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December 13th, 2013
08:05 AM ET

Cutting through China's haze

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy touched down in Hong Kong Thursday, only to be met by a thick layer of smog that has been choking the city.

McCarthy tells me 50% of Hong Kong’s haze stems from maritime pollution.

Her stop in Hong Kong comes after visits to both Shanghai and Beijing to discuss U.S.-China cooperation on air quality and other environmental issues.

Click on to hear the EPA Administrator cut through the haze of China's pollution crisis - addressing everything from air monitoring to emission standards... and why managing pollution in China is in the interest of the United States.

November 4th, 2013
09:20 PM ET

The NSA fury of Google’s Eric Schmidt

The Google Chairman is one angry dude.

Eric Schmidt expressed clear outrage during our interview here in Hong Kong about the revelation that the National Security Agency had spied on the company’s data links.

"I was shocked that the NSA would do this,” Schmidt tells me. “Perhaps it’s a violation of law, but it is certainly a violation of mission.”

FULL POST

November 4th, 2013
09:02 AM ET

@Cmdr_Hadfield speaks to News Stream

He’s flown three space missions, conducted two space walks, and humanized space with dozens of epic viral videos.

Here's our interview with the truly inspiring astronaut and author, Chris Hadfield.

November 1st, 2013
05:47 AM ET

Delving into the Deep Web

Earlier this month, U.S. authorities shut down the Silk Road after its alleged operator, Ross Ulbricht, was arrested.

The Silk Road was a very successful online marketplace where people bought and sold illegal goods - from drugs to forged documents, firearms to exotic animals - without getting caught.

Why?

It existed in a hidden corner of the Internet called the "Deep Web."

But who built the Deep Web and why?

Click on. The answer will surprise you…

October 10th, 2013
09:11 AM ET

What happened to Lavabit?

Why did the secure e-mail service Lavabit suddenly shut down in August?

It was widely believed that the U.S. government wanted access to the Lavabit account of NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Lavabit's owner, Ladar Levison, posted a message blaming a secret U.S. court battle. He also vowed to keep fighting while adding this warning:

"This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."

Last week, some court documents were unsealed and made public. A review of the files on NewYorker.com says, "These disclosures fall short of the ideal of open justice, but they do give Levison’s ordeal a public shape."

Regular News Stream contributor Nicholas Thompson edited the New Yorker piece. I spoke to him about what the documents reveal.

He tells me, "What we are seeing from these court documents is that most e-mail providers - when the FBI came to them during the NSA (episode) – said, 'Here it is.'"

"But here's the one guy who said, 'No. I'm going to fight you tooth and nail, no matter what way I can.'"

Listen on to learn how Levison resisted U.S. government demands to turn over the Lavabit encryption key (including the use of an 11-page printout in 4-point type) and what the aggressive pursuit of Lavabit reveals about the psyche in Washington.

October 4th, 2013
07:56 AM ET

Is Qatar abusing migrant workers?

Qatar's new World Cup facilities will be constructed by thousands of migrant laborers toiling in extreme heat.

And human rights groups say that many already working in the country are being severely mistreated.

Gulf migrant researcher for Amnesty International James Lynch tells me the exploitation of workers in Qatar is far too commonplace.

"We've met workers who have been in severe distress having not been paid for months at at time, not able to leave the country, and living in dire conditions," he says.

"And add to that the very long working hours that go beyond the legal limits and the exterme heat as well."

The head of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee tells CNN the country is committed to workers' safety.

But Hassan al-Thawadi also acknowledged that it takes time to develop and enforce labor rights laws in Qatar.

International scrutiny is growing and the pressure is on. Both Qatar and FIFA, which is currently holding an executive crisis meeting on the 2022 World Cup, are being urged to act.

October 3rd, 2013
02:07 PM ET

What is Twitter's true value?

Twitter is widely expected to make public its IPO documents this week.

All the talk about a Twitter float got us thinking about the fundamental value of Twitter.

What is its true purpose? Who uses it... really? And just how will it make money?

I hit all those points with News Stream contributor Nicholas Thompson, editor of the NewYorker.com. He points out that Twitter is not as titanic as it's often made out to be.

BlackBerry: Why breaking up is hard to do
September 24th, 2013
11:40 AM ET

BlackBerry: Why breaking up is hard to do

By Kristie Lu Stout

Hong Kong (CNN) – I can't even remember the last time I thumbed a message on its itty-bitty qwerty keyboard.

And yet, I stubbornly keep my BlackBerry in my bag and on my desk, fully charged.

As with my Palm Vx of yesterday, breaking up with a beloved gadget is hard to do, especially when you have history.

FULL POST

September 12th, 2013
08:02 AM ET

Behind the shocking numbers of the U.N. rape report

When I first read the report, I was aghast.

A U.N. study published this week revealed a truly shocking prevalence of rape across the Asia-Pacific region.

Out of more than 10,000 men surveyed:

  • Nearly a quarter of men interviewed admitted to raping a woman or girl.
  • Nearly half the respondents reported using physical or sexual violence against a female partner.
  • And nearly half of those who admitted to rape, first did so as a teenager with 12% of them under 15 years of age at the time.

The survey was conducted across six countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea.

The findings in the report are mind-boggling. So how did the team gather such brutally honest responses?

"The methodology is something that we feel is quite innovative for the study," said James Lang, the Program Coordinator for Partners for Prevention, which carried out the study.

"We used these handheld devices - iPod Touches - to ensure men would answer the questions about the perpetration of violence in a completely anonymous way."

The survey team also never used the word rape. Instead, participants were asked questions such as, "Have you ever forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex?" or "Have you ever had sex with a woman who was too drugged or drunk to indicate whether she wanted it?"

In addition to revealing the prevalence of sexual violence in the region, Lang says the study reaffirms that such violence is preventable.

"To prevent violence, we have to make violence unacceptable," Lang tells me. "We have to change these norms in communities where violence is allowed, as well as norms around gender equality and the subordination of women."

Lang's study has the statistics to shock anyone into recognizing the scourge of sexual violence in the region. Here's hoping it will spur policymakers across Asia into action and end the impunity for men who use violence against women.

September 6th, 2013
02:08 PM ET

LEGO: Getting more girls to build with bricks

With sales soaring 13% during the first of this year, LEGO is now the second-biggest toy company in the world.

Revenue growth was driven largely thanks to customers here in Asia, where the new "Legends of Chima" line has performed particularly well.

The company also says its LEGO Friends line is going strong. The franchise is unabashedly girly with its pink-hued boxes and sets like "Heartlake Pet Salon." When it launched, many said it reinforced sexist stereotypes.

So if "Friends" is more Barbie than LEGO, why is it such a huge hit for the Danish toymaker?

"It's really hitting at the heart of that particular consumer interest," LEGO CFO John Goodwin tells me.

"For a long period of time we had our evergreen products - the LEGO City line and LEGO Star Wars. But we felt there are a number of children out there, particularly girls, who were not getting themes relevant to their interest."

Goodwin goes on to say, "We are also seeing more girls' purchases of evergreen lines on the back of the Friends introduction because that whole experience of construction is getting more relevant for them."

So is a predominantly pink, gendered toy a bad thing if it gets more girls to build with bricks? I'm starting to think otherwise.

As for other female fans of LEGO who still can't stomach the series, there's always this - LEGO's first female scientist minifig.

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