have developed severe respiratory illness, with symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pneumonia and gastrointestinal symptoms also have been reported. About 27% of people with MERS have died. As of May 9, more than 500 cases had been confirmed, the World Health Organization says.


The majority of MERS cases have been concentrated in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Jordan and several other countries in the Arabian Peninsula have reported cases as well. Travel from the region has caused cases to pop up elsewhere, including in European countries such as France, Germany and the U.K. Malaysia and the Philippines have also reported cases, as have Egypt and Tunisia. This week, a second confirmed case appeared in the U.S. Within the U.S., however, the risk of contracting the virus is very low, the CDC says.


Little is known about how the virus is transmitted, though the CDC says MERS spreads among people in close physical contact, such as family members and health-care workers treating MERS patients. Both U.S. cases, for example, are health-care workers who traveled from Saudi Arabia, while up to one-fifth of all cases have involved health-care workers, according to the CDC. Also, some people infected with MERS haven’t appeared to experience symptoms, the WHO says.  Health organizations say humans might have first contracted the virus from animals, which could still be infecting people. Camels in several Middle Eastern countries have been confirmed carrying the MERS coronavirus, the strain that causes MERS in people.

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Google Glass Parts, Assembly Seen Costing $152

IHS Inc.’s new product teardown of Google Glass estimates the gadget’s hardware and manufacturing costs total about $152, which would represent just about 10% of the digital headset’s $1,500 price tag.

But don’t read into the number too much — IHS says the majority of Glass’s costs come from nonmaterial expenses, like nonrecurring engineering expenses, tooling costs, and extensive software and platform development. Google, meanwhile, disagrees entirely. Read the rest at the Numbers Guy blog on WSJ.comGOOGLE0514_G (2)

5 Things to Know About Turkey’s Social Media Battle

Published on WSJ.com on March 28, 2014

Turkey’s government is drawing domestic and international criticism for blocking Twitter and YouTube. The bans come just before critical March 30 local elections seen as a test of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s  popularity. Here are five things to know about the government’s bans of these social media sites and the upcoming elections.

Turkey’s government blocked access to YouTube on Thursday. The move came just hours after an audio recording, uploaded anonymously on YouTube, purported to show a conversation in which Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief and a top general appear to discuss how to create a pretext for a possible Turkish attack within Syria. Just one week earlier, the country’s Internet watchdog had banned Twitter,  hours after Mr. Erdogan threatened to “eradicate” the short-messaging service. A Turkish court granted an appeal Wednesday to end the blockage of Twitter, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the ban would be overturned by the decision. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the content of the recording on YouTube was doctored, while Mr. Erdogan said the leaks were “villainous.” The Wall Street Journal hasn’t verified the authenticity of the recording.  Turkey‘s government has had greater control over the Internet since February, when its parliament passed a law giving the government sweeping powers to block websites and monitor user activity.  Critics have said the Internet law and recent bans restrict freedom of expression.
Read the rest on WSJ.com.


5 Things to Know About the Venezuelan Protests

Published on WSJ.com on Feb. 21, 2014

1. Tension is nationwide, across classes.

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The demonstrations started in Tachira state, but soon spread to the capital–and back again. At least seven people have died. Much of the support for the protest movement still comes from the upper and middle classes, analysts note. However, the sheer size of the demonstrations suggests more broad-based participation. While past protests largely focused on contested election results, demonstrators now are clamoring for change to address the economic crisis, high inflation and rising crime, all of which affect the poor the most. Protesters have “reached a threshold of pain” in terms of the economic imbalances that have resulted in inflation and shortages, says Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America strategy at Jefferies in New York, who adds the protests are “at a turning point.”

Read the rest at WSJ.com