Ex-Real Madrid president Calderon: I’m outraged Ronaldo was soldby Carlos Volcanoa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has again hit out at the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.Ronaldo left Madrid for Juventus over a year ago – and Calderon says the club is yet to recover.He told AS: “He should never have left, it’s amazing that he was let go. “It’s impossible to do without such a player. 60 goals per season … no player can bring you such a guarantee. He is irreplaceable, just like (Lionel) Messi. “I am outraged that this may have happened, while (president) Florentino (Perez) keeps saying that Cristiano’s signature was the best of his mandate.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
Johnson impressed by Chelsea youngstersby Paul Vegas6 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Chelsea fullback Glen Johnson is impressed by the club’s youngsters.Johnson singled out one of the Blues’ young players for acclaim, and thinks it would not be a surprise to see them playing Champions League football next season.”Tammy Abraham has impressed me the most because the Premier League is a totally different beast to the Championship,” he told Betdaq. “To score the amount of goals he has so far shows he’s handled the change very well.”I hope Chelsea can fight for a top four place.”If they can get anywhere near then it’s an absolutely fantastic season for them. With Manchester City and Tottenham not firing on all cylinders I think they have got a real chance.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsTwo Ontario law firms allegedly failed to produce documents in their possession that could have helped their Indian residential school survivor clients during compensation hearings for abuse suffered at a notorious institution known for using an electric chair on students, according to a document filed with an Ontario court.The two firms—Nelligan O’Brien Payne and Wallbridge, Wallbridge—are named in a request for directions filed with the Superior Court of Ontario as part of ongoing litigation related to the handling of St. Anne’s Indian residential school abuse claims by the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).The IAP was created by the multi-billion dollar Indian residential school settlement agreement to set compensation payouts for abuse claims.A hearing on the case is scheduled for Friday in Toronto.The request for directions, filed by St. Anne’s residential school survivor Edmund Metatawabin and another survivor known as K-10106, seeks to have the court investigate whether the non-disclosure of documents constituted a breach of the settlement agreement. The court action also seeks to compel Ottawa to disclose remaining documents related to previous St. Anne’s related litigation and settle several other matters related to the IAP and the handing of hundreds of abuse claims by survivors of the institution.Lawyers representing Nelligan O’Brien Payne and Wallbridge, Wallbridge denied the allegations.“The firm denies the allegations,” said Peter Wardle, partner with Toronto firm Wardle Daley Bernstein Beiber LLP, which is representing Nelligan O’Brien Payne. “But would prefer not to comment further while the matter is before the court.”Wardle said he would be representing the firm during Friday’s hearing in Toronto. In a court filing submitted earlier this month, Nelligan O’Brien Payne argued the allegations against the firm did not constitute a breach of the settlement agreement and did not meet threshold for the court’s intervention.“The allegations against the Wallbridge firm are ridiculous,” said Geoff Adair of Toronto firm Adair Barristers, who is representing Wallbridge, Wallbridge. “No further comment.”St. Anne’s Indian residential school is one of the country’s most infamous residential schools where staff tortured students in an electric chair. St. Anne’s originated as a Roman Catholic mission affiliated with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Grey Nuns of the Cross. It began to receive federal funding in 1906 and sat near the junction of the Albany and Yellow rivers along Ontario’s James Bay coast. It closed in 1976.Troubling reports about the treatment of students at the school surfaced throughout the institution’s existence, including in a 1968 letter to Jean Chrétien, who was Indian Affairs minister at the time.The school was also the subject of an Ontario Provincial Police investigation in the 1990s that led to charges and several convictions against former school staff.The records from the OPP investigation were produced and filed before the Ontario Superior Court during a 2003 case launched by St. Anne’s residential school survivors against Catholic Church entities and Ottawa. The lawsuit named 180 alleged perpetrators.The case was heard in Cochrane, Ont. Wallbridge, Wallbridge represented 154 St. Anne’s survivors and Nelligan O’Brien Payne represented the Diocese of Moosonee, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, according to court records.Years later, Nelligan O’Brien Payne and Wallbridge, Wallbridge represented St. Anne’s residential school survivors during IAP hearings for compensation, according to the request for direction document filed as part of the ongoing litigation. During those IAP hearings, Ottawa provided evidence claiming there was no documented proof of sexual abuse at St. Anne’s, according to the request for directions.In fact, Ottawa did have the OPP records along with transcripts and records from the Cochrane, Ont., civil proceedings which substantiated claims of abuse. These same records would have been available to Wallbridge, Wallbridge and Nelligan O’Brien Payne, according to the request for directions.The Ontario Superior Court ordered Ottawa in January 2014 to produce the OPP evidence in its files, along with transcripts of the civil proceedings, pleadings and public documents from the civil action. Ottawa has still not turned over civil proceeding transcripts.Several St. Anne’s residential school survivors filed evidence as part of the ongoing litigation. Five allege Wallbridge, Wallbridge and Nelligan O’Brien Payne failed to inform them of the existence of the same documents before their respective IAP hearings.The survivors are identified in the court records by ID numbers.Claimant K-10106 alleges her claim was denied because the IAP adjudicator was “given the false…narrative about St. Anne’s that stated there was no documentation about sexual abuse at St. Anne’s.” The claimant, who was represented by Nelligan O’Brien Payne, claims they did not know the law firm acted for Catholic Church entities in previous residential school related litigation.“Nelligan O’Brien Payne never sought direction from the court to require federal officials to file the proper disclosure for her IAP hearing and/or review and/or failed to directly file that evidence to support her IAP hearing and review,” said the request for directions.Claimant H-15019, who was represented by Wallbridge, Wallbridge and also saw their abuse claim rejected in the IAP process, alleged they faced a “potential miscarriage of justice arising out of the failure by federal officials, the Church entities and his former legal counsel and/or Wallbridge, Wallbridge to produce the revised and augmented disclosure for St. Anne’s for his IAP hearing and review.”Claimant H-00199, who was represented by Nelligan O’Brien Payne, claimed they were never informed the firm acted for Catholic entities in previous litigation and that “this was a conflict of interest and he would not have retained that firm to represent him.” The claimant also stated “he was never informed of the documents containing similar fact evidence of sexual and physical abuse at St. Anne’s IRS that had been in the possession of Nelligan O’Brien Payne prior to the signing of the (Indian residential school settlement agreement).”Claimant S-11733 stated they filed a complaint against Wallbridge, Wallbridge with the Law Society of Upper Canada.“Federal officials failed to file proper disclosure for her IAP hearing and Wallbridge, Wallbridge did not file a request for direction from the court to compel federal officials to file the proper disclosure for her IAP hearing and/or failed to directly file that evidence to support her IAP claim,” said the request for directions.Claimant E-10044, who was represented by Nelligan O’Brien Payne, stated they were never told the firm represented Catholic Church entities in previous residential school litigation. The claimant stated they would not have hired the firm if they had been provided that information.“He was never told that Nelligan O’Brien Payne had documentation about all the abuses at St. Anne’s,” said the request for direction.A request for directions is a limited legal civil procedure aimed at asking the court for email@example.com@JorgeBarrera
Comux, the infrastructure joint venture set up to support the launch of local digital-terrestrial TV channels in the UK, yesterday switched on new transmitters at Winter Hill to bring services to Liverpool, Manchester and Preston.The transmitters, overseen by Comux and operated by Arqiva, will extend the reach of the local TV network increase by more than two million to a total of 12,390,000 homes across the country.“Just over a year ago Comux won the Ofcom licence to manage this major infrastructure project and create a business that would help to ensure the long-term future of local television,” said Ed Hall, CEO of Comux.“With today’s launch at Winter Hill, the network now reaches more than 12.3 million homes, and the revenue from the sale of spare capacity is starting to come in. I am pleased to say that the team at Comux has worked successfully with Arqiva to deliver this major project on time and on budget.”
Nordic pay TV operator TDC has selected Appear TV’s XC5000 video processing platform to provide encoding and multiscreen transcoding for live linear broadcasts.The platform will be deployed for all TDC’s broadcasts, including the YouSee cable service and its OTT and multiscreen offerings.With the deployment, TDC aims to provide high quality picture across 100 linear OTT channels to around 1.2 million subscribers in Denmark and Norway.“When choosing our next generation video compression platform, we were looking for a single, user-friendly platform that would enable us to update our signal processing equipment to offer best in class image quality. This meant that we had to take into account a number of parameters, including video quality, power consumption, ease of integration and operation and the number of switches required to operate multiple TV services with hundreds of channels,” said Mads Arnbjørn Rasmussen, vice-president TV and coaxial technology, TDC.The Appear TV XC5000 platform is designed to accommodate customers’ preferred system architectures while reducing complexity. It is possible to build an entire broadcast system in a single chassis consisting of discreet stages or distributed architectures. Appear TV will exhibit at IBC on stand 1.C61
Vivendi has sold its remaining shares in US games company Activision Blizzard, in which it once held a majority stake, for US$1.1 billion (€1 billion), bringing an immediate addition to its cash pile of US$0.4 billion.Vivendi sold 41.5 million shares in the games provider, representing a 5.7% stake, the value of which has increased by about 40% since last June.Following an agreement in 2013, Vivendi sold 85% of shares in Activision Blizzard for US$8.2 billion and then sold a further 5.8% for US$850 million in 2014.Vivendi remains involved in the games business via its acquisition of stakes in French games providers Ubisoft and Gameloft, in which it has progressively upped its interest.
TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) 12,065.55 12,773.87 12,153.69 We Buy @ Spot + $1.90 Per Oz (Spot + $1.90 X 715) Sold Out Amark 1 Oz. Silver Rounds ( Made By Sunshine ) Pure .999 BU 500 Coin Min. Spot + $4.99 Per Oz (Spot + $4.99 X 715) Rock & Stock Stats Last Sold Out Gold Producers (GDX) 28.59 37.58 46.61 Oil 88.01 92.52 102.72 Copper 3.15 3.41 3.63 One Month Ago TSX Venture 939.07 1,106.51 1,396.77 One Year Ago 2013 Sealed Mint Boxes Of 1 Oz. Silver American Eagles “San Francisco Mint” Brand New Coins 500 Coin Min. (1 Sealed Box) Gold Crash 2013 – Deliberately Engineered? By Bud Conrad, Casey Research Chief Economist How can we explain gold dropping into the $1,300 level in less than a week? Here are some of the factors: George Soros cut his fund holdings in the biggest gold ETF by 55% in the fourth quarter of 2012. He was not alone: the gold holdings of GLD have contracted all year, down about 12.2% at present. On April 9, the FOMC minutes were leaked a day early and revealed that some members were discussing slowing the Fed $85 billion per month buying of Treasuries and MBS. If the money stimulus might not last as long as thought before, the “printing” may not cause as much dollar debasement. On April 10, Goldman Sachs warned that gold could go lower and lowered its target price. It even recommended getting out of gold. COT Reports showed a decrease in the bullishness of large speculators this year (much more on this technical point below). The lackluster price movement since September 2011 fatigued some speculators and trend followers. Cyprus was rumored to need to sell some 400 million euros’ worth of its gold to cover its bank bailouts. While small at only about 350,000 ounces, there was a fear that other weak European countries with too much debt and sizable gold holdings could be forced into the same action. Cyprus officials have denied the sale, so the question is still in debate, even though the market has already moved. Doug Casey believes that if weak European countries were forced to sell, the gold would mostly be absorbed by China and other sovereign Asian buyers, rather than flood the physical markets. My opinion, looking at the list of items above, is that they are not big enough by themselves to have created such a large disruption in the gold market. The Paper Gold Market The paper gold market is best embodied in the futures exchanges. The prices we see quoted all day long moving up and down are taken from the latest trades of futures contracts. The CME (the old Chicago Mercantile Exchange) has a large flow of orders and provides the public with an indication of the price of gold. The futures markets are special because very little physical commodity is exchanged; most of the trading is between buyers taking long positions against sellers taking short positions, with most contracts liquidated before final settlement and delivery. These contracts require very small amounts of margin – as little as 5% of the value of the commodity – to gain potentially large swings in the outcome of profit or loss. Thus, futures markets appear to be a speculator’s paradise. But the statistics show just the opposite: 90% of traders lose their shirts. The other 10% take all the profits from the losers. More on this below. On April 13, there were big sell orders of 400 tonnes that moved the futures market lower. Once the futures market makes a big move like that, stops can be triggered, causing it to move even more on its own. It can become a panic, where markets react more to fear than fundamentals. Having traded in futures for over two decades, I want to provide some detail on how these leveraged markets operate. It’s important to understand that the structure of the futures market allows brokers to sell positions if fluctuations cause customers to exceed their margin limits and they don’t immediately deposit more money to restore their margins. When a position goes against a trader, brokers can demand that funds be deposited within 24 hours (or even sooner at the broker’s discretion). If the funds don’t appear, the broker can sell the position and liquidate the speculator’s account. This structure can force prices to fall more than would be indicated by supply and demand fundamentals. When I first signed up to trade futures, I was appalled at the powers the broker wrote into the contract, which included them having the power to immediately liquidate my positions at their discretion. I was also surprised at how little screening they did to ensure that I was good for whatever positions I put in place, considering the high levels of leverage they allowed me. Let me tell you that I had many cases where I was told to put up more margin or lose my positions. Those times resulted in me selling at the worst level because the market had gone against me. The point of this is that once a market moves dramatically, there are usually stops taken out, positions liquidated, margin calls issued, and little guys like me get taken to the cleaners. Debates rage about the structure of the futures market, but my personal opinion is that a big hammer to the market by a well-heeled big player can force liquidations, increase losses, and push the momentum of the market much lower than the initial impetus would have. Thus, after a huge impact like we saw on April 13, the market will continue with enough momentum that a well-timed exit of a huge set of short positions can provide profits to the well-heeled market mover. Moving from theory to practice, one of the most important things to keep your eye on is the Commitment of Traders (COT) report, which is issued every Friday. It details the long and the short positions of three categories of traders. The first category is called “commercials.” They are dealers in the physical precious metals – for example, gold miners. The second category is called “non-commercials.” They include hedge funds and large commercial banks like JP Morgan. Non-commercials are sometimes called “large speculators.” The rest are the small traders, called “non-reporting” since they are not required to identify themselves. The ones to watch are the large speculators (non-commercials), as they tend to move with the direction of the market. Individual entities could be long or short, but in combination the net position of the group is a key indicator. The following chart shows the price of gold as a blue line at the top, and the next panel down shows the net position of these large speculators as a black line. You can see that over the long term, they move together. When the net speculative position is above zero, this group is betting on rising gold prices. Of course, the reverse is true when it’s below zero. In this 20-year view, the large speculators were holding net negative positions during the lowest point of the gold price, around the year 2000. As the price of gold rose, their positions went net long, and they profited. An interesting thing about the chart above is that the increasing amount of net longs reversed itself before gold peaked in 2011, suggesting that these large speculators became slightly less bullish all the way back in 2010. The balance remains net long, but it remains to be seen how long that lasts. What is not so obvious is that these large speculators are so big that they can affect the market as well as profit from it; when they initiate massive positions in a bull market, they drive the price of the futures contracts even higher. Similarly, when they remove their positions or actually go short, they can push the market lower. So what happened a week ago was that a massive order to sell 400 tons of gold all at once hit the market. Within minutes the price plummeted, and over a two-day period resulted in the largest drop of the price for futures delivery of gold in 33 years: down $200 per ounce. We don’t have the name of the entity that did this. However, the way the gold was sold all at once suggests that the goal was not to get the best price. An investor with a position of this size should have been smart enough to use sensible trading tactics, issuing much smaller sell orders over a period of time. This would avoid swamping the market; and some of the orders would be filled at higher prices and thus generate more profit. Placing a sell order big enough to affect the overall market price suggests that someone with powerful backing wanted to drive the price of gold down. Such an entity could have been a large speculator who already had a sizable short position and could gain by unloading some of its short position once the market momentum had driven the price even yet lower. Or it could be a central bank – one that might be happy to have the gold price move lower, as it would provide cover for its printing of more new money. Of course, it could be some entity that owned long contracts and wanted to get out of the position all at once. We don’t know, but this kind of activity, resulting in the biggest drop in 30 years, raises more than just suspicion when we consider how important the price of gold is to many markets around the globe. Can markets really be influenced by big players? Well, was the LIBOR rate accurately reported by huge banks? Have players ever tried to corner markets? The answer to all the above, unfortunately, is yes. There’s an even bigger problem with the legal structure of the futures market: even the segregated funds on deposit can be pilfered by the broker for the brokerage’s other obligations. That is what happened to MF Global customers under Mr. Corzine. (I had an account with a predecessor company called Man Financial – the “MF” in the name. I also had an account with Refco, which is now defunct. Fortunately, the daggers did not hit my account, since I was not a holder when the catastrophes occurred.) My take: the futures market is dangerous, and not a place for beginners. One last note: after the Bankruptcy Act of 2005, the regulations support the brokers, not the investors, when there are questions of legality about losses in individual investment accounts. Casey Research will be producing a report with much more detail on this subject in the near future. So, what now? We aren’t going to see a secret memo – no smoking gun to confirm that what happened on April 13 was an attempt to affect the market. Still, the evidence is suspicious. When big entities can gain from putting on big positions, the incentives are big enough for them to try – LIBOR, Plunge Protection Team, Whale Trade, etc., all support this view. The Physical Gold Market Previously, there was little difference between the physical and paper markets for gold. Yes, there were premiums and delivery charges, but everybody regarded the futures market as the base quote. I believe this is changing; people don’t trust the paper market as they used to. Instead of capitulating to fear of greater losses, the demand for physical gold has hit new records. The US Mint sold a record 63,500 ounces – a whopping 2 tonnes – of gold on April 17 alone, bringing the total sales for the month to 147,000 ounces; that’s more than the previous two months combined. Indian markets, which are more oriented to physical metal, now have a premium of US$150 over the futures price in Chicago. Demand at coin dealers has increased as the price has dropped. And premiums are much bigger than they were as recently as a week ago. Here is a vendor page that quotes purchase prices and calculates the premiums on an ongoing basis. It shows premiums of 50% and more in many cases. On eBay, prices for one-ounce silver coins are $33 to $35, where the futures price is quoted as $23. A look on Friday April 19 shows one vendor out of stock on most items: 2013 Sealed Mint Boxes Of 1 Oz. Silver American Eagles – Brand New Coins 500 Coin Min. (1 Sealed Box) (Click on image to enlarge) Buying Opportunity or Time to Flee? So what does it all mean? The paper price of gold crashed to $1,325 in the wake of this huge trade. It is now hovering around $1,400. My first reaction is to suggest that this is only an aberration, and that the fundamentals of the depreciating value of paper currencies will eventually take the price of gold much higher, making it a buying opportunity. But what I can’t predict is whether big players might again deliver short-term downturns to the market. The momentum in the futures market can make swings surprisingly larger than the fundamentals of currency valuation would suggest. Traders will be looking for a significant turnaround to the upside in price before entering long positions. However, a long-term, fundamentals-based trader has to look at the low price as a buying opportunity. I can’t prove it, but I think the fundamentals will drive the long-term market more than these short-term events. The fight between pricing from the physical market for bullion and that from the “paper market” of futures is showing signs of discrimination and disagreement, as the physical market is booming, while prices set by futures are seemingly pressured to go nowhere. In short, I think this is a strong buying opportunity. We also advocate stashing a good chunk of your gold outside your home country. In fact, international diversification of all your wealth should be at the top of your to-do list this year. To help you get started, at 2 p.m. EDT on April 30, Casey Research is premiering a free web video event, Internationalizing Your Assets. It features some of the world’s top experts on internationalization, including Casey Research Chairman Doug Casey, Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff, and World Money Analyst Editor Kevin Brekke. Together they will reveal how they personally protect their assets abroad – and how you can, too. Registration is free. Gold and Silver HEADLINES Ron Paul Is Relaxed About Gold’s Slump (Mining.com) Gold bug Ron Paul recently weighed in on last week’s events. Paul has taken gold’s abrupt decline in the past week with calm, asserting that the key issue is the value of the dollar and not the sharp movements in the precious-metals market. According to Mining.com, the former US Congressman was unnerved when asked if he was worried about this week’s gold-price collapse happening again. “It was an abnormal market phenomenon, but obviously the weak holders had to get out, and the strong holders are back and buying.” We couldn’t agree more. Demand for Krugerrands Skyrockets (Mineweb) As we all know so well, the gold price dropped to its lowest level in two years earlier this week due to a variety of factors, including the possibility that Cyprus might sell some gold in order to help finance its bailout. However, this has not been an altogether one-sided story, as the demand for physical gold – such as Krugerrand gold coins – shot through the roof during last week’s drop, as investors capitalized on the lower gold price. Jewelers Head for Gold as Investors Fled (BullionStreet) A slump in the gold price also led to a jump in gold jewelry sales in India. Seemingly, while the price decline last week made the metal unappealing to portfolio investors and money managers, gold retailers in India struggled to cope with the demand, as shoppers rushed to snap up gold ornaments ahead of wedding season. The article states: “Jewelers are eyeing incoming wedding season and Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day to buy gold as per Hindu mythology, to boost their sales in the global market, as the gold price fell below US$1,400 per troy ounce for the first time in 15 months.” This Week in International Speculator and BIG GOLD – Key Updates for Subscribers International Speculator One of our producers released its first-quarter production report from its Mexican mining operations, showing greatly improved mining and processing abilities. 90% Silver Coin Bags 50¢ Half Dollars $1,000 Face Value We Ship in 2 $500 Face Bags $1,000 Face Value Min. We Buy @ Spot + $2.10 Per Oz (Spot + $2.10 X 715) Buy @ Spot -15c Louis James Senior Metals Investment Strategist Casey Research Buy – Sell On Silver Bullion 90% Silver Coin Bags (Our Choice Dimes Or Quarters) $1,000 Face Value Figured at 715 Ozs Per $1,000 Face $1,000 Face Value Min. Clearly, the physical gold market today is sending different signals than the paper market. The Case for Gold Is Still with Us The long-term fundamental reasons to hold gold are undeniably still with us. The central banks of the world are acting in concert in “currency wars” or “the race to debase.” As they print more money, the purchasing power of each unit declines. They are caught between the rock of having to keep interest rates low to support their governments’ huge deficits and the hard place of the long-term effect of diluting their currency. If rates rise, even First World governments will be forced to pay higher interest fees, leading to loss of confidence in their ability to pay back their debt, which will bring on a sovereign debt crisis like what we have seen in the PIIGS or Argentina recently. The following chart shows the rapid growth in the balance sheets as a ratio to GDP for the three largest central banks. I’ve extrapolated the expected growth into the future based on the rate at which they propose to buy up assets. One could argue about how long these growth rates will continue, but the incentives are all there for all central banks to bail out their governments and their commercial banks. I fully expect the printing game to continue to provide the fuel for hard-asset investments like gold and silver to increase in price in the years to come. Buy @ Spot + $1.80 Dear Reader, Doug and I have received some polite but strong encouragement to not dismiss the possibility that there are entities – particularly the Fed – with a vested interest in manipulating the precious-metals markets to suppress prices. Doug just doesn’t buy it. Personally, I find the usual arguments persuasive, but have seen them linked to predictions that have not come true for many years. My view is that if manipulation of these markets exists, its impact is short term, and the fundamentals will determine the long-term outcome. We don’t presume to have the power to settle these debates, but I do want readers to know that we do look at all evidence and arguments regarding our markets. Case in point: Bud Conrad’s analysis of the recent market fluctuation in gold, which we offer in this edition. I hope you find it interesting, whichever side of the debate you fall on. Sincerely, This exploration company announced drill results, including some excellent hits at its gold project in Canada. The company is delivering, and we consider the current sell-off as a buying opportunity. BIG GOLD One of our Best Buys announced a stock buyback program – here’s what it means for our shares. Sold Out 90% Silver Coin Bags Walking Liberty Half Dollars $1,000 Face Value We Ship in 2 $500 Face Bags $1,000 Face Value Min. Sold Out Silver Stocks (SIL) 13.93 18.01 21.13 Gold 1,406.50 1,611.30 1,641.40 Sold Out Gold Junior Stocks (GDXJ) 12.01 16.87 22.46 Buy @ Spot + $2.00 Silver 23.29 28.84 31.78 We Buy @ Spot + $1.70 Per Oz (Spot + $1.70 X 715) This dividend payer reported a drop in production – but we’re not concerned and are buying first tranches.
In This Issue. * Disruptions reside in U.S. now. * Dollar continues to get sold. * U.S. data begins to get printed this week * Eric Sprott speaks And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! It’s Now Time For Taper Capers! Good day. And a Marvelous Monday to you! Well! Looky, looky, my two beloved teams, are getting quite a bit of attention these days! My Cardinals are in the World Series, and my Missouri Tigers, after beating the Florida Gators, soared to #5 in the country! WOW! My friend, Ed’s Auburn Tigers won, but my friend, Rick’s Clemson Tigers lost. But it was all seashells and balloons for me, sports-wise this weekend, and that’s a good thing! The goings on in Washington D.C. finally calmed down after weeks of bashing each other with words, a lot of drama, and some funky accounting. The U.S. dollar continues to remain under pressure. Can you blame the currency traders, et. al? Like I said last week, if the U.S. wants to continue to accumulate massive debt, and not do anything about it, then they are more than happy to continue to sell dollars. Think about this for a moment before we get into everything else, and it will be our theme for the day and weeks to come, I believe. 3 years ago, all the disruptions to a smooth running economy resided in the Eurozone, and the euro got hammered until, they addressed the problem, and then, and only then, did the relative calm come over the Eurozone and euro. Today, all the disruptions to a smooth running economy reside here in the U.S. and therefore it only makes sense for the dollar to get hammered, just like the euro did, for basically the same stuff. Debt. So, keeping that theme in mind. The euro continues to add to its gains last week, and has been as high as 1.3688 overnight, very close to moving past the 1.37 handle. Who’da thunk it? I mean, guys like, oh, never mind, you all know the guys I would name, but in my kinder, gentler persona, I’ll just say we had people stomping their feet, pounding the podiums, and placing the hard earned reputations on the line, saying they “knew” for sure the euro was going to collapse a couple of years ago. In addition, in Germany this past weekend, it appears a coalition Gov’t could be a done deal this week, and that goes a long way to calming the ruffled feathers in Germany, the Eurozone’s largest economy. So, the euro has a couple of things going for it this morning, but remember what I always tell you. The euro is the offset currency to the dollar, so things could be on tenterhooks in the Eurozone, and the euro would still be allowed to gain, IF the dollar is getting sold. The challenger to the euro, as the offset currency to the dollar, would be the Chinese renminbi / yuan. The renminbi / yuan will have to leapfrog over currencies like yen, pounds and francs when it comes to liquidity and number of currency units traded each day, before the real challenge comes. The renminbi / yuan was allowed to appreciate to another 20 year record level last night. The pressure on the Chinese Gov’t to keep appreciating their currency is growing, especially after the U.S. shutdown, and near default. Nothing like pushing your girlfriend toward your best friend. The Chinese 3rd QTR GDP, as I reported to you last week, grew 7.8% up from 7.5% in the 2nd QTR, and so, this strong direction of the Chinese economy is really helping out with the appreciation of the currency, and really providing an underpin for the Aussie dollar (A$). The A$ is flat this morning at .9670. I think that most of the gains from the RBA rate comments, that we talked about, the new Gov’t, and the rebound in the Chinese economy, has all been priced into the A$ at this point. Now, we’ll have to see more reasons to push the A$ higher, and those could come this week, with their latest reading of CPI (consumer inflation). For if CPI doesn’t look dicey, the calls for a rate cut will come back into play faster than you can say stupid rate cuts! And that won’t be good for the A$… So, we need to keep an eye on CPI tomorrow night (Wednesday for them) Later this week (Thursday), both the central banks of Norway and Sweden, the Norges Bank and Riksbank respectively, will meet to discuss rates. I don’t expect either of these two Central Banks to change rates, choosing to leave them unchanged, and then follow the announcement with a statement that will be positive, thus giving the markets the feeling that rates are heading higher here, next year. It might be helpful to take a step back, and list the countries that we know of that have either come out and said rates will be hiked in 2014, or have tightening biases that appear to be ready for the trigger to get pulled on higher rates. They include: New Zealand, Brazil, Norway, Sweden. And a couple of the fence. Australia and Canada. Notice, a few that’s not on that list, like: the U.S., Japan, U.K., Eurozone. And with the U.S., Japan, U.K. and Eurozone all on the near zero rate policy train tracks, one would think that Gold would take that opportunity to shine. I had a conversation with the very well respected analyst, Steve Sjuggerud, one day last week, and we were talking about China’s currency, not paying interest, and Steve said, “well, I told my readers that they aren’t getting paid much on their dollar accounts, so they aren’t really losing anything, interest rates wise, by switching into renminbi.” I said, “hey, Steve, you know what? I’ve been telling our clients and readers the same thing for a long time now.” So, you see it’s not all about getting a yield advantage with another currency, the ZIRP in the U.S. allows you to look to things that have equally low rates, like Chinese renminbi, and Gold. Well, not that long ago, Japan used to enjoy a strong Current Account Surplus, which allowed investors to have an easy feeling about owning yen. For, even if the Gov’t debt was a problem, they had this strong Current Account Surplus. But then the Surplus began to melt away, and Japan began printing Trade Deficits! What? Yes, and when the first one printed over a year ago, I said then that it was not a good thing for Japan, and received some notes from people saying that I always say a swallow doesn’t make a summer, and one bad print isn’t a trend. And they were right! I always did say that, so I backed off, until getting to see more Trade Deficits print in Japan. One bad apple might not spoil the whole bunch, girl, but it did in this case! In keeping with the rot on Japan’s economic vine, September’s Trade Deficit booked a yen 932.1 Billion Deficit ($9.5 Billion in dollar terms), marking the 15th consecutive month booking a deficit. The thrill is gone for yen folks. Bad Gov’t Debt, a worsening Current Account Deficit, and an economy in a 2-decade funk. But, what about all the stimulus that the Japanese Gov’t provided over the years for the economy? Or what about all the Quantitative Easing / QE that’s still going on today? ZIRP has been in play for 15 years, and every attempt to hike rates has been met with a further downturn in the economy, thus immediately erasing the increase in rates. So. If I hadn’t started that off by telling you it was Japan, you could almost close your eyes and imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or die for. No wait! How’d I go there? What I was getting at was you could very easily imagine that I was talking about the U.S. No, we haven’t experienced 15 years of ZIRP, of a 2-decade economic funk.. YET! Gold really hasn’t moved much since the initial jump higher after the Debt Deal last week. I really thought that with the market participants now knowing that the U.S. was going to continue down the road to ruins, that Gold would take off to higher ground. It did. but hasn’t added to those initial gains. I told you last week, that now that the Debt Debacle was kicked down the road, that the focus would return to the Taper Capers. You know, whether or not the Fed Heads will begin to Taper or not. I say, “NOT YET”. The Gov’t shutdown probably saw to the delay in Tapering. But I guess the Gold buyers want confirmation of that. And I guess we’ll see confirmation of the delay next week, as the Fed Heads get together for a pre-Halloween meeting on October 30th. Let’s hope the Fed Heads don’t think that a good scare would be fun! But should the Fed Heads confirm the delay, as I expect them to do, I would think that Gold would get back to adding to its gains, but that’s 9 days away.. And remember, even though, I kept talking about the risks of the Fed Heads not tapering being in the markets, I thought Big Ben would make an announcement that tapering was beginning last September, and that was wrong. The U.S. data cupboard gets back to giving us economic prints this week, now that the Gov’t is “back to work”. I say that facetiously of course! The first data print will be the Jobs Jamboree for September that will print tomorrow! Then Retail Sales on Wednesday, and so on. The week will be chock-full-o-data. I actually thought it was quite nice not having trumped up data and cooked books thrown at us these past two + weeks. The “experts” have had a couple of extra weeks to research the Jobs Jamboree, and they have come up with a forecast of 180,000 jobs created in September, and the Unemployment Rate remaining at 7.3%… Me? I really don’t care, for the numbers are all trumped up, massaged and cooked to make you feel better. I prefer to look at the Avg Hourly Earnings, the Avg Weekly Hours Worked, and the Participation Rate. Before I head to the Big Finish. My friend, Ed, sent me this on Friday, and I thought it to be “True” that I just had to put it here for it is exactly how I view life. From John Lennon: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” For What It’s Worth. I found this interview with Eric Sprott of Sprott Asset Management LP over at KingWorldnews.com and I found it to be interesting, in that he is saying the same stuff I’ve said for years now, so it’s nice to see a billionaire like Mr. Sprott come around to my way of thinking! Here’s Eric Sprott. “We’ve had so many false starts (and promises) — ‘The economy is going to be great in 2010,’ and it’s not. ‘It’s going to be great in 2011, 2012, 2013,’ and it’s not. Now, they are already talking about it being ‘great in 2014.’ But we are actually regressing, even though they (central planners) don’t want to admit it, because the numbers are all manipulated in one way or another. It will happen that gold will be accepted as the asset to back a (major) currency. And the currency with the most gold behind it, which I suspect is already the Chinese yuan, and growing rapidly, will be the dominant currency going forward. Of course this doesn’t portend well for all of the central planners currencies. They (the Chinese) are doing the smart thing by buying real physical assets. So I guess the best way of putting it is, just follow the Chinese, my friend, and you are going to be OK here.” Chuck again. You can read the whole interview by clicking here if you want. One more thing I found interesting in this interview. Sprott was talking about the suppression of the Gold & Silver price, and said, “it is staggering to think that demand (for gold) is twice (global) mine production. It’s almost unimaginable.” To recap. The most important things for today is that the Cardinals are in the World Series, and my Missouri Tigers are #5 in the country! OK. Markets wise. the sell dollar bias remains, but has settled down a bit, as the markets wait for the FOMC meeting next week, and get a look at the economic data that will begin to print again this week. Norway and Sweden central banks will meet this week, and lay the groundwork for rate hikes in 2014, and the euro continues to gain reversing the trade that existed when the disruptions resided in the Eurozone. The disruptions now reside in the U.S. Currencies today 10/21/13. American Style: A$ .9670, kiwi .8460, C$ .9710, euro 1.3675, sterling 1.6150, Swiss $1.1070, . European Style: rand 9.8450, krone 5.9225, SEK 6.4340, forint 214.75, zloty 3.0605, koruna 18.85, RUB 31.88, yen 98.15, sing 1.2410, HKD 7.7530, INR 61.51, China 6.1352, pesos 12.85, BRL 2.1745, Dollar Index 79.71, Oil $100.05, 10-year 2.59%, Silver $22.17, Platinum $1,439.90, Palladium $744.00, and Gold.. $1,317.92 That’s it for today. Wow! The World Series! This is our 4th trip to the World Series in the past 10 years. No! I’m not bragging! I’m just saying. Boy was I off a week last Friday, when I talked about Homecoming at Mizzou. It wasn’t last weekend, it’s this coming weekend, and it looks like the family is going! YAHOO! Alex gave it his best on Saturday, but wasn’t able to come up with an individual medal at the swimming invitational. I watched the Game 6 NLCS Clinching win with friends at a local watering hole last Friday night. We had a blast cheering and high fiving, and enjoying the win. Steely Dan is playing, My Old School right now, great song! And with that, I thank you for reading the Pfennig, and Hope you have a Marvelous Monday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837
Today is International Women’s Day, a day that aims to celebrate the achievements of women in all arenas: social, economic, cultural, political and personal, as well.Over the past year, NPR has profiled some remarkable women, from a 101-year-old runner from India to a Yemeni refugee who didn’t let war stop her from being a scientist.Now, we’d love to hear from you. Tell us about a woman who’s making life better for other women — especially in the developing world.It can be a woman you know personally, a woman you’ve read about in the news or an under-the-radar woman whose story you think the world needs to know. We’re looking for activists, scientists, researchers, brave individuals who have overcome incredible obstacles.We’re taking submissions until March 16. Use the form below to send in your nomination. Please tell us what this woman has done that inspires you — and would be inspiring to our readers as well.We will pick a woman to profile at the end of the month. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Disabled activists have fought back against what they say are attempts by the government and big business to “hijack” the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities through their support for a purple-themed campaign that focuses on disability employment.The #PurpleLightUp campaign, which was launched last year, aims to celebrate the economic contribution of disabled employees.It is led by PurpleSpace, a disabled-led organisation which describes itself as a “professional development hub for disabled employee networks” and is headed by Kate Nash, a former chief executive of RADAR, one of the three disability organisations that merged to become Disability Rights UK.Among those supporting the #PurpleLightUp campaign on Monday’s international day were the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Treasury, controversial government contractor Atos – which produced purple lovehearts and cupcakes to mark the day – and accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.It was also supported by banking giants Lloyds Bank and HSBC, both closely associated with the global recession that led to government austerity policies that have caused misery for hundreds of thousands of disabled people in the UK since 2010.But disabled activists are furious at how they believe the campaign has “hijacked” the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), which focuses on the rights of disabled people.The theme of this year’s UN international day was supposed to be empowering disabled people and ensuring “inclusiveness and equality” on development issues.Now disabled activists have begun a fightback, calling for the UN day to be marked in the future with what they say are the true colours of the disabled people’s movement: turquoise and yellow.Cllr Pam Thomas, a disabled Labour councillor on Liverpool City Council and a former member of the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN), persuaded her council to light up its civic buildings on Monday in turquoise and yellow (pictured, Liverpool Town Hall).She said these colours had been used by disabled people’s campaigns for equality since the 1990s, with accounts from the period suggesting that turquoise represented “unity” and yellow stood for “freedom”.Among the more recent UK disability rights battles that have used turquoise and yellow was the campaign to save the Independent Living Fund.Thomas said #PurpleLightUp was “not about disabled people’s rights, but about economic activity”, and she pointed to its close connection with DWP and its discredited Disability Confident employment scheme.She said: “What is really annoying me is that Purple Light Up has taken our international day for their own agenda.“Disabled people are experiencing the extreme hardships of ideologically-imposed austerity, as shown in several different reports, our own organisations have had funding cut and hardly any remain.“Meanwhile, large multi-million pound disability charities and commercial organisations are prepared to promote and perpetuate the DWP’s agenda, which is one of the main deliverers of austerity on disabled people.”She said she was “so disappointed” that disabled people would support the involvement of these organisations in #PurpleLightUp, “knowing what Atos and all the other government departments have done to disabled people.“How could they side with them and not the disabled people’s civil rights movement?”Disabled activists have pointed out that DWP has been repeatedly shamed by the UN for its grievous breaches of international rights treaties, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Thomas said: “Disabled people involved with Purple Light Up need to consider their own ethical position of promoting the DWP agenda and their own business, whilst shutting down disabled people who are campaigning for civil rights and against austerity and oppression, on our international day of all days.”She said she would now push the Labour party and trade unions to adopt yellow and turquoise as the colours of the disabled people’s civil rights movement.Nash defended her organisation’s #PurpleLightUp campaign.She said the idea came from disabled employees wanting to move away from discussions of “deficit”, “welfare reform” and “getting people into work” and towards sharing “stories of success” and disabled people’s contribution “to economies and civil society”. She said: “#PurpleLightUp is therefore designed to celebrate the economic contribution of disabled employees – and the response from disabled people, employers and the public, across the world, where it was featured in 17,000 tweets, suggest that others want to do that too.”Nash* said 3 December was chosen “as a mark of deep respect to the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities”.She added: “PurpleSpace applauds the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international human rights treaty of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.“We hope the #PurpleLightUp will provide further opportunities to notice our rights and dignity, not diminish them. The responses so far seem to confirm that.”Nash said: “Our members are from many different types of organisations – we support employee networks and resources groups irrespective of the nature of the business of the organisation, and wherever they are on the journey of change. “It is not for us to measure the integrity of every contributor, nor judge their record on disability rights.”But the disabled actor and activist Liz Carr was another to express her anger at the hijacking of the international day.She said on Twitter: “Happy international day of disabled people to all the fantastic crips who make this world a better place just by existing.“Despite all the purple # bollocks on here, this is not a day for the likes of DWP & ATOS to light up their buildings purple. This is our day.”Fran Springfield, co-chair of Disability Labour, said: “It is absolutely a hijack which is why the idea of using the turquoise and yellow is absolutely brilliant because it takes it away from their level of commercialism which is what it’s about. Their bottom line is money.“This is something that goes back a long way and it is absolutely about rights and freedoms, which are slowly being eroded away.”She said the #PurpleLightUp campaign was “window-dressing. It has nothing to do with our rights.“If DWP are going to be lighting themselves up purple they are absolutely no beacon at all of good treatment of disabled people. They terrify us, they terrorise our lives.”Liverpool City Council also helped celebrate the UN day with the international disability arts festival DaDaFest, which ends on Saturday and has been taking place across the city region since 1 November.*Kate Nash said that any readers who would like to share their views about the #PurpleLightUp campaign can email her organisation at firstname.lastname@example.org A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
FacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThis Photo courtesy: Rice University’s Baker InstituteNY Times story: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/world/europe/russian-warships-said-to-be-going-to-naval-base-in-syria.html.Reuters story: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/18/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE85D0IS20120618.Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute sponsors more than 20 programs that conduct 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 and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog. ShareDavid Ruth713email@example.comDjerejian available to comment on Syrian crisisDjerejian is founding director of Rice University’s Baker Institute and former US ambassador to SyriaHOUSTON – (June 18, 2012) – Edward Djerejian, founding director of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and former U.S. Ambassador to Syria and to Israel, is available to comment on current developments in Syria and on the United States’ Middle East policy. United Nations observers recently suspended their mission in Syria out of security concerns, and according to news reports today, Russia is sending two “amphibious assault ships” with marines to the region. President Barack Obama is also expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin while attending the G-20 summit in Mexico.Djerejian served in the U.S. Foreign Service under eight presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton. Prior to his nomination by Clinton as U.S. ambassador to Israel, he was assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in both the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. He was also the U.S. ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic from 1988 to 1991.Djerejian was asked by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to chair the congressionally mandated bipartisan Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World. The group published its report in October 2003. Djerejian served in 2006 as senior adviser to the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel mandated by Congress to assess the situation in Iraq.Djerejian is also the author of the book ”Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East.”The Baker Institute has a radio and television studio available for media who want to schedule an interview with Djerejian. For more information, contact David Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-348-6327.To see a previously aired interview with Djerejian, click below or go to http://youtu.be/UGWW-6dy2ME.-30-Related materials:Djerejian on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EdwardDjerejian @edwarddjerejianDjerejian biography: http://bakerinstitute.org/personnel/fellows-scholars/edjerejian
Add to Queue Disney 2 min read The class action suit alleges that the media giant is violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. Senior Editor Next Article Image credit: via PC Mag –shares This story originally appeared on PCMag Lawsuit Claims Disney Is Tracking Kids in 42 Apps Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Matthew Humphries Children need protecting when they are online, which is why since April 21, 2000, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) has been in effect. Now Disney is facing a class action lawsuit claiming that 42 of its gaming apps aimed at children violate COPPA.COPPA applies to children under the age of 13 and requires verifiable consent from a parent or guardian before personal information can be collected about a child. Even if consent is given, there are limitations on how the collected information can be used, extra protections must be in place and methods made available for parents to review the personal information collected.According to American City Business Journals, Amanda Rushing discovered that no such parental consent was asked for when her child downloaded the app Disney Princess Palace Pets. Even so, Rushing believes the app collected personal information about her child and shared that information with third-parties including advertisers.This led to a federal class action lawsuit being filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California by law firms Lieff Cabraser and Carney Bates & Pulliam against The Walt Disney Co., as well as software developers Upsight Inc., Unity Technologies SF and Kochava Inc.According to The Verge, a total of 42 Disney apps are included in the lawsuit that apparently violate COPPA. It asks that Disney is forced through an injunction to stop tracking children without consent, but also that “appropriate relief” be awarded covering “actual and statutory damages and punitive damages, plus costs.”Disney responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:”Disney has a robust COPPA compliance program, and we maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families. The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in court.”This isn’t the first time Disney is facing COPPA violation accusations. In 2013, the Disney-owned subsidiary Playdom violated COPPA rules by illegally collecting and disclosing personal information from hundreds of thousands of children. To settle the charges, Disney ended up paying $3 million. Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals August 10, 2017 Register Now »
The Expansion Enables UK Media Companies to Access Stringr’s Robust Content Library and Livestreaming FunctionStringr, the premium video marketplace for custom, high-quality, video content, has announced its launch into the United Kingdom. Through this expansion, UK based broadcasters, publishers and brands can now source, edit and publish custom footage from 80,000+ videographers across the globe.Since launching in the UK market, Stringr has already recruited 3,000 local videographers across major cities and remote areas, exemplifying the company’s ability to enable media companies to source video in time sensitive and geographically challenged situations. Later this year, Stringr plans to launch similar recruitment efforts across the continent.“Stringr helps the largest media organizations in the US source custom video,” said Lindsay Stewart, CEO and Co Founder of Stringr. “Offering the same service of getting video fast and at a scalable price point to companies in the UK is a natural extension of what we already do, and a part of our larger plan to roll out to the rest of Europe over the next year.”Marketing Technology News: Acembly Launches C2C – Simplified Cloud to Cloud Big Data TransfersBy utilizing the Stringr platform, customers are able to address various industry challenges, including reduced newsroom budgets, geographical hurdles, as well as the challenges that come with a 24/7 news cycle. Professional and amateur videographers contributing to Stringr’s content library ensure that media organizations are able to quickly access premium content, and ultimately report on news that is most relevant for their audiences. Additionally, Stringr recently announced the availability of its livestreaming function, giving customers the ability to request live video content from anywhere.Marketing Technology News: Tipalti Partners with Everflow to Provide Performance Marketing Tracking, Analytics, and Global Publisher Payouts in One PlatformStringr is a comprehensive video marketplace that enables media organizations to source custom footage, edit and publish — under very tight deadlines. The company leverages the only nationwide network of more than 80k highly responsive videographers who provide broadcast-quality video in every major US market. Stringr is based in NYC and was founded in 2014 by Lindsay Stewart and Brian McNeill, who met at The Wharton School.Marketing Technology News: UserIQ Brings Mobile Application Support to the Customer Success Market Stringr Announces Expansion Into the UK Market MTS Staff WriterMay 17, 2019, 3:27 pmMay 17, 2019 Lindsay StewartMarketing TechnologyNewspremium video marketplaceStringrUK Marketvideo content Previous ArticleSiriusDecisions Summit 2019 Takeaways: Enablement May Not be a Word, But It’s Growing NonethelessNext ArticleEventbrite Powers New Ticketing Functionality for Facebook Events
About RealNetworks TechBytes with Reza Rassool, CTO at RealNetworks Sudipto GhoshJuly 16, 2019, 3:00 pmJuly 15, 2019 Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at RealNetworks.I am Reza Rassool, CTO of RealNetworks. I help guide our technology strategy to spur growth. Since joining RealNetworks, three years ago, I have encouraged an emphasis in AI in all of our product lines. Three in particular:In the RealTimes application we developed computer vision features set to better catalog your mobile camera roll. That development spawned our SAFR business which now claims “the world’s best facial recognition for live video.”The Kontxt messaging business now sports an AI layer, solving problems like spam detector, anti-smishing, and message classification to allow carriers to optimize delivery.The legacy RealMedia business is also enriched by AI to improve Video Compression, enhance the Consumer Experience, and drive increased Monetization for OTT operators.How big is your Data Science and AI team?AI and Data Science are now deeply engrained in the product roadmaps for all our businesses. So, I’d say that all Product Development staff have added Machine Learning to their tool belts. We started with a core team of PhDs but soon disseminated the tools among our global engineering staff through our innovating ThinkDay and Hackathon programs. I ensure that demonstrated AI competence is part of the job description of all Senior Engineering hires.We hear a lot about the exciting opportunities in Data Science. No one talks about the challenges and risks. What Data Science-related challenges do you deal with at RealNetworks?Let me be a bit contrary and say that nearly every news article warns of the challenges and risks of AI – most notably the fears of it accelerating a dystopian future. Among the risks and challenges I see:Privacy – At Real, we have been very deliberate about addressing the criticisms of facial recognition with respect to its bias and its potential for invasion of privacy. We developed a set of Guiding Principles that steer us towards the ethical use of facial recognition. Our user experiences start with an opt-in process. We provide an SDK allowing businesses to add facial recognition to their loyalty apps. Consumers can opt-in by enrolling their face for automatic recognition. While SAFR for Security enhances and automates existing video surveillance systems we also promote use cases that enhance the consumer experience.Bias – Additionally, we strive to reduce the bias in our facial recognition. Bias is defined as the variation in accuracy across, age, gender, and skin tone. Amazon Rekognition has been singled out in the press for bias – exhibiting high accuracy for white males and lower accuracy for darker-skinned females. NIST has consistently scored the RealNetworks facial recognition algorithms as having among the lowest bias. We achieve this through curating a diverse training set sourced from around the world and sound science. We specifically do not classify individuals by race or ethnicity. These are pseudo-scientific classifications of humanity. Many competing FR systems that have chosen to tag people by race inevitably require an army of human labelers to look at faces and make a determination. In doing so, they are enshrining a very human bias into their Machine Learning.Perception – The public perception of AI and particularly facial recognition varies around the world and is changing rapidly. We have already accepted devices in our homes that eavesdrop on our conversations in order to allow us to control our devices and interact with services by voice. While facial recognition is viewed with caution in the West, it is embraced elsewhere. Shoppers smile to pay at the checkout in stores in Beijing.Regulation – The EU provided clear guidelines for the acceptable use of biometrics through GDPR. We welcome similar clarity in the US. Currently, regulations vary state by state and now even city by city. However, while we wait for legislation, I urge each company building AI-based products and services to develop their own set of guiding principles.Explainable AI – Machine Learning creates models that can make predictions such as what movies you’d like, how to price airline tickets, how to route city traffic. These models are opaque ‘black boxes’. We don’t understand the reasons for the decision made by an AI model. The recent DARPA initiative to develop a toolset that’ll deliver models that are more transparent, hopes to make the internal workings of deep neural networks more open to human scrutiny.Incremental Training – While current Machine Learning is a rudimentary attempt at mimicking the human brain, the existing state of the art is ‘catastrophically forgetful’. In order to add to the training of a model you need the entire historical training set. The industry in seeking a method of incremental training that allows new training data to be added to an existing model to result in a new smarter model. This is a better imitation of human learning.How can Marketing and Sales teams better leverage Blockchain and Big Data analytics to grow their businesses? I’m not a Blockchain expert. We have one SAFR Developer partner building a system that logs and anonymizes smart city computer vision events. It is possible that an indelible ledger may be the appropriate repository for IoT events from sensors including computer vision events from cameras. This ledger would be trustworthy and would also preserve the anonymity of the source.Which industries and markets have been the fastest and most agile to adopt your technologies?After an early foray into Retail Analytics, we found significant traction in security. I anticipate that 5G IoT and Smart City applications will deploy computer vision. Additionally, Secure Access and hospitality applications continue to promise to eliminate the ID badge and other physical credentials or tickets and speed users through authentication check points.What makes RealNetworks different from other high-tech solution providers? RealNetworks has a history of tackling the hardest technical problems. With our RealMedia business, we brought Streaming Media to the world across the Internet when it was hard – when your connection to the Internet was through a dial-up modem. In our Kontxt business we route and process the fire hose of text messages between mobile carriers and have maintained an uptime of over 12 years. In our SAFR business we’ve taken on the most difficult category of live video facial recognition for in-the-wild subjects. The DNA of innovation persists in RealNetworks.Salesforce recently announced acquiring Tableau. Google is doing that with Looker. How do you see Data Science and Data Visualization becoming the core of every Marketing and Sales Technology offerings?Congratulations to my friends at Tableau. Yes, AI is already a ubiquitous tool, wielded by many businesses. I anticipate computer vision permeating many aspects of our lives beyond security from driverless cars to home automation. Facial recognition will progressively replace authentication by physical credentials. I imagine walking into a hotel lobby, recognized by a smart camera, receiving a text message that I was automatically checked-in to my reservation and providing me with the room number and code to open the door. Queuing to check-in will become passé.Tell us more about your roadmap for Data Science and AI in RealNetworks.We continue to improve the accuracy of our facial recognition but the gap between the leaders in this space is narrowing. My specific preoccupation is on driving SAFR deeper into devices. The speed and compactness of our model make it more embeddable in cameras. The Kontxt platform will continue to use Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to derive deeper insights from messages. In the RealMedia tool set, we are also training models to improve the compression of video and enhance its streaming.Do you see Data Science becoming the core of all MarTech and SalesTech companies? How can Product and Innovation teams work with the Data Science team to make these products better suited to market demands? All businesses must glean insights from historical data. Data Science and AI provide tools for us to automate the analysis to deliver those insights. Historian George Santayana said that ‘those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it.’ In the business domain, you might not even be able to repeat your past success if you don’t learn and understand the cause of your success.What is your advice to Data Science Engineers, AIOps Analysts and, MarTech Product Managers?Beware. AI is not a silver bullet or magic mirror who can answer any questions. Deep neural networks are at best curve fitting to past data – albeit to curves in hundreds of dimensions. Machine Learning, in its current form, can only tell you what your data already knows. Moreover, it cannot provide you insights for eventualities not represented in the ground truth of your training data. Don’t abdicate leadership to the machine! Reza Rassool received a B.Sc. degree in Physics from King’s College, London, in 1984. He is a CTO with RealNetworks, where in addition to his oversight of corporate-wide technology initiatives, he personally drives both Machine Learning and Codec developments. He evangelizes strategic innovations through technical papers, public speaking, and customer engagements. His entrepreneurial career in digital media technology includes many industry firsts.He pioneered “non-linear” editing with OSCAR/EMMY winning Lightworks and brought the world’s first disk-based VOD system to NAB in 1994 while a Chief Engineer of Micropolis.He worked on ground-breaking cochlear implant and bionic eye developments. He was the Founder of Widevine Technologies transforming digital rights management for online television. He has 24 U.S. patents granted, he continues to drive new innovation in Next-generation Video Coding, Computer Vision, and Machine Learning. Building on a legacy of Digital Media expertise and innovation, RealNetworks has created a new generation of products that employ best-in-class Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to enhance and secure our daily lives. SAFR is the world’s premier facial recognition platform for live video. Leading in real-world performance and accuracy as evidenced in testing by NIST, SAFR enables new applications for security, convenience, and analytics. Kontxt is the foremost platform for categorizing A2P messages to help mobile carriers build customer loyalty and drive new revenue through text message classification and antispam. About RezaAbout RealNetworksAbout Reza 5GAIdata scienceIoTmachine learningRealNetworksReza RassoolTechBytes Previous ArticleIntroducing Acoustic: A New Marketing Cloud Bringing Humanity to AI-Powered MarketingNext ArticleInte Q Receives a Top Rating for Measuring Emotional Loyalty by Leading Research Firm
Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 23 2019Subpopulations of oligodendrocytes, myelin-producing cells in the brain that are targeted by the immune system in multiple sclerosis (MS), are altered in MS and might therefore have additional roles in the disease than previously described. The results are published in the journal Nature, in a study led by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and University of Edinburgh in the UK.Around the world 2.5 million people are living with MS. MS develops when the immune system’s white blood cells attack the insulating fatty substance known as myelin, which is produced by oligodendrocytes and coats nerve fibres in the central nervous system. This interferes with the proper transmission of nerve electric signals and causes the symptoms of the disease.Previously the researchers have investigated oligodendrocytes in a mouse model of MS and shown that they might have a significant role in the development of the disease. In the current study they have mapped oligodendrocytes in human samples from post-mortem brains of MS patients.”While we found some similarities between the mouse model of MS and human MS, our results also unveil differences. We found changes in different oligodendrocyte subpopulations in MS, suggesting a more complex role of these cells in the pathology of the disease, but also in regeneration of new cells,” says Gonçalo Castelo-Branco, Associate Professor at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, one if the lead researchers of the study.The results show that oligodendrocyte precursor cells, which are thought to have a crucial role in relapsing-remitting MS to restore myelin, are depleted in the progressive disease.”In addition, the proportions of different resident oligodendrocytes in the lesions are changed, along with their properties, suggesting that they might have important roles in MS,” says Eneritz Agirre, postdoctoral researcher in Castelo-Branco’s group at Karolinska Institutet.Related StoriesRush University Medical Center offers new FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysmsAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementiaSchwann cells induce self-repair of damaged nervesThe researchers used single-nuclei RNA sequencing, which allows determination of genetic activity of individual cells, to investigate the cellular composition of MS lesions with unprecedented resolution.”We found that oligodendrocytes are a diverse population of cells and that different types are likely to have different functions in the brain,” says Professor Charles ffrench-Constant, of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.”Understanding which types of oligodendrocytes are most beneficial in repairing myelin will be crucial for maximising the chances of developing much-needed treatments for MS,” says Professor Anna Williams of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.The researchers also found novel markers that can be useful for the neuropathological characterisation of MS.”Our findings illustrate the power of this technology to study the neuropathology of human diseases such as MS. We predict that the widespread use of this technology with larger numbers of samples will further enhance our understanding of MS and lead to revision of current concepts of the disease,” says Gonçalo Castelo-Branco.Another paper is published simultaneously in Nature, from Professor Jonas Frisén’s group also at Karolinska Institutet, arriving at overlapping conclusions, with a different methodology, Source:https://ki.se/en/
Source:E V Bräuner, Å M Hansen, D A Doherty, J E Dickinson, D J Handelsman, M Hickey, N E Skakkebæk, A Juul, R Hart, The association between in-utero exposure to stressful life events during pregnancy and male reproductive function in a cohort of 20-year-old offspring: The Raine Study. Human Reproduction. doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dez070. By Sally Robertson, B.Sc.May 30 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Stressful events during early pregnancy could be detrimental to the reproductive development of male offspring, according to researchers at the University of Western Australia. The team identified an association between mothers who experience stressful events during early gestation and having a boy with a lower sperm count once he is an adult.Roger Hart and colleagues say that developing male reproductive organs are at their most vulnerable during early pregnancy and that maternal exposure to stressful life events during this time may “have important life-long adverse effects on men’s fertility.”Syda Productions | ShutterstockThe link between stress and future sperm countAnimal studies have previously suggested that gestational stress may affect the reproductive health of male offspring.Studies on mice have suggested that early gestation – the equivalent of eight to 14 weeks in humans – is a crucial period for the development of male reproductive organs and that stress during this time reduces the production of testosterone in fetal testes. However, studies looking at the association in humans are lacking.Research conducted by the World Health Organization has also shown that life in the developed world has become more stressful and that, along with other factors such as having high blood pressure or being overweight, this could be having a detrimental effect on fertility.A growing body of evidence supports that sperm counts have declined among men of European ancestry over the last 40 years.A 2017 review which looked at 43,000 men found that sperm concentration had reduced by almost have during this time, while still meeting the criteria for “normal”, as established by the World Health Organization. The study also found that there was no significant decline in sperm concentration among men in South America, Asia, and Africa.Early pregnancy is a ‘vulnerable period’ for male offspringFor the current study, Hart and team wanted to find out whether exposure to gestational stress in the period critical for normal differentiation and growth of male reproductive tissue is associated with male reproductive function in later life.The researchers examined data from a prospective longitudinal study that recruited around 3,000 women who were in their 18th week of pregnancy between 1989 and 1991. At week 18 (early gestation) and week 34 (late gestation), the mothers completed a standardized, 10-point questionnaire about stressful life events during the previous months such as moving to a new house, losing a job, the death of a loved one and financial problems.A total of 1,454 of the boys born to these mothers were tracked over the next two decades and once they turned 20, the researchers performed testicular ultrasounds for 643 of the men, who also provided blood and semen samples for analysis of sperm count and testosterone concentration.Multivariate linear regression analysis was then used to examine associations between the men’s results and the mothers’ questionnaires.As reported in the journal Human Reproduction, 63 percent (407) of the males recruited had been exposed to at least one stressful life event during early gestation. This compared with only 53 percent (343) of men during late gestation.Exposure to maternal stress in early gestation was negatively associated with total sperm count, the number of motile sperm and morning serum testosterone concentration. No such effect was observed when exposure during late gestation was examined.Men who had been exposed to three or more stressful life events during early gestation had, on average, a 36% reduction in the sperm count, a 12 percent reduction in sperm motility and an 11 % reduction in testosterone concentration, compared with men who had not been exposed to any such events during that period. Improved support for women in the first trimesterThe authors note that, although the findings demonstrate a clear association between sperm health and maternal exposure to stressful events during early gestation, they do not necessarily point to a cause-and-effect relationship. Other factors that are known to accompany stress such as smoking and drug use may play an equally important role.Although the lowest sperm count among men whose mothers had experienced repeated stress would not be enough by itself to result in infertility, it may be a contributing factor.To provide some perspective, says Hart, the association between exposure to stressful life events and reduced sperm counts was not as strong as that observed for maternal smoking and sperm counts, which was associated with a 50% reduction in sperm number.However, the findings do suggest that exposure to stressful life events during early, but not late gestation, are associated with reduced adult male reproductive function, say the team.The researchers suggest that improved support for women exposed to such events during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, could help to improve the reproductive health of their offspring in later life. This suggests that maternal exposure to stressful life events during early pregnancy, a vulnerable period for the development of male reproductive organs, may have important life-long adverse effects on men’s fertility.”Roger Hart, Senior Author Intervention studies of improved pregnancy support could provide more insight into this association and more information is needed about the potential specific epigenetic mechanisms underlying this association.”
Explore further The strike began in Barcelona last week and spread to Madrid at the weekend as drivers blocked main thoroughfares, demanding action from the government against what they believe is poor enforcement of regulations on VTCs (Tourism Vehicles with Chauffeur).On Monday, it spread even further to cities across the country.Elite Taxi, one of Spain’s taxi federations, tweeted Tuesday that its members and those of other associations had “reached a deal to continue with the stoppage” at least until Wednesday when a transport-related meeting takes place between the government and regional authorities.”We will be able to know more about the government’s intentions,” it said.The strike mirrors other similar work stoppages in European countries, as taxis across the continent complain ride hailing competitors are threatening their livelihoods, arguing for instance their licences are much more expensive than those for VTCs.In Madrid on Tuesday, white taxis blocked the main Paseo de la Castellana thoroughfare, joined by several Portuguese drivers who had come to show their support, their country’s green and red flag draped on their cars.In Barcelona, hundreds of black and yellow taxis remained parked on the Gran Via, one of the seaside city’s main roads.The strike started in the tourist magnet of Barcelona on Wednesday after the Spanish government appealed a ruling by the city’s authorities that limited the number of licences for Uber-style services.Taxi federations want the authorities to strictly enforce legislation under which there should be 30 traditional taxis for each VTC.Today there are only five traditional taxis for every VTC, they say, warning that they will extend their action to blocking ports, airports and even the border with France if Madrid fails to act.VTC drivers have in turn criticised their traditional taxi peers, charging some were attacked in Barcelona last week and arguing they are trying to forcefully retain their monopoly. 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. Madrid taxis join Barcelona strike against Uber © 2018 AFP Taxi drivers blocked a major avenue in Madrid on Tuesday as a strike against Uber-style ride hailing services was set to enter a second week Taxi drivers in Spain dug their heels in and vowed to continue Wednesday a strike against ride hailing competitors such as Uber and Cabify that has paralysed major cities. Citation: Taxi strike stretches into eighth day in Spain (2018, July 31) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-taxi-eighth-day-spain.html
Citation: Bigger, pricier iPhone shown at Apple event Wednesday (2018, September 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-bigger-pricier-iphone-shown-apple.html CEO Tim Cook showed off the Apple XS, which has a bigger screen than the one on last year’s dramatically designed model , the iPhone X. A bigger version will be called the iPhone XS Max, which looks to be about the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, though the screen size is much bigger.As with the iPhone X, the new phone has a screen that runs from edge to edge, an effort to maximize the display without making the phone too awkward to hold. The screen needs no backlight, so black would appear as truly black rather than simply dark.This even-bigger iPhone represents Apple’s attempt to feed consumers’ appetite for increasingly larger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video, as well as take photos wherever they are.The iPhone X also got rid of the home button to make room for more screen and introduced facial-recognition technology to unlock the device.By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently. IPhones fetched an average price of $724 during the April-June period, a nearly 20 percent increase from a year earlier. Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, speaks about the Apple Watch Series 4 at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) 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. Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the Apple iPhone XS at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Worldwide smartphone sales grew just 2 percent during that period, according to the research firm Gartner Inc. During the second quarter, which is typically slow for Apple, China’s Huawei Technologies surpassed Apple as the second-largest seller of smartphones, based on Gartner’s calculations. Samsung remained in the lead. Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, speaks about the Apple Watch Series 4 at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, speaks about the Apple Watch Series 4 at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Bigger, pricier iPhone expected at Apple event Wednesday Explore further Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks about the Apple iPhone XS at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks about the Apple iPhone XS at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, speaks about the Apple Watch Series 4 at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks about the Apple iPhone XS and Apple iPhone XS Max at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks about the Apple iPhone XS at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, speaks about the Apple Watch Series 4 at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new Apple products Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Apple unveiled three new iPhones on Wednesday, including its biggest and most expensive model yet, as the company seeks to widen the product’s appeal amid slowing sales.
flood Tharoor holds talks with UN agencies, proposes global meet on ‘rebuilding Kerala better’ state politics SHARE Kerala COMMENT Even before flood waters have drained out from Kerala, the political class has started washing dirty linen over the choice and timing of opening of 44 dams that is believed to have exacerbated a crisis brought about by heavy rain and landslides. Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala alleged that shutters of various dams were opened without observing necessary protocol. More than 230 lives have been lost in the floods since August 8, besides leaving a trail of destruction in the housing, agriculture and infrastructure sectors.Chennithala also demanded a judicial probe into the allegations, reiterating that the flooding and the terrible destruction of lives and property were a ‘man-made’ disaster.Chennithala also attacked officials of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), which operates most of the dams in the State, for trying to reap maximum profit by generating power even when the situation threatened to get out of hand. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee Vice-President and North Paravur MLA VD Satheesan too termed the floods as “man-made” that ravaged the State. The floods occurred due to failed dam management of various agencies including the KSEB, he said.Raju Abraham, MLA representing the worst-hit Ranni constituency in Pathanamthitta district, said that flood waters had entered the town even before any warning. There has been a controversy over operating the Banasura Sagar dam in Wayanad as well. Meanwhile, NS Pillai, Chairman of the KSEB, has gone on record denying all accusations and asserted that the dam shutters were opened after observing necessary protocol and issuing alerts. The State Dam Safety Council Chairman CN Ramachandran Nair agreed, dismissing the allegations are baseless. SHARE SHARE EMAIL RELATED Published on August 22, 2018 0 COMMENTS