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European Union Sending $14.5 Million In Food Aid To North Korea

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Kim Jong II with European Union folks
Kim Jong II with European Union folks

BRUSSELS — The European Union said Monday it will restart food aid to North Korea after the country’s repressive communist regime agreed to an unprecedented monitoring system as it suffers through its worst food crisis in years.

The EU will send euro10 million ($14.5 million) in food aid to North Korea, after food production in the country hit a new low and an EU mission of experts confirmed a growing hunger crisis in northern and eastern provinces. An unusually cold winter and other severe weather conditions have diminished recent harvests in North Korea, while food aid from China, which has experienced droughts and floods recently, has also declined.

“The purpose of this aid package is to save the lives of at least 650,000 people who could otherwise die from lack of food,” Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.

The EU stopped humanitarian aid to North Korea in 2008, when it determined that it was no longer necessary. It has, however, continued to support long-term nutrition projects in the country, which has had chronic food problem for years.

Because of the repressive and closed-off nature of the North Korean regime, aid to the country has long been controversial. But following warnings from the United Nations and the World Food Program, EU experts traveled to North Korea in June to examine the situation and together with the World Food Program, which will manage the aid package, negotiated a strict monitoring system with national authorities.

China’s Women Buy Maseratis and Ferraris Like Italian Pastries

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I totally missed this info nugget and in case you did, too: Chinese women buy three times more Maseratis and twice as many Ferraris than Western women do.

A third of China’s millionaires are women, and they buy a disproportionately large share of high-performance sports cars in the world’s fastest-growing major economy. Fiat SpA said the percentage of women buying its Maseratis in China is triple that of Europe, while the percentage buying its Ferrari is double the global average, according to Bloomberg.

Sales of ultra-luxury vehicles in the world’s largest auto market likely increased 60 percent last year, according to consultants Bain & Co. Deliveries may increase 35 percent this year, driven by consumers wanting to prove their success or succumbing to peer pressure, said Ray Tsang, a Shanghai-based partner at Bain.

Women buyers generate 30 percent of Maserati’s China sales, compared with less than 10 percent in Europe, Shanghai-based Gobber said. The GranCabrio convertible with 433 horsepower costs $406,656 and the GranTurismo S coupe $391,527, the company said.

Ferrari’s China sales rose almost 50 percent to about 300 last year, the company said. Women account for about 20 percent of mainland sales, more than twice the company’s global average. A Ferrari California sports tourer costs $527,924 in China and about $200,000 in the U.S.

The rise of women entrepreneurs—more than half the world’s richest women are Chinese according to Hurun Report—is propelling their share of luxury spending, said FT.

”In China, women are ambitious…so they will buy more ‘high powered’ products than women in the US or Europe,” says Tom Doctoroff, greater China head of JWT, the advertising agency. “A woman here needs to project her power in ways that a western woman simply does not need to.”

In contrast, as western luxury brands tap the Chinese market, unlearning gender stereotypes along the way, China’s men purchase more face creams and bags. Coach, the US leather brand, says men represent 45 percent of the $1.7 billion Chinese market for luxury bags and accessories, compared with 15 percent globally, said FT. (They buy exotic cars as well, but I liked the stat on “man bags.” You can read more about designer handbags for upwardly mobile men in China here.)

Prince William And Kate Middleton Given Diamonds

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Forbes Lifestyle has learned exclusively that the Northwest Territories government has presented Prince William and wife Kate Middleton with a Harry Winston diamond brooch and pair of cufflinks. The gifts, bearing a pave polar bear silhouette beneath a semi-circle representing the northern lights, were given to the royal couple in a small ceremony earlier this afternoon while visiting Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (located in Northern Canada).

“It is an honor to provide these gifts that combine Harry Winston design and craftsmanship with the natural beauty of Northwest Territories diamonds,” said Robert Gannicott, Chairman and CEO of Harry Winston.

Canada produces close to 10 percent of the world’s diamonds by value, trailing only Russia and Botswana. Canadian diamonds, a conflict-free alternative to gems mined in war zones, are largely brighter and glassier than African diamonds, explained Gannicott.

The bejeweled souvenir issued to Prince William and Kate Middleton includes stones extracted from the Diavik Diamond Mine, a wide, circular geographic oddity situated on an island in the middle of a lake, just 140 miles south of the Arctic Circle. This year, the mine will produce nearly 7 million carats or $850 million in diamonds.

The presentation was part of the couple’s nine-day trip through Canada, and the first official overseas tour since getting married in April. The royal pair will leave Canada Friday for a three-day excursion to California which will include a polo match in Santa Barbara and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts black-tie reception in Los Angeles.

For more details on the royal wedding, click here.

Meet Kate Middleton’s Go-To Designer ‘Daniella Helayel’

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Call it the Kate Effect. Ever since Kate Middleton wore that silk navy dress at the announcement of her engagement with Prince William, the label Issa and its designer Daniella Helayel have become as popular as the new Duchess herself.

The little-known brand of easy dresses in vivid colors and exuberant prints made the transition from insider-only label to international sensation overnight. Kate has worn Issa dresses on several occasions. Most recently, she wore a purple wrap silk dress  at the Canada Day celebration she and her husband attended in Ottawa. Kate’s sister Pippa has also been spotted in a floor-length Issa dress.

Here, I talk to Kate’s favorite designer, Daniella Helayel, on fashion, beauty rituals and the Kate Effect.

What do you think is the appeal of Kate Middleton’s style?

Daniella Helayel: Kate has a classic sense of style. It’s chic and effortlessly elegant. Her fashion choices are part of what makes her such an icon as a modern day princess. I think her style is so appealing because women all over the world can relate to her. She dresses for her body shape and as a result she always looks glamorous, appropriate, comfortable and confident in what she’s wearing. We can all learn a lot from her. Her style is one that will survive and she’ll look as fabulous next season as she has for the past 9 years.

She has had such a tremendous impact on your business. How is it like dealing with this heightened publicity?

DH: I have tried to be as accommodating as possible to everyone, but of course it’s been a big change with the huge demand for interviews and the spotlight so firmly on my brand.

But what is Issa all about? Who is the Issa customer?

DH: I take a lot of inspiration from my childhood in Brazil, surrounded by nature. I have tried to translate all the unexpected color combinations, natural shapes and the thrill of carnivals into my prints, fabrics and designs. I keep the Brazilian vibe in my mind when designing. Issa is all about effortless glamour and making women feel confident, comfortable and cool in their own skin and a great dress; all women should look and feel fantastic. Issa is for all.

How would you describe your own personal style?

DH: I have quite a timeless approach to fashion, I like looking back at what has been done before and seeing how I can update it. I believe it’s very important for women to understand their bodies and what works for them. Once we know that then we can have fun with fashion and the trends, which come and go while still looking and feeling our best. But I will say that you always need a pair of big Jackie O sunglasses in your bag, and a scarf is the most versatile, chic accessory; a silk one tied round your neck, hair, wrist or handbag.

You travel a lot between London, Brazil, New York, China and so many other places in between. How do you stay looking fresh and put together despite your hectic work schedule?

DH: I try not to allow life to become too hectic! I don’t work a regular 9 to 5 but I manage my time so I can still look after myself.

What is your skin care and fitness regime?

DH: The face peels and red light treatment with Dr. Frances Prenna Jones are my indulgence. She works wonders on my skin and has given me Formula 2006 to cleanse followed by Neo Strata renewal and hydrating creams or TNS recovery complex before bed. I’m also really looking after myself at the moment, I’m trying to eat super healthily and cut out all processed food. I also see my personal trainer most mornings during the week and we work out for an hour and a half, then I run for 45 minutes every morning.

What products are on your vanity table?

DH: Lancome Bi-Facial to cleanse, although I don’t wear makeup every day. There’s also L’Oreal Absolut Repair Shampoo followed by a Kerastase mask or nourishing oil. Sunscreen is so important, I never used to be very dedicated, but now use La Roche-Posay for my face and Clarins or Lancaster on my body. And Allure fragrance by Chanel

Is there a right and wrong way to wear Issa?

DH: Definitely not – Issa means freedom! Wear it however it makes you feel the best.

Inside Donald Trump’s New Jet

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Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife
Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife

Donald Trump has just unveiled his newly refurbished $100 million Boeing 757, an aircraft that once belonged to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and what an overhaul it was. In fact, the aircraft’s interiors are almost gold plated as gold can be found covering everything from the sinks and faucets down to the seat belt fixtures themselves.

Should you be flying with the Donald, you can expect to be seated in the aircraft’s wood paneled and suede ceiling covered passenger cabin. Seated here, you will be able to watch the latest episode of the Apprentice on a 52-inch plasma television screen that’s also preprogrammed with 1,000 movies or listen to music on the aircraft’s state-of-the-art music sound system. Moreover, you will know that you are in the Donald’s aircraft as his name and the family crest are etched just about everywhere. All told, Donald’s new aircraft can accommodate 43 passengers in the utmost comfort imaginable.

Meanwhile and for the Donald himself (along with his wife Melania), there is a private bedroom that includes a massive flat-screen television and even a console where electric shades covering the room’s windows can be controlled at the push of a button. There is also a huge closet for both Donald and Melania to share.

As for the Donald’s old aircraft, a 43 year old Boeing 727 half the size of his new aircraft, its been on sale for a mere $8 million since 2009.

Jay-Z brings 40/40 restaurant franchise to London

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(Reuters) – Rapper Jay-Z plans to bring his 40/40 restaurant and bar franchise to London next year in a deal which will team him up with England and Chelsea soccer player Ashley Cole.

The NVA Entertainment Group (NVA), which brokered the multi-million pound (dollar) deal, said that The 40/40 London will be the first project of a partnership between Jay-Z and Cole that will include a number of new ventures.

“London is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world and the perfect location for our new venue,” Jay-Z said in an NVA statement emailed to Reuters.

“I’m excited about working with Ashley and NVA Entertainment Group on a range of new projects and The 40/40 London is going to be the hottest place in town.”

The management team will be appointing a top chef to deliver a modern American-themed menu for the restaurant/bar that will feature top DJ’s and A-list artists. A shortlist of three potential sites is now under consideration with a final decision on location expected in August, NVA said.

The 40/40 London will give first option on jobs to talented, long-term unemployed young people. Each month a percentage of profits from the project will go to local youth charities for music and sport projects in deprived communities.

“I am delighted to be working with Jay Z I have grown up listening to his music and now to be doing business with him is amazing and the projects we do will be delivering much needed funds back into sport and music on a local community level as well as helping talented young people get back to work,” Cole said in the statement.

Pushing Boundaries, Mixed-Race Artists Gain Notice

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Heidi Durrow and Fanshen Cox, the co-producers of the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival

For years Heidi W. Durrow heard the refrain: editors wouldn’t publish her novel because readers couldn’t relate to a protagonist who was part black and part Danish. But when that novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky,” was finally published last year (after about four dozen rejections, said Ms. Durrow, who is, of course, black and Danish), the coming-of-age story landed on best-seller lists.

Heidi Durrow and Fanshen Cox, the co-producers of the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival

Today Ms. Durrow finds herself in the elite precincts of The New Yorker and National Public Radio — which a few weeks ago began the Summer Blend Book Club, featuring works about multiracial people.

And work by mixed-race artists is increasingly visible in museum exhibitions, in bookstores and online — raised to the spotlight by new census numbers that show a roughly 32 percent increase since 2000 in the number of Americans declaring multiracial identity, as well as by a biracial president, an explosion of blogs and Web sites about multiracialism, and the advent of critical mixed-race studies on college campuses.

“The national images of racially mixed people have dramatically changed just within the last few years, from ‘mulattoes’ as psychically divided, racially impure outcasts to being hip new millennials who attractively embody the resolution of America’s race problem,” said Michele Elam, an associate professor of English at Stanford University.

Both images, she said, are wrongheaded and reductive.

Chinese Gem That Elevates Its Setting

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Guangzhou Opera House Designed by Zaha Hadid
Guangzhou Opera House Designed by Zaha Hadid

GUANGZHOU, China — It says something about the state of architecture today that the most alluring opera house built anywhere in the world in decades is in a generic new business district at the outer edge of this city, has no resident company and a second-rate program.

And because this is China, a country that is still undergoing cultural growing pains and whose architectural monuments are mostly being built by unskilled migrant labor, the opera’s construction was racked with problems and the quality of some of it is abysmal.

Still, if you’re an architecture lover willing to find your way to the building, you probably won’t care much. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the new Guangzhou Opera House is gorgeous to look at. It is also a magnificent example of how a single building can redeem a moribund urban environment. Its fluid forms — which have been compared to a cluster of rocks in a riverbed, their surfaces eroded by the water’s currents — give sudden focus to the energy around it so that you see the whole area with fresh eyes.

Cy Twombly, Idiosyncratic Painter, Dies at 83

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In a career that slyly subverted Abstract Expressionism, toyed briefly with Minimalism, seemed barely to acknowledge Pop Art and anticipated some of the concerns of Conceptualism, Mr. Twombly was a divisive artist almost from the start. The curator Kirk Varnedoe, on the occasion of a 1994 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, wrote that his work was “influential among artists, discomfiting to many critics and truculently difficult not just for a broad public, but for sophisticated initiates of postwar art as well.” The critic Robert Hughes called him “the Third Man, a shadowy figure, beside that vivid duumvirate of his friends Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.”

Mr. Twombly’s decision to settle permanently in southern Italy in 1957 as the art world shifted decisively in the other direction, from Europe to New York, was only the most symbolic of his idiosyncrasies. He avoided publicity throughout his life and mostly ignored his critics, who questioned constantly whether his work deserved a place at the forefront of 20th-century abstraction, though he lived long enough to see it arrive there. It didn’t help that his paintings, because of their surface complexity and whirlwinds of tiny detail – scratches, erasures, drips, penciled fragments of Italian and classical verse amid scrawled phalluses and buttocks – lost much of their power in reproduction.

But Mr. Twombly, a tall, rangy Virginian who once practiced drawing in the dark to make his lines less purposeful, steadfastly followed his own program and looked to his own muses: often literary ones like Catullus, Rumi, Pound and Rilke. He seemed to welcome the privacy that came with unpopularity.

“I had my freedom and that was nice,” he said in a rare interview, with Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate, before a 2008 survey of his career at the Tate Modern.

The critical low point probably came after a 1964 exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York that was widely panned. The artist and writer Donald Judd, who was hostile toward painting in general, was especially damning even so, calling the show a fiasco. “There are a few drips and splatters and an occasional pencil line,” he wrote in a review. “There isn’t anything to these paintings.”

But by the 1980s, with the rise of neo-Expressionism, a generation of younger artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat found inspiration in Mr. Twombly’s skittery bathroom-graffiti scrawl. Coupled with rising interest in European artists whose work shared unexpected ground with Mr. Twombly’s, like that of Joseph Beuys, the new-found attention brought him a kind of critical favor he had never enjoyed. And by the next decade he was highly sought after not only by European museums and collectors, who had discovered his work early on, but also by those back in his homeland who had not known what to make of him two decades before.

In 1989 the Philadelphia Museum of Art opened permanent rooms dedicated to his monumental 10-painting cycle, “Fifty Days at Iliam,” based on Alexander Pope’s translation of the “Iliad.” (Mr. Twombly said that he had purposely misspelled “Ilium,” a Latin name for Troy, with an “a,” to refer to Achilles.) That same year, Mr. Twombly’s work passed the million-dollar mark at auction. In 1995 the Menil Collection in Houston opened a new gallery dedicated to his work, designed by Renzo Piano after a plan by Mr. Twombly himself. Despite this growing acceptance, Mr. Varnedoe still felt it necessary to include an essay in the Modern’s newsletter at the time of the retrospective, titled “Your Kid Could Not Do This, and Other Reflections on Cy Twombly.”

In the only written statement that Mr. Twombly ever made about his work, a short essay in an Italian art journal in 1957, he tried to make clear that his intentions were not subversive but elementally human. Each line he made, he said, was “the actual experience” of making the line, adding: “It does not illustrate. It is the sensation of its own realization.” Years later he described this more plainly. “It’s more like I’m having an experience than making a picture.” The process stood in stark contrast to the detached, effete image that often clung to Mr. Twombly. After completing a work, in a kind of ecstatic state, it was as if the painting existed and he barely did anymore: “I usually have to go to bed for a couple of days.”

Pandora Radio’s HTML5 redesign hands-on

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Earlier this week, Pandora announced that it would finally be dropping its longtime support for Flash in favor of HTML5. The move is one piece of a big redesign for the site, one which will begin rolling out to Pandora One (the $36 / year premium version) subscribers in pieces, as part of a limited testing period before being made available to the service’s entire massive user base. The timing could have been more ideal, of course. A day after the announcement, Spotify quickly grabbed the attention of those following the online music industry by formally launching in the US. It’s important to note right off the bat, however, that these two services are not really direct competitors, in spite of how some might spin it. Spotify is an all-you-can eat subscription service, making it more akin to the likes of a Rhapsody and Napster. Pandora, on the other hand, is built largely around passive music discovery. You log-in, you enter an artist, and you let the music come to you. This redesign takes that ease of use to a whole new level. Check out our impressions below.