This month SLH welcomes five independently-minded hotels to its portfolio. From a stately home in Queenstown to a classic alpine lodge in Austria there is plenty for the discerning traveller to choose from.Owl and the Pussycat Hotel, Galle, Sri LankaRooms from 26800 LKR per nightOne of Sri Lanka’s newest boutique hotels, having opened in January 2016, the 16-suite Owl and the Pussycat Hotel is a luxurious coastal retreat with a laid-back feel. Situated close to the UNESCO-listed historic Galle Fort and Buddhist temples, the hotel provides access to an unparalleled authentic Sri Lankan experience with an imaginative twist. Each spacious suite is a little different, but guests can expect eye-catching artwork, vivid colours and panoramic sea-views in every one. The property was designed by New York architect Udar Dhar and houses furniture, colourful textiles and artwork, handmade by 20 artists from all over the world, including local craftsmen. Together with its jazz band and selection of musicians playing at the weekend, and its local learning programme and philanthropic heart, this new hotspot is inspired by local influences, while still promising sophistication and style. ‘The Runcible Spoon’ restaurant is another nod to the hotel’s namesake, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ by British author Edward Lear, and serves traditional Sri Lankan cuisine with a Mediterranean influence.SLH Insider Tip: Perched on a hill five minutes from the town of Galle, The Sun House bar is a perfect spot to enjoy a drink with a panoramic view of the ocean and town.Oak Suite at Foxhill ManorFoxhill Manor, Cotswold, EnglandRooms from 375 GBP per nightWith just eight rooms, Grade II-listed Foxhill Manor is an intimate retreat set on the magnificent 161-hectare Farncombe Estate near Broadway. The hotel’s charm lies in its home-from-home feel, with characterful bedrooms and cosy furnishings. Boasting a ‘whatever you fancy, whenever you fancy’ ethos, the team invites guests to help themselves to cake and cocktails in the Drawing Room, snacks from The Pantry or a homecooked meal from the chef. Foxhill Manor is pet-friendly so beloved pooches are welcome to join their owners for a country walk or popcorn and a film in the onsite cinema room. The hotel offers a free shuttle service to sister property, Dormy House, where guests have access to the expansive spa, restaurant and facilities there too.SLH Insider Tip:Take a hand-drawn map from the hotel and use it to explore the surrounding countryside on a leisurely walk before ending up at one of Broadway’s many charming gastropubs.Palm Lounge at Hulbert HouseHulbert House, Queenstown, New ZealandRooms from 925 NZD per nightJust 10 minutes from the centre of Queenstown, Hulbert House sits halfway up a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu. The stately villa was built during the height of the gold rush in 1887 and has been lovingly restored by award-winning designer Neil Lachlan, leaving the boutique property brimming with vintage style. The six individually decorated rooms each have a stunning lake, garden or skyline view. Where one room boasts a canopy bed or a wood-burning fireplace another is home to an antique writing desk or a teardrop chandelier, each one unique in its style and feel. The chef lovingly prepares breakfast and evening canapés in the dining room using home-grown produce for guests to enjoy with some of the finest wine in New Zealand.SLH Insider Tip: Climb Queenstown Hill Summit for some of the most incredible views in New Zealand; a round trip from the hotel should take around two and a half hours with time for pictures at the top.Villa della PergolaVilla della Pergola, Alassio ItalyRooms from 325 Eur per nightAntonio and Silvia Ricci, bought Villa della Pergola to save it from destruction. Since then, the couple has worked tirelessly to restore the grounds and villa with the help of famous Italian architects Paolo Pejrone and Ettore Mocchetti, creating an airy space still very much in keeping with the architectural bones of the property. Twelve bedrooms are split across three buildings and each room has its own individual style, ambience and furnishings dedicated to the many figures that have stayed in the hotel in the past. The grounds of the hotel extend over 22,000 square metres and are a true Garden of Eden, renowned for the abundance of Mediterranean flora and exotic evergreens. The hotel restaurant, Ristorante Nove, is headed up by Executive Chef Giorgio Servetto and serves traditional Ligurian cuisine in an elegant setting.SLH Insider Tip: Treat yourself to some Baci di Alassio – small but powerful little macaroons packed with cocoa, hazelnuts and rum from the Terre Di Mare deli in Il Budello. Das PostHotelDas PostHotel, Tyrol, AustriaRooms from 195 Eur per nightDas PostHotel is a classic alpine lodge with 27 rooms and an eco-conscious design, deeply rooted in mountain traditions. The hotel oozes character with its contemporary furniture and colourful fabrics and is rich in raw pine, oak and native spruce. The owners, the Binder family, live next door to the property and are the largest timber producer in Austria. Sustainability is at the heart of the resort which shows in the many design features like the solar-heated pool, as well as in the kitchen with the organic menus at HeLeni restaurant. The bedrooms are spacious and each is individually designed with colourful fabrics, rustic wood panels and a quirky take on tradition chalet décor. Das PostHotel is situated in the Zillertal ski area of Austria, boasting groomed pistes, super modern lift facilities and guaranteed snow – you can even ski all year round on the snow-sure slopes of the Hintertux Glacier.SLH Insider Tip: Opt for the Skyloft penthouse suite and take a bath with a view overlooking the mountains.
Polish broadcaster Telewizja Puls has struck a programming deal with NBCUniversal that gives it a raft of the studio’s TV and film content.TV Puls, which said this it the biggest studio deal it has agreed, will put out the NBCU content on its TV Puls and Puls 2 channels. The deal covers current and library series as well as over 100 of the studio’s movie titles including Inglourious Basterds, Bridesmaids and Ted.The deal, agreed between TV Puls and NBCUniversal International Television Distribution, kicks in this month.“We are thrilled about the finalisation of the agreement with NBCUniversal. They are a leading global media company and this deal is very important to us,” said Dariusz Dąbski, president of Telewizja Puls.
Netflix now has more than 50 local partners in 25 countries, with the SVOD giant committed to doing more deals in order to drive further growth and promote ease of use for the viewer.Maria FerrerasThese were a couple of points raised by Maria Ferreras, Netflix’s vice-president of business development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, during a presentation and wide-ranging question and answer session at IBC this morning.Discussing ‘the next chapter in Netflix’s growth story,’ Ferreras said that while Netflix had long partnered with makers of devices like games consoles and smart televisions, it is now taking this approach “to the next level” – both in terms of the number of deals, geographic reach and the depth of partnerships.“At Netflix we’re committed to partnerships,” said Ferreras. “We want to keep exploring partnerships, because we believe they bring growth, they force through innovation and also they provide a great consumer experience.”Earlier this year the SVOD giant announce a new partnership to bundle the full Netflix service into a new Sky TV subscription pack. Netflix plans to give Sky customers access to its service through the Sky Q platform and Ferreras said that the deal will begin at the end of this year in the UK and will also roll out to Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.“The most important thing is we work in long-term partnerships,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that we sign a deal and we walk away.”For Netflix, guaranteeing a consistent Netflix experience regardless of the device or platform that a viewer is using to access it is a critical point. Netflix also now has a dedicated partner marketing team to work with partners and promote the work they do together.In terms of localisation, Netflix recently moved to a local pricing model in South Africa and is working to make payments seamless even in non-Western markets – for example Saudi Arabia, where Ferreras said that credit card penetration was less than 30%. The company also offers gift cards in 18 countries.On the content front, Netflix now claims 100 projects created in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “That means doubling up from last year,” said Ferreras. “That means more than 35,000 people working in those local productions, and that means we’re producing in 16 countries in 16 different languages.”She added that most new productions are either 4K or HDR, with more than 2,000 hours of 4K and HDR content now found in Netflix’s library – a number that “keeps growing and growing.”
The BBC and Sky have called on the European Commission to take formal action against Saudi Arabia over pirate broadcaster BeoutQ providing illegal access to content including the English Premier League.Both broadcasters have sent letters to Anna Malmström, the EC’s commissioner for trade, adding their voices to calls for a formal EU protest to the Saudi government, which is widely believed to be supporting BeoutQ as part of its campaign against neighbouring Qatar. Qatar-based BeIN Media holds most of the rights in the Middle East pirated by the Saudi outfit.Sky said that BeoutQ’s rapid growth presented a threat to European broadcasters and rightsholders, while the BBC said that the pirate outfit’s making its content available across the region was commercially damaging, impeding its ability to license content to players in Europe.BeoutQ set-top boxes are now widely available internationally, including in Europe, enabling users to illegally stream channels.Last month, BeIN Media launched an international investment arbitration action against the Kingdom, claiming damages to the tune of US$1 billion. BeIN Media says that it has been unlawfully driven out of Saudi Arabia and subjected to an unprecedented piracy campaign.The media group said that it believed its action was the first to be brought in connection with state-supported illegally broadcast piracy.In addition to being subject to the BeoutQ piracy campaign, BeIN Media has cited the unilateral revocation of its right to operate in Saudi Arabia, the prohibition of its channels, a ban on the importation of BeIN Media set-tops, a suspension of monetary transactions with BeIN and the blocking of its websites and call centre.BeIN Media filed a case with the World Trade Organisation, alleging non-compliance with the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Here’s Looking at You, KidBy Doug Hornig, Senior EditorLovers of liberty have seemingly had a good bit to celebrate over the past two weeks.First, there was an unprecedented outpouring of negative public sentiment about the Congressional bills SOPA (House) and PIPA (Senate); they are legislation that would have thrown a large governmental monkey wrench into the relatively smooth-running cogs of the Internet. Millions of Americans signed online petitions against the bills (I did) after seeing websites’ various protests. Google shrouded its search page in black; Wikipedia, and Reddit went dark entirely (although Wikipedia could be accessed if one read the information available via clicking the sole link on its protest page); Facebook and Twitter urged users to contact their representatives; and many other core Internet businesses also raised their voices in opposition.Such was the outpouring of dissent that even Washington, D.C. had to listen. The bills, which a week earlier had seem assured of swift passage, suddenly turned to poison. Supporters, forced to concede that the public really was pissed off this time, fled. Leadership in both houses tabled the legislation, pending further review and revision.But before we get too self-congratulatory, however, it’s wise to note that this victory dish is probably best enjoyed with a serving of caution. As Casey Extraordinary Technology editor Alex Daley summed up the situation for us here at Casey Research: “Be sure this will come back again, likely post-election, and snuck through as part of a bigger package. It arrests power from the judiciary, and the legislature likes nothing more than to thumb its nose at those ridiculous judges and all their due process this and Constitution that. It will eventually pass, just not like this.” We can’t now go to sleep on this one.Second, on Monday the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that police may not attach a GPS tracking device to a suspect’s car without a search warrant. This is a landmark decision, to be sure, but one that was carefully circumscribed by the justices. The placing of the device constituted a physical intrusion on the suspect, they wrote, and thus was impermissible. Left unruled upon was the larger question of tracking someone’s movements when there was no physical violation, as would be the case when, say, police access signals from a GPS-enabled smartphone. Though it wasn’t directly addressed, the concurring opinions strongly suggest that the justices might be more sharply divided on that issue.A lapse of vigilance in these matters would be a mistake.Since both of them are tech-related, and also since it’s January, this is probably a good time to review how individual freedom fared over the past year vis à vis the technology of surveillance in general.But before I do, I need to make a couple of things clear.Where We StandAt Casey Extraordinary Technology, we are not technophobes. We don’t think that it would be a good thing to retreat to the woods and live out our days spearing game and cooking it over fires. Quite the contrary. We’re technophiles who appreciate what tech has done to improve human living conditions, and we believe that it holds the key to the solution of many, if not all, of our present problems. We like to err on the side of hope.In addition, we understand that society has a powerful interest in maintaining a certain level of order. It’s intolerable that personal disputes should be settled by gun battles in the streets or that serious infringements on the rights of others – whether it be physical crimes such as robbery, rape, or murder, or non-physical ones like fraud – should be ignored. The most ardent libertarian would generally agree that a government ought to have the authority to prevent or punish the aggression of one individual upon another and to enforce contracts freely entered into. Thus tradeoffs with our basic right to do as we see fit must be made if man’s worst impulses are to be deterred.That said, the tricky part is deciding where to draw the line between reasonable and overzealous laws and enforcements. Surveillance technology is at the center of this debate. It’s good and getting ever better. Even the most law-abiding of citizens have been subjected to steadily increasing levels of governmental – as well as private sector – watchfulness over their daily lives. That has occurred with no indication that the public is yet prepared to say, “Enough. This is where we draw that line in the sand.”The past year was no exception. I won’t go into developments I’ve already written about, such as the growth of the TSA’s VIPR operations, last summer’s lemonade-stand busts, the ghastly E-Verify proposal , and the Fed’s Social Listening Program. But the sad truth is that there are plenty more from which to choose. Space considerations permit a close examination of only a few, but a liberty-oriented legal foundation provides a quick overview of the year.It‘s a Bird, It‘s a Plane, It‘s…… a drone.Remote-controlled drone aircraft, like the famed Predator, have become a staple of the nightly news. We see them launching missiles against terrorists, conducting spy missions over Pakistan, patrolling the borders looking for drug smugglers and alien infiltrators. Now we’re going to have to get used to seeing them in the skies over, well, all of us.Yes, those same Predator drones are being used increasingly by local law enforcement in the US.That was unknown to most Americans before late last year, when the great North Dakota cattle-rustling incident hit the press. It seems that back in June, six neighbors’ cows had the misfortune to wander onto a 3,000-acre farm in eastern North Dakota owned by the Brossart family, whose members allegedly belong to the Sovereign Citizen Movement, an anti-government group that the FBI considers extremist and violent.When the sheriff attempted to reclaim the cows, the family refused to give them up, ordering him off its property at gunpoint. A 16-hour standoff ensued, with the sheriff requesting the usual reinforcements: state highway patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, and deputy sheriffs from three other counties. But he also called nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base and asked for help from a $154 million MQ-9 Predator B drone, normally used to secure the Canadian border for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).Long story short, the drone silently surveilled the farm from two miles up, relaying information from its sophisticated sensors as to what the Brossarts were doing. When the surveillance showed that the family members had put their weapons down (yes, it can see that well at that distance), the authorities moved in, neutralizing the Brossarts and making the first known, drone-assisted arrests of US citizens.Law enforcement was pleased, perhaps rightly so. No blood was spilled. Another Ruby Ridge was avoided. The cows – street value $6,000, but now rather a bit more costly – were recovered.But that was just the beginning. Local North Dakota police say they have used the Grand Forks Predators to fly at least two dozen surveillance flights since June. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have also used Predators for domestic investigations, officials admit. And Michael Kostelnik, a retired Air Force general who heads the office that supervises the drones, says that Predators are flown “in many areas around the country, not only for federal operators, but also for state and local law enforcement and emergency responders in times of crisis.” [emphasis mine]Who knew?Apparently not Congress, for one. Spokespersons for Customs, which owns the drones, claim there is legal authorization for this usage because it was clearly indicated in the purchase request for the Predators that one purpose was “interior law enforcement support.” But those four words sailed right by Congresswoman Jane Harman – Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee at the time the drone purchases were approved – who insists that “no one ever discussed using Predators to help local police.” So this expanded civilian use of military surveillance hardware came about with no new law, no public discussion, not even a written regulation… just a few words buried in a budget request that no one in charge of approving it noticed.There will be mission creep here, as there always is. Expect drones to gather data on any large political demonstration, for example – only, to be fully accurate, you won’t be noticing them above you. They fly too high and are too silent for that.Internet SurveillanceIn addition to SOPA/PIPA, there is PCIP. SOPA/PIPA were about shutting down Internet sites that the federal government deems offensive. PCIP is about gathering information.As is so often the case with “well-meaning” legislation, the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (H.R. 1981, or PCIP) is allegedly aimed at something about which all agree. Nobody argues against shielding kids from pornographers.Not that the problem addressed isn’t real. The Internet has proven to be a fertile stalking ground for sexual predators. As a society, we have already agreed to a certain level of cyber-entrapment, allowing police to run online sting operations against those who are actively targeting kids. If that catches some innocent people in the net, so be it. The public majority is willing to accept such collateral damage so long as the real bad guys are found and put away.And yes, H.R. 1981 also contains some non-controversial provisions. Stricter punishment for interstate commerce transactions that promote child porn? Sure. Bolstering laws to protect child witnesses? No problem.But, as always, the details are alive with devils. PCIP is also about pre-crimes – i.e., it entails gathering evidence before any crime is committed… perhaps even before said crime is contemplated. The goal is that, in the event of an arrest, supporting online records can quickly and easily be subpoenaed.In order to accomplish that, everyone must be considered a potential criminal. Everyone.What PCIP will mandate is that Internet providers keep detailed records about each one of us, including: name, address, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, all Internet activity for the previous 12 months (something sure to be extended after the first successful busts), and any IP addresses assigned to you – without a search warrant, court order, or even the slightest suspicion of criminal activity.In other words, the government is proposing to expand the ranks of de facto private-sector cops, the same way that banks are now forced to report any “suspicious financial activity.” The legislation would enlist – nay, require – ISPs to compile detailed dossiers on every citizen, and to have them readily accessible for whatever “crime-fighting” or other purposes authorities want them. This thereby saves federal government officials the trouble and expense of doing it themselves. It’s breathtaking. You almost have to admire the elegance of their solution to the universal ‘Net surveillance problem that’s vexed them for some time.No wonder the Electronic Frontier Foundation has scornfully tabbed this the “Data Retention Bill,” warning that the stored data “could become available to civil litigants in private lawsuits – whether it’s the RIAA trying to identify downloaders, a company trying to uncover and retaliate against an anonymous critic, or a divorce lawyer looking for dirty laundry.” And in a grotesque illustration of the law of unintended consequences, the EFF adds: “These databases would also be a new and valuable target for black hat hackers, be they criminals trying to steal identities or foreign governments trying to unmask anonymous dissidents.”H.R. 1981 sailed through the House Judiciary Committee in late July of last year but is yet to be voted on (although it was slated for “expedited consideration” in mid-December). Will it provoke the kind of public outcry directed against SOPA? Don’t count on it. What politician in his or her right mind would dare oppose legislation that “protects kids from pornographers?”Reverse SurveillanceMeaning: when we turn the cameras on the government.In a sense, we are all now street journalists. Most famously, the name “Rodney King” would mean nothing to anyone today but for a bystander with a cell phone camera. As these devices have become all but ubiquitous, we ordinary citizens now have an unprecedented ability to record crimes in progress, regardless of what side of the law the perpetrators are on.Or do we?While police understandably have welcomed citizen recordings that help them with their cases, they are again understandably not so sanguine when they themselves are the potential lawbreakers. And they’re hitting back. People filming unfolding events are routinely ordered away from the scene by the police, even if they happen to be standing on their own private property – and threatened with arrest if they don’t put the camera away.Considering the First Amendment to the Constitution, that’s been a bluff… at least until recently.Now authorities are asserting their right to charge video- or audiographers of police events with crimes ranging from obstruction of justice to eavesdropping to illegal wiretapping.So far, to their credit, the courts have been mostly unsympathetic. In August, a jury acquitted a Chicago woman who used her cell phone to secretly record a conversation with police investigators about a sexual harassment complaint she was filing against the department. Also in August, the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled in favor of the defendant in a case involving a complaint filed by a Boston man who filmed the scene of an October 2007 arrest on his cell phone, only to be arrested himself and charged with a violation of Massachusetts wiretapping laws.In Illinois in September, a judge threw out five eavesdropping indictments – which carried maximum penalties of 15 years in prison on each count – against a man who had recorded conversations with local police officers who he claimed were harassing him on his own property. In a stinging rebuke to the prosecution, the judge wrote, “A statute intended to prevent unwarranted intrusions into a citizen’s privacy cannot be used as a shield for public officials who cannot assert a comparable right of privacy in their public duties. Such action impedes the free flow of information concerning public officials and violates the First Amendment right to gather such information.”So far, so good. Still, these kinds of busts are on the rise nationwide. Even if they’re all laughed out of court, the mere threat of arrest (and the potential concomitant bodily harm) is often enough to make most people think twice about the wisdom of challenging a police order.And, truthfully, would you trust the current Supreme Court – a majority of which has consistently supported government rights over that of citizens – to rule correctly on this?Target: Casey Research!One of the most ominous developments for us personally crawled out from under its rock in November. Again without any public debate, DHS unleashed its National Operations Center’s Media Monitoring Initiative. Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like: The NOC’s Office of Operations Coordination and Planning is going to collect information from news anchors, journalists, reporters, or anyone who may use “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”Thus Washington, D.C. unilaterally grants itself the right to monitor what you say. Doesn’t matter if you’re the New York Times, Brian Williams, a basement blogger, an online whistleblower, or known government critics like ourselves. They’re gonna take note of your utterances and file them away for future use.Journalists are not the only targets, by the way. Also included among those subject to this surveillance are government officials (domestic or not) who make public statements; private-sector employees who do the same; and “persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest,” however large that umbrella might be.At Casey Research, we’re not about to engage in self-censorship just because some bureaucrat somewhere has nothing better to do than watch what we’re saying. They’re welcome to it, and we’ll save them the trouble of archiving it; most of it’s preserved on our website, anyway.The larger speculation is: what’s the endgame here?Data Storage CapacityBack in 1997, I wrote an article entitled Here‘s Looking at You, which examined the ways in which big government was encroaching upon our private lives. The piece was published in February 1998 in a very popular national men’s magazine. (In my defense, I hasten to add that these glossy periodicals were among the very few public outlets, before Casey Research was born, for journalists who wrote about such “fringe” topics.)As I was writing this piece you are now reading, I couldn’t help but take a look back fourteen years. It seems almost like a prehistoric era… before 9/11, the PATRIOT Act, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drones, “free-speech zones” at political conventions, wall-penetrating radar, iPhones, and wholesale government monitoring of email and phone conversations, among a zillion other things. Heck, even the Internet was still more or less a novelty: I found that I had cautioned readers to be mindful of an insidious newfangled thing called “cookies.”The tech of today is light-years more advanced. But even back then, I was concerned. And I predicted where I saw the trend heading. Naturally enough, not all of my predictions came to pass – I was certain for instance that by now we’d have a national ID card – but unfortunately, most of them did.The reason I bring this up here is not to tout myself as particularly prescient. It’s to note something of actual importance. In 1998, I could still maintain that our saving grace was that data-storage capabilities were way insufficient for the total surveillance of hundreds of millions of Americans and probably would be for a long time to come.How wrong I was.It is already technologically feasible for governments to record nearly everything that is said or done within their borders – every phone conversation, electronic message, social media interaction, the movements of nearly every person and vehicle, and video from every street corner.Before long, it’ll also be financially feasible to archive it, according to a sobering report published last December by the Brookings Center for Technology Innovation.The report concludes that: “Plummeting digital storage costs will soon make it possible for authoritarian regimes to not only monitor known dissidents, but to also store the complete set of digital data associated with everyone within their borders. These enormous databases of captured information will create what amounts to a surveillance time machine, enabling state security services to retroactively eavesdrop on people in the months and years before they were designated as surveillance targets. This will fundamentally change the dynamics of dissent, insurgency and revolution.”Emphasis mine. Consider the implications.The key, according to the Brookings report: “Over the past three decades, [data] storage costs have declined by a factor of 10 approximately every 4 years, reducing the per-gigabyte cost from approximately $85,000 (in 2011 dollars) in mid-1984 to about five cents today.” Using GPS, mobile phone and WiFi inputs, “identifying the location of each of one million people to [a 15-foot] accuracy at 5-minute intervals, 24 hours a day for a full year could easily be stored in 1,000 gigabytes, which would cost slightly over $50 at today’s prices.” Fourteen cents a day to archive the collective movements of any selected million of us.Phone calls? “The audio for all of the telephone calls made by a single person over the course of one year could be stored using roughly 3.3 gigabytes. On a per capita basis, the cost to store all phone calls will fall from about 17 cents per person per year today to under 2 cents in 2015.”Video storage takes far more space, of course, and there are also major logistical problems involved in managing such a huge amount of data. But the point is made. Technological innovation will provide the tools. And as soon as government can do something, they invariably will do it.InvestingThese few examples, winnowed from hundreds of others I could cite, testify to a mushrooming new industry in the US, what some have called the cyber-industrial complex.It’s big business. How big we don’t know, because much of it is shrouded in either government or corporate secrecy. The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest, twice a Pulitzer winner and one of the few true investigative journalists in America still working inside the mainstream media, published some groundbreaking work on the subject in the summer of 2010. If you haven’t read it already, you should. The website is dynamic, with regular updates posted on the subject and reader input invited.Several other recent probes also have opened the shadowy surveillance world to a little more light. You can check out some of the latest techniques and which companies are implementing them at The Surveillance Catalog published by the Wall Street Journal and The State of Surveillance: The Data,published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.Perhaps in your browsing you’ll find some publicly traded companies that will attract your investment interest. For our part, at Casey Extraordinary Technology we prefer to seek out companies that are engaged in changing our world for the better rather than the worse. Those are the ones you’ll find in our portfolio.In the end, we must acknowledge that technological advancement, especially at the rate we’re experiencing it in the present era, is bound to spawn evil applications along with the good. But we’re optimists here. We believe humanity is in a long-term uptrend, with technology setting torches on the path to a better life.But that all depends on keeping people free. That’s why we will continue to expose – and oppose – government efforts to stifle innovation, creativity, and personal liberty. I’m not holding my breath but perhaps eventually Washington, D.C. will get the point, and follow our lead.Bits & BytesPolice Frisking from a Distance (Technology Review)In keeping with the surveillance and Big Brother theme of today’s issue, heres a story about how the NYPD is developing a device with the Department of Defense that could essentially frisk people from up to 75 feet away. The device measures terahertz waves (the radiation that fills the slot in the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and infrared), which are naturally emitted by people and objects and pass through nonconducting materials like clothes, so scanners sensitive to them can reveal guns and other hidden objects. Obviously, the announcement by the NYPD that it is developing such a scanner – and plans to mount them on cars to capture images of basically everything within a certain range – has sparked privacy concerns since its general use would seem to be a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.Apple Astonishes Again (Apple)Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2012 first quarter yesterday, and the numbers shattered what could have been considered lofty expectations. The stock is currently up 6.3% from Tuesday’s close. Record quarterly revenue of $46.33 billion smashed the Street’s expected $39.14 billion by more than 18%. Meanwhile, net income rang in at $13.06 billion, which translated into earnings of $13.87 per diluted share, or nearly 37% above the consensus estimate EPS of $10.16. Apple’s run over these past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. This is a company that now has a market capitalization over $415 billion, and it just posted quarterly revenue growth of 64% sequentially and 73% year over year. That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen. Eventually, growth will slow; it has to. But that doesn’t mean that 2012 won’t turn out to be a great year for the consumer electronics juggernaut given its recent gains in smartphone market share, an announcement about the iPad 3 coming soon, the iPhone 5 perhaps arriving by summer, and an iOS-based TV launch maybe at the end of the year.Hacking the Hackers (Technology Review)An innovative security software company called Mykonos is taking a new approach to protecting PCs and websites. Instead of acting like a locked door to shut hackers out, Mykonos Software instead invites hackers in through a fake entrance and plays tricks on them until they give up. The idea is to take a lot of the automated tools hackers often use out of the game and waste the assailant’s time, thereby changing the economics of attacking websites, according to company CEO David Koretz. “We have the ability to hack the hacker,” says Koretz.
In This Issue. * 234,000 of 288,000 jobs added by BLS… * Factory Orders drop in March. * RBA to meet tonight. * Chuck channels his inner Stevie Wonder. And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts. Making It All Up, As We Go Along. Good Day! . And a Marvelous Monday to you! It’s the 5th of May, which to some translates to: Cinco de Mayo. A day that, here in the U.S. we observe only to have a day to share a drink with friends, but in Mexico, they celebrate their independence. Quite a few years ago, I told a story about how the 5th of May reminded me of a time in Cancun when I grabbed a street performers microphone and began singing to the crowd. Some dear reader, didn’t take too kindly to me carrying on about the 5th of May and send me an email calling me a MAK. I’ll let you figure it out. OK. Well, the Big News on Friday, was the fabtabulous, sensational, super-duper, with a cherry on top, Jobs report for April. According to the BLS, (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 288,000 jobs were created in April. I pause for a minute to point out a key word here. “created”. For a majority of the 288,000 jobs reported created in April, were “created” from the minds of the BLS. 234,000 of those 288,000 jobs were added to the surveys by the BLS using their Birth / Death model. It was as if: We’re Making it all up as we go along. In addition, right after this 288,000 number printed, Mike Harrell, shouted across the desk: “more than 800,000 were dropped from the roster of people looking for jobs, and if the 800,000 were added back the Unemployment Rate would have been 6.8%… OK. I had to do some quick math here. A couple of years ago, I told you that 10,000 Baby Boomers were going to retire every day for the next 18 years. So, knowing that, if there were 30 days in April, that takes care of 300,000 people dropping off the list (10,000 x 30), But what about the other 500,000? Hello? Yes, am I on the air? Good, Hey. I’m a long time listener, first time caller, and I have a question for the financial wizard. Here goes. Well. OK. Here you go. What would you say if I told you that of the 288,000 net jobs created in April according to the BLS, 234,000 of them were added by the BLS using their Birth / Death model to the survey numbers? And I do have a follow up question. What do you think of the news that over 800,000 people dropped off the unemployment roll? Thank you, I’ll hang up now so I can listen to your answer. The Impressions are singing, It’s alright, have a good time, and it’s alright, yes, it’s alright. And that’s what I’m going to do. I could get all lathered up and rant and rave about this traveling snake oil sales convention, called the Jobs Jamboree. But I won’t. It’s alright, have a good time. So, what went on after the report printed? Gold immediately shot down in price, along with the euro and other currencies, for the initial knee-jerk reaction to the labor print was that, “This is the report that’s going to get the Fed to arch its back and raise interest rates”. But then calmer heads took over, and soon the markets were of the realization that the Fed is not going to fall for the old, ” show em the right and hit them with the left”, and that the what the Fed is looking for is Wage Inflation.. And from the reports on Friday. The Avg. Hourly Earnings fell to 1.9% from 2.1%… There’s no wage inflation folks. not yet anyway. Oh, and Factory Orders for March fell from 1.5% in Feb to 1.1% in March. That’s not a good report, folks, but it got put on the back burner with the Jobs data. So, soon, after this realization, things got turned around on Friday, and Gold headed toward $1,300, and the euro regained its lost mojo. This morning, there has been a void in activity, as Japan and the U.K., two top money centers for the overnight markets, are on holiday, so the activity in the currencies and Gold was pushed to the European continent. And so far. today, we have Gold up another $13, and the Chinese renminbi looking at another night of appreciation. There’s a report out this morning that Portugal is ready to exit their rescue. That should be a good thing for the euro, which was dragged through the mud by the peripheral countries, or Club Med, as I used to call them, when they had all their problems. The likes of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus, have all improved their balance sheets, but still have tons of work to do, but one by one, they have been paying back their loans, and re-entering the bond markets. The European Central Bank (ECB) will meet this Thursday, and I think that for the first time in what seems to be a month of Sundays, the ECB won’t be hearing the calls for additional stimulus. That should take all the drama out of the ECB meeting, and thus allow the euro to move freely about the country. Speaking of Central Bank meetings. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will meet tonight (tomorrow for them), and while there were some wild calls going on last week for a rate hike at this meeting, those have all calmed down, and now we should see the RBA remain steady Eddie at this meeting. That thought has taken some of the shine off the Aussie dollar (A$) overnight. Later this week, Australia will report on their labor picture, and then the tallies will begin again on the pros & cons regarding a rate hike at the next meeting. I’m of the opinion that rates will remain on hold for some time in Australia (remember I was the ONE that said the RBA would not cut rates again, when everyone else said they would!), and I think we just might hear the RBA say that this evening. As I said above, Gold finally caught some wind in its sails on Friday, and when I searched for what caused the abrupt turnaround in the shiny metal, all I could find were stories about how the tensions in Ukraine were the reason. And I said out loud on the desk, “Really? These guys just found out that there was a problem in Ukraine?” I know, I know, I had been questioning why Gold was soaring with the tensions rising in Ukraine, and now that it is, I’m mocking the guys responsible. Hey! That’s how I roll! Seriously, though, did they really just find this out? Hey, did you hear that Deutsche Bank has sent letters to their U.S. customers of its operations in Belgium and asked them to close their accounts and transfer their funds by June 10th? The new FACTA law has prompted this move. So expect to hear others follow Deutsche Bank here. Well, what do we have here? Why yes! It’s a Treasury bond rally! Yields have dropped again folks. which, tells me that more air is being pumped into the Treasury Bubble. I hope you got a chance to read my Sunday Pfennig yesterday or today. I go through the interest rate trends, and how this “ultra-low interest rate trend” has just about run its course. The trends through the years have not run any longer than 8 years, and we’re heading to that number next year. And one more thing to think about here that I didn’t mention, (I probably did, but got cut by the editor) and that is, with the Fed ending their bond buying program this year, who’s going to be the gatekeeper responsible for keeping Treasury yields low? Well, a quick look across the landscape of Currencies is not pretty this morning. But it’s also not ugly. It’s just kind of so-so. The euro is up by a couple shekels. And as I said above the Chinese renminbi / yuan is stronger overnight. Most of the currencies are flat to down, so like I just said, it’s not ugly, just so-so, today. I think the aftermath of the Jobs Data last week is weighing heavily on the currencies’ ability to break out and rally. That won’t last too much longer, as in a couple of days, the Jobs Jamboree will be in the rear view mirror. Canada will print their labor numbers for April today. They usually print them the same day as the Jobs data from the U.S. is printed, but seeing that they get no movement from the report, and no press from it either, they print today! Recall that March had a huge increase in jobs for Canada, at 43,000. It would go a long toward some Canadian dollar / loonie strength if the April report can follow March’s number with a positive gain in jobs. I had to stop and sing along with Stevie Wonder’s song: My Cherie Amour. What a great song! And look now it’s Dusty Springfield singing Son of a Preacher Man. Now that’s a good two-song combo this morning! Ok, I’m back now. HA! The U.S. Data Cupboard is pretty bare today, with only the Markit and U.S. reports on the service sector here in the U.S. As I said a few years ago. “We’ve become a country centered on Service, and our Service stinks!” Tomorrow, the Trade Deficit print, but other than that there’s not a lot to see in the Data Cupboard this week. You know, I got a kick out of all the pundits and so-called “experts” that came out pounding the big bass drum that “all’s well and the U.S. economy is growing just fine” I guess they didn’t see that drop in the Factory Orders data that I talked about above. You know, as I’ve said before, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt” I bet some naysayers would say to me, ” you should heed your own advice”! HA! For What It’s Worth. Well, with all the jumping and shouting about the Jobs Jamboree last week, I thought this article that dear reader Bob G. sent me, played nicely with others here. It was written by Michael Snyder. “Did you know that there are nearly 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now? And 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed. So how in the world can the government claim that the unemployment rate has “dropped” to “6.3 percent”? Well, it all comes down to how you define who is “unemployed”. For example, last month the government moved another 988,000 Americans into the “not in the labor force” category. According to the government, at this moment there are 9.75 million Americans that are “unemployed” and there are 92.02 million Americans that are “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 101.77 million working age Americans that do not have a job. Back in April 2000, only 5.48 million Americans were unemployed and only 69.27 million Americans were “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 74.75 million Americans without a job. That means that the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 27 million since the year 2000. Any way that you want to slice that, it is bad news. Well, what about as a percentage of the population? Has the percentage of working age Americans that have a job been increasing or decreasing? As you can see from the chart posted below, the percentage of working age Americans with a job has been in a long-term downward trend. As the year 2000 began, we were sitting at 64.6 percent. By the time the great financial crisis of 2008 struck, we were hovering around 63 percent. During the last recession, we fell dramatically to under 59 percent and we have stayed there ever since…” Chuck again. Only the BLS and all the trumpet blowers that are employed by the Gov’t can make this labor stuff sound good, folks. To recap. I got in trouble on Friday, when I didn’t have a “recap”. So, here we go! The U.S. labor picture got muddled quite a bit on Friday, but initially, all was seashells and balloons, as the BLS reported 288,000 jobs gained in April. The problem was that 234,000 of those jobs added don’t really exist. And the wages in the U.S. dropped once again, so there’s no wage inflation, and there’s your reason why Treasuries rallied, and Gold jumped back to $1,300! That and the realization that there is tension in Ukraine. The RBA meets tonight and the ECB on Thursday, but neither will have any drama surrounding the meeting, and that should be good for each respective currency. Currencies today 5/5/14. American Style: A$ .9260, kiwi .8665, C$ .9105, euro 1.3875, sterling 1.6865, Swiss $1.1395, . European Style: rand 10.5170, krone 5.9595, SEK 6.5470, forint 221.80, zloty 3.0330, koruna 19.7710, RUB 35.82, yen 101.95, sing 1.2495, HKD 7.7525, INR 60.21, China 6.1560, pesos 13.03, BRL 2.2200, Dollar Index 79.50, Oil $100.31, 10-year 2.58%, Silver $19.63, Platinum $1,446.63, Palladium $814.50, and Gold. $1,311.71 That’s it for today. Whew! Warm weather finally! Yesterday was absolutely beautiful here in St. Louis, it was warm, with blue, sun drenched, umbrella sky, the Big Green Egg smoking some apple wood pork steaks, and the grandkids all playing in the pool. The only thing that could have been better was if the Cardinals had been playing their usual Sunday day game, and not one of those smartless Sunday night games for television! The Lindbergh High School Water Polo team took 4th place in the tournament last week, and have one more regular season game before the playoffs begin. It will be “Senior Night” tomorrow night, as the season begins to wind down for Alex. It’s Senior Awards night for academic stuff tonight, so I’ll have to tape the return of Jack Bauer! That’s right! Jack is back! The great series 24, returns tonight! YAHOO! I’ve been lost searching for a new series to watch since 24 ended a few years ago. I should be getting my results from the scans last week, today. fingers crossed. And with that, I hope you have a Marvelous Monday! (Jack’s Back!) Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets
A San Francisco federal jury unanimously agreed on Tuesday that Roundup caused a man’s cancer — a potentially massive blow to the company that produces the glyphosate-based herbicide currently facing hundreds of similar lawsuits. After five days of deliberation the jury concluded the weed killer was a “substantial factor” in causing non-Hodgkins lymphoma in Edwin Hardeman, a 70-year-old Sonoma County man. The verdict is the second in the U.S. to find a connection between the herbicide’s key ingredient, glyphosate, and the disease. In August, another San Francisco jury determined Roundup had caused cancer in a former groundskeeper. It also decided Monsanto, the company that developed the popular weed killer, deliberately failed to warn consumers or regulators about the product’s risks. In that case, jurors awarded the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson $289 million. However a judge later slashed the damages payout to $78 million. The German pharmaceutical and chemical giant Bayer bought Monsanto in June. In a statement Tuesday, the company said it is disappointed with the jury’s decision “but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer.””We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer,” Bayer added. The jury in Hardeman’s case is now tasked with determining liability and damages. More than 750 cases Roundup cases against Bayer have been consolidated in San Francisco’s federal court. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
A UN committee has told the UK government to make more than 80 improvements to the ways its laws and policies affect disabled people’s human rights.In its “concluding observations” on the progress the UK has made in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the committee raised concerns and made recommendations on all but three of the 33 treaty articles it could have breached.It was, said the committee, the highest number of recommendations it has ever produced for a country undergoing the review process.The section highlighting the committee’s “principal areas of concern and recommendations” was more than 6,500 words long, compared with a “positive aspects” section of less than 120 words which mostly related to actions carried out by the Welsh and Scottish governments.Among its recommendations, the committee – made up of 18 disabled human rights experts from across Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, Australasia and the Middle East – called on the UK government to incorporate the convention into UK law, and to carry out a “comprehensive crosscutting review” of its laws and policies, to address what it described as the “uneven” implementation of the convention and “discriminatory” laws, regulations, and practices.The committee also said the UK government should recognise disabled people’s right to live independently, and called for a “comprehensive plan” – addressing education, childcare, transport, housing, employment and social security – that should be aimed at removing disabled people from institutions and instead developing homes for them in community-based independent living schemes.Stig Langvad (pictured), the CRPD member who led the UK examination, highlighted independent living as one of the areas the committee was most concerned about.He said: “Persons with disabilities are in our view not able to choose where to live, with whom to live and how to live… [they] are still facing the risk of institutionalisation and not being able to live within the community.”He said the UK was “going backwards” on independent living, with reduced funding meaning “the right to choose where to live, with whom to live and how to live through independent living schemes where you have personal budgets are limited or even more limited than previously”.He said this meant that disabled people were “still being faced with living in either families or institutions” against their will.The committee also called for government action – in close consultation with disabled people’s organisations – to prevent any “negative consequences” caused by Brexit, and for it to implement the remaining sections of the Equality Act 2010.There were several recommendations around the rights of disabled children, including a call for action to address the higher level of poverty experienced by their families, and for stronger measures to prevent bullying, hate speech and hate crime experienced by disabled children.The committee was highly critical of the UK government’s approach to inclusive education, and the “persistence of a dual education system” that segregates increasing numbers of disabled children in special schools.It called instead for a “coherent strategy” on “increasing and improving inclusive education”, which would include raising awareness of – and support for – inclusive education among parents of disabled children.Langvad said the committee was “very concerned” that the UK government was maintaining a reservation [an opt-out] on part of the convention’s article 24, on inclusive education, which “means that the UK is not fully living up to its international commitment to allow all the right to inclusive education”.On the criminal justice system, the committee called for action to address the “low awareness” about disability rights among judges, prosecutors, police officers and prison staff, to provide free or affordable legal aid for disabled people “in all areas of law”, and to remove employment tribunal fees.It also raised concerns about the way that disability hate crime is dealt with by the criminal justice system, and called for a comprehensive legal definition of disability hate crime and “appropriate prosecutions and convictions”.Several recommendations related to the rights of people detained under the Mental Health Act, with the committee raising concerns about the “continued use of physical, mechanical and chemical restraint”, including the use of Tasers in prisons, the youth justice system, and healthcare and education settings.The committee also said it was “deeply concerned” that such practices disproportionately affect black and minority ethnic disabled people.And it called for a “targeted measurable and financed plan of action” aimed at eliminating the “uneven access to health” for disabled people across the UK, and for the government to address reports of healthcare professionals failing to attempt resuscitation of people with learning difficulties and mental health conditions.In the wake of the report, Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, wrote to David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, to ask the government to respond to the report in the House of Commons.She said it was “of vital importance” that MPs had a chance to debate the report.She added: “I hope that a debate would allow the government to set out how they plan to address these failures, which affect millions of disabled people across the country, many of whom are now living in poverty, and to uphold disabled people’s rights in the future.”a DWP spokeswoman said, before Abrahams’ intervention: “These concluding observations are the latest part of a standard review process that all member states that ratify the convention go through.“We are considering the full report in the context of cross-government work on disability issues, and will provide further information to ministers in DWP in due course.”She added: “We’re disappointed that this report fails to recognise all the progress we’ve made to empower disabled people in all aspects of their lives, and our ongoing commitment to furthering the rights of disabled people.“Almost 600,000 disabled people have moved into work over the last four years and we spend over £50 billion a year to support disabled people and those with health conditions – more than ever before, and the second highest in the G7*.“The UK is a recognised world leader in disability rights and equality, which is why we supported the development of the UN convention.“The UK has some of the strongest equalities legislation in the world, including the Equality Act 2010, and we will continue to make sure that these rights are protected.“This government believes that a disability or health condition should not dictate the path a person is able to take in life – or in the workplace.“This forms the foundation of our reforms to help disabled people realise their potential in the labour market and wider society.”*The other G7 countries are the USA, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Canada
This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazine Add to Queue Image credit: Jeff Chiu — AP PayPal Next Article 2 min read PayPal to Drop Purchase Protection for Crowdfunding Projects May 9, 2016 –shares David Z. Morris Effective June 25, PayPal will drop Purchase Protection coverage for backers of crowdfunded projects, the Verge reports. The move comes as awareness of the risks of crowdfunding grows, but while less protection may sound like a bad thing for platforms like Kickstarter, the change may actually help prevent a repeat of some recent frustrating episodes.Last year, Kickstarter funded a University of Pennsylvania study that found 9 percent of projects on the platform failed to deliver rewards. They also commissioned reporter Mark Harris to do a deep dive into one of the most high-profile failed projects, the Zano drone. More recently, the Coolest Cooler project ran out of cash before delivering its product to all backers.But while failed projects frustrate everyone, the Zano case shows how PayPal’s Purchase Protection actually added to the heartache. As Harris reported, Torquing Group, the creator of the Zano, did ship a few hundred of the drones before entering liquidation in failure. But they went to backers who pledged directly through Torquing’s website using PayPal, not to Kickstarter backers.The reason was PayPal’s policy of holding pre-order payments until a product is delivered, to back up its Purchase Protection service. That means that projects offering add-ons or preorders outside of Kickstarter found themselves financially pressured to send products to those customers first.That understandably enraged many who pledged through Kickstarter — which, importantly, does not allow PayPal payments, and expects backers to shoulder all the risk for failed projects.PayPal’s new policy might help avoid similar foulups in the future, by releasing funds to projects more quickly, and making it easier for projects to serve early Kickstarter backers first. If that leads to higher overall satisfaction for Kickstarter funders, it would be a boon to the crowdfunding model at a moment when it’s starting to show cracks.
3 min read This story originally appeared on PCMag Apple September 2, 2016 Apple is looking to do a little cleaning of the App Store, mainly to remove abandoned apps, apps that use giant descriptions as their titles and those that haven’t been tweaked to work with modern Apple hardware. The company sent an email to its large developer community today to go over its new pruning procedure, which officially kicks off on Sept. 7.”Quality is extremely important to us. We know that many of you work hard to build innovative apps and update your apps on the App Store with new content and features. However, there are also apps on the App Store that no longer function as intended or follow current review guidelines, and others which have not been supported with compatibility updates for a long time. We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps for these issues, notifying their developers and removing problematic and abandoned apps from the App Store,” reads Apple’s message. According to Apple, any app in any category could be affected if it runs afoul of the company’s current guidelines. If you’re an app developer and your app has been flagged, Apple will ask you to make changes if you want the app to stay on the App Store. There’s one special exception, though. If your app crashes when Apple’s testers try to use it, it’s going to be pulled from the App Store immediately.If you have significant changes to make in order to keep your app in compliance with Apple’s guidelines (and running successfully on its latest devices), you might be in for some trouble, however. App developers will have 30 days from the notification to bring their apps into compliance or else the offending app will be pulled from the App Store until these changes are made. That doesn’t delete the app from your developer account, however, and users will still be able to access it if they’ve already downloaded it to their devices.”They will experience no interruption to services and will still be able to buy in-app purchases. However, we recommend that you update your app as soon as possible to reinstate it on the App Store and ensure that it remains functional and engaging for new and existing customers,” Apple said.As for the names aspect, Apple is now enforcing a 50-character limit for all app titles. And developers only have themselves to blame for that — at least, the ones trying to game Apple’s search results by using unwieldy names for their apps.”Search is one of the most frequently used methods for customers to discover and download apps from the App Store. In hopes of influencing search results, some developers have used extremely long app names which include descriptions and terms not directly related to their app. These long names are not fully displayed on the App Store and provide no user value. App names you submit in iTunes Connect for new apps and updates will now be limited to no longer than 50 characters,” reads Apple’s announcement. Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand –shares Next Article Image credit: Shutterstock David Murphy Add to Queue Apple Cracking Down on Abandoned Apps Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. If your app doesn’t follow Apple’s current guidelines, crashes when it loads or has a stupid-long name, expect to receive a notification from Apple soon. Enroll Now for $5
Integrated Platform Offers Enterprise Merchants Ability to Drive Recurring RetailBigCommerce, the leading SaaS ecommerce platform for fast-growing and established brands, announced a partnership with Ordergroove, the leader in relationship commerce, to give enterprise-level merchants a better way to establish deeper relationships with customers. Through this partnership, enterprise merchants on the BigCommerce platform will be able to better accommodate and anticipate their customers’ repurchasing experience, resulting in a more effective way to secure ongoing customer relationships.“Through this partnership with BigCommerce, enterprise merchants will now have access to the turnkey and market-tested enterprise scalability of both organizations to enhance their brands.”Using Ordergroove’s Relationship Commerce Cloud platform tightly integrated with BigCommerce, merchants can offer a wide range of recurring revenue programs, including subscriptions, SMS reordering, memberships, and committed programs. Furthermore, Ordergroove’s Anticipate AI engine, coupled with deep data insights and consumer expertise, delivers the ability to match incentives and the timing of offers to individual consumer needs. With these capabilities and more, BigCommerce customers can earn more lifetime value (LTV) from the customers they have worked hard to acquire and have access to the engine that has helped a majority of Ordergroove customers achieve a greater than 60% incremental revenue boost1.Marketing Technology News: SRAX Receives $1 Million Investment to Launch BIGtoken Asia, Increasing Access to Over 1 Billion Internet Users to Own and Earn from their Data“Fortune 2000 brands trust Ordergroove to transform their shopping experiences from transactional to recurring, and as such, we’re committed to helping retailers bring these programs to market in a way that complements their existing investments in commerce technology,” said Greg Alvo, CEO at Ordergroove. “Through this partnership with BigCommerce, enterprise merchants will now have access to the turnkey and market-tested enterprise scalability of both organizations to enhance their brands.”Marketing Technology News: Malicious and Disruptive Ads Account for 1 in Every 100 Impressions According to New Confiant Research“Online subscriptions have become a primary strategy used by brands to cement long-term customer relationships and differentiate their direct-to-consumer shopping experience. By integrating Ordergroove, we equip BigCommerce merchants with the market-leading enterprise solution for product-based subscriptions,” said Brent Bellm, CEO at BigCommerce.Marketing Technology News: Kneron Debuts Edge AI Chip, Bringing AI to Devices Everywhere BigCommerce and Ordergroove Partner to Deliver Subscription Experiences for Enterprise Brands and Retailers PRNewswireMay 23, 2019, 3:56 pmMay 23, 2019 BigCommerceBrent BellmCommerce Cloud platformMarketing TechnologyNewsOrdergrooveSaaS ecommerce platform Previous ArticleRingCentral Ranked #1 in UCaaS, Third Year in a RowNext ArticleVyStar Credit Union Improves Member Experience, Reduces Fraud with Verint Identity Authentication Solution
Decibel Builds Integration with Adobe Audience Manager PRNewswireMay 24, 2019, 11:34 pmMay 24, 2019 Marketers Are Now Able to Target Customers Based on Their Digital ExperiencesDecibel, a leader in digital experience intelligence for enterprise businesses, announced at Adobe Summit EMEA a new integration with the Adobe Experience Cloud. In addition to existing integrations with Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target and Adobe Launch, Decibel has now added an integration with Adobe Audience Manager. The new product integration will allow marketers to activate the metrics from a visitor’s Digital Experience Score (DXS) in Audience Manager. Mutual customers of Adobe Experience Cloud and Decibel include Toyota, First National Bank of Omaha, TUI and Allstate.At @AdobeSummit EMEA, @DecibelInsight announced a new integration with the Adobe Experience Cloud, enabling #marketers to target customers based on their digital experiences“The Decibel and Adobe Audience Manager integration enables joint customers to utilize and activate Decibel’s DXS data with not only Audience Manager, but also with Adobe Target, Adobe Campaign and Adobe Ad Cloud,” said Ben Harris, CEO and co-founder, Decibel. “Now, virtually any Adobe Experience Cloud customer can further maximize their investment in Adobe by leveraging Decibel’s experience intelligence.”Marketing Technology News: Teleperformance Groups ‘Praxidia Knowledge Services’ partners with CallMiner to launch TP Interact – a Comprehensive Interaction Analytics SolutionThrough this integration, joint customers will be able to segment and re-target customers based on their digital experiences by:Creating DXS Audiences – Create audiences in Decibel based on DXS scoring components (e.g., engagement, frustration)Onboarding to Audience Manager – Easily share custom DXS segments to Audience ManagerCombining and Creating Segments – Understand the overlap of Decibel and Adobe segments; combine with other 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data sources and create new look-alike segmentsActivating Cross-Channel Audiences – Activate DXS segments for onsite personalization with Adobe Target, email marketing with Adobe Campaign and for offsite re-targeting platforms, including Adobe Ad CloudMarketing Technology News: Alpha Software Launches Alpha TransForm, Cuts Build Time for Robust Offline Enterprise Mobile Apps from Months to Hours“Today’s marketers are striving to optimize the customer experience more than ever,” said Cody Crnkovich, head of platform partners and strategy, Adobe. “The combined Decibel and Adobe solution can help companies drive a more impactful multichannel experience, as well as provide an enriched view of visitor experiences and a deeper understanding of the behavioral cause-and-effect behind them.”Marketing Technology News: Qlik Kicks Off AI In Action: The Qlik Analytics Tour, The Largest Roadshow In Data & Analytics Adobe Ad CloudAdobe Experience CloudDecibelemail marketingMarketing TechnologyNewspersonalization Previous ArticleNew SMG Research Evaluates How Blockbuster Premieres Impact the Movie-Going ExperienceNext ArticleGDPR Roundtable Part II: Fortify Your GDPR Strategy with Better Compliance and Optimization
3 Marketing Strategies for Unearthing New Opportunities with Existing Customers Marie HonmeJune 19, 2019, 2:30 amJune 18, 2019 Marketing Strategies keep evolving with time. Marketers today are well aware that it’s easier and cheaper to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones, and yet research has found that most companies are still more focused on new Customer Acquisition instead of Customer Retention. However, as concerns about a possibly slowing economy continue to gain steam—with many economists predicting a recession within 12 to 18 months—this emphasis on new customers (and the cost of acquiring them) versus existing ones will be called into question. After all, when the economy contracts, too often marketing budgets do as well.Brands can make their marketing dollars go further by finding new opportunities within their existing customer base. Research has shown that attracting new customers can cost five times more than retaining existing ones, and an increase in Customer Retention of only 5 percent can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent. Here are three ways that brands can get more value from the customers—and the customer data—that are already at their disposal:Get Creative with the Cross-Sell Marketing StrategiesBy looking at customer purchase data in new ways, brands can often identify cross-selling opportunities that might not be apparent on the surface. Sure, if a customer buys running shoes, it probably makes sense to target them with socks and other running gear. But cross-selling efforts should go deeper than that.Optimal cross-selling starts by analyzing existing consumer and purchase data over the last year to identify best-selling product categories and determine complementary ones. If brands can discover what product categories are most frequently purchased together, they can start to gain a deeper understanding of customers and their interests. In many cases, these insights can be used to develop nuanced personas that improve cross-selling success.Take luxury boating and water sports retailer West Marine, for example. The company has an in-depth understanding of its customers and their unique interests, and approaches their communications based on personas (e.g., paddle/surf, power water sports, fishing, sailing, etc.) They use the personas as a guide to serve up personalized content featuring the water activity that most excites them. Through this approach, West Marine has achieved a 22 percent increase in email-driven revenue.Explore New Customer DimensionsGetting more information about customers can help brands improve the effectiveness of their campaigns and provide insights about their best (or potentially underappreciated) customers. Additional psychographic and demographic details about audiences can help identify niche markets or unexpected buying personas within a brand’s customer base. Bringing together customer surveys, preference centers or third-party data can help build a more complete picture of customers’ interests and uncover new opportunities to engage them.Consider See’s Candies. The iconic candy retailer found a new opportunity to engage its audience when the company analyzed its existing customers and discovered it could drive additional revenue by targeting a customer segment it did not previously recognize: male customers. When the brand tested unique Valentine’s Day content for this audience segment, it increased email-driven purchases by 25 percent.Keep It CleanFinally, if brands want to make the most of their existing customer bases, they need to be practicing good data hygiene. IBM estimates that bad data costs U.S. companies roughly $3.1 trillion dollars a year. Every bad email, mailing address and duplicate record in a database means wasted marketing budget. Furthermore, these types of errant records hurt email deliverability and a sender’s reputation with internet service providers. By improving data hygiene practices—for example, by removing incomplete, closed and invalid addresses and deduplicating records—brands can cut costs and mitigate the harm caused by dirty data. Furthermore, better data hygiene reduces the risk that customers will receive redundant or poorly targeted communications, which customers can take as a sure sign that the brand doesn’t understand or appreciate them as individuals.It’s time for marketers to be ready to do more with less. But retention is just the beginning. Brands today have an opportunity to not just keep their customers coming back for repeat purchases, but also deepen and extend their relationships with their audience to drive sales that wouldn’t happen through traditional retention messaging. 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The findings were published in the journal Epidemiology.The research involved a partnership between opioid researchers at Brown and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), as well as Brown experts who study how the environment impacts human health. Marshall serves also as scientific director for Prevent Overdose R.I., an overdose-surveillance dashboard operated with RIDOH, which provided the data on overdose deaths in Rhode Island.The research team looked at more than 3,000 opioid-related deaths in Connecticut and Rhode Island from 2014 to 2017. They compared the average temperature on the day of each death — and up to two weeks before — to the average temperature of three reference days in the same month. They found that an average temperature of 32 degrees three to seven days prior to day of death was associated with a 25 percent increase in the risk of fatal overdose compared to periods with an average temperature of 52 degrees.Cold snaps may contribute to increased risk of a fatal opioid overdose in several ways, the study said.Related StoriesStudy identifies factors affecting older people’s vulnerability during hot weatherUNLV nutritionist explains how putting a halt on sweet treats affects the bodyMini-biographies help clinicians connect with patientsOne possibility is that opioid use and exposure to cold weather could combine to create a negative biological effect, said William Goedel, a doctoral student at the School of Public Health, who spearheaded the analysis. Opioids are known to reduce breathing, and even without the effect of drugs, it is already harder to breathe in cold air. Some opioids also reduce the temperature at which the body starts to shiver, which makes it harder to regulate one’s body temperature, he added.Cold weather also changes people’s behavior, which could increase the risk of overdose, Marshall said. For example, people may be more likely to use opioids alone when the weather is cold, without someone present who can administer the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. Additionally, cold weather may impact the opioid distribution network. This could potentially increase the risk of using drugs containing illicit fentanyl, or the risk of using drugs more potent than a person is accustomed to, Goedel added.Despite the increase in overdoses in days following cold snaps, Marshall said the team was surprised to find no direct link between low temperatures on the day of death and the risk of fatal overdose.”One possibility is that the same-day temperature is based around the recorded day of death, which in some cases is an estimate, especially when a body isn’t found for a couple of days,” Goedel said. “The lack of a strong correlation with temperature on the day of death could be due to the uncertainty of when people actually died.”The findings might also reflect the cumulative effect of low temperatures on overdose risk, Goedel added.”Thirty-two degrees on just one day is cold, but to maintain an average of 32 degrees for three or four days means there was a long time where it was quite cold.”Most of the fatal overdoses during the study occurred indoors, Marshall noted. This suggests that providing support for home heating costs or providing warm locations for people to go to during cold spells could also reduce opioid overdoses, he said, although more research is needed.Marshall would also like to see if the linkage between cold weather and increased risk of overdose deaths is due to major storms or if lower-than-average temperatures alone increase the risk of a fatal overdose.The researchers also examined above-average temperatures, but did not detect any clear pattern. Source:Brown UniversityJournal reference:Marshall, B. et al. (2019) Increased risk of opioid overdose death following cold weather: A case–crossover study. Epidemiology. doi.org/10.1097/EDE.0000000000001041. Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 17 2019Cold weather snaps are followed by a marked increase in fatal opioid overdoses, a new study finds.A research team led by Brandon Marshall, an associate professor of epidemiology at Brown University’s School of Public Health, found a 25 percent increase in fatal opioid overdoses after periods of freezing temperatures compared to days with an average temperature of 52 degrees.And while the researchers continue to investigate the reasons for this pattern, Marshall suggests some interventions that could reduce overdose risk regardless of the cause. These include cold weather-triggered public health messages that remind people to check on neighbors and loved ones who use opioids, or those that warn individuals who use drugs not to use alone, especially during cold weather. It is well known that opioids induce respiratory depression, and that’s what causes a fatal overdose. However, there may be a host of other risk factors that contribute to opioid overdose deaths, which could be avenues for effective interventions. Regardless of what is causing the correlation between cold weather and fatal overdoses, our findings suggest that agencies and organizations should consider scaling up harm-reduction efforts after a period of cold weather.”Brandon Marshall, associate professor of epidemiology at Brown University’s School of Public Health
© 2019 AFP “Boeing has made corrections to the 737 MAX simulator software and has provided additional information to device operators to ensure that the simulator experience is representative across different flight conditions,” it said in a statement.The company did not indicate when it first became aware of the problem, and whether it informed regulators.Boeing’s statement about the flight simulator marked a first acknowledgement of shortcoming since the two accidents led to the grounding of the top-selling 737 MAX plane. The plane’s MCAS anti-stall software has been blamed in large part for the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy.According to Boeing, the flight simulator software was incapable of reproducing certain flight conditions similar to those at the time of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March or the Lion Air crash in October.The company said the latest “changes will improve the simulation of force loads on the manual trim wheel,” a rarely used manual wheel to control the plane’s angle. “Boeing is working closely with the device manufacturers and regulators on these changes and improvements, and to ensure that customer training is not disrupted,” it added.Southwest Airlines, a major 737 MAX customer with 34 of the aircraft in its fleet, told AFP it expected to receive the first simulator “late this year.”American Airlines, which has 24 of the aircraft, said it had ordered a 737 MAX simulator that will be delivered and put into operation in December.”As a result of the continuing investigation into both aircraft accidents, we are looking at the potential for additional training opportunities in coordination with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and Allied Pilots Association,” it added.Certification processThe planes have been grounded around the world, awaiting approval from US and international regulators before they can return to service.Only Air Canada has a MAX simulator, industry sources told AFP.Currently, there is only one flight simulator specific to the 737 MAX in the United States, and it is owned by Boeing, according to FAA documentation. US airlines train their pilots flying the MAX on a simulator built for the 737 NG, the version preceding the 737 MAX in the 737 aircraft family.Southwest said that is because during the certification process for the MAX, Boeing stressed that there were only minor differences with the NG and simple computer and online training could accommodate for the differences.The FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Canadian regulators had approved those recommendations, Boeing stresses.However, the 737 NG lacks an MCAS, specially designed for the MAX in order to correct an aerodynamic anomaly due to its heavier motors and to prevent the plane from stalling.Pilot training will likely be at the heart of the meeting of international regulators in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday when the FAA will try convince its counterparts of the robustness of its certification process for the modified 737 MAX.The American regulator has maintained that training pilots on a simulator is not essential, a position with which pilots and its Canadian counterpart disagree.Boeing said Thursday that it completed its software update on the 737 MAX.The proposed fix, which addresses a problem with a flight handling system thought to be a factor in both crashes, must now win approval from US and international regulators before the planes can return to service.US airlines have targeted August as the date they expect to resume flying on the 737 MAX. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Boeing did not indicate when it first became aware of the problem Boeing acknowledged Saturday it had to correct flaws in its 737 MAX flight simulator software used to train pilots, after two deadly crashes involving the aircraft that killed 346 people. Citation: Boeing acknowledges flaw in 737 MAX simulator software (2019, May 20) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-boeing-acknowledges-flaw-max-simulator.html Explore further Ethiopian Airlines says pilots got appropriate training