The BELTA blog has a new URL location




YOU can check out The BELTA blog at its new online location


It’s quite similar, the only difference is, if I’ve dropped the extension in the URL. THAT’S IT… nothing drastic 🙂

o, and now you can join a forum / community chat to inquire, discuss, and learn about the various aspects pertaining to living and teaching abroad right from people who have done just that.


See you over there! And tell a friend and a stranger too :)D


The BELTA blog 2012 in review

The BELTA blog Annual Report. I just saw this and thought it is amazing the amount of people who have visited this year. We’ve reached more than half the amount of countries on Earth in 11 months 🙂 THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU 🙂 I will strive to continue to post info. you care about and feel free to contact me with requests or questions. Prosper Ever!

Here’s an excerpt:

 This blog had 20,000 views in 2012 and was viewed by people in 111 countries across the globe.  (There are ~198 countries on Earth)

Click here to see the complete report.

Tech companies make progress on ‘blood phones’ and ‘conflict minerals’

(CNN) — They’ve been called “blood phones.”

It’s a reference to the fact that some metals used to make smartphones and other electronic gadgets are sourced from war-torn areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Experts say these “conflict minerals” help fuel one of the world’s deadliest conflicts. An estimated 5.4 million people have died there from war-related causes, including disease and malnutrition, since 1998, according to the International Rescue Committee.

But according to a report released Thursday by the Enough Project, an advocacy group, metals from the Congo are getting less bloody.

That’s thanks in part to the fact that tech companies like Intel, HP, Dell, Microsoft and Apple have made efforts to trace the source of metals used in their devices. An auditing system for smelters, the industrial facilities that process raw metals, also has been put in place. A certification system is in the works that would allow companies to certify some metals from Congo as “conflict free.”

Other tech companies, however, like Nintendo, Canon, Nikon, Sharp and HTC, received low rankings from the group. Nintendo was the only company out of 24 ranked by the Enough Project that received a score of zero, for taking no steps to ensure that its electronics do not support armed groups in central Africa.

“Nintendo is, I believe, the only company that has basically refused to acknowledge the issue or demonstrate they are making any sort of effort on it,” said Sasha Lezhnev, senior policy analyst at the Enough Project. “And this is despite a good two years of trying to get in contact with them.”

In a statement issued to CNN, Nintendo said it “outsources the manufacture and assembly of all Nintendo products to our production partners and therefore is not directly involved in the sourcing of raw materials that are ultimately used in our products.”

The company added: “We nonetheless take our social responsibilities as a global company very seriously and expect our production partners to do the same.”

A Nintendo spokeswoman declined to comment on conflict minerals specifically.

Other companies saw their scores improve from a similar report in 2010.

Intel ranked highest on the Enough Project’s list with a score of 60, meaning it has taken 60% of the steps recommended by the group to ensure it is responsibly tracking conflict minerals. That’s up from a score of 24 in 2010. Apple and Microsoft both scored 38, up from 13 and 15, respectively. Nokia scored 35, up from 19. IBM, Sony, LG and Samsung received scores of 27. Three of those companies had received scores lower than 10 in the previous Enough Project ranking.

The report says there is still much to be done, however.

“Despite the progress made in the past year by both governments and industry, a long road still lies ahead,” the group says in its report, titled “Taking Conflict Out of Consumer Gadgets.” “Exploitation of Congo’s mineral resources continues to exacerbate conflict and instability on the ground and consumers are still largely in the dark as to whether or not their products are conflict free.

“It will take a holistic effort by multiple governments and industries to regulate the flow of illegal conflict minerals. The driver of that effort must remain the demand of the conscious consumer.”

The Enough Project says the results are already apparent on the ground in the Congo. The amount of money armed groups make off three of the main conflict minerals (tin, tantalum and tungsten) has dropped 65% over the past two years, according to a report released earlier this month, which attributes the decrease both to the efforts of the tech industry and to new legislation.

A rule tucked into 2010 financial reform legislation in the United States may soon require companies to disclose whether they source metals form conflict zones. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to vote on those rules concerning conflict minerals on August 22. Some business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say the SEC should reconsider the rules because they are too expensive or complex to implement.

Four metals — gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten — are used in gadgets and also are mined in the eastern Congo, a region of the vast country that has been in active conflict for years.

Armed groups have profited from mining these metals, holding some workers at gunpoint and forcing them to work for little or no pay, according to the group Free the Slaves.

New certifications systems, however, aim to attach bar codes to packages of Congolese metals that have been certified as conflict-free. The Enough Project also says there are efforts to differentiate Congolese metals from others by their color and other physical properties.

Many challenges remain. The growth of a rebel group called M23 and ongoing gold smuggling threaten to further destabilize the mining industry, the report says.

Companies once were “turning a blind eye to where they’re getting their materials from,” said Lezhnev. But after considerable pressure from advocacy groups and college students, more of them have become aware of the issue.

“Sunshine,” he said, “is the best disinfectant.”



World’s wealthiest people live in Asia


Hong Kong (CNN) — Asia is set to have the world’s wealthiest residents, with city-state Singapore heading the rich list.

Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea will do well, too, according to by a new survey that predicts which countries will be home to the wealthiest citizens by 2050.

By one measure, they are already are. Singapore’s per capita income is estimated by Knight Frank and Citi Private Wealth’s 2012 Wealth Report to be the highest in the world at $56,532 in 2010, measured by purchasing power parity. Norway follows at $51,226, then the U.S. ($45,511), Hong Kong ($45,301) and Switzerland ($42,470). (The International Monetary Fund listed Singapore 3rd in the world in 2010-11 by per capita GDP, behind Qatar and Luxembourg, which weren’t included in the Knight Frank report).

By 2050, the Wealth Report estimates the world’s wealthy citizens will be dominated by Asia: Singapore ($137,710), Hong Kong ($116,639), Taiwan ($114,093) and South Korea ($107,752). The only western economy projected to remain in the top five is the U.S., with an estimated per capita income of $100,802.

Danny Quah of the London School of Economics predicts that by 2050, the world’s economic center of gravity will be somewhere between India and China, the report notes. In 1980, the global economic center lay in the middle of the Atlantic.

Some of the world’s super-rich have already crossed the Pacific. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, a native of Brazil, moved to Singapore in 2009 has since renounced his U.S. citizenship. Jim Rogers, the co-founder of the Quantum Fund with George Soros, also moved to the former British colony in 2007.

“I have moved — I have sold my house in New York. I have moved to Asia and my girls speak Mandarin, speak perfect Mandarin … I’m preparing them for the 21st century by knowing Asia and by speaking perfect Mandarin,” Rogers told CNN recently.

“It’s easier to get rich in Asia than it is in America now. The wind is in your face. (The U.S.) is the largest debtor nation in the history of the world,” Rogers added.

“The largest creditor nations in the world are China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore. The assets are in Asia. You know who the debtors are and where they are. Look at Greece. Look at Spain. I mean, I don’t like saying this. You know, I’m an American, too. But facts are facts.”

The report’s list of fastest growing economies between 2010 and 2050 also gives more credence that the world’s wealth is moving toward Asia. Of the top 10 fastest rising economies — Nigeria, India, Iraq, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines, Mongolia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Egypt, respectively — all but three are in the region.

Old World economies will have the worst growth performance in the next 40 years, the report predicts: Spain, France, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany are at the bottom of the list. But Japan and its aging population will have the weakest projected growth of all economies, Knight Frank estimates.

However, just because the denizens of Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are projected to live in the world’s wealthiest regions doesn’t mean all will share in the wealth.

In the report Tina Fordham, Senior Global Political Analyst at Citi, warns that the dissatisfaction with income inequality shown in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations “will gain momentum, and that there could be a long-term recalibration between governments, businesses and society as a result.”

On Monday, a court ordered the protesters of Occupy Central in Hong Kong, one of the last outposts of the global protests sparked by Occupy Wall Street, to give up its encampment at HSBC’s headquarters in the city.

No such thing as a dead cell phone in South Korea

magine this: you travel to Korea, rent a cell phone at Incheon airport, and meet a few local Korean friends. You’re going out to meet them the next day, but your cell phone is dead! Don’t let your visit to Korea be ruined. Read this Korea travel tip to find out where to charge your cell phone and/or smart phone in Korea! (Of course, useful for those living in Korea too;) )

Convenience Stores 

This one many people who live in Korea already know. But all convenience stores in Korea offer cell phone charging for a minor fee (sometimes free!). Keep this one in mind because convenience stores are on nearly every block in Korea. That means you can leave your dead cell phone with the attendant, get a bite to eat, and pick up your fully charged phone when you’re done!


This is a Korea travel tip that many local Koreans take advantage of. Whenever Koreans have a dead cell phone, they simply ask the restaurant that they’re at to charge their cell phones for them. And this is not limited to restaurants. Most businesses in Korea will be more than happy to charge your dead cell phone for you free of charge as long as you’re a customer. Wherever you are in Korea  — a bar, restaurant, pc bang, jjimjil bang, etc — most likely they’ll have a cell phone charger. Don’t be afraid. Just ask!

Subway Stations

Subway stations in Korea are great places to go if you have to charge your Korean cell phone in an emergency. Most major Korean subway stations will have cell phone charging services for you poor folks with no batteries. Head over to the station office or look for digital stations. Most of the time, they just ask for you to write a short thank you note. Absolutely free and found all over Korea, these subway stations are places to keep in mind when your Korean cell phone is dead!

Cell Phone Company Stores

Korea has three major telecom networks: SK, KT and LG. Chances are if you’ve rented a cell phone at Incheon or you’re living in Korea and opened your own account, you’re with one of these three Korean cell phone companies. Find the company you’re with and head into any of their stores to drop off your dead cell phone. They’ll definitely have the correct charger, whether you have an iPhone or a Galaxy in Korea. And of course, the cell phone charging service is free of charge. (Hey, you’re already paying them!)

Electronic Stores (i.e. Frisbee, a#, Concierge, etc.) [for iPhones]

This last innovative Korea travel tip is provided by Korean Blogger meshel for those with an iPhone or iPod touch in Korea. Drop into one of Korea’s many electronic stores and find one of those iPhone/iPod stereos. If you have a dead cell phone, just pop it right in and pretend like you’re testing out the stereo. Sneak in a game of Draw Something while you’re at it, just long enough till you’re satisfied with your iPhone or iPod battery level. Here’s to mooching!

Tip: Currently, there are no official Apple stores in Korea. Frisbee and a# are apple focused retailers that will have all your Apple needs.

Language tip: 충전하다 (chungjeonhada) – to charge