World number two Rafael Nadal has said he is excited to head into a new season but concedes starting afresh, especially after a long injury layoff is “challenging”.Nadal hasn’t played on the tour since September due to knee and abdominal issues. The 32-year-old pulled out of US Open midway during his semi-final bout against Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal was trailing 7-6, 6-2 when a knee injury forced him to retire.The 17-time Grand Slam champion was slated for a comeback at the Paris Masters in November but he withdrew with an abdominal injury thereby conceding the top spot on ATP rankings to rival, Novak Djokovic. Nadal was also absent from a star-studded field at ATP Finals last month as he withdrew from the season-ending tournament after failing to recover in time.Nadal underwent knee surgery soon after in order to get himself ready to face the challenges in the new season. Having made an earlier-than-expected recovery, the Spanish great will be playing the first tournament of his new season at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship – an exhibition event for men’s singles stars in Abu Dhabi between December 27 and 29.Nadal will then head to Brisbane for the season-opening ATP 250 tournament after which he will bid for a second Australian Open title at the year’s first Grand Slam.”I am still excited about starting another season. At the age of 32-and-a-half, I never expected when I was 23, 22 to still do what I am. That’s something that I appreciate a lot, and I enjoy that fact,” Nadal told CNN.advertisement”I enjoy the fact that for me, it’s a challenge, always, to be back again after a tough period of time because of injuries. For me, it’s a challenge to start a new season,” he added.”I am making a lot of steps forward since the surgery on the foot. I started practising tennis one week earlier, and in higher intensity than we had thought. It was a little bit of risk that we don’t make it into the beginning of the season, but here we are, practicing more or less hard and we are excited to start the new season.”2018 was an amazing year: NadalNadal also insisted that 2018 has been an “amazing year” despite being troubled by injuries towards the end of the season. The King of Clay reigned supreme on the red dirt, winning his 11th French Open title and three Masters 1000 titles.”In a year that you finish as the world No. 2, you win a grand slam, you win Monte Carlo and Barcelona, Rome and Toronto — so three Masters 1000s — you can’t say it’s not a good year. Obviously, it is a good year,” Nadal added.”With all these issues … to be able to manage to keep winning important things, it has been, not a miracle, but an amazing year in terms of quality of tennis.”Also Read | Asian Games bronze medallist Prajnesh aims for top 50, ability to play five setsAlso Read | Rafael Nadal donates 1.15 million dollars to Mallorca flood victimsAlso Read | Tata Open Maharashtra: Rohan Bopanna-Divij Sharan named top seed
TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Real Madrid wing-back Hakimi: Best decision to join Borussia Dortmundby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveReal Madrid wing-back Achraf Hakimi says his move to Borussia Dortmund has been the best decision of his career.Hakimi is on-loan at BVB this season.He said, “I grew up in the youth clubs of Real Madrid, with whom I did the whole route up to the first team, but I needed to change, I need to grow as a player, gaining more space and achieving new goals as a starter.”In Dortmund everything is going well, I hope it goes on for a long time.”I am very happy to be here. It was not easy to adapt, but now I find myself at ease.”
Jaylon Smith Injury Jaylon Smith InjuryFew players had a worse NFL Combine than Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith, through no fault of his own. Smith was failed by multiple teams on his physical due to potential nerve damage stemming from the significant knee injury he suffered against Ohio State, which included a torn ACL and LCL.Smith, once viewed as a potential top 10 draft pick, will probably fall out of the first round altogether, but he’s doing whatever he can to prove that he is healing up. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, he revealed that he is currently leg pressing over 600 pounds, and squatting over 400.Can Smith feel a tangible difference physically in the past five weeks?“Oh yeah, absolutely,” Smith said. “A few weeks have made a huge difference, even the past two weeks. I can feel it.“Rehab is going great. I am leg-pressing over 600 pounds right now. I am squatting over 400 pounds. I am getting that strength back. It’s just a matter of time.”Asked whether it has been determined if he suffered nerve in the injury, Smith was a bit vague, but he remained upbeat.“We’ll see when I go back there [to the medical recheck],” Smith said. “We’ll see what the doctors say then. I feel like I’ve regained some of it. I’m happy where I am at right now.”When healthy, Smith is an incredibly impressive prospect. Hopefully he finds a team that will take a chance on him.[Yahoo Sports]More: Vote In Our “Most Annoying People In Sports Media” Championship >>>
North Korea is of course firmly in the news right now. It may seem absurd to suggest visiting a nation whose rulers, not for the first time, threaten nuclear war on the world. But with the international spotlight firmly on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, interest in this mysterious country has never been higher. So how about a holiday in Pyongyang?Updated: 8 April 2013Why would anyone want to go there?Good question. Two weeks in Majorca is a more likely holiday option for most of us, but North Korea has long held a certain allure to the more adventurous traveller. The biggest draw of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (what most of the world refers to as North Korea) is the very fact that it’s so cut off from the outside world. Nicknamed the Hermit State, it’s an isolated country, almost entirely untouched by tourists (fewer than 2000 foreign visitors are admitted each year).North Korea was formed in 1948, when the Korean Peninsula was divided into north and south following the Korean War and has been off limits to outsiders ever since. Considered the last true outpost of communism, North Korea makes a very unique travel experience to a place which in some ways resembles George Orwell’s vision of the state controlled future in his book 1984. Today Kim Jong-un continues the ideological regime of his father, whom the DPRK’s people refer to in revered tones as Mr Kim.What is there to see?Most visitors will spend the majority of their time in capital Pyongyang, reportedly one the strangest cities on the planet. Its most obvious attractions are its vast architectural wonders, including statues, towers and buildings that were created to showcase the achievements of the Kim rule, offering a fascinating insight into the products of a totalitarian dictatorship. BBC Radio broadcaster, Andy Kershaw, describes North Korea as “the greatest possible adventure” and “mind-blowingly wonderful”. (Listen to his fascinating radio documentary about North Korea here).Some itineraries can be extended to also include a visit to Paekdusan, the highest mountain in the country at 2744m and one of the most impressive sites on the Korean Peninsula, with a vast crater lake in the centre. There are also chances to visit the incredible spectacle of the Mass Games (which involves 100,000 performers) and the hot springs resort of Nampo.Danger and difficultyEven outwith the present heightened state of security, independent travel in North Korea is impossible. All visitors must be accompanied by official guides or drivers at almost all times, and contact with everyday North Koreans is extremely limited. However, there are several companies offering tours to North Korea who can help arrange a visa as well as accommodation, food and transport.In terms of crime, North Korea is ranked as one of the safest countries in the world to visit, and it’s highly unlikely that you would have any problems with pick-pockets, muggings etc.However, you will need to watch your tongue and where you point your camera; insulting or criticising the ‘regime’s leaders is illegal and could get you and your guide into serious trouble (think fines, prison or even death) so keep your thoughts on North Korea’s political system to yourself. (Read more: Life and Travel in North Korea: 9 secrets of the Hermit Kingdom).What’s the current situation?Despite the current tensions, with the North Korean government issuing warnings that it cannot guarantee the safety of foreign nationals in the event of the outbreak of war, the UK Foreign Office says: “Our overall assessment is that there is currently no immediate increased risk or danger to those living in or travelling to the DPRK as a result of these statements.”Koryo Tours, the leading travel company specialising in travel to the DPRK are currently still operating as normal.Should I visit North Korea?Apart from the obvious threat of nuclear war, there are some who believe North Korea should be boycotted by visitors due to suspected human rights abuses. However, although contact with locals is limited, meeting North Koreans is likely to help dispell preconceived stereotypes, and therefore benefit their understanding of the West and vice versa – which in our opinion, can only be good thing.Learn more:Life and Travel in North Korea: 9 Secrets of the Hermit KingdomNothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea: book reivewPyongyang: A Journey in North Korea: graphic novel: book reviewRead more on the world of War Tourism here. ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map RelatedNothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea: BOOK REVIEWNothing to Envy has been hailed as one of the best books on ‘ordinary’ life within countryTravel and life in North Korea: 9 secrets of the Hermit KingdomWe speak to Koryo tours to get the inside information about life and travel in North Korea5 obscure Olympic countriesThey’ve grabbed the headlines at London 2012 but they’re on no-one’s bucket list.
13Jun Rep. LaFave: Plan expanding internship options to high school students signed into law State Rep. Beau LaFave today announced his plan helping high school students earn course credit through an internship or work study program has been signed into law.“Education today goes well beyond what’s in the classroom, especially as our children grow older and advance through high school,” LaFave said. “The real-world experience that an internship can provide is important to our job providers and students, helping identify what the future may hold for both. We’ve got to encourage these kinds of opportunities to explore if a certain career track is a strong fit or not before earning a high school diploma.”The legislation sets guidelines stating that students can work four to 10 hours a week and, with the local district board of education’s oversight, will receive credit for graduation. The internship may be paid or volunteer. Partner legislation also safeguards funding for school districts, allowing students participating in an internship or a work experience program off campus to continue to qualify as a full-time student.Although current Michigan Department of Education guidelines allow work-based internships in grades 9-12, LaFave’s new law makes it less prohibitive for students and school districts, especially in Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties.“There are several major corporations in Michigan that have facilitated internships to both high school and college students, which is great to see. However, my legislation opens the door to smaller local businesses and the mom and pop’s like we have in the Upper Peninsula, not just billion dollar companies,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “Hands-on experience is at a premium in today’s workplace. Expanding more authority to local school districts to decide on appropriate programs, while cutting through the red tape, will help both the students and the local job creators.”LaFave noted he had letters of support on the plan from the Gladstone, Carney-Nadeau and Breitung Township school districts. Also supporting the legislation are the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Association of School Boards and the Great Lakes Education Project.House Bill 4106 is now Public Act 184 of 2018.##### Categories: LaFave News,News
Russian service provider MTS lost 12% of its pay TV subscribers last year, potentially knocking it out of the list of the top three fixed line pay TV operators in the country, according to the latest figures from iKS Consulting.MTS had 2.58 million TV customers at the end of 2013, down from 2.94 million in 2012, according to iKS, as reported by Vedemosti.MTS said that the fall was largely attributable to a dropping off in the number of people taking its social TV packages via collective antenna systems as the operator migrated services from analogue to digital.According to iKS, MTS now has over 600,000 digital subscribers, triple the amount at the end of 2012, meaning that the proportion of digital subscribers in MTS’s base is higher than that of other fixed line providers.The operator said that its TV ARPU grew over the same period.According to iKS Consulting, the pay TV market in Russia grew by 16% last year, with total sales of RUB54 billion (€1 billion). The research group predicts that grow will slow to 11% this year as the market reaches maturity.According to the group, satellite TV operator Tricolor TV remains the market leader with 10.1 million subscribers, growing 14% last year, followed by Rostelecom, which also grew by 14% to reach 7.51 million. ER-Telecom is now snapping at MTS’s heels with 2.57 million subscribers, up 9%, followed by satellite TV player Orion Telecom, which saw 89% growth in its base last year to reach 1.98 million. Akado and VimpelCom make up the top seven, with 1.13 million and 1.04 million TV customers respectively.
James MurdochDirect-to-consumer streaming is an “option” for 21st Century Fox in the US market, and the company has the expertise to launch such an offering, according to CEO James Murdoch.Speaking to analysts after Fox announced its latest quarterly figures. Murdoch said that Fox was focused primarily on developing its authenticated streaming service in partnership with pay TV providers for now.However, he said, it remains “an option for us in the future” to develop “independently priced access to that suite of apps”.Murdoch said that while Fox had not yet decided to go down that route, such an approach is “one that we feel we have the capability and the wherewithal and experience in terms of managing direct-to-consumer and subscriber businesses to tackle”.Murdoch said that Fox had successfully developed a direct-to-consumer OTT proposition in India with its Hotstar platform. “Whether or not there’s a future for us in, for example, the way that CBS has taken some steps in the US is a decision that we can take at a later date,” he said.Murdoch said that for now Fox was “very focused” on the authenticated partnership model, including developing services for “new digital MVPD partners” such as Sling Media, DirectTV Now, Hulu’s new platform and Google’s forthcoming service.In his opening remarks on the call, he said that Fox would launch a “major overhaul” of its streaming apps “within the next few months”.Murdoch’s comments came as 21st posted Q2 revenues of US$7.68 billion, up 4%, and operating income before depreciation and amortization of US$1.99 billion, up 15%.Addressing Fox’s planned acquisition of the 61% of Sky that it doesn’t already own, Murdoch said that the deal represented a “major step” in “a long process that started a number of years ago” to realign Fox “around the future of video”. He said that “the combination of strengths required to operate a high-volume content business and a vast international video platform business is precisely the combination of strengths that we’re developing”. Murdoch said that using the company’s core strength in content to build a platform that reflected the long-term trends of high-speed connectivity, proliferation of end-user display devices and the opportunity to access content in the cloud “presents one of the most promising opportunities for our company in decades”.Fox co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch said that the deal would “deliver more balanced revenue streams and geographic spread” and simplify the group’s “structure and operating model” as well as being “significantly accretive to our earnings per share and our free cash-flow”.
ShareTweet “It needs to be scrapped altogether,” added the Foyle MLA.‘Universal Credit should be scrapped not stalled’ – Mullan was last modified: January 7th, 2019 by John2John2 Tags: “It was supposedly designed to simplify the benefits system but the roll-out so far has clearly shown that it is riddled with faults, complications and delays.“And while the mitigation measures secured for the North have gone some way to alleviating the worst aspects of Universal Credit, the fact remains that people are suffering hardship and poverty as a result of this disastrous policy.“Despite this, the British Government is still insisting that all claimants will be on Universal Credit by 2023.“They need to start listening and stop ignoring the evidence on the ground that Universal Credit has been a disaster. Stalling it won’t fix it. Delaying it won’t bring people out of poverty. UNIVERSAL Credit should be scrapped not stalled, says Sinn Féin’s Karen Mullan.The Foyle MLA was commenting after the British Government confirmed that the next stage of rolling out the controversial welfare benefit is to be scaled back after it was beset with a string of problems. “This latest move by the British Government is further evidence that Universal Credit is simply not fit for purpose,” said Karen Mullan. British GovernmentFOYLE MLAKAREN MULLANUNIVERSAL CREDIT‘Universal Credit should be scrapped not stalled’ – Mullan
In This Issue… * A closer look wipes out euphoria… * Gillard defeats challenger… * The Eye of the Storm… * Swiss / euro cross watch time… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Mom, They’re Doing It Again! Good day… And a Marvelous Monday to you! My “unsupervised” weekend went well, except for the ending of the Missouri / Kansas basketball game! Caught up with one of my oldest friends on earth, (Mike) and we tried to quickly forget the ending of the game… UGH! But, it was just a game, right? Not like the game that the Fed keeps playing with Treasuries… and I’ll talk about that in a bit, but first we have to get caught up on the goings on from Friday, and in the overnight markets. Well… Friday’s price action was interesting in that, the euro held onto the 1.34 handle, but Gold was down $7… Hmmm… One anti-dollar doing well, while the other one weakens… The other anti-dollar, so proclaimed by me last week, Oil, saw continued interest in pushing the price higher… And with that higher price in Oil, the emerging countries, and the Asian countries with their nascent recoveries, are all feeling squeamish, about their growth prospect, given that elevated price in Oil… But you can’t blame it all on the price of Oil… Ever since the deal to give Greece the next bailout fund payment last week, the markets have been trying to look under the hood at the deal… And if Greece meets all the requirements in the deal, well… it will work… If they don’t, if they slip up just once, this whole thing comes crashing down like a house of cards… And yes, from what I read, the Greek Gov’t has allowed their Gold Holdings to be confiscated should they slip up… There are a ton of “other things” but at the end of the day, this worry about the “other things” has the currencies weaker today… That’s right, even the euro, which is hanging on to 1.34 is weaker by ½-cent today… So, all the euphoria in the risk markets that came about with the Greek deal approval last week, has turned out to be a case of buy the rumor, sell the fact… One thing that should help the euro as we go along here is the fact that the review of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) LTRO (long term refinancing Operations) is working, right now, precisely as the ECB would have hoped for… You may recall me telling you back in December, that the LTRO introduction included 3-year loans to Eurozone banks. The ECB was hoping to see an increase of credit / loan and credit growth has increased from 3.5% annualized to 4.8% annualized… There are other things the ECB is hoping for here, but this could get really long in explanation… So, I’ll just say that while the ECB is getting the response it wants, we’re only 3 months into this… This is not time to relax… Well… I read on Bloomberg this morning that the number of contracts betting on commodity prices will rise this year, have reached 1 million in total! WOW! So, it sure looks to me that the investors, hedge funds, traders, etc. are catching up to what you dear Pfennig Readers have been hearing about for some time now! And that, with all the Quantitative Easing, easy money, zero interest rates, and everything else, that inflation for the U.S. was on the other side of all that, and all we needed was for banks to begin to withdraw the cash they have been getting paid interest on at the Fed Reserve, and put it into the economy… Well… here’ s how I see this folks… As I’ve told you, I believe that we are in the “eye of the storm” where everyone breathes a sigh of relief, and things begin to look better… The Washington Post printed a story that said “economists predict business spending, employment, and house construction will pick up this year, pushing GDP to 2.4%.” Those that don’t believe in the “eye of the storm” and that’s most, will begin to go back to the bad habits they developed before the financial meltdown, and that will mean putting that money into the economy among other things… Do you know about the “velocity of money”? Well, that’s what will kick in and inflation will begin to soar, and just about the time the Fed sees this happening and they react with rate hikes, the economy will enter the other side of the storm… Now… I could be wrong about this, I would love to be wrong about this! But, long time readers know that I don’t sugar coat this stuff, and I have been pretty bang on with just about everything else that I’ve talked about over the years… But, past performance is not an indicator of future performance! If you agree with what I’ve said, then you’ll want to be sure you protect your wealth from inflation… Of course you know how to do that! All these years of writing, I might have mentioned the ways to protect your wealth and purchasing power, a time or two! OK… back to currencies… The Aussie dollar (A$) got the wind knocked out of it again this weekend, when a vote for leadership was called… PM Gillard fended off a challenge from former PM Rudd… And as long time readers you know that any time a currency has to deal with elections, uncertainty, and election outcomes, that it loses steam… And that’s what happened to the A$ last night… It may take a couple of days for it to get legs again… A quick trip across the Tasman to Australia’s kissin’ cousin, New Zealand, leads us to a report that did not help the New Zealand dollar / kiwi, one iota… New Zealand, which had been on a real good roll with regards to narrowing their Trade Deficit, saw it slip back and post an unexpected deficit for January of NZ$ 199 million (or in U.S. dollars $167 million)… And immediately the stronger kiwi was blamed! It was immediately pointed out that kiwi had gained 11.4% in the past year, one of the best performers in the past 12 months… But before the Chicken Littles begin to run around screaming that the sky is falling in New Zealand, let me point out that aircraft purchases pretty much skewered this report to a deficit, because exports of milk powder, butter & cheese, which make up a third of all exports, increased 25% in January, VS last year! This could end up being a one & done for the Trade Deficit… So hopefully calmer heads will prevail here… The Swiss franc is stronger trading in the $1.11 handle this morning… The cross to the euro is 1.2050, which is getting too close for comfort for the Swiss National Bank (SNB), who placed a ceiling on the 1.20 on this cross back in September, and has said emphatically that they will defend the level… Well, they had better be ready at a moment’s notice… Because the only thing keeping this cross above 1.20 right now is that the euro has rallied… And we all know just how tenuous that is, right now… Mom… they’re doing it again! Thanks to the dear reader that sent me this story… from Reuters… “The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the United Arab Emirates’ financial hub, expects to permit transactions in Chinese yuan from this year, industry sources told Reuters on Thursday. The change would represent an important step in China’s drive to encourage international use of its currency, since the UAE is one of the world’s top five oil exporters and the second largest Arab economy in the Gulf.” Chuck again… yes… As I’ve told you for more than a year now, China is taking the baby steps to remove the dollar as the reserve currency of the world, and gaining a wider distribution for its currency is one of those steps… Come on folks… can you blame the Chinese? We as a country have destroyed out currency’s value with debts and deficits, Corporate Scandals, and, the bubble economy… Speaking of Corporate scandals… Not to be outdone by the Japanese (I told you that story on Friday), I found this in the Wall Street Journal on Friday… “federal regulators and the Massachusetts attorney general are investigating whether a fund that was part of Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. overstated the value of one of its holdings. The potential exaggeration in the fund grew to more than $4 million, according to documents shared with Oppenheimer investors. The bulk of this markup came as the fund was reaching out to potential investors in the fall of 2009, and helped push the fund’s reported internal rate of return to 38%, after fees, from a loss of 6.3%.” And Treasuries… UGH! The 10-year yield fell to 1.95% late last week… Riddle me this Batman, the need for a safe haven was reduced by the Greek deal, but Treasuries rally any way? How or why would that be? I bet some enterprising journalist with some time could get a good look at the Fed’s balance sheet last week, and probably tie the alleged increase to the Treasury auction… But that would not be new news to me… but at least would explain the riddle… Then there was this… Well folks just like a rented baseball player, I’ve moved on from the Currency Capitalist… And now I’m proud to be a part of a brand new monthly letter that will be published by good folks at Casey Research… The World Money Analyst, is the name of the new letter, which will be a collection of well respected analysts in several different investment choices. So, I’m excited to be a part of such a great group of writers/ analysts/ traders. I’ll provide a link to sign up for the letter, when it becomes available… Pfennig Readers, will not gain any additional knowledge from my part of the letter, but they will from the other writers’ sections… I can’t begin to tell you just how great I think this letter is and will be… So… as soon as I have that link, I’ll get it to you! To recap… The currencies, which rallied on Friday, are seeing that rally wiped out in the overnight and morning sessions, as the euphoria from the Greek deal, is fading, as the devil in the details is being exposed. Gold was down on Friday and again this morning. But the price of Oil continues to look strong and like it wants to go higher. The higher Oil price is dampening the outlook for global growth, and… Chuck talks about being in the eye of the storm… Currencies today 2/27/12… American Style: A$ $1.0675, kiwi .8340, C$ .9965, euro 1.3405, sterling 1.5860, Swiss $1.1120, … European Style: rand 7.6325, krone 5.5950, SEK 6.5885, forint 217.95, zloty 3.1195, koruna 18.6955, RUB 28.98, yen 80.60, sing 1.2605, HKD 7.7555, INR 49.23, China 6.3015, pesos 12.94, BRL 1.7119, Dollar Index 78.57, Oil $108.48, 10-year 1.95%, Silver $35.17, and Gold… $1,767.00 That’s it for today… Well… the end of February is almost here… And one of my fave months, March will begin! Spring Training, spring begins, we begin to get some warmer days, and I get to spend a couple of weeks in South Florida! Actually I’m heading that way on Wednesday this week, but will be back next Monday. Chris will have the conn on the Pfennig while I’m gone this week… I’m not going to complain about the “homer officiating” during the Missouri / Kansas game on Saturday… But anyone watching it knows what I’m talking about… My beautiful bride returned home sometime last night. At one point before I headed off to bed, I saw that her flight was delayed… So welcome home! And with that… I’ll get this out the door… I hope you have a Marvelous Monday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 www.everbank.com
In This Issue… * China’s weaker GDP hurts risk assets… * A$ to be underpinned… * Japan to get serious with deflation? * Retail Sales today… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! China Widens Trading Band… Good day… And a Marvelous Monday to you! A very rainy weekend here, but at least we didn’t experience any tornadoes like they did in other parts of the country… I hope all are safe… Friday’s Home Opener was cold and rainy… Thanks to my friend Sandra, for getting me in a room so that at least it was dry… More on that later… Well… Friday, quickly turned around regarding the currencies and metals rally, and sent them to the woodshed… Stocks also retreated, thus making it a triumvirate of risk assets getting sold… That makes it a Risk Off day… Apparently, the slower than expected (but still 8.1%) GDP in China really scared the bejeebers out of the stock jockeys, and once the selling began there it carried over to the currencies and metals. Personally… I think that we’ll find that the first quarter GDP for China will represent a low-water mark for Chinese economic growth… But that’s just me… I could be wrong… But, thinking what I’m thinking about China’s GDP going forward, makes me think that the Aussie dollar (A$) will be well underpinned by China… You know… all the talk last week was about the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to cut rates at their next meeting in May… But did you hear that ANZ Bank actually hiked their mortgage rates last week? Hmmm… Maybe the RBA will cut rates next month, and maybe they won’t! If they do, I believe the rate cut will have been priced in the A$… and if they don’t, then watch out, the A$ will be running loose! I say that because, as I’ve explained in the past… when a rate cut is priced in, that means there have been lots of shorts in the currency that have been entered, as investors look for weakness with a rate cut… But if the rate cut doesn’t materialize, then all those shorts get covered, which means the A$ gets bought… I would have to think though that with all the talk the RBA has given toward the future of rates, that they will do the dirty deed… Dirty Deeds done dirt cheap… Did you see what the Japanese had to say after their cabinet meeting late last week? Get this… the Japanese Gov’t. issued a statement outlining their intention to beat deflation. Hmmm. Now? The Japanese are going to go after deflation now? What’s it been… 20 years that deflation has cast is net over the Japanese economy, and the Gov’t is going to go after deflation now? Personally… I see this as just window dressing… curb appeal… They are just trying to let the markets know that they are going to attempt to inject inflation in the economy, so that maybe, just maybe, the markets will sell yen… You see… in my opinion, there’s no way the Japanese can inject inflation as long as the yen is so strong… I’ve told you for years now, that a strong currency goes a long way in fighting inflation… And unless the Japanese can figure a way to weaken their currency to say 125… They are up the creek without a paddle… There was some BIG NEWS from China this past weekend… The People’s Bank of China announced this past weekend that it will enlarge the USD/CNY trading band to +/- 1%, from +/- .5% previously in place. This means the daily moves in renminbi can be wider… It’s just another step folks, to gaining wider distribution of their currency, for the Chinese know all too well that by allowing greater moves, it will gain more buyers and sellers… I was surprised when I saw the news story, because I had the understanding that when the peg to the dollar was dropped in July of 2005, that the daily band was +/- .3%… I read where the increase to +/- .5% came in May 2007… Ok… that explains why I didn’t have that in my brain… I had other things on my mind in May of 2007… So… I think this news from China plays well with my earlier thought that the 1st QTR GDP was the low water mark for the economy this year… The Chinese obviously believe the economy will expand at a faster clip going forward, and they want their currency stronger to combat the accompanying inflation… The euro briefly dipped below 1.30 overnight for the first time in two months… But immediately rebounded and has remained above 1.30 the remainder of the overnight markets and through ½ of the European market. … I believe that the initial downturn in the single unit was caused by a story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that had a headline that said, “Downgrades Loom for European Banks”… So… here’s what happened… the story seemed to have information that no one else did, but when read, it was simply the author’s opinion, and offered no facts… So, the euro got sold, but once somebody took the time to read the story, the rebound was in… I guess more important to the markets is the fate of Spain, and further of Italy… Solvency concerns are like the Sword of Damocles hanging over the euro these days… And we’re only talking about the “Club Med” peripheral countries, and the Eurozone leaders need to address this up front and center, before the negativity begins to become the norm. Remember the LTRO’s? Long Term Recovery Operations… the LTRO’s were loans that the European Central Bank (ECB) made to inject liquidity… Well, the ECB is going to have to go back to the well here folks, and prove to the markets that liquidity is in place… The ECB also needs to provide further easing, and all this would go a long way in showing the markets that Spain is solvent… Of course rate cuts will hurt the euro’s value… but that should only be temporary, until the markets feel better about Spain, and Italy… There is 300 Billion euro that’s yet to be used by the ECB, folks… I would think that to be enough liquidity for both Spain and Italy… I don’t like any of this… but, it is what it is, and we have to deal with ways to keep countries from defaulting… because one default will beget another and so on… Ok… onto other things this morning… The New Zealand dollar / kiwi really took it on the chin last Friday… going into the day kiwi had reached 83-cents! But, once the China GDP number printed, A$’s weren’t the only currency to weaken… And since kiwi had really outperformed its kissin cousin across the Tasman (A$’s) it got sold at a quicker pace than the A$… A reader from New Zealand sent me a note last week, and said that it looked like the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) was ready to remove the emergency rate cuts made last year after two devastating earthquakes hit the two island nation… If that thought was bought by the markets then that explains kiwi at 83-cents… The problem with the thought is that the rest of the world is cutting rates again… So, unless you want all the attention and a currency that gets driven higher in value, you had better put those rate hikes in your back pocket for now… For we all know that RBNZ Gov. Bollard is no fan of a strong kiwi! In Sweden this morning… the Gov’t lowered their forecasts for economic growth… That’s not a good thing, but at least they recognize it and don’t try to paint pretty pictures with the data like our Fed Heads do… Speaking of Fed Heads… St. Louis Fed Head, James Bullard, he of at least a couple of sound bites, will be speaking today. He’ll be speaking on Monetary Policy and the Economy right here in St. Louis… And the Fed’s balance sheet must be ballooning again… The 10-year Treasury’s yield is back below 2%… Just a month ago it was soaring higher to 2.38%… I would bet a dollar to a Krispy Kreme, that the Fed came in then, and hasn’t stopped buying since! Here in the U.S. we will see the color of March Retail Sales data this morning… The BHI (Butler Household Index) tells me that Retail Sales while positive will be much weaker than February’s +1.1%… I did my best to spur March Retail Sales while in Florida… But, I truly believe that the high gas prices are beginning to pinch U.S. consumers… So, while March’s Retail Sales will be positive, they will not be what makes an economy like the U.S. move forward… I read a story this weekend about unemployment here in the U.S. and yes, we continue to see individuals leaving the work force, thus allowing the unemployment rate to fall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)… But this researcher found that looking at the Employment to population ratio and the Unemployment rate we find somehow last year these two de-coupled… Hmmm… The Employment to population ratio rate remains at 10.5%, while according to the BLS the Unemployment rate has fallen to 8.2%… This can’t be folks… it’s that simple… So… this is data that proves the BLS is simply doing their best to make things look good… Long time readers know of my lack of affection for the BLS, so this revelation in the data doesn’t surprise me one iota… not one iota folks… I’ve told you for years now that the BLS uses smoke and mirrors… Then There Was This… for all those that don’t believe that Gold & Silver keep up with inflation… a reader sent me a picture from a gas station in Montana… The gas station had a sign that said, “Gasoline 20-cents A Gallon… If paid with pre 1964 dimes, quarters, halfs or dollar coins” That about says it all there, eh? I always go back to friend, Bill Bonner’s qualification of Gold… Saying that 100 years ago, a man could buy a good suit of clothes with a 1 oz. Gold Coin… The same can be said today… To recap… The Chinese slower growth really deep sized the risk assets on Friday and in the Asian markets last night. The euro briefly dipped below 1.30 on a story headline in the WSJ that was found to not have facts but instead opinion… China announced a wider trading band for the renminbi, and Japan is NOW going to get tough with deflation… And Retail Sales print today. Currencies today 4/16/12… American Style: A$ $1.0355, kiwi .8185, C$ $1.0010, euro 1.3025, sterling 1.5840, Swiss $1.0830, .. European Style: rand 7.9750, krone 5.8050, SEK 6.8230, forint 229.15, zloty 3.2160, koruna 19.0445, RUB 29.67, yen 80.75, sing 1.2510, HKD 7.76, INR 51.67, China 6.3150, pesos 13.23, BRL 1.8375, Dollar Index 80.08, Oil $102.55, 10-year 1.98%, Silver $31.41, and Gold… $1,648.28 That’s it for today… Well… Friday the 13th wasn’t kind to the Cardinals on Opening Day, but they rallied back to win 2 of 3 from the Cubs… The Blues rallied to win Saturday night… I was watching the game at home, and there right before my eyes was Chris Gaffney! Chris was “on the glass” at the game, and fight took place right in front of him… Well… after all the baseball games I’ve attended in my life… I finally went home with a baseball that was hit into the stands… This one off of a foul by David Freese… I once knocked down a wicked line drive in Wrigley stadium but before I could bend over to grab it, someone else grabbed it… So I had the stinging hand, and he had the ball… UGH! But not this time! We had D & E (Delaney & Everett) Saturday evening and early night… that was fun… I think! And with that, I’ll get out of your hair for today, and thank you for reading the Pfennig… Now go out and have a Marvelous Monday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 www.everbank.com
NPR’s “Take A Number” series is exploring problems around the world — and solutions — through the lens of a single number.One of the places many people are first prescribed opioids is a hospital emergency room. But in one of the busiest ERs in the U.S., doctors are relying less than they used to on oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin and other opioids to ease patients’ pain.In an unusual program designed to help stem the opioid epidemic, the emergency department at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., has been exploring alternative painkillers and methods. That strategy has led to a 58 percent drop in the ER’s opioid prescriptions in the program’s first year, according to numbers provided by St. Joseph’s Healthcare System’s chair of emergency medicine, Dr. Mark Rosenberg.”There is a complete change in philosophy, a complete change in culture in the department,” says Rosenberg, who launched the Alternatives to Opiates program in 2016 with Dr. Alexis LaPietra, the medical director of pain management in the emergency department.Last year, the program was highlighted during a visit to the hospital by the chair of President Trump’s commission to study the national opioid crisis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.Patients are experiencing the shift in care for painful symptoms related to various diagnoses, including kidney stones, broken bones and muscle spasms.It was a muscle spasm and a deep bruise from a subsequent fall that brought Jonathan Milton, a 43-year-old forklift driver from Jersey City, N.J., hobbling into St. Joseph’s ER one morning in January.A couple nights earlier, Milton was at home, lying on the floor and watching TV. He accidentally fell asleep on his left side. When he woke up the next morning, he could barely get up. From his left hip down to his leg, he says, the spasm left him feeling “like somebody just came into that room, just kicked me and kept moving.” Later at work, when he tried to get up into the forklift, he fell.”I was so much in pain — tears were coming out my eyes,” he said as he waited in a hospital chair for more instructions from his doctors.Milton has come into this ER in pain before.”I did see from your visit you were here for that shoulder sprain,” said LaPietra, after checking the hospital’s records about Milton’s 2011 visit. “You did get opioids. You got Percocet.”Back then, opioid painkillers were part of the emergency department’s first line of offense against pain. Today, opioids are not banned, but LaPietra says sometimes the best way to reduce the pain from a muscle spasm, for example, is dry needling of a trigger point, not a pill.”Because it’s so contained, it’s hard for that medication to actually get into the spasm,” she explains, adding that the dry needle can break up the muscle tissue and mechanically stop the spasm and the pain — with no medication needed. The dry needling is followed with a small injection of a local anesthetic for the soreness caused by the needle.The ER team at St. Joseph’s employs a number of other pain-relieving strategies, too: using patches of lidocaine (a non-opioid painkiller); ultrasound to find nerves so they can inject numbing agents; laughing gas for patients to breathe in through a mask, and even a harpist to roam the halls to soothe patients, who are then often sent home with instructions to use ibuprofen, acetaminophen or a warm compress rather than opioids.”We have to go back to times when things were a little more simple,” LaPietra says. “Those easy, at-home techniques — good patient education, really — they help a lot with some of that pain that patients have to deal with when they go home.”But what may sound like common sense now — in light of the increased awareness of how addictive opioids can be — still requires a major culture shift among ER doctors who have prescribed these pills for years.”It took a little bit of getting used to,” says Dr. Ninad Shroff, an attending physician in St. Joseph’s ER. “I’ve been doing this for about 20 years, so for me, it was a big change.”Two years into the alternatives-to-opioids program, however, Shroff says during some shifts in the ER, where he mainly treats bumps, bruises and other musculoskeletal injuries, he doesn’t prescribe a single opioid. He still finds that “unbelievable,” he says.Rosenberg, who runs the ER, says doctors at other hospitals nearby are noticing the shift at St. Joseph’s. He says he’s been asked, “Why are all the drug users from your area coming to my emergency department?””It’s because they’re not going to get opioids at our emergency department unless they’re absolutely needed,” Rosenberg says.One challenge his program has had to work through is the cost of using alternatives to opioids. A few times, doctors had to work with pharmacists to find more affordable alternatives to the alternatives. For example, instead of prescribing lidocaine patches for patients to put on at home, doctors have switched to lidocaine ointment or cream, which is often covered by insurers.”The insurance companies don’t embrace all the alternative treatments and instead would rather frequently have us prescribe opioids because they tend to be inexpensive and readily available,” he says.Other emergency departments have rolled out alternatives to opioids at a smaller scale. But the model that St. Joseph’s has developed is now being copied at other facilities, including some in the UCHealth system in Colorado.”A lot of people now are very sensitive to the opioid epidemic,” says Dr. Thomas Brabson, chairman of emergency services at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., where he launched a similar opioid-alternative program in 2016.”The pleasant feeling of the opioids was something that people presumed was what the patients wanted, and that would help with your customer service scores,” Brabson explains, adding that now more patients are asking physicians not to prescribe any opioids.It’s a change in expectations about the painkillers that you also hear from patients.”Don’t give me that,” says Milton, the forklift driver with a muscle spasm. “I’d rather just keep dealing with the Motrin or the Advil.”For his shoulder sprain back in 2011, doctors at St. Joseph’s gave Milton a dose of Percocet in the ER and more pills to take home. But during his recent visit, Dr. Jessica Lim put a patch of lidocaine on his left side and told him to take Motrin and Tylenol and to stretch at home.”We were considering giving you a muscle relaxer,” Lim explained to Milton, “and I know you don’t like that feeling. So we’re not going to give it to you. This is even more on you to do the work yourself at home, and I know a lot of patients don’t like hearing that.”But Milton was OK with her advice — and glad to leave the ER with no opioids. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
When Muhammad Zaman came to the United States in 1996, he asked around for pharmacy recommendations. Friends kept telling him the same thing: filling a prescription at Walgreens was as good as filling it at CVS. Duane Reade was as safe as the Main Street drug store in any small town. The medicines sold in all of them would contain the chemicals and active ingredients that their labels claimed.He was shocked. That wasn’t the case in his native Pakistan, he says.Zaman is now a professor of biomedical engineering and international health at Boston University. The contrast in the levels of trust of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. versus Pakistan stuck with him. He started investigating why getting a properly formulated drug was hit-or-miss in much of the developing world. His research resulted in the book Bitter Pills: The Global War on Counterfeit Drugs.As a child in Islamabad, he writes, his family drove at least a half-hour to get to a large pharmacy called D. Watson in the heart of town. They’d pass dozens of smaller drug stores on the way, but D. Watson was “polished, well stocked, well staffed, and very clean.” For their pharmaceuticals, his parents trusted D. Watson.”We didn’t trust the stores closer to our home. You expect some coffee shops to be better than others. Some bakeries are better than others,” he says in an interview with NPR. “That’s how I thought pharmacies work. Some, like D. Watson, are better than others. If money was not a problem, you went there for drugs.”Years later, he learned what could happen to people for whom money was a problem. In 2012, a news story broke in Lahore, Pakistan, about people suddenly dying at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology. “The people were ill, but not so ill that they were expected to die. But then 213 people died in a week and a half. They were in the same hospital, the same ward,” says Zaman. “Some people said it was arsenic, others said it was terrorism or tainted water. People were just making things up because no one knew what was happening.”Finally, samples of an anti-hypertensive drug all the patients took were sent to a lab in the U.K., Zaman says, because the population did not trust local testing facilities. The results showed that it was tainted with ingredients from a drug intended to treat malaria. According to later investigations, two barrels of white powder got mixed up in the pharmaceutical plant, Efroze, which made both drugs.”Up to 14 percent of the antimalarial was mistakenly added to the anti-hypertensive drug,” says Zaman. “That would be a lethal amount, given the patients’ cardiac history.”As Zaman continued his research, he kept spotting news reports related to fake or faulty drugs. In one story, 16 people, also in Pakistan, died after drinking a cough syrup. In another report, a shipment of 1.4 million doses of a counterfeit antimalarial drug was seized in Angola. “There is a new story every week,” he says.Tainted, counterfeit or degraded drugs on market shelves in the developing world is a problem that’s hard to measure, says Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in Washington, D.C..India, for example, has a 3 percent rate of substandard drugs, according to national surveys that randomly spot check pharmacies, says Laxminarayan. “I’m in Bangladesh right now, and they have a 3 percent to 5 percent rate of substandard drugs,” he says. “That means the drug, when it reaches the patient, is not of a quality that can do any good.” Some countries are in really dire straits: “In Nigeria, it’s as high at 20 to 30 percent. Imagine if one in every five times you get a drug, it doesn’t have an active ingredient.”Those numbers could be even worse than reported because the national surveys are sporadic, many countries don’t have the technology to properly test drugs, and some pharmacists, when they see an inspector coming, shutter their windows and close up shop, says Zaman.Mistakes in formulating drugs can happen anywhere, including wealthy countries, and Zaman writes about that, too. In 2012, tainted steroids made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., sickened 753 people in 20 states and resulted in the deaths of 64 people. “The compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts is emblematic of the fact that the problem is universal,” Zaman says.Consequences for drug makers vary among countries. In the Massachusetts case, the compounding center’s owner, one of 14 people who faced criminal charges in the case, was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2017, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A fund of $200 million was established to compensate the injured or the families of those who died. The New England Compounding Center is no longer in business.In the Lahore case, the families of those who died are to receive $4,000 per person, paid at the rate of $150 a month for just over two years, Zaman says. He notes in his book: “…the company did not have to pay any penalties to the government or lose its license, and its senior executives did not face any serious disciplinary action.” And it remains in business.”In poor countries, punishment doesn’t exist in a way that can be a real deterrent,” says Zaman.It’s poor countries that suffer the most, and yet there is very little information on how many people get sick or die because of substandard drugs. “It’s not easy to estimate,” says Zaman. “Many countries have a culture of immediate burial, and they don’t do autopsies, so we don’t know if they died because of a bad drug. It’s massively underreported.”But there are some rough estimates. “One of the best studies looked at a sliver of a sliver of the problem,” says Zaman. The report concluded that of the more than 3 million children who die before age 5 in 39 sub-Saharan countries, about 120,000 die each year because of substandard antimalarial drugs.The World Health Organization also estimates that between 72,000 and 169,000 children may die each year because of substandard or fake antibiotics. But, says Zaman, there is no worldwide estimate of deaths caused by substandard drugs for all ages, all diseases.Zaman wants to increase awareness of this little-discussed problem. “The World Health Organization says that an average of 10 percent of drugs are substandard,” he says. “But that’s an average. In some parts of the world, it’s much higher. We don’t have a proper estimate. It’s quite large, but how bad is it? We have no idea.”Susan Brink is a freelance writer who covers health and medicine. She is the author of The Fourth Trimester and co-author of A Change of Heart. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
A disabled peer secured investigations into a series of key disability-related issues when she took over as editor of BBC Radio’s flagship news programme on New Year’s Day.Baroness [Jane] Campbell (pictured) was one of six guests who took editorial control of Radio Four’s Today programme for a day each between Christmas and 2 January.Among the issues covered in her stint on 1 January were an examination of the impact of the Disability Discrimination Act, 20 years after it became law; a discussion of the potential impact of new technology on disabled people; and a conversation between disabled comedians Jack Carroll and Simon Minty about whether it is ever acceptable to make jokes about disabled people.The most controversial segment of the programme was Baroness Campbell’s interview with journalist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris who has argued publicly in favour of assisted suicide.He suggested in the interview that those people who were no longer useful “should tend to ask ourselves how much longer we want to carry on”, and added: “I don’t think that those people that don’t have the ability because of their physical limitations to end their lives themselves should have that right removed from them by their disabilities.”He compared those cases with Baroness Campbell, who he said was “immensely useful”, but he also said that her wheelchair and other equipment were “very expensive” and that there would come a time when there had to be “a limit” put on the “slice of the cake” apportioned to disabled and older people.Baroness Campbell told him that his limits were “too low” and that “the future will not be as gloomy as maybe you predict”.She later told Today presenter Justin Webb that Parris had “a very dystopian, gloomy view of the world, and the world of people who are incapacitated” and that “he knew nothing about us”.She also criticised his stereotypical views about the expense and dependency of disabled people.She said: “My electric wheelchair costs less than a replacement hip. My wheelchair gives me independence and allows me to contribute in my job.“When Matthew Parris needs a hip replacement which costs more [than my wheelchair] will he be asking himself the question: am I too expensive?”She added: “I truly believe that if you invest in disability, the gains will pay for themselves, and that’s shown to be the case and that’s why I’m in the House of Lords.”The programme also included a discussion on the effectiveness of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) since it took over from the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and other equality bodies in 2007.One former disabled EHRC commissioner, Diane Kingston, now vice-chair of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, said the current state of the commission was “quite shocking”.She said she had had a “fantastic team” working around her on disability rights when she was at EHRC, and they had been able to “commission a lot of research, produce some fantastic reports and do a lot of outreach work”.But she said the commission’s funding was now “quite pitiful”, and equivalent to the budget of the DRC alone at the time it closed.One of EHRC’s current commissioners, Sarah Veale, told Today that the commission did “a very, very good job” despite its funding being cut to an annual budget of just £19 million, and had become “very good at prioritising”.The EHRC’s budget reached £62 million in 2010-11, although it was cut to £55 million by the new coalition government during 2010.But Veale dismissed suggestions that the government might want to scrap EHRC entirely, and said: “I think we are respected and accepted and no government is going to want to get rid of an organisation that is a success now and is delivering for a wide range of people in a very diverse community that we live in.”
A Tory election promise to “dismantle” the work capability assessment (WCA) through new legislation appears to have been abandoned, with the Queen’s speech containing no mention of any new social security bill.The speech contains brief details of all planned legislation over the next two years – rather than the usual 12 months – so the absence of a social security bill suggests work and pensions ministers have abandoned planned reforms to the much-criticised “fitness for work” test.The minister for disabled people, Penny Mordaunt, told a national disability hustings event a few days before the general election that a Conservative government would “legislate to reform the work capability assessment”, which “treats people like they are part of a sausage factory”.Mordaunt (pictured, right, at the hustings) then added: “We have managed to get into the manifesto a legislative commitment to dismantle the work capability assessment.”Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats promised in their general election manifestos to scrap the WCA.Disability News Service (DNS) tried repeatedly after Mordaunt’s comments to confirm what she meant by the promise to “dismantle” the WCA, as there was no mention of scrapping the assessment in her party’s manifesto.The manifesto did promise that a Conservative government would “legislate to give unemployed disabled claimants or those with a health condition personalised and tailored employment support”.When contacted about the failure to include a social security bill in the Queen’s speech, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We have been told not to say anything at the moment.”He directed DNS to the Number 10 press office, which had not commented by noon today (Thursday).Ministers are expected to respond in the next few months to the consultation on its controversial work, health and disability green paper, which was published last October.It is not yet clear how the absence of new legislation will affect proposals laid out in the green paper, which include a suggestion that all people on out-of-work disability benefits – even those who are terminally-ill or have the very highest support needs – could in future have to stay in regular touch with their local jobcentre or risk having their benefits sanctioned.
Amazon Add to Queue Register Now » October 2, 2018 Senior Editor 1 min read Image credit: via PCMag Next Article This story originally appeared on PCMag –shares If you work for Amazon, there’s a good chance you’re waking up to some surprising and welcome news this morning. You’re getting a pay raise!Amazon today announced that over 250,000 of its employees along with an additional 100,000 or more seasonal workers will see their pay increased to $15 per hour from Nov. 1. The change applies to all “full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies), and seasonal employees” who are based in the US. That also extends to all Amazon subsidiaries such as Whole Foods.Shared the new Amazon $15 minimum wage with the team here at LGB3 early this morning! Best All Hands Ever!!! Amazon Boosts Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour Matthew Humphries All of Amazon’s U.S. workers will benefit from the minimum wage increase, which means more than 350,000 staff spread across all of Amazon’s business ventures (including Whole Foods) should be better off beginning in November. Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business
November 20, 2008 Brought to you by PCWorld 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List Next Article Buy, Lease–or Move to Cloud Computing? –shares 11 min read Your trusty old office computers are likely chugging along with the power of a 20-year-old Oldsmobile climbing Mt. Everest, gamely working hard to complete ever more complicated and varied tasks for your company’s employees. Apply Now » Alexandra Krasne Your trusty old office computers are likely chugging along with the power of a 20-year-old Oldsmobile climbing Mt. Everest, gamely working hard to complete ever more complicated and varied tasks for your company’s employees. But while it might be time to replace the outdated PCs, with today’s credit crunch, you may be considering alternatives to simply buying new hardware as a way to save your business money.So should you lease new hardware, forgoing boxed software? Or try the new cloud computing solutions that are being touted as the next big thing? We’ll look into a variety of options for your business and let you know which ones will save you money, and which could potentially cost you big.Leasing vs. Buying: Good Deal or Bad Idea? According to a 2007 study by IDC, cutting your PC’s life cycle to three years, versus five or six years, will save you on the overall cost of maintaining that system. As presented in the study, keeping two generations of leased desktop PCs (held for three years each) is 20.5 percent less expensive than buying and holding one machine for six years.Lifecycle implications aside, there are other considerations to mull over before signing a hardware lease, such as end-of-lease costs and other fees that can accrue if not monitored, according to Joe Loiselle, Vice President of Global IT Advisory Services at IDC.”Leasing is not a bad thing, if you manage it. Unmanaged, it will be a big liability. Most [leases] favor the lack of discipline a buyer has, and most favor a mobile device–it moves, breaks, and changes hands,” he says. Unless you are going to send back the equipment on time and address end-of-lease issues, Loiselle believes that your organization is going to bleed cash. Most people don’t pay attention to a lease once they sign it, he adds, and lease agreements aren’t exactly designed to save you money in the long run.”Companies are making a mass exodus from leasing,” says Loiselle. Leasing “is a Venus flytrap: it’s tough to get into and tougher to get out of.” Of course, given today’s credit crunch, it will be more difficult to get a lease or financing in the first place.When it comes to servers, it can be even more difficult to return equipment, as data, applications, and network connections are all affected when you remove a server. Servers are not as easy thing to rip out of your network, and most small businesses don’t have redundancies in place, according to Loiselle.A final consideration before signing a lease: Businesses are often able to write off as much as $15,000 for new equipment, so it may make sense to buy the equipment outright. Be sure to check with your accountant or tax preparer before making a move to either option.Cost Comparisons: Is Leasing Cost Effective?We looked at lease deals on three computer manufacturers’ sites, comparing pricing options for ten laptops. Overall, we found that leasing is the costlier option in the long run, even if it’s cheaper at the outset.At HP’s site, we selected the option to purchase ten business notebooks at a cost of $15,590. HP lists the lease price for these same notebooks as $413 per month for a 48-month lease. That’s $19,824 for a 48-month lease, or an additional $4824 to lease the machines, rather than buy them outright. (To find out about other lease lengths, pricing, or options, check HP’s site.)On Dell’s site, the company lists finance options that include both fixed purchase options (FPO) and full market value (FMV) options for leasing with 24-, 30-, 36-, or 48-month financing. Both options require a $75 processing fee. Our total for ten similarly equipped laptops, sans shipping and tax, was $15,695.Displayed right beside the total on Dell’s site are links to the lease options. (Before you go through the process of getting qualified, you can estimate your payments based on your credit level–Excellent, Good, or Fair–and the total purchase amount.) The 48-month lease on $15,695 was $460.96 per month for FMV and $461.04 for $1 Buy-Out. That’s $22,126.08 for FMV and $22,129.92 for $1 Buy Out over 48 months. You do the math: Purchasing equipment outright saves you at least $6500 here.Next, we clicked over to Fujitsu’s site, where the company offers lease purchase options of $1, 10 percent, or FMV, and provides a lease calculator to figure out your costs. Fujitsu doesn’t offer a 48-month lease, but its 36-month lease on ten laptops totaling $15,000 was $473 on the FMV plan, $483 on 10 Percent Purchase, and $522 on $1 Buyout. So that was $17,028, $17,388, or $18,792, respectively on a $15,000 equipment purchase.In the end, the ten laptops we researched on the three vendor sites on average cost $4000 more if you were to lease them for 48 months, as opposed to buying them outright. While leasing does mean you won’t be strapped with a steep initial cost, buying saves a bunch of cash in the long run.Buying also potentially saves more money down the line, as lease contracts can stipulate that a vendor can charge extra should you return your equipment late or without a clean hard drive.Printer Leasing and Online Faxing: Panacea or Problematic?If your office needs also include high-volume printing, collating, and all the bells and whistles of a big-budget printer, many companies offer equipment leases. HP and Xerox both offer lease options for high-end, high-volume models.For example, the high-volume black-and-white HP LaserJet M5000 MFP series starts at $4000 retail, and the Color LaserJet CM6030 MFP series starts at $7000. But to lease, you’ll have to pay $115 per month for the M5000, or $190 per month for the CM6030 for a 48-month lease. (That means you’ll spend $5520 for the M5000, or $9120 for the CM6030, over the course of 48 months.)Though high-volume printers don’t have quite as short a lifecycle as a notebook or desktop, it pays to do your research to understand the lease options, what’s expected at the end of the lease, and what your total cost will be over the life of the lease.For expensive office equipment, such as a high-volume printer, you may find that the extra money spent over the course of a lease makes sense, as it’s only one device that will remain in your office, and it’s easier to track than a laptop. As with any lease, make sure you understand the terms and whether you’ll be stuck shipping a giant printer back to the vendor once the lease is up.Your needs may include less printing and more faxing, however. These days, a new fax machine ranges in price from less than $100 to $350, depending on feature set. But if you don’t send faxes often enough to justify a machine or a separate phone line, many free and low-cost online services let you send faxes online. These “virtual fax machine” services let you send faxes via e-mail and receive them; some offer a free local landline number.Do a Google search for “online fax” and you’ll find that there are literally thousands of Internet faxing services available, with a range of prices and features. Some are free, some let you send faxes only, and others let you both send and receive–all without a physical fax machine.One popular service, Myfax, offers plans that start at $10 per month or $110 a year to send 100 pages and receive 200 per month. The service also includes one year of online storage and either a local or a toll-free fax number.Efax is another Internet fax provider. It offers free, Plus, and Pro plans. The paid plans run around $20 per month, and you can receive faxes free. You can send 30 pages per month, and additional pages run 10 cents each. To read or create faxes, you’ll need the service’s free eMessenger application. The site does not offer storage, and larger faxes may take up a large chunk of your inbox.Overall, online faxes are a great deal if you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for a phone line, buy the equipment, or lack a permanent office space. Online faxes can also be more secure than a fax that sits out in a public area. But if you want the dependability of a landline and a permanent fax number, online faxes may not be the best option.Reach for the Clouds: Storage, Servers, and Services You may decide to simply forgo new equipment and software in favor of cloud computing, which has been gaining in popularity and hype in recent months. Companies like Google, Dell, HP, Oracle, Amazon, Salesforce.com, and even Microsoft are providing applications, Web space, and computing power via the Web. But does this mean that your traditional software applications and servers will be unnecessary?Gartner believes that 80 percent of Fortune 1000 companies will be using some form of cloud computing services by 2012. Cloud computing lets large companies spend more money on infrastructure and less money on the actual hardware, but as cloud computing gains in popularity, some industry experts argue that costs will increase as adoption takes hold.”Windows isn’t going away, but more and more services will be offered from the cloud, rather than installed and managed on specific on-premises platforms,” says Thomas Bittman, a Gartner analyst, on his blog. “Not to say that Amazon, Salesforce or Google have all the kinks worked out–but they sure have lowered the barrier to entry for a developer looking to build a global-class application on the cheap.”You don’t need to buy hardware or software, but you will often have to pay for space and the use of cloud computing applications. (You may need a consultant to set up some of these, however.)Some examples of cloud computing offerings include Salesforce.com, a customizable online customer-relationship management database service that offers tools to track contacts and sales leads, run campaigns, generate reports, and track revenue. You can also store files online. Its AppExchange lets you browse and install applications from partners and third-party developers. The company offers a 30-day trial, and pricing varies depending on your needs and the number of users. Check the Salesforce site for specific pricing.Amazon’s recently launched EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) service lets you forgo buying Web servers and rent instead. The term “elastic” means you can rent what you need on demand and pay for the bandwidth and server processes you use. Storage via Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service) lets you store and retrieve any amount of data, starting at 15 cents per gigabyte per month. Amazon’s EC2 pricing model is based on a number of factors, including data transfer–but there is no minimum fee or activation.And Microsoft is getting into the act with its Windows Azure, a cloud-computing platform that allows developers to build and host their services on Microsoft infrastructure. Azure is not available yet, but it will reportedly eliminate the need to update your desktop applications.Of course, when it comes to cloud computing, Google Docs has been the long-standing application king. Google offers free word processing, calendaring, e-mail, spreadsheets, and collaboration tools as well as paid services that include e-mail archiving, the ability to disable ads, and support. On its site, Google lists side-by-side benefits of both free and paid plans.Though every cloud has a silver lining, these cloud services aren’t all dreamy. For one, you are at the mercy of the provider, and if they suffer an outage, so do you. Google’s recent Gmail outage left customers stranded without e-mail and their online applications for days. Security is also up to the provider, so make sure to check out whether its security level meets your needs.Whether you go the traditional route of buying your software in a box, renting server space online, buying hardware outright, or leasing, it pays to do your research, and to understand the risks. And remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Add to Queue Technology The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue.
News and Trends Unstoppable Nostalgia: Netflix Said to Be Developing a ‘Legend of Zelda’ Series 2 min read –shares February 9, 2015 Nina Zipkin Add to Queue Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture. Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Next Article Pop open a can of Surge and settle in because nostalgia can’t be stopped. On the heels of news and rumblings that beloved 90s properties like Twin Peaks and The X-Files are being revived, another enduring fan favorite may be getting a second life: Nintendo’s fantasy adventure series Legend of Zelda.Video-game enthusiasts are probably beside themselves with excitement right now.The long running video game, first released in 1987, is reportedly being adapted into a series for Netflix. The game follows the protagonist Link as he travels through the world of Hyrule to save Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon.Related: From TLC to The X-Files: How the ’90s Are BackNintendo hasn’t had much luck when it comes to adaptations, and hasn’t attempted one in more than two decades. There was a Legend of Zelda animated series that ran for 13 episodes in 1989, and a live-action Super Mario Brothers movie in 1993 that was something of a critical misfire. Though, all that happened a world before movies like Wreck it Ralph and The Lord of the Rings win Oscars, while Game of Thrones inspires Internet pandemonium every spring.In 2013, Eiji Aonuma, a central Zelda designer and producer told Kotaku that he envisioned a Zelda film with an element of audience interaction, so it’s hard to say what the project could ultimately look like. Netflix did not have a comment, and Nintendo did not immediately respond to a comment request.Related: 3 Ways Brands Are Marketing Nostalgia in the Age of Throwback Thursday Entrepreneur Staff Register Now » Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business
2 min read Add to Queue Acquisitions Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. April 25, 2016 ‘USA Today’ Publisher Gannett Makes Unsolicited Bid for Tribune Reuters Register Now » Next Article This story originally appeared on Reuters Gannett Co. Inc., the publisher of USA Today, said it offered to buy Tribune Publishing Co. but the owner of the Los Angeles Times refused to begin “constructive” talks.”We therefore are prepared to consider all alternatives to complete this transaction,” Gannett Chief Executive Robert Dickey said in a letter to Tribune Publishing’s board.Tribune Publishing, however, said in a statement that it had told Gannett it would engage financial and legal advisers to review the proposal and its “numerous contingencies.”Gannett said it made an offer to buy Tribune Publishing on April 12 for $815 million, including the assumption of $390 million of debt.The offer of $12.25 per share represents a premium of about 63 percent to Tribune Publishing’s Friday closing price $7.52. Tribune’s Publishing’s shares closed at $6.86 on April 11.Tribune Publishing’s shares, which have lost half of their value in the last nine months, jumped to $12.10 in premarket trading on Monday. Gannett’s shares, which have gained 16 percent over the same period, were untraded.”Continuing to refuse to engage in a dialogue with us will only serve to delay the ability of your stockholders to receive the value represented by our all-cash offer,” Dickey said.The offer comes at a time when the print industry is grappling with falling sales and circulation as more people get their news from digital medium.Tribune Publishing reported a loss of $2.8 million in 2015 as revenue slipped 2.1 percent to $1.67 billion. Gannett posted a profit of $146.1 million, while revenue fell 9 percent to $2.89 billion.Tribune Co. spun off its publishing assets into Tribune Publishing in 2014, and renamed the parent company, which houses its broadcasting and digital assets, Tribune Media Co.(Reporting by Sai Sachin R and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty) Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business –shares Image credit: Reuters | Jim Young
2019 Entrepreneur 360 List Disruption September 23, 2016 Samuel Edwards Digital Marketing Strategist Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. 5 Trends Driving Disruption in the Accounting Industry Apply Now » Over the past few years, new technologies and tools have emerged and transformed just about every aspect of business, including marketing, management, web design and HR. It’s easy to feel like accounting and bookkeeping have been forgotten. Until recently, the industry was stuck in the dark ages. But with the emergence of powerful new technologies over the years, it’s finally beginning to look like an industry that’s ripe for disruption.Before delving into the specifics of the accounting industry and the impending disruption, let’s take a moment to review some of the common drivers behind general disruption.Complacency: This is the biggest sign that disruption is on the way. When businesses get complacent and decide to coast on past accomplishments, outsiders take notice and see an opportunity to come in, and stake a claim.Frustration: Couple complacency from vendors with frustrations from customers, and some friction starts to develop. Customers want better offerings, but the vendors realize they have nowhere else to turn. Again, outsiders take notice, and see an opportunity.Lack of automation: Everything is about automation in business. If there’s a task that’s still being performed manually, it’s costing companies time. Someone else will try to come in, and disrupt the industry by offering an automated solution to satisfy the frustrations of existing customers.Emphasis on innovation: Finally, disruption starts to boil over when you see startups enter the marketplace, and prioritize innovation. This leads to larger companies taking notice and either purchasing these startups or revamping their own approach to innovation.When two or more of these drivers are present in an industry, then you can accurately predict disruption is right around the corner. Looking at the accounting industry, it’s easy to see how all four of these drivers are in play. In other words, disruption is imminent.While it’s easy to see how those four factors are present in the accounting industry, let’s dig a little deeper and actually analyze some of the trends that are driving disruption at this very moment.1. Clients want better connectivity.Take a look at any service-based industry, and you can identify ways in which processes have become more customer-centric. Well, with the Internet, cloud technology and remote tools, accountants have the ability to connect with clients in meaningful ways. And it looks like they may be finally taking advantage of these capabilities.“Online technology is giving us real connectivity with our clients and their team,” Brett Bennett said. “It means we’re having completely different levels of discussions regarding their farms. We can collectively discuss scenarios and business plans, and our clients recognize that value.”Related: 10 Best Accounting Websites for Startups2. Automated data entry.Automation is the key driving factor in accounting and bookkeeping disruption.Specifically, we’re seeing this lead to the disappearance of manual data entry. Thanks to things like automatic imports, electronic documents and robust software solutions, some businesses are even able to eliminate data entry completely.This leads to more efficiency and allows businesses to better utilize human capital.“The greatest disruption will result from automation of data entry and workflows. This alone leads to three major changes. One, faster processing which translates into real-time reporting and more timely financials. Two, increased accuracy with less human error. And three, significant reductions in cost on an order of magnitude of 50 to 75 percent”, accounting technologist Louie Balasny said.Related: 3 Red Flags That Your Tax Accountant Is an Idiot3. Growth of the DIY approach.One trend that we’ve been keeping any eye on for years is the growth of accounting software. And now that cloud solutions – such as QuickBooks — have entered the marketplace, we’re seeing a lot of small businesses trying the DIY approach.On a related noted, things like web tutorials, YouTube videos, webinars and search engines, now allow businesses to access just about anything necessary to handle their own accounting and bookkeeping needs.“This act of moving accounting online doesn’t precipitate the end of accountants,” accounting expert Jonathan Poston said. “However, what does push accountants to the margins is how inexpensive and user-friendly the new online accounting software is.”4. Machine learning and powerful insights.Accountants are generally able to sort through data, and deliver predictive insights based on past information. However, as technology advances, things like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are making it possible for accountants to access real-time insights that can be used in the moment to add value to businesses and clients.“An accountant will be able to look at [the insights], and hopefully the big data systems will be intelligent enough to be able to say: Here are the key things happening in this business which are different to other businesses in that category,” one expert says. “This business is not performing in these areas, so go out and have a discussion with your client about those things.”Related: 3 Benefits of Cloud-Based Accounting Tools for Small-Business Owners5. Demand for specialization.We’re seeing it everywhere. People and businesses are getting a taste of specialization, and they’ve now come to expect it in every product or service they use.If you think about it, specialization is one of the driving factors of disruption in every industry. Cable customers are cutting the cord and choosing à la carte alternatives. Social media users can tweak filters to see only the content they want to consume. Smartphone users can pick which apps they want. The list goes on and on.In terms of accounting, this is boiling over and creating a demand for specialization over bundled packages. Businesses only want to pay for the accounting and bookkeeping services they need. This is ultimately putting added pressure on the marketplace. As a result, accounting software providers are adjusting their product offerings and pricing structures accordingly. In the future, look for accounting solutions to become à la carte.There’s no doubt that disruption is right around the corner. The accounting industry is still in the dark ages, when compared to other industries, but there’s currently a major emphasis on modernizing through automation.It will take a few months, but don’t be surprised to see an entirely new accounting industry in 2017 and beyond. Next Article –shares 6 min read Guest Writer Image credit: Caiaimage/Sam Edwards | Getty Images Add to Queue The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. Double-entry accounting was invented at least a 1,000 years ago. Big changes are long overdue.