Alaska Senate fails to revive oilwealth fund dividend bill

first_imgAll senators were present Monday. Democratic Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson of Anchorage, who last week voted for the bill to pay a full dividend, was among those Monday who voted against bringing the issue back up. Dividends traditionally have been paid using Alaska Permanent Fund earnings, which lawmakers last year also began using to help pay for government expenses. A law passed last year also seeks to limit what can be taken from fund earnings for dividends and government. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has maintained that lawmakers should follow a longstanding formula and pay out a full dividend. He also has said the formula should not be changed without a vote of the people. Dividends have been capped the last three years amid an ongoing budget deficit. While some lawmakers agree with Dunleavy’s position, there are legislators who argue the formula is outdated and unsustainable. Last week, with a prominent supporter of the proposal, Republican Sen. Mike Shower, absent, the Senate voted down a full dividend payout, which would cost an estimated $1.9 billion for checks estimated to be around $3,000 to qualified residents. The bill was one vote short of passage. Senators deadlocked 10-10 on a vote of whether to rescind their action last week, when they voted down the full payout. The next step for trying to reach agreement on a dividend remains to be seen with the end of the special session looming. Special sessions can last 30 days. That threshold will be reached Friday. Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Senate on Monday failed to revive a bill that would pay a full dividend from the state’s oil-wealth fund this year.last_img read more

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2019-09-14

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School Committee Accepts 100K Grant Donation To Strengthen STEM Extracurricular Programs Create

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — At a specially scheduled meeting, the Wilmington School Committee recently accepted a donation of $100,000 in the form of a grant from the Cummings Foundation.Wilmington High School AP Chemistry Teacher Julie Kim successfully applied for the grant through the Cummings Foundation’s annual “$100K For 100” charitable giving initiative.  Wilmington Public Schools will be the recipient of $33,333.33 per year over the next three years.The purpose of the grant is to provide “financial support to strengthen and build STEM extracurricular programs like the Engineering Career Club, the Science Club, and the Robotics Club at the High School and Middle School levels.”The Engineering Career Club is run under the guidance of WHS math teacher Ms. Steph Murray, a former engineer. The club, which has approximately 20 regular members, meets twice a month for two hours after school. Club members have previously designed, built and launched catapults. They’re currently learning about solar energy and other renewal resources, while designing and building tree-like structures to harness solar energy.The Science Club is run under the guidance of WHS science teacher Mrs. Michelle Hooper. The club meets once  a month on Fridays to run experiments and investigate science phenomenon. The Club has considered joining the North Shore Science League.The Robotics Club is attempting to start up under the guidance of WHS AP Physics Teacher Marlene King and WHS AP Chemistry Teacher Julie Kim.  The idea for the club came out of a discussion that took place in Kim’s AP Chemistry class.“Students and teachers are trying to figure out how to fundraiser for the very expensive robotics supplies and for new computers to write the codes and design the robots,” Kim wrote in her application, where she also noted that most of her AP Chemistry students are female, as are most of the science and math teachers at Wilmington High School and Middle School.“The teachers have a passion for sharing our loves of math and science with the students of our schools, but we’d especially love to encourage more female students to pursue these fields,” added Kim.Because of the grant Kim secured, a robotics club will, indeed, launch at Wilmington High School, and necessary supplies for the other two science clubs will be purchased.  Previously, the clubs’ resources were severely limited and based solely on the amount of money fundraised or contributed by students and teachers.“This grant is very exciting and great news for the Wilmington Public Schools,” announced Interim Superintendent Paul Ruggiero, after reading Kim’s grant application.Kim, unfortunately, could not attend the School Committee Meeting at which she was being recognized as she was stuck in traffic returning from the 8th Grade Science Field Trip to Fenway Park.  Kim will, however, be present at a reception held by the Cummings Foundation on Thursday, June 7 where she will be honored.Wilmington School Committee Chair Julie Broussard with WHS Chemistry Teacher & Grant Recipient Julie Kim after a recent meeting.(Photo courtesy of School Committee member Jennifer Bryson.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip?Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedWilmington High School Receives $100,000 Grant From Cummings FoundationIn “Community”Wilmington’s CLASS Inc. Receives $200,000 Grant From Cummings FoundationIn “Community”SCHOOL COMMITTEE NEWS: Homework, Bullying, Vaping, Grants, Gymnastics & More To Be Discussed At June 12 MeetingIn “Education”last_img read more

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2019-09-11

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Make Your Vacation Simpler With Travel Apps For Your Phone

first_imgEsther Dyson/Flickr Getting ready to explore Texas this weekend? Planning your getaway can be a whole lot easier with apps you can download to your smartphone or tablet before hitting the road.The Trip.com app lets you design your own itinerary, from booking a hotel, checking out local events and dining options and leaving a review when you’re done. You can tailor your experience with the app by selecting your interests – they call them tribes. Are you looking for family-oriented activities, something artsy or maybe nightlife? Simply select the relevant interests for your excursion, and the app will customize suggestions for you.Foodies and picky eaters alike will love Trip.com’s restaurant ideas. To learn more about a restaurant, just click its listing. You can view hours of operation, and take a look at the menu. Some restaurants give you the option to book a table right from the app. When you’ve decided where you want to go, tap the map. It’ll automatically route you there from your current location.You can earn “scout status” by creating a few postcards from the pictures of your adventures on your phone.Want to live like a local? Try the Airbnb app. Live in someone’s home, condo or apartment rather than a hotel. In some homes, you can cook for yourself instead of dining out for every meal. This is especially great when you’ve got the kids in tow. Some less expensive Airbnb options include renting one room in a larger house while the owners are still in residence. Really, you just have to decide what works best for your needs.If you travel a lot, check out TripIt. It keeps all of your hotel reservations and confirmations – your flights, and anything else you may need, all in one convenient place. Real-time updates mean that if something changes, you’ll be alerted right away. If there’s a flight delay, a gate change or a cancelled flight, you’ll get a notification from Tripit. It’s a free app but you can upgrade to Tripit Pro for more features.Spend less time planning and more time enjoying on your weekend trips. Sharelast_img read more

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2019-09-02

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DC Mayor to Make Annual Pitch to Rating Agencies

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) – District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray and other city leaders are making their annual trip to New York to meet with the three bond rating agencies. The city’s bond ratings have improved steadily since the mid-1990s, when Congress was forced to take over the bankrupt district government. Gray will argue that the city is due for an upgrade in part because of three consecutive budget surpluses. Most of that money has gone toward bolstering the city’s reserve fund, which now has a record $1.75 billion. Gray, a Democrat, is seeking re-election and has made fiscal stability a priority. Improved bond ratings would mean lower interest rates when the city borrows money. The mayor and the district’s new chief financial officer, Jeffrey DeWitt, will depart for New York on Tuesday.last_img read more

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2019-09-01

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As MEMA Monitors Hurricane Irma Maryland Residents Should Prepare Now

first_imgREISTERSTOWN, Md. — The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) continues to monitor Hurricane Irma and additional tropical weather systems in the Atlantic. While it is still too early to know what impacts, if any, that Irma may have on Maryland next week, residents should prepare now.In this geocolor GOES-16 satellite image taken Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017, at 11;15 a.m. EDT, shows the eye Hurricane Irma just north of the island of Hispaniola. The fearsome Category 5 storm cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving at least 10 dead and thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees on a track Thursday that could lead to a catastrophic strike on Florida. (NOAA-NASA via AP)“I urge all Marylanders to prepare now for the potential effects of Hurricane Irma,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “While we have the benefit of time, review your family emergency plans and ensure you have supplies on hand. As always, Maryland stands ready to support our friends and neighbors in states that will be dealing with the impacts from this major hurricane first.”In addition to continuous communication with the National Weather Service, MEMA is coordinating with local emergency management offices and state partners to ensure that they have the information and resources they need to respond.“Hurricane tracks can shift quickly,” said Russ Strickland, Executive Director of MEMA. “Everyone in our area should regularly check forecasts, build an emergency kit, and always listen to the directions of local officials.”Before a storm, residents and visitors in Maryland can:Prepare an emergency kit and create a family communications plan. Good supplies to have on hand include bottled water and non-perishable food, a battery-operated radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, and copies of important documents.Check to see if you are in a flood-prone area on our website: mema.maryland.gov.Communicate with friends, family members, and neighbors and make sure that they are up to date with the latest information and weather forecast.last_img read more

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2019-09-01

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Cardinals Host Lenny LylesClark Wood Invitational This Weekend

first_imgDonald McClinton is coming off his first 200m win of the season at the Kentucky Invitational, finishing with a time of 21.69. The two-day meet will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday at the UofL Throws Field with the hammer throw. Running events will begin at Cardinal Park at 4:30 p.m. with the 100m hurdle trials. Saturday will open at 9 a.m. with javelin and feature a senior ceremony at 11:50 a.m. to kick off the running events. Live Results Dorcas Wasike will make her season debut in the 5,000m. She has won her 3,000m and 10,000m races earlier in the season. Story Links Meet Schedule center_img LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville track and field team will wrap up the regular season outdoor schedule at home this weekend, hosting the largest meet in school history at Cardinal Park.  Gabriela Leon set a new school record in the pole vault at the Louisville Invitational, clearing 4.27m/14-00. Her mark currently ranks second in the ACC and 20th in the nation. Heat Sheets Mitchell Kessler moved into the Top 25 of the regional rankings after his last showing in the hammer throw. His throw of 61.28m/201-00 ranks 23rd in the east region and fifth in the ACC. Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more

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2019-09-01

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Ballot over bullet

first_imgWhat/who inspired you to write the book? Please quote personal instances, if any. Parliament of India has almost an infinite canvas to work on, domestically and internationally. While, what it does within its magnificent red stone building always gets much talked about, little is known of its performance in the international arena. Many people do not know that our Parliament, which is the nerve centre of the largest democracy in the world, is highly admired by other Parliaments. I have personal experience of many speakers, including those of advanced countries, coming to me to enquire what stand I was taking on a particular issue or who I was voting for so that they could do the same. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Although, our Parliamentary system is based on the Westminster model of U.K, yet over the years it has evolved so much that speakers of several Commonwealth counties have told me that in a difficult situation they invariably study the rulings given by the Indian speakers to find a solution. Such is the stature of our Speaker and our Parliament. Needless-to-say, a great deal of hard work goes into achieving and maintaining this position of eminence. I therefore felt the need to write this book and give a glimpse of how it is done. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixHow do you define Parliamentary diplomacy? What role does it play in improving foreign relations?Parliamentary diplomacy is the fine art of a parliament engaging fruitfully with other parliaments. It has come of age the world over. In India too it is increasingly becoming an effective instrument of state craft. It is conducted by the Speaker who represents our Parliament in bilateral and multilateral forums, accompanied by members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The discussions are not only on parliamentary affairs but also, in fact and more, on bilateral, regional and global issues. It is a parallel function of the Speaker to strengthen our relationship with the world. The foreign policy pronouncements of our Speaker are the same as that of the Prime Minister, but the style and channels used are different. Parliamentary diplomacy, on its own, has the potential to generate abundant international goodwill. Do you think our Parliamentarian have broader understating of global concerns?Yes. The Constitution of India has empowered our Parliament to enact laws regarding our relation with any foreign country. Our parliamentarians therefore, have to be aware all the time, of international developments.  Personally, I find that many of our members have a sound knowledge of the intricacies of foreign affairs.The decorum in the Indian Parliament is generally questioned by many. As a former speaker, don’t you think there needs to be some sort of moral conduct while discussing important issues like terrorism, internal security etc?There are rules in this regard but rules cannot always be effective. Member of Lok Sabha are elected representatives and, I am sure, most of them would want to get re-elected. Since the proceedings of the House are directly telecast, it is most likely that the members would do what their voters want.  In my view, the demand for decorum, to be effective, should also come from the voters.Shouldn’t there be healthy meeting of minds when it comes to dealing with such important issues?Parliament of India has many beautiful traditions. One of them is that the political parties or independent members in both the Houses of Parliament never ever differ on foreign policy.  This key institution of our polity firmly projects its view of the world in one voice.As the first women speaker of India and as an ex- IFS, how do you think India fares globally?As the first women Speaker of India I attended the 6th conference of the women speakers of the world in Berne and hosted the 7th conference in our Parliament. My interactions in a forum where my predecessors could not participate had its benefits. However, the fact remains that the work of a speaker is gender neutral. As a former foreign service officer who has worked at many levels to formulate the foreign policy, I think India commands respect globally and the Parliament is definitely looked up to.Beyond being an avenue for discussion, such networks can have a long-term impact on the avoidance of conflict. Do you agree?Certainly. Democracy and democratic temper always help in minimising conflict. Power of the ballot is far more than that of the bullet. Our commitment, tenacity and enduring faith in the sublime process of democracy contribute in no small measure to conflict avoidance and world peace.last_img read more

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2019-08-31

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200 pilots conveniently call in sick forcing ailing Air Berlin to scrap

first_img Share BERLIN — Bankrupt German airline Air Berlin says its existence is threatened by an apparent wildcat strike after 200 pilots called in sick on short notice Tuesday.The ailing carrier was forced to cancel more than 100 flights including trans-Atlantic connections, causing chaos at several German airports.The airline’s chief executive, Thomas Winkelmann, accused pilots of “playing with fire” as the cancelled flights would cost the company several million euros (dollars), making it less attractive to potential buyers.“A stable operation is an essential precondition for successful negotiations,” Winkelmann said. “This is the only way we can protect as many jobs as possible.”German media reported that the airline is in a dispute with pilots about the transfer of staff to a new owner.Air Berlin declared bankruptcy last month following years of losses and the decision of its biggest shareholder, Gulf airline Etihad, to cease payments. Bids to take over Air Berlin must be submitted by Friday. Source: The Associated Press Tuesday, September 12, 2017 Tags: Air Berlin, Travel Alert 200 pilots conveniently call in sick, forcing ailing Air Berlin to scrap flights << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Sherlock Netflix has acquired several of BBC World

first_imgSherlockNetflix has acquired several of BBC Worldwide’s top titles for its new international services, DTVE sister title TBI has learned.The US-listed streaming service recently launched new European services in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland, giving it access to over 60 million more international homes.BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster has sold series into France, Germany and Belgium.Netflix has picked up Doctor Who and Sherlock for France and Germany.Both series already air in the territories. Doctor Who is on pubcaster France Televisions’ France 4 and pay TV channel Fox in Germany. France 4 also has Sherlock. ARD channel Das Erste shows Sherlock in Germany.Outside of scripted, Netflix has also acquired motoring magazine show Top Gear for its new French and German services.All three of the above-mentioned series have also been bought by Netflix for Belgium.The streaming service has also picked up big-ticket dramas Musketeers and Atlantis for Belgium.All of the British drama series air on BBC One in the UK. Top Gear, which Worldwide has sold successfully as a finished show and a format, is a long-running show on BBC Two.last_img read more

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2019-08-07

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Pay TV operators are using personalisation as a ke

first_imgPay TV operators are using personalisation as a key weapon in the fight to attract and retain customers. Graham Pomphrey reports on the latest technologies and business models available to them.The average pay TV viewer is faced with a bewildering choice of content. Three hundred linear channels is not uncommon. Neither is a VOD catalogue running into thousands of hours of content. Add a few broadcaster catch-up platforms and some OTT video content and the options available to the consumer are staggering.With this in mind, how can operators ensure that their customers are getting the content and services they want? It’s becoming a key issue in the battleground for customers. Those operators that can best tailor the service towards individual customers are most likely to keep hold of existing subscribers and attract new ones.Starting pointPersonalising TV services is not something new – operators have for years offered packages of channels, usually based around general areas of interest like sport, music and entertainment. Another basic step taken by some operators is to allow customers to create a list of favourite channels, saving them from having to scroll through the EPG to find relevant channels. But the advent of broadband-connected networks means the options available to service providers have suddenly increased.In the face of competition from newer entrants, especially innovative IPTV operators, more established players have begun rolling out advanced platforms with IP connectivity to offer greater interactivity, using the internet to not only deliver content and ads, but also to glean data about how people are using the services. In the UK, Virgin Media recently rolled out an advanced OTT DVR platform powered by TiVo.“Content online, on TVs, on mobile and on-demand is hugely exciting but consumers are facing increasingly complex choices and it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for,” says Virgin Media’s executive director, commercial, TV and online, Alex Green. Which is perhaps why the top five channels on the cabler’s EPG – BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Five – take 56% of viewing share. But with TiVo, Virgin Media is likely to see this figure change as consumers become accustomed to the platform’s search and recommendation engines. Alongside recommending content based on viewing preferences, viewers can search across TV listings, seven-day catch-up, on-demand, favourite actors, future shows and online content all with one simple search.“With rich programme details our TV customers can discover great new content based on their favourite actors, directors and more, and we’re able to deliver all of this through a seamless, easy-to-use interface,” says Green. “The service also features editorial collections, allowing customers to browse themed or seasonal programming according to their mood.”Virgin Media TiVo can recommend content based on individual viewing habits. The system works by enabling users to give programmes one, two or three ‘thumbs up’, or a ‘thumbs down’ if they don’t like it. Over time, the set-top box will begin to understand the type of shows the user enjoys the most. “It’s this ability to understand individual preferences and personalise the viewing experience that will enable viewers to make the most of the new digital world,” says Green.Twitter doesn’t just bring up the most obvious shows so it tends to pull people further down the EPG.Tom Weiss, TV GeniusIt’s still early days to ascertain just how customers will embrace these types of services, but there is some recent evidence to indicate that they are being well received. Virgin Media revealed that one in every four views of a TV channel on TiVo comes from a source other than the EPG – a sure sign that the search and recommendation engines are proving popular. Customers have also been embracing apps, with almost 80% of households having used the platform to access an app, with each box launching an average of 4.5 apps each week.While Virgin Media and TiVo is a good example of an established pay TV operator using advanced technologies, and most importantly an IP return path, to enable customers to personalise the service to a greater extent, it is newer entrants that are not shackled by legacy networks and set-top boxes who are using that advantage to launch these kinds of services.IPTV operators in particular have been keen to embrace advanced user interfaces and that makes personalising the service for customers much more achievable. And for newer operators, being able to differentiate the service can be crucial if they are to have a serious go at taking on much larger and more established providers. In the UK, IP Vision’s DTT/IP hybrid service Fetch TV launched in 2009. As well as offering the 50 channels available on the country’s Freeview platform, it aggregates in excess of 3,000 hours of on-demand content, as well as offering the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service and pay TV operator BSkyB’s Sky Go multiscreen service. Commercial director David Bloom says that while IP Vision might not have the marketing budget or customer base of established pay TV operators, it has always had more flexibility in terms of being able to offer its customers as much choice as possible.“To tell someone that you can choose an individual channel, or a package of channels for 30 days and then drop it, like we did from the start, was quite advanced. It is an early example of how we personalised the service,” he says. “Also, with the user interface effectively being delivered from the browser side of the service, we were able to see exactly what our customers were watching, which meant we could serve up our own promotions in the EPG or in the mini menus that could be targeted around the time of day, for example.”Bloom says the company is starting to experiment with targeting content towards more defined segments like serving up pre- and post-roll adverts for videos based on the genre of the selcted content. The company is aiming to strike a balance between handing a degree of control to the user “in an intelligent and subtle way” whilst also building profiles around users to better target content to them. “Its about getting close to the customer but not too close,” he says. “We’ve been brought up on the idea that we are scheduled to so we need an evolution of that, which means giving our customers a bit more flexibility but within a structure. I think that’s where the newer players in the market have an advantage because traditional pay TV operators have less flexibility to really try things out. They feel under pressure to get it right first time and they don’t want disgruntled customers if they don’t get it right.”Technology choicesWhile technology vendors have developed a range of solutions to help operators to deliver more personalised experiences, especially in the field of advanced search and recommendation platforms, operators are in many cases still wrestling with business models. “It’s about money at the end of the day,” says Matthew Huntington, vice-president, product marketing for TV technology company Nagravision. “Operators are trying to personalise services to retain customers or increase APRU and margin. When a piece of content is early in its release window, studios will generally take a 60-80% cut but that will reduce to around 40% over time. Through better recommendation and personalisation, operators can drive consumers to longer tail content further down the release window and therefore make better margin out of it. People are only going to find that content if it is promoted to them either through consumers searching for it or service providers making recommendations to them.”TV is also unavoidably affected by the impact the internet is having on the way we consume media. In a world where we can pick and choose who to follow on Twitter, who to be friends with on Facebook and which music and videos we have on our iPods, TV viewers are likely to become more discerning in what they see on the screen and how it is displayed to them.“We have an expectation now of being able to personalise our interactions with our electronic devices and internet services, even if it’s something as simple as being able to change a colour scheme,” says John Griffiths, solutions marketing manager at NDS. “With the internet, you get to see exactly what you want. Why must the TV be any different? The technology and power inside set-top boxes is there and we are increasingly living a connected TV world that means we are capable of fully personalising the service.”Griffiths sounds a note of caution about using the internet as the basis of attempts to personalise the TV experience, however. “In reality, is there any value in being able to change the colour of the UI? Not really. The TV is a different experience to the web. It isn’t instinctively as interactive for a start.” But, he says, get the user experience right and operators could find ARPU increasing along with brand loyalty.According to SeaChange’s senior vice-president of advanced technology Steve Davi, in order to get the most of the content assets available to an operator, they need to enhance the way they promote that content, improve the advertising models around it and offer customers the chance to better personalise the service.[icitspot id=”16508″ template=”box-story”]In terms of personalisation, SeaChange has developed Nitro, a user experience product based on HTML5 that be used across multiple platforms. As well as integrating with recommendation engines, it also allows subscribers to develop favourite channels made up of personally selected content and then share it with their friends via social media networks. At IBC, the company plans to demonstrate its ‘virtual party’ – the ability for a user to set up an ‘event’ on Facebook based around an on-demand title from their pay TV operator’s platform, invite friends to the event and control when the content starts and stops.Davi believes the future of personalisation will lie in companion devices, the main benefit being the ability to personalise down to the individual user rather than a household:  “Tablet devices and smartphones offer many capabilities for operators – they are personal devices that are designed to be interacted with. It means operators can target more effectively and get better feedback from their customers. They can also target advertising more effectively. A tablet will change the way we watch TV and I think that this is how people will browse what to watch on the main screen.”According to David Allred, chief marketing officer of Sezmi, a US-based hybrid TV technology company, operators that are offering TV Everywhere services need to ensure a consistent user experience on each device and for each content source: “Advanced personalisation is more than set of isolated recommendations; it drives the entire user experience. Key elements for personalisation that need to be present in next generation platforms include providing a consistent experience across multiple devices and across multiple content sources.” And Allred said this means using a cloud-based architecture. Consumers, he says also want to be able to use the same user interface to search and browse all of their content regardless of source. “A return path is also a critical element of advanced personalisation. With no feedback loop, the operator can’t deliver individualised recommendations,” he says.Search & recommendationVirgin Media’s statistics are clear evidence of the growing role search and recommendation engines will play in enabling customers to discover relevant content.From a technology point of view, basic search functionality is fairly undemanding to implement, says NDS’s Griffiths, especially when it is confined to the operator’s EPG and VOD catalogues. “Search is pretty straightforward. There are clients within our middleware that means we can do it in the set-top, and using the headend we can search across the whole linear and on-demand catalogue, and potentially to external sources in order to provide search results.”TV Genius, a company that specialises in search and recommendation, counts companies including BSkyB, ITV and Freeview amongst its customers. According to CEO Tom Weiss, search is becoming much more complex, with the advent of HD channels, time-shifted channels and catch-up services. When someone launches a search it is becoming increasingly complex to establish which content they are actually looking for. “People are searching more for multichannel content than they were previously and it is hard to predict the shows people are looking for. We have to deal with the same show being available on multiple channels, and broadcasters airing repeats. If someone searches for a soap, for example, there is the catch-up from the previous night, tomorrow’s episode, not to mention re-runs on other channels in the afternoon and so on. We have to be able to bring the right results to the top.”Weiss says TV Genius’s algorithm can take between 20 to 30 different factors into account, including how many people have watched a piece of content, when it was broadcast and on which channel it was originally aired.The company was recently acquired by broadcast services provider Red Bee Media, which has a rich heritage in providing metadata services to broadcasters and pay TV operators. The deal will see Red Bee combine its data services with TV Genius’s search and recommendation.“We see a lot of content from lots of different sources trying to compete with each other. We know from experience that people tend to like some form of curated viewing experience. Using technology to take the strain from the end user to find something interesting amongst all this content is important for service providers,” says Red Bee Media’s director, technology and innovation Steve Plunkett.The company provides broadcast representation, meaning it writes descriptions that appear in EPGs and print publications. “It’s a means of promotion and signposting users to content they might be interested in, and that is an early precursor to what we’re seeing now from an algorithmic perspective in terms of recommendation. As technology plays a bigger part in that process we felt we needed to have a recommendation engine and a TV-centric search facility and something that understands where newer influences are coming from, such as social networks,” says Plunkett.TV Genius is playing an active role in using the influence of social networks to enhance its recommendation capabilities. It recently launched a TV guide that integrates with social network site Facebook. The new solution uses the company’s content discovery platform to personalise TV guides – when a user logs into the EPG with Facebook Connect, all the shows their friends like are highlighted in the grid. The cloud-based solution means the Facebook-integrated EPGs can de deployed on the web, connected TVs, smartphones and tablets.“The average person on Facebook has ‘liked’ four TV shows and has an average of about 140 Facebook friends. That’s over 400 TV ‘likes’ for most people. We can use this data to highlight the shows in an EPG that your friends are watching. From an operator perspective, it gives them loads of additional data about that user and what they might like,” says Weiss. He says the company can also scan Twitter to see what TV shows people are talking about. “The nice thing about Twitter is that it doesn’t just bring up the most obvious shows and therefore tends to pull people further down the EPG, which is great for operators.”Most in the industry agree that the real future of personalisation will come in the form of recommendation. Providing viewers with the content they want with very little effort on their part is seen as the key to retaining customers and tempting them to pay for additional content. While the aim is to keep the process as simple as possible for the end user, the technology behind it can be complicated and fraught with potential pitfalls.One company specialising in recommendation is Aprico. The Philips-backed company has developed technology that can find, recommend and target content from various sources, including linear broadcast, video-on-demand, web video and targeted advertising. According to Thomas Dvorak, Aprico’s chief marketing officer, operators are initially looking at deploying recommendations based on their own VOD library in an attempt to increase on-demand sales: “The main activity in the MSO field is to use content discovery for finding content in their own VOD libraries. The first step is to make people more aware of the latest movies in their libraries.”He says that some service providers, particularly IPTV operators with green-field deployments, are starting to take a real interest in redeveloping the EPG towards a user interface that embraces recommendation results. However, other operators, particularly more established players with large customer bases and legacy infrastructure are taking a more cautious approach.One of the main issues in the area of recommendation is that operators can’t be sure who is watching the TV at any time and so targeting individuals becomes problematic. It is unlikely that children will have the same tastes as their parents, and even amongst children of a similar age there can be great variations in viewing preferences. Some technology vendors have developed systems that involve TV viewers logging into the platform so that operators know who is watching the TV and can therefore target content very specifically. But IP Vision’s Bloom is adamant that customers will not warm to such services. “These options verge from the intrusive to the impractical,” he says.However, algorithms are becoming so sophisticated that recommendation companies are confident that they can be accurate in the majority of instances. Dvorak claims that Aprico’s trials indicate that its technology achieves an average accuracy rate of 80-90%, meaning that between eight and nine recommendations out of 10 make sense to the user.  So what about that final 10-20%? Dvorak says it is within the operator’s interest to offer a “surprise factor” to help users discover new content. “This is in the interest of user’s changing viewing habits and the fact that we want to help users find new content. You need the right balance of accuracy and surprise; that is what good recommendation engines do.”last_img read more

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2019-08-06

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first_imgShareTweet Teenage schoolboy Paul Whitters was shot dead by the RUC in 1981THE NORTH’S new Secretary James Brokenshire has met the uncle of a Derry schoolboy who died after being struck with a plastic bullet.Paul Whitters was 15 when he was killed in 1981.His uncle, Tony Brown, says the family have been denied justice. 1981bogsideDerryFAMILY OF PAUL WHITTERS MEET NEW SECRETARY OF STATE SEEKING JUSTICEJAMES BROKENSHIREPOLICE OMBUDSMAN Today, Mr Brown was part of a delegation from the Pat Finucane Centre who met Mr Brokenshire during his first visit to Derry in an effort to make progress on the past.In 2007, a Police Ombudsman report criticised an RUC investigation of the case.Paul’s uncle, Tony Brown, said it was a productive meeting and that he was “cautiously optimistic”.Paul Whitters was wearing a mask and throwing stones at windows when he was shot by a police officer on Great James Street 35 years ago. The incident had followed a day of rioting in and around the Bogside area of Derry during the IRA hunger strikes.The police had said the baton round was fired to prevent a lorry being hijacked.“Paul’s death was never properly investigated and that made a mockery of the inquest,” Mr Brown said.“There was no warning given. Paul was shot at a range which was unacceptable, within the regulations at the time.“We subsequently learned that the plastic bullet gun was defective.“The most appalling thing was that Paul was dragged from the scene where he was shot, there was no attempt made to preserve the scene for forensic reasons.”Mr Brown said they were delighted that Mr Brokenshire had met them so soon after getting the job.“Nineteen secretaries of state later, I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ve had a proactive engagement,” he added.FAMILY OF PAUL WHITTERS MEET NEW SECRETARY OF STATE SEEKING JUSTICE was last modified: July 26th, 2016 by John2John2 Tags:last_img read more

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2019-08-05

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By Doug Casey Casey Research Legendary contrari

first_imgBy Doug Casey, Casey Research Legendary contrarian investor and the original International Man Doug Casey takes aim at the US Constitution, from its sneaky beginnings to its encroachments on individual liberty and free markets. Louis: Doug, we’ve threatened to talk about the Constitution many times. Since there’s  increasing interest in the country’s economic and political future, maybe now is a good time to put that into a fuller historical context.. Doug: Good idea. I confess I suspected this was coming up, so I just now read the Constitution again. This is actually something I recommend to everyone. Unfortunately, the Constitution is now a dead letter, but reading it is instructive in a number of ways, and it only takes about ten minutes. One should know the law of the land, even if it no longer applies. That will probably be enough for one conversation, but we should probably also take up the amendments, especially the Bill of Rights, in a future conversation, and then maybe another on the Declaration of Independence – another short document everyone should read. L: Well, some might argue that since the Constitution was ratified with the Bill of Rights attached, they really ought to be considered together, but I’d certainly agree that the later amendments – like the ones establishing and repealing Prohibition – should be a separate conversation. Doug: Thank heaven for the Bill of Rights; it slowed the descent of the US considerably, while it was still taken seriously. So, where to begin… L: How about with the fact that there wasn’t supposed to be a constitution? The Continental Congress authorized delegates to gather to amend and improve on the Articles of Confederation, not to replace them with a new form of government. Doug: I’ve read that James Madison of Virginia showed up with a document called the “Virginia Plan,” bearing close resemblance to the current Constitution, except that it clearly described a single, national government. That didn’t sit too well with the more independent-minded delegates, so they struck the words “national government” and replaced them with “United States,” which went over a lot better. Now, I wasn’t there – and the convention was held behind closed doors – so I hope readers will give me a little wiggle room if they read a book that tells a different story, but my impression has long been that the adoption of the Constitution was actually something of a coup. It replaced a confederation of separate governments with a single super-government. Many people didn’t realize this at the time, or they would have objected. The War Between the States demonstrated the reality of the matter, when people did object. L: I think I’ve read the same books you have. Or maybe I’m just remembering our conversation on the Civil War. Doug: People often gush about what a wonderful thing the Constitution is, but I’ve always suspected that US and world history would be different – and better – if those delegates had done as they were told and just smoothed over the rough spots in the Articles rather than replaced them with the Constitution. Greater independence among the states could have led to more innovation, and I doubt there would have been the unpleasantness of 1861-’65. People with differing ethical values and economic interests would not have been forced to obey the same laws. L: Perhaps. But they did, and we’re stuck with the Constitution we have, for now. Doug: For now. Sometimes I think those who’ve called for a new constitutional convention are on to something, because the one we have now has fallen into almost complete disuse. People talk as though it were carved into the sacred bedrock of the universe, but few people have actually read it, and most of those who have seem to spend their time trying to figure out ways to get out of the clear and simple rules it set out, rather than abide by it. People talk about how it should be a “living document” that evolves with the times. But those people almost always want to abolish what few limitations there are on the government. They want to change the actual working parts of the Constitution, the ones that define and shape the government, not the tedious pages with “Robert’s Rules of Order” type stuff governing how motions are passed in Congress and the like. Curiously, this trivia – about how the president of the Senate is elected and so forth – is the only part of the Constitution that the government still adheres to. It follows the trivia fastidiously but disregards the important parts that designate what the government may and may not do. L: Ah, the irony. But a constitutional convention is a terrible idea, Doug; you know that if we had one now, we wouldn’t get anything like enumerated and restricted powers or the Bill of Rights. The average “educated” person in the US has been taught that the Great Depression proved that capitalism doesn’t work; and the average couch potato believes that work is a tedious imposition to be avoided, rather than a virtue. If a new constitution were drafted today, we’d get unlimited and expansive powers and a Bill of Entitlements. Doug: [Sighs] You’re absolutely right. All institutions – countries, companies, clubs, whatever – inevitably degrade and become corrupt over time. That’s one reason why revolutions occur in countries. But okay, let’s look at the one we’ve got. Some things stand out. Let’s start with the item you tripped over, the power given to Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations, Indian tribes, and between the states. That was a problematical idea from the get-go. There should be separation of economy and state for the same reason that we have separation of church and state. And there should be a separation of state and education, and everything else that might be provided by society. Otherwise the state will insinuate itself and eventually try to usurp the whole area. Even though the founders’ idea of “regulate” was very different from the current one of total control, it left the door open to misinterpretation. In those days it meant simply to “make regular” or to normalize. The idea, as I understand it, was to ensure a level playing field between the states, since some of the states had sweetheart deals with some states and trade barriers with yet others, greatly complicating business concerning them all. Over the years, this concept has devolved into a blanket power to control every minute detail of any good or service that might cross state lines – or might not even do that, but could affect prices in other states simply by existing wherever it is. What was a very reasonable intent has opened Pandora’s box. And now corporatists, lobbyists, bureaucrats, and influence-peddlers completely control the coercive power of the state and use it to destroy their competition and enrich themselves. L: As opposed to beating the competition in a fair contest in the marketplace. Doug: Yes; we’re told competition is supposed to be “fair,” not “cutthroat” – although both terms are ridiculous misnomers. But Article I, Section 8 is full of things that have been perverted or really shouldn’t be there to start with. It says the Congress has the power to coin money and regulate its value, as well as establish weights and measures. Any sensible person could have told the guys who wrote this that that’s like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Money is a market phenomenon that’s quite capable of orderly evolution in a free-market environment. Governments are not necessary to establish money and should never be trusted with a monopoly power over money – when they have it, they always abuse it and debase the currency. It happened in ancient Rome and has happened again and again throughout history; it’s the easiest – but also the most destructive – way for the state to get revenue. L: Fine, but you’re an anarchist, and the writers of the Constitution were not. They were practical men of their day, trying to set up a system they thought would work. Keeping the state’s grubby hands off the money supply was not an idea they would have been familiar with… Doug: Not really. Bank notes back then were issued by private companies – banks, gold- and silversmiths, and such. They issued notes stating that so-and-so had X amount of gold or silver on deposit. Many people used all sorts of gold and silver not issued by nor regulated by their local governments for money. If memory serves, in the original colonies that formed the United States of America, Spanish pieces of eight were among the most common items used for money. The framers of the Constitution should have known better. And maybe they did; the Constitution gives Congress the power to coin money, but it doesn’t forbid anyone else from doing the same thing. So anyone could have gone into the business of minting coins for use as means of exchange and stores of value. The market would decide which were the most reliable. L: I wonder when and how competing with the government on that front became a crime. Doug: I’m not sure it is, even today. What the government has done to people who’ve issued private money in recent times, like the creators of the Liberty Dollar, is to prosecute them for counterfeiting, which is spelled out as a crime in the Constitution – but only if you counterfeit the currency of the United States. During the War Between the States, a printer in Philadelphia hit upon the idea of counterfeiting Confederate currency and made a huge amount of money for himself. He was never prosecuted. Washington overlooked it because it aided its war effort. But by late in 1863 it was no longer even worth the man’s effort, because the Confederate dollar had lost so much value – due mostly to the foolish policies of the Confederate government in Richmond. I suspect that was a major, but generally overlooked, contributing factor to the collapse of the South. L: I’ve long thought the North’s victory was largely economic, not military. “Unconditional Surrender” Grant’s bloody march into Virginia was an insanely expensive way to beat Lee. Anyway, you may be right about counterfeiting, but everyone has gotten the message: Money is the state’s turf, and woe unto ye if you trespass. Doug: Yes, we live on a prison planet. Trapped here by the aberrations of human psychology. L: So, what else would you list among Doug Casey’s top ten gripes with the US Constitution? Doug: The provision to establish post offices and post roads. The post office is a paragon of inefficiency and bad service, was never necessary as a government function, and absolutely should never have been a monopoly. And the first roads in America were private toll roads. L: I remember reading that Lysander Spooner competed with the US Post Office in the 1840s, and did a better job at lower cost until the government shut him down. Doug: Once again, the power to establish post offices and post roads is given, but the authority to crush private competition is not. The first power was later interpreted to include the second, and so it’s been with everything in the Constitution ever since it was written. Things like this and the power to coin money were the camel’s nose under the tent flap; now the state camel has filled the tent, and there’s hardly any room for individual freedom. L: Okay, what else? Doug: The item setting up copyrights and patents was, at least arguably, another mistake along these lines, and for the same reasons. As a writer who wants to benefit from the effort I put into using words to communicate valuable information, I’m a bit ambivalent about that, but I don’t see how it’s possible for anyone to own an idea, and I’m sure getting the government involved is a bad move. L: We published a conversation with our friend Paul Rosenberg on the subject of “intellectual property.” His conclusion was that the state’s involvement has become useless anyway. All creators can do now is adapt to the marketplace. Doug: It’s interesting to me that in spite of all the hand-wringing on this subject, the ongoing demise of patents and copyrights has not stopped inventors from inventing, nor musicians or writers from creating. In fact, wikis and open-source projects have created many valuable things. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks really just turned into a bonanza for lawyers. I do want to benefit from my intellectual work, but I suspect Paul is right; all we can do is adapt. It’s also interesting to me that aside from counterfeiting, which we’ve already mentioned, there are only two other crimes mentioned in the Constitution. One is piracy, and the other is treason. Today, nobody knows for sure how many crimes there are on the books, but it’s thought that there are over 5,000 crimes defined in federal law. I’ve read that the average US citizen breaks three federal laws every day, intentionally or otherwise. And now many federal agencies have armed – sometimes heavily armed – branches that round up people and prosecute them for these so-called crimes. I suppose I could live with just three federal laws – piracy, counterfeiting, and treason would be easy to remember, at least. L: But counterfeiting wouldn’t be a federal crime if we got the government out of the money business, as you suggest. Doug: That’s right, and piracy could be handled by letters of marque and reprisal, as it was in the old days. L: What about treason? Doug: Well… you could look at that as the state’s right to self-defense – but let me just ask: when the state becomes unjust, what is a just man or woman to do? L: On an ethical plane, the answer is clear, but on a practical plane, that’s a tough one. Doug: Indeed. Another thing worth covering is the power to declare war. The authors of the Constitution were rightly worried about leaders with the power of kings to plunge nations into war for personal or imagined grievances, so they gave the power to declare war to Congress. But like everything remotely sensible about the Constitution, that too has been set aside. The US has had numerous wars, one after the other, for decades – but the last time Congress actually declared war was World War II. L: Really? I thought Korea was declared. Doug: No, that was a “police action.” Technically, it was a UN police action against North Korea, but in reality it was a war between the US and China. At any rate, it’s just another example of how thoroughly ignored the Constitution is in the US. The president can now unilaterally send US troops anywhere to do almost anything. In fact, he can do almost anything, period… at least, if media lapdogs are able to justify and rationalize it. L: Wasn’t it Henry Kissinger who said that doing something illegal was no problem and that doing something unconstitutional just took a little longer? Doug: “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” You’ve got to admit Henry is a clever guy. Come the day I write an obit for him, perhaps I’ll subtitle it: Comedian and War Criminal. L: Okay, okay, I get the picture. I don’t think we need to go through every clause to see how far the US has fallen from the America That Was. That prompts me to say to those who think this conversation shows that we hate America that just the opposite is true. Personally, I love the idea that was America, and I still love the land of America, from sea to shining sea. What I loathe and despise is the corruption being visited upon her by the maggots in Washington, D.C. who’ve been gutting all that is good and noble about her. At any rate, we’ve been saying for a long time that all is not well in Mudville. Are there any practical implications to this conversation? Investment implications? Doug: It’s yet another sign that the US has gone way beyond the point of no return. You can’t make a sensible investment in a country which doesn’t have the rule of law; you can only speculate – which is to say, try to capitalize on politically caused distortions in the market. There’s no way the US federal government can or will return to observing the Constitution; it’s just something it pays lip service to – and then only rarely. When you’re on a slippery slope that’s rapidly turning vertical, it’s no longer a question of if there will be a painful stop at the bottom, only when. L: Does your guru sense give you any feeling for how close we are to that crash? Doug: You know I don’t like to predict what and when at the same time, but I can’t make myself believe it can be put off too much longer – a couple of years at most. And it could still quite possibly happen this year. L: In which case we invest for crisis, as you’ve been saying all along. Doug: Yet another reason, yes. We’re headed for a genuinely historic time of troubles. L: Roger that. Until next week, then. Doug: Travel safe, and see you soon. Personally, I dread and despise the interrogation and searching one gets from ICE when entering the US. But I suppose it’s no more degrading than the grope from the TSA. No problem though – it must be somewhere in the Constitution. I better read it again. L: Sure, Doug, it’s right next to the clause granting everyone free health care, free education, and a free lunch. Doug: [Laughs] [The government’s trampling of the Constitution threatens to wipe out the wealth of countless savers, but you can protect yourself if you act in time.]last_img read more

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2019-08-04

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You can read all about our specific stock picks e

first_img You can read all about our specific stock picks, exactly how you can access them, and much more in the new special report, Crisis Investing in Cyprus. Click here for more details. Inside this new guidebook, Doug and I take a firsthand look at the economic turmoil and opportunity left in the wake of the crisis. This is a must-have resource for anyone interested in speculative opportunities. I think you will be as excited as we are once you learn about the crisis-driven bargains that we found and detail in Crisis Investing in Cyprus. Recently, legendary crisis investor Doug Casey and I put our boots to the ground in Cyprus to search the rubble of one of recent history’s most significant financial crises—the financial collapse and bank deposit raid in Cyprus—for incredible bargains. And we found them. In this newly released video interview below, Doug and I detail the tremendous speculative opportunities available on the Cyprus Stock Exchange.last_img read more

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2019-08-04

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In This Issue Fed loses patience Lower pr

first_imgIn This Issue. * Fed loses patience * Lower projections * Dollar took a big hit * Norges and SNB hold And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts.Roller Coaster Ride.Good day.And welcome to Thursday morning. I’ll let Frank Trotter greet you this morning, so take it away Frank. “San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina – The day dawned early for us in Cafayate, and brilliant.  To the west behind our villa the snow-capped peaks of the Andes made a rare appearance.  Cachi Mountain, 90 miles north at the head of the valley stood imposing.  A rain last night in the Quebrada provides some excitement as I drove to the airport.  Mud and rock slides had been mostly cleared by crews leaving pools of water and slippery spots on the winding canyon road.  Glad we didn’t meet a tour bus or a semi in the midst of one of those surprises. A scene at the airport made me think of the late Hy Minsky, a former colleague and well known and respected economist.  According to my posthumous application of his research, the run up in housing prices well above the inflation rate that caused the crisis in 2008 was created by a series of events.  First, major changes to government policies concerning acceptable mortgage transactions in 1992 and 2008.  Additional regulatory changes on the same topic in 1997 and 1998 added fuel to the fire.  Second, the fiscal deficit expansion starting in 2002 generated by the otherwise welcome tax cuts that have been covered so frequently here, threw on a few more logs allowing individuals to spend the extra income including buying homes at higher and higher prices.  Next the monetary base expansion post 2001, accompanied by a sporty multiplier worked as traditionally modeled helping to boost prices generally, including housing.  Finally let’s not forget credit – they lynchpin of Minsky’s work.  Banks and other lenders reacted to clients requesting liquidity from their newfound home values providing loans based on the newly inflated values, and of course some lenders pushed this way too hard as we have seen.  So we have all the pieces in place – unjustified asset price increases, significant government stimulus, and a massive credit expansion creating a top heavy leverage.  The story is told time and time again. In Salta at the airport there is a protocol.  Everyone sits at the gate inside security until it is almost time to board.  Then we passengers are to line up in three places based on our seat assignment, and standing.  It’s a little like the Southwest Airlines A, B, and C lines before they instituted the line-up by number protocol.  The Minsky Moment comes when the first person (that would be me) stands and joins the appropriate line.  Inside of 2 minutes everyone is on their feet and in line – a truly entertaining spectacle that I love to create.  In financial markets there are a few who exit early – maybe they sold their homes in 2007 in wonderment of the price irrationality.  Then a few more, then almost everyone has a for sale sign in the yard creating a tumbling price market.  When the asset is highly leveraged this effect compounds, in the USA creating 2008 for example.  Looking out over the landscape I note that we have seen 6 excellent years in the equity markets, accompanied by an increasing leverage that I spoke about in the Pfennig last Sunday.  Do the markets keep on their upward path or does someone rise from their seat and get into the B line?” What a difference a day makes! As soon as I saw the headline where the Fed removed patient from their language, I was prepared for the worst. The trading screens lit up like a Christmas tree, but all of the action wasn’t consistent with how the script was supposed to play out, according the most market pundits leading up to the meeting. Yes, the numerous calls that patient was to be removed came to fruition but the Fed really shook things up when they came off as having a dovish undertone. Chuck took some time out of his vacation and had this to share with us. “I thought I would throw my 2-cents in this whole FOMC meeting yesterday.  Well, I see that the FOMC and their fearless leader, Janet Yellen, has lost her patience with the kids.  But, also said that she and her band of merry Fed members decided that they were going to remain cautious on a timeline for raising key interest rates.  They are still wanting to see inflation, as measured by the stupid CPI, reach 2% (it’s presently lagging below that number, somehow. )  and the economic data strengthen before moving rates higher. so why drop the word that so accurately describes what they are being?  Patient?   At the last meeting, they threw out using the phrase “considerable time” and now they’ve thrown out “patient”, one would think that they are simply greasing the tracks for a rate hike at the next meeting, why wait until June?   But then there’s that use of the word “cautious” .  And here’s where I think the FOMC is hedging their bet.  For if the data including inflation doesn’t respond accordingly, the FOMC could point to it and say, “wasn’t it good that we were cautious?”  And if the data does, miraculously respond accordingly, then they can simply say, ” it didn’t hurt that we were cautious”.  As I’ve told you before, my dad used to say to me, “Chuck, money talks, and B.S. walks”.  I don’t know why that saying just came to me, for I would never tie that to what is being said about rate hikes.  Never! Never I tell you! You can’t make me! No way! I’m not going to do it!… And the markets? Well, the dollar got sold like funnel cakes at a state fair after the Fed’s admission that the economy had slowed. It was quite the scene.  And last I looked Gold rallied $23.  But you have to ask yourself this. Why on earth would traders throw their positions in dollars away, when they put all their convictions into believing the Fed is going to hike rates this year eventually? Well, have you ever heard of a short squeeze?  It’s all about being short and having to cover, which leads to a price rise and that causes other shorts to have to be closed out and before you can shake a stick, the short positions have been squeezed out.   That’s what all this looks like to me, no change of heart, no having a V-8 head slap that the dollar’s rally has all been fabricated. At least not yet. that is.” Thanks again Chuck. Aside from the Fed meeting, it was a quiet day for data since a report of last week’s mortgage apps was the only other player in the lineup. Obviously, the Fed meeting far outweighed the drop in mortgage apps, but I at least wanted to mention it. We don’t have any US data due out tomorrow, so today’s weekly jobs numbers, current account balance, and leading indicators will wrap it up for this week. Moving back to the Fed, removal of the magic word (patient) had been interpreted as a rate hike was only two months away but downgrades made to both growth and inflation expectations pretty much ruled that out. With that said, calls for a June hike are now being pushed to September or December. In a portion of its statement, the Fed said the committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2% objective over the medium term. They went on to say inflation has declined further below the committee’s longer run objective. As far as inflation is concerned, its pretty tough for a central bank to justify a rate hike when inflation is being reported as low as it is. The big market mover was the new look of the dot chart in which all of the Fed members plot where they see interest rates going forward. The median estimate for the Fed funds rate projection for year-end dropped nearly in half to 0.625% from the previous 1.125% forecast. The 2016 figures were also chopped as they now see rates at 1.875% instead of the previous estimate of 2.5%. In other words, interest rates are expected to increase, but not nearly as much or as steep. As far as the currency market is concerned, I saw a report saying the dollar had its worst one day performance six years. With the way currencies had been getting beaten up, yesterday’s reprieve was very much needed. Just about every currency had gains of at least 1% on the day and more than a handful of them put up over 2% gains. As Chuck mentioned, the weeks leading up to this meeting saw the market getting overloaded on long dollar positions so the closing of those trades that were made with the anticipation a June hike was a sure thing had fueled a majority of the large gains yesterday. At one point, the euro was in the top spot among the various currencies as it traded over 1.09 and a sat on a 3% gain. Prior to the Fed statement, the Brazilian real was down about 1% and fell to a 12 year low as Fitch said they are reviewing the nation’s credit rating so there’s concern its current investment grade status could be in jeopardy. The Swedish krona was also firmly entrenched in negative territory during early trading after the central bank cut rates again and pushed the benchmark repo rate further into negative territory to -0.25%. Even with the bad news, both currencies still put up over 1% gains yesterday. Other than that, the Fed meeting was in the captain’s seat steering the currencies higher. As I came in this morning, the initial knee jerk reaction of the Fed meeting is behind us and the market has attempted to digest the happenings of yesterday. The dollar has been able to gain back a good chunk of ground so far this morning as the euro is trading around 1.0720 and the dollar index has settled in the mid-98 range. After all of the dust settled, the markets are back to counting their chickens before they hatch as rate hike prospects are still on the table. The Fed didn’t specifically rule out a June hike, but some economists are still hanging on to that glimmer of hope for some reason, but the expectations are that we will see at least one rate increase this year. The Norwegian krone has honors this morning with a 1.36% gain, and the only currency in positive territory, as their central bank, Norges Bank, surprised the markets by keeping rates on hold at 1.25%. Policy makers said if economic developments are broadly in line with projections, the prospects for a reduction in the key policy rate are present. In other words, we are going to see a rate cut as soon as the next meeting. The Swiss National Bank met as well and kept rates on hold but cut growth and inflation expectations. It was also mentioned they will remain active in the foreign exchange market, as necessary, in order to influence monetary conditions and was in response to the rise in the franc after the cap was lifted. This translates into we don’t want the franc to appreciate.That does it for today, so until tomorrow, have a great day!Currencies today 3/19/15. American Style: A$ .7656, kiwi .7386, C$ .7864, euro 1.0649, sterling 1.4837, Swiss $ 1.0070,  . European Style: rand 12.2705, krone 8.0872, SEK 8.7216, forint 285.01, zloty 3.8837, koruna 25.755, RUB 60.12, yen 120.91, sing 1.3859, HKD 7.7595, INR 62.59, China 6.1460, pesos 15.3135, BRL 3.2598, Dollar Index 98.96, Oil $42.81, 10-year 1.94%, Silver $15.84, Platinum $1,114.10, Palladium $771.10, and Gold. $1,162.40Mike Meyer Vice President EverBank World Marketslast_img read more

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2019-08-04

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In This Issue UK election results send pounds

first_imgIn This Issue. * UK election results send pounds soaring! * Chinese exports and imports disappoint. * Catching up with Don Brash. * Gold continues to find shaky ground….And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts.A Jobs Jamboree Friday.Good day.. And a Happy Friday to one and all! I’m a little shaky this morning, so right now, I could go either way, good or bad day, so let’s just hope for the good day, and move on. I was treated by friends Kevin and Lisa to the baseball game yesterday. A beautiful day, a wonderfully pitched game by my beloved Cardinals, and a win to finish up a 3 of 4 series with the Cubs, and a 9-2 home stand. I absolutely love baseball parks, when you first walk in you get the aroma of hot dogs, and other things being cooked, then you come out of the tunnel and see the lush green field, and the crack of a bat hitting a ball, people cheering. Well, there have been some developments and news overnight, so I better stop talking about baseball parks and get to work! Front and Center this morning. Well, it appears that all the talk about a toss-up vote in the U.K. was just that, talk. Because. The Conservatives of PM Cameron picked up enough seats to probably not only for a Government, but also have a majority Government. And the pound sterling (pound) has gone on a moon shot higher! The pound is up 2 full cents overnight and looks like it wants to go even higher when the election results are confirmed.  This election result is a HUGE surprise to everyone that was following the run-up to voting, so the knee-jerk reaction by pound traders is probably to be expected. As far as the rest of the currencies this morning, we’re seeing some dollar strength ahead of the all so important Jobs Jamboree here in the U.S. this morning. Remember Fed member, Lockhart told us that this April report will be a key in decided whether rates will be raised in June or not. For those of you who give a hoot (because I’m not one!) about what the BLS surveys and hedonic adjustments have to say today, the expectations are for 228,000 jobs to have been created, whether out of thin air or not…  You know, one thing that the media or markets fail to discuss every month when the jobs report prints, is the fact that Manufacturing Jobs here in the U.S. are dropping and simply not adding to the jobs total.  I find this to be very scary for the U.S. going forward. But since the markets and media don’t seem to think it’s a problem,  I’m probably just making a mountain out of a mole hill. The Chinese printed some very weak data last night that not only signals that the slowdown in China continues, but that the global economy / growth, is also going to continue to slowdown. China’s exports unexpectedly fell in April by 6.2% from a year earlier. Imports also fell 16.1% VS a year ago, which shows the domestic economy is as slow as molasses. And all the good performance of the renminbi / yuan this week was stopped and the currency was weakened on the data last night. Here in the U.S. Consumer Credit (read debt) spiked in March from $14.789 Billion to $20.523 Billion.  Now this spike could be viewed two ways. I’ll let you decide for yourself which way you think it should be viewed, and then take a guess at which way you think I view it.  Here we go. 1. This is evidence consumers are beginning to feel confident about taking on debt, to finance purchases, which could revitalize the economy.  OR 2. That Consumers are using their credit cards just to survive. The euro is down another ½-cent this morning. Greece, the Jobs Jamboree, China’s slowdown, it’s all piling up on the poor beleaguered euro, after having a nice recovery in April the euro is back to taking hits to the midsection..  But that could all change today, should the Jobs Jamboree disappoint.  But like I said the other day, I’m convinced that the BLS will see to it that the Jobs Jamboree is not disappointing!   The yield on German 10-year Bunds spiked from .50 to .78 in one day’s trading yesterday, and then settled down a bit. it was a crazy day all around the world with spikes in all asset classes good and bad. Here in the U.S. the 10-year Treasury saw a two-day spike that took the yield from 2.13% to 2.27%, only to see it settle down to 2.15% this morning.  And the price of Oil which had spiked earlier this week to $61.90, has fallen back to $58.88 this morning..  Apparently, the U.S. production has slowed, but the stockpiles of Oil continue to rise. In fact the stockpiles are more than 100 Million barrels above the 5-year average for this time of year. The Aussie dollar (A$) is basically flat to up a bit this morning, as the A$ attempts to gain back the lost ground this week after hitting 80-cents earlier in the week. The A$’s kissin cousin across the Tasman has seen its value whacked this week, after Traders felt the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ)  might be considering a rate cut soon. Longtime readers, and I mean longtime, will recall when Don Brash was the Gov. of the RBNZ, and how I always talked about him in high regards, as a Central Banker that believed in instilling the pride of a country with a strong currency.  Those types of Central Bankers (and there were few even then!) don’t really exist any longer, as all have gone to the same Central Banker College, where they teach them how to debase their currencies as a means of promoting economic growth, and exports. Isn’t there anyone out there that didn’t go to this college?  Maybe I’ll start my own college for Central Bankers! HAHAHAHAHAHA! As if! I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy! – Wayne and Garth! Well, I told you all that to tell you that I was in contact with Don Brash yesterday. He was kind enough to send me birthday wishes last month, and so I sent a note of thanks to him and asked him to “come on our show”.  That won’t work right now, but maybe sometime in the future it will be worked out.. I tell you when it does, it will be a HUGE treat for you dear readers, for this man not only has his finger on the pulse of the economy, the central bank, but also the country’s politics. So, I look forward to when he is ready to “come on our show”. Gold is flat to up a buck or two this morning. No big shakes, at least not right now ahead of the Jobs Jamboree. Like I said above, I suspect the BLS will make certain that the Jobs Jamboree doesn’t disappoint, and if that holds true, then I would suspect that Gold would get whacked today.  Of course the opposite could occur should we get disappointed.   The other day I talked about how I hadn’t seen any articles on bullionstar.com that Google+ posts by Gold researcher, Koos Jansen, and then voila! I find one! Apparently Koos Jansen got interviewed by the largest Newspaper in the Netherlands. And apparently, Koos Jansen, isn’t his real name! it’s Jan Nieuwenhuijs.  So, Koos, or Jan, titled his interview “China Conquers The World With Gold”.  So, I read through the interview. great stuff. as always I must say!  Here’s a snippet for the article that can be read in its entirety here or you can settle for my snippet!  https://www.bullionstar.com/blogs/koos-jansen/biggest-newspaper-netherlands-interviews-koos-jansen/ When asked about Gold’s relevancy in today’s world. “Oh it’s relevant, the base of each financial system remains confidence. Throughout history goldsmiths and banks could create a multiple of the gold in their vaults as paper and book money. But the people knew that there was always a partial backing held in reserve. The United States dollar was backed by gold until 1971. Money has been printed full speed since then. As the European Central Bank is now doing in the Eurozone. Through leverage massive debt structures are built that are not sustainable. For the moment, the Chinese support the United States dollar. But its leaders want absolutely no more dollars. They buy gold. On a massive scale. However, only half of Chinese gold demand turned out to be in the books.” – Koos Jansen I’ll skip the U.S. Data Cupboard talk today, since it’s all about the Jobs Jamboree today anyway. So, let’s hit the recap, and then the Big Finish! To recap. the U.K. election was everything but a toss-up as was talked about leading up to the vote. The Conservatives appear to have won a majority and will be able to form a government, which has allowed the pound to jump 2-cents overnight. Now that the election is over, the focus switches to the U.S. Jobs Jamboree, which is expected to show 228,000 jobs created in April. And Chuck believes the BLS will make certain they don’t disappoint us!  And Chinese exports and imports slump indicating that not only is the Chinese economy slow, but the global economy is also slow. For What It’s Worth. Dear reader, Bog G. sent me a link to an article on zerohedge.com  and it plays well with the Jobs Jamboree print today. So, here are some snippets, and of course you can read the whole article here: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-07/texas-job-recession-now-literally-chart “But while there may be massive confusion when it comes to the data propaganda and the clear agenda behind the seasonally-adjusted, policy-specific government data, there is no confusion when it comes to one thing: the job recession in Texas has not been this bad since the last of the second Great Depression. Recall what we said last month when we “welcomed” Texas to the recession with some 47,043 layoffs through March: … when broken down by state, things get bad for Texas, very bad. As in recession bad, because with 47K total layoffs, or 10K more than all energy-related layoffs, in just this one state so far in 2015, it means that the energy sector weakness has moved beyond just the oil patch and has spread to the broader economy and related industries in the one state that until recently had the best jobs track record since Lehman. Fast forward to today when we find that what we thought was bad for Texas with 47K layoff announcements in the highest-paid energy sector, just got far, far worse when in its monthly update earlier today, Challenger announced that just in the month of April another 22,760 jobs were lost in Texas, bringing the total to a whopping 69,803 layoff announcements.” Chuck again. But I’m sure the BLS has an answer or solution to this report of all these layoffs. Currencies today 5/8/15. American Style: A$ .7910, kiwi .7440, C$ .8265, euro 1.1225, sterling 1.5430, Swiss $1.0820, . European Style: rand 12.0380, krone 7.4590, SEK 8.2740, forint 270.65, zloty 3.6245, koruna 24.4120, RUB 50.55, yen 120.15, sing 1.3295, HKD 7.7540, INR 63.93, China 6.1147, pesos 15.29, BRL 3.0250, Dollar Index 94.76, Oil $58.88, 10-year 2.15%, Silver $16.37, Platinum $1,136.66, Palladium $786.80, and Gold. $1,186.62 That’s it for today.  Well, this Sunday is Mother’s Day, so it’s Mother’s Day Weekend. It’s supposed to be a rainy weekend, so hopefully that’ll end by Sunday, for the moms deserve a beautiful day.  For all of you who still have your mom around. Give her a Big Hug and tell her you love her.  I lost my mom on New Year’s Eve 1997, but I never quit thinking about her, and how she was my biggest fan, and how she would sit in the basement while we would play our guitars, and tell us how good we sounded. In those days, our Little League (Khoury League) started their games on  Mother’s Day Weekend. We would almost always spend that Mother’s Day Weekend at the ballpark, while I played baseball. So. I miss my mom, even though it’s been so long now that she’s gone. I think she would enjoy this little poem and for all you moms out there, I hope you do too! Of all the Special joys in life, The big ones and the small A mother’s love and tenderness Is the greatest of them all. There is no blessing Quite so dear. As a mom like you To love year after year. Happy Mother’s Day to all you  beautiful moms out there! Chuck Butler Managing Director EverBank Global Marketslast_img read more

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2019-08-04

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A judge has failed to treat the murder of a disabl

first_imgA judge has failed to treat the murder of a disabled man who was imprisoned and tortured to death by his killer as a disability hate crime, raising fresh concerns about flawed legislation that is supposed to ensure higher sentences for such offences.Newcastle Crown Court heard during an eight-week trial how James Wheatley, 29, of Studdon Walk, Kenton Bar, Newcastle, repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on Lee Irving in attacks that took place over nine days, leaving him with multiple broken bones and other injuries.Irving (pictured), 24, who had learning difficulties, thought Wheatley was his friend and was living in his house at the time of the attacks.But Wheatley and his co-defendants targeted Irving for his money and possessions, with Wheatley signing him up to online banking so he could empty his account.After the final attack that led to his death, Irving’s body was taken on a pushchair through a housing estate and dumped on a patch of grass near the A1.Gerry Wareham, chief crown prosecutor for the north-east, said after the trial that Wheatley had “exploited the friendship of Lee Irving in the worst way imaginable”.He said: “Lee only wanted friendship but, instead, became the target of Wheatley’s aggression.“After the attacks on Lee Irving, the defendants made every effort to hide what they had done: sedating and imprisoning him in their home, moving his body after death and removing key evidence.“Even those defendants not directly involved in the attacks would have recognised that the extent of his injuries required immediate medical attention. Not one of them tried to assist Lee or to prevent further injury to him.”Wheatley was found guilty on Friday (2 December) of murder, and sentenced to life in prison, where he will have to serve a minimum of 23 years.But the offences Wheatley committed were not treated as hate crimes by the judge, Mr Justice Soole, under section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act.If they had been, he would have had to serve at least 30 years in prison.Three other defendants – Wheatley’s mother Julie Mills, 52, girlfriend Nicole Lawrence, 22, and lodger Barry Imray, 35 – were convicted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, as was Wheatley, and of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult, and all three were jailed.Both Northumbria police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had treated Irving’s death as a hate crime, but Mr Justice Soole, in sentencing Wheatley, decided there was not enough evidence to prove the killing was motivated by disability-related hostility.Lee Irving’s death now becomes the latest in a lengthy line of brutal crimes in which disabled people have been targeted because of their impairment, but which have not been acknowledged as disability hate crimes because of the flawed criminal justice system.One of them was the murder of Brent Martin, another man with learning difficulties, who was killed in nearby Sunderland by three young men who took turns to see which of them could knock him out for a £5 bet.But his killing in 2007 was never treated as a disability hate crime by Northumbria police, the same force that investigated Lee Irving’s death, or by the courts.In July this year, CPS was criticised for failing to treat as a disability hate crime a case in which a man with learning difficulties was forced to live in a shed for 35 years, and work for a pittance, and was beaten if he failed to work hard enough.And last year, the criminal justice system was again criticised after a court failed to treat the brutal murder of Peter Hedley as a disability hate crime, when again the judge merely took account of Hedley’s “vulnerability” in sentencing.The failure to sentence Lee Irving’s murderer under disability hate crime legislation will provide further fuel for disabled campaigners who have been pushing the government for years to ensure that it takes the issue seriously.Northumbria police had failed to comment by noon today (8 December).But a CPS spokesman confirmed that its lawyers had treated Lee Irving’s murder as a disability hate crime.He said in a statement: “We always apply to increase sentences where disability is an aggravating factor but ultimately it is the court’s decision.“The proportion of sentence uplifts applied in 2015-16 was the highest it has ever been and we are working with the judiciary and the courts in support of their consistent application.”CPS said that where there was not enough evidence of disability hostility for a section 146 uplift, but disability was a factor in another way – such as the victim’s perceived “vulnerability” – it can present evidence to the court of these other “aggravating” factors that can increase the seriousness of the offence and the sentence.A public consultation on CPS’s policy on prosecuting crimes against disabled people is due to end on 9 January 2017.last_img read more

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2019-07-31

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Disabled people who employ personal assistants PA

first_imgDisabled people who employ personal assistants (PAs) will not be exempt from a new government scheme designed to ensure that sleep-in care workers receive the minimum wage back pay they are due, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed.Disability News Service (DNS) has been told by HMRC that some individual employers of PAs are still being investigated over their failure to pay the full national minimum wage (NMW) to PAs who had worked overnight “sleep-ins”.And HMRC has made it clear that any arrears owed by disabled employers of PAs will eventually have to be paid.But it is not clear whether those arrears will be the responsibility of local authorities who funded direct payments that paid for PAs, or if individual disabled employers will have to meet that liability themselves.Other disabled employers of PAs may have funded that support themselves.The government announced this week that it was launching a new “compliance scheme”, which will give social care employers up to a year to identify how much they owe to staff who have been incorrectly paid below the legal minimum wage for sleep-in shifts.At the end of this period, employers who have identified arrears will have up to three months to pay workers what they are owed.Those who decide not to opt in to the scheme will be “subject to the full HMRC investigative process”, which could lead to financial penalties, public naming and shaming, and prosecution.The government had previously waived further penalties for sleep-in shifts underpayment that took place before 26 July 2017, and temporarily suspended enforcement action between 26 July and 1 November 2017.That action in July followed a high-profile tribunal ruling involving the disability charity Mencap, which found in April that many care workers should have been paid at least the minimum wage for the hours when spent on an overnight shift.An HMRC spokesman told DNS this week that his department was not able to say how many individual PA employers were being investigated for non-payment of sleep-in NMW arrears.But he said: “The government is aware that individuals who have used their own money, or direct payments, to fund sleep-in shifts could be personally liable for NMW arrears.“These individuals are themselves extremely vulnerable, and the government is committed to doing all it can to prevent them from suffering financial difficulties as a result of this issue.“However, the law states that all employers must pay NMW for sleep-in shifts, and this includes cases where an individual becomes an employer.“The government is working with local authorities to develop solutions that enable these arrears to be paid to workers without causing financial hardship for individuals.“Personal budget holders who have NMW arrears will be eligible for the social care compliance scheme as part of the government’s efforts to make sure that vulnerable individuals receive the support they require.”But he added: “The Care Act sets out a number of duties on a local authority to ensure a personal budget adequately reflects personal needs.”Asked whether this meant that HMRC believed it could be the responsibility of local authorities to meet the arrears faced by PA employers who receive direct payments, he said the government had “engaged local authorities to ensure personal budget allocations take into account the rules on NMW and when time spent asleep is working time for NMW purposes.“The government will work with local authorities to provide appropriate support on a case by case basis and intends to carefully monitor any additional local authority spending as a result of supporting individuals and the effect on local authority finances.”But he had not been able to clarify by noon today (Thursday) whether HMRC believed local authorities who funded direct payments could now be responsible for meeting the sleep-in shift NMW arrears of individual PA employers.Meanwhile, Sue Bott (pictured), deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, has warned that some disabled people are now having to cut back on their day-time support in order to be able to pay NMW rates during the night.She said: “Although employers will have longer to deal with any underpayment of sleep-ins, the government announcement fails to get to the heart of the problem. “Of course, PAs and other social care staff should be paid the proper rate for the job, but a direct payment must be sufficient to cover the costs. “Unfortunately, what we are seeing is that people are having to reduce the support they have in the day to pay for support at night. “The hole in social care funding just gets deeper every day with disabled people and older people having to pay the price through lack of essential support.”Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “The fact that employers won’t have to settle any back-payment for sleep-in costs until March 2019 is helpful and buys some much-needed time to further understand the size and potential impact of the historic liability.“But this announcement does not end the uncertainty for providers, care workers, the people they care for and their families, and those who pay for their own care or employ a personal assistant through a personal budget.“It was misleading government guidance in the past which caused the confusion over whether national minimum/living wage should apply for sleep-in shifts.“Now the government has clarified the position, it needs to provide genuinely new funding to deal with back-payment.”last_img read more

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2019-07-31

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Family acceptance of LGBT individuals sexuality linked to lower stress

first_img Source:https://www.ohio.edu/ucm/media/news-story.cfm?newsItem=4E553C95-5056-A874-1D0B24EB38C8D251 Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 24 2018Ohio University Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Peggy Zoccola has determined that those who identify as LGBT and have come out to their family carry less stress hormones than those who have not come out, which may ultimately benefit their health.The recent study by Zoccola and coauthor Andrew Manigault, M.S., published in the October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, journal of the Psychosomatic Society, discusses how feeling able to comfortably talk about your sexual identity with family members specifically, appears to be most linked to output of the stress hormone cortisol, a hormone that if too much is produced, it can damage an individual’s health.Related StoriesUTHealth researchers investigate how to reduce stress-driven alcohol useStudy explores the effects of near-miss experiences associated with 9/11 terrorist attacksEarly life adversity and high levels of FKBP5 protein amplify anxiety-like behavior”The real stress punch seems to be with the family,” said Zoccola when referencing how greater disclosure of a LGBT individual’s sexuality to their family is strongly linked to lower cortisol.She points out that there has been sparse research on how the aspects of coming out by LGBT adults affect the release of stress hormones, however, some early studies have shown that if people who identify as sexual minorities feel acceptance from their families, they have higher self-esteem, lower depression and substance use rates and are less likely to think about suicide.For the study, Zoccola had 121 sexual minority adults ages 18 to 35 take a survey about their depression and anxiety levels, sociodemographic factors and how much support they felt. They were also asked how out they were to family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers and clergy in religious organizations, as well as provided their age when they came out. Following the survey, 58 individuals from the group were randomly selected to provide a saliva sample to show their cortisol levels.The results of Zoccola’s research showed that the more open people were to disclosing their sexuality with their family, the lower cortisol levels they had.”For these emerging adults, the family provides a foundation of support,” said Zoccola. “If they’re comfortable disclosing to their family, they seem to have a protective stress profile.”last_img read more

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2019-07-19

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Researchers uncover new lead for mechanism of action of frontline Type 2

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 24 2018Canadian and British researchers have discovered how the frontline Type 2 diabetes drug metformin may work to help cells better take up and use glucose. Their study, published today in the prestigious journal Cell, may also explain other potential beneficial effects of metformin for prevention of a variety of chronic diseases, including cancers.To show that metformin appeared to make the cells act as if they are starved for the essential mineral iron, biochemists at Université de Montréal used a new method to simultaneously probe how all of a cell’s biochemical processes respond to the presence of a drug. Collaborating with researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London, the UdeM team showed that metformin has a global effect on iron distribution in cells, resulting in alteration of essential biochemical processes.Related StoriesDiabetes patients experiencing empathy from PCPs have beneficial long-term clinical outcomesDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetesUTHealth researchers investigate how to reduce stress-driven alcohol useThe novel technology that made this discovery possible was developed in the lab of lead author Stephen Michnick, a biochemistry professor at UdeM andholder of a Canada Research Chair in cell architecture. “If you want to know what a drug or any other molecule is doing in the body, you need to survey everything going on in it’s cells at once,” said Dr. Michnick. “Today there are several ways to do this, but our method, called hdPCA, has the merit of being extremely simple to perform and interpret, non-invasive and inexpensive; it can be done in almost any lab.” The method can be deployed to rapidly predict and confirm how a drug might affect cells and simultaneously identify any liabilities the drug might have if introduced into humans.”We’d chosen to use metformin, mostly because it was an interesting test case, having no clear mechanism of action,”added the study’s first author, UdeM biochemist Bram Stynen. “The lead to effects of metformin on iron homeostasis was a bonus of this study. A connection between iron metabolism and diabetes was already suspected but no-one had ever showed a specific antidiabetic effect of metformin in living cells connected to iron homeostasis.” Added collaborator Markus Ralser, a biochemist at Francis Crick, “this makes a lot of sense; glucose metabolism most likely emerged evolutionarily from iron-dependent chemical reactions; such chemical relationships don’t disappear in evolution.”Further cell and animal studies will have to be done to pin down how important iron-starvation mimicking effects of metformin are to glucose metabolism and how this mechanism might be better exploited to improve diabetes treatments. Source:https://www.umontreal.ca/en/last_img read more

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2019-07-19

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Cranberry consumption modifies impact of animalbased diet on gut health

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 13 2018In a recently published feeding trial in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, scientists investigated the potential protective effect of cranberries on the gut microbiome with an animal-based diet. Consuming cranberry compounds modified the impact of an animal-based diet in study participants by restoring a healthier microbiota profile. The addition of whole cranberry powder lessened potentially carcinogenic secondary bile acids and blunted the decline in beneficial short chain fatty acids (SCFA) in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.”Among the 20 most commonly consumed fruits in the American diet, we chose to investigate cranberries and the gut microbiome as they are among the fruits with a high total phenol content,” said study author, Dr. Oliver Chen. Dr. Chen further explained the importance of the investigation because the gut microbiota is a key protector for human health. “An imbalance can increase the risk for several chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes,” added Dr. Chen. “Identifying foods – like cranberries – that can help shape and support a healthier gut microbiome could have a remarkable impact on public health.”Related StoriesHealthy high-fiber diet could reduce preeclampsia riskScientists examine hormonal links between diet and obesityDiet and nutrition influence microbiome in colonic mucosaAn international team led by researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, conducted a randomized, double-blind, crossover study of 11 healthy subjects (7 males, 4 females) aged 25 to 54 years with normal digestive function. A control diet, comprised of meats, dairy products and simple sugars was compared to a treatment diet – the control diet plus 30 grams of freeze-dried whole cranberry powder – for two, 5-day periods with a 2-week washout in between. The cranberry diet showed fewer potentially negative microbiota changes than the control diet phase. It appeared that adding cranberries to the control diet reduced the rise in secondary gut bile acids that have been associated with colon and GI cancer. Cranberries also lessened the drop in beneficial SCFA thought to help maintain healthy GI cells. Overall, the treatment diet suggested that cranberry constituents may help support a healthy gut microbiome.”On behalf of the Cranberry Institute and cranberry growers and handlers, it is exciting and rewarding to see new diverse health research about the potential benefits of cranberry consumption,” stated Terry Humfeld, executive director of the non-profit Cranberry Institute – an organization established for cranberry research and education. “Scientists continue to dedicate their studies to exploring the inherent value of eating cranberries, so as an industry, we will proudly continue to support their efforts.” Source:https://www.cranberryinstitute.org/last_img read more

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2019-07-19

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