Vietnam Is Becoming A Proxy In Efforts To Contain Chinese Influence In The … – Business Insider

Vietnam Navy SoldierSTRINGER Vietnam/REUTERSA Vietnamese naval soldier stands quard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago January 17, 2013.

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Vietnam is becoming a proxy against China in any future possible confrontation in the South China Sea or South Asia as a whole. 

On Oct. 28 India announced that it would sell naval vessels to Vietnam in exchange for an energy-exploration deal. These vessels would arrive at a time of rising tension between Vietnam and China over contested island chains in the South China Sea. 

Massive protests broke out across Vietnam in May and over the summer, as citizens torched Chinese businesses after China moved an oil rig into disputed territory west of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Both Vietnam and China lay claim to the islands, and the nations have frequently clashed over them. 

India’s decision to back Vietnam comes during the country’s own border disputes with China. China and India fought a border war in 1962 that has led to the frontier between the two countries in a still-unresolved state of controversy.

China has taken full advantage of this lack of demarcation to slowly eat away at Indian territory by very slowly pushing its troops into the disputed areas and normalizing Chinese control over them. The incursions are never enough to justify a military response from India, but this lack of a reaction gives China a strategic advantage. 

Although China and India are attempting to repair relations and usher in a period of economic coexistence, militarily the two countries are carefully sizing each other up. 

The US has also paid particular attention to the possible use of Vietnam as a proxy against Chinese expansionism. On Oct. 2, the US partially lifted a ban on supplying lethal weapons to the country in a bid to help it improve its maritime security against China. 

“This is a very important first step that will engender future cooperation,” an unnamed State Department official told Reuters. “This policy revision enables us to … provide Vietnam the ability to defend itself in the context of its presence in the South China Sea.”

This effort to improve the military strength of China’s rivals comes amid a time of rapid Chinese advancement. China is in the process of developing a fleet of nuclear powered submarines. The nation also is attempting to develop a fifth-generation fighter jet fleet to challenge US and allied air supremacy in the region. 

Along with India and Vietnam, China also has unresolved territorial disputes with Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

SEE ALSO:  This map shows why the South China Sea could lead to the next world war

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Should Politics Be a Proxy for Character? – Commentary Magazine

In his column earlier this week, David Brooks, citing a variety of studies, wrote that “people’s essential worth is being measured by a political label: whether they should be hired, married, trusted or discriminated against.”

According to Brooks, as personal life is being de-moralized, political life is being “hyper-moralized” (meaning people are judgmental about policy labels); more people are building their communal and social identities around political labels; and politics is becoming a marker for basic decency. “Those who are not members of the right party are deemed to lack basic compassion, or basic loyalty to country,” he writes. Political issues have become symbols of worth and dignity.

There are of course cases when politics does reveal a corrupted character (e.g., a person who is a member of a neo-Nazi movement). But as a general matter, the points Brooks is making are quite right and, given the state of our politics, quite important. To state the obvious: We all know there are people who hold very different political views than we do who are admirable and honorable individuals, just as there are people who share our philosophy and are disreputable. In the vast majority of cases, one’s political affiliation says nothing about one’s personal character.

Beyond that, politics should have a rather limited role in our lives. To be sure, politics is important; it can create (or destroy) the conditions that allow for human flourishing. Yet for most people, most of life is–and the most important things in life are–lived outside of the arena of politics. And we shouldn’t overinflate its significance or exaggerate what it tells us about each other. Should I think less of the character of the coach of my son’s soccer team, or my daughter’s piano teacher, or the couple in my Bible Study, or the person who volunteers at a homeless shelter because of their views on climate change or the Affordable Care Act? On whether or not they want to raise or lower corporate tax rates? On whether they think illegal immigrants should be given a path to citizenship?

The answer for some people is yes. Jonathan Chait of New York magazine argues that those who hold political views contrary to his “live in a different moral universe” than he does and he therefore believes “their political views reflect something unflattering about their character.” This attitude shapes how he and others like him approach political debate. Why should we treat those on the wrong side of, say, the minimum wage with anything except disdain and contempt? People who hold this view of politics eventually feel justified in declaring their hatred for those with whom they disagree.

It’s important to acknowledge that many of us wrestle with a less acrimonious version of this. I’ve experienced situations over the years in which political differences have caused tensions even with friends that have required repair work and resetting things. The more deeply you feel about a subject the more inclined you are to view those disagreements as rooted in differing views of justice and morality. That’s understandable. If you have strong pro-life convictions and you encounter someone who celebrates abortion as a social and moral good, it’s likely that you’ll draw conclusions about that person that reflect, at least initially and at least in part, on their character. But in terms of what we should aspire to–between trying to check the (natural) impulse to view our political opponents as enemies v. encouraging it–it’s worth considering the example of Lincoln, who governed a nation far more divided than we are today.

“This most unrelenting enemy to the project of the Confederacy was the one man who had quite purged his heart and mind from hatred or even anger towards his fellow-countrymen of the South,” Lord Charnwood wrote in his marvelous biography of Lincoln. “It was not men but slavery he hated,” is how the essayist Joseph Epstein put it. “Malice wasn’t available to Lincoln; mercy came naturally to him. His magnanimity in forgiveness was another sign of his superiority.”

One final thought. Brooks writes, “Most of the time, politics is a battle between competing interests or an attempt to balance partial truths. But in this fervent state, it turns into a Manichaean struggle of light and darkness. To compromise is to betray your very identity.”

This is among the harder things for us to come to grips with, which is that at best we see partial truths; that while we believe truth exists, our ability to fully perceive truth is limited. People who accept this tend to be relatively less dogmatic and abrasive, relatively more empirical, the ones most open to other points of view and corrections. “We need to make room for other perspectives,” a wise friend recently told me. “We need to make room for others at the table.”

That doesn’t mean that the perspectives of others are always right or even valuable. Not everyone’s opinion is worth hearing. And some personalities fit better at the table than do others. The point from the conversation, at least as I took it, is that one way to avoid “epistemic closure” is by considering, at least now and then, different angles of vision, different ways of seeing things. It means from time to time assuming the person you’re politically at odds with is a decent person and then trying to understand why he holds the views he does, even if you reject them. It requires taking into account the strongest (not the weakest) arguments against our assumptions and the self-confidence to change if needed. The goal, after all, isn’t to win a debate; it’s to more closely align our views to the truth of things.

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Panelists Highlight Major Trends, Takeaways From 2014 Proxy Season – Bloomberg BNA

By Kristyn Hyland

Oct. 29 — The Securities and Exchange Commission saw “12 percent fewer requests for [shareholder proposal] no-action relief” this proxy season, a sign that companies may be pursuing greater shareholder engagement, Smeeta Ramarathnam, chief of staff to SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar, said Oct. 29.

Carol Ward, vice president and corporate secretary at Mondelez International, noted that she, with full transparency, pursues a dual course of action—negotiating with the shareholder while at the same time pursuing no-action relief from the SEC. This will make it much more likely that you’ll “come out with the good outcome for your company,” she noted.

Ramarathnam and Ward spoke on a panel at the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Proxy Season Statistics

A total of 286 SEC staff responses were issued this proxy season in response to no-action requests, according to panelist Marc Gold, senior vice president and associate general counsel, corporate & securities, at Thomson Reuters.

Rule 14a-8(i)(1) of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act provides that a company may exclude a proposal from its proxy materials if it is not a proper subject for action by shareholders under the laws of the company’s jurisdiction. Under the rule, there are 13 separate substantive grounds upon which a company may omit a shareholder proposal.

Of the 286 no-action responses this season, 60 no-action requests were withdrawn, leaving 226 in which the SEC staff either granted or denied no-action relief, said Gold. Of those 226, approximately 70 percent were granted relief. The most common bases for relief were:

• exclusion on procedural grounds (30 percent);

• vague or false and misleading (18 percent);

• deals with ordinary business operations (14 percent);

• substantially implemented (12 percent); and

• conflicts with the company’s proposal (11 percent).

Governance-related shareholder proposals remained the most common shareholder proposal topic this proxy season, followed closely by proposals related to social/political issues, according to Ward.

The most common of these governance proposals related to board declassification, majority voting in director elections and the elimination of supermajority voting, said Ward. Proposals calling for the separation of the CEO/board chairman positions also received continued focus. In addition, proposals related to director tenure were on the rise.

Overall, compensation-related shareholder proposals declined, likely a result of the implementation of say-on-pay, which is now in its fourth year, Ward noted.

“Say-on-pay is about communicating effectively to your investors,” Ward said. Shareholder communication regarding your company’s pay practices needs to start early, well before the proxy materials are issued, Ward noted.

Who Received Shareholder Proposals?

One emerging trend from the most recent proxy season is that “proponents are increasingly targeting mid-cap or smaller companies,” said Ward.

Although large-cap companies continue to be the focus of shareholder proposals across the board, governance-related proposals are on the rise at small-cap companies, largely because many of the practices targeted by such proposals have already been changed at the large-cap companies.

According to a June 2014 Sullivan & Cromwell client alert, “Proposals received by smaller companies in 2014 represented a higher percentage of total shareholder proposals, due largely to the lower number of proposals at large companies, as there are relatively few large companies remaining to serve as targets for destaggering, majority voting and supermajority threshold proposals.”

Proxy Materials

Regarding the proxy materials, Ward recommended including an executive summary to explain the company’s pay practices. “It’s been a very effective tool for us.”

According to panelist Atiba Adams, corporate secretary & chief governance counsel at Pfizer, his in-house department works very closely with Pfizer’s governance committee on the proxy. In addition, their Compensation Discussion & Analysis is closely scrutinized by the compensation committee before it’s finalized.

Ward noted that she has a draft CD&A to their compensation committee by December so there is plenty of time to make adjustments.

Looking Ahead

Shareholder proposals related to social and environmental issues are expected to increase in the 2015 proxy season, said Ward. Among governance-related proposals, board tenure is also expected to be a hot issue.

Ramarathnam noted that issuers should look for an announcement soon about a proxy roundtable to be held in early 2015 that will address universal ballots.

Shareholders who aren’t present at a meeting typically can only vote for directors who appear on either a list of management-supported candidates or a shareholder proponent’s ballot—not both. Universal ballots allow absentee shareholders to vote for candidates from both lists, regardless of how they were nominated.

SEC Chairman Mary Jo White told reporters Oct. 9 that the SEC will host a roundtable on proxy issues in 2015 spanning multiple areas, including universal ballots.

The panel was entitled “SEC Update.” The ACC’s Annual Meeting runs from Oct. 28-31.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristyn Hyland in New Orleans at khyland@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at rtuck@bna.com

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A gallery so small it fits in a box: Annetta Kapon's Proxy – Los Angeles Times

Over the decades, it seems that the art world has found ever more inventive places to stage shows. In the 1950s, L.A. curator Walter Hopps staged an exhibition on the Santa Monica Pier. In the early ’90s, Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist held a show in his northeast Switzerland kitchen. Italian prankster-artist Maurizio Cattelan in the early 2000s, along with curators Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnick (the latter of whom now works at the Hammer Museum), opened the Wrong Gallery, a New York space that consisted of just a few square feet behind a permanently locked glass door. Then there’s the Museum of Everyday Objects in the space of an old elevator shaft on New York’s Cortlandt Alley.

But a professor at the Otis College of Art and Design may have them all beat. Annetta Kapon, who teaches at the school’s graduate fine arts department, runs a gallery in a box. A box that measures roughly 1 foot square.

Proxy Gallery, as the space is known, hangs on the second floor of the college’s graduate studio building in Culver City. And though it may be small, it has all the trappings of a regular gallery: white walls, bright lighting, polished wood floors. Every month, there is a new show.

“I’m treating the gallery in a very conventional way,” Kapon says. “I do openings. I do press release. I document everything.”

Proxy was launched in January 2013 and in its time has held 20 shows by artists from around the world. This has included sculptures made out of steel and copper, a participatory piece in which viewers were invited to draw lines in the space and an installation by Kathrin Burmester that consisted entirely of old library books.

New York artist Mary-Louise Geering is the subject of the current show, which closes today. Her installation, “Marlboro Pad,” consists of a single sanitary napkin emblazoned with the logo for Marlboro cigarettes. Photographer Amanda Keller-Konya and artist Michelle Wiener are creating box-sized work for November’s installation.

Though the gallery, which is open to the public, is located at Otis, it was conceived and is run by Kapon. Its small scale is, in some ways, a reaction to all of the overly large warehouse spaces that seem to be blossoming all over the city. “It’s a problem to fill a big gallery,” Kapon says. “I see artists do all kinds of tricks.”

But it’s the press releases that are probably the gallery’s most humorous facet, since they often poke fun at the conventions of artspeak. On the release for Geering’s show, Kapon writes:

On the one hand the technology of sanitary napkins (no flaps, no wings) harkens to a pre-iPad time, when a pad meant a pad. On the other the Proxy gallery is at face level so that the object installed within it both figuratively brings the crotch “into your face” and also, by connecting menstruation and smoking, conceptually compresses the body.

Kapon says she likes to have fun with the gallery.

“There is humor,” she says. “But it also plays with the idea of prestige. When you say, ‘I have a show.’ People say, ‘Congratulations.’ They don’t say, ‘How many square feet was the gallery?’”

A closing reception for Mary-Louise Geering, “Marlboro Pad,” will be held this evening from 6 to 8 at the Otis Graduate School Studios, 10455 Washington Blvd., Culver City, ospace.otis.edu/proxy_gallery. For information on the next exhibition, featuring a show by artists Amanda Keller-Konya and Michelle Wiener, keep an eye on this link.

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Munchausen by Proxy: A Case Study of Abuse – MedPage Today

Psychiatry

Published: Oct 29, 2014

CHICAGO — If you do an extensive workup on a patient with a very attentive parent and can’t find anything wrong, Munchausen syndrome by proxy might be at play, Archana Kathpal, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

Munchausen syndrome was first described by British physician Richard Asher in The Lancet in 1951 as “”when someone invents or exaggerates medical symptoms, sometimes engaging in self-harm, to gain attention or sympathy,” Kathpal, a psychiatry fellow at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and colleagues noted in a poster presented on Saturday at the meeting. It was named after Baron von Münchhausen, a German military officer known for telling very exaggerated stories about his life and adventures.

But it wasn’t until several decades later, in 1977, that British pediatrician Roy Meadow coined the term “Munchausen by proxy,” describing it as “a condition in which a parent or other caretaker persistently fabricates symptoms on behalf of another, causing that person to be regarded as ill,” the researchers noted. He was also the first one to consider it as a type of abuse.

In the U.S., the disorder is known not as Munchausen by proxy but as “factitious disorder by proxy,” the researchers noted. In the DSM-5, it is termed “factitious disorder imposed on another.”

According to the literature, boys and girls are equally victimized, and 77% to 90% of the time, the perpetrator is the patient’s biological mother. In addition, 29% of perpetrators have symptoms of Munchausen syndrome themselves.

The investigators described the case of a 14-year-old African-American girl (some information has been changed to protect the patient’s identity) who presented with diarrhea, constipation, and generalized abdominal pain.

During her hospital stay, the patient, who became bedridden, received consults from the neurology, rheumatology, infectious disease, hematology/oncology, ophthalmology, and physical therapy/occupational therapy departments, as well as a consult from a pain specialist. All the results of an extensive diagnostic workup were negative, the authors noted.

“At this point, a psychiatry team was brought in to see if there were any psychiatric symptoms,” Kathpal told MedPage Today in a phone interview. “All the other medical teams felt that there may not be a medical cause — that it may be psychiatric,” with some team members suggesting conversion disorder as a possibility since the patient had neurological symptoms.

“But the mother was reluctant to see any psychiatric services, and also was not very cooperative with the other medical teams,” she said. “Also, the hospital legal team got involved and felt that there might be a case of medical neglect” due to the mother’s reluctance to consider a psychiatric diagnosis. “They wanted the patient transferred to an inpatient psychiatric unit.”

At the same time, the medical team received outside information indicating that the mother had taken her daughter to five different states over the last few months with similar presentations.

“It was interesting that we thought it was conversion disorder, but once you get collateral information, you realize this is something more than conversion, and how the mother could have a part in child’s symptomatology,” Kathpal said.

In such cases, separating the parent from the child is one way to figure out if Munchausen’s by proxy is what’s happening. “If [that] child starts improving over the next few hours or days, that also shows symptoms were intentionally or unintentionally produced,” poster co-author Tarun Kumar, MD, also a psychiatry fellow at Rutgers, said in a phone interview. In this particular case that proved impossible to do because “the mother was not leaving the child’s bedside,” he added.

Eventually, the mother signed the patient out of the hospital against medical advice. Hospital officials considered calling Child Protective Services, but because the mother had lined up another team of providers — a neurologist and psychiatrist — in another state, there were no grounds to consider medical neglect, and no further action was taken, the authors explained.

They made several recommendations for managing these patients:

  • Once Munchausen syndrome by proxy is confirmed, the case should be reported to social services and state authorities, and the physician should request court-ordered supervision of the case.
  • If the mother repeatedly denies the allegations, the child must be placed out of the home.
  • Obtain court orders for long-term psychiatric evaluation and treatment of the child and family, and for review of medical records of all the siblings, since siblings are often victimized as well.
  • Multidisciplinary management by medical staff, a child protection team, social services personnel, hospital administration, prosecutors, and law enforcement administrators is warranted.
  • Successful psychotherapy for Munchausen syndrome by proxy perpetrators is difficult to achieve, but can be very helpful for the victims.

As for preventing these cases, the authors listed several ideas, but noted that some — such as installing video cameras in hospital rooms where the disorder is suspected — are fraught with potential ethical and legal difficulties, “including exposure of the child to further abuse and a breach of trust between carer, child, and the professional. Is it justified just based on the doubts? Isn’t this intrusion of privacy without consent? And what if the case turns out to be negative; can the physicians and the hospital be sued?”

Other ideas for prevention include developing an electronic registry of parents who perpetrate the disorder and encouraging school attendance officers to identify children with a significant number of absences due to “illness” and report it to the child’s pediatrician, the researchers said.


Primary source: American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Source reference: Kathpal A, et al “Munchausen syndrome by proxy: Medical and legal complications” AAPL 2014.

Joyce Frieden began her career in medical journalism 26 years ago at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, working as a news editor for Physician’s Management, Modern Medicine, Hospital Formulary, and several other medical magazines. Since then, her byline has appeared in Business & Health magazine, Internal Medicine News, Family Practice News, Pediatric News, Clinical Psychiatry News, Skin and Allergy News and ObGyn News. Her freelance clients have included Physician’s Weekly, UPI, WebMD, Reuters Health, Drug Topics, the Washington Post, and Washingtonian magazine. She is the recipient of a Jesse H. Neal award presented for editorial excellence by American Business Media, and is co-coordinator of the Washington chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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Family Dollar mailing proxy materials for Dec. 11 shareholder vote – WBTV

CHARLOTTE, NC (Rick Rothacker/The Charlotte Observer) -

Family Dollar Stores, the Matthews-based retailed embroiled in a takeover battle, said Tuesday that it has started mailing shareholders proxy cards for voting on its proposed sale to rival Dollar Tree.

The retailer is holding the shareholder vote Dec. 11 in Charlotte. Shareholders as of Thursday are eligible to vote.

Family Dollar agreed in July to be acquired by Virginia-based Dollar Tree for $74.50 a share in cash and stock, or $8.5 billion. But Tennessee-based Dollar General has since made a hostile $80-per-share offer totaling $9.1 billion that Family Dollar’s board has rejected.

Dollar General wants Family Dollar shareholders to vote against the Dollar Tree deal. Family Dollar is urging shareholders to approve the sale by voting with a white proxy card, while discarding gold proxy cards sent to them by Dollar General.

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Family Dollar mailing proxy materials for Dec. 11 shareholder vote – Charlotte Observer

Family Dollar Stores, the Matthews-based retailed embroiled in a takeover battle, said Tuesday that it has started mailing shareholders proxy cards for voting on its proposed sale to rival Dollar Tree.

The retailer is holding the shareholder vote Dec. 11 in Charlotte. Shareholders as of Thursday are eligible to vote.

Family Dollar agreed in July to be acquired by Virginia-based Dollar Tree for $74.50 a share in cash and stock, or $8.5 billion. But Tennessee-based Dollar General has since made a hostile $80-per-share offer totaling $9.1 billion that Family Dollar’s board has rejected.

Dollar General wants Family Dollar shareholders to vote against the Dollar Tree deal. Family Dollar is urging shareholders to approve the sale by voting with a white proxy card, while discarding gold proxy cards sent to them by Dollar General.

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'We can't allow a proxy war on German streets' – The Local.de

Police arrest a hooligan in Cologne on Sunday. Photo: DPA

Pundits, politicians and police chiefs have all been sticking their oar into the debate over how to deal with the unholy alliance of drunken thugs and far-right politics which came to a head in Cologne on Sunday.

If you listen to Rainer Wendt, president of the German Police Union (DPolG), then the confrontations between hooligans and police in Cologne, in which 44 officers were injured, was a success story.

“There was very good intelligence about these people and the police were in place to deal with any problems,” he told The Local.

Wendt sees intelligence as the key to maintaining order in cities as tensions mount between different groups, stoked by conflicts in the Middle East.

Recent weeks have seen huge brawls between different groups including Muslim fundamentalists, Kurds and Yazidi in cities including Hamburg, Celle and elsewhere.

“We have to gather more information, observe them better,” Wendt argues.

“With more technology and modern software, we can watch the communications and travel of these people and see who’s connected with who,” he said.

Otherwise “there’s a danger that the battle in Syria spreads out and comes here, that radical groups join together against Salafists… we can’t allow a proxy war to take place in Germany.”

His views were echoed by Hans-Georg Maaßen, head of the Federal office for Constitutional Protection (BfV), who told news agency dpa that “the conflict in Iraq and Syria is being reflected in Germany.”

“There’s cause for concern that violent confrontations between different extremists will escalate further on our streets,” he added.

‘Visible to anyone’

Writing in Zeit, commentator Johannes Radke had harsh criticism for the police’s response to the intelligence they had gathered.

“The far-right scene had been mobilizing for this spectacle for weeks, publicly visible to anyone on the internet,” he said.

“You don’t have to be an expert to imagine that 3,000 drunk neo-Nazi hooligans won’t remain peaceful.”

And editorial writers at the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung weren’t confident that the answer was as simple as more technology.

“The ever-greater networking and improved organizational abilities of violent people via online networks confronts the authorities with problems that can’t be played down after this Sunday,” they wrote.

Despite forewarning of the violence, police were unable to stop the situation from exploding, the newspaper argued, saying that “the rule of law is now going to be put to its hardest test.”

This view seemed to be echoed by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, who said that future demonstrations of this kind could be banned in advance.

“Violence was at the heart of this, and the politics was just a vehicle to incite a mass brawl,” he said.

“I think there’s a good chance that the authorities will enact a ban and that it will hold up in court,” he told broadcaster ARD on Monday.

The most important thing that should come out of the violence on Sunday was “clear justice” for the people who were arrested, he concluded.

But local newspaper the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger was impatient with the tough words on offer from political leaders in an article titled “How the police are capitulating to the mob”.

“It’s the job of the state to judge groups realistically, take changes into account, evaluate the risk of violence and thereby whether there’s a danger to the public,” its editorial writers said.

The argument by Cologne’s police chief, Wolfgang Albers, that the worst had been avoided by “good preparation and clever tactics” was simply not good enough, they argued, asking “Why has the police let its own officers and Cologne walk into such a disaster?”

SEE ALSO: Far-right groups plan more protests

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Technically Lync: Reverse Proxy Alternatives – No Jitter

Technically Lync: Reverse Proxy Alternatives Using IIS ARR 3.0 on Windows Server 2012 as a Reverse Proxy for Lync Server 2013

Using IIS ARR 3.0 on Windows Server 2012 as a Reverse Proxy for Lync Server 2013

In our second article of this series catering to the more technical audience in the No Jitter crowd, we explore the role of and options for a Lync reverse proxy server. (The first Technically Lync article investigated real-time monitoring of your Lync environment.)

Like all unified communications solutions, Microsoft Lync UC requires several server roles. These different server roles take care of communication modalities such as instant messaging, presence, voice, video, persistent chat and conferencing; connection management, including remote access and federation; and management and reporting, including monitoring and archiving.

The reverse proxy role is one of the Lync supporting roles that’s needed to enable a complete remote Lync experience. Some of the key features that the remote proxy enables include:

  • Allowing external users to download meeting content
  • Enabling remote users to download files from the Address Book service
  • Letting external participants access the Lync Web App client
  • Providing access to the dial-in conferencing Web page
  • Enabling mobile applications to automatically discover and use mobility URLs from the Internet

In general, a reverse proxy server accesses resources on behalf of a client from one or more servers and then returns these resources to the client as if they came directly from the server itself. A reverse proxy serves a security role in that it can “hide” the existence or attributes of key servers. It can also assist in load balancing to distribute the load from incoming client requests across multiple servers.

In the past, many Lync installations relied on Threat Management Gateway (TMG) which had to be purchased separately. However, in November 2012, Microsoft ceased license sales of TMG 2010. While Microsoft still supports the product, you might want to consider using a reverse proxy alternative instead.

And with that overview out of the way, I turn it over to my more technical colleague Dino Caputo. Dino is a Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) as well as a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) in LCS 2005, OCS 2007, Lync 2010 and 2013. In summary, Dino knows lots about successfully deploying Lync.

Over to Dino …

I’ve reliably been using Internet Information Server Application Request Routing (IIS ARR), free with Windows Server, as a low-cost replacement for ISA/TMG for some time now; however, I recently had a customer that had provisioned Windows Server 2012R2 so I decided to use IIS ARR 3.0 instead of 2.5, which is what I’ve always used for previous installations. (According to Microsoft, “[IIS ARR] … is a fully tested and supported option for implementing a reverse proxy for Lync Server 2010 and Lync Server 2013.”)

I found some good information on this subject available at NextHop, which I’ve always followed and has served me well.

On the surface, IIS ARR 3.0 looks identical to Version 2.5; however, I ran into many challenges with rules not processing in 3.0 as expected under 2.5. After much trial and tribulation, I ended up deleting all my rules, starting from scratch and coming up with a different configuration by combining some lessons learned from Lync MVP Richard Brynteson’s post.

Based on my experience, I share the process that worked well for me in the hope that it can perhaps help a few other folks along the way:

  1. Start with a fresh installation of Windows Server 2012 R2 and install IIS from Server Manager. In this case I had a single NIC server that joined to the domain and the corporate network. I enabled the Windows firewall and configured the external Firewall to allow ports TCP 80 and 443 inbound in a 1:1 NAT configuration.
  2. Download the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (currently 5.0) and search for IIS ARR 3.0. Select it and install it.
  3. Open IIS Manager, and the fun begins!

Initial Setup
You’ll need to make the following modification to the IIS Application Pool for the default Website, which will force the application pool not to shut down after idle minutes. Change the highlighted “Max Time-out” value to 0 as shown below.

portable

You’ll need to provision an SSL certificate from a public provider that will contain all the URLs required for Lync, Office Web App and potentially Exchange Server OWA. (I haven’t gone into too much detail or the process of provisioning the certificate as I assume readers understand what these URLs are.)

Bind this certificate in IIS like you would any other secure Website. Choose the Default Website, and select Bindings in the action tab on the right. Click on Add and add a binding for Port 443. Select the certificate you provisioned and installed on this server.

portable

Next, we can start building out the Server Farms. In the IIS manager, if you installed IIS ARR correctly, you will see “Server Farms” as a new option in the left pane.

You want to highlight it and right click and select “New Server Farm.”

First, we start with creating the Lync Autodiscover farm that will handle requests for Lync Autodiscovery to work.

portable

Click Next, and configure the settings as follows, adding in the FQDN of the internal Lync front end server or enterprise front-end pool that will handle this request. Be sure to change the options as shown below as is required by Lync. Specifically, we use httpPort 8080 and httpsPort 4443.

portable

Click “Finish.” You’ll be prompted to create IIS re-write rules to which you want to say “Yes.” We’ll address these a bit later.

Create another server farm for each external Web service you need to publish. If you’re publishing for two pools, you’ll need to create two farms in the same way outlined above.

Create a Server Farm for Office Web Apps in the same way as above, except use the default Port 80 and 443 for the Office Web App server. If you have a pool of Office Web App Servers you can add each server in a single farm.

The results will look something like this when done:

portable

Next page: Dino covers Server Farm Settings, URL Rewrite Rules, Office Web App URL Rewrite, Lync AutoDiscover, Lync External Web Services and more.

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The market is ready for proxy access – Pensions & Investments

It is time for the Securities and Exchange Commission to propose proxy access again.  

Since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2011 invalidated the proxy access rule the SEC adopted, neither the SEC nor anyone else has addressed the questions raised in the decision.

In the intervening years, proxy access has moved to the back burner of the agenda for both the SEC, which did not appeal the ruling, and those in the corporate governance community who had once championed proxy access.

However, evidence has piled up in support of proxy access in the U.S., calling into question whether it is time for the SEC to repropose the rule. The evidence includes:

  • the equity markets like proxy access;
  • proxy access increases board accountability;
  • abuse by special interest groups difficult and highly unlikely; and
  • the kind of ex-ante cost-benefit analysis the court asked for is nearly impossible.

The SEC’s rule the court struck down would have given a shareowner or group of shareholders who held 3% of a company’s shares for three years access to corporate proxy materials to place a limited number of nominees on the corporate proxy ballot.

In striking down the rule, the court stated that the SEC had failed to adequately assess the economic costs of the proposed rule.

Markets in the U.S. favor proxy access, as was shown in the aftermath of the court’s decision.

A number of studies came about due to the passing of the rule in 2010 and the subsequent overturning, assessing the impact of the event on the value of a company. A majority of these studies showed that shares of companies that would have benefited from proxy access (those with poor-performing boards) generally gained when the markets were surprised by news that looked like proxy access was coming, and declined when the court shot down proxy access.

It is self-evident that proxy access would increase board accountability.

If shareowners have the ability to add their own members if they feel a board is performing poorly, boards are going to ensure that they serve the interests of shareowners. There is a current debate in the corporate governance world about what exactly the ideal level of turnover on corporate boards should be. Since the financial crisis, board turnover has slowed and boards have become more entrenched. An article last April in the Harvard Business Review, “How Much Board Turnover Is Best,” found that boards that replace board members at a greater rate — generally around one new board member a year on average — outperform their peers.

The argument that proxy access would be used for narrow reasons by special interest groups rings hollow.

In non-U.S. markets that have some form of proxy access, such a shareholder nomination process is rarely used. Further, getting a nominee on the corporate ballot is the easy part. The nominating party still needs to persuade other shareowners, more than 50%, that the nominee’s ideas are better than those of the current board members. The proposed SEC rule would have allowed nominating shareowners to nominate board members who could at most represent only 25% of the board. This is hardly a recipe for revolution when you consider that the largest pension funds — the ones most likely to use proxy access given their long-term investment horizons — hardly ever own 3% of any company.

It is unlikely that corporate raiders or quick-buck activist investors will abuse proxy access. It wasn’t made for them. Few corporate raiders will wait the three years required by the proposed SEC rule to gain only at maximum 25% of the board seats. They would typically prefer to run their own slate of directors in a full-fledged proxy contest, which is done outside corporate proxy materials, to quickly change company boards.

Finally, the kind of ex-ante or forecast in advance of the outcome cost-benefit analysis the court asked for was relatively impossible for the SEC to provide. The “commission inconsistently and opportunistically framed the costs and benefits of the rule, failed adequately to quantify the certain costs or to explain why those costs could not be quantified,” the ruling states.

Too few examples of proxy access usage exist to draw meaningful conclusions, and costs related to a full proxy contest in which an investor wishes to replace an entire board offer a poor analogue. It took the court striking down proxy access to provide a “surprise” to the market that enabled studies proving that market participants think proxy access is beneficial. However, passing laws and then striking them down to surprise the market and see how it reacts is a poor way to legislate and regulate.

The great promise of proxy access is that it will hardly ever be used. That may sound counterintuitive, but we can already see what a world with proxy access would look like in the U.S. market when we observe what has happened in recent years due to annual say-on-pay votes and majority voting for directors.

The threat of negative votes on say on pay — or non-binding shareholder voting on the pay of the CEO and other top executives — and majority voting on director elections — requiring nominees to achieve a majority of the shareholder vote to win election to the board — has driven companies and their boards to increasingly engage with institutional investors.

No matter the cause, increased engagement between investors and companies and their boards is a positive development. Such increased engagement has led to more dialogue about investor concerns and in recent years has led to record levels of resolution withdrawals, signaling greater bargaining and compromise between both parties. According to “Proxy Voting Analytics,“ a joint report released in September by the U.S. Conference Board and FactSet Research Systems Inc., shareowners withdrew about 12% of their annual shareholder meeting proposals in the 2014 proxy season. An earlier report from Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. showed that in 2012 and 2013, record levels of such withdrawals were more than 25% each year.  

A proxy access rule in the U.S. is a tool that will increase board accountability, will encourage better performance at poorly governed companies and will drive more engagement between long-term shareowners and companies.

The structure of the rule itself and the need to gain 50% support for nominees will keep the rule from being hijacked by those with interests that are only narrow and short term.

Access to the corporate proxy is something taken for granted in most developed markets. The United States is an outlier by not allowing shareowners to place their nominees on the annual corporate proxy. That can change if the SEC again proposes proxy access.

Matt Orsagh is the New York-based director of capital markets policy, CFA Institute, Charlottesville, Va.

This article originally appeared in the October 27, 2014 print issue as, “The market is ready for proxy access”.

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