March 28, 1997Late afternoon in the town park.
Russian cable operator Akado has added educational channel Da Vinci to its line-up.Business operations group vice-president Sergey Nazarov said that the addition of Da Vince made Akado’s kids package as comprehensive as any on the market.
The European Commission-funded HBB4All project has started work on improving accessibility services for audiovisual content delivered to multiple devices using the HbbTV standard by announcing four pilot test projects.The HBB4All project will include expert testing of new production workflows, benchmarking of the quality of access services from a user point of view and the delivery of content to PCs, tablets and smartphones.The four pilots will focus on multi-platform subtitle workflow, alternative audio production and distribution, automatic UI adaptation for accessible smart TV applications and sign language translation.According to the EBU, the poroect will benefit from its own subtitling format work, including the EBU-TT-D delivery specification, which was published last month. The latter is set to be referenced in the upcoming HbbTV 2.0 and DVB-DASH standards.The HBB4All project runs for 36 months and is led by the Autonomous University of Barcelona. EBU Members RBB, IRT, RTP and SRG (SwissTXT) participate in the project.
Dan Steinhart Managing Editor, The Casey Report Having just put the finishing touches on this month’s The Casey Report – for which Casey Research Chief Economist Bud Conrad combed through reams of data to figure out what really caused gold’s recent precipitous drop (as well as predict where gold is going next) – the specter of paper-gold market manipulation is fresh in my mind. This week’s article touches on that very topic, examining the possibility that the Fed or Treasury may have leased out over 4,000 tonnes of US gold unbeknownst to the public, and thus holds much less gold than we’ve been told. Before I go any further, let me acknowledge the treacherous waters into which I’m wading. I realize that by discussing gold manipulation, I’m begging for controversy. Both sides of this debate feature passionate believers, and personally, I find both sides convincing. But in the interest of full disclosure, I do think gold is manipulated to some extent, if only because every other investment – stocks, housing, bonds (via interest rates) – is too. Why should gold be any different, especially when a rising gold price represents the single most credible threat to the US government’s fiat hegemony? Because many a book could be (and probably has been) written on this topic, I’ll limit myself to just one contention from each camp, for the purpose of illustrating how compelling both sides of the argument are. The manipulation crowd points to the fact that gold’s recent plummet was jump-started by a huge, 400-tonne sell order that was dumped on the market all at once. Under normal protocol, and in deference to common sense, said seller should have spread the sale out over several orders to garner the best possible price. That this didn’t happen leads to the conclusion that the seller’s goal was not to get a fair price, but to suppress the price of gold itself. Why? Consider that a short seller, if it believed such a massive trade could spark a rapid further spree of selling (as it did), might be able to quickly buy to cover its shorts at a lower price and collect a handsome bounty. For instance, assuming an average spread of $30 per ounce – quite possible, considering the $225 total price drop – the profit on 400 tonnes of gold would be approximately $423 million… in a single day. The non-manipulation crowd responds that if something fishy is going on, someone should have squawked by now. Doug Casey himself has made this argument, noting that three people can keep a secret as long as two are dead. Wall Street is the world’s biggest rumor mill, so it’s hard to fathom that the Fed or Treasury could collude with one or several banks to suppress the price of gold while keeping their diabolical plot completely silent for decades on end. See? Both positions are believable, at least to me. Skeptics want a smoking gun, but such a burden of proof seems unattainable. Take, for example, claims that the Fed has leased out much of the US’s gold into the market in an attempt to suppress the price. I doubt that the manipulators are dumb enough to record such actions in a memo. And the paparazzi isn’t going to snap an incriminating photo of Ben Bernanke sneaking away from the Fed vault in the middle of the night with a glistening wheelbarrow full of gold. Unless an independent and trustworthy third party is allowed inside the Fed vault – which no unauthorized human is allowed access to – we’ll never see a smoking gun for this particular claim. Shortages in the vault will forever be a rumor until the vault is audited, an outcome those in charge are hellbent on preventing. Now that I’ve outed myself as a loony conspiracy theorist, let’s get to the main event. In a piece previously reserved for his premium subscribers, Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity has agreed to share his fascinating take on just how much gold might be missing from the Fed and Treasury’s vaults. In his levelheaded and methodical style, Chris parses the data from a recent report by Sprott which calculates that from 1991-2012, the US exported about 5,500 tonnes of gold – which doesn’t make sense considering that the US only had about 1,000 tonnes of surplus gold available for export. Where did the extra 4,500 tonnes come from? Chris believes either the Fed or the Treasury must have leased them out, since no private source is near big enough to account for even a fraction of that amount. I’ll leave you to ponder along with Chris the implications of there being much less gold in the Fed/Treasury’s vaults than we’ve been led to believe. If you like Chris’ analysis and are interested in learning more about his work, visit his website at Peak Prosperity. Finally, though I might be inviting a firestorm, I have to ask: do you have any alternate theories as to what happened to all that gold? Let us know in our comments section. See you next week!
Doctors cannot cure a patient in severe pain by pumping him full of painkillers; they need to accurately diagnose the root cause of the pain before treatment. Without an accurate diagnosis, it is nearly impossible to fix a problem, medical or otherwise. And the stakes are high: a misdiagnosis can trigger treatment that may compound a problem instead of making it better. That’s exactly what happened with the bank bailout five years back: the “cure” set in motion new challenges for seniors and savers. Forget all the technical mumbo-jumbo. Here are the need-to-know facts: for generations seniors and savers could invest the bulk of their retirement nest egg in safe, interest-bearing CDs, government bonds, and utility bonds. That, coupled with Social Security, allowed for a comfortable retirement. Those 6-7% yields are gone, as we all know.Was the 2008 financial crisis properly diagnosed and treated? That depends on whom you ask. Most Americans, however, don’t think so. According to Pew Research, “Five out of eight Americans surveyed (63%) earlier this month believe the US financial system is no more secure in 2013 than it was before the economic crisis of 2008.” In September, Sheraz Mian broke down the 2Q earnings reports of the S&P 500 companies in Zacks Earning Trends: “Yes, the total earnings tally reached a new quarterly record in Q2 and the rest of the aggregate metrics like growth rates and beat ratios look respectable enough. But all of that was solely due to one sector only: Finance. … Finance results have been very strong, with total earnings for the companies that have reported results up an impressive +30% on +8.5% higher revenues. Excluding Finance, total earnings for the remainder of S&P 500 companies that have reported would be down -2.9% from the year-earlier period.” Too-big-to-fail banks are certainly succeeding. The report continued: “Earnings growth was particularly strong at the large national and regional banks, with total earnings at the Major Banks industry, which includes 15 banks like J.P. Morgan and Bank of America.” Pew Research also reported that 33% of people it surveyed thought things were more secure in 2013 than they were in 2008. Those people must work in the financial sector.The problem continues to grow. And it’s a problem that affects us all. While the Federal Reserve holds down interest rates and floods the banking system with money, the retirement dreams of several generations are being destroyed. As interest rates tumbled, investors ran to bonds, utilities, dividend-paying stocks, and master limited partnerships (MLPs), which offer better yields. As one subscriber mentioned to our team, “at least they have a better chance of keeping up with inflation.” Sure enough, the stock market came back to new, all-time highs. So now both the banks and Wall Street are happy. But where does that leave us? In the middle of 2013, Mr. Bernanke uttered the word “taper,” sending the stock market into a tizzy and gold prices soaring. This was a preview of things to come. Many of the investments I mentioned above took a dive, as they have become interest-rate sensitive. Take utility stocks, for example. In September, I highlighted how these stocks took an immediate 11.2% tumble. Since then, although the Fed has tried to calm the markets, there is still real cause for concern.I’m worried, but I refuse to throw down my cards. Doug Casey recently reminded us of one of his basic principles: “My preferred investment style is to look for opportunities where no one else is looking.” If we invest along with the crowd, we can expect to get caught in the rushing tide, regardless of its direction. While the Federal Reserve has been trying to keep things under control, don’t be lulled to sleep. Interest rates may have turned the corner, and it is time to review your portfolio with that in mind. Here are five questions to ask about your current investments. Is this investment likely to get caught in the outgoing tide if the Fed gets serious about tapering? How has this company performed in other down markets? Can the company’s fundamental business thrive in both good and bad economic times? Is the dividend safe? Should the market turn down rapidly, what should you expect from this company? At Money Forever, we put trailing stop losses on our portfolio picks for a darn good reason: We cannot afford large losses with our retirement money.Invest where no one else is looking. All too often these are called “out of favor” investments. That implies there is something wrong with them, and people avoid them accordingly. Seventy-three years on the planet, however, tells me something different. There are many attractive people at every high school prom, but very few are crowned king or queen. The same principle applies to investments. The real challenge is finding those attractive opportunities that have been overlooked by the majority of investors. Where should we look? Can we do the research ourselves? If we want to take on that challenge, do we even have the time and skill set? Or could we turn to our stockbrokers? It’s not likely. Years ago, my broker and I wrote to her company’s research department in New York, asking for advice in a particular market sector. The “research department” sent a summary similar to what I now get from my online broker. Our request was probably handled in less than two minutes. Their analysis: buy their recommendation because 8 of 10 companies rate it as a “strong buy.” No kidding! That was where everyone else was looking. It was the last investment I wanted to make.The good news is: we have other options. Folks like Doug Casey saw a great void in the retail market, and investment newsletters began to flourish. Fast forward to 2013… I asked our team of analysts for tips on looking where no one else was. We started our search with a basic premise: maximizing income and appreciation while avoiding catastrophic losses. With modern tools, an analyst can put in a few variables and get a list of candidates without breaking a sweat. That works well until everyone picks the same investments. Real research takes a lot more time and effort. With that said, here are four tips for finding hidden gems.Being #1 is not always an advantage. In our special report Money Every Month, we ranked the top dividend-paying stocks by dividend yield and payment date. It is common to stop at the stock with the highest yield. But there are a lot of good companies further down the list. They may pay a smaller dividend, but they are just as solid and much less volatile. If there is less money pouring into these stocks, there is less risk of losing dividend income if the stock tumbles and everyone exits.Big does not always mean bad. There are some large companies that have a strong worldwide presence with a good dividend yield. While they may not be #1 name in the industry, they do very well. These stocks don’t necessarily have tiny dividends—just not enough to catch the eye of yield-starved investors. It just takes time to find the right ones. It can be done; I know because we have some in the Money Forever portfolio.Find investments where potential growth outweighs interest-rate sensitivity. If the primary driver in market price is not solely the dividend, the investment won’t be as affected during a period of rising or dropping interest rates as it might be otherwise. In the Money Forever portfolio, we have a convertible bond fund with a good yield, but its performance is affected by the performance of the underlying stocks. The one we selected has a large share of defensive stocks in sectors we are comfortable with, thereby reducing risk and raising the potential for appreciation.Understand how various sectors react in a down market with rising rates. Concentrating on defensive sectors reduces risk. A company can have good dividends with growth and appreciation, but it might be a terrible investment in a downturn. The financial sector is a prime example: The dividends are good, and a strengthening economy can make the sector grow, but those dividends won’t pay off if another 2008 is just around the corner. The term “bond bubble” is being tossed around a lot lately. Should this bubble burst (much like the real estate bubble before it), the financial sector will be dramatically affected. It has been five years since interest rates tumbled. We don’t need any more proof to know the political class is either unwilling or unable to fix the problem. We can’t sit around and wait for the good old days to come back, nor can we afford to just follow the crowd. We have to deal with our problem to have enough for retirement and make it last. —- Sometimes laughing at yourself can be humbling; it can also be a great learning experience. I recently had an exchange with one of our regular readers; he wanted to know if our premium subscription was worth the money. With my marketing background, I have always believed that you should put the value before the cost. We discussed how our team is educating readers on subjects they are unlikely to read about elsewhere. And the Money Forever portfolio is doing quite well, to boot. Some subscribers have mentioned that their gains have paid for our services for many years to come. I told this particular reader that the current promotional price is $8.25/month, and if we can’t bring more value than that to our subscribers, we wouldn’t be in business. His response was humbling: “Gee, I didn’t know that was the price. Had I known that, I would have signed on weeks ago.” So much for my marketing expertise! On a recent trip to Vermont, we cut a short video outlining what we’re all about and how we fit in to the big picture—your big picture. I urge readers to take a few moments to watch. The best part is this: You can sign up for the subscription, download my book, and all our special reports and back issues. If, after you have read through them, you decide this is not for you, you can cancel within 90 days and receive 100% of your money back. And you can keep the material as our thank-you for looking us over.On the Lighter Side Obama has officially nominated Janet Yellen to head the Fed. I shared my thoughts on this news long ago. Ms. Yellen is not concerned about inflation, and she wants the Federal Reserve to continuing to buy US debt. She is, however, concerned about unemployment… or so she would have us think. If that’s true, I have a humble suggestion: eliminate all federal taxes. That will spur the economy and create millions of jobs. Then let the Federal Reserve buy all of the US debt instead of the mere trillion dollars a year it’s buying now. She will be heralded as a genius for bringing Camelot to us all. Heck, if just printing money to pay the government’s bills is OK, why not go all out? In the meantime, Congress is fiddling with the debt ceiling and trickling a lot of misinformation down through the press. As long as I’m making suggestions, I have one for Congress: if it wants to raise the limit, it should also cut domestic spending and military spending. They are sure fretting over those ideas. This is absurd. Last week I was in a small family restaurant in Fountain Hills, Arizona, and a note scrolled across the television screen. It was about some federal agency that has 7,000 federal workers. They furloughed 6,000 nonessential workers and 1,000 remained on the job. The restaurant owner and I looked at each other, bewildered. What the hell is a nonessential worker? As tough as times are today in the private sector, if a person is nonessential, he doesn’t have a job. Tough economic decisions are made regularly in the private sector, but seemingly impossible for our so-called leaders to even understand, much less act on. I don’t want my raise my blood pressure (or yours) to rise further, so let’s get to the funnies, finally… We can always count on our dear friend Toots for some clever puns: A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, “You stay here; I’ll go on a head.” I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said, “Keep off the Grass.” Until next week…
Dating will never be the same. The white-hot local date finder app that reduces courtship to the swiping of photos to say “hot or not,” Tinder, is opened on average 11 times a day by users. Microsoft chased Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone, and half a dozen others into the wearable fitness tech business with its new Band. One more thing to sell at those Microsoft stores popping up everywhere. Maybe someday soon they’ll sell full-fledged computers there… Speaking of Apple, CEO Tim Cook revealed he was gay (which everyone knew) just in time to get in front of news that all those leaked nude photos were coming off a flawed iCloud that didn’t rate limit password attempts. PR geniuses. Android founder Andy Rubin left Google. But he was ousted from power months ago, so it matters little. The tragic failed launch of SpaceShuttleTwo, the second space flight explosion in as many weeks, is showing signs it might be a human error, not a mechanical one. It’s all too early to say for sure, but they are now bringing in some experts to look at that possibility. Alibaba beat revenues estimates but missed on earnings. Sprint missed on both, despite huge price cuts meant to attract customers. An Investor’s Week in TechGreetings, fellow technophiles. This week we’re going to try something new, and I’d like your feedback.Once upon a time, I used to fill the pages of Casey Extraordinary Technology with a monthly summary of noteworthy news from the tech world that investors should be aware of. Predictive, anomalous, or just interesting, the goal was to be information and opinion dense. As the portfolio swelled, that fell to the wayside.Looking to broaden coverage in these weekly letters, it seemed a perfect opportunity to bring that format back and get you something with a lot more “sink your teeth in” depth than just a single topic a week. If you enjoy our usual longer, more in-depth articles, no worries. We’ll keep writing them and cover them below with everything else, if we keep this new format.Please give it a read, then let me know what you think in the comments or by replyingApple Pay Launches with a Thud, Getting Denied at Big RetailersThe pitched battle to replace your wallet—or what’s inside it—just got much hotter. In the race to dominate every aspect of your personal life, Apple premiered its much-hyped Apple Pay service last week. Owners of the new iPhone 6 series of phones can now finally use a technology that has long since been available on tens of millions of Google Android phones to pay for things.Much like those cellphone barcode boarding passes at the airport, the idea is to replace a simple passive object (for the airport, paper; for Apple, the old magstripe credit card) with better technology. The process for paying with Google or Apple’s tech goes like this: you get out your phone, swipe it by a specially equipped machine, enter a pin on the phone (or use your fingerprint in Apple’s case), then select a card account, which then transmits one-time-use credit card info to the machine. Tech proponents say it’s much more secure since an unscrupulous employee or even a hacked payment terminal can’t steal a card number that can be used again. To me, it sounds like a lot of work to do what a card already does without having to worry about dead batteries, crashing apps, etc. Not that I have an opinion…But CVS certainly has one. The store announced that it would disable the near-field communications (NFC) tech that Apple and Google use on its payment terminals, blocking the new service. The move was meant to support CurrentC, an alternative developed by an industry trade group to which CVS, Rite-Aid (which also made the same move), and many other retailers belong. Over the years, CurrentC has deployed simpler barcode-based smartphone apps for a wide variety of platforms, including iOS and Android, but they’ve been known to be terribly buggy and not very convenient. To push back this hard, CVS must see Apple’s involvement in the credit card chain as a major threat to margins. After all, it’s had NFC support for Google Wallet for quite some time (evidence of just how poorly Google executed its Wallet marketing).Reviewers who spent any time with the new solutions came back nonplussed too. Engadget summed it up well (my emphasis):Mobile payments are arguably a lot more secure. Your actual credit card number is never handed over to merchants. Apple Pay uses a Secure Element chip that encrypts user data and assigns a unique device number to each phone, while Google Wallet transactions are made with a virtual prepaid MasterCard that’s different each time. Mobile payments could therefore be the answer to the ever-present threat of data breaches and identity theft.But until we can get it accepted at every merchant and figure out a way we can use the phone to securely carry our ID as well, it simply isn’t going to replace your wallet.Nor are credit card makers content to let the wallet be replaced. They have their own secure solution, “chip+pin” (or EMV), with similar security features. Instead of adding a phone into the mix, they make the credit card smarter, holding on to the credit card number until you enter a code to unlock it. A compromised payment terminal is a risk, like what happened at Aldi a few years back, but then again so is a hacked phone with NFC… and which is more likely?One has to wonder if merchants and Visa will be happy about adding powerful new players into the payment chain. Though, when consumers catch wind of the newest glaring security hole in those chip+pin cards discovered last week, which allows hackers to steal up to a million dollars per card simply by walking near you, they might just demand Apple Pay.Elsewhere in the ecommerce world…US Credit Card Security Push Will Replace Billions in HardwareWe don’t usually lump credit card payment terminals into the “cool gadget” category, but last week the former head of aforementioned Google Wallet—who left to do his own startup (the hard part of being one of Silicon Valley’s big employers is that your best people can easily leave and compete with you)—announced a slick-looking new device to replace those tired-looking payment terminals at cash registers around the US.Dubbed Poynt, the announcement is not coincidentally timed. Next year the US starts adopting new payment security standards, which will require almost every terminal not replaced in the last year or two to be ditched in one fell swoop, lest the merchants using them face big penalty charges for using old, less secure tech. It’s going to be a multibillion-dollar hardware upgrade cycle; thus competitors new and old (like VeriFone) are salivating at the chance to gain some share during the swap.Poynt works with the old magstripe cards we know, but also supports EMV, the standard those who live in Europe, Asia, and even Canada have long had. It’s also wireless, Bluetooth, and NFC compatible—meaning it works with Apple Pay and Google Wallet, if those ever do take off (they won’t). TechCrunch has all the details and lots more slick gadget photos.No Commerce Without Government Sanction? AirBnb Law Sets Ugly PrecedentIt may sound like something out of a fascist regime, but that seems to be the direction we’re headed in America. In the country where Marshmallow Fluff went from a home kitchen to a multimillion-dollar business, it’s anathema to think that today’s laws would make the whole endeavor illegal from the get-go. But evidence continues to mount that we have gone decidedly anti-commerce.The latest turn of events: the People’s Republic of San Francisco is pushing a law to severely restrict the use of HomeAway and AirBnb-style hotelier sites. Prodded by angry neighbors—or by the hotel lobby, do you think?—the city decided to permit only residents of the city to use their property as such. Nonresident owners are being told they cannot do short-term rentals, only long-term ones.The city council says they’re doing it to prevent or lessen a housing shortage in the city. Yet more evidence of government protecting entrenched business models (hotels in this case… just like the ludicrous laws to prevent car manufacturers from selling directly instead of through dealers, meant to slow down Tesla’s onslaught). Thankfully, HomeAway is suing to block the law… as are others.(Curiously, AirBnb isn’t suing, as the law is actually designed to support its business model, requiring the companies arranging rentals to collect taxes centrally, which it can do; HomeAway can’t do that without a big change to its business. This is, at least, according to HomeAway.)It reminds me of the ludicrous battle that occurred down the street from my place in Vermont, where neighbors were mad at The Alchemist, brewers of top-ranked microbrew Heady Topper. Its creators were forced out of their small brewing site by neighbors who didn’t like the traffic from customers. The business was drummed out of town with help from the zoning board. Yet the company couldn’t move to the next town over because a competitor started making a squawk about some rare bird that supposedly nests where The Alchemist wanted to build its new location. The whole debacle is still unfolding many months later.Is this the world we now live in, where success is punishable by law, unless you grease the right palms? Let’s all hope that intelligence prevails in the judiciary of California (just typing that out is depressing), and it upholds the ability of people to engage in commerce without permission. If not, I suspect we’re screwed as a nation. If only our lawmakers would focus on protecting us from real threats like the unprosecuted frauds of the mortgage debacle, instead of piling on superfluous new regulations that just deter or extort business.SSD Consolidation ContinuesThe days of the spinning hard drive are numbered. Cellphones, tablets, etc. have never even considered them an option. They suck way too much power and take up far too much space. The solid state drive (SSD) is less power hungry, shockproof, and WAY faster. Only problem is it’s still an order of magnitude more expensive than its predecessor.So when it comes to storing lots of data that don’t all need to be accessed at lightning speeds, spinning disks still rule. Until that cost gap finally closes, SSD manufacturers are using software to make their devices work in tandem with old-fashioned spinning disks, giving them a way to still be valuable for those big archival data farms. In fact, HDD sales are up 6% over last year, to a projected 423 million shipments this year.The latest sign that SSD makers see this as big game came with Samsung’s purchase of hot San Fran startup Proximal Data. The deal, done at an undisclosed price, was the second for Samsung that also grabbed NVELO, which was working on the same kind of technology in 2012.The Hackings Will Continue Until Morale ImprovesIt looks like viruses are on their way for Mac users, thanks to a big security flaw in the new OSX Yosemite.That just piles on top of the serious flaw in popular content management platform Drupal, which powers such websites as Whitehouse.gov and which left potentially millions of domains exposed and many confirmed hacked last week. Within hours of the October 15 notice to the world that the software was vulnerable, hackers began exploiting it to steal data, inject malicious code, and otherwise take over websites unbeknownst to owners.It’s not just hackers either. ATT and VZW are placing “supercookies” on your phonev to track and report all kinds of stuff. Better start actually reading those terms of service agreements you click right past. Your cellphone company isn’t the only one selling every bit of data it can about you: your ISP at home sells your clickstream too, and lots more. Same with your credit card.The rule is simple: if you need it private, don’t put it on a computer of any kind. At least not one connected to the Internet. It’s unfortunate for all of us, not just the celebutants who had their privacy flagrantly violated for the world’s unscrupulous to see, but it’s the time we live in.If you do want to keep something secret, then follow this fantastic guide to how Edward Snowden did it.Darknet Commerce Is BoomingThe Economist recently published a great overview of the growth of so-called Darknet sites, which use software to keep user identities hidden from prying eyes (a somewhat dubious claim, many studies have shown). With perceived anonymity as cover, all kinds of illicit activity occurs, including the sale of drugs and weapons. The article included this great chart of the comeback since the infamous Silk Road marketplace was shut down:Of course, even on the Darknet—maybe especially on the Darknet—you’re not immune to hackers. Recently, at least one node of the Tor anonymous peer-to-peer network was hacked. Intruders were wrapping any downloaded program with a Trojan Horse, regardless of where it came from, as it passed through the hacked computer. The risk of any proxy service, P2P or centrally managed, is that it provides a bottleneck for hackers to exploit. The same could be done to a commercial proxy as well, or even your ISP, were they to be hacked… so keep that virus scan up to date.Plus, who wants to be on the Darknet anymore, now that it has Facebook?Wii U Sales Boom, Nintendo Profits, Thanks to Go-KartsLast week Nintendo surprised a whole lot of people by finally being profitable again, albeit for a very brief period of time. The company’s Wii U console hasn’t sold nearly as well as previous generations. It’s also losing share to the latest PlayStation and Xbox models—something consensus chalked up to its decidedly kiddie vibe and giant-awkward-touchscreen-joystick-controller-thingies.But last week we found out otherwise. Thanks to the release of the eighth iteration in its Mario Kart series, system sales boomed, and the company finally made some money again… albeit for one quarter. Reuters has the detailed numbers, but with 1.1 million consoles sold in the quarter, putting Nintendo in at well over 7 million total consoles sold, the Wii U is now firmly ahead of Microsoft (which sold 3.9 million Xbox Ones so far) and Sony (4.1 million PS4s) in the console race.Still, the company has been bleeding money up until now. And the gaming and business press have been pushing Nintendo to change its game plan, putting out its famed character games to license for mobile devices and possibly for other consoles, too. Punditry has it that the company could make a lot more money by reaching far more devices. Software certainly has higher margins, especially for Nintendo’s competitors, which sell their beefed-up systems at cost.For now at least, it looks like Satoru Iwata (Nintendo’s 12-year CEO, who is just recovering from cancer surgery) may have had the formula right all along, pushing his marketing budget to the moon to gain share on the back of fun games, not hardware specs. He’s playing the Silicon Valley race, focusing on market domination over profitability up front, only to turn the corner late and hard, sure of his traction, to cement a commanding lead.Microsoft is slashing prices to try to catch up from third place, but as an owner of two Xbox One consoles, I can tell you I’m a little bit jealous of the Wii U crowd right now, wishing there was even one decent exclusive game for my year-old super hardware. Instead, I’ve got a half-working Xbox Fitness with less content than when it launched, and a bunch of boring shoot-‘em-up games (I guess that’s why Microsoft canned its home-baked TV/movie studio).Now that looks like fun… and as Jordan Shapiro points out, it’s much more mature than the shooter fare. No wonder GameStop’s revenue jumped 25% near the same time as Nintendo’s return to profitability.Great games, not hardware specifications, sell consoles. A master lesson from the longtime video game champions, Nintendo.A few other reads of note:Skype is about to go the way of Star Trek, with real-time translation technology! The implications are awesome, but I can also see whole websites dedicated to recorded gaffes. More wearables inanity: Samsung’s next watch is on sale this weekend, and LG’s got way thinner, both months ahead of Apple’s iWatch, which now won’t come until spring. And it’s apparently going to cost as much as $5,000, proof it’s little more than fashion. $50 says Apple’s first day outsells Samsung’s and LG’s prior totals. $100 says that by 2016, no one you want to know wears a smartwatch. Christian Bale bailed as Steve Jobs in the Aaron Sorkin biopic. With Leo DiCaprio doing the same, already one has to wonder if the movie isn’t completely off the rails. But with Seth Rogen as Woz, I won’t miss it. Virtual taxicab startup Uber is apparently pushing subprime loans to its drivers. And in the news of the surreal, alleged criminals are remotely wiping evidence from phones after police seize them.So… what did you think of the format? More valuable? Less? Just right? Comment below, or direct your email to email@example.com (reading this in email? just hit reply) and our top-notch customer service team will forward it to me.
Three Orlando police officers shot dead an emergency room patient who they say was claiming to have a firearm. They later learned the man was unarmed.Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters that officers responded to reports of an issue in the ER at Orlando Regional Medical Center at about 6 a.m. Monday.The white male, who Mina said was approximately 35 years old, came to the hospital that morning for an unspecified medical issue.”At some point while he was in the hospital, he told hospital staff that he had a gun and that he would shoot anyone who came near him,” Mina said.Negotiators came to talk to the man, Mina said. “He made a lot of statements about how it’s going to end right here today. He also made statements about being the suspect in some homicide; we’re still trying to track that down,” the officer added.The emergency department was on lockdown, according to a tweet from Orlando Health.Mina said that officers decided to approach the man, because “there were patients close by that needed care.””He made movements consistent with pulling, reaching for a firearm and he was shot and killed by three officers here,” the police chief said. The department has not released the man’s identity, pending notification of his next of kin.Those officers have now been put on paid administrative leave, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is going to investigate the shooting.”A woman named Sandy, who declined to provide her full name, said she was in the emergency room with her daughter when she heard someone say he had a gun,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. “She said police asked to see his hands and then cleared the hallway.”Nobody else was injured, and Mina praised hospital staff for “containing the subject who claimed to be armed.”No further information was immediately available. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
The major cause of death in children aged 1 to 19 years is not cancer or other another medical condition. It’s injury. And by a long shot – 61 percent, versus 9 percent for cancer.The largest cause of injury was motor vehicle crashes, and next was firearms, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study sorts through the 20,360 deaths of U.S. children and adolescents in 2016, as counted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The authors of the report also found that the U.S. compares poorly to other countries, both rich and poor, in terms of providing a safe environment for kids.Lead author Rebecca Cunningham of the University of Michigan, who has been an emergency room physician for 20 years, wasn’t surprised. “I’ve been taking care of kids and unfortunately giving bad news to families for several decades,” she says.Cunningham sees some good news in the motor vehicle number. Death rates from crashes have dropped dramatically over the years, from 10 deaths per 100,000 children and adolescents in 1999 to 5.21 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.”In the U.S. we’ve invested in decreasing motor vehicle crash deaths and we’ve been tremendously successful at that,” she says. She and her colleagues credit seat belts, car seats for children, safety improvements to cars, the construction of better roads, and growing awareness of the hazards of teen drinking and driving.But when it comes to firearms there have been no effective interventions to prevent deliberate and accidental gun deaths. While the death rate from guns remained flat from 1999 to 2013, it jumped 28 percent in the next three years, to 4 deaths per 100,000 American kids. “We’re seeing increases in both gun homicide and gun suicide” among children and adolescents, Cunningham says.Cunningham says she’s not sure why gun death rates have increased. But she says it should be addressed. “I don’t think it’s acceptable for firearms to be a preventable cause of death and remain the second cause of death of children and teens,” she says. “We’re not doing enough to keep kids safe.”Edward W. Campion, the executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, pointed out how exceptional the U.S. is when compared to other countries.”We are way out of line when you compare the trauma deaths in American children compared to what faces children in other developed countries like Germany, Spain and Canada,” he says. He points to a study published last January showing that an American child or adolescent is 57 percent more likely to die by age 19 than kids in other wealthy nations.In an editorial for the Journal accompanying Cunningham’s study, Campion called the numbers “shameful.” He says the U.S. is clearly not effectively protecting its children.The World Health Organization had collected data on motor vehicle deaths and firearm deaths in 12 high-income countries and seven low-and-middle-income countries. Cunningham and her colleagues compared that data with their numbers on U.S. deaths.The rate of firearm deaths in the U.S. far exceeds the rates of the other countries included in the report. It’s 36 times the average rate in the 12 high-income countries – that is, 4.02 deaths per 100,000 kids in the U.S., versus 0.11 deaths in the other countries. “It’s a gigantic difference,” says Cunningham.And it was five times as high as in the seven low- and middle-income countries studied, where the average rate was 0.8 deaths per 100,000 kids per year.The U.S. rate of motor vehicle deaths also exceeds the rate of other high-income countries in the report. It was 5.21 deaths per 100,000 children – nearly triple the 1.63 per 100,000 average for other wealthy countries such as England. Sweden in 1997 launched a program to try to eliminate all deaths caused by motor vehicles in the country and in 2016 came in at less than one death per 100,000.The comparison with motor vehicle deaths in low-and-middle income countries is mixed. Some of the countries, such as Thailand, scored higher, but other countries, such as Romania, scored lower. The researchers say it all depends on economic development – as poorer countries add cars, some are spending money on building safe roads and providing access to emergency health care, and some countries are not.The overall message of the data to both Cunningham and Campion is that if other countries can have lower rates of death for their children and adolescents, the U.S. can too.”The U.S. takes great pride in its medical knowledge,” Campion says. “People go to all kinds of lengths to try to help a child with a medical need.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
Ministers are considering plans to slash benefit payments to hundreds of thousands of disabled people, by scrapping a key part of the main out-of-work disability benefit, employment and support allowance (ESA), according to the BBC.The BBC reports that a leaked Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) document describes ESA as a “passive” benefit which does not “incentivise” people to find a job, and suggests abolishing the ESA work-related activity group (WRAG).This would mean that ESA claimants expected to move eventually into work – but not yet “fit for work” – would see their weekly payments fall from £102.15 to £73.10, the same amount as those claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).The BBC report – published just days before the budget – provoked anger among disabled campaigners and disability organisations, although it is similar to a report by the same BBC reporter last October, in which he said he had seen leaked documents which showed ministers were considering cutting payments for those in the WRAG to just 50p more per week than JSA claimants.Disabled activist and blogger David Gillon, who tweets at @WTBDavidG, described the latest leaked plans as “clueless”.Another disabled activist and blogger, Steve Sumpter, who tweets at @latentexistence, said: “Losing ESA and going on JSA means more conditions attached, more chance of sanctions when sick people can’t comply.”Catherine Hale, tweeting at @octoberpoppy, said: “How is impoverishing disabled people and increasing #ESA sanctions a good way to Run the Country?”And Kate Green, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said on Twitter that the report was “more alarming news for disabled people”.The mental health charity Mind said such a move would “cause significant additional pain for vulnerable people, with very limited gain”.Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “It is insulting to suggest that people supported by ESA because they are living with illness or disability would be more likely to return to work if their benefits were cut.“We know that most people with mental health problems want to work but face significant barriers as a result of the impact of their condition and the stigma and discrimination they often face from employers.”He said the government had failed to provide appropriate support to help people in mental distress back into work, and should focus on improving this help “rather than looking to blame ill and disabled [people] by cutting their financial support”. Mind pointed out that the cut would see people in the WRAG, currently receiving a little over £5,000 a year, having that slashed by more than £1,500.Farmer said the proposed reduced rate of £73 a week was designed for people on a “short-term benefit for people who are between jobs and not affected by illness or disability like those on ESA”.He said: “Almost 60 per cent of people on JSA move off the benefit within six months, while almost 60 per cent of people in the WRAG need this support for over two years.“It would be totally inappropriate and irresponsible to cut support to people in the WRAG in this way and would do nothing to help them move into work.”
A pan-London disabled people’s organisation (DPO) has been given the chance to test “exciting” and “important” approaches to supporting young disabled people into work that reflect the social model of disability, after securing more than £750,000 in funding.Inclusion London has been awarded £775,000 over five years by the City Bridge Trust, which funds charities on behalf of the City of London Corporation, as part of a new £3.3 million Bridge To Work fund set up to support more young disabled people into employment.Inclusion London said the grant will allow it to “test and pilot and evaluate” models of employment support that reflect the ethos and values of DPOs and the social model of disability, in contrast with the unsuccessful approaches of large government contractors that have previously secured funding through the Work Programme and Work Choice.Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said there was frustration that DPOs had not previously been funded for such work.She said: “You have a whole set of practices around mainstream employment support that just aren’t working and all the evidence shows that the success rates are so tiny… whichever way you look at it, the current approaches are not delivering.”She pointed to the “perverse incentives” for employment support providers not to work with disabled people perceived as being harder to find jobs, and the “non-social model understanding about what the barriers in the workplace really are”.She added: “That’s what was really frustrating in the government’s [work, health and disability] green paper, apart from all the really devious stuff, was just that it’s kind of going to be business as usual in terms of delivery models but with a lot less money, and that’s just not going to work.“It’s shocking but it’s not surprising.”She said DPOs had been excluded from the big government employment support contracts, although most of them would not want to bid for such contracts anyway because of the “whole range of mandatory and devious practices” they impose on out-of-work benefit claimants, such as the use of sanctioning disabled people’s benefits.Lazard said: “It is pretty shocking that there’s not any evidence of any real commitment to look again at models of employment support, because they are not working.“So this is an opportunity and City Bridge Trust are a great funder and they understand that this is strategic, long term structural work which is why I think there is five years of funding.”Inclusion London will work closely with Action on Disability (AoD), a user-led organisation based in Hammersmith and Fulham, and plans to develop some of the “innovative” work AoD has been doing to support disabled people into work.One of the models they will be developing is an AoD internship scheme, which has worked with people with learning difficulties who were previously “trapped in the revolving door of classroom based support” and has seen as many as 70 per cent of those taking part securing jobs.The aim is to identify job vacancies that a large employer is finding difficult to fill, find a young disabled person from a local college to fill those positions, and then provide “really quite high levels of ‘in situ’ job support”, using college and Access to Work funding.Action on Disability has been focusing its work on young people with learning difficulties, so one of Inclusion London’s aims is to expand that to other groups.Inclusion London will now aim to recruit five other London DPOs to work with this and other employment support models, providing those user-led organisations with the support they need to build their own capacity.Another support model will be to target small and medium-sized employers along a local high street, again providing high levels of support when the young person is in post.Inclusion London will also be trialling different ways that young disabled people can approach job-seeking, including direct approaches to a potential employer, even targeting the chief executive.There is also funding through the grant to train other DPOs in skills and approaches and tips that they can pass on to their members and service-users, and to work with public sector employers such as the NHS to open up their job opportunities to young disabled people.Through the five years, Inclusion London hopes to build evidence of what approaches work and share those conclusions with other organisations and the government.The Bridge To Work programme aims to use learning from the projects it is funding – including Inclusion London’s – to “better inform government and other funders” in how to support more disabled people into work.Other disability organisations awarded grants from the fund are Action for Kids (£250,000), the National Autistic Society (£199,000), Muscular Dystrophy UK (£276,000), Mencap (£350,000) and Whizz-Kidz (£384,000).In addition to the funding for the six organisations, there is a separate pot of more than £500,000 to support paid work experience and internships for young disabled Londoners in charities and the private sector, focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises.Jack McLellan (pictured), who has benefited from Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Moving Up programme, which has previously received funding from the trust and will now see that support continued for another five years, said: “I was so disheartened when I first tried to find work after university that I needed a real boost to my confidence and skills to get on the right track.“The Moving Up programme helped me gain experience, try out new roles and get that crucial break of a first job.“I hope this new support means lots more young people are given the same chance to show their worth.”Alison Gowman, who chairs the City Bridge Trust committee, said: “We are certain this new programme will really transform lives of young disabled people.“The charities we are funding will give employers the support, skills and resources they need to increase opportunities for disabled people.“The programme has a wider mission and is looking to influence policy in this area and make real long-term change for the disabled community.”
ShareEditor’s note: a link to an illustration for download appears at the end of this release. Amy McCaig713firstname.lastname@example.orgMike Williams713email@example.comTraining organizations benefit Houston entrepreneursBaker Institute study outlines state of the city’s pipeline for business startups HOUSTON – (June 5, 2017) – New entrepreneurs need many things to start out: ideas, talent, money and a support system to guide them through the rigors of launching a business. A Rice University study maintains that public and private entities can and should help Houston realize its potential as a prime launch pad.Researchers at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy discuss the city’s entrepreneurial climate in a recently released white paper, “A Pipeline for Houston’s Startups.” Return to article. Long DescriptionIllustration by Julia Wang, courtesy of the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation/Rice UniversityLead author Edward Egan, a fellow at the Baker Institute and director of the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Rice undergraduates Benjamin Baldazo and Dylan Dickens analyze the state of the startup community and outline steps to enhance its “deal flow,” a measure of investment opportunities available to the community.In recent years, startups and investors have increasingly found each other through accelerators, incubators and hubs that offer varying degrees of support to new companies. Accelerators are akin to boot camps that train management teams in aspects of high-growth, technology-oriented entrepreneurship. Incubators are similar but do not have a fixed program or timetable for their startups.Hubs are flexible, co-working spaces for startups that may also include accelerators and host offices for venture funds, angel investors and startup service companies. The Rice researchers noted more than 30 have set up shop in the United States, with one of the best-known, The Capital Factory in Austin, hosting more than 500 companies.All three branches of the pipeline now exist in Houston. One of the most recent is a hub, Station Houston, established in 2016. It already supports more than 100 client companies in various stages of development as it attempts to emulate the model established by The Capital Factory and others, and Egan said such for-profit companies should be encouraged.“The success of for-profits is going to be dictated by market forces, but the city of Houston can work with them to create catalysts that fast-track their growth,” he said. The nonprofit Houston Technology Center and the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute are also places where policymakers and industry leaders can have an effect. “Nonprofits play an important role in Houston’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. They can be immune to the market forces around them while still affecting the deal flow of for-profit firms,” Egan noted.Ultimately, most high-tech entrepreneurs want to get venture capital investment. The McNair Center researchers calculated “raise rates” – the percentage of an accelerator’s or incubator’s clients that go on to raise venture capital – for accelerators and incubators across the U.S. Houston’s accelerators and incubators do not perform at the level of benchmark institutions, they said.The report finds that last year just one Houston-based, incubated startup raised venture capital. “It is equally telling,” they wrote, “that five outstanding venture capitalists … have invested in Houston-based firms over the last decade, but none of their portfolio companies went through a Houston-based accelerator or incubator.”But they also maintain that if Houston’s accelerators and incubators can increase their quality, the city should be able to double its deal flow. The researchers noted Houston’s current training pipeline graduates about 70 companies per year, almost half through the Texas Medical Center-based TMCx and JLABS@TMC. “Houston’s accelerators and incubators could add six new deals each year to the city’s startup ecosystem,” they wrote.“Houston’s potential for growth is the single biggest takeaway from our study,” Egan said. “The biggest caution is that the market for startups in Houston remains really fragile, and we’ve got to make sure any intervention in that market is a catalyst that won’t change its structure and influences the market in a positive way.”-30-Download the white paper at http://www.bakerinstitute.org/research/creating-pipeline-startups-houston-texas/Follow the Baker Institute via Twitter @BakerInstitute.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Related materials:Edward Egan bio: http://www.bakerinstitute.org/experts/edward-j-egan/McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation:http://www.bakerinstitute.org/mcnair-center-for-entrepreneurship-and-innovation/Image for download: Illustration by Julia Wang, courtesy of the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation/Rice University http://news.rice.edu/files/2017/06/0605_PIPELINE-1-web-1ff859y.jpgIllustration by Julia Wang, courtesy of the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation/Rice UniversityFounded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top five university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog. AddThis
3 min read Girl Scouts of the USA, Which Teaches Girls to Be Entrepreneurs, Is Taking on the Boys in a Federal Lawsuit Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand November 7, 2018 Image credit: Rick Kern | Getty Images The Girl Scouts of the United States of America has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, in protest of the latter group’s decision to drop “Boy” from its name and to welcome older girls.The suit, filed Tuesday in Manhattan’s U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, argues that the Boy Scouts’ move could erode the Girl Scouts brand and membership numbers.Related: The CEO of the Girl Scouts Wants to Turn Today’s Cookie Sellers Into Tomorrow’s Powerful Female EntrepreneursThe lawsuit is important not only to the girls involved in Girl Scouts but to families nationwide who welcome that organization’s mission to encourage and train their daughters to be entrepreneurs and leaders through such efforts as:Camp CEO, offered by 14 Girl Scout councils nationwide as a summer camp or other program, typically utilizing a Shark Tank format in which 14- to 17-year-olds create and pitch new businesses to veteran adult businesswomen.A system of 29 Girl Scout badges ranging from “Money Counts” and “Business Owner” for girls in elementary school, to “Entrepreneur,” “Financing My Dreams,” “Business Etiquette” and “Social Innovator” for middle and high school girls. The Girl Scout cookie program, the largest entrepreneurial effort for girls worldwide which, according to its website, promotes such skills as goal-setting, decision-making and money management.The suit is in reaction to the May announcement of the Boy Scouts, which accepts children 11 to 17 years old, that it would change its name to Scouts BSA next February (2019), and make girls eligible to earn its highest rank, Eagle Scout.Girl Scouts USA said it would not comment on pending litigation. The Boy Scouts said in a statement it was reviewing the lawsuit, noting that, “We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including the Girl Scouts of the USA, and believe that there is an opportunity for both organizations to serve girls and boys in our communities.”Girl Scouts said in its complaint that the name change threatens to “marginalize” Girl Scouts activities and has already created confusion. Families, schools and communities nationwide have been told that the organization no longer exists, or has merged with the Boy Scouts, the complaint states. Girl Scouts USA has about 2 million members; Boy Scouts has about 1.8 million, a steep drop from its peak years in the 1970s. Related: 8 Lessons This Record-Breaking Girl Scout Can Teach Entrepreneurs”Only GSUSA has the right to use the Girl Scouts and Scouts trademarks with leadership development services for girls,” and the Boy Scouts infringements are “new and uniquely damaging to GSUSA,” the complaint said. The lawsuit argues that the Boy Scouts’ decision to drop ‘boy’ from its name and recruit girls erodes the Girl Scouts brand. Entrepreneur Staff –shares Next Article Entrepreneur Staff Girl Scouts Add to Queue Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. Enroll Now for $5
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 1 2018In 2016, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) became the first state correctional system in the U.S. to screen all incarcerated individuals for opioid use disorder and provide medications for addiction treatment (MAT) for those who need it. A 2018 study led by researchers from Brown University found that the program significantly reduced post-incarceration drug overdose deaths.Now, a new $1.5 million grant from the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will allow Brown, RIDOC and their partners to expand the existing program and treat more people.Related StoriesPiece of puzzle unlocked in what drives alcohol addictionHow much screen time is OK for a 5 year old?Cancer patients and those with anemia should not be denied opioids, says CDC”The goal of this project is to increase the number of individuals with an opioid use disorder receiving medications for addiction treatment by providing intensive outreach to those involved in the criminal justice system, who are at high risk for overdose and treatment non-compliance,” said Rosemarie Martin, an assistant professor at Brown’s School of Public Health and the principal investigator on the grant. “By ensuring access to MAT, levels of relapse and recidivism will decline, hopefully leading to lower crime, intact families, higher levels of employment and community engagement.”Martin is involved in evaluating the effectiveness of RIDOC’s existing MAT program, and she said two gaps in the program are ensuring that patients continue treatment after they are released and treating individuals who were released before they began MAT. The new grant will allow the team to specifically address those areas.The expanded program will include transportation to outpatient MAT service providers for the first six days upon a participant’s return to the community. Additionally, the team will work with peer recovery support services to provide expanded guidance, support and information after the participant’s release from prison. Peer recovery support specialists are people who have been in recovery from substance abuse for at least two years and have received specialized training in addiction support.Over the three years of grant support, the team hopes to treat more than 300 additional Rhode Island residents with opioid use disorders. Other partners for the expanded MAT program include CODAC Behavioral Healthcare, the largest and only nonprofit opioid treatment program in the state, and the Rhode Island State Police’s Heroin-Opioid Prevention Effort Initiative. Source:https://news.brown.edu/articles/2018/10/mat
Nov 2 2018The National Psoriasis Foundation, NPF, has awarded $2.3 million in research grants and fellowships in 2018. This year’s awards bring the total amount NPF has invested in the advancement of psoriatic disease research to more than $19 million.Receiving over 140 applications from around the world, NPF is funding 45 projects focused on psoriatic disease and related comorbidities. Covering critical research topics that advance the science behind psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, all projects align with the NPF mission of driving efforts to find a cure for psoriatic disease and improving the lives of those affected. Awards were distributed for the following 2018 grants and fellowships.Discovery GrantsDiscovery Grants fund researchers while they explore preliminary ideas and conduct proof-of-concept experiments. The goal is to stimulate the development of new research programs in the field of psoriatic disease capable of competing for long-term funding from the National Institutes of Health, NIH, or other agencies in the future. Recipients include:NPF Discovery Grant supported by the Bucks Creek Foundation was awarded to Sam Hwang, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, Davis.Other 2018 Discovery Grant recipients include: Edward Amento, M.D., Molecular Medicine Research Institute, Anne Bowcock, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Lihi Eder, M.D., Ph.D., Women’s College Hospital, Jaehwan Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Rockefeller University / Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Alexis Ogdie, M.D., MSCE, University of Pennsylvania, Eva Reali, Ph.D., I.R.C.C.S Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, and Lam (Alex) Tsoi, Ph.D., University of Michigan.Translational Grants Translational Research Grants fund research initiatives that focus on the rapid translation of basic scientific discoveries into clinical applications with a clear benefit for patients with psoriatic disease.2018 grant recipients include Iannis Adamopoulos, D.Phil, University of California, Davis, Steven Ley, Ph.D., Imperial College London, and Brian Volkman, Ph.D., Medical College of Wisconsin.Early Career GrantsEarly Career Research Grants support graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and researchers at similar trainee-level positions interested in conducting projects focused on psoriatic disease. The goal is to support scientists at this challenging early career stage and to welcome them into the collaborative community of scientists, clinicians, and patients involved with NPF research.Recipients of this award are ultimately expected to compete for future funding through NPF Discovery or Translational Research Grants and establish successful long-term careers conducting psoriatic disease research.Six researchers were awarded Karen and Dale White Research Center of Excellence Early Career Research Grants. Recipients include: Holly Anderton, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Anthony Getschman, Ph.D., Medical College of Wisconsin, Charlotte Hurabielle-Claverie, M.D., MSc, NIH, NIAID, Lourdes Perez Chada, M.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Harvard Medical School, Carlotta Tacconi, Ph.D., ETH Zurich, and Zhaolin Zhang, Ph.D., University of Michigan.Bridge GrantsBridge Grants support researchers who have submitted meritorious but unfunded K-type (career development) or R-type applications to the NIH, or similar funding bodies, with a focus on psoriatic disease or related comorbidities. This grant provides a critical year of additional support to near-miss applicants so that they can collect data that strengthens a future successful NIH or similar funding application. Recipients include:NPF Bridge Grant supported by Michael and Melissa Weinbaum & The Attilio & Beverly Petrocelli Foundation was awarded to Nisarg Shah, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego.Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairPsoriasis patients frequently use complementary or alternative therapies to treat their symptomsSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchAn additional Bridge Grant was awarded to Unnikrishnan Chandrasekharan, Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic.Pediatric Psoriasis Challenge GrantIn 2018, the NPF chose to focus the challenge grant on pediatric psoriasis and offered this grant in collaboration with the Pediatric Dermatology Research Alliance, PeDRA. The grant supports up to two projects that address any aspect of psoriatic disease, including the cause, diagnosis, or treatment of pediatric psoriasis and/or related comorbidities. The grant was awarded to Amy Paller, M.D., M.S., Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.Summer Student Research GrantsNPF Summer Student Research Grants support undergraduate and medical students interested in conducting research focused on psoriatic disease or related comorbidities. This grant fosters the development of promising young scientists who will go on to become bench researchers or clinician scientists focused on improving the lives of those living with psoriatic disease.A total of 16 Summer Student Research Grants were supported through the generosity of Dr. Lacy and Edie Williams, The Don and Nancy Alpert Family Fund, Bill and Jodi Felton, and Robert and Lauren Fales.Psoriatic Disease Research FellowshipThe Psoriatic Disease Research Fellowship provides support to eligible institutions to develop and enhance the opportunities for physicians and scientists training for research careers in academic dermatology, rheumatology, pediatric dermatology, and pediatric rheumatology.The Dr. Mark G. Lebwohl Psoriatic Disease Research Fellowship was awarded to Bruce Strober, M.D., Ph.D., University of Connecticut Health Center.Seven additional Psoriatic Disease Research Fellowships were awarded through the generous support from Abbvie, Amgen, and Eli Lilly. Recipients include: April Armstrong, M.D., MPH, University of Southern California, Radjesh Bisoendial, M.D., Ph.D., Maasstad Hospital, Joel Gelfand, M.D., MSCE, University of Pennsylvania, Mahmoud Ghannoum, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, Alexa Kimball, M.D., MPH, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Wilson Liao, M.D., University of California, San Francisco, and Douglas Lienesch, M.D., University of Pittsburgh.NIH-NPF Robertson Fellowship in Translational MedicineThe NIH-NPF Robertson Fellowship in Translational Medicine provides support for an early career clinical and translational scientist to conduct research at the NIH focusing on research and patient care in psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis or related comorbidities. The fellowship was awarded to Daniella Schwartz, M.D., NIH, NIAMS.The 2019 grants and fellowships application process has begun. To learn more about current opportunities and deadlines, visit https://www.psoriasis.org/grants and https://www.psoriasis.org/fellowships. For more information about our grantees visit https://www.psoriasis.org/research/portfolio.Serving its community through more than 50 years of patient support, advocacy, research funding, and education, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is the world’s leading nonprofit fighting for individuals with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The NPF mission is to drive efforts to cure psoriatic disease and dramatically improve the lives of more than 8 million Americans affected by this chronic immune-mediated disease. As part of that effort, NPF created its Patient Navigation Center to offer personalized assistance to everyone with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. To date, NPF has funded more than $19 million in research grants and fellowships that help drive discoveries that may lead to more and better treatments and ultimately a cure. Source:https://www.psoriasis.org/media/press-releases/national-psoriasis-foundation-awards-over-2-million-research-grants-and
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. At least 28 BMW cars have caught fire this year in South Korea, according to media reports BMW expands UK car recall again © 2018 AFP Citation: S. Korea to launch probe into BMW over alleged delayed recall (2018, August 3) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-korea-probe-bmw-alleged-recall.html At least 28 BMW cars have caught fire this year in South Korea, according to media reports, forcing the German automaker to issue a recall last week to fix a faulty component that was aimed at reducing emissions from diesel engines.But angry customers have launched a class-action lawsuit against the company alleging that it was slow to respond to the fires, prompting the authorities to probe the matter.”We will investigate the fires of BMW vehicles thoroughly and transparently”, Transportation Minister Kim Hyun-mee said, adding that the probe would examine whether the company had reacted properly to the accidents.”If any problems are found, we will take stern measures”, Kim said in a statement.The minister also urged BMW owners to respond to the recall immediately and refrain from driving their vehicles until further notice.There was no immediate response from BMW Korea.The German titan has been sued by 17 customers filing for damages worth $4,500 each, Ha Jong-seon, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, adding that dozens of other owners were expected to join the legal action.Meanwhile thousands of other BMW drivers have joined an internet community to explore the possibility of taking legal action against the carmaker, Yonhap news agency reported, paving the way for more lawsuits to be filed in the near future.If the government probe finds that the recall was delayed, BMW could be forced to pay a fine of up to 70 billion won ($62 million) under South Korean law.The recall applies to 42 models, all with diesel engines.In South Korea, six out of 10 imported cars are from Germany.BMW sold nearly 39,000 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce cars in the first six months to June this year, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association. South Korea will launch an investigation into BMW, a minister said Friday, over an alleged delay in recalling more than 100,000 cars following a spate of engine fires. Explore further
Explore further “If stuff gets in there, it can make its way under the screen,” Milanesi said.”There seems to be a kind of real-life test that maybe didn’t occur.”Testing folding phones in a lab is a much different scenario than challenging them “in the wild” where they need to endure pockets, handbags, greasy food, spilled coffee and more, the analyst noted.Samsung may also need to do more to convey how folding screens warrant more careful handling than stiff displays that have been improved over generations of smartphones.Milanesi did not expect a slight delay in the launch of the Galaxy Fold to be a major setback for Samsung, saying that the model was unlikely to be a big driver of sales given its price and that services or apps are still being adapted to the new type of smartphone.Samsung smartphones tuned to work with super-speedy fifth-generation telecommunications networks are more important to the company’s bottom line on the near horizon, according to the analyst.”It is still early days for 5G, but that is the product that is going to make a difference for Samsung this year,” Milanesi said.Samsung is the world’s biggest smartphone maker, and earlier this month launched the 5G version of its top-end Galaxy S10 device.Adding to Samsung woesDespite the recent announcements about its new high-end devices, Samsung has warned of a more than 60 percent plunge in first-quarter operating profit in the face of weakening markets.The firm is also no stranger to device issues. Its reputation suffered a major blow after a damaging worldwide recall of its Galaxy Note 7 devices over exploding batteries in 2016, which cost the firm billions of dollars and shattered its global brand image.Samsung originally planned to release the Galaxy Fold as scheduled on April 26.While Samsung’s device was not the first folding handset, the smartphone giant was expected to help spark demand and potentially revive a sector that has been struggling for new innovations.Other folding devices have been introduced by startup Royole and by Chinese-based Huawei.Samsung Electronics is the flagship subsidiary of Samsung Group, by far the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate business in the world’s 11th-largest economy, and it is crucial to South Korea’s economic health. The company has enjoyed record profits in recent years despite a series of setbacks, including the jailing of its de facto chief. Samsung said Monday it was delaying the launch of its folding smartphone after trouble with handsets sent to reviewers. © 2019 AFP Some of Samsung’s new folding phones are already breaking Some reviewers who got their hands on the Galaxy Fold early reported problems with screens breaking.Samsung said it decided to put off this week’s planned release of the Fold after some reviews “showed us how the device needs further improvements.”The South Korean consumer electronics giant planned to announce a new release date for the Galaxy Fold in the coming weeks.Initial analysis of reported problems with Galaxy Fold screens showed they could be “associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge,” Samsung said.There was also an instance where unspecified “substances” were found inside a Galaxy Fold smartphone with a troubled display, according to the company.”We will take measures to strengthen the display protection,” Samsung said.”We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer.”A handful of US-based reporters were given the flagship Galaxy Fold phones, priced at $1,980, ahead of the model’s official release, and they reported screen issues within days of using the devices.Samsung spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold, which is part of the leading smartphone maker’s strategy to propel growth with groundbreaking gadgets.The company essentially gave reviewers a “beta product” without enough information, such as not to peel off a protective coating meant to be permanent, according to independent technology analyst Rob Enderle.”It was all avoidable for a company the size of Samsung,” Enderle said.The failure of a “halo product” meant to showcase innovation and quality could tarnish the brand and send buyers to rivals.”If a halo product fails, people don’t trust that you build quality stuff,” Enderle said.”It can do incredible damage. And Huawei is moving up like a rocket, so this could be good for Huawei.”Surviving lifeCreative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi told AFP that a Galaxy Fold she reviewed worked fine, performing even in sometimes messy situations that arise in everyday life.She wondered if some problems with smartphones reviewed were due to dust, moisture or other material getting into handsets through small openings at the tops and bottoms of hinges. Citation: Samsung delays launch of folding Galaxy smartphone (2019, April 22) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-samsung-issues.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Best Period-Tracking Apps Birth Control Quiz: Test Your Contraception Knowledge Originally published on Live Science.by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksYou May LikeVikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 min and see why everyone is addicted!Vikings: Free Online GameUndoTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionOne Thing All Liars Have in Common, Brace YourselfTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionUndohear.comThese German hearing aids are going viralhear.comUndoGundry MD Total Restore SupplementU.S. Cardiologist: It’s Like a Pressure Wash for Your InsidesGundry MD Total Restore SupplementUndoArticles VallyDad Cuts Daughter’s Hair Off For Getting Birthday Highlights, Then Mom Does The UnthinkableArticles VallyUndoKelley Blue Book2019 Lexus Vehicles Worth Buying for Their Resale ValueKelley Blue BookUndo 5 Myths About Women’s Bodies Menstrual cups have been heralded as a sustainable alternative to pads and tampons, and have been growing in popularity in recent years. But few studies have compared menstrual cups with these other feminine hygiene products in terms of their safety and effectiveness. Now, a new review study has some good news for menstrual cup fans: The flexible cups that collect menses blood appear to be a safe option for managing periods, and they may be as effective as pads and tampons for preventing leakage. The review authors also found that menstrual cup use didn’t increase the risk of developing certain bacterial infections compared with use of other feminine hygiene products; and menstrual cups weren’t detrimental to women’s natural vaginal flora, another measure of safety. [7 Facts Women (And Men) Should Know About the Vagina]Headbutting Tiny Worms Are Really, Really LoudThis rapid strike produces a loud ‘pop’ comparable to those made by snapping shrimps, one of the most intense biological sounds measured at sea.Your Recommended PlaylistVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9接下来播放Why Is It ‘Snowing’ Salt in the Dead Sea?01:53 facebook twitter 发邮件 reddit 链接https://www.livescience.com/65952-menstrual-cups-safety.html?jwsource=cl已复制直播00:0000:3500:35 Still, the review, published today (July 16) in the journal The Lancet Public Health, highlighted some aspects of menstrual cup safety that need more research. For example, the study authors could not determine whether menstrual cups were safer than tampons with regard to the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) — a rare but life-threatening condition that’s been linked with tampon use. Indeed, the authors identified several cases of TSS tied to menstrual cups, although the risk seems low, they said. Overall, the results are reassuring about the safety of menstrual cups, said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who wasn’t involved with the review. But there is a need for more data on the rate of toxic shock syndrome among menstrual cup users, and how it can be prevented, she said. For now, doctors generally recommend that menstrual cup users treat the product in a way that’s similar to how they would use a tampon — removing and cleaning it every 8 hours or so. “They do need to take it out regularly and wash it,” Wu told Live Science. “This is not something you want to leave in for a day and a half.” There is also a question of whether women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) for birth control may face an increased risk of IUD displacement when they use menstrual cups. More studies are needed to investigate whether this is a safe combination, the authors said. Alternative product Menstrual cups are typically bell-shaped and collect menses blood rather than absorb it, as tampons and pads do. The cups are often reusable, made from silicone, rubber or latex; and they can last up to 10 years. Although menstrual cups have been around since the 1930s, their popularity has spiked during the last decade, according to the BBC. The new study is one of the first rigorous scientific reviews of menstrual cup use, the authors said. The researchers analyzed information from 43 previous studies on menstrual cup use involving more than 3,300 people from low-, middle- and high-income countries. Four of the studies, involving about 300 people, directly compared leakage of menstrual blood during use of a menstrual cup, tampon or pad. In three of these studies, the amount of blood that leaked was similar among users of all three products; and in one study, menstrual cup users had less leakage than the others. Among studies conducted in Europe, North America and Africa, there was no increased risk of infections of the reproductive tract, such as yeast infections, tied to menstrual cup use, compared with use of other menstrual products. However, the researchers did identify five cases of toxic shock syndrome tied to menstrual cup use. The condition can occur when certain bacteria, particularly Staphylococcus aureus, grow rapidly in the vaginal tract and produce harmful toxins. But because it’s unclear how many women use menstrual cups overall, the researchers were not able to compare the rate of TSS among menstrual cup users to that of tampon users. The rate of TSS among menstruating women is about 1 in 100,000 women, Live Science previously reported. The authors also identified 13 cases of women with IUDs that were dislodged when they used menstrual cups. This level of occurrence seems “pretty high,” Wu said, but more studies are needed to examine this risk. Wu said she would advise women with IUDs to be “very careful” when using menstrual cups, and to check with their health care provider before using them. Still, Wu noted, some women who use IUDs don’t get their period, meaning they wouldn’t have a need for menstrual cups or other products for menstruation. Cost effective The review also found that a lot of women aren’t aware of menstrual cups, with just 11% to 33% of women surveyed in high-income countries saying they knew about the products. There also seems to be a “learning curve” of several months for women to become familiar with how to use them. But once women were familiar with the products, 70% said they wanted to continue to use the products to manage their period, according to the review. What’s more, the menstrual cups appeared to offer large cost savings and environmental benefits compared with pads and tampons. Evidence from the review suggested that, over a 10-year period, a single menstrual cup could cost about 5% to 7% of the cost of using pads or tampons. (For example, assuming that pads cost about 31 cents each, a woman who uses 12 pads per cycle would end up spending more than $480 over 10 years, while the average cost of a menstrual cup was about $23.) The authors also estimated that, over a 10-year period, a single menstrual cup would create only 0.4% of the plastic waste generated by pad use and 6% of the plastic waste generated by tampon use. The review “highlights the cost-effectiveness and lack of waste of the menstrual cup,” Wu said. She noted that there are different sizes and types of menstrual cups, and women may want to speak with their doctor about which type is best for their body.