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LinkedIn

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Media & entertainment – social media Owner of the brand: Microsoft Corporation Key competitors: Viadeo, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Medium

Artykuł LinkedIn pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Touch is as Important to Infant Health as Eating and Sleeping

Touch is as Important to Infant Health as Eating and Sleeping

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Baby massage may seem superfluous or silly to some people, but it’s popularity is growing in the U.S. and it has actually been practiced for centuries in many cultures around the world. But, does it have any significant health benefits? You might be surprised that touch is important to infant health. In fact, touch plays a […]

McGraw-Hill Education

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Education & art – educational resources; Media & entertainment – publishers Owner of the brand: Apollo Global Management, LLC Key competitors: Pearson, Kaplan, Cengage Learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Artykuł McGraw-Hill Education pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Well, I'll be Cornhobbled

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

Want to know what cornhobble means? I'll tell you later, read on... I bet the word cornhobble got your attention right? Unusual and poetic words have the effect of stimulating the attention center of the brain. Your brain goes, "here's something that I haven't experienced before, it may be a threat, it may be a cookie, let's pay attention." In today's market , your advertising message must grab your customer's attention or you might as well take your advertising dollars and use them as toilet paper. At least you'd be getting some use from them. However you've got to remember...

Americans Are Overpaying for Insurance Because Obamacare Is Too Confusing

Americans Are Overpaying for Insurance Because Obamacare Is Too Confusing

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Millions of Americans who would qualify for financial help to buy health insurance under Obamacare seem to be leaving that money on the table by purchasing coverage that's ineligible for assistance, according to a new paper published in the journal Health Affairs.

Why are so many people turning down government help? In short, we don't know for sure. But the study, authored by researchers from the Urban Institute and Michigan State University, raises a familiar issue with the health law. For many insurance shoppers, Obamacare may just be too confusing.

If you're reading this article, chances are you're familiar with the Affordable Care Act's online insurance exchanges—the state and federal websites, like healthcare.gov, where Americans can compare plans and buy coverage every open enrollment season. Most Americans who buy insurance on the individual market now use these portals, and for good reason: In order to qualify for Obamacare's coverage subsidies, you have to get your insurance through an official exchange.

Nonetheless, there are still millions of Americans who have continued to buy their coverage off the exchange. Often, the plans they choose are identical to what's offered on ACA's marketplaces. The running assumption among health care experts I've talked to over time was that the vast majority of those customers probably made too much money to receive any government help, since only families that earn between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line are eligible for Obamacare's tax credits. For those not getting a subsidy, it might be easier and less of a time suck to buy directly from an insurer, rather than log on to healthcare.gov and fill out a long form. They may also be able to find insurance options with slightly wider networks or other advantages.

Except, it turns out that a lot of those Americans shopping off the exchanges would qualify for subsidies. Using the data from the National Health Interview Survey, the Michigan State and Urban Institute team estimated that 6.3 million nonelderly adults bought their insurance coverage outside Obamacare's marketplaces in 2015. Almost 41 percent of them reported incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line—meaning they should have been tax credit eligible. Almost 19 percent earned less than 250 percent of the poverty line, meaning they would have qualified for special subsidized plans that lowered their out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-pays.

But for some reason, they said no thanks.

For a number of consumers, that may have been a rational choice. Many younger, healthier Americans, for instance, have chosen to skip the exchanges and buy inexpensive, short-term health plans that don't meet Obamacare's regulatory standards. These policies don't cover pre-existing health conditions and can include lifetime caps on coverage. As a result, the federal government doesn't actually consider them insurance, and those who buy them still have to pay the individual mandate's tax penalty for the uninsured. Even with that added cost, short-term plans may be more affordable for some.

Still, it seems fairly obvious that some people are simply overpaying for coverage because they don't know any better. "I have to think a lot of them just aren't aware they could get better deals buying through the exchange," the study's lead author, Michigan State economist John Goddeeris, told Modern Healthcare. "Probably a good number of people are making a mistake."

This is not the first study to suggest that millions may be unwittingly forgoing Obamacare's financial assistance. A January Health Affairs study found that 31 percent of Californians who bought insurance on the individual market in 2014 missed out on the ACA's premium tax credits or cost-sharing subsidies either because they bought insurance off the exchange, or chose the wrong kind of plan. One clue about what might have gone wrong: People who qualified for aid but bought off-exchange coverage anyway were less likely to have gotten help from an insurance counselor. Meanwhile, in a 2015 survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 59 percent of the uninsured said they either did not know about Obamacare's tax credits, or didn't understand them.

The ACA has done an enormous amount of good by helping millions obtain health insurance they otherwise couldn't afford. But it's also a complicated policy contraption that assumes a relatively savvy consumer, and without extensive public education, many people are simply going to miss out on its benefits. Even the Obama White House seems to have failed at adequately spreading the word, which may well have hurt the law politically; it's easy to imagine that some voters who were enraged by rising premiums didn't realize the government was there waiting to give them a tax credit. Now, the ACA is being run by an administration that has spent months gradually sabotaging the law for political gain, and will almost surely cut back on outreach. I'm guessing the number of people paying more than they should for coverage is about to rise even higher.

Always

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Personal care & beauty – feminine care Owner of the brand: Procter & Gamble Co. Key competitors: Carefree, Bodyform, Kotex, o.b., Stayfree

Artykuł Always pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Smoke-Free Campuses

by noreply@blogger.com (Giulia Carando) @ Public Relations Problems and Cases

Smoke-Free Campuses
Case Study by Lauren Rothbardt and Sara Oxfeld


SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS
“At least 43 colleges have gone smoke-free from California to New Jersey. Nearly 31 percent of full-time college students smoke compared with about 25 percent of the overall population, according to the federal government’s 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Smoking is being banned everywhere on these campuses, even in the main quads and sidewalks” (Cook, 2007).
The Tobacco-Related Disease Research program conducted a study in 2000 about understanding and preventing college smoking. According to the study, in 1981, it was estimated that only 8.2 percent of college students smoked. By 1998, it was estimated that 28.5 percent of college students were supporting tobacco use. This number continues to rise in both two-year and four-year universities. This is the underlying reason why more and more universities are taking the steps to become smoke-free.
According to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, “there are now at least 260 100 percent smoke-free campuses with no exemptions. Residential housing facilities are included, where they exist” (Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation). Tobacco free U is a Web site that outlines facts and figures about college students and tobacco use, sample smoke-free policies, tips for cessation, evaluation tips, and information by state. The Web site points out that half of current college smokers would like to quit, which is an important fact for universities to take into consideration when taking steps to become smoke-free.
On college campuses, certain subsets are more likely to use tobacco due to tobacco advertisements, sponsorships, and promotional events. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, fraternity members, art students, and women are all classified as high-risk subgroups. It is important that universities tailor their messages for these groups.
First-year students are also considered a priority population because many of these students are away from home for the first time and are exploring their newly found freedom. This subset of students is vulnerable to the influence of tobacco advertisements. Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Maryland’s unpublished data found, “approximately 60 percent of sorority women smoke. We also know that smokeless tobacco companies have targeted fraternities with their promotions” (Tobacco Free U). Tobacco companies also target women because smoking is classified as an appetite suppressant and a way to maintain a lower weight.
College campuses are going smoke-free in rapidly growing numbers across the United States and we predict that many more universities will make the choice to go smoke-free in the near future.

EXECUTION
University at Buffalo
On Nov. 20, 2008, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, the University at Buffalo announced plans to implement a 100 percent smoke-free policy to take effect beginning with the 2009-2010 school year. UB also created the UBreathe Free Initiative to assist smokers in the process of quitting as the campus progresses to be smoke-free.
The initiative works in collaboration with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the New York State Smokers Quitline, the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition, Tobacco Cessation Center North and the New York State Department of Health.
The vice president for health sciences, David L. Dunn, M.D, Ph.D., made the announcement. Under the plan, smoking will not be permitted in any UB owned building or space, including parking lots.
UB is the first SUNY campus in Western New York to implement a 100 percent smoke-free policy. The University of Wellness and Work/Life Balance within University Human Resources and Wellness Education Services within Student Affairs will be available to help students and faculty “kick the habit” (University at Buffalo). They will provide short cessation counseling and free nicotine patches and gum for smokers. “The Great American Smokeout is a great way for smokers to prove to themselves that they can quit for a day, in hopes of quitting for good” (ACS).
The decision to go smoke-free is consistent with the “Greener shades of Blue” initiatives. This campaign is committed to demonstrating environmental leadership by reducing energy costs, promoting alternative energy sources, and working to abate climate change. The decision to go smoke free was among those of a comprehensive recycling program and a rapid reorientation away from fossil fuel use, which is part of their Green Climate Action Initiative.
UB summoned a committee over a year ago to review their smoking policy and explore the options for strengthening it. The committee also brainstormed ways to help students and faculty quit smoking. The team was comprised of representatives from Human Resources, Student Affairs and UB’s Academic Health Center. This team created the UBreathe Free Initiative. In September 2008, UB ran an UBreathe Free Week where the university implemented a new smoking-cessation program.

University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas’s smoke-free policy stemmed from a belief that they could improve the health of all Arkansans through changes in public policy. Representing health interests on campus and the recipient of many complaints about the use of tobacco on campus, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs Mary Alice Serafini discussed a tobacco free campus with the vice chancellor for student affairs, Dr. Johnetta Cross Brazzell in the fall of 2006. She in turn took the proposal to the chancellor’s executive committee who reviewed the issues about tobacco use for several months. Serafini was used as a resource for the review.
In spring 2007, the chancellor’s executives decided that the campus needed at least 12 months to allow tobacco users to prepare for a tobacco free campus through participation in cessation programs. The plan was announced and the last academic year was used to inform governance groups, to hold town hall meetings, and to meet with anyone with any interest. Many classes used the policy as class projects.
In June, the tobacco-free policy is being marketed through a comprehensive campaign known as “Fresh” was announced.The director of communications and outreach for the Division of Student Affairs, Scott Flanagin, has headed up the marketing efforts for the policy, and worked with an award-winning student group, known as UA Productions, to create the concepts and the materials, right down to the Web site: http://fresh.uark.edu” (The University of Arkansas). On July 1, 2008, University of Arkansas went tobacco free
The Fresh Campaign has the YouTube account freshua to display their smoke-free Public Service Announcements.

Miami University
In fall 2008, Miami University went 100 percent smoke-free. In 1993, Miami first banned smoking in all public areas of buildings except in certain designated spaces. Thisban included smoking in residence halls, and in 2002 the ban was extended to restrict smoking within 25 feet of the halls. In December 2007, in conjunction with the state law banning smoking in public places of employment, smoking was also banned on the university’s campus within 25 feet of other buildings and in university owned vehicles.
Following the new bans in 2007, Provost Jeffrey Herbst formed an ad hoc committee to in effort to gather data to inform a decision. Surveys became available in print and online. Out of the 6,157 responses, 52 percent were in favor of a full smoking ban, with 62 percent favoring a ban if it meant support for smokers who were trying to quit (The Miami University). The committee took into account personal freedom issues, enforcement, grounds keeping, economic impact on a conference/hospitality level and economic impact on donations.
After reviewing all of these factors, the committee made the recommendation that Miami go smoke-free with a few exceptions such as hotels and conference centers. The committee also recommended offering multiple cessation options for its employee and student smokers. Herbest said, "We are banning smoking and offering cessation resources because nothing is more important than the health and welfare of Miami's people" (The Miami University).
On Aug. 27, 2007, at the Miami University Board of Trustees meeting, the board discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy living and learning environment for its staff and students. After reviewing the information brought to them by the ad hoc committee President David Hodge endorsed the recommendation for all four of Miami’s campus to become smoke-free beginning in the 2008-2009 academic year.
As of Aug. 1, 2008, Miami’s smoking ban was amended to be 100 percent smoke-free. Their new policy is as follows,
In order to promote the health of our students, faculty, staff and visitors, all Miami University campuses are designated Smoke-Free Environments. Smoking is defined as the burning of tobacco or any other material in any type of smoking equipment, including, but not restricted to, cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.
Smoking is prohibited in all Miami University-owned facilities and on the grounds of any university-owned property. This includes all buildings owned or controlled by Miami University, shelters, indoor and outdoor athletic facilities, indoor and outdoor theatres,bridges, walkways, sidewalks, residence halls, parking lots and garages. Smoking is prohibited on sidewalks that adjoin University property. Smoking is also prohibited in any vehicle or equipment owned, leased or operated by Miami University.
Faculty, staff, and students violating this policy are subject to University disciplinary action. Violators may also be subject to prosecution for violation of Ohio’s Smoking Ban (Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3794). Visitors who violate this policy may be denied access to Miami University campuses and may ultimately be subject to arrest for criminal trespass,” (The Miami University).

EVALUATION
The University of Arkansas
According to the vice chancellor of student affairs, Mary Alice Serafini, “now that Arkansas’ smoke-free policy has been implemented, there are two major issues. First, the university did not have enough signage and are now making up for lost time on signage and posters. Secondly, people want enforcement and the policy is based on compliance and mutual respect.” The latest initiatives have been a resolution by the Residents Interhall Congress to set up designated smoking areas with a response from the Associated Student Government not to support designated smoking areas, but to enforce littering rules and implement enforcement of tobacco use away from buildings. The Tobacco Free Committee believes this will all be a three to four year process with bumps in the road. This is hard for those who really want a pure tobacco free campus and want punishment to achieve it. The university believes compliance will work in the end.

Miami University
On Sept. 12, 2008, a group referred to as “Hodge’s Smokers” gathered to protest the university’s campus smoking ban. The group lit up cigarettes and carried them, burning, all across Miami’s campus in protest of the newly enforced smoking ban that went into effect in August. While this protest was not the first negative reaction to the new policy, it was one of the largest. Students are not the only ones upset by this ban; staff members aren’t too thrilled either. However, the staff is doing a better job at adhering to the rules than the students(Reinbolt, 2008).
Months later, the university is still struggling with enforcing the ban. Students and staff are frequently spotted light up on university property. While some find the ban to be effective, others completely ignore it. As of December 2008, “According to the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution, 33 students have been disciplined for violating the campus-wide smoking ban. Claire Wagner, director of news and public information, said no staff members have been reprimanded for smoking on campus” (Stenback, 2008). Wagner believes the purpose of the ban is being fulfilled.

INTERVIEW ANALYSIS
We interviewed director of communications for Miami University, Perry Richardson. Richardson has held his position for many years.
According to Richardson, Miami University joined the campus initiative to become completely smoke-free in the 2008-2009 academic year. Jeffrey Herbst was the first to form an ad hoc committee to petition to the University for the smoking ban. According to Richardson, “After credible research was conducted, the university complied and agreed to become 100 percent smoke-free.”
Miami is one of the few universities who have decided to treat the ban with an enforcement policy. Richardson said, “We believe enforcement will insure the greatest success of the ban.”
“While at first the ban may have caused some commotion on campus, we believe the students and staff have seen an improvement on campus, and therefore support the new policy,” said Richardson. However, Richardson believes that it may be too soon to determine if the new policy has caused smoking rates to decrease among students and faculty but he continues to remain hopeful.
Since the ban is still in its’ earlier stages, Richardson, deems that in time the university will develop better methods for enforcing the ban, hence keeping their students and staff healthier and their campus cleaner.
Upon conducting this interview we realized this is an issue many are not comfortable discussing. Whereas Richardson agreed to answer our questions, despite the fact that he only answered a couple of them and was very vague in his answers, the other professionals we contacted from the other universities chose not to comment at all on the topic. We believe this lack of cooperation may be due to the fact that the policy may not be functioning to its’ fullest potential just yet.
However, Richardson’s interview did provide us with some insight into the minds behind the smoke-free policy. We believe all three of the universities are acting in good faith in their attempts to rid the campus of cigarette trash and litter, and in an attempt to provide their students and staff with the learning and living environment they deserve.

Gary Cohn May Have Lost His Shot at Becoming Fed Chair Because He Piped Up About Nazis

Gary Cohn May Have Lost His Shot at Becoming Fed Chair Because He Piped Up About Nazis

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

For a while there, Gary Cohn seemed like a pretty decent bet to become the next Federal Reserve chair—but apparently no longer. According to the Wall Street Journal, President Trump has become significantly less enamored with his chief economics adviser ever since Cohn decided to sound off on the administration’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—which could end up costing him his shot at the central bank gig.

Cohn, who leads Trump’s National Economic Counsel and was previously the president of Goldman Sachs, was technically charged with leading the search for a new Fed chair to replace Janet Yellen, whose term expires next year. But from all outside appearances, the man seemed poised to pull a Dick Cheney and claim the job himself. “He doesn’t know this, but yes he is [a candidate]” Trump said in July, after the WSJ’s editors asked whether Cohn might be in line for the job (like heck he didn’t know). This was somewhat discouraging, since Cohn—who spent much of his career as a trader at Goldman—lacks many of the basic qualifications you typically want in a Fed chair, such as a background or even an obvious interest in monetary policy or economics.

But then came the moral and political calamity of Charlottesville. After Trump’s gobsmacking attempt to blame both torch-bearing white nationalists and anti-fascist counterprotesters—one of whom was killed—for the weekend’s violence, Cohn, who is Jewish, decided to speak up. Or, at least, he tried to explain to the Financial Times why he wasn’t leaving his job in protest while assuring his respectable financial world friends that, yes, he was adequately disgusted by the White House’s response.

“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK,” Cohn told the paper. “I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities. As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job.”

Oops. According to the WSJ’s sources, Trump “wasn’t aware such a blunt critique was coming” and now “visibly bristles at the mention of his economic adviser.” Cohn might be able to redeem himself by securing a tax reform deal with Congress, an effort he’s managing for the White House. But it’s also possible that his limp attempt to maintain some semblance of dignity while continuing to work for an administration that has an obvious affinity for white supremacists has backfired.

For those trying to figure out the future of American monetary policy, this means Yellen’s chances of being reappointed to the job just shot up. In the scheme of things, this is probably a good policy outcome. But it’s also a reminder that, even when it comes to picking the world’s most important central banker, personal loyalty trumps all.

Our Aging Workforce Needs Foreigners

Our Aging Workforce Needs Foreigners

by Joseph Coughlin @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Earlier this summer, Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican congressman from Arizona, delivered some hard truths to a session of the House of Representatives. “We have a math problem, and it is based on demographics,” Schweikert said on June 28. “I am a baby boomer. There are 76 million of us who are baby boomers, who are heading towards retirement. That demographic curve is changing the cost structure of government.”

This was back during that precarious period when Obamacare repeal-and-replace efforts had succeeded in the House but hadn’t yet floundered in the Senate, and Schweikert was lending voice to an aspect of the legislative push that had gone more or less unsaid, at least in public. To austerity-minded policymakers, the Better Care Reconciliation Act represented an exceedingly rare opportunity—“once in a lifetime,” wrote Grover Norquist—to rein in Medicaid spending before the U.S. population grew significantly older and more reliant on public funds. “It is time for almost revolutionary thoughts,” Schweikert said. “We need to look at the budget holistically.”

Between Schweikert’s take on the future solvency of Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security and the ongoing efforts of President Trump and congressional Republicans to push the BCRA into law, Republican policymakers have demonstrated real concern about the economic dependency of the old and sick on the young and gainfully employed. Which is, from a certain point of view, fair enough: The Republican Party, at least in its platonic form, exists to limit government’s reach, and our aging population, it could be argued, may force that reach to extend. It would be strange if no Republicans pushed back.

And perhaps that was why it was so peculiar when, a little more than a month after Schweikert’s demographics lesson, President Trump announced he would embrace the RAISE Act, a legislative one-two punch co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, also staunch supporters of the Republican health care effort. RAISE, if signed into law, would change the admissions criteria for legal immigrants and, more concerning from a demographics perspective, reduce their numbers by half within a decade. To the limited extent that the American working-age population continues to grow, immigrants are responsible. And so, for leaders of a party with clear apprehensions regarding the ongoing ability of the country’s workers to support its older adults, slashing legal immigration would seem, to put it gently, inconsistent.

President Trump has weathered charges of inconsistency before, but this time may be different. His campaign promise to make America great is in a category of its own—the ur-promise from which all his other promises descend. And the passage of RAISE will likely violate it in a very tangible way.

It’s not just that the legislation’s legal-immigration cuts would damage the economy, a fact most economists affirm. It’s that RAISE would hurt the American economy relative to the economies of other countries. And for those who want America to be first in all things, that outcome may prove difficult to stomach.

The cuts entailed by RAISE aren’t extreme—at least, not by international standards. They would not put us in the hermetic company of Japan, which admits very few new permanent residents, or lump us in with Switzerland and Denmark, where new immigrants must pay a high ticket price for admission, sometimes out of future wages. Even under this new proposed policy, the U.S. would still accept more newcomers, in raw terms, than any other country except perhaps Germany. (On a per-capita basis, however, the U.S. is nowhere near the top of the list of immigration-friendly countries.)

But even if such a policy wouldn’t make the U.S. an immigration outlier, it would still be a spectacularly regrettable unforced error. In fact, it’s such a bad move precisely because it would put the U.S. on a level footing with more restrictive countries. As it stands, immigration is granting America an underappreciated edge that it would be a mistake to blunt.

Populations around the world are aging—in some cases, with alarming speed—for three reasons. Birthrates in the vast majority of the world’s nations have fallen since the middle of the 20th century. (In some countries, such as India, Mexico, and Brazil, birthrates have outright plummeted.) That means fewer younger people. At the same time, life expectancy has risen, and despite recent, well-publicized downticks in the U.S., the overall trend continues to point north. Finally, in some of the countries that were heavily involved in World War II, an enormous cohort of baby boomers is just now crossing into retirement age.

As a result, by 2030, more than 20 percent of the U.S. population will be age 65 or older, a demographic breakdown slightly older than that of today’s Florida. Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, and many other wealthy countries have already achieved Floridian status, and Japan is ranging far ahead with a quarter of its population aged 65-plus. On the balance, societywide aging is a good thing—in our opinion, every extra year of life is a gift—but it still poses serious challenges beyond even the monumental-yet-crucial task of maintaining a safety net for older adults. One inevitable consequence of global aging is the shrinking of labor pools and even, in select countries, the waning of entire populations. China, Japan, Russia, much of Eastern Europe, and many other countries are now either experiencing population decline or will begin it soon.

The very real possibility of such trends manifesting in either the raw or working-age populations of the U.S. should alarm anyone who claims an interest in American greatness. Consider, for instance, yet another stated priority of President Trump: infrastructure construction. Baby boomer retirement is hitting the construction industry hard, and taking with it able bodies and institutional knowledge. Positions in the skilled trades, such as machinists, welders, electricians, and HVAC technicians, were ranked the hardest for employers to fill in 2016 according to a survey conducted by staffing company Manpower. Such shortages will only worsen in the coming years as retirements accrue. Adecco, another staffing company, estimates that retirements in the aforementioned fields as well as general construction; mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering; plumbers and pipefitters; and others will mean that 31 million skilled-trade positions will be left unfilled by 2020, almost a tenth of the population of the United States. As a result, contractors will have to either turn down jobs, slowing growth, or else raise their wages and therefore their rates, an expense that would likely be passed along to taxpayers in the event of a major infrastructure push.

And that’s just the construction-related industries. Others facing mass retirement include the petrochemical, defense, transit, agriculture, financial advisory, and railroad industries. Air-traffic controllers, hired en masse after Ronald Reagan fired their predecessors in 1981, are now retiring en masse. The ranks of doctors and nurses—especially internists and, in an unfortunate twist, geriatricians—are also thinning. Even the Hoover Dam, perhaps the country’s most quintessentially American piece of infrastructure, is now running short of workers qualified to operate its machinery.

Despite ongoing, frenzied discussions of the potential for advanced automation to take American jobs, these crucial shortfalls continue to go overlooked. U.S. companies are already finding it difficult to entice the staff they need, as Slate’s Daniel Gross has written. Who, in the next two decades, will run our economy and grow our food? It’s not just a matter of retraining those currently unable to find work. The economy is already at or near full employment, and at a certain point, the U.S., like other aging nations, will simply need more warm bodies.

Japan is quietly addressing its labor shortage by admitting foreign workers as temporary “trainees.” Germany is attempting to stall an incipient population decline by increasing its acceptance of immigrants and refugees. (Both countries are also finding ways of keeping older workers happy in their longtime jobs, from adopting exotic exoskeletons to making workplace ergonomic adjustments—a strategy that would also benefit the U.S.) Meanwhile, China, poised to experience the largest demographic swing of any nation, is losing millions of people from its workforce every year. The resulting spike in wages is one possible explanation for why President Xi Jinping recently laid off 300,000 troops from the country’s armed forces.

In the United States, the birthrate is 1.9 children per woman, slightly below the replacement rate of roughly 2.1. Thanks only to the twin inputs of immigration and the relatively large size of new immigrant families, the U.S. population is still growing slowly and stably. Without immigration, however, the population would begin to fall as soon as 2040, according to unpublished data supplied to us by Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Research Center. (The projection, originally made in 2015, assumes that immigration would have been cut off starting that year.)

Thanks to its current inflow of immigrants, the U.S. has, and will continue to have, one of the youngest populations among wealthy nations. That relative youth equates to a better-than-average (though still troubling) ratio of workers to nonworkers and, at least in theory, a good crop of workforce replacements for baby boomer retirees. Without immigrants, however, we would be staring cross-eyed down the barrel of a far more threatening demographic future, filled with economic malaise, higher taxes, and even disastrous cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

Legal immigration has become a partisan issue, but it shouldn’t be. Economists might disagree about whether to adopt a system that prioritizes highly skilled immigrants, as the RAISE Act proposes. (It’s worth mentioning, however, that the RAISE Act’s salary rules would keep out home-health aides, which the aging United States will soon need in droves, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff recently pointed out.) But there is broad agreement that slashing the raw number of immigrants to the U.S. would be an economic mistake. Immigration has been shown to have little to no effect on wages for native-born workers, and has even been called an “economic boost” by the George W. Bush Foundation.

Congress understands the stakes involved in cutting off America’s youth supply. Schweikert even mentioned it in his June 28 speech: “You do understand, as a nation, we functionally have zero population growth without immigration?” Though population aging may not be news to our political leaders, the question of whether they will prioritize the economic competitiveness of the nation over nativism remains open. We get it: There are people in this country who just don’t like immigration. But presumably a lot of those same people would feel more comfortable living in a world where America, bolstered by a healthy economy and a workforce strengthened by legal immigration, retains its geopolitical clout. As it stands, the world at large is sending the United States a precious resource—young people—free of charge. You can want an America with far fewer of these immigrants, or you can want America to be great. In this era of population aging, however, you can’t have both.

YouTube

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Media & entertainment – digital media, social media, streaming services Owner of the brand: Alphabet, Inc. Key competitors: Daily Motion, Vimeo, Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat

Artykuł YouTube pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Aphids in the Garden? Try Mountain Sky Castile Liquid Soap!

by Nina George @

It is gardening season and I have lots of greens including thousands of green aphid creatures sucking up the plant juices. Did you know that aphids can wreak havoc on growing plants by weakening plants and spreading diseases.  Here in Canada, the vampire aphids sucking up the plant juices weaken the plants so they can't [...]

The post Aphids in the Garden? Try Mountain Sky Castile Liquid Soap! appeared first on .

Jim Beam

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Alcoholic beverages – whisky, whiskey & bourbon, alcopops Owner of the brand: Beam Suntory Key competitors: Jack Daniel’s, Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Jameson, Grant’s

Artykuł Jim Beam pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Get the Goods on Gluten-Free

Get the Goods on Gluten-Free

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

There’s been lots of news (and a good deal of misinformation) about gluten, and in particular the benefits of gluten-free products. As with fat-free, sugar-free, sodium-free, etc. almost always something highly processed is replacing what is being substituted. Many gluten-free products are no exception to this rule. If you have celiac disease, be sure to […]

A Small Yet Soul-Crushing Illustration of Donald Trump’s Utter Economic Illiteracy

A Small Yet Soul-Crushing Illustration of Donald Trump’s Utter Economic Illiteracy

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

The full transcript of Donald Trump's Wall Street Journal interview, which leaked to Politico, is enough to make anyone spiral into despair—like most performances from our president, it's full of moments that illustrate his tenuous grasp of reality. As Slate's official economics correspondent, though, there was one section that left me especially crestfallen—in just one short paragraph of word salad, he delivers a subtle but telling demonstration of his total ignorance on how economies work.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Here's the passage. Trump is trying to explain that he thinks the United States is growing too slowly compared with the rest of the world, and therefore we need to cut our corporate tax rate to 15 percent. I've bolded the key part.

So I’ll call, like, major—major countries, and I’ll be dealing with the prime minister or the president. And I’ll say, how are you doing? Oh, don’t know, don’t know, not well, Mr. President, not well. I said, well, what’s the problem? Oh, GDP 9 percent, not well. And I’m saying to myself, here we are at like 1 percent, dying, and they’re at 9 percent and they’re unhappy. So, you know, and these are like countries, you know, fairly large, like 300 million people. You know, a lot of people say—they say, well, but the United States is large. And then you call places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and you say, you know, how many people do you have? And it’s pretty amazing how many people they have. So China’s going to be at 7 or 8 percent, and they have a billion-five, right? So we should do really well.
But in order to do that – you know, it’s tax reform, but it’s a big tax cut. But it’s simplification, it’s reform, and it’s a big tax cut, 15 –

At some point, it appears Donald Trump heard somebody say that the United States cannot grow as fast as China or Malaysia because we have a “large” economy. No doubt, what they meant is that the U.S. is a highly developed, rich nation and therefore can't expand as quickly as developing countries that can still reap large gains from taking basic steps to improve their living standards. But Trump did not understand it that way. He apparently thought that when whoever he was listening to said “large,” they were talking about population. Therefore, in his mind, if China grows at nearly 7 percent per year with its 1.4 billion people, the U.S. should be able to do it too.

This is the man who millions of voters are relying on to bring back jobs. Bottoms up.

How Vitamins, Sunshine and Antibiotics Have Changed Things for Your Kids

How Vitamins, Sunshine and Antibiotics Have Changed Things for Your Kids

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

I grew up eating very different food than my children eat. I’m not just talking about different items on the menu, but an apples-to-apples comparison of the same foods shows a substantial difference in nutrient density. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my wife say “tomatoes just don’t taste the way they […]

Let’s Talk About “Next”

Let’s Talk About “Next”

by Katy Waldman @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

In an interview with New York magazine in March, David Letterman recalled the time a cashier at DSW sent him into existential crisis. “I’m waiting in line,” the former late-night host related, “and the woman checking people out says in a big loud voice, ‘May I help our next shoe lover, please?’ I just started to tremble.” Worse than the invitation’s presumption of intimacy could be the unholy way it combines stultifying cheerfulness with capitalist coercion. You’re going to buy these shoes, and you’re going to love it.

The Soup Nazi screamed “NEXT!” Sometimes you hear “Ma’am?” and you wonder how old you look that day. Sometimes it’s a smile or a nod or lingering eye contact and the next thing you know you and the barista at Saxbys are in bed together. (This is not something that’s ever happened to me, but I imagine it transpires frequently, what with all the smiling, nodding, and eye contact. Either that or you wind up with three more Luna bars than you wanted.) How do cashiers select the words they use to indicate that it’s your turn? And do they have any choice in the matter?

The 21st-century boilerplate for this interaction is, of course, “May I help the following guest?” which many Slatesters recall leaping to the fore at Starbucks, drugstores, and elsewhere sometime in the previous decade. With its classy substitution of “guest” for “customer” and its ostentatiously grammatical swap of “following” for “next,” the phrase threatens to turn your trip to Staples into an unwritten Bertie Wooster novel. A New York Times article from 2015 conceded: “Clearly the word ‘guest’ is supposed to lend an aura of warmth and welcoming.” But guest—which evokes coffee, biscuits, and a place to sleep—is hardly compatible with jamming your credit card into one of Giant’s chip readers while a bored teenager throws your detergent in a bag. “Be Your Guest? How About I Just Pay and Leave?” the headline complained.

Yet it is tough to fault salespeople (and their corporate overlords) for wishing to wrap us in an illusory heating blanket of kindly intentions. Some employees know that gracious service pays off; others genuinely want to be nice; often it’s a mixture of both. When I started asking friends and colleagues who’ve worked the register about communicating “nextness,” what emerged was a portrait of the contradictions that plague service industries in general. “I can help the next person in line,” said a literalist Urban Outfitters clerk. A cashier at a corner store relied on “subtle umming.” A shy Toys R Us counter drone opted for the minimal “Next, please.” A Nike store employee would occasionally produce “an out-of-the-ordinary noise to get someone’s attention, like ‘Heyyyyooooooooo, next up.’ ” Since he was in Florida, he added, the noise had a way of coming out vaguely Spanish, a polite variation on “oye amigo, look alive.”

Shoppers usually regard a cashier as a mechanism by which to obtain a latte or flat-screen TV. And for the cashier, the guy lugging his swag to the counter represents a simple task to be dispensed with, like a turtle you jump over playing Super Mario Bros. (Most of the jumps are easy, but remember, if you let your concentration flag for even a moment, that turtle could wreck you.) Each transaction involves a two-way depersonalization; yet only one of the sides is forced to pretend that they see the other as an important and multifaceted individual.

Consider the screen glimpsed by reporter Nathan McDermott at his local Starbucks.

“Recognize me,” the directive read, apparently in the customer’s voice. “Include me. Appreciate me. Support me. Delight me.” Is there anything less personal than corporately mandated, one-size-fits-all solicitude? (“Gag me,” one is tempted to reply.)

For all that the archetypal customer experience is being put on hold, it’s the cashiers, suppressing their feelings in the name of efficiency and profit, most often asked to place themselves on hold, and to defer their true emotions and responses until the shift ends. At the same time, an authentic connection can move products, and it makes human beings feel that their work is worthwhile. So what’s the answer—do you, drooping employee, pray for those moments in which capitalist imperatives and inner impulses align? Just get really, really good at faking it?

I had always suspected that modern, ruthlessly customer-focused businesses would mandate a certain greeting, or range of greetings, with the same sterile corporate spirit encapsulated by that Starbucks register screen. But no one remembered following a script. I reached out to the corporate brass at Target, Walmart, Starbucks, CVS Pharmacy, and Walgreens for thoughts on nextness signaling. (Free business jargon for the next retreat, guys!)

None of them got back to me. Insert your joke about poor customer service here.

Next!

Reco, 26, works at the counter at an H&M clothing store in D.C. When I approached with a $9.95 pack of underpants that I grabbed out of a bin by the register, he acknowledged me with a radiant smile. He said he switches up his language both to prevent boredom and to deliver a more tailored experience to individual shoppers: “I don’t like to make it too mechanical.” Reco prefers everyday words and gestures—“just smiling and nodding will get you a long way,” he observed. While H&M doesn’t prescribe specific phrases, he thinks the chain’s interview process screens for sunny cashiers like him. He wouldn’t have this job “if I was miserable having to deal with people all the time.”

What about rude people?

“That hasn’t really happened,” Reco said. “Are you going to buy this underwear?”

I also called one of the many Starbucks peppering the neighborhood around Slate’s D.C. office. I spoke to a manager who revealed that the company has no “actual policy” and leaves such matters to the discretion of the local franchise heads. “We do one person at a time,” he said, of his own store, “and we want everyone to feel taken care of. Rudeness isn’t tolerated.” When I pressed him about scripted expressions, he noted the most common ones he hears from his employees are “can I help you?” and “next in line.” But he added that “it is common courtesy to ask what’s going on.”

“Does that mean that Starbucks cashiers will actually say, ‘What’s going on?’ ” I responded, delighted at the caj vibe of such an icebreaker.

Silence. “Would that be a problem?” he asked.

Then I tried to get his name, and he hung up on me. Next!

Actually, can we pause for a second over how great it feels when your turn arrives? This is one of the core paradoxes of “may I help the next person”—that a moment so repetitious and dream-shriveling for the cashier carries such a singular affirmative power for the customer. There you are, waiting for the people ahead of you to resolve their business, sagging a bit under the weight of the social compact that equates every single other schmoe’s desires with yours. And then: The karmic klieg light swivels to soak you in its golden glow.

Whether you are picking up your prescription or buying a bagel, there’s primal, joyful satisfaction in approaching the counter, because you—you!—are “next.” But on the other side of that counter, all of the yous blur together into one long yawn. And by convention, that person, the bored one, is the party that is supposed to act cheerful. And so capitalism goes, until the moment you arrive at the gates of Heaven to find a smiling St. Peter amiably processing his long line of souls. “Oye amigo, look alive,” he’ll joke, at which point a lifetime of consumer interactions will have hopefully taught you how to see past the façade and respond with empathy. Cashiers are there to help the following guest. But God helps those who help themselves.

Airports Can Be Marvels

Airports Can Be Marvels

by Mark Vanhoenacker @ Slate Articles

You might assume that pilots hate airports. That at best we’d view them as earthly pit stops, as the base—the adjective as much as the noun—precursors to a high dream.

Not me. I’m a 747 pilot, and I love airports. I love them even—perhaps especially—when I’m flying as a passenger. If you feel the same about airports, I’m delighted to hear it. But I’m really writing to those of you who don’t, because it’s part of my job to try to make your journey more pleasant.

Let’s concede, for the sake of argument, everything that anyone could possibly not like about airports. Done. Now if aviation remains a part of your life—if it’s only flying that allows you to visit your far-flung family, friends, colleagues, or customers, not to mention all the fascinating corners of the world you otherwise couldn’t—then let me try to nudge the needle on your airport-ometer just a little toward the wondrous side. After all, if you’re going to fly anyway, then why not make the terrestrial bookends to your next journey across the vault of the heavens a little more interesting?

One thing I have to ask you to pack, though, is time. Not much. In his forthcoming book Airportness, the literature (and airports) scholar Christopher Schaberg invites you to contemplate the “poetics” of the curbside and to dial up a William Blake poem as you observe a boarding gate. (I imagine a Max Richter or Ludovico Einaudi track would serve just as well.) As with Schaberg, the things I love best about airports are hard to appreciate when I’m in a rush. I know that passengers (and pilots) can’t always choose how much extra time we have in airports. But those of us who want to see airports in a new light might take Schaberg’s advice, near the start of Airportness, to “build in an extra ten minutes to spare.”

“Just ten minutes”—that’s all he asks. Here’s how I spend mine.

Marvel at What’s Taking Flight

It remains relatively expensive and complicated to move things across the planet. When it comes to exactly which objects we find it worthwhile to transport over significant distances, we might think of seaports, which handle an enormous physical volume of trade, and of airports, of course, which handle plenty of high-value and perishable cargo. But what strikes me most about airports is the critical role they retain in the transmission of information. I know, there’s this new thing called the internet. Exactly. So why does air travel continue to increase? Why travel to Kenya or Kathmandu or Kansas City these days, when you can learn so much about their wonders from afar? Why are conferences so crucial to science, medicine, and business? The next time you’re watching a fellow passenger unpack his or her world-shrinking, cloud-connecting electronic devices at a security checkpoint, step back and ponder what this scene really says to us: that a great deal of the world’s most valuable knowledge, ideas, and experiences still travels by airplane—by you.

Take in the Departures Board

When I was a kid, I loved to flip through atlases. I was mesmerized by the names of cities, whether near or far, familiar or strange—Samarkand, Phoenix, Albany, Athens. I could never quite get my head around the fact that all of these cities were existing at the same time: that in each there was at that moment a different light and a different smell in the air; that in each it was a certain temperature and a certain hour; and that the histories of each, whether short or long, were pressing their noses up against the same present moment—as if time were a sphere, a kind of round front that enveloped the planet much like the atmosphere itself.

Airport departure boards offer a supercharged version of the atlas experience. In fact, these signs make it even easier to imagine this planet of glowing conurbations you might someday visit, because the travelers on those planes will, later today or sometime tomorrow, be walking right down the far-off streets of those far-scattered cities. I recently asked my followers on Facebook and Twitter to describe some of their favorite things about airports. I was pleased, but not at all surprised, to see enthusiastic rhapsodizing about departure boards among the replies.

I’d happily spend all of my 10 minutes staring up at a departure board. I like how by the mere ordering of departure times a flight to Aberdeen can appear near one to Buenos Aires, or to Jeddah. I love to think of old metropolises such as Rome, of how it can be that the name of the Eternal City appears so matter-of-factly on screens in Seoul or Tehran or Los Angeles. Departure boards are especially pleasing at U.S. airports that have both regional and long-haul flights. Suddenly, staring upward as you sip your Starbucks in San Francisco International Airport, you have found at least one answer to the question of what Bakersfield and Osaka have in common.

People-Watch (and -Listen)

Whether you’re perched in a coffee bar or sailing along the moving walkway, airports are among the best places on earth to marvel at humanity. This is true not only at global hubs but also at the smaller, farther-flung airports that connect travelers to those hubs. When it comes to pretty much every visible aspect of culture, from dress through to manners and expressiveness (especially at the emotional extremes of bidding farewell to loved ones and greeting them after a long absence), airports offer some of the best people-watching on the planet. And if, like me, you find it pleasurable to hear conversations in the few languages you recognize and the many you can’t, you’re in luck. Airports are the perfect place to eavesdrop on the wonders of our spoken world.

Admire the Architecture

Airports are of architectural interest for a number of reasons. First of all, while it’s often claimed that museums are our modern cathedrals, I’d argue the same might be said of certain airports. As with museums, airports say a lot about what we value (or what their designers value, or think we should value). Second, airports present a number of unique design challenges, from signage to baggage handling to transport links. I’m no architect, but I find it interesting to think about these challenges and about whether there are different ways to meet them, or if in fact these constraints are the main reason so many airports look alike.

Third, many (though clearly not all) political authorities view airports as highly prestigious projects that represent a city—or indeed an entire country—to the wider world. Especially in countries that have just one main international airport, business travelers can’t help but reflect on the airport experiences that frame the bleary-eyed beginnings and ends of their visits. That’s one reason many authorities hire world-class architects, give them big budgets, and demand an inspiring structure with global stature but also (these days) a touch of local flair. As a result, and despite their functional similarities, the best airports offer experiences as transcendent as any that architecture can. A few are worth a visit even if you never intend to get on a plane.

Take the midcentury, Eero Saarinen–designed main building at Washington Dulles (not to mention the airport’s distinctive font, itself an icon of the jet age). I love the glowing lines of the now-classic terminal, especially as seen at night from an approaching car or bus. When I finally walk into the terminal I usually pause and look up—not for 10 minutes but maybe a minute—before walking on, almost always with a touch more spring in my step. And of course, many of the most beautiful airports are new. The first time I landed at Mumbai’s Terminal 2 I forgot all about my jet lag, pulled out my phone, and enthusiastically texted a bunch of photos to awestruck friends back in the States.

Gaze at the Planes

Newer airports tend to have more windows, and all that glass is an invitation to remember that planes themselves can be beautiful. And not just the jet-age icons such as the Boeing 747. In fact you are living in one of the best times in recent memory to look out for lovely new birds in the skies and to contemplate how pleasingly form can follow function—a principle, by the way, associated with the legendary architect Louis Sullivan, who, in the days before airplanes, found it helpful to refer to “the sweeping eagle in his flight.” It’s tempting to wonder what Sullivan would make of the wingtips of the shiny new Airbus A350. Are the engineers behind these bladelike appendages incredibly smart, or do they have a great sense of style? Or take a look at the distinctive saw-toothed engines on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Yes, they’re quieter. And yes, they look awesome.

Absorb the Culture (Really!)

Airports, it’s fair to say, are internationalized places that don’t always go far out of their way to cultivate difference. Maybe that’s what we secretly want? I’m certainly not unhappy when I find decent lattes, English signage, copies of the Economist, and a meticulously controlled climate no matter where on the globe I am. And I’m thrilled when offbeat ideas like rocking chairs (which I first sat on in Boston) and little smiley-face buttons to rate immigration officers (which I first pressed in Beijing) spread rapidly to other airports.

But the relative homogeneity of airports also highlights the differences that do confront the traveler. As you walk through a terminal, what can you see, hear, or smell that helps you identify where you are? At Singapore’s beloved Changi Airport, for example, of course there’s an observation deck, a rooftop swimming pool, an indoor slide, and a Hello Kitty–themed café. But it’s the gardens—the separate orchid, sunflower, cactus, and butterfly gardens—that really strike you and that it seems only this ultra-green garden city would go to so much trouble to construct for you. Singapore is one of the world’s most globalized hubs and yet, as you walk through a place built solely to move you to and from the farthest reaches of the world, there’s really nowhere else you could be.

I have a similarly local, well-grounded feeling in Vancouver’s airport. The airport is quiet. It’s full of beautiful wood and calming water features. The people are friendly. In other words, Vancouver’s airport is perfect in all the ways that Vancouver itself is. In a surprise to no one who’s ever flown here, Vancouver’s airport was recently named the best airport in North America for the eighth year in a row.

And back in the U.S. of A? The “peaks” of Denver’s airport always make me smile, as do the foodie options popping up at SFO. And I’ll never forget the warm breezes that I once felt in the open-air walkways of Honolulu’s airport.

Savor the Exit

I recently landed in Accra, Ghana, one of my favorite African cities, just after sunset. When the terminal doors at last opened, the heat and humidity rushed over me. I could smell the air, I could see the crowds of waiting families and porters, and I could hear laughter and the local television from the little bar and restaurant just outside. By then, I marveled, I’d been on Ghanaian ground for almost an hour.

The scene reminded me to think about what happens when the terminal doors open and we step across the line that airports draw so neatly for us. If flying, compared to older forms of travel, is essentially a kind of teleportation, then the airport is a big part of the machine. Indeed travel couldn’t be so fast and accessible without such a sharp border somewhere along the way. That is, the line between the internationalized realm inside airports and the world outside isn’t a flaw—it’s an inevitable consequence of the way that we’ve chosen to move.

It’s also one of the interesting aspects of airports. The poet Kirun Kapur (a college friend of mine) describes the invigoration of the airport exit’s assault on the senses in “Arriving, New Delhi,” a poem from her book Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist.

...Doors open and the blood pounds out
its local language along every limb.
Smell ashes. Men. Jasmine
climbing on a fence. A taxi driver
turbaned in a tongue of flame
says, Sister, I can take you into the city.
Sister, shall I take you home
?

If you didn’t find 10 extra minutes at the start of your journey, perhaps you have half a minute to spare here at its end. Airports—as Christopher Schaberg, Kirun Kapur, Alain de Botton, and so many others who’ve stopped to think about them have written—are liminal places. So take note of their doors, which perhaps more simply than anything else sum up how airplanes have changed our world. Pause as they open and the bewildered airs meet. Welcome.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Instagram

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Media & entertainment – social media Owner of the brand: Facebook, Inc. Key competitors: Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, Hipstamatic, Prisma

Artykuł Instagram pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Republicans Think It’s Unfair How States That Expanded Medicaid Are Getting More Medicaid Funding

Republicans Think It’s Unfair How States That Expanded Medicaid Are Getting More Medicaid Funding

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

At this point, pretty much everybody in Washington has noticed that the new Obamacare repeal bill Senate Republicans have rallied behind, Graham-Cassidy, would transfer large amounts of cash from blue states to red states. Specifically, its funding formula would strip federal money from places that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, like California and New York, and reward those that did not, like Alabama and Texas. Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who opposes the bill, has described it as a “game of Republicans sticking it to Democrats.” (Of course his state, which did expand Medicaid under a Democratic governor, also stands to lose out.)

In the past couple of days, the bill’s authors, Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, have tried to respond to this charge. Their legislation is not a partisan smash and grab, they insist. Nope. Not all. Rather, it merely fixes Obamacare’s own grossly unfair funding formula. How so? Per the New York Times:

“Right now, 37 percent of the revenue from the Affordable Care Act goes to Americans in four states”—California, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland, Mr. Cassidy said. “That is frankly not fair.”

As is his wont, Graham delivered a more elaborate version of this spiel during a floor speech Monday.

“I like Massachusetts, I like Maryland, I like New York, I like California, but I don’t like them that much to give them a bunch of money that the rest of us won’t get,” he said. “Now, if you live in Massachusetts, you don’t get twice the Social Security or 50 percent more than if you live in Pennsylvania. Now how can this happen? Obamacare, for whatever reason, favors four blue states against the rest of us.”

Graham treats this as if it’s some sort of impenetrable mystery, one accessible only to nearsighted budget wonks. But of course, there’s a very obvious, good reason why these four states receive a disproportionate share of Obamacare’s funding today: They expanded Medicaid. That’s pretty much the whole answer. Meanwhile most red-state governors decided to treat health care policy like an Appalachian blood feud and refused the money the Obama administration all but begged them to take. Thus, the high-population California and New York get a very big slice of the ACA’s pie. If Florida or Texas had decided to accept the big, gift-wrapped pile of dough Washington was offering, things wouldn’t look quite so imbalanced.

And this stat, insofar as it has any significance, really is just about California and New York. I don’t know precisely where Graham and Cassidy got their number, but according to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government is expected to spend about $117 billion on Obamacare’s marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion this year. As of 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation says California was receiving $19.6 billion worth of federal funding for its Medicaid expansion population while New York got $7.7 billion. Maryland and Massachusetts both got less than $2 billion—less than the amount Ohio received for its Medicaid expansion, or than Florida gained entirely for premium tax credits this year, for that matter.

Now, it pains me to have to spell this out, but it’s worth remembering that the federal government offered every single state the same match rate for Medicaid expansion enrollees. All they had to do was sign people up. There was no inequity baked into the formula. So when Cassidy and Graham grouse about how much money California and New York get, they are essentially whining over the fact that Medicaid-expansion states get more Medicaid funding. The only way that might seem unfair is if you happen to live in a state where your stubborn Republican governor turned that money down.

WATCH: Amplifying the Personal and the Political in Pop Culture

by Lynn Rosado @ Ms. Magazine Blog

The thumbnail of Retro Reports’ mini-doc for The New York Times, “The Fight Over Women’s Bodies,” is a still shot of women dressed in red robes and bonnets a la the concubines in The Handmaid's Tale.

The post WATCH: Amplifying the Personal and the Political in Pop Culture appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

Heinz

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Food – Soups, sauces & seasonings, baby food Owner of the brand: The Kraft Heinz Company Key competitors: Hunt’s, Campbell’s, Hellmann’s, Knorr

Artykuł Heinz pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Antibiotic Scorecard: 1 Easy Way to Change the World for Your Child

Antibiotic Scorecard: 1 Easy Way to Change the World for Your Child

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Your choice of chain restaurants could help make a profound difference. Thanks to the help of some impressive organizations, we now have an antibiotic Scorecard to help us along the way. Antibiotic overuse is resulting in a crisis of antibiotic resistance and is changing the microbiome of our children – the vibrant microscopic world that […]

Oh hi there

by OhHighThere @ Bluelight

Hey. New as a registered bluelighter but have searched the forums for years. I'm just a girl who wishes there were not so many consequences to...

My Take on Arsenic and Brown Rice

My Take on Arsenic and Brown Rice

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

You may have seen headlines based on a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives about arsenic and organic brown rice syrup. Many of the headlines mention concern about the implications for some infant formula and food bars. Here’s my take: I serve on the board of Healthy Child Healthy World where we recognize the important […]

Witnesses: Many Rohingya still trying to flee Myanmar

Witnesses: Many Rohingya still trying to flee Myanmar

by @ CTVNews.ca - Top Stories - Public RSS

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Sunday that the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh is "the most urgent refugee emergency in the world" right now.

PayPal

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Financial services – payment solutions Owner of the brand: PayPal Holdings, Inc. Key competitors: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Stripe, Amazon Payments, Android Pay

Artykuł PayPal pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

The Music that Moves the City: San Francisco Opera Announces 2017-18 Season

by Rod Lemaire @ Mission Minded

Mission Minded is excited to share our design work in support of San Francisco Opera’s 2017-18 season. As Matthew Shilvock takes the helm as General Director, San Francisco Opera’s season campaign communicates the strong connection between the vitality of the arts and the vitality of San Francisco. “The City is in a great period of […]

The post The Music that Moves the City: San Francisco Opera Announces 2017-18 Season appeared first on Mission Minded.

In San Francisco for AFP? Don’t Miss These 5 Spots.

by Jennie Winton @ Mission Minded

With the AFP International Fundraising Conference around the corner, I’ve been thinking about fun things you can do near the conference while you’re here. Many of us at Mission Minded live or grew up in San Francisco, so we each have our own favorite spots to enjoy downtown. I’ll be presenting a workshop on perfecting your […]

The post In San Francisco for AFP? Don’t Miss These 5 Spots. appeared first on Mission Minded.

Dove: P.S. I Dove You

Dove: P.S. I Dove You


Maties Marketing244

How Dove one start? This year, Dove is celebrating 60 years of beauty. It all started when Dove swept the market in 1957 when it launched its beauty bar. This beauty bar removed Dove from the 

Republicans Are Taking One Last Shot at Repealing Obamacare, and It’s Their Most Extreme Bill Yet

Republicans Are Taking One Last Shot at Repealing Obamacare, and It’s Their Most Extreme Bill Yet

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

There is pretty much one thing you need to understand about the last-minute Obamacare repeal bill Republicans are currently attempting to pass before a drop-dead deadline at the end of September. Of the three major pieces of health care legislation the GOP has considered this year, this one appears to be the most extreme—the closest the party could come to ending the Affordable Care Act without actually replacing it.

The GOP’s past two repeal plans—the American Health Care Act, which passed the House, and the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which failed in the Senate—followed the same broad outline. When it came to the individual market, the bills looked like severely degraded versions of Obamacare, offering relatively meager tax credits designed to buy cheap private insurance while allowing states to opt out from at least some of the Affordable Care Act’s most popular consumer protections. Both also rolled back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion while capping spending on traditional Medicaid for the first time. (On that last front, the Senate bill was notably more draconian.)

Both bills would have made it harder for many older, sicker, and poorer Americans to buy health coverage, potentially leaving tens of millions uninsured while dealing a historic blow to the government’s single largest health care program by enrollment. Some ideas that wormed their way into these bills—like the Cruz amendment—likely would have thrown the insurance markets into outright disarray. Some of the regulatory waivers may have been ripe for abuse. But at the very least, you could say they left in place a default system of support to help lower-income Americans to buy health plans, however measly it may have been.

The new Republican plan, put forth by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, is different and in many ways more frightening. It repeals Obamacare but does not replace it in any meaningful sense. Instead, the bill would take the money that the government currently spends on the ACA’s premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion and dispenses it back to states in the form of block grants that they could use to fund their own health care experiments, whatever those might be. These grants would likely grow more slowly than the cost of insurance or medical care, thus cutting federal health spending by $239 billion over a decade. The law would also give states the right to waive most of Obamacare’s key regulations, including those that prevent insurers from charging more to people based on their health, so long as they explain their plan to “maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing coverage.” (It’s not clear if that plan has to be realistic.)

Some liberal states might try to preserve a system similar to Obamacare in a Graham-Cassidy world—like how Massachusetts had Romneycare before the country had Obamacare. But it would be hard, if not impossible, to replicate the real thing. That’s because the bill’s funding formula is designed not only to shrink federal spending on health care but to shift dollars from predominantly Democratic states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare to predominantly Republican states that did not. It’ll be a smaller pie overall, and places like New York and California that are inclined to expand health coverage will be getting a smaller slice.

As for states that are generally tight-fisted about safety-net spending? Who knows what they’ll do. Graham-Cassidy lists six different ways states can use their block grant money—but the spending categories are purposely broad, and it’s entirely conceivable that an Alabama or Mississippi would use its money to supplant some of their existing state spending or patch budget holes. This has been a chronic problem with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which turned cash welfare into a block grant program in the 1990s, and may be the closest parallel to what Republicans are now angling to do to Obamacare.

All told, Graham and Cassidy aren’t really offering a health care proposal. Instead, they’re offering states a meager slush fund.

Worse yet, it’s a slush fund with a self-destruct function. Graham-Cassidy does not appropriate any money for its block grants after 2026. The cash just disappears. Cassidy has tried to write off this bizarre detail of the law as a mere technicality, claiming, according to Politico, that “budget restrictions prevent him from funding the block grants beyond 2026” and reassuring reporters that “Congress would keep the money flowing in the same way it’s continually agreed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” That is not a convincing excuse. The budget reconciliation rules—which Republicans are relying on to pass repeal with just 50 votes—only bar legislation that raises the long-term deficit. Since Graham-Cassidy’s block grants would actually cut federal spending, it should be possible to make them permanent. The fact that the senators apparently don’t want to is fairly ominous.

Finally, all of this is paired with a cap-and-cut approach to traditional Medicaid that is just as draconian as what the most recent Senate bill proposed.

The current version of Graham-Cassidy has only been out for about a week, meaning experts haven’t had a ton of time to digest the bill’s language. The deeper you wade into it, though, the more worrying some of the details seem to be. Edwin Park at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out to me that Graham-Cassidy’s formula might actually penalize states for trying to help their residents buy more generous coverage. “It’s pretty crazy,” he told me. “You’re not only encouraging states to cover fewer people, but also to provide them worse coverage.” Unfortunately, Senate Republicans need to pass a bill before the Sept. 30 deadline, when their reconciliation vehicle expires. We should get a Congressional Budget Office score before then, but not with enough time to properly digest a piece of legislation that would remake much of the U.S. health care system.

But what we know about the bill already is frightening enough. And in many ways, it’s the perfect capstone to the entire Obamacare repeal process, in which Republicans have struggled to find any sort of coherent substitute for the health care law they want to dismantle. Republicans promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. By lining up behind Graham-Cassidy, they’ve essentially shrugged and said, “Let’s not and say we did.”

Twitter isn’t really buying Dove’s new ‘Real Beauty Bottles’ campaign

Twitter isn’t really buying Dove’s new ‘Real Beauty Bottles’ campaign


CW33 NewsFix

PRINCETON, NJ -- If companies ever wonder whether their next big marketing campaign will be a hit or miss, they should just consult social media.Dove is no different. The brand has just launched their new 'Real Beauty Bottles,' where they've matched your body type with a kind of body wash.In social media fashion, people have come clean about it-- turning it into a hilarious soap opera!

Turn Off the Price-Gouging Machine

Turn Off the Price-Gouging Machine

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Natural disasters present opportunities for companies to burnish their brands—or tarnish them. It’s relatively easy for a company to marshal resources after the disaster has happened by sending truckloads of supplies, distributing products, and stamping its name on relief efforts. It’s much harder to do the right thing as the disaster is approaching or actually happening—and that’s in part because so much of the human activity has been removed from business operations.

Operating at scale—managing millions of customers, running intricate and highly complex operations, keeping track of a huge amount of activity in real time—requires robust systems. The more computer algorithms can perform business activities and make decisions, the more efficient and profitable companies can be. Indeed, companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, which enjoy very high margins, rely to a large degree on algorithms to run their businesses.

Software can detect and follow supply and demand in real time and adjust prices accordingly. This is how companies that sell products with set expiration dates—like hotel rooms and airplane seats—manage to eke out profits in highly competitive environments. Retailers like gas stations also use software to scour the marketplace for price information and continually adjust prices.

But we’ve seen in the past how doing so can lead to problems when things go badly. Uber, the poster child for having too much artificial intelligence and too little emotional intelligence, was justly dinged for letting its system charge surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy.

Last week, several well-known, very large companies—not exactly paragons of customer service—intervened in their algorithms and altered policies to offer relief to stressed-out customers in ways that were counterintuitive to how the machines would act.

Ordinarily, when lots of people suddenly want to fly air routes at the same time, systems will adjust prices continually higher to capture the available dollars. Not this time. Several airlines last week, led by JetBlue, American, Delta, and United, capped fares for flights leaving Florida, waived some of the fees they charge for bringing baggage and pets along, and added flights and seats to the extent possible. All of which will have the effect of reducing revenues that the system could have captured.

Airbnb generates revenues partly as a percentage of how much guests pay to stay in the homes of hosts on its network. The prospects of millions of people fleeing Irma and seeking temporary shelter would therefore present an opportunity for Airbnb and its hosts to raise prices. But, in another counterintuitive move, Airbnb assembled a list of hosts willing to open their homes for free.

For wireless companies, which make money by charging users for data, a week in which people feel compelled to keep their phones on at all times and continually refresh weather maps or video coverage would be really good for business. The system, without any tweaking, would happily tally overages and charge accordingly. Ahead of Irma’s arrival, however, both AT&T Wireless and Verizon texted customers that they would either add more data to existing plans or simply not charge for text or data overuse for the next week.

Of course, these measures aren’t being done purely out of a sense of humanitarianism. Savvy companies have come to recognize that behaving like a jerk when customers are in extremis can add to your bottom line this quarter, but it invites investigations, and, in the age of social media, backlash. 7-Eleven swung into action quickly when it was reported that several store owners in Florida had jacked up prices of bottled water last week.

Now that so many operations are run by algorithms that have no appreciation for poor optics—or the morality of gouging consumers when they are desperate, or the damage that a greedy vision can do a company’s long-term viability—more and more executives are discovering they have to shut their systems off when the waters rise.

Lyft Drivers Are Upset They May Be Asked to Take Riders to Taco Bell

Lyft Drivers Are Upset They May Be Asked to Take Riders to Taco Bell

by Kate Taylor @ Slate Articles

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

When Taco Bell announced a service that allows Lyft users to push a button to have their driver take them to a Taco Bell drive-through, most taco lovers' reaction was to celebrate. However, many Lyft drivers—who found out about the new service at the same time as the rest of the world—had a different response.

Drivers immediately called out Lyft on Twitter, questioning why drivers would want to take the time of going through a Taco Bell drive-thru without additional compensation. Typically, Lyft drivers are paid by the mile—meaning that they aren't earning any cash when cars are stopped at the drive-thru under the current system. And, that's not even getting into the potential messes that a car full of Doritos Locos tacos could create.

"That Lyft might go ahead and do this—encourage riders to do something most drivers dislike doing—without offering drivers an incentive or otherwise communicating to us what the plan is is pretty bold," one Lyft driver told Business Insider.

"This is Uber type behavior, and I don't think even Uber does stuff like this anymore," he continued. "I wonder if it occurs to Taco Bell that drivers don't like going through the drive-through."

The same driver also emailed Business Insider a snarky, satiric corporate statement from "Lyft," reading: "A representative for the Los Angeles-based Southern California Rideshare Drivers Association said, 'Although drivers make very little money sitting in the drive through line, and many feel that Lyft and Taco Bell are encouraging riders to take advantage of the awkward situation this puts drivers in, the upside is this provides a great new revenue stream source for the drivers in the form of cleaning fees.'"

Lyft clarified on Twitter that drivers' participation in "Taco Mode," which is launching as a test in Orange County, California on Thursday, is completely optional. The company, which did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, also said it plans to "gather and evaluate feedback from both drivers and passengers and use this to inform Taco Mode moving forward."

Taco Bell will test Taco Mode in Orange County, California, from July 27 to 29 and August 3 to 5, with plans to expand the service across the US in 2018. In addition to providing passengers the ability to order drive-through Taco Bell, Taco Mode also includes a custom in-car menu, free Doritos Locos tacos, and what the company calls a "taco-themed car."

"We realized that for every person who has asked their Lyft driver to make a pit stop at Taco Bell—and we've seen many—there are likely those who weren't sure if this was possible," Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg said in a statement. "With the advent of this fantastic partnership with Lyft, we will erase any lingering uncertainty and celebrate the ability to 'ride-thru' in Taco Mode."

The Real Price of Those Cheaper Avocados

The Real Price of Those Cheaper Avocados

by Bryce Covert @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

When Whole Foods shoppers walked into a store Monday, they were met with a likely welcome change: Prices on some of the most popular items have dropped dramatically. They’ll spend 38 percent less on bananas and 43 percent less on organic Fuji apples. Even avocados, that Whole Foodsiest of fruits, got a 20-cent price cut.

We have Amazon’s purchase of the grocery chain to thank. And for federal antitrust regulators, this would seem to be a vindication of their decision to quickly and painlessly green-light the deal last week. For decades, concerns about anti-democratic control and monopolistic power led to crackdowns on consolidation, among both direct competitors and different but complementary businesses. But the focus has narrowed considerably since the 1970s, and now typically the only metric for whether a marriage between corporate behemoths could be harmful is the impact on consumer prices.

Certainly industry consolidation can, and has, led to companies using their increased power to jack up prices, hurting consumers’ wallets. But even when prices go down, as we saw Monday while we browsed for grass-fed ground beef (also on sale!), other ill effects can still follow that hurt Americans and the economy.

The suddenly lower prices at Whole Foods, then, are the perfect example of how shortsighted antitrust regulation has become. That one small victory could very well be dwarfed by the pain felt by food producers, grocery store competitors and, ultimately, the American workforce.

The Trump administration was clearly unconcerned about any of these potential ill effects. While antitrust reviews can take years, the Federal Trade Commission decided in a little over a month, without any in-depth investigation, that the deal won’t hurt competition. The deal is, of course, not one in which two large competitors decide to declare a truce and join forces against the others in their space, but rather Amazon moving aggressively into the grocery space where it was previously just a bit player. (And even so, Whole Foods gives Amazon just 1.2 percent of the grocery market.)

But that doesn’t mean the deal won’t impact competition in the larger economy. We’ve already seen the monopoly power that can be exerted through vertical integration: Luxottica controls not just most of the companies that produce eyeglasses, for example, but also the ones that sell them to you, like LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut. That means it can set prices as high as it wants and that it’s pretty tough for anyone else to get in on the game.

It’s hard to deny that Amazon hasn’t already distorted markets with its growing power. In 2013, it sold more than the next 12 online retailers combined, and some estimates have it capturing nearly half of all online shopping. More than half of all online shoppers start perusing at Amazon.com. (Disclosure: Slate is an Amazon affiliate and may receive a commission from purchases you make through our links.) “In addition to being a retailer, it is a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading provider of cloud server space and computing power,” Yale Law School student Lina Khan wrote in an influential look at Amazon’s anti-competitive tendencies. It got there mainly through deals like the ones with Whole Foods: buying up other companies. Now it’s a grocer, too.

Its incredible ability to hoover up consumer loyalty and market share is why markets reacted the way they did to the news of its acquisition of Whole Foods. Stocks for other grocery stores and businesses that have moved into the space dropped dramatically on the expectation that they would soon face intense pressure to drop prices in order to lure customers. So did stocks for food suppliers themselves on the assumption that they, too, would have to cut prices to appease Amazon and get on Whole Foods’ shelves. Stocks fell again after news broke that Amazon would indeed slash food prices on Monday.

Yet Amazon has thus far mostly avoided antitrust scrutiny for one crucial reason: It undercuts prices. Rather than use its position of influence to drive up profit through higher consumer costs, its business model has emphasized scale and market share over larger returns, and part of how it got there was by forcing prices as low as it could.

It is this very feature of Amazon’s business model, however, that makes it such a predatory actor for everyone else around it. It uses its influence in online shopping to pressure suppliers to dramatically drop their prices, wringing as much discount from their margins as it can. It pushes for practices in supplier warehouses that have become notorious for the ill treatment of workers—but that model helps it deliver cheap goods incredibly quickly, and few suppliers can refuse to participate.

These practices could spell danger for a variety of American workers. Amazon’s ownership could pose a risk to the smaller local farms that have thus far supplied food to Whole Foods if they can’t deliver at cutthroat rates. One place they and other food producers may look to cut: wages for workers. As David Dayen has pointed out, thanks in large part to decent wages and benefits Whole Foods employees aren’t unionized in an industry where most are. That, too, is put at risk by an owner that’s focused exclusively on low prices and quick service, both within Whole Foods’ walls and at other grocery store workplaces that now have to compete with it.

Between the 1930s and 1960s, in the heyday of anti-monopoly fervor, these problems would have been cause for quite a lot of concern. Taking an economic structuralist view of concentration, regulators and courts assumed that concentrated markets would by necessity foster anti-competitive outcomes, such as price fixing, collusion, blocking new entrants, and using their outsize power to squeeze suppliers, consumers, and workers. Prices, market share, and size weren’t the only considerations: Things like conflict of interest and the ability to ward off competition also counted against deals. The Supreme Court held in 1963 that a merger that would result in control of more than 30 percent of any market was unlawful.

But then Robert Bork published The Antitrust Paradox, a book that changed an entire regulatory regime. He argued that the sole purpose of antitrust policing should be to maximize consumer welfare—mostly, to ensure that prices don’t increase too much. The assumptions shifted, with regulators and courts taking for granted that markets are efficient and companies will seek to maximize profits. The only check needed was to ensure prices didn’t rise above competitive levels.

We still haven’t moved very far away from this framework, even as antitrust enforcement has come back into political vogue. Hillary Clinton made beefed-up antitrust enforcement a main plank of her economic agenda during the presidential election. The Democratic Party has now taken up the torch, putting a spotlight on how the government has allowed business to “tilt … the economic playing field in favor of the wealthy and powerful,” in the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Their “Better Deal” agenda promises to “crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power” by, in part, creating a new “Trust Buster” entity to more closely scrutinize proposed mergers.

Yet the Trust Buster would still be focused by and large on the impact on consumer prices. Democrats singled out the airline, beer, eyeglass, food, and telecom industries as particularly concentrated and worrisome, but mostly because costs have risen. This isn’t surprising: Voters are quick to feel outrage over prices that pinch their budgets.

The harm of increased concentration runs much deeper, however. When only a few large players exist in an industry, they have little reason to increase compensation—or even the number of jobs—given that workers in the space have few other places to go. If they don’t like the conditions, well then, too bad. Industries that have experienced the biggest increases in concentration, in fact, have also seen the largest declines in workers’ share of profits.

A rigid focus just on consumer prices misses this and all other negative outcomes of today’s increasing industry concentration, which also includes political dominance. Reverting back to a broader view of antitrust regulation and what counts as deal breakers for American consumers, workers, and voters might have, if not stopped the Amazon–Whole Foods deal, at least slowed it down and offered an opportunity for the government to demand concessions. Perhaps we don’t need to go back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting. But in an era of stagnant wages and rising income inequality, it’s worth asking what role monopolies play.

Consumers may rejoice that Whole Foods’ prices, like $6 for water with asparagus stalks in it, are coming down. It’s a happy side effect. But it can’t cover up the deeper disease of increasing monopoly power throughout the economy and the current antitrust regime’s utter inability to keep it in check.

I Was Wrong about the Environment

I Was Wrong about the Environment

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Time and again the magic begins the same way. Sperm and egg come together to create an absolutely unique cell. Then this cell divides to create two identical cells., These cells divide, and divide again, and divide again. At first all the cells are the same, but something changes. Soon the cells become different from […]

How Brand Powers Your Employee Retention & Acquisition Prowess

by Sarah Moore @ Mission Minded

We’re fortunate to be working in a time of low unemployment. The challenge of this encouraging news is that employee retention and acquisition is on the minds of many nonprofits. We want to find – and keep – great employees. Have you thought about the role brand plays in this challenge? Smart nonprofits do. Employee Acquisition […]

The post How Brand Powers Your Employee Retention & Acquisition Prowess appeared first on Mission Minded.

Dove Soap goes transgender

Dove Soap goes transgender


Fellowship of the Minds

Businesses and brands going homo or “gay” is so yesterday. The latest trendy thing is to go transgender, although biologically speaking, there is no such thing as transgenderism. (See “…

Internet Marketing Tips From Dane Cook's Tourgasm

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

I am a big fan of comedian Dane Cook and have been watching his Tourgasm show on HBO. On the show, he and 3 other comedians travel the road in a big bus and perform all over the country. On the last episode, Dane was giving advice to a younger comedian on the tour. He was talking about how he was really utilizing Myspace and other similar technologies to market himself. He said that he had embraced every new technology as a way to reach out to his fans. He showed the young comedian the 12,000 add a friend requests...

Snapchat

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Media & entertainment – social media Owner of the brand: Snap, Inc. Key competitors: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Artykuł Snapchat pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Which Natural Soap to Use in a Dorm Bathroom – Hard Bar or Liquid?

by Nina George @

Is your son or daughter going to University for the first-time? Are they going to be living in a dorm? Chances are they will have to use those group bathrooms where there is a line of toilets and showers. When my second daughter, Rahel Sky, went to SFU, her dorm bathroom was co-ed which was [...]

The post Which Natural Soap to Use in a Dorm Bathroom – Hard Bar or Liquid? appeared first on .

The Devilish Magic of Halo Top

The Devilish Magic of Halo Top

by Heather Schwedel @ Slate Articles

This has been the summer of Wonder Woman, of “Despacito,” of rosé and brosé and frosé, of Game of Thrones spoilers, and of near-weekly red weddings at the White House. But more than all of those things, it’s been the summer of Halo Top. The low-calorie ice cream–maker, which didn’t exist before 2012, has given the ice-cream industry a brain freeze, forcing its competitors to remake their strategies in the mold of its success.

Between 2015 and 2016, Halo Top’s sales soared by 2,500 percent, and in 2017 the brand gained a foothold in major chains like Walmart and launched its first national advertising campaign. Taste reported last month that after Walmart started carrying seven flavors of Halo Top in April, it quickly started outselling every other ice cream the megastore carried. Just within the past few weeks, Halo Top passed legacy brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs to take the title of America’s best-selling pint. And now Reuters reports that Halo Top is exploring a sale and that it’s already been valued at as much as $2 billion. On top of all that, more flavors are on the way.

That we are all now living in Halo Top’s world is reason to celebrate if you, like me, have picked up on the brand’s particular compulsion-scratching attraction and decided you love the stuff anyway. But Halo Top’s ascent also reflects some of the more fraught trends in diet-adjacent dining these days: It speaks the language of “healthy” food—but draws its power from the unhealthiest of eating habits.

Halo Top’s main selling point is that an entire pint of the stuff contains about as many calories (240 to 350) as other ice creams might contain in a single serving or serving and a half. But unlike other “healthy” ice creams that came before it, Halo Top doesn’t taste like expired yogurt. It tastes pretty good, in fact, at least once you get used to its mousselike texture, a constant reminder that what you’re eating isn’t exactly regular ice cream. It varies from flavor to flavor, sure, and not everyone likes it, but still: A whole pint of ice cream that’s only 240 calories—that’s living the dream.

How does Halo Top do it? The ice cream’s secret weapons are stevia and prebiotic fiber (which replace the sugar and fat of typical ice cream) and … air. Yup, air. Halo Top has more air whipped into it than other ice creams, meaning it weighs just 256 grams to the 428 grams of a Ben & Jerry’s pint, as Time has pointed out. Much of the brand’s success can be attributed to good timing: When founder and CEO Justin Woolverton began messing around with his personal ice-cream maker circa 2010–11, he told Taste, so-called natural sweeteners like stevia were relatively new, so there weren’t many manufacturers experimenting with them on a large scale. He got in early.

If you look at the nutrition label on each pint of Halo Top, the serving size is still the typical half-cup, but the brand plays up the “go ahead and eat a whole pint” idea. Each pint’s label lists its total calorie count in big, central type—bigger type than even is used for the flavor’s name or the Halo Top logo. Marketing and packaging materials encourage customers to eat the whole thing. Seals say things like, “Stop when you hit the bottom” and “No bowl, no regrets.”

The more times a person decides to eat a whole pint instead of stretching one out into several servings, the more pints Halo Top sells. The brand is well aware of this phenomenon: Early wholesale customers had trouble keeping the stuff in stock because “it became very apparent on our end that people were eating Halo Top five times a week, or 10 times a week, which is far more than any supermarket expects customers to eat ice cream,” the company’s president told Taste.

If you’re a calorie counter, you get this. If not, well, it’s hard to explain what a life-changer this product feels like for people who routinely log their meals in MyFitnessPal. It’s magic, a hall pass, a get-out-of-jail-free card. All any dieting person really wants—and I am extrapolating from personal experience here—is to eat a whole container of something. Preferably that thing will taste good or at least not bad, but what’s crucial, in the end, is getting to eat all of it. What Halo Top does so brilliantly is tap into Americans’ love of bingeing. And if the thinking behind Halo Top seems like the thinking of disordered eating, I don’t blame the company for that: The warped mindset of disordered eating seems to underlie pretty much all conversations about food and weight and dieting these days.

Halo Top would never use the word fat in its branding, but that’s what you see when you imagine someone eating a whole pint of ice cream, right? Fat, sad, alone, female. In addition to the stevia, the prebiotic fiber, and the air, a great deal of Halo Top’s success surely comes from the company’s branding, which decouples an ugly, unfair association from a self-indulgent habit. With its poppy, millennial-targeting packaging, Halo Top just doesn’t look like a diet ice cream. It’s managed to brand itself the “healthy” ice cream and recontextualize the pathetic act of eating a pint of ice cream in one go. As Taffy Brodesser-Akner argued recently in the New York Times Magazine, “dieting” has become tacky in the popular culture, so the makers of “diet” products have had to find a new script. Halo Top’s Instagram-friendly aesthetic announces it as something cool, not a diet-diet product and certainly not for fat people. (Though the word fat itself is also fraught, and whether it’s OK to say it or not is constantly in flux.) Because “losing weight” is now tacky, too, Halo Top’s promise of extra protein is perfect for getting “strong.” If you squint, its “natural” ingredients aren’t so far from “eating clean,” another favorite code phrase of modern health foods. When you dig into a Halo Top pint, you imagine you’re part of a legion of fitness models indulging in a guilty pleasure, not one of countless Americans who struggle with weight.

As Brodesser-Akner argued in her piece, our culture continues to talk around the reality that, wellness trend and body-acceptance movements be damned, actually losing weight and keeping it off can be nearly impossible. We receive the mixed messages that we shouldn’t want to lose weight and should accept our bodies as they are, but also that we would be healthier if we took up less space, which is why we should find a diet and stay on it forever. It all adds up to a lot of cross-talk, wasted energy, and precious little progress, in terms of both pounds lost and happiness gained.

In this light, eating “healthy” ice cream doesn’t make sense, but nothing about bingeing or America’s culture of dieting really does. Why don’t Halo Top’s fans just eat a little bit of real ice cream that tastes good and has a normal mouthfeel? Asking that is like asking why I don’t just start eating a plant-based diet or start exercising for 30 minutes a day, five times per week, like Michael Pollan and the American Heart Association have been telling me to do for years. If it were that easy, wouldn’t we be doing it already? Halo Top’s reputation as the “healthy” ice cream has inspired more than a few publications to ask questions like, “Is Halo Top Ice Cream Good for You?” or explain that, actually, “Low-Cal Ice Cream Like Halo Top Could Be Making You Fat.” Time went so far as to write, “Unlike fruits and vegetables that are naturally full of nutrients, Halo Top is a processed dairy product with sugar and sweeteners.” Shocker: This ice cream is not a thing that grows on organic farms. Of course Halo Top isn’t good for you. It may get called “healthy” ice cream, but at this point healthy has almost lost all meaning. Halo Top is healthier than traditional ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy, that there’s anything healthy about eating an entire pint of ice cream, or that ice cream in general is getting healthier. But it’s how a lot of people eat, and Halo Top has realized that and capitalized on it.

Other brands are joining the fray. In recent weeks, Breyers rolled out its Halo Top competitor, Breyers Delights, pints of ice cream that give the most prime real estate on their labels over to advertising their sub-350 calorie counts. More are sure to follow.

That’s fine—I’m eager for more companies to embrace stevia. Maybe Häagen-Dazs will iterate and fix Halo Top’s texture problem. Maybe the food industry will figure out how to remove three-fourths of the calories from every type of food. No matter what, we can cheer America’s ice cream aisles becoming healthier, if not exactly healthy.

But when they do, it will also be a troubling outgrowth of our twisted relationship with dieting. And that’s a problem even stevia can’t solve.

Don’t Blame Houston’s Lax Zoning for Harvey’s Destruction

Don’t Blame Houston’s Lax Zoning for Harvey’s Destruction

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

For years, Houston has been the darling of certain urbanists and economists who have celebrated its robust growth, low housing prices, and multiculturalism. What makes Houston such an affordable place to live? In a word, deregulation: Houston is known, famously and misleadingly, as the only sizable city in the country with no single zoning code telling property owners what can be built where.

“Houston’s builders have managed—better than in any other American city—to make the case to the public that restrictions on development will make the city less affordable to the less successful,” Edward Glaeser wrote of the oil-and-gas boomtown in 2008. “Houston’s success shows that a relatively deregulated free-market city, with a powerful urban growth machine, can do a much better job of taking care of middle-income Americans than the more ‘progressive’ big governments of the Northeast and the West Coast.”

So, naturally, as Houston was subsumed by the largest rainstorm in American history, that exceptionalism became a focal point. Of course the jumbled, sprawling city where anyone could build anything anywhere turned out to be ill-suited for weathering a clash with Mother Nature.

This assumption has been baked into even well-sourced coverage of how Harvey has affected Houston: The Washington Post begins its story by describing Houston as “the largest U.S. city to have no zoning laws, part of a hands-off approach to urban planning that may have contributed to catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey and left thousands of residents in harm’s way.”

That idea has loomed large enough during the storm that Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner felt compelled to respond. “Zoning wouldn’t have changed anything. We would have been a city with zoning that flooded,” he wrote on Wednesday. It’s an easy shorthand that conveys a sense of Houston as a free-for-all. As usual, the truth is more complicated.

The most important thing is this: No city is or should be designed to accommodate a one-in-a-million-year flood, which is what Harvey turned out to be. As Houston Chronicle writer Dylan Baddour put it last year, “Cars don’t have airbags to absorb a hit from a train.” If our probabilities about the likelihood of such storms are wrong because of climate change—and it sure seems they are—that’s a separate problem and one for which local planners shouldn’t be held accountable. After all, rural areas at the fringes of the Houston metro are also underwater.

That’s not to say flood-control planning in and around Houston has not been shortsighted. But zoning would not have saved Houston.

Houston is lightly regulated, and it’s true that it has no zoning code. But it has many laws that constitute zoning by another name: laws that say how much land is required to build a house; local covenants that determine building size and use; regulations that require new houses, offices, or restaurants to provide a certain amount of parking spaces; and rules that dictate how close new buildings may be to the street. A 21-story residential building in a central neighborhood was met with a seven-year legal battle that culminated in a judge awarding concerned neighbors $1.2 million from the developer.

Looks like zoning, smells like zoning. Houston very much resembles its Sun Belt peers. Its huge immigrant population and cultural offerings make it more fun than Dallas or Phoenix, but it doesn’t look all that different from above.

The land-use regulations that Houston does have actually encourage the greenfield-eating development that characterizes the city’s exurbs. That is what zoning looks like. The most anomalous land-use law in Houston might be the one enacted just before the millennium that shrank the minimum lot size to 1,400 square feet for areas inside the Interstate 610 loop. That change led to a spurt of townhouse development and urban density. Neighborhoods intent on combatting that densification have since enacted their own little requirements prohibiting subdivided lots. And so the city sprawls: The 100-square-mile area west of the Loop contains as many people as the Loop itself.

And by the way, there’s nothing about multifamily housing in dense neighborhoods that makes them particularly flood-proof. Row-house neighborhoods like the ones that fill Brooklyn or Philadelphia can be impossible to adapt to storm surges. Tall buildings where residents depend on elevators can become traps when the power fails.

But in the case of Houston, apartment living is the alternative to the sprawling subdivisions along the highways encircling the the city, homes whose front lawns were no substitute for the prairie they replaced. With exurban houses came huge roads, shopping centers, office parks, and parking lots. Legend has it there are 30 parking spaces per person in the Houston area. Harris County, which largely contains Houston, lost 15,855 acres of freshwater wetlands—30 percent of its total—between 1992 and 2010, according to a Texas A&M University analysis. That estimate is conservative; the real total could be as high as 45,000 acres, in just 18 years. By comparison, Central Park in Manhattan is 843 acres.

This sprawl has exacerbated the region’s flooding problems, as water that once puddled in the clay-heavy “black gumbo” soil now streams through pipes, gutters, and ditches of a region whose impervious surface increased by 25 percent in just 15 years. Of the 10 biggest pools that have risen in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs on the city’s western edge, nine have occurred since 1990 and six since 2000, according to ProPublica and the Texas Tribune. This is in part due to stronger storms and in part because the runoff from two acres of single-family homes could have been absorbed by one acre of prairie. Now that amount of runoff spills into the 2,500 miles of channels tasked with draining the region when it rains.

That’s not a zoning problem, and it’s not even a Houston problem. Most of the growth in the region has occurred outside the city limits, in places like Katy, Texas—which, by the way, is zoned, much of it for single-family homes. The properties that creep up on the backs of the reservoirs lie mostly in unincorporated Harris County. When people talk about the need for zoning in Harris County, what they really long for is an “urban growth boundary” of the type that walls in development in cities like London or Portland, Oregon.

The failures within this region have little to do with zoning. Developers are required to offset the wetlands they destroy with remedies like detention ponds to capture stormwater, but according to a Houston Chronicle investigation, a “sampling of permits issued to local developers by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found more than half were not in compliance.” Another failure happened in 2008, after the City of Houston had wisely banned new construction in floodways adjacent to bayous. The lawyers who challenged that rule argued it unfairly lowered property values, which it certainly did. The city reversed course. Since 2010, more than 7,000 Harris County homes have been built in the 100-year flood zone, where homeowners with Federal Housing Administration–backed mortgages must buy flood insurance. Meanwhile, flood insurance coverage is dropping while premiums rise to account for risk. In Harris County, the number of homes with flood insurance policies fell by 25,000 in the past five years, even as extreme flood events devastated the area.

Those problems reflect a lack of responsibility among county officials, but it’s nothing unique to Houston. Thanks to the federally subsidized flood insurance program, Americans continue to build their houses in flood zones without pricing out the consequences. Nationally, there are 9.6 million American households in the 100-year-flood plain, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. What makes Houston different is just that the 100-year floods are happening every year.

If lax planning exacerbated this crisis, proactive planning could calm it. A laser-measurement survey undertaken by the Harris County Flood Control District in the early aughts estimated that “county waterways provided greater than 50-year flood protection to about 41 percent of the county, and less than two-year protection to about 47 percent,” according to the Chronicle. As the city had grown and the load on the conduits increased, the land around them had also filled up with houses. Widening the bayous to 100-year-flood protection level would have required buying 30,000 acres of land, displacing countless homes, and digging up 8.7 billion cubic feet of earth. It would have cost $27 billion then, a third of the state’s annual budget. Surely it would cost more now.

That is obviously impractical. And Houston is not alone in facing that planning challenge, whatever its approach to growth. In Brooklyn, in Miami Beach, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, in New Orleans, coastal communities wait with the knowledge that the heat-oppressed atmosphere will produce another, bigger storm. Preparation is unfathomably expensive. Recovery more so.

Well, I'll be Cornhobbled

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

Want to know what cornhobble means? I'll tell you later, read on... I bet the word cornhobble got your attention right? Unusual and poetic words have the effect of stimulating the attention center of the brain. Your brain goes, "here's something that I haven't experienced before, it may be a threat, it may be a cookie, let's pay attention." In today's market , your advertising message must grab your customer's attention or you might as well take your advertising dollars and use them as toilet paper. At least you'd be getting some use from them. However you've got to remember...

“Run Them Down”

“Run Them Down”

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

When James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly revved his Dodge Challenger toward the downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday afternoon, killing one woman and injuring more than a dozen others, he was taking a page from the ISIS playbook: Use a car as a weapon.

“Though being an essential part of modern life,” the ISIS magazine Rumiyah wrote in November 2016, “very few actually comprehend the deadly and destructive capability of the motor vehicle and its capacity of reaping large numbers of casualties if used in a premeditated manner.”

That endorsement was the latest in a string of attempts by jihadis to promote car attacks, including a 2010 article published in the al-Qaida magazine Inspire that endorsed exactly the approach Fields is accused of having carried out. “If you can get through to ‘pedestrian only’ locations that exist in some downtown (city center) areas, that would be fabulous,” the magazine’s editor wrote. The ISIS call-to-arms came a few months after a terrorist driving a truck killed 84 people during a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France, and was followed by deadly ISIS-inspired car attacks in Berlin, Stockholm, and twice in London. The frequency of vehicular terror attacks has spiked over the past four years.

But Saturday’s attack also has a lineage closer to home: a long-running right-wing fantasy of running over protesters, especially members of Black Lives Matter who have blocked intersections and highways during rallies. It’s an idea, as the artist Gary Kavanagh observes, that has far broader currency than the white nationalism on display at the “Unite the Right” rally that brought Fields to Charlottesville. “Run them over” is a popular anti-BLM catchphrase, as this Tumblr by historian Liam Hogan demonstrates.

Even police officers have felt comfortable expressing the sentiment in public. In July 2016—after a week during which Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot and killed by police, and Micah Xavier Johnson killed five Dallas police officers in an apparent act of revenge—an Oregon police officer was fired after he posted a photo of a Black Lives Matter protest and wrote, “When encountering such mobs remember, there are 3 pedals on your floor. Push the right one all the way down.”

In January 2016, a police sergeant in St. Paul, Minnesota, was suspended after allegedly posting a comment on an article about a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march, instructing drivers: “Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street.”

This February, Troy Baker, president of the police union in Santa Fe, New Mexico, shared an image from the “Prepare to Take America Back” Facebook page, a right-wing meme factory with links to conspiracy theories. “All lives splatter: Nobody cares about your protest,” it reads over an image of a jeep plowing through a crowd.

The Santa Fe Police Department opened an investigation into that and other memes Baker had shared disparaging blacks and Muslims. “That is a joke and taken as such,” Baker told the Santa Fe Reporter, which uncovered the posts, about the protester meme. “We don’t need to be running over people intentionally, but people shouldn’t be blocking roadways either.”

But “jokes” like those have been accompanied by a string of drivers doing exactly that. On July 10, 2016—the same day a South Carolina fire captain threatened to run over BLM protesters who had shut down Interstate 126—an SUV driver in southern Illinois plowed through a group of BLM protesters after yelling “All lives matter, not blacks, all lives.” Two days earlier, a driver had accelerated into a crowd of protesters outside the police department in Ferguson, Missouri. In January 2015, a Minneapolis driver lurched into a Ferguson solidarity rally and ran over a 16-year-old girl.

This is not just a handful of sociopaths living out a 4chan meme. Across the country, Republicans legislators have attempted to codify the idea that protesters surrender their rights when they stand in the road. The philosophy behind these bills was elucidated by Keith Kempenich, a trucking company CEO and North Dakota state legislator whose mother-in-law was stopped by a Dakota Access Pipeline protest. “There’s a line between protesting and terrorism, and what we’re dealing with was terrorism out there,” he told the Washington Post. “[Drivers] who were legally doing their business or just going home and all of a sudden they’re in a situation they don’t want to be in.” Prominent right-wing figures like Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke have also referred to BLM as a “terror” organization.

Kempenich’s state House bill to give immunity to drivers who unintentionally hit pedestrians in the road failed, 41–50. The North Carolina House approved a similar bill in April, after protesters blocked streets in Charlotte after Keith Lamont Scott was killed by a Charlotte police officer, that would give even more leeway to drivers. Lawmakers in Texas and Florida have proposed the same. Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron, who sponsored a similar measure in his state after a man drove through a group of anti-Trump protesters, said “[p]rotesters have no right to be in the middle of the road or our highways for their own safety and the safety of the traveling public.”

The Tennessee bill, like the rest of them, has failed. But it’s a reminder that in standoffs between protesters and drivers, many, many Americans want to shore up the rights of drivers, even if that means absolving them for whatever carnage they cause with their cars. In American cities, where drivers are almost never prosecuted for hitting pedestrians or cyclists, there’s a saying: If you want to kill someone and not get punished, use a car.

The Fields attack, then, may borrow its tactics from ISIS attacks in European cities. But as an idea, it is also indebted to all the drivers who have plowed through BLM protesters in the past three years, to the jokes and memes that legitimized that response (especially from police officers), and to the legislators who attempted to make anything but a dead stop look like a defensible course of conduct. What makes this time different? Only that somebody died.

And maybe not even that. After news broke that a woman had been killed at the counterprotest, a Massachusetts patrolman commented on Facebook: “Hahahaha love this, maybe people shouldn’t block road ways.”

Should Infant Formula Be Sweetened: Mother (Nature) Knows Best

Should Infant Formula Be Sweetened: Mother (Nature) Knows Best

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Breast milk is a marvelous, complex whole food, perfect for growing babies. The composition of breast milk varies from month to month, from day to day, and even within a single feeding. But whenever it’s sampled, breast milk is also pretty sweet. On average, there are about 10g of lactose (milk sugar) in every 100 […]

Donald Trump’s Plot to Blow Up Obamacare Would Backfire Spectacularly, Says the CBO

Donald Trump’s Plot to Blow Up Obamacare Would Backfire Spectacularly, Says the CBO

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

If Donald Trump tries to go nuclear on Obamacare, the effort might just fizzle.

For what feels like eons now, the president has been publicly hinting that he might cut off important subsidies to insurers that keep the Affordable Care Act's exchanges up and running as intended. These funds, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, are worth billions to carriers, and it's been widely assumed that halting them would have a disastrous impact on the market, forcing insurers to either bail or drastically hike premiums (which is why health wonks dubbed it the “nuclear option”). Trump has tended to lash out and threaten the subsidies whenever he's felt frustrated with his inability to repeal Obamacare. Last month, after the Republican health push sputtered to an inglorious late-night end in the Senate, he tweeted that “BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies” would “end very soon” if Congress couldn't pass a bill.

After today, however, it might be time to stop worrying and learn to love Trump's bomb threats. According to the new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, ending the cost-sharing subsidies would likely backfire badly for the administration, costing the federal government $194 billion over a decade without fatally undermining Obamacare's exchanges. In fact, the move could even allow some Americans to obtain insurance coverage for free while modestly reducing the number of uninsured by 1 million.

Let me repeat that. Trump's plot to critically sabotage the Affordable Care Act could actually lower the uninsured rate while blowing nearly $200 billion.

Now, before we get into the findings, here's a brief refresher on how the cost-sharing subsidies work, and why they're vulnerable. Under Obamacare, insurance companies are required to reduce out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles for low-income customers who buy silver plans through the law's online exchanges. (ACA plans come in three color tiers: gold, silver, and bronze.) In return, the government pays carriers money directly to cover the expense. However, last year a federal judge ruled that the payments were illegal, because Congress had never properly appropriated funding for them. The Trump administration is now debating whether to appeal that ruling.

Insurance companies are required to offer the reduced-cost silver plans whether or not the government compensates them, so if the subsidy money suddenly vanishes, they'll be on the hook for the difference. Of course, carriers could and would raise their premiums to make up the losses. But many analysts fear health plans would simply choose to exit the market, rather than deal with the additional chaos brought on by Trump's move.

The CBO thinks that, indeed, some insurers would decide to flee in that scenario. But it believes the damage to the market would be limited and temporary. In 2018, about 5 percent of Americans wouldn't have any insurers to buy individual coverage from. But within a couple years, carriers would figure out how to operate in the strange, new, subsidy-free landscape, and “people in almost all areas would be able to buy nongroup insurance.”

Killing the subsidies would also cause insurance premiums to rise. According to the CBO, the cost of a  silver plan purchased through the exchange would likely jump 20 percent in 2018 compared with current law (the Kaiser Family Foundation came to the same conclusion back in April). The happy catch is that almost nobody, except for the government, would actualy have to pay much of the extra cost. Americans who earn less than 400 percent of the poverty line would still receive tax credits that cap their premium payments as a percentage of their income. So, a single person making $18,900 a year would end up paying $500 total for a silver plan, up from $450.

Meanwhile, the federal deficit would swell by $194 billion over a decade, since the government would be stuck subsidizing more expensive insurance.

What about the people who don't get subsidies? Many analysts and health care writers, myself included, have assumed that those upper-middle-class families would be the real victims in Trump's plot. However, the CBO thinks they might come out financially unscathed as well, because insurers are unlikely to raise prices on the health plans they sell to consumers outside of Obamacare's online marketplaces, which aren't affected by the cost sharing subsidies. Millions of Americans already buy their coverage either directly from an insurer or through a broker. If the prices on the exchanges shoot up as predicted, more of the unsubsidized population will likely foresake healthcare.gov and just call their carrier instead.

Now, here's where things get extra weird. If Trump kills the subsidies, it's possible that same insurance shoppers could actually end up with cheaper, or even free, coverage. The theory goes like this: With the subsidy payments gone, insurers won't hike premiums on all of their insurance offerings. Instead, they'll pile the cost onto the silver plans, in order to cover the cost of offering discounts on them to their low-income customers. Because Obamacare's tax credits are all pegged to the cost of silver coverage, their value will shoot up. In some cases, subsidies will more than cover the cost of a bronze plan. (The CBO isn't alone on this prediction, by the way; the consultants at Oliver Wyman made the same prediction in May.) And even people who aren't lucky enough to get insurance for nothing may be able to buy a gold plan for less than before. With subsidies shooting up, the CBO finally concludes that about a million more Americans will end up insured than if Trump hadn't tried to bring the market crashing down.

If the CBO is right, what it means is that Trump really does not have a nuclear option on Obamacare. He can try to gradually undermine it by choosing not to enforce the individual mandate, or scaling back the government's efforts to sign people up during open enrollment. But there isn't a button he can simply press to send the whole law into oblivion. This should come as a relief to Republicans and Democrats alike who feared Trump might attempt to sabotage the American health care system for political gain. Instead, they just have to worry he'll light $200 billion on fire out of spite.

Visa

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Financial services – payment solutions Owner of the brand: Visa Inc. Key competitors: American Express, Mastercard, Discover, PayPal

Artykuł Visa pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Puerto Rico’s Best Hope for Keeping the Lights On

Puerto Rico’s Best Hope for Keeping the Lights On

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

When Hurricane Irma swept through South Florida on Sept. 10, about 4.5 million homes lost power in an extended blackout. In the days afterward, eight people died of heat-related causes at a nursing home without power in Hollywood, Florida. Floridians directed their outrage at Florida Power and Light, one of the state’s private regulated utilities, which was accused of shorting resilience spending as profits rose year after year.

Ten days later, the blow that Hurricane Maria has delivered to Puerto Rico made Irma’s impact on Florida look like a spring shower. Meanwhile, the service, management, and upkeep of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, makes Florida Power and Light look like Amazon.

A 2016 report on PREPA commissioned by the Puerto Rican government is scathing. In the latter months of that year, for example, Puerto Ricans experienced four to five times the number of service outages as U.S. customers on average, though they pay the second-highest rates in the U.S. after Hawaii. Instead of investing in preventive maintenance, PREPA operates in a permanent state of triage. Its budget is “opaque and discretionary.” Record keeping is “subpar.” A third of the capital budget is spend on discretionary administrative expenses, hinting at a slush fund. Thirty percent of PREPA’s employees have retired or migrated to the mainland since 2012, the Washington Post reports—especially its skilled workers. Money is short, the report concludes, but so is human and intellectual capital.

The agency has $9 billion in debt and said it needs $4 billion to upgrade its infrastructure, including plants whose reliance on oil is passed onto Puerto Ricans in the form of high rates and dirty air. It filed for bankruptcy in July.

And that was before a Category 5 hurricane pounded the island this week.

Maria has left apocalyptic scenes on Puerto Rico, where 150 mph winds stripped whole hillsides bare of leaves and toppled concrete power-line poles. Precipitation rivaled global records, and river flows obliterated previous highs. Parts of the island received the sum of Hurricane Harvey’s three-day Houston rainfall in less than 24 hours—a year’s worth of Seattle precipitation in just a day, as the meteorologist Eric Holthaus noted.

PREPA director Ricardo Ramos said the power grid has been “destroyed.” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told Anderson Cooper it would take months to restore electricity to the island’s 3.5 million residents. It’s a task made more complicated by the fact that PREPA has become a political football, a problem symptomatic both of Puerto Rico’s economic crisis and the controversial Washington-run political system in place to manage the island, including its maligned power corporation.

The island has spent more than a decade in recession. Unemployment is more than 10 percent, and the population declined by more than 10 percent between 2004 and 2016. In 2015 alone, the net outward migration was more than 64,000, according to Pew. Six in 10 children live in poverty.

In May, Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy under the provisions set forth in PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act), a law signed by President Obama in the summer of 2016. The act established a financial control board for the island, similar to the emergency managers that have governed Detroit and other American cities in the wake of bankruptcies.

So far, that board has made some unpopular decisions, cutting spending on public health by 30 percent, closing schools, and lowering the minimum wage for young people to a little over $4 an hour. In the near term, austerity will worsen conditions on the island, where analysts expect the recession to continue until 2020. Many Puerto Ricans see the board as a tool of colonial oversight; at the time PROMESA passed, Bernie Sanders said it was a “junta” that would rule the island like “a colonial master.”

But this summer, the financial control board did something surprisingly wise, much to the disappointment of the congressional Republicans who created it: It voted 4–3 to reject a restructuring agreement for the power authority’s $9 billion in debt, infuriating the hedge funds that had negotiated a repayment deal to recoup 85 percent of what they were owed.

Luis Santini Gaudier, a consumer representative on the PREPA board, had criticized the deal as “lucrative business” for creditors who had bought PREPA debt on the cheap. The deal was a rip-off, wrote Tom Sanzillo, the director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, in the Hill: “Puerto Rico’s economic growth for an entire generation will go largely to off-island financiers rather than into the Puerto Rican economy.” (And that was before accounting for the rest of Puerto Rico’s $60 billion in debt.)

The board’s idea is to privatize PREPA. “Lowering the price of electricity and spurring economic growth depended on reforming Prepa’s operations, not merely restructuring its credit,” the four members who had rejected the debt deal wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Privatization would allow PREPA to “modernize its power supply, depoliticize its management, reform pensions, and renegotiate labor and other contracts to operate more efficiently.” Most importantly, they wrote, no new investment will come into PREPA’s plants, transformers, and lines if Puerto Rico ratepayers are spending the next three decades paying off debt to vulture funds in New York.

This plan has made unlikely allies of New York bankers and Puerto Rican labor unions. Union officials are convinced PREPA chiefs are deliberately letting the system fall apart to strengthen the case for privatization, which the island’s governor declared was inevitable before the hurricanes hit. Unions believe their contracts and pensions are safer with elected politicians than with independent business leaders.

The banks, which sued the fiscal control board and lost, should be worried that PREPA’s assets could be sold off for a song in order to get a private operator invested in the island’s power system. They’ll wind up getting paid less, and later, than will newer investors eager to rebuild the island’s infrastructure. Their goal—getting paid for years to come by Puerto Ricans on their electricity bills—is at odds with the fiscal control board’s goal of making the island’s electricity cheaper.

PREPA has played up the extent to which recent funding shortfalls (during the control board era and before) have precipitated the crisis. Ramos, PREPA’s executive director, noted before Irma that the utility’s plants were vulnerable because no money had been spent on maintenance. Miguel A. Soto-Class, the president of the Center for a New Economy, a Puerto Rican research group, told the New York Times that a lack of tree pruning (again, to save money) had left the country’s 2,478 miles of transmission lines and 31,485 miles of distribution lines vulnerable to a storm. “PREPA’s current weak financial condition will affect the utility’s ability to quickly repair and restore service after this natural disaster,” Moody’s wrote in early September, before Irma.

Now a disaster has struck that is worse than what anyone had imagined; damage will likely cost hundreds of millions to repair, even as the future of PREPA—including such basic questions as its ownership—remains tangled up in politics. “This is a moment of crisis that we need to benefit from and transform into an opportunity of change, production and investment,” Jenniffer González, the island’s nonvoting representative in Congress, told the New York Times after Irma.

This wouldn’t be the first disaster to ease the way toward privatization. Selling off public assets has never been popular in Puerto Rico, but less popular still, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, will be a dysfunctional PREPA that can’t turn the lights on.

Too much sodium is bad. Hidden sources of sodium are worse!

Too much sodium is bad. Hidden sources of sodium are worse!

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Sometimes in the hubbub of today, we miss simple things that can have a lasting impact. This is true for parents and for doctors. As part of my ongoing board certification as a pediatrician, I was thrilled recently to see an important nutrition question: “A 5-year-old boy is brought to the physician for a health care […]

Houston Wasn’t Built for a Storm Like This

Houston Wasn’t Built for a Storm Like This

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Houston is in the midst of what appears to be the worst flooding to strike a major U.S. city since the levees broke in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it was never the water from the ocean that Houston had to fear but the water from the sky. And the rain just keeps on coming, even as flooding has rendered major freeways impassable. Buffalo Bayou, the meandering river that passes through the center of the city, is expected to crest 14 feet above its previous record. Overhead video shows vast areas of the city’s single-family home neighborhoods swamped by brown water. Downtown is an island. More rain is projected through Tuesday.

America’s fourth-largest city is still full of people: Citizen flotillas of kayaks and outboards are rescuing Houstonians from cars, trucks, rooftops, and second-floor windows, complementing a severely overwhelmed official relief effort. On Sunday afternoon, emergency service lines were so inundated that callers could only get busy signals, the Houston Chronicle’s Lydia DePillis reported. At one point the wait for 911 was two-and-a-half hours, a Houstonian told Laura Nelson of the Los Angeles Times. Texans are using Twitter to ask people to save their lives. And many of us are wondering who is to blame.

The immediate question is why local officials did not encourage people to evacuate. On Friday, as the Hurricane neared landfall, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a somewhat half-hearted warning to residents along the coast: “Even if an evacuation order hasn’t been issued by your local official, if you’re in an area between Corpus Christi and Houston, you need to strongly consider evacuating.”

But that suggestion was contradicted by local officials in Houston and its many suburban cities, who said, basically: This isn’t the Jersey Shore or the Outer Banks or even New Orleans. “You can’t put—in the city of Houston—2.4 million people on the road,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference on Sunday, defending the decision. Together with surrounding Harris County, 6.5 million people would have had to leave—including tens of thousands of people without transportation and more than 550,000 undocumented immigrants who fear the federal and state governments. Many Houstonians remember 2005, when an attempted evacuation for Hurricane Rita created the worst traffic jam in the city’s history and killed as many people as the hurricane itself—through heat stroke, and a bus that caught fire. The freeways where motorists sat stranded during Rita are underwater now. During last year’s floods, most deaths also occurred in cars.

One underlying cause of Houston’s suffering is that developers and town officials in Harris County, which contains Houston, have for years advocated the development of the wetlands and prairies around the city—land that had long served to absorb the rainwater that now overwhelms the region’s sewers and streams every year. The flood-absorbent grasslands of the Katy Prairie have been cut by three-quarters over the past few decades as Houston sprawled west. The state played along, funding expansion of I-10, “the Katy Freeway,” and another road, the Grand Parkway, which further opened that land up for development. To make matters worse, money-hungry officials also encouraged development in low-lying, flood-prone areas without regard to future risk. There have been more than 7,000 units built in the hundred-year floodplain since 2010, according to a ProPublica/Texas Tribune analysis. Efforts to reform the city's building codes have been met with strong resistance in an area where homebuilding has been a major economic engine.

Last year, the longtime head of the Harris County flood control district, Mike Talbott, told ProPublica that his agency had no plans to study the impact of climate change on the region’s flooding problems. Here’s a quote from that article, which is well worth reading in full:

Of the astonishing frequency of huge floods the city has been getting, he said, “I don't think it's the new normal.” He also criticized scientists and conservationists for being “anti-development.”
“They have an agenda ... their agenda to protect the environment overrides common sense,” he said.

Still, the debates over evacuation and development are spurious confronted with a storm this size, and the trend it represents: a strength and frequency of weather events that challenge all previous notions of risk assessment. This is the third straight year that Houston has endured a devastating, once-in-a-lifetime flood. There were the Memorial Day floods in 2015 and the Tax Day floods in 2016. Together the storms killed 16 people and caused more than $1 billion in damage. More than a third of the properties that flooded in Houston’s 2015 Memorial Day floods were located outside the “hundred-year floodplain,” the zone in which FEMA requires homeowners with government-backed mortgages to elevate homes or buy flood insurance. Now with Harvey, Houston has been hit with six “hundred-year storms” since 1989.

Early Sunday, the National Weather Service essentially threw up its hands:

Even the president seemed to have a sense that something extraordinary was afoot. “We have an all out effort going, and going well!” the president tweeted from Camp David on Sunday morning. “Even experts say they’ve never seen one like this,” he added later.

Here’s how the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang described it:

The total rainfall from the storm is likely to tally up to a widespread 15 to 30 inches, with a few localized spots picking up 50 inches or more. Many textbooks have the 60-inch mark as a once-in-a-million-year recurrence interval, meaning that if any spots had that amount of rainfall, they would essentially be dealing with a once-in-a-million-year event.

Cities are built around levels of expected risk, ascertained by residents and businesses and enforced by finance and insurance and government. Will a bank loan you the money to build that house, or to buy it? Will an insurer back those loans? Will a city official permit it? It now seems clear that in the case of Houston, those estimates—forged on years of historical data—have been decimated by the planet’s changing atmosphere.

It does not make sense to say climate change “caused” a hurricane. But, as the climate scientist Michael Mann wrote, "it exacerbates several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life.” And at the Atlantic, Rob Meyer has a thoughtful evaluation of the ways in which climate change has enabled larger, more dangerous, faster-growing storms. The oil capital of the world drowned by an atmosphere teeming with greenhouse gases.

The science isn’t certain, of course. But the extremity of the storm is. No land-use regime can proof a city for 50 inches of rain. Perhaps it is possible to move 6.5 million people out in 48 hours, but we have yet to accomplish it. The problem Houston has is more severe. Until the modern era, it was routine for disasters—mostly fire, flood, and pestilence—to serve as checks on the growth of urban centers. We have almost forgotten that used to happen, but it’s not unheard of: The population of New Orleans fell by half after Katrina, and remains about 15 percent smaller than it was in 2005. (About 100,000 of those people settled in Houston.) After three straight years of catastrophic floods, America’s fastest-growing city may be reaching a turning point.

Trump Said Obamacare Would Collapse on Its Own. It Looks Like He Was Wrong.

Trump Said Obamacare Would Collapse on Its Own. It Looks Like He Was Wrong.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Republicans have spent the better part of a year claiming that Obamacare was finally unraveling just the way they always predicted it would. For proof, they often pointed to parts of the country where carriers had decided to pull out of the local market, and it looked as if there might not be any insurers offering coverage through the law's exchanges in 2018. As counties in states such as Tennessee, Nevada, and Missouri faced the possibility of becoming insurance deserts, conservatives claimed vindication, and cited the problems as evidence that the Affordable Care Act needed to be replaced immediately. Donald Trump, for his part, proclaimed Obamacare “essentially dead” and ready to “explode.”

Unfortunately for the GOP, reality has refused to cooperate with their talking points. With just about a month to go before insurers have to make the final decisions on whether to participate in next year's market, Politico notes that there is just one market left in the country without an insurer lined up. The last bare patch left is Ohio's Paulding County, where only 334 residents were enrolled through the exchange next year.

While Paulding's plight is no doubt a sign of Obamacare's flaws—the system lacks an insurer of last resort to deal with market failures—the fact remains that almost every single American will have at least one insurer to choose from next year. The law has not collapsed.

Relatively few individuals were ever in real danger of going without insurance options next year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, just 82 counties with about 92,000 Obamacare enrollees faced a serious risk of being left without a carrier (that list did not include Iowa, where, despite a great deal of anxiety and speculation that it might, the state's last major insurer never pulled out of the exchanges). We're talking about less than 1 percent of a 10.3 million-person nationwide pool of customers.

The insurers that swooped in to the handful of markets that were at risk of being abandoned generally fell into two categories. In one bucket, there were nonprofit carriers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee and CareSource in Ohio, which tend to view covering the individual market as part of their organizational mission and are willing to take a risk on sparsely populated rural counties that may turn out to be unprofitable. In the other, you largely had Centene, a for-profit insurer that picked up the slack in Missouri and Nevada while also expanding in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, and Washington, even as major carriers like Aetna and Anthem chose to bail on the exchanges.

Thanks to its background as a Medicaid coverage provider, Centene has generally been confident in its ability to make a profit while serving Obamacare's lower-income, cost-conscious consumer base. Between it, other lower-cost insurance providers, and the nonprofit carriers, it seems that the exchanges may have a stable base of insurers at this point who can guarantee coverage availability for the vast majority of the country.

The obvious downside here is that many counties are now stuck being served by an insurance monopoly. And some of the carriers that decided to stick around in markets that otherwise would have been left empty are requesting major price hikes in return. Iowa's last insurer, Medica, has asked state regulators for a 57 percent premium increase, for instance. Just because the exchanges will be functioning next year does not mean they are necessarily working as intended everywhere, or that prices are staying in check.

There is also plenty the Trump administration can still do to undermine the exchanges, either over the next month or further down the line. If the president wanted to rattle the insurance markets before insurers ink their final contracts in September, Trump could cut off the cost-sharing payments that compensate carriers for offering low-income customers discount coverage. While the Congressional Budget Office thinks the markets would likely absorb the blow and continue to function, such a move could certainly convince some insurers to step away from the exchanges for at least the short term. Meanwhile, the administration already seems to be undertaking a more subtle campaign of sabotage by dialing back Obamacare outreach efforts, which could lower enrollment—particularly if it also chooses to relax enforcement of the the individual mandate.

Still, even with a hostile White House throwing an enormous amount of uncertainty into the mix, Obamacare is managing to function in all but one small corner of the country. The law is a lot more resilient than Republicans claimed, or hoped.

Trump’s Best Plan to Save the Rust Belt Is Telling Upstate New Yorkers to Move

Trump’s Best Plan to Save the Rust Belt Is Telling Upstate New Yorkers to Move

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Donald Trump won the presidency in part on the promise of reviving the Rust Belt, ending job loss and population stagnation, and bringing back the halcyon days of meaningful factory work.

But if that doesn’t work, the president conceded in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, you should probably just move:

I’m going to start explaining to people: When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt, and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t get people, I’m going to explain, you can leave.

With that, Trump appeared to acknowledge—to the chagrin of whoever penned his inevitably ignored talking points—what most economists believe about migration and job growth, but that his campaign was premised on denying: It’s easier to move people to jobs than to move jobs to people. For politicians in Upstate New York, including some Republicans who have supported the president, it was a disheartening comment to read. Even the president who promised to resurrect American manufacturing had given up on them, not to mention his own quest to implement or advance any kind of national policy to back his “Made in America” campaign.

The occasion was an otherwise celebratory announcement that Foxconn, the Taiwan-based manufacturer that builds iPhones and other electronics, would be (maybe) building a massive plant in Southeastern Wisconsin, between Milwaukee and Chicago. Wisconsin beat out New York with an offer of subsidies that ranks among the largest in U.S. history—$3 billion for 13,000 jobs on the high end ($231,000 per job) or something closer to $2 billion for 3,000 jobs on the low end ($666,000 per job).

Wisconsin claims it’s the largest “corporate attraction project” in U.S. history, measured by jobs. Gov. Scott Walker said the development would be called “Wisconn Valley”—the Silicon Valley of Wisconsin. (And an extra “n” for the “conn” in Foxconn.)

Trump may have felt free to lob an insult at the one depressed Rust Belt area that had responded enthusiastically to his campaign trail talk but doesn’t sit in a politically competitive state like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, or Wisconsin. In 2016, he visited Syracuse and other hard-hit upstate cities, promising the return of factory work. He called the area a “ghost town,” but claimed he could win the state on the backs of its voters, for whom, he told CNN, "I'm like the most popular person that has ever lived, virtually.”

Slightly less popular now. Anthony Picente, a Republican and Oneida County executive who had tried to lure Foxconn to an industrial park near Utica, said he was “disappointed in Trump.”

Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican congresswoman and early Trump supporter who stood by the president during his recent “Made in America” showcase at the White House, said she hoped the president’s comments had been taken out of context.

"It’s OK,” the president told Tenney’s constituents, in urging them to decamp for the Milwaukee suburbs. "Don’t worry about your house.”

It’s true that Upstate New York has been battered by deindustrialization, and has tried to swim against the tide. Since 2000, New York State leads the nation in the value of “megadeal” corporate subsidies, defined by Good Jobs First, a tax break watchdog, as projects involving more than $50 million in subsidies. New York made 24 such deals, worth $11.8 billion. Only a quarter of those were in the New York City area, which accounts for more than two thirds the state’s GDP and nearly two thirds of its population. The rest were upstate, including the six biggest deals.

It hasn’t been enough to spur a general recovery, as Jim Heaney and Charlotte Keith showed in an Investigative Post investigation in March. During Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tenure, upstate job growth is at 2.7 percent, compared to 16 percent in New York City, 7.4 percent in its suburbs, and 11 percent nationally, despite the governor’s efforts to redirect downstate productivity north.

So in a funny way, Wisconsin is actually taking a page from New York here in giving Foxconn a pass on future state income tax, capital investment tax, and sales tax exemptions on construction materials. The largest state subsidy ever awarded in Wisconsin had been about $65 million, to Mercury Marine in 2009, not all of which has been claimed.

At any rate, Trump is wrong that New Yorkers should move to Wisconsin to get a job, which isn’t exactly thriving either. (They’d be better off moving to New York City.) But the real lesson in the Foxconn deal is that Trump has conceded that his “Made in America” policy, such as it exists, consists of the usual political horse-trading and subsidies that prop up isolated, negotiated investments in American manufacturing.

If the president had made a concerted policy push to revive Rust Belt factories, or was planning on it, Upstate New York and Wisconsin might both stand to benefit. Instead, they’re where U.S. states have been for decades: In competition to dismantle tax and regulatory systems to appease flighty corporate bosses.

Outside of Elite Colleges, Affirmative Action Is Already Disappearing

Outside of Elite Colleges, Affirmative Action Is Already Disappearing

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

The Trump administration may or may not be preparing a legal assault against college affirmative action policies. But in case lawsuits do start flying, here's a piece of context that's worth keeping in mind: Outside the very top tiers of higher education, race-based admissions have largely disappeared already.

That was the finding from a recent working paper by sociologists Daniel Hirschman of Brown and Ellen Berry of the University of Toronto, which quantified the decline of affirmative action on America's campuses over the last two decades. In 1994, they found, about 60 percent of selective colleges—schools that reject at least 15 percent of their applicants—publicly stated that they considered race in their admissions process. By 2014, that number was down to the 35 percent.

The vast majority of that drop occurred at lower-ranking schools. Among the 63 institutions deemed “most competitive” by Barron's Profiles of American Colleges, 93 percent considered race in 1994. Two decades later, that mark had barely slipped, inching down to 88 percent. By comparison, at the 587 colleges Barron's considered merely “competitive,” the number using affirmative action dropped from 46 percent to 18 percent.

In other words, affirmative action went from a being common policy across all sorts of campuses to more of a niche practice particular to brand-name, wealthy colleges.

Here's another way to put those numbers in perspective. There are around 4,700 two- and four-year colleges in America, but only 1,000 or so schools reject a meaningful number of applicants each year. Of those, just 352 claimed to consider race in admissions by 2014 according to Hirschman and Berry—and 124 of them fell into Barrons' two most prestigious categories. There were only 158 schools in those categories, so most prestigious schools considered race in admissions.

But in total, those two tiers of colleges are responsible for educating just 6 percent of America's undergrads.

This isn't to minimize how important the debate over affirmative action is. Quite the contrary. Top colleges are gate-keepers for elite institutions, stepping stones into politics, finance, Silicon Valley, T14 law schools, the media, and beyond. Harvard and Stanford's admissions policies play a not-insignificant role in determining who gets to run the country one day. By extending black and Hispanic students extra consideration, they're giving them a necessary boost into those worlds. You might assume that smart, driven kids will succeed no matter where they go to college, but economists have shown that attending a prestigious school is especially beneficial for minorities and first-generation students, possibly because it helps them develop professional networks their families lack.

We also know that when schools end affirmative action, black and Hispanic enrollment tends to drop. After California banned schools from considering race, for instance, minority admission rates at its top state universities plummeted 50 to 60 percent; at U.C. Berkeley, black and Hispanic students fell from 22 percent to 12 percent of the freshman class.

In contrast, it's not clear how much white students have at stake in the affirmative action debate other than symbolic satisfaction. To be sure, at least a few lose spots at top colleges to minority applicants with lower test scores or grades (of course, many also lose spots to legacies and other unexceptional students with wealthy parents who donate or pay full freight). But if they lose a spot at one insitution, there's still a strong chance they'll be accepted to another similar school. And at many top colleges, such as Berkeley or the University of Texas at Austin, the main beneficiaries of race-blind policies have been Asian students. If affirmative action were ever finally ended for good, the face of America's elite professional class might not become that much more white. But it would be even less black and brown.

Harvey Is an Equal-Opportunity Disaster. The Poor Won’t Be Left Behind Until the Recovery.

Harvey Is an Equal-Opportunity Disaster. The Poor Won’t Be Left Behind Until the Recovery.

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

One of the bewildering things about Hurricane Harvey, for observers and especially for Houstonians themselves, has been the lack of a comprehensive sense of the extent of the flooding. We don’t quite know, quite yet, who has been hit the worst.

Storm surges come from the sea; a swollen river envelops a downtown along a predictable route. But the Houston metro area is nearly the size of Massachusetts. Harris County, which includes most of Houston, has 2,500 miles of channels. Everyone in Houston lives near a bayou; there is no “railroad track” stigma to these waterways. They are simply everywhere. And because the variance in rainfall totals from one part of the region to the next are running in the feet, it’s hard to anticipate which blocks will flood.

There is an assumption, forged by the experience of Hurricane Katrina, that natural disasters will do their worst to low-income neighborhoods of color.

At City Lab, Tanvi Misra writes: "Within cities, poor communities of color often live in segregated neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to flooding, or near petrochemical plants and Superfund sites that can overflow during the storm. This is especially true for Houston.”

But actually, Houston’s floods have proven to be great equalizers. On the one hand, there are very poor neighborhoods in Harris County that have been hit hard, repeatedly, by flooding. Greens Bayou in Greenspoint has overflowed its banks three times in the past two decades, and nearly half the housing there is in the 100-year-flood zone after FEMA revised its Harris County flood maps in September. More than 1 in 3 residents lives below the poverty line. Some of them are among the nearly 1,000 Houston families who live in HUD-subsidized housing in the flood zone. This weekend, Greens Bayou overflowed again, causing mass evacuations and sweeping a family of six downstream as they tried to escape the swirling river.

At the same time, underwater houses in the flood zones adjacent to the two great Houston reservoirs whose dams protect downtown can go for more than $750,000. Some of the worst damage during the 2015 Memorial Day floods came in the sliver of high-income neighborhoods south of I-10 on Houston’s west side; among the worst-hit areas were the neighborhoods adjacent to Brays Bayou, where houses routinely sell for more than $1 million. The 2016 floods shut down the Exxon-Mobil corporate headquarters in the Woodlands.

We don’t yet have a good sense of which parts of the city are flooded this time around. We know that this storm, strengthened to new heights by an overheated atmosphere, has taken out the country’s second-largest refinery, the Exxon Mobil facility at Baytown. That’s ironic. But in the end, the consequences will be the same as they always are.

"The pain is greater in low income neighborhoods because they don’t have insurance and have no place to go,” says David Crossley, the founder of Houston Tomorrow, a nonprofit focused on Houston’s growth. He described seeing a neighbor, an artist with a flooded studio adjacent to a nice house, ripping out carpets and making repairs before the storm had even ended. “Someone who’s got a $600,000 house out in the suburbs can probably recover.”

Look over the Harvey rescue map and you start to see how, even if their houses are flooding at the same rate, the poor are less resilient. A diabetic out of medicine. An elderly woman with no spare oxygen tanks. A man in need of a dialysis treatment. The list of needs goes on. Seizure meds. Food.

It’s just easier for some people to get help.

That’s true now, and it will be even more true when the time comes to rebuild.

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How Florida Anticipates a Hurricane: Frozen Orange Juice Futures

How Florida Anticipates a Hurricane: Frozen Orange Juice Futures

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

How do you anticipate the risk of catastrophic hurricane damage? In jacked-up airline fares, in surge-priced taxis, in cases of bottled water selling for $42?

In Florida, at least, there’s a tried-and-true indicator of potential hurricane damage: the futures market for frozen orange juice. Futures go up when traders think the future price of orange juice will go up, and down when traders think orange juice will be more plentiful, and therefore cheaper.

If traders are worried the state’s entire orange crop is at risk of being annihilated, futures go way up. And that’s what’s happening right now. Just as Harvey’s arrival in oil-and-gas-capital Houston gave us a big spike in gasoline prices, so Irma’s arrival in Florida may juice frozen OJ prices. As the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history heads toward South Florida, the Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice futures market opened at $1.45 a pound today, up from $1.30 last week—a gain of more than 10 percent.

There’s some history behind this. In 2004, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne left Florida with the smallest number of viable orange trees in 18 years, sending the cost of juice concentrate skyward. In 2012, anticipation of Hurricane Isaac drove futures to a six-week high. In 2016, Hurricane Hermine sent OJ to a five-week high.

Gains driven by Irma have FCOJ at the highest point since May, when the orange industry was coming off a brutally small harvest that had doubled prices. The volume of trading is up sixfold, the Financial Times reports, in anticipation of a price spike.

Only about 20 percent of the state’s crop winds up as concentrate—in recent years, not-from-concentrate juice has gained the upper hand as it has become more popular. Still, the market remains a valuable indicator.

The Intercontinental Exchange, which offers futures trading in coffee, cocoa, sugar, cotton, and orange juice, among other things, notes that the FCOJ market is built for this type of thing:

The volatile nature of FCOJ pricing is what makes this market so vital for hedgers and so interesting for speculators. The market is prone to sharp price spikes in anticipation of weather-related disruptions in supply, including freezes and hurricanes, and to retracements of those spikes when the damage was not as bad as feared initially, or when imports of FCOJ from Brazil and other suppliers enter the U.S. market.

Like all commodity futures markets, the FCOJ serves a practical purpose for juice producers and buyers. A grower with thousands of ripe orange trees is vulnerable to a price drop, and might short a futures contract to cover her holdings. A supermarket that needs to ensure it has store-brand from-concentrate OJ is vulnerable to prices rising, and would therefore “go long,” ensuring it makes enough money to cover its purchases if prices do rise.

But it can also be an intriguing gamble for speculators who think they know more than everyone else. This is of course the plot of Trading Places, the classic ’80s Wall Street comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd:

(Here’s a detailed explanation of what’s going on there.)

How do you measure the risk of a hurricane, then? In Florida, at least, you measure it in orange juice futures.

Graham-Cassidy Was Supposed to Do One Nice Thing for Poor People. But Someone Took It Out of the Bill.

Graham-Cassidy Was Supposed to Do One Nice Thing for Poor People. But Someone Took It Out of the Bill.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

When Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy revealed their Obamacare repeal bill last week, there appeared to be one (and pretty much only one) somewhat comforting thing about it. Their plan cut government health care spending drastically, yes. But its design seemingly encouraged states to spend what pittance they received from the feds on insurance for some of their lowest-income residents. The bill was bad for the poor, to be sure. But it didn’t ignore them entirely.

At least, that was the impression one got from reading the official summary documents that accompanied the legislation when it debuted. But the bill’s actual text tells a very different story.

The issue has to do with Graham-Cassidy’s elaborate formula for awarding health care funding to states. The bill would take the pot of money Washington currently spends on Obamacare’s insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion, then redistribute it as block grants that states can use to set up their own insurance schemes. This is supposed to give Alabama and Texas the “freedom” and “flexibility” to come up with appealing, innovative health care solutions for their residents—something Republicans in Washington have themselves proven incapable of doing.

Eventually, each state’s block grant is supposed to be based on their share of America’s low-income population (which, according to Graham-Cassidy, means households that earn between 50 and 138 percent of the poverty line). Then in 2024, according to Graham and Cassidy’s summary, the government will start tilting its funding toward the states that do a better job enrolling those poor—and borderline-poor—families in coverage. Here’s how they described the plan, just so you know I’m not making anything up:

Starting in 2024, a state’s base amount changes from being based solely on percent of eligible individuals and becomes partially based on percent of eligible individuals enrolled in credible coverage in the previous year. This is defined as “State’s enrolled population” (SEP) and is compared to the total number of eligible individuals enrolled in credible coverage.

Rewarding states for making sure poor people have health insurance is a decent—though certainly not foolproof—way to make them do it. Health care analysts took note. In a report released on Wednesday, Chris Sloan, a senior manager at the health care consultancy Avalere, pointed out that the formula might even drive states to spend their money on poor residents rather than the working class insurance shoppers who typically buy coverage on Obamacare’s exchanges today.

“The bill creates a financial incentive for states to direct coverage to very low-income residents near or below the poverty line, potentially at the expense of lower-middle-income individuals who currently receive exchange subsidies,” Sloan noted. Such a feature could prove to be an important nudge for states with traditionally thin safety nets like Texas and Mississippi, encouraging them to cover a population they’ve typically ignored.

Again, this was by far the most generous gesture toward the poor in a proposal that, otherwise, amounts to a historic blow against the health safety net. There’s just one problem: The provision doesn’t actually seem to be in the bill. The legislative text, which is a bit convoluted, says it will dole out block grants to states based on their share of the country’s low-income population, but does not factor in coverage rates. States will be rewarded for having lots of poor people. They won’t be rewarded for getting them insured. That bit just isn’t there.

That was the conclusion I came to after talking to Matt Broaddus, a research analyst, at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Avalere’s Sloan, who generously spent a good chunk of time scouring the bill’s relevant text with me this afternoon. It’s not clear the bill Graham and Cassidy actually posted ever included bonuses for states that signed up more of their poor; according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, that section of the text doesn’t seem to have changed since it was first published on Sept. 13. I’ve emailed Cassidy’s office requesting comment, but haven’t heard back.

Judging from the summary documents they put out, it appears that Graham and Cassidy at least briefly considered gearing their legislation toward helping the poor. Then, for whatever reason, they changed their minds.

The Battle Goes On

by Carmen Rios @ Ms. Magazine Blog

A lot has changed since Billie Jean King hoisted a trophy in victory over her head on September 20, 1973 after a historic "Battle of the Sexes" against Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome. Some things haven't changed enough.

The post The Battle Goes On appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

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In a world of stereotypes, Dove Skin, Hair and Deodorant products, recognise that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

How Do Lip Balms Help with Chapped Lips?

by Nina George @

The beeswax in Mountain Sky lip balms essentially creates a protective barrier that prevents your lip moisture from escaping. Normally moisture evaporates through the surface of your lips, especially on dry, cold, windy days, or sunny summer days. To prevent chapped lips: 1. Do not excessively lick your lips. Added sweeteners to lip balms cause people [...]

The post How Do Lip Balms Help with Chapped Lips? appeared first on .

Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

by Annie Waldman @ Slate Articles

This story was co-published with ProPublica.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

This past June, Florida’s top education agency delivered a failing grade to the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy in suburban Jacksonville for the second year in a row. It designated the charter school for kindergarten through fifth grade as the worst public school in Clay County and one of the lowest performing in the state.

Two-thirds of the academy’s students failed the state exams last year, and only one-third of them were making any academic progress at all. The school had four principals in three years, and teacher turnover was high, too.

“My fourth-grader was learning stuff that my second-grader was learning—it shouldn’t be that way,” said Tanya Bullard, who moved her three daughters from the arts academy this past summer to a traditional public school. “The school has completely failed me and my children.”

The district terminated the academy’s charter contract. Surprisingly, Orange Park didn’t shut down—and even found a way to stay on the public dime. It reopened last month as a private school charging $5,000 a year, below the $5,886 maximum that low-income students receive to attend the school of their choice under a state voucher program. Academy officials expect all of its students to pay tuition with the publicly backed coupons.

The Rev. Alesia Ford-Burse, an African Methodist Episcopal pastor who founded the academy, told ProPublica that the school deserves a second chance because families love its dance and art lessons, which they otherwise couldn’t afford. “Kids are saying, ‘F or not, we’re staying,’ ” she said.

* * *

While it’s widely known that private schools convert to charter status to take advantage of public dollars, more schools are now heading in the opposite direction. As voucher programs across the country proliferate, shuttered charter schools like the Orange Park Performance Arts Academy have begun to privatize in order to stay open with state assistance.

A ProPublica nationwide review found that at least 16 failing or struggling charter schools in five states—Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Georgia—have gone private with the help of publicly funded voucher programs, including 13 since 2010. Four of them specialize in the arts, including Orange Park, and five serve students with special needs.

“The voucher just is a pass through in order to provide additional funding for private schools to thrive and to continue to work,” said Addison Davis, superintendent of schools in Clay County. Changing a school’s status “isn’t going to stop the process where we continue to see kids who are declining academically and not being able to demonstrate mastery and proficiency.”

Two key factors underlie these conversions. The number of voucher and voucher-like programs across the country has more than tripled over the past decade from 16 to 53. And charter schools, which became popular as a way to spur educational innovation with reduced regulation, have increasingly faced more stringent oversight. Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform and a longtime supporter of charter schools, lamented in a recent op-ed that increased government regulation is turning them into “bureaucratic, risk-averse organizations fixated on process over experimentation.”

“Why not just be a private school if the kids qualify for the scholarships?” said Christopher Norwood, a consultant for the Orange Park school, in an interview. “With 90 percent fewer regulations, schools can be independent and free, and just deal with the students.”

As private schools, the ex-charters are less accountable both to the government and the public. It can be nearly impossible to find out how well some of them are performing. About half of the voucher and voucher-like programs in the country require academic assessments of their students, but few states publish the complete test results or use that data to hold schools accountable.

While most states have provisions for closing low-quality charter schools, few, if any, have the power to shut down low-performing voucher schools.

“Public money is being handed out without oversight,” said Diane Ravitch, a New York University education historian and public schools advocate who served as assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. “The fundamental voucher idea is that parents are choosing the schools and they know better than the state. If they want to send their kids to a snake-charming school, then that’s their choice.”

* * *

The type of voucher program that rescues failed charter schools like Orange Park in Florida may soon be replicated nationwide. Visiting a religious school in Miami last April, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praised the state’s approach as a possible model for a federal initiative.

Typically, voucher programs are directly funded with taxpayer dollars. Florida’s largest program pursues a different strategy. Its “tax-credit scholarships” are backed by donations from corporations. They contribute to nonprofit organizations which, in turn, distribute the money to the private schools. In exchange, the donors receive generous dollar-for-dollar tax credits from the state. This subsidy indirectly shifts hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the state’s coffers to private schools. More than 100,000 students whose families meet the income eligibility requirements have received the tax-credit coupons this year.

Of the nearly 2,900 private schools in Florida, over 1,730 participated in the tax-credit voucher program during 2016–2017, according to the most recent state Department of Education data. On average, each school received about $300,000 last year.

While more than two-thirds of these schools are religious, the roundabout funding approach protects the vouchers against legal challenges that they violate the separation of church and state. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit by the Florida Education Association, a teachers union, challenging the constitutionality of the voucher program.

In an education budget proposal from May, DeVos detailed her voucher plans, pitching a $250 million plan to study and expand individual state initiatives. She has since suggested that the administration may also create a federal tax-credit voucher scheme through an impending tax overhaul.

School choice advocates like DeVos have long contended that vouchers improve educational opportunities for low-income families. They reason that competition raises school quality and that parents, given more options, will select the best school for their children.

A growing body of research, though, casts doubt on this argument. It shows voucher-backed students may not be performing better than their public school counterparts—and may do worse.

A recent U.S. Department of Education study compared students who attended private schools with vouchers in Washington, D.C., from 2012 through 2014 with those who qualified for the program but were turned down due to a lack of available slots. The private schoolers performed significantly worse than their public school peers in math and no better in reading.

According to a February 2017 analysis by Martin Carnoy, a Stanford University education professor, most studies of voucher programs over the past quarter-century found little evidence that students who receive the coupons perform better than their public school peers.

The lack of evidence on the benefits of vouchers, Carnoy wrote, “suggests that an ideological preference for education markets over equity and public accountability is what is driving the push to expand voucher programs.”

* * *

Across the Florida panhandle from Orange Park, another troubled charter school for the arts has reinvented itself as a voucher-funded private school.

Founded in 2010, the A.A. Dixon Charter School of Excellence had the worst academic record in Escambia County, and the school board raised questions about its financial accounting.

“Every month they came before the board and there was a problem,” said Jeff Bergosh, a school board member at the time, adding that he supports school choice. “They tried to make it work, but they didn’t. There were serious issues that jeopardized student safety, like sanitation issues and not having supervision [for the students].”

After Dixon received two failing grades from the state—which triggers termination of a school’s charter under Florida rules—the Rev. Lutimothy May, a Baptist pastor who chaired its board, appealed to state education authorities. They allowed the school to operate for at least one more year, but he began to seek other options.

Around the same time, a local beverage distributor, David Bear of the Lewis Bear Company, told May that he was considering contributing to the state tax-credit program. If the Dixon school privatized, Bear told May, donations could help save it. In 2013, May turned the charter, which had recently been renamed the Dixon School of the Arts, into a private Christian arts academy located inside his church. Nearly all current students at Dixon receive the tax-credit vouchers, bringing the school more than $500,000 a year, according to the most recent data from the state’s department of education.

“Our goal is still the same,” but the conversion has “untied some of the strings on education,” May said.

* * *

Some of the untied “strings” to which May referred were state educational requirements. By converting from a charter to private status, Dixon and other schools largely shield themselves from accountability.

For instance, while Florida requires all private schools to test students who receive vouchers, the schools face no consequences for weak academic performance. The University of Florida publishes an annual report analyzing the test scores of students that receive vouchers, but data from only a small fraction of the schools is made public. The report excludes many schools that don’t have test results for enough students in consecutive years.

The latest report released the academic performance of only 198 schools in 2014–15, out of the more than 1,500 schools that that enrolled voucher-funded students that year. Most Florida families that receive vouchers do not have access to test data on their schools. The Dixon data was not published. Dixon’s principal, Donna Curry, maintained that the school has improved since its conversion from charter status but declined to provide exam results to ProPublica, saying they were “for internal use.”

Curry added that state test results are not necessarily reflective of student success. “I will not accept the fact that our children are not learning because they are not normalized on the state test,” she said. Her staff “knows more than what the test evaluates.”

The state also has little control over how private voucher-funded schools foster learning. There are no requirements on curriculum or teacher certification other than the criminal background checks that are required for personnel at all private schools.

Because Dixon receives more than $250,000 in voucher money, it does have to file a financial accountability report. Only about 40 percent of all voucher-funded schools met this threshold to undergo such an audit in 2016. The reports, including Dixon’s, aren’t publicly posted.

Even an official at Step Up For Students, the largest nonprofit distributor of voucher money to Florida’s private schools, acknowledges the need for closer supervision of educational quality. “As the program matures, and more students are enrolled, and as inevitably we see some schools continue to have what most people would consider to be poor performance year-in and year-out, we will be having more and more discussions about whether there should be some kind of regulatory accountability mechanisms to respond to that,” said Ron Matus, the organization’s director of policy and public affairs.

* * *

Indiana’s largest voucher program, unlike Florida’s, is directly backed by taxpayer dollars and has stricter accountability requirements. A private school that accepts vouchers can be sanctioned if its performance dips low enough. Last year, 10 schools lost their access to new vouchers, according to Adam Baker, the spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education.

The tighter supervision, though, didn’t deter Padua Academy in Indianapolis. Originally a private Catholic school, Padua had become a “purely secular“ charter in 2010 under an unusual arrangement between the local archdiocese and the mayor’s office. The school initially performed well, but soon sank from a solid A-rating to two consecutive F-ratings.

“These performance issues sounded alarm bells at the mayor’s office,” said Brandon Brown, who led the mayor’s charter office at the time. Leadership issues with the school’s board and at the archdiocese, he added, caused the school to falter. After receiving $702,000 from a federal program that provided seed money for new charter schools, the school’s board relinquished its charter.

In the meantime, Indiana had established a voucher program. So, instead of shutting down, the school rebranded itself as St. Anthony Catholic School, nailing its crucifixes back onto the walls and bringing the Bible back into the curriculum. Last year, more than 80 percent of its students were on vouchers, from which the school garnered at least $1.2 million.

Its academic performance has improved but still lags behind the state average. Only 25 percent of St. Anthony students passed both math and reading assessments this year, versus about half of all publicly funded students on average at both private and public schools, according to the state’s education data from 2017. Last year, the state gave St. Anthony a “C” grade.

Gina Fleming, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, said through a spokesman that “significant staff turnover” at St. Anthony’s “made for a difficult start these past two years.” As a result, the archdiocese “has been studying ways in which we can recruit, retain, and reward high-quality teachers and leaders.” It has also “made shifts in scheduling, resources, diagnostic analyses and personnel to better accommodate the learning needs of our students.”

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, two other charter schools went private. Both Imagine MASTer Academy and Imagine Schools on Broadway were associated with a national for-profit charter chain, Imagine Schools, which has been under scrutiny elsewhere. In 2012, the Missouri Board of Education shut down all six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis for financial and academic woes. In response to such setbacks, Imagine Schools has moved toward “an even deeper commitment to increasing the consistency of our network-wide performance,” said Rhonda Cagle, a spokeswoman for the chain.

The two Fort Wayne schools performed well initially, but by the time their charters were up for renewal, they had some of the worst test results in the area, said Robert Marra, executive director of the charter office at Ball State University, which was responsible for the schools’ oversight. ImagineMASTer received a “D” grade, and Imagine Schools on Broadway an “F,” from the state in 2013.

The data for the two schools “showed clear room for improvement but indicated consistent growth,” Cagle told ProPublica.

In 2013, Imagine merged its two failing charters with a local parochial school, Horizon Christian Academy. Since then, the Christian academy’s enrollment has soared from 23 students to 492. About 430 students paid their tuition with the help of state vouchers last year, totaling about $2.4 million in public funds.

While some of Imagine’s students and staff have stayed on, Cagle said that Imagine has no involvement in the merged academy other than owning the building.

“We could have allowed the buildings to just be empty, but we felt like if there was an interest by another entity for the purposes of education, that would be doing the right thing,” she said. Imagine “does not utilize vouchers for any of our schools,” she added.

Academically, Horizon Christian is far below average. Only 7 percent of its students passed both state exams this year, according to state data. One of its campuses received a “D” grade last year, and its other two campuses failed. The academy did not respond to questions.

“Low-performing operators in Indiana and elsewhere have skirted accountability by converting their charter schools to private schools either right before or right after a charter revocation or nonrenewal,” said Brown, the former Indianapolis official. “I can say unequivocally that any attempt to keep a low-performing school open by evading rigorous accountability is not good for students, families, or the broader school choice movement.”

* * *

As it awaits its first infusion of voucher funds later this month, the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy is strapped. The district has repossessed most of the former charter school’s instructional supplies, including 200 Chromebooks, 34 laptops, 27 iPads, and hundreds of textbooks. The arts—the school’s core mission—have been cleaned out: 10 easels, nine digital pianos, eight heartwood djembes, and four conga drums, all gone. Once lined with silver bleachers, the walls of the cavernous gym are now bare.

Many children have left, too. While the school had about 170 students last year, only 94 enrolled this fall. At least one-quarter are kindergarteners who didn’t attend the charter school. Tanya Bullard, who pulled her three daughters out of Orange Park, predicted it would slide further as a private school because there will be “no one to keep an eye on it and issues will be swept under the rug.”

The school’s new principal, Kelly Kenney, isn’t deterred. She said that she has already made significant strides to separate the school from its failed days as a charter. Most of the teachers and administrators are new hires, although half of the teachers are uncertified. Kenney plans to get the school accredited and strengthen the board of directors. “It can’t be a board of friends,” she said. She has been working with each teacher individually to raise standards and improve curriculum.

“Most people would have been defeated,” Kenney said. “Sometimes when you’re knocked down the hardest, you come back the hardest. And so for parents that have been skeptical, I’m like ‘This will be the best year of education your child will ever have. We’re going to be looking at every detail of their progress, every detail of their learning gap to make sure that we’re closing it.’ ”

Even though it’s not required, Kenney intends to publish her students’ performance data on the school’s website. “It’s important for us to show how we did compared to last year,” she said.

To recruit students this past summer, Kenney went door-to-door in nearby apartment complexes, hosting information sessions in laundry rooms. Believing that they couldn’t afford a private school, many families were reluctant to send their children to Orange Park—until Kenney told them about vouchers. For weeks, she and her staff have worked around the clock to sign up all the students in the voucher program, even helping them organize, fill out, and fax in the necessary paperwork.

Bria Joyce is a loyalist. When her son started kindergarten at the local public school, she says he was “bumping heads” with classmates and she worried that he wasn’t receiving enough attention from teachers. She transferred him to the Orange Park charter school where he took piano lessons and played Grandpa Joe in a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

When Joyce heard that the school was converting to a private school, she was nervous that she wouldn’t be able to afford the tuition. But the school reached out to her immediately and walked Joyce through the voucher process. Now Joyce’s son is starting fourth grade there.

“They were prepared and made it as easy as they could, considering everything,” she said. “I believe in what they’re trying to get done.”

What’s on Your Wish List?

by Jennie Winton @ Mission Minded

If you haven’t yet made your list of hopes and dreams for 2017, here’s some inspiration from your friends at Mission Minded. As you read our musings consider this: To us, your partnership, collaboration, and commitment to those you serve is what inspires us every day. We wish you and your communities joy and peace […]

The post What’s on Your Wish List? appeared first on Mission Minded.

As Usual, Republicans Won’t Have Any Clue What Their New Obamacare Repeal Bill Does Before They Vote on It

As Usual, Republicans Won’t Have Any Clue What Their New Obamacare Repeal Bill Does Before They Vote on It

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Once again, it appears Republicans are about to vote on a bill to repeal Obamacare before anybody can figure out what the legislation actually does. On Monday afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office announced it would not able to complete a full score of the legislation submitted by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, to which the Senate GOP has now pinned its hopes. Instead, it will release a “preliminary” estimate more or less analyzing whether the plan meets the bare minimum requirements to pass through the budget reconciliation process. That forecast will not include specific numbers about the bill’s “effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums.” Those won’t be available “for at least several weeks.”

Republicans need to vote on Graham-Cassidy before Sept. 30, when the reconciliation instructions they are relying on to pass repeal with just 50 Senate votes (plus Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaker) will expire. Thus, it looks like the GOP will attempt to pass a bill remaking much of the U.S. health care system without any even-handed, third-party analysis to rely upon. Cassidy’s office has reportedly been producing its own analyses of the bill’s impact; I’m sure they’re incredibly reliable.

Of course, this is not the first time the GOP will have voted on a repeal bill without the slightest clue of what it actually does. Back in May, the House also passed its own legislation before a CBO score was complete. Three weeks later, the office reported that the legislation would leave 23 million Americans uninsured in 10 years.

Voting blind on Graham-Cassidy would be a good order of magnitude more irresponsible than the House’s shenanigans, though. Many lower-chamber Republicans chose to support repeal on the assumption that the Senate would change, and maybe even improve, whatever bill they passed. If the Senate votes for Graham-Cassidy, on the other hand, the House won’t be able to change it once the end-of-the-month deadline passes. Lawmakers will either have to pass the thing wholesale or effectively shoot it down (technically they could send it back to the Senate with changes, but at that point the bill would require 60 votes to pass). Maybe they’ll wait to find out what the bill does first, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Never mind bankruptcy; Toys R Us is hiring for the holidays

Never mind bankruptcy; Toys R Us is hiring for the holidays

by Mark Shepherd @ CW33 NewsFix

Irving–By now you’ve heard: Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy. So is now the time to get a job there? A judge approved the company getting a loan so it could buy enough merchandise for the holiday season. That means they plan to be open through the holidays. “Toys R Us is doing a significant amount of hiring for the holiday season,” said Bill Todd, store manager in Irving. They’re planning to hire more than 900 seasonal workers in the […]

How unsafe of a decision was this- having anxiety

by hxc @ Bluelight

About 2 hours ago I took 1mg of suboxone. The guy I acquired it from said to take 2mg, but I was nervous so only took half.. glad I did too I can...

Bad Girls of Hollywood

by noreply@blogger.com (Giulia Carando) @ Public Relations Problems and Cases

A CASE STUDY:



BAD GIRLS OF HOLLYWOOD
Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan
and Nicole Richie


Christie Walsh
Comm 473, Fall 2008
Professor Nichols



A CASE STUDY:BAD GIRLS OF HOLLYWOOD

SITUATION ANALYSIS
America is obsessed with celebrities and celebrity news. There is an entire market for celeb news, with such media outlets as People, OK!, TMZ, E!, etc. Even regular news outlets like FOX and CNN have begun to follow stars personal lives. Today, it seems that talent and hard work are less concentrated on, and more attention is paid to the private lives of celebrities. This comes in handy for a few stars who might have more in the “drama” department than the “talent” one.
Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, and Lindsay Lohan are all considered “Bad Girls of Hollywood.” The media, tabloids, and the American public have followed their careers and personal lives. While each of them has had legal problems resulting in jail time and rehab, they continue to be seen in celebrity news, making a name for themselves, holding onto and growing their fame, and, of course, making money.
The purpose of this case study is to find the similarities between each of these stars behavior, and figure out what made them able to “bounce back” from their legal problems, by rebranding themselves. Seeing as each of these girls have had plenty of other “drama,” including sex scandals, homemade pornographic tapes, relationship dramas, pregnancies, family issues, etc, this case study will concentrate specifically on their legal problems and rehabilitation.

RESEARCH
Paris HiltonParis Hilton, of the Hilton family, is a famous socialite, who has gained attention for acting, singing, modeling and other business ventures. Paris is known for her role on the television series “The Simple Life,” modeling, her own clothing line, a sex tape titled “One Night in Paris,” minor film roles (including “House of Wax,” 2005). She put out her first CD, self-entitled “Paris” in 2006. (wikipedia.org)
Paris’s Rap Sheet:· September 2006- Paris was arrested for driving under the influence with a 0.08% blood alcohol level, which is illegal in California. · November 206- License suspended.· January 2007 she pleaded “no contest to the alcohol-related reckless driving charge. Sentenced to 36 months' probation and fines of approximately$1,500.· January 15, 2007- caught driving with a suspended license. Acknowledged the offence.
· February 27, 2007- Paris pulled over driving 70 mph in a 35 mph zone, with a still suspended license. She also did not have her headlights on even though it was after dark. Prosecutors in the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney charged that those actions, along with the failure to enroll in a court-ordered alcohol education program, constituted a violation of the terms of her probation.
· May 4, 2007- sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating her probation. Initially, Hilton planned to appeal the sentence, and supported an online petition asking California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for a pardon. Opponents started a counter-petition supporting the sentence. Both petitions attracted tens of thousands of signatures. Hilton eventually switched lawyers and dropped her appeal.
· June 3, 2007- Paris attended the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. She entered the Century Regional Detention Facility two days later. With credit for good behavior, it was anticipated that Hilton would only serve 23 days of her 45-day sentence.
· June 7, 2007- Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca reassigned Hilton to 40 days of home confinement with an electronic monitoring device due to an unspecified medical condition. Baca commented on the release saying, "My message to those who don't like celebrities is that punishing celebrities more than the average American is not justice," contesting that under normal circumstances, Hilton would not have served any time in jail, and he added that "The special treatment, in a sense, appears to be because of her celebrity status ... She got more time in jail". (She later told Larry King her medical condition was claustrophobia, and not wanting to be alone.”
· Judge Michael Sauer summoned her to reappear in court the following morning (June 8) as the sentencing statement had explicitly said she would serve time in jail with "No work furlough. No work release. No electronic monitoring." At the hearing he declined to be briefed by Hilton's attorney in private chambers on the nature of her condition and sent her back to jail to serve out her original 45-day sentence. Paris was moved to the medical wing of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles
· June 13- Removed from the medical wing.
· June 26, 2007- After serving 22 days, Paris was released. She announced she would visit Rwanda, but later moved he trip from November 2007 to “some time” in 2008.
· June 28, 2007- Two days after her release Paris was interviewed on Larry King. Spoke about the influenced prison minister Marty Angelo had on her and starting a “new beginning.” (wikipedia.org)

Lindsay Lohan
After getting her start as a child model, Lindsay Lohan began acting at age 10 in a soap opera, and at 11 starred in the Disney remake of “The Parent Trap.” Lindsay she gained fame staring in films including “Mean Girls,” “Freaky Friday,” “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” “Herbie: Fully Loaded.” Lindsay began a singing career as well. Lohan is well known in the Hollywood party scene. (wikipedia.org)

Lindsay’s Rap Sheet:
· August 2004, October 2005, November 2006- Lohan had series of car accidents. In the final one, there was suspicion of intent on the side of the paperatizo to attack her car.
·2006- During the filming of Georgia Rule that was later made public,[80] James G. Robinson, CEO of the film's production company, Morgan Creek Productions, wrote:
“You and your representatives have told us that your various late arrivals and absences from the set have been the result of illness; today we were told it was 'heat exhaustion'. We are well aware that your ongoing all night heavy partying is the real reason for your so-called 'exhaustion'.”
· January 18, 2007- Lohan checked herself in to the Wonderland Center rehabilitation facility. "I have made a proactive decision to take care of my personal health,” she stated.
· May 26, 2007, Lohan lost control of her car. Lindsay had cocaine in her car and it was further detected in her blood. She was charged with driving under the influence.
· May 28, 2008- entered a rehab for a 45-day treatment at the Promises Treatment Center.
· July 24, 2007- Lindsay failed a sobriety test after being caught drunkenly fighting with a recently fired assistant in a parking lot. Cocaine was found in her pocket. She was arrested with a felony charge of possession of cocaine, a misdemeanor for driving under the influence, and for driving with a suspended license.
· August 23, 2007- She pleaded guilty to cocaine use and driving under the influence. She was sentenced to one day in jail and then 10 days of community service. She was further ordered to pay fines and complete an alcohol education program, and 3 years probation. “It is clear to me that my life has become completely unmanageable because I am addicted to alcohol and drugs,” Lohan said in a statement.
· In August 2007, Lohan began her rehab at Cirque Lodge Treatment Center in Utah until October 2007. (wikipedia.org)

Nicole Camille Richie
Nicole is the adopted daughter of Lionel Richie. She is a known for partying, being friends with Paris Hilton, some acting and most notably her role in the reality television show The Simple Life. She now has a child with boyfriend Joel Madden of Good Charlotte. (wikipedia.org)



Nicole’s Rap Sheet:
· Richie herself has openly admitted that she smoked marijuana at the age of 13, and then progressed to cocaine a year later. At 19, she was injecting heroin (wikipedia)
· February 2003, Richie was arrested in Malibu, California. She was arrested and charged for possession heroin and driving without a license.
· December 11, 2006- Nicole was charged with driving under the influence. Eyewitnesses saw Nicole's car driving the wrong direction. She admitted to smoking marijuana and taking Vicodin before the incident.
· July 27, 2007- She was sentenced to four days in jail. After only 82 minutes of the sentence she was released from the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood, California on August 23, 2007. A sheriff's department spokesperson told People magazine that Richie "was released early due to overcrowding in the jail system. This is standard procedure for nonviolent offenders.” She then did an 18-month program for anti-drinking and driving. (wikipedia.org)








Celebrity Obsessed World:
An article in Associated Content covered the issue of American obsession with celebrities. “Our society is addicted to celebrities. There are thousands of citizens who can't wait to read about the personal and professional lives of stars like Beyonce, Madonna and the latest person on the radar. Publicity teams are set in place to help celebrities stay in the spotlight so that they can sell an album, movie or product.“ These stars need to stay in the spotlight to succeed, so a negative story about them is not necessarily bad, but they have to use the spotlight to eventually help their brand. (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/173562/addicted_to_celebrities.html?cat=49)

Similar Cases:
Whitney Houston- Though never arrested, Whitney has also had problems with drug abuse and has gone to rehab. While she was a prominent star in the 80’s and 90’s, she later was accused of drug abuse with husband Bobby Brown. In an interview with Diane Sawyer Huston admitted to drug use but said, "First of all, let's get one thing straight. Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let's get that straight. Okay? We don't do crack. We don't do that. Crack is wack." Her attitude and unprofessionalism cost her dearly, and her “Crack is wack” quote became a joke. Audiences were not convinced, even momentarily that she was clean or that she was remorseful for her actions. ''My business is sex, drugs, rock and roll... I partied a lot,” she said in a report to E! News at age 39. (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,396064,00.html) While “all news is good news” works for the other girls, it didn’t work for Houston, because there was never any redeeming factor. Unlike the other girls Houston failed to show her rehabilitation or charity work, which helped the other three to turn around their images in the media.


PLANNING: How the Bad Girls Maintain publicity and earnings
· All news is good news: With so many media outlets based primarily around celebrity news (TMZ, Access Hollywood, E!, People, etc) and even classic news outlets following celebrities and their every move, it is clear that these girls need to get their names out there. The fact is celebrities living quiet lives often get less press then others who are out in the nightlife, even those getting “bad press.” But that is how we have learned that no press is bad press. That is why even when it seems these girls aren’t working, they are still making money. No matter what they are actually doing, it has to be news worthy. And it is. So, each of these stars used their legal problems (because that’s what they had to use at the time) to capitalize and gain more fame.

Article
“Jail bad? It’s just another way to get publicity” by Michael Ventre
· “However, it isn’t the day-to-day routine of confinement that is the attraction here for Paris Hilton, it’s the aftermath. When she finally finishes her stretch, she will have street cred, which is the one thing on Earth she can’t buy, although don’t think one of her minions hasn’t contacted Sotheby’s to inquire.”
· “Jail may turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to Paris Hilton.”
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18680783/





EXECUTION: How they executed a post-jail comeback.

· Focus on “rehabilitation”:
Each of these girls did a stint or two in rehab and jail, and used it to their benefit. Paris’s jail time was widely covered by all news outlets, as was Nicole’s and Lindsay’s. When ending rehab all the girls did interviews about how much they have changed.
On a Larry King interview Paris said, “it definitely -- it was a very traumatic experience, but I feel like God does make everything happen for a reason. And it gave me, you know, a time-out in life to really find out what's important and what I want to do, figuring out who I am. And I'm -- even though it was really hard, I took that time just to get to know myself.” (http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/06/27/king.hilton.transcript/index.html)
Lindsay’s first interview after her third time in rehab was with OK! Magazine. She said to the magazine, "It was a sobering experience. It made me look at myself and all the people, places and things in my life in a different way.” She told the magazine she planned to avoid Hollywood and concentrate on her career and being clean instead. (http://www.okmagazine.com/news/view/1865)
In an interview with Diane Sawyer, Nicole Richie and her boyfriend talked about how Nicole had changed since her arrest and pregnancy. "Besides being responsible for myself, I'm now responsible for someone else. And I have to set the right examples. I have to really be someone that I would want my child to look up to,” she said. (http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3444795&page=1)

· Charity:
Paris Hilton told E! News, "I'll be going (to Rwanda) in November, after I get back from filming my movie. There's so much need in that area, and I feel like if I go, it will bring more attention to what people can do to help." While her trip to Rwanda seems to be on permanent hold, Paris did go to South Africa with her boyfriend in March of 2008. After the trip she said, "I LOVE Africa in general, South Africa and West Africa. They are both great countries," she said, according to various reports.” While, there is no such country as West Africa, and her efforts may not be exactly well educated, she did do some volunteer work with children in South Africa. (FOXNews.com)
In November 2007, Richie and Joel Madden created The Richie Madden Children's Foundation. According to their website, the foundation supports programs that "provide immediate aid and seek out programs that are addressing the underlying causes of suffering and provide sustainable solutions. On her website Nicole wrote, “This past year, philanthropy has opened my eyes to so much need and so much beauty. I have also realized how easy it is to help, and how rewarding it feels to be able to make a positive difference in someone's life.” Her foundation says in the website that it is ‘currently raising money to build a playground for children living with their families in a homeless shelter. We’re pleased to announce the launch of ‘Text CHILD to 90999’, a new campaign to raise funds to help kids through a new kind of fundraising – with a simple text message. Each text message donates $5, billed to your phone bill. This is the first time a campaign is using popular culture mass media to raise funds with the new technology, so we’re excited to see how much we can raise.” (http://www.myspace.com/richiemadden)
Lohan has publicized her work with Hear the World, The One Campaign, Save the Children, and TRIAD. Her most publicized work is with Hear the World. According to their website, Hear the World “is an initiative by Phonak that aims to raise awareness of the topic of hearing and hearing loss and to promote good hearing all over the world. The goal of the Hear the World Initiative is to educate the general public about the importance of hearing, the social and emotional impacts and the benefits of available solutions for those with hearing loss.
” (http://www.hear-the-world.com/)
EVALUATION

· Paris Hilton earned approximately $2 million in 2003–2004, $6.5 million in 2004–2005, and $7 million in 2005–2006.” (Forbes). She now stars in her own show, “Paris Hilton’s: My New BFF.” Her new single “My BFF,” from her yet to be released album, premiered September 30th of this year and is the theme song for her show. (wikipedia.org)

· Forbes has Lindsay Lohan listed with over $6 million in earnings. Her leggings line “6126” was launched October of 2008. She is working on a new album called “Spirit in the Dark.” (Forbes)

· Nicole Richie earned 1 million for posing nude with her man in People Magazine. She also earned $2.5 million from a spokesperson contract Jimmy Choo and the novel "The Truth About Diamonds." Rumors have her in a TV development deal with Fox. She also is working on her own pop album. (Forbes).

MY ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION
While I don’t think any of these stars make exactly good role models for young people, it is clear that Hollywood, the media, and we the public have an obsession with hearing about other peoples failings and legal problems. We thirst to hear about their failures, and we look forward to watching them claw their way out from the hole they got themselves into. Often, there is less “news” to report on a successful star who does not get in trouble, like for instance Scarlet Johansson. That does not take away Scarlet's fame, but the truth is that the stars with the “bad” publicity are still getting the publicity, and often more of it!
In making their comebacks, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Richie all concentrated on their rehabilitation and their charity work. They have made themselves into a brand. In some ways their jail time (however brief it may have been) has given them a form of street cred. It also makes them relatable and real. They are not merely fashionable people who do whatever they want; they are real people who (have learned that they too) have to abide by the same laws as we normal people.
While Paris, Nicole, and Lindsay all had great publicists and maybe did some thinking on their own too in order to come out of legal problems with success, their move is still not advisable. Truly talented actresses who stay out of legal problems can succeed more in the long run, where as the up and down road of drug and alcohol abuse is a dangerous one to take (or drive).

Works Cited:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_hilton
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicole_Richie
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindsay_lohan
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/173562/addicted_to_celebrities.html?cat=49
http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,396064,00.html
http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/06/27/king.hilton.transcript/index.html
http://www.okmagazine.com/news/view/1865
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3444795&page=1
http://www.myspace.com/richiemadden
http://www.hear-the-world.com/
http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/53/Q37N.html
http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/53/U3HH.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18680783/

Craigslist Posters Are Already Trying to Sell Their Used Eclipse Glasses as Collectors’ Items

Craigslist Posters Are Already Trying to Sell Their Used Eclipse Glasses as Collectors’ Items

by Aaron Mak @ Slate Articles

For many of us, tracking down the correct eyewear was hassle enough leading up to Monday’s total eclipse. But what about unloading them now that it’s over?

Just hours after the eclipse, people are looking to make some quick cash by selling their “gently used” protective glasses. On Craigslist sites for cities in and around the path of totality—a narrow region running across the country in which you could see the moon completely block the sun—dozens of eclipse viewers are now putting up listings for their secondhand spectacles, often for exorbitant prices. Though the best-selling glasses on Amazon are priced at around $30 to $50 for a pack, it’s not uncommon to see used glasses listed for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist.

Enterprising vendors have come up with a variety of selling points to justify the steep costs, often describing the glasses as historical artifacts. As one $100 listing in Portland, Oregon, reads, “These glasses are a rare treat for anyone interested in space science! These glasses actually witnessed the Eclipse! Not like the ‘new’ glasses so common on the net. Why buy new when you could own EXPERIENCED glasses!” Others emphasize how prepared the buyer will be for the next eclipse, given that the eyewear had just been proven to work. A seller in St. Louis, also asking for $100, wrote, “I know the Eclipse is done and over with. But why not have a pair of glasses, for keep sake? Plus you can always have them for the next Eclipse in 2024!”

These numbers, though outrageous, aren’t as high as the asking prices found in listings posted just before the eclipse, presumably aimed at procrastinators struck by a sudden fear of missing out. Craigslist hucksters seemed to take advantage of this desperation, often charging thousands of dollars for a pair of spectacles.

Others highlighted the extraordinary qualities of their products:

Glasses that let you not only see the eclipse but ­hear it? Those might be collectors’ items one day. Plain old normal eclipse glasses that happened to be in the right path at the right time? Total rip-off.

The U.S. Might Not Have Enough Construction Workers to Rebuild Houston After Harvey

The U.S. Might Not Have Enough Construction Workers to Rebuild Houston After Harvey

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

The disaster that is Tropical Storm Harvey is still ongoing. It will be some time before the waters recede and the effect on Houston can be fully assessed. But it is already clear the damage to property will be immense. Tens of thousands of structures were impacted by floodwaters. Eventually, Houston will require massive cleanup, demolition, and reconstruction of individual homes, large buildings, and infrastructure.

The first concern will be the financial resources necessary: Will insurance companies cover all the losses, and how much of them? How will the federal government’s heavily indebted flood insurance program come up with the cash to pay claims? And how much additional assistance will the federal government provide?

There’s another problem: a lack of human resources. It takes a lot of labor to remove debris after a storm and then reinstall Sheetrock and drywall, rebuild floors, and fix electrical and plumbing systems. The work is resistant to automation. And it is but one way in which Houston, which was poorly situated to deal with a hurricane, may also be poorly situated to recover from it.

The issue is that the United States is suffering from a shortage of workers generally, and specifically from a shortage of workers with some of the necessary skills to assist in disaster recovery.

Let’s review. With the U.S. economy having created jobs for a record 82 months, there are 146.6 million people with payroll jobs. The unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. At the end of June, the Labor Department reports, there were a record 6.16 million jobs open in the U.S. (That compares with about 4 million in August 2005, when Katrina hit.) Put another way, it’s harder to find labor in the U.S. right now than at any point in recent history.

But that’s not the whole story. There are particular shortages in the types of trades that get called into action after a disaster. America’s construction labor force has undergone a sea change in the past decade. When the housing bust came, hundreds of thousands of roofers and other skilled and unskilled tradespeople were laid off. Because the recovery was remarkably slow, many went on to find work in different industries. Many construction workers had come to the United States (legally and illegally) from Mexico and Central America to work in the boom years, and in the bust years some of them went home. Others were deported. And in recent years, the flow of new potential workers has slowed down significantly. The result: As the U.S. housing and construction recovery has chugged on, it has become more difficult to hire construction workers. In June, there were some 225,000 open construction jobs in the U.S., up 31 percent from June 2016.

All over the United States, in Colorado, in Nebraska, and elsewhere, construction companies have been complaining that they can’t find enough labor to do their job. The National Association of Home Builders reports that 77 percent of builders are facing a shortage of framing crews while 61 percent are grappling with a shortage of drywall installation workers and 45 percent report a shortage of weatherization workers. The problem is particularly acute in Texas, where the housing industry has been powered by consistent population and job growth and whose service industries are disproportionately reliant on immigrant labor. Last fall, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “In Dallas, the King of Texas Roofing Co. says it has turned down $20 million worth of projects in the past two years because it doesn’t have enough workers.”

In the aftermath of natural disasters, first responders and recovery crews flood the zone on a temporary basis. But reconstruction, cleanup, and recovery requires many thousands of workers who can stay for many months or more. FEMA Administrator Brock Long told CNN that “FEMA is going to be there for years.” Houston will require a surge of employment—tens of thousands of people. It will have to find places for them to live, since so much of the housing stock is damaged. And it will likely have to pay them above-market wages, because it will need to lure them away from existing jobs.

And given the Trump administration’s hostility to Latinos and desire to ramp up deportations, it’s unlikely that what worked in previous disasters will work again. Back in 2007, the Washington Post reported on a Tulane and University of California, Berkeley, study that found some 100,000 Hispanic workers thronged into the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Katrina, many of them undocumented.

Houston will need a similar migration for it to recover. In 2017, from where will those workers come?

Obamacare Repeal Might Be Dead. Trump’s Effort to Sabotage the Law Is Very Much Alive.

Obamacare Repeal Might Be Dead. Trump’s Effort to Sabotage the Law Is Very Much Alive.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Obamacare repeal appears to be dead. Again. Maybe. For the time being anyway. But in the meantime, the Trump administration is still moving forward with its backup plan to simply sabotage the law’s exchanges by making sure the fewest possible people sign up for coverage.

Their latest move? Simply shutting down healthcare.gov on days when people are likely to shop for health coverage. Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News has tweeted that Department of Health and Human Services is planning to close the site from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. on most of the upcoming Sundays during open enrollment, which is only supposed to last a brief 45 days this year, thanks to a rule the administration released in April.

A Department of Health and Human services spokesperson told me in an email that the shutdowns were routine “maintenance outages” scheduled for the “lowest-traffic time periods.” Here was the full statement:

Maintenance outages are regularly scheduled on HealthCare.gov every year during open enrollment. This year is no different. The maintenance schedule was provided in advance this year in order to accommodate requests from certified application assisters. System downtime is planned for the lowest-traffic time periods on HealthCare.gov including Sunday evenings and overnight.

However, Frank Baitman, a former chief information officer for HHS, seems to think the downtimes are unnecessary.

Other Obama administration health policy alums likewise appear to be aghast.

As Slavitt’s tweet points out, this is only the latest move by the administration to try and prevent Americans from signing up for health insurance on Obamacare’s exchanges, either by curtailing outreach or making the markets to harder to access. Last month, news broke that the Department of Health and Human Services would cut Obamacare’s ad budget by 90 percent, while slashing spending on “navigators” who help people sign up for insurance by 40 percent. Any one of these moves might not prove crippling to the law. But collectively, you can see how they might begin to add up.

Anyway, welcome to 2017, in which we have an executive branch fighting tooth and nail to make it harder for Americans to buy the health insurance to which they’re legally entitled.

Too soon to tell if NAFTA deal can be reached by deadline: Chief negotiator

Too soon to tell if NAFTA deal can be reached by deadline: Chief negotiator

by @ CTV News: Business Headlines

Canada's chief negotiator says solid progress is being made in talks to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement, but it's too soon to tell if a deal can be reached by the year-end deadline set by the United States.

Nestlé

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Food – baby food, cereals, dairy, confectionery and chocolate, desserts & ice creams; FMCG Non-alcoholic beverages – soft drinks, coffee, water Owner of the brand: Nestlé S.A. Key competitors: Kellogg’s, Danone, Cadbury, Hershey’s, Snickers, Milka, Jacobs, Tchibo, Lipton, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian

Artykuł Nestlé pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Do Your Organization’s Values and Brand Intersect?

by Jennie Winton @ Mission Minded

Does your brand reflect your values? To be effective, it must. Though brand can be a confounding subject, in its simplest definition, brand is just another word for reputation. Your logo is not your brand. Your mission statement is not your brand, and neither is your name. Your brand is the set of ideas people […]

The post Do Your Organization’s Values and Brand Intersect? appeared first on Mission Minded.

Is Palm Oil Bad?

by Nina George @

Canadian Glacial Clay   Almost every day we get an inquiry about the palm oil (elaeis guineensis) that we add in our soaps. There is considerable concern with rainforest deforestation that is occurring due to the present palm oil plantations and future plantings. At Mountain Sky, we are also concerned with this environmental quandary. We use [...]

The post Is Palm Oil Bad? appeared first on .

The Secret to Raving Fans, Viral Promotion and Clean Armpits

The Secret to Raving Fans, Viral Promotion and Clean Armpits


Wedding Business Marketing | Bridal Advertising Solutions for Wedding Professionals

I normally hate commercials, but not this one. I was hooked in under 3 seconds. Watch it here: Dove Isn’t Selling You Soap When I watch this video, I have a strong emotional reaction. I feel indign…

Betsy DeVos Trolls America, Picks a Former For-Profit College Dean to Run an Anti-Fraud Squad

Betsy DeVos Trolls America, Picks a Former For-Profit College Dean to Run an Anti-Fraud Squad

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

This week, the Trump administration inched ever-so deeper into the realm of pitch-black comedy, when Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos selected a former for-profit college dean to head a squad that investigates fraud in higher education.

Julian Schmoke Jr., who worked as a dean at DeVry University from late 2008 to 2012, will head the Education Department’s Student Aid Enforcement Unit, which President Obama created in 2016 to both crack down on bad behavior by colleges and analyze fraud claims by former students seeking to have their loans forgiven. While the task force wasn’t exclusively designed to deal with for-profit institutions, those schools have of course been a hotbed of fraudulent activity within the world of higher ed. Under Obama, regulators led an aggressive and often successful campaign to rein in the worst practices by some of the country’s education chains.

Including, as it just so happens, DeVry. In December 2016, the company agreed to a $100 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that for years it had misled students into enrolling using bogus employment stats. Dating back to at least 2008, the school had run TV ads claiming that 90 percent of its graduates found work within their field. But according to the FTC’s complaint, the school blatantly fudged that figure by including in it students who had actually taken menial service industry jobs. Grads who were employed selling clothes at Macy’s and serving food at the Cheesecake Factory were counted as having work “in their field,” for instance.

Ironically, the Department of Education actually bragged about the DeVry settlement in the press release announcing Student Aid Enforcement Unit, which will now be headed by one of the school’s ex-employees.

I haven’t seen anybody suggest that the Schmoke was personally involved in any of his former employers’ chicanery. There may be reason to question what he knew, since his LinkedIn page notes that, among other responsibilities, his job included “coaching and identifying students for placement into jobs and internships in collaboration with Career Services.” But ultimately, he worked for at a school that, according to the goverment, was actively scamming students at the time. Now he is in charge of policing the scammers. The administration’s bland reassurance that, “Dr. Schmoke neither had any knowledge of or involvement in the settlement agreement between the university and the U.S. Department of Education” is pretty cold comfort. The fox-guarding-the-hen-house tweets have of course written themselves.

It has been obvious from the get-go that Donald Trump and DeVos  would let for-profit colleges run wild over the next few years. Our president, after all, marketed a scam series of get-rich-quick real estate seminars as ”Trump University.” Our education secretary is basically a walking cautionary tale about the power of wealth in politics who evinced zero interest in consumer protections for students. Since taking over her Department, she’s already begun the process of rewriting and watering down the gainful employment regulations that were designed to punish schools that saddled students with too much debt and worthless degrees. Compared to that move, this appointment is relatively small potatoes. But as an act of trolling? Even by the Trump administration’s standards, it’s pretty stupendous.

Agape Family Shelter celebrating 30 years!

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/agape-family-shelter-celebrating-30-years/

Read an article in the Lebanon Daily News regarding the Agape Family Shelter's 30 year anniversary.

Location Location Location - What To Think About When Choosing a Retail Location

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

So, you're ready to set up shop somewhere selling your wares to the public. Good for you. There are some extremely important considerations that you should make when choosing a business location. Let's look at a few things to consider. 1. How are your customers going to use you? This is a very important first consideration that many small businesses miss. For example: if you are opening a lunch counter, you may do better in an area where people work rather than where they live. If you are selling auto parts, you want to be fairly close to the local...

When Robots Make Us Angry, Humans Pay the Price

When Robots Make Us Angry, Humans Pay the Price

by April Glaser @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

The customer service industry is teeming with robots. From automated phone trees to touchscreens, software and machines answer customer questions, complete orders, send friendly reminders, and even handle money. For an industry that is, at its core, about human interaction, it’s increasingly being driven to a large extent by nonhuman automation.

But despite the dreams of science-fiction writers, few people enter a customer-service encounter hoping to talk to a robot. And when the robot malfunctions, as they so often do, it’s a human who is left to calm angry customers. It’s understandable that after navigating a string of automated phone menus and being put on hold for 20 minutes, a customer might take her frustration out on a customer service representative. Even if you know it’s not the customer service agent’s fault, there’s really no one else to get mad at. It’s not like a robot cares if you’re angry.

When human beings need help with something, says Madeleine Elish, an anthropologist and researcher at the Data and Society Institute who studies how humans interact with machines, they’re not only looking for the most efficient solution to a problem. They’re often looking for a kind of validation that a robot can’t give. “Usually you don’t just want the answer,” Elish explained. “You want sympathy, understanding, and to be heard”—none of which are things robots are particularly good at delivering. In a 2015 survey of over 1,300 people conducted by researchers at Boston University, over 90 percent of respondents said they start their customer service interaction hoping to speak to a real person, and 83 percent admitted that in their last customer service call they trotted through phone menus only to make their way to a human on the line at the end.

“People can get so angry that they have to go through all those automated messages,” said Brian Gnerer, a call center representative with AT&T in Bloomington, Minnesota. “They’ve been misrouted or been on hold forever or they pressed one, then two, then zero to speak to somebody, and they are not getting where they want.” And when people do finally get a human on the phone, “they just sigh and are like, ‘Thank God, finally there’s somebody I can speak to.’ ”

Even if robots don’t always make customers happy, more and more companies are making the leap to bring in machines to take over jobs that used to specifically necessitate human interaction. McDonald’s and Wendy’s both reportedly plan to add touchscreen self-ordering machines to restaurants this year. Facebook is saturated with thousands of customer service chatbots that can do anything from hail an Uber, retrieve movie times, to order flowers for loved ones. And of course, corporations prefer automated labor. As Andy Puzder, CEO of the fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s and former Trump pick for labor secretary, bluntly put it in an interview with Business Insider last year, robots are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

But those robots are backstopped by human beings. How does interacting with more automated technology affect the way we treat each other? When machines fail, it’s usually the most immediate human operator who has to take responsibility for the malfunction, whether or not that person had any say in building the failing system. A customer service agent who finally answers your call had zero to do with the poorly designed phone menu you just wasted 15 minutes navigating. A cashier who previously only had to deal with one impatient shopper at a time might now be in charge of overseeing 10 self-checkout kiosks at once. When the kiosks inevitably malfunction, not only does that cashier have to puzzle through how to get them working again: She now has to deal with 10 frustrated customers at once, too.

It’s not only interacting with machines that don’t work that can make us unfriendly toward other humans. Machines that work perfectly fine can inspire people to act less humane toward each other. Take Amazon’s Alexa, which is basically a customer service robot designed to live in your kitchen. Last year, a parent wrote about how his child’s behavior changed after they brought an Alexa home. Amazon’s tabletop smart speaker doesn’t require “please” or “thank you” to process commands, which he said was making his kid rude and demanding to other people as well.

“We know that people treat artificial entities like they’re alive, even when they’re aware of their inanimacy,” writes Kate Darling, a researcher at MIT who studies ethical relationships between humans and robots, in a recent paper on anthropomorphism in human-robot interaction. Sure, robots don’t have feelings and don’t feel pain (not yet, anyway). But as more robots rely on interaction that resembles human interaction, like voice assistants, the way we treat those machines will increasingly bleed into the way we treat each other.

This matters now because in the future there are going to be even more robots than there are today. They’ll be in our homes, at work, school, in stores, in the sky, and on our sidewalks. And robots are becoming more human-like every day: Google’s voice recognition software can now understand English with 95 percent accuracy, and researchers recently developed robotic skin that’s more sensitive than a human hand.

And it matters because many of the machines being built for human interaction are designed not only to help us, but to need humans to help them, too. The industrial robotics market is expected to nearly triple in less than 10 years, and collaborative robots made to work alongside people, or co-bots as they’re often called, are expected to make up one-third of that growth, according to data from Loup Ventures. Workers in Amazon’s robotized warehouses don’t need to walk as far or carry as many heavy boxes—robotic shelves that rove the warehouse floor do that. But humans are still needed to do things that the robots can’t do well, like pick odd-shaped objects off shelves or improvise when necessary.

That’s not that different from the changes happening in customer service, except that in customer service you, the customer with the weird question only a human can answer, are the odd-shaped box. As more of these machines are brought on to help humans, whether on the factory floor or at a customer service counter, Elish warns that companies that use and design them need to take the roles of the humans who work with them seriously from the start. That means rigorous user testing and field work; asking people who will be tasked to collaborate with the machines, including customers, about their experience; and programing robots to be as easy to work with as possible. Physically, robots might be designed to move more slowly or be constructed from softer materials; on the software side, they could be programed to deliver more information without requiring customers to ask for it, or to provide an easy route to connect with a person. (Or another option is just to hire more humans, since even a nicer robot isn’t a person with empathy, patience, and understanding who can interpret problems in a way only a person can.)

The great promise (and the great fear) of robots has always been that they’ll replace human labor. But if companies don’t carefully consider how humans interact with the robots that work for and alongside them, we may find we’re becoming a little less human, too.

Skinny, fat or 'bucket'?: Dove's body-shaped bottle ad backfires

Skinny, fat or 'bucket'?: Dove's body-shaped bottle ad backfires


CTVNews

Social media users are hanging Dove out to dry over a new line of contoured bottles designed to look like different women's body shapes.

Is Techno Tourism What Detroit Needs?

Is Techno Tourism What Detroit Needs?

by Adam Tanaka @ Slate Articles

Once a year on Memorial Day weekend the Movement Electronic Music Festival transforms downtown Detroit’s Hart Plaza into an eardrum-splitting playground for tens of thousands of techno fans from around the globe. A windswept concrete expanse for much of the year, the riverfront park is tailor-made for a music festival, with Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi’s Space Age sculptures providing a suitably cosmic backdrop to three days of booming electronica. This year, the festival was accompanied by more than 70 spinoff parties, bringing foot traffic and visitor spending to neighborhoods far beyond the downtown core.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Detroit may seem an unlikely choice for a 72-hour dance-floor spectacular, but it’s far from random: Much as the gay clubs of 1970s Chicago gave birth to house music, so 1980s Detroit gave birth to techno—house’s sinister, synth-driven cousin—when artsy black teenagers began soldering the clinical electronica of Kraftwerk and other German experimentalists with the alien funk of Prince and Parliament. Meanwhile, aspiring DJs and wily party promoters capitalized on the city’s surfeit of industrial spaces, repurposing the relics of the auto age for the city’s first postindustrial generation. Motown became Techno City.

The genre never really hit the mainstream in the United States, and today Americans are more likely to cite Eminem as Detroit’s most substantial musical export since Motown. (See: Chrysler’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial.) But abroad, techno became a multibillion-dollar industry, providing the drug-fueled soundtrack to post–Cold War European integration. Berlin and Ibiza continue to draw cultural and economic vitality from club-driven tourism, sped along by cheap airfares and liberal after-hours regulations. Amsterdam, Paris, and London recently appointed nighttime mayors charged with keeping their clubs competitive and their dance floors open into the early hours (or, as in the case of Berlin, for all 24).

Today, some Detroiters are wondering whether they too might monetize this strain of the city’s cultural heritage. Music is already a big part of the city’s DNA: The Motown Museum, which draws about 70,000 visitors a year, is currently undergoing expansion, while the city’s jazz festival in August is marketed as the largest free jazz festival in the world. Both are small change compared to Movement, which is touted as the Motor City’s biggest tourist draw after the annual auto show. Although numbers are hazy in the absence of a formal economic impact study, city officials told me that “festival weekend” was Airbnb’s busiest of the year in the area. For a city still reeling from 2013 bankruptcy proceedings, techno tourism has brought a spillover economic boost. (The San Francisco–based short-term rental company also recently agreed to pay a use tax in Michigan.)

In the longer term, Movement’s effects are as much psychological as financial. “When people understand that this kind of creativity is homegrown in Detroit, it helps them reimagine Detroit in their mind,” said Mark Denson, chief business attraction officer at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (and a college classmate of techno innovator Derrick May). “I’ve lived downtown for a very long time, and I’ve run into many people who will say that their first really great experience in Detroit was the techno festival.”

“For people who know their techno, they know that Detroit is the birthplace,” said Helen Stevens, a 44-year-old Australian who was visiting the United States for the first time. (At Movement this year, I also met Japanese tourists who chose Movement for their inaugural stateside visit). Sporting a “Detroit Techno City” badge on her head-to-toe black outfit—the standard for techno enthusiasts—Stevens said that the Motor City has long been on her “travel bucket list.”

Dance floor–driven urban policy may sound like a parody of economic development guru Richard Florida’s “creative class” mantra. But the city has not been blind to the potential of techno to draw young people back to town. In its early years, the electronic music festival was free, with the city largely footing the bill. By the time Movement shifted to a paid model in 2003, the event was hailed as one of the largest free music festivals in the world. That same year, the Detroit Historical Museum mounted “Techno: Detroit’s Gift to the World,” a large-scale retrospective that paired memorabilia with reminiscences from some of the genre’s founding fathers. More recently, Mayor Mike Duggan officially declared “Techno Week” to coincide with the Movement festival.

Still, many in the music business here feel that the city has not done enough to capitalize on its cultural assets. That includes small, symbolic changes, like officially recognizing “Techno Boulevard,” a block in the city’s Eastern Market neighborhood that housed many of the genre’s earliest record labels. And more substantial issues, like lobbying to change the state-regulated 2 a.m. closing time that bar-owners and city reps say stymies the growth of a full-fledged nighttime economy.

Part of the problem is that while techno has a large international following, it has a relatively limited audience here at home. “Detroit exported nightlife culture,” said Adriel Thornton, a veteran of the ’90s rave scene who was involved in organizing an early iteration of Movement and today leads techno-themed tours of the city through Airbnb. “You go to Europe and ‘Detroit Techno’ is a genre of music. But here at home, the idea that it is actually generating real dollars and creating reasons for people to move here hasn’t been sufficiently recognized.”

Instead the festival draws mostly suburbanites and out-of-towners, who depart loaded up with Detroit swag. International visitors make up 1 in 5 attendees, organizers estimate; indeed, one of the festival’s biggest scheduling concerns is not to clash with the opening weekend at Ibiza, the clubbing hotspot off the coast of Spain.

The place most often invoked in discussions of Detroit’s trans-Atlantic cachet is Berlin, another city noted for its techno culture and wealth of underutilized spaces. Crystallizing this dialogue is the Detroit-Berlin Connection, a nonprofit founded in 2013 by German club entrepreneur Dimitri Hegemann. The owner of Tresor, one of Berlin’s landmark techno venues, and a frequent visitor to the Motor City, Hegemann is convinced that Detroit’s comeback hinges on its countercultural appeal. “One of our jobs is to keep Detroit weird,” he told me.

Following the Berlin model, Hegemann’s dream is to renovate some of Detroit’s most iconic industrial ruins into “lighthouses” for art and culture, blurring the lines between historical monuments, youth hostels, nightclubs, art galleries, and incubators. But in the face of political inertia and financial skittishness, getting such fanciful schemes off the ground is easier said than done. Hegemann’s particular bête noire is the curfew. “If we had a 2 a.m. curfew, Berlin’s nightlife would collapse,” Hegemann said. “My advice for the city council is to cancel the curfew. Don’t build shopping malls and casinos. Just cancel the curfew, and discover the nighttime economy.” Critics contend that would require the city to expand strapped municipal services like police, and in a city with America’s worst transit network, lead to more drunk driving.

Closer to home, cities like Nashville and New Orleans have also succeeded in trading off their own musical legacies. As recently as the 1990s, Nashville was on the fence about making country music the centerpiece of its tourism strategy, but last year the “Music City” brought in a record-breaking 13.9 million tourists, with upward of 150,000 visitors coming for the city’s free, open-air New Year’s Eve concert alone. The numbers are almost as impressive in New Orleans, where culture industry jobs accounted for 15 percent of local employment in 2015, up from 9 percent in 2006. Those reputations become economic assets: Music is Nashville’s second-largest employment sector after health care. Half of all entertainment businesses in New Orleans are live music venues. Beyond the musicians, music tourism helps fill municipal coffers through tax receipts.

But even if there’s a model to be emulated somewhere between Berlin and the Big Easy, Detroit has another problem: There isn’t a huge homegrown techno scene waiting to be discovered. In a list of the country’s top clubbing destinations compiled by Thump, an online dance music publication, Detroit didn’t even make the top 10. Legendary venues like the Music Institute and Cheeks, which did much to set the template for nightclubs worldwide, are long gone.

Even Motor City boosters like Sam Fotias, the Detroit-born-and-bred director of operations at Movement, concedes that getting a year-round scene going in the city is easier said than done. “Detroit has drawn a lot of comparison to other cities like Berlin,” he told me. “I think that there are some similarities: post-wall Berlin, post-bankruptcy Detroit. But in Berlin you have huge population saturation, you have a regional thing, you have a city that is centrally located in Europe that has always been a very significant cultural hub. In Detroit, you have a burgeoning cultural scene, but as a whole the region is still very blue-collar.”

Fotias and others worry that as the scene grows, it may become increasingly associated with outsiders—both tourists and out-of-town promoters—and dovetail with growing anxieties about gentrification. The genre’s largely white audience doesn’t help the image problem. In an 83 percent black city, attendance at Movement is predominantly white. (Ticket prices may be a factor: Longtime attendees recall a more substantial black audience in the festival’s early years.) The question troubling the city’s techno boosters is how to attract the jet-setting crowd while staying true to the genre’s roots and ensuring that the city serves as more than just a gritty postindustrial backdrop.

A clue to this conundrum may lie at the northern Detroit headquarters of Submerge, a DJ collective and techno label with deep roots in the city’s underground scene. Lining the company’s foyer is “Exhibit 3000,” a modest but mesmerizing overview of Detroit’s dance music history that is billed as the world’s “first permanent techno museum.” With no formal opening hours and limited information online, Submerge is a destination for aficionados only. When I dropped by in the run-up to Movement, the place was buzzing with techno geeks from across the globe.

But when I met with Cornelius Harris, label manager for Submerge, he was ambivalent about the genre’s global appeal. “People come here and do all these documentaries that are being shown to big crowds in Europe, but no one here has seen them,” he told me. “All we’re doing is enriching what’s over there, and none of it comes back this way.”

Harris is eager to reach another audience: local schoolchildren. Although techno’s popularity with Detroit youth pales next to hip-hop, Harris hopes students will come away with a deeper appreciation for the homegrown history of a genre that upended the global music industry.

“What we’re hoping is that these kids can see how people just like them refused to fit stereotypes and made their own future,” Harris said. “That’s what we’ve used the museum for: to offer an alternative view of what you can do. If I want to innovate in medicine, maybe I can learn from techno. The music is a tool. It leads to other things.”

London to Uber: Get Out

London to Uber: Get Out

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Starting in October, Londoners may have one fewer way to get around town.

It will be the first month since 2012 that Europe’s largest city goes without Uber, whose license to operate will expire on Sept. 30. Transport for London, the city’s transportation department, will not renew it, the agency announced on Friday.

It’s a massive blow to Uber, which has 40,000 drivers in the British capital. The company has three weeks to appeal and may continue operating while the appeal is considered.

The ride-hailing company has already done significant damage to London’s black cabs, a guildlike profession whose drivers must memorize 25,000 streets in a test that has been shown to expand the size of their hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for spatial thinking. There are twice as many Ubers as black cabs in London; the cabbies have nicknamed Transport for London, known by its acronym TfL, “Totally Failing London.” As in many cities, cabbies are upwardly mobile, small-time entrepreneurs who say Uber has precipitated a race to the bottom. Adding to the tension is the fact that many Uber drivers are immigrants; cabbies tend to be native and white.

But TfL’s opposition to Uber is not with its business model, but with its corporate governance. In a press release, the body cited Uber’s fast-and-loose approach to crime reporting, medical certificates, and background checks, in addition to its use of Grayball, a software that helped the company evade police scrutiny.

So while London’s approach to Uber may wind up as one anecdote in a series of stories of European regulators willing to take on U.S. tech companies, it’s much more an Uber-specific problem. The company’s aggressive disregard for local laws was instrumental in its expansion and operation, but that was during the Travis Kalanick era. New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was appointed last month, has signaled the arrival of a more mature company.

This is his biggest test yet. In the past, Uber has responded to legal setbacks with scorching PR campaigns that have largely succeeded in getting the company what it wants. When New York City challenged the company several years ago, for example, it enlisted local celebrities in its defense. A year of terrible press may have strained that model. Still, tens of thousands of Londoners have grown to depend on the company, whose fares can be 30 percent lower than typical black cabs. (Lyft, Uber’s main U.S. rival, does not have international service—though the company has said it plans to expand.) If those inconvenienced riders are outraged enough, they may be able to pressure TfL to accommodate Uber, leading other municipal regulators to go easier on the company, too.

An Uber exit from London would hurt the company’s image and its bottom line. But the real victims will be its tens of thousands of drivers, many of whom will have taken on auto debt to buy new cars to drive for Uber.

Uber’s in a good position, with its recent leadership shuffle, to politely make the case its governance ain’t what it used to be. The last time it left a major city was in 2016, when Austin, Texas, instituted a strict new background check rule. In the absence of Uber and Lyft, a homegrown ride-hail scene bloomed. But after the Texas Legislature pre-empted the city this summer, Uber and Lyft returned—and quickly recaptured their market share.

Breastfeeding, Pumping, and Night vs. Day Milk: Your Questions Answered

Breastfeeding, Pumping, and Night vs. Day Milk: Your Questions Answered

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Learning to breastfeed your baby can be one of the most challenging and beautiful experiences of being a new parent. Many moms choose to also learn how to pump their breastmilk for times when they can’t be there to nourish their little one, or for other reasons. Here are some new insights I’ve learned and […]

Mission Minded Wins National Marketing Awards

by Rod Lemaire @ Mission Minded

Mission Minded won Gold and Silver Brilliance Awards this week for our work on Marin Academy’s Website and Drew School’s Admissions Video in a national competition hosted by InspirED School Marketers. We feel so lucky to have had the chance to lead the rebranding efforts for these two extraordinary schools. Each project was a joy […]

The post Mission Minded Wins National Marketing Awards appeared first on Mission Minded.

Thank You, DAS Companies, Inc.

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/thank-you-das-companies-inc/

A big "Thank You" to DAS Companies, Inc. for their "Volunteers in Service Together" project (Project VISTO) for encouraging their employees to volunteer and support non-profits organizations!!! Lebanon Rescue Mission is grateful for your assistance!

SAP

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Electronics & technology – software; Professional services – technological solutions Owner of the brand: SAP SE Key competitors: IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce, Sage

Artykuł SAP pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Stinger Zinger

Stinger Zinger

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Dr. Greene’s take on bee stings… Get ready for an interesting bee season! All the way back in the summer of 1997 we had a noticeable spike in questions at DrGreene.com about severe mosquito bite reactions and severe headaches, most of them coming from Orange County, Florida. I wondered if there might be a new […]

Miu Miu

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Apparel – luxury apparel; FMCG Personal care & beauty – fragrances; Retail – fashion stores, e-retail Owner of the brand: Prada SpA Group Key competitors: Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermès, Ralph Lauren

Artykuł Miu Miu pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

The Straight Scoop on Grains

The Straight Scoop on Grains

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Dr. Greene’s take on healthy whole grains… What popular kids’ food starts to turn to sugar in their mouth and becomes 100% glucose by the time it’s absorbed? You guessed it, processed white flour. But here’s the surprising kicker, it’s the number-one most popular food for most kids: White bread for sandwiches Hamburger buns Pasta […]

Tumblr

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Media & entertainment – social media Owner of the brand: Yahoo Inc. Key competitors: Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Medium

Artykuł Tumblr pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Right Before Harvey, Trump Nixed a Rule Designed to Protect Cities From Flood Risks

Right Before Harvey, Trump Nixed a Rule Designed to Protect Cities From Flood Risks

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Ten days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to speed up the pipeline for federal infrastructure projects.

One component of that Aug. 15 order? Eliminating an Obama-era rule called the federal flood risk management standard that asked agencies to account for climate change projections when they approved projects.

That drew condemnation from an odd coalition of scientists, civil engineers, and fiscal conservatives concerned about reversion to the old ways: pouring money into projects that would soon be washed away. “This Executive Order is not fiscally conservative,” said Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in a press release. “It’s irresponsible, and it will lead to taxpayer dollars being wasted on projects that may not be built to endure the flooding we are already seeing and know is only going to get worse.” FEMA floodplain managers were “aghast,” E&E News reported.

On the other side was the National Association of Home Builders. The NAHB argued the law’s requirement for raising homes after disasters “could make many projects infeasible, due to increased construction costs and the inability to offset these costs through higher rents.” Developers do tend to like unfettered waterfront construction.

The rule, borne out of the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort, gave agencies three options to address flood risk in construction, Kriston Capps explains at City Lab: “using methods informed by climate science, building two feet above the 100-year flood elevation, or building to the 500-year flood elevation.”

“If we make a modest investment in building higher in advance of floods, we can reduce the amount of future federal disaster bailouts,” Alice Hill, a former special assistant to Obama who helped draft it, wrote last week. “The Standard not only saves money, it saves lives. Elevated structures provide more protection to the people inside them as floodwaters rise.”

Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Louisiana Republican who tried to undo Obama’s regulation in Congress, was thrilled with the president’s order. He told the New York Times that the state’s 2016 catastrophic flooding was an isolated event—and that regulations were the greater risk to the state’s well-being. Meanwhile, on Monday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked residents to shelter in place on Tuesday as the remnants of Harvey bear down on the city.

But Abraham did have a point when he observed that the rule would make construction in his state more expensive. “We had more than our share of tragedy down here with the water, but we already have problems meeting requirements,” he told the paper. “The new plan would make it so costly for my Louisiana residents.”

The truth is that lawmakers from Brownsville to Boston represent constituents whose homes can only be insured thanks to federal flood insurance policies that no private company will provide. If rebuilding infrastructure with proper flood-ready design is more expensive, that’s because it accurately accounts for the uncomfortable level of risk in many low-lying coastal towns.

Including many of the places that Hurricane Harvey blew through this weekend—and will continue to devastate in the coming days.

Trump’s Cabinet Secretaries Are Innovating Government Like a Fork Innovates Soup

Trump’s Cabinet Secretaries Are Innovating Government Like a Fork Innovates Soup

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

It has been nearly five months since Donald Trump formed the Office of American Innovation, an initiative led by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to make the federal government run more like a business.

Aside from the presence of Kushner, the New Jersey housing heir who married the president’s daughter and who once demonstrated his business acumen by spectacularly overpaying for a Manhattan skyscraper, this was a classic presidential gambit. Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama all tried their hand at making the federal government more efficient, always with the rhetoric of the private sector close at hand.

The initiative was also of a piece with Trump’s strategy of nominating business leaders (or simply rich people) to Cabinet positions, several of whom signaled a break with the executive branch’s long-standing preference for expertise and government experience: Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson at the State Department, neurosurgeon Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, billionaire conservative activist Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education.

You had to wonder: Would these private-sector success stories reboot their respective bureaucracies as corporate-style dynamos? Would career staff push back to maintain the status quo or resign en masse? Would politically inexperienced Trump appointees be able to implement the president’s agenda?

Four new, in-depth magazine articles have offered some insight into those questions, portraying an executive branch that does look like a business—just not a very successful one. Instead, the departments in question resemble takeover targets being sold for parts, where the talented are leaving, the opportunistic are plotting their next steps, and nobody else knows what to do. More like Yahoo, less like Amazon.

In the September issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis profiles the Department of Energy—the one being run by a man who once believed it should be eliminated, and then forgot its name. In Monday’s issue of New York, Alec MacGillis looks at HUD under Carson, the neurosurgeon with no prior experience in housing or government. In Foreign Policy, Robbie Gramer, Dan De Luce, and Colum Lynch write about the State Department under Tillerson, the Texan who spent his career hunting the world for oil. In GQ, Elaina Plott goes horseback riding on the National Mall with Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior who served a two-year term in Congress before being offered the job in January, after a 100-second conversation with the president-elect, during which he was also offered a different Cabinet post, as the head of Veterans Affairs.

Some departments, of course, have been effective in implementing right-wing policy—the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, has been transformed by industry priorities, and the Department of Homeland Security's immigration police force has struck fear in immigrant families across the country.

But the impression left from reading these four accounts in succession is that Trump may well be fulfilling erstwhile aide Steve Bannon’s goal, the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Only by accident, though. What follows are some common threads from those pieces, each of which is worth reading in full.

We see, for example, how slow the Trump transition was compared with those of his predecessors. It’s said that between the election and the inauguration, Lewis reports, no one from the Trump team set foot inside the Department of Agriculture, which employs more than 100,000 people. Meanwhile at DOE, where Obama had sent several dozen representatives the day after the election, it took a month for the leader of the Trump “landing team” to arrive—an oil and gas lobbyist named Thomas Pyle. His time inside the department barely added up to half a day. The invaluable opportunity to mine the knowledge of predecessors went unused.

Pyle was typical of the bunglers and bundlers Trump sent in. At HUD, MacGillis reports, the January “beachhead" team included a Manhattan real-estate broker, the campaign’s “student and millennial outreach coordinator,” and the degree-exaggerating party planner-turned–housing administrator Lynne Patton. The leader of the group wound up being a startup employee with a Trump connection who, prior to landing at HUD, helped investors find rental properties to buy. At Interior, the recently confirmed deputy interior secretary—a former water bottle lobbyist—just reversed an Obama-era rule to reduce water bottle sales in National Parks.

Across the executive branch, the first moves included purging Obama appointees and digging for dirt. At DOE, Pyle initiated a small, early scandal by requesting a list of employees and contractors who had been involved in climate change research. “It reminded me of McCarthyism,” Obama-era Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall told Lewis. This happened at the State Department, too. In a speech to former colleagues in May, a onetime U.S. ambassador to Russia "warned against ‘pernicious' attempts to question the loyalty of career diplomats 'because they worked in the previous administration,’” Gramer, De Luce, and Lynch write. The emphasis on loyalty continued: In February, one of Carson’s top aides at HUD was fired after Trump’s people learned he had been critical of the president during the campaign.

Once they were installed, Trump’s team blended general disinterest with stifling micromanagement. At HUD, for example, all requests had to be rooted through the top brass, which rejected routine requests. At State, Tillerson hired a management consulting firm to administer a survey, asking how staffers might eliminate aspects of their job. Half the 75,000-person staff did not fill it out, Foreign Policy reports. A further layer of administration consisted of the “shadow Cabinet” that allowed the White House to supervise and clash with its appointees, which a Republican operative described to Plott as “zombies loyal to Jared.”

For the most part, though, top-level positions went vacant. At State, that meant regional assistant secretaries for conflict zones and important ambassadorships. Memos that once took hours to sign languished for weeks. Across the Cabinet departments, outsiders didn’t know whom to call. Canada, for example, is now discussing climate change and trade policy with states, rather than State.

Part of the problem begins with Trump: According to the Partnership for Public Service, out of 591 agency positions that require Senate confirmation, only 117 have been confirmed. There are 368 open positions with no nominees. But the department heads are having trouble, too. Zinke was two for 15 at the end of July, and the Senate committee delayed the hearings for Zinke’s other nominees for his department the day after he threatened its chairwoman, the GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, for her lack of support for the president’s health care bill.

Of the four secretaries, Zinke seems the most interested. At Energy, Perry “has no personal interest in understanding what we do and effecting change,” a staffer told Lewis. “He’s never been briefed on a program—not a single one, which to me is shocking.” “Secretary Perry is a wonderful guy," Zinke told Plott. "I think he thought his department was more about energy than … science. Mostly, it's science.” At a HUD MacGillis portrays as slipping into disfunction, an oblivious Carson can only tell him, in response to a query at a press conference, “it’s coming along quite nicely.”

Across the executive branch, the career staff—granted anonymity to express themselves—give strikingly similar descriptions of the atmosphere. These are less offices run by hardcore ideologues than offices not run at all.

  • At HUD: “It was just nothing,” said one career employee. “I’ve never been so bored in my life. No agenda, nothing to move forward or push back against. Just nothing.”
  • At Energy: “The biggest change is the grinding to a halt of any proactive work. There’s very little work happening. There’s a lot of confusion about what our mission was going to be. For a majority of the workforce it’s been demoralizing.”
  • At State: “I used to wake up every morning with a vision about how to do the work to make the world a better place. It’s pretty demoralizing if you are committed to making progress. I now spend most of my days thinking about the morass. There is no vision.”

Tom Countryman, a longtime State employee who retired in January, told FP that morale was at an all-time low. That means, he says, that people are seeking opportunities to exit. He has tried to dissuade them. “My advice was to do your best to stay and serve the American people until it becomes truly unbearable for you in a moral sense. … I sought to encourage them by reminding them that no administration lasts forever.”

The same is true at Energy, especially among the cadre of supersmart scientists who can easily find more lucrative work than monitoring the nation’s nuclear waste. “People are heading for the doors,” Tarak Shah, a former chief of staff to the undersecretary for science and energy, told Lewis. “And that’s really sad and destructive. The best and the brightest are the ones being targeted. They will leave fastest. Because they will get the best job offers.”

The result of all this is a talent whirlpool, as thousands of years of institutional knowledge drains from Washington all at once. At HUD, MacGillis writes, the Bush appointee and homelessness official Ann Marie Oliva "was barred from attending a big annual conference on housing and homelessness in Ohio because, she inferred, some of the other speakers there leaned left.” At State, Tillerson has substituted an expanded front office of political hires with little diplomatic experience for the vast collected knowledge of Foggy Bottom, and is increasingly turning only to them.

At Energy, Lewis writes, the CFO simply departed, not having been told what else to do. The head of the nuclear weapons program—a three-star Air Force general—was asked to resign, before the Obama Energy chief, nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, called senators to warn them of the danger, and he was called back. He was the exception that proved the rule: Many people like him left.

To say nothing of all those who never arrived.

Tending the Garden Within

Tending the Garden Within

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

One of my favorite gardening activities is digging potatoes. Rich soil hides delicious, nutritious gems like the ones in the image above from our garden. Organic farmers talk about tending the soil — nurturing the soil so it can nurture the plants that provide fruits and vegetables for us to use in building healthy bodies. […]

Agape Family Shelter receives 2014 grant award from The Women’s Fund!

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/agape-family-shelter-receives-2014-grant-award-from-the-womens-fund-2/

This past year, Agape Family Shelter received a generous $1,620.00 award from The Women’s Fund, a partner of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC). With this funding, we were able to install a new state-of-the-art shelter security system. Now our resident women and children can feel safe and secure 24/7, especially after dark.

Dove

Dove


Unilever global company website

Dove is committed to helping women realise their personal potential for beauty by engaging them with products that deliver real care.

Dove

Dove


Unilever USA

Discover the dove® difference

Porsche

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Automotive – cars, luxury cars, car accessories Owner of the brand: Volkswagen Group Key competitors: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Corvette, Jaguar

Artykuł Porsche pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Brand DNA: How to Build Values, Inspire Employees, and Elicit Positive Feelings About Your Brand

Brand DNA: How to Build Values, Inspire Employees, and Elicit Positive Feelings About Your Brand


The Grasshopper Blog

Your brand is made up of its own unique DNA. Learn how to build values, inspire employees, and elicit positive feelings about your brand.

Steve Bannon May Be Leaving the White House, but His Worst Ideas Will Live On

Steve Bannon May Be Leaving the White House, but His Worst Ideas Will Live On

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

 

Steve Bannon was supposed to be the brains behind the Trump presidency—the “populist” ideologue who personified the the White House's xenophobic, race-baiting, protectionist tendencies. Saturday Night Live literally depicted him as the grim reaper whispering evil commands into our half-wit commander in chief's ear.

Now Bannon is out of a job, fired from the West Wing thanks to his penchant for intramural squabbling and gabbing to the press. But despite Bannon's symbolic stature as the alt-right's man in the West Wing, on a policy level it seems unlikely that much will change. There are two main reasons why. First, Bannon turned out to be a buffoonish operator whose biggest concrete policy contribution—a sloppily drafted and hastily sprung Muslim travel ban—galvanized the left and was held up in the courts. Second, there are plenty of people left in the administration who will carry the torch for most his principles (trade protectionism, hard-line immigration restrictions, Islamophobia-tinged stance on terrorism, and paranoia toward Iran), the most notable of whom is named Donald J. Trump.

On national security, Bannon was often described as an isolationist—but that's not quite right. He certainly wanted to keep Muslims out of the United States. But he also argued for killing the Iran deal, which could have easily led to new conflicts in the Middle East, and he wanted to let hired mercenaries take over operations in Afghanistan in lieu of U.S. troops. A privatized war is still war.

Hopefully, the idea of letting Academi—né Blackwater—and DynCorp go wild in Kabul is dead for good. But there are still powerful critics of the Iran deal within the administration, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo and, of course, the president himself, who has said he would be “surprised” if Tehran were to be found compliant with the agreement the next time it needs to be recertified. Meanwhile, travel-ban co-conspirator Stephen Miller, who has successfully distanced himself somewhat from Bannon, is still very much ensconced in the White House. (Thankfully, Hungarian man of mystery Sebastian Gorka may well be on his way out as well.)

How about immigration? Well, Trump still wants to build his wall and has already backed a bill that would reduce the number of legal immigrants we let in each year. Stephen “Let Me Tell You About the Statue of Liberty” Miller is, as mentioned, still on the payroll. And chief of staff John Kelly oversaw the Department of Homeland Security during the early days of Trump's term, when Customs and Border Patrol was busy detaining NASA scientists and French historians. Bannon's exit isn't going to make this administration any softer on foreigners.

The administration is also well-stocked with trade protectionists not named Steve who have already started implementing their vision. Vehemently anti-China trade guru Peter Navarro is still in action, of course—as of July, Politico reported he was literally “stalking the halls of the West Wing at night and on the weekends” in order to get private time with the president. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer are both committed to cracking down on Chinese trade barriers, and Trump has already signed an executive order that will likely lead to rare Section 301 investigation of Beijing's alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property. Meanwhile, Lighthizer has already begun renegotiating NAFTA.

Aside from hard-line xenophobia, a clash of civilizations approach to the Muslim world, and a deep antipathy for trade deals, Bannon also occasionally spouted off about populist economic ideas like infrastructure spending (he wanted to get America's shipyards and iron works “all jacked up”). But the issue has always been at the bottom of the congressional GOP's to-do list, and the administration's much discussed but never-detailed “trillion-dollar infrastructure plan” would still be on pace to pass some time after the 12th of never with or without Bannon around. His 44 percent tax rate for multimillionaires was likewise received as a joke.

Finally, it seems unlikely that jettisoning Bannon is going to cure the administration's apparent soft spot for white supremacists, given the president's apparently heartfelt response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he suggested there were some “very fine people” wielding Tiki torches that weekend. We also still have Jeff Sessions—who Bannon credited as the godfather of Trumpism—running the Department of Justice, easing up on racist police departments and siding with states that want to crack down on voting rights.

Steve Bannon came as close as anybody to articulating a coherent Trumpist philosophy, but he was never skilled enough to implement it. Other, savvier, less colorful players were always going to have to implement his ideas. Now he'll be loudly rooting for them from the sidelines.

Accenture

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Professional services – technological solutions, management consulting Owner of the brand: Accenture PLC Key competitors: McKinsey, Deloitte, BCG, Bain, IBM, Capgemini

Artykuł Accenture pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

What is the difference between commercial soap noodle production vs castile handmade soap?

by Nina George @

Mountain Sky Makes Handmade Castile Soap. There are two main processes for making hard bar opaque soap, the hot process and the cold process. Commercial soap (Irish Spring, Dove, Body Shop soap, Dr. Bronner’s hard bar soap, Kirk's) is manufactured by using a hot process method. In the hot process, oils and alkali are boiled [...]

The post What is the difference between commercial soap noodle production vs castile handmade soap? appeared first on .

In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle

In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle

by @ CTVNews.ca - Top Stories - Public RSS

Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

Unilever

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Food; FMCG Non-alcoholic beverages; FMCG Household products; FMCG Personal care & beauty Owner of the brand: Unilever Key competitors: Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive, The Kraft Heinz Company, Reckitt Benckiser Group

Artykuł Unilever pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Pee in the Pool: What You Should Know, What You Should Do

Pee in the Pool: What You Should Know, What You Should Do

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Scientists recently figured out a cool way to measure how much urine is in a public swimming pool. And the results are sure to turn some heads! Their sweet idea? They used the artificial sweetener acesulfame K (Ace K). The human body is unable to break down aspartame, which is why there are no calories. […]

Important Information Regarding Operation Santa

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/important-information-regarding-operation-santa/

There will be no “Operation Santa” this year. The Operation Santa program is closed … 2015 was the final year for the program.

Did the Rich Really Pay Much Higher Taxes in the 1950s? The Answer Is a Little Complicated.

Did the Rich Really Pay Much Higher Taxes in the 1950s? The Answer Is a Little Complicated.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

American progressives like to remember the mid–20th century as a time when the only thing higher than a Cadillac’s tail fin was the top marginal tax rate (which, during the Eisenhower years peaked above 90 percent for the very rich). Uncle Sam took 90 cents on the dollar off the highest incomes, and—as any good Bernie Sanders devotee will remind you—the economy thrived.

Conservatives, however, often try to push back on this version of history, pointing out that those staggeringly high tax rates existed mostly on paper; relatively few Americans actually paid them. Recently, the Tax Foundation's Scott Greenberg went so far as to argue that “taxes on the rich were not that much higher” in the 1950s than today. Between 1950 and 1959, he notes, the highest earning 1 percent of Americans paid an effective tax rate of 42 percent. By 2014, it was only down to 36.4 percent—a substantial but by no means astronomical decline.

Greenberg is not pulling his numbers out of thin air. Rather, he’s drawing them directly from a recent paper by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman in which the three economists—all well-loved by progressives—estimate the average tax rates Americans at different income levels have actually paid over time. Their historical measure includes federal, state, and local levies—including corporate, property, income, estate, sales, and payroll taxes. And lest you think Greenberg is misrepresenting anything, here’s Piketty & co.’s own graph (rates on rich folks are shown in green).

There are a few obvious reasons why the taxes the rich actually paid in the 1950s were so much lower than the confiscatory top rates that sat on the books. For one, the max tax rates on investment income were far lower than on wages and salaries, which gave a lot of wealthy individuals some relief. Tax avoidance may have also been a big problem. Moreover, there simply weren’t that many extraordinarily rich households. Those fabled 90 percent tax rates only bit at incomes over $200,000, the equivalent of more than $2 million in today’s dollars. As Greenberg notes, the tax may have only applied to 10,000 families.

To Greenberg, the takeaway from this is simple: Progressives should stop fixating on the tax rates from 60 years ago. “All in all, the idea that high-income Americans in the 1950s paid much more of their income in taxes should be abandoned. The top 1 percent of Americans today do not face an unusually low tax burden, by historical standards.”

I’m not convinced. Effective tax rates on 1 percenters may not have fallen by half, as some on the left might be tempted to imagine. But they are down by about 6 percentage points1 at a time when the wealthy earn a vastly larger share of the national income. That drop represents a lot of money. Moreover, as Greenberg admits, tax rates on top 0.1 percent have fallen by about one-fifth since their 1950s heights. That rather severely undercuts the idea that taxes on the wealthy haven't fallen “much.”

Moreover, there may be reasons to support higher taxes beyond their ability to raise revenue. One popular theory among left-leaning intellectuals right now—advanced by Piketty, Saez, and their protegée Stefanie Stantcheva—is that high tax rates actually ease income inequality by discouraging CEOs and professionals from demanding exorbitantly high pay for their services.* In other words, thanks to high tax rates, people didn’t bother trying to get as rich. After all, there’s no point in bargaining for a giant bonus if the government is going to clip off most of it. I wouldn’t say the theory has been accepted as a consensus fact at this point, but it’s certainly alive and being taken seriously.

So the real tax rates rich Americans paid in the 1950s may not have been so stratospherically high as some progressives assume. But they also may have helped create a more egalitarian society. That seems worth considering.

1 Or more, depending on how you pick your frame of comparison. If you average the rates 1 percenters paid between 2010 and 2014, their effective average rate comes out to about 33.6 percent.

*Correction, Aug. 8, 2017: This post originally misspelled Stefanie Stantcheva’s first name.

Football, Dogs & Money - The Michael Vick Story By: Brian Heenan

by noreply@blogger.com (Giulia Carando) @ Public Relations Problems and Cases

Just a heads up...I was not assigned a case study as this was more of a research paper. So do not expect the 4-steps or SWOT's that you're used to. This is entirely different. It is broken down into sections: Backround on Vick and Dogfighting, Vick's role in Dogfighting, PETA and Pit bulls, Where Vick is now, other athletes who have fallen from grace, interviews, and finally Vick's steps to a comeback. And since I am doing this by myself, I really don't want to stand up there for a half an hour and talk away. I'll get bored and you will too. So I was hoping we could have more of a back and forth throughout the presentation and if you have a question or comment at any time along the way, please blurt it out and don't wait till the end. We'll see how it goes....


BACKROUND

Michael Vick:
Michael Vick was born in Newport News, Virginia on June 26, 1980. Growing up, Newport News did not provide the safest and healthiest environment for Vick, or any child for that matter. It was a rough and tumble place that produced gang members and drug dealers, not top-notch professional athletes. The choice to stay local for college may have had a bad influence on Vick and his extracurricular activities. Growing up as a prominent athlete in Newport News wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Another local athlete, Allen Iverson, was always followed around by a troublesome posse that claimed to be his friends. They knew he would be rich and famous one day so they all tried to stick around him so they could eventually live off of his success. But as Newport News was known for its crime and gangs, trouble always seemed to follow Iverson. Vick would eventually deal with a similar problem. Had he gone to Syracuse, his ties with the “local thugs” in Newport News would likely have been snapped. However, it wouldn’t be until much later in his career that Vick’s association with these people would bite him in the rear, no pun intended.

Dog Fighting:
Gambling is nothing new to this, or any other country. The activity of wagering bets on various sporting events has been around for hundreds of years. Traditional bets are placed on football, basketball, boxing and horseracing. But one of the most violent and cruel gambling “sports” is the underground gambling ring of dog fighting. While dog fighting is a form of entertainment and a venue for illegal gambling, it is also a means to create personal revenue. A person or group who run(s) a dog fighting ring often charge admission to fights, but also cash in breeding winning dogs. Dogs are often judged on their “gameness,” or willingness/desire to fight. As this is the most valuable trait in dog fighting dogs, the more game they have, the more money they will earn. This also trickles down to puppy litters. According to the ASPCA, the owner of any grand champion, a dog that has won at least five fights, can sell the dog's puppies for at least $1,500 each.
Dog fighting in North America is illegal. This poses a big problem for those involved in the sport, but an even bigger problem for organizations such as the ASPCA and PETA. These dog fighting rings are hard to find. Invitations to them are top secret and with little or no warning. One of the most brutal aspects of this “sport” is how owners train their dogs to fight. The dogs are abused, starved, often times tied up with extremely heavy chains and beaten. This abuse is used to toughen the animals up and prepare them for fights. Another awful element of training these dogs is that owners and trainers will often roam neighborhoods and streets to steal dogs right out of homes and backyards. The trainer will then break one of the dogs legs or handicap it in some way so their fighting dog can train against a dog that will not harm them back. Such behavior is murder. It is barbaric. And organizations like PETA are doing everything they can to put it to a stop.


VICK AND THE DOGFIGHTING RING

Vick’s cousin, Davon Boodie, was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and ended up giving police the address to one of Vick’s properties in Smithfield, Va. When police searched the property on Moonlight Road, they found enough evidence to seek another warrant involving animal cruelty. It was then that Michael Vick was immediately tied to dog fighting, yet Vick decided to play the innocent card and blame his ignorance for not knowing such activities were going on at his household. He initially placed blame on the family members who lived in the house for what was found there. According to an article from Sports Illustrated, Vick said, “It’s unfortunate that I have to take the heat…lesson learned for me.”
However, the evidence against Vick, and/or, his “friends” was overwhelming. As police searched the property, they found unmistakable evidence of a professional dogfighting operation. Deep in the woods behind the house, there were five smaller buildings all painted pitch black in an effort to hide the operation as nearly all dogfights are held at night. There were scales, treadmills to exercise the dogs, “rape stands” which are devices that hold aggressive dogs in place in the breeding process, “break sticks” to pry open a dog’s jaws, syringes, as well as diuretics and nutritional supplements. Another building housed over 30 dogs, mostly pit bull terriers, as nearly another 30 were found outside on leashes that were tied to car axles buried in the ground. Months later, Vick and three other men were indicted on dogfighting charges for activity over a six year period. Vick signed a plea agreement and a statement of facts admitting to conspiracy in a dogfighting ring and helping kill pit bulls, according to ESPN.com. But Vick denied betting on the fights, only bankrolling them.

PETA AND PITBULLS

The treatment of dogs in these fighting rings is hard to describe and brutally painful to watch. The dogs are beaten and neglected during training. The dogs are then forced into a ring with another dog that may or may not kill it. And then the losing dogs are killed by their owners often minutes after the fight. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. PETA works through public education, research, animal rescue, legislation, protest campaigns, and in the case of Michael Vick, cruelty investigations. But as PETA studied the case and examined the dogs on Vick’s property, they believed that the saved dogs were beyond rehabilitation and that trying to save them would be both a waste of time and money. “The cruelty they’ve suffered is such that they can’t lead what any dog lover would consider a normal life,” said PETA spokesman Dan Shannon. “We feel that it’s better that they have their suffering ended once and for all.”
However, it turned out that 47 of the 51 dogs at Badnewz Kennels were rescued and brought to shelters for rehabilitation. With such an incredible number, the rescue teams credited the demeanor of the pit bull breed and downplayed the image that pit bulls have in society. Much of society is terrified of these dogs and sees them as vicious, mean and threatening. But the reality is that pit bulls are quite friendly. PETA’s stance on Michael Vick is currently in limbo. The organization teamed with Vick to film an anti-dogfighting public service announcement. Vick’s attorneys sought assurance from PETA that they would support Vick’s return to football if he filmed the PSA. However, their initial agreement broke down and PETA is asking Vick to submit a brain scan and full psychiatric evaluation before he be declared eligible to return to the NFL

WHERE IS MICHAEL VICK NOW?

After Michael Vick admitted to conspiracy in dog fighting, killing pit bulls and bankrolling fights, he began serving his sentence early and voluntarily entered prison on November 19, 2007. Vick started serving his time at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va. However, by early January of 2008, Vick was transferred to a minimum security prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. In an effort to reduce his 23-month sentence, Vick entered a drug treatment program at the Kansas prison. The program at the prison takes place in units set apart from the general prison population, lasting at least 500 hours over a six to 12 month period, according to Bureau of Prisons policy. As of February 2009, Vick’s lawyers expected Vick to be released to a halfway house in Newport News, Va. But as the move was being arranged, news broke that there was a lack of bed space at the halfway house in Virginia, which meant that Vick would be allowed to finish his sentence under home confinement at his 3,500-square-foot home in Hampton, Va. An anonymous official familiar with the case said that Vick would be allowed to make the move home on or after May 21, according to ESPN.com.

OTHER ATHLETES WHO HAVE FALLEN FROM GRACE

Arguably one of the most disappointing things in sports is wasted talent. From the four major sports (football, baseball, hockey, basketball), to lesser covered ones such as golf, boxing and NASCAR, prominent athletes have fallen from grace for one reason or another. Whether the athlete suffers from a drug or alcohol addiction, abuse, infidelity, violence or gambling, the sports world always seems to have a few current athletes that fall under the umbrella of “tremendous athlete, bad decision maker.” Michael Vick is currently wearing that shoe. However, athletes aren’t the only people in America that fit in this category. There have been plenty of politicians, actors, musicians and businesspersons that have made similar career-threatening mistakes. Bill Clinton, Clive Owen, Chris Brown and Martha Stewart have all done things to mar their careers and the public’s view of them. Some of these people have bounced back, even better than before; while others were never quite able to rebuild their image and earn back the trust of the American public. But as Michael Vick prepares to re-enter the real world and spark a comeback to the NFL, he should take note of what other fellow athletes did right, and what they did wrong in their attempted return to the sport they loved.


INTERVIEWS

Every disgraced athlete tries to take the necessary steps to return their sport and regain the respect of their fans and peers. Some athletes have had great success, while others have failed miserably. It seems to be a case by case basis and largely depends on the individual’s image before their demise. Athletes like Mike Tyson could not return to their sport because of the negative reputation he had built for himself throughout his career. Kobe Bryant could return to his sport because of the positive All-American image he built for himself during the first six years of his career. And other athletes like Charles Barkley took a unique approach in their return to grace. Barkley simply said to the public, “I’m not a role model…Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” And in a way, the public seems to appreciate Barkley’s honesty and forgive him when he gets into trouble. But in evaluating whether or not Michael Vick could potentially have a successful comeback to the NFL, you have to look beyond what other athletes have done and find out, specifically, if those in the NFL would welcome or tolerate his return.
In order to get a true feel for whether or not Vick would be welcomed back at each of these different levels, I spoke with an NFL spokesperson, the nephew of an NFL owner and a current NFL player.
Victor Abiamiri: Victor Abiamiri, 23, is an NFL player who plays defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles. “I can see why some players are upset and would not want Vick as a teammate and in their locker room. It would bring a lot of unwanted attention and create a whole lot of drama,” said Abiamiri. He continued, “But I also understand the players who don’t have an issue with it. There is something to be said that they are Vick’s dogs and it is his property, so if that’s what he wants to do, do it.” But the overall question asked to Abiamiri was if he would welcome Vick as a teammate. And his response was simple. “He’s a hell of a player and everyone deserves a second chance,” said Abiamiri. “I’d welcome him happily.”
Sean Rooney: Sean Rooney is the nephew of Dan Rooney, the owner and chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers. When asked if the Rooney family would ever consider signing Vick, Sean Rooney believed that his family would not be likely to do so, but it had nothing to do with Vick’s behavior. Rooney believed that his family would forgive Vick for his actions and give him a chance, as a person. But he worried about Vick’s ability on the field. “If you’re talking about possibly three years out of the game, I don’t know how he (Vick) could not be affected,” said Rooney. He continued, “Vick’s legs and speed have always been his go-to and his development as a thrower has been halted for quite some time. To me, it’s over.”
Michael Signora: Michael Signora is the director of media relations and international communications for the National Football League. Signora was very political with his response when asked whether or not he thought the NFL would reinstate Michael Vick after his jail time. “Michael Vick was suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Goodell in 2007. He has not yet applied for reinstatement and when he does, the commissioner will consider the matter at that time,” said Signora, NFL spokesman. But when asked to put on a PR hat, Signora noted how a team should handle Vick’s return and pending backlash from the public. “They will certainly give thought to what message needs to be conveyed as an organization and who is the best person in the organization to convey that message,” said Signora. “This will likely be done in conjunction with the player and the message he will deliver when and if the time comes.”

VICK’S STEPS TO A COMEBACK

In evaluating other fallen athlete’s attempted returns to their sport, Michael Vick can learn some things from his peers in an effort to better his chances of a successful return to football. In heeding the advice and following the path of these other athletes, Vick can start to construct a plan to convince the NFL to reinstate him and convince a team to give him a chance. NFL owners, NFL representatives and other NFL players all seem to have different views on the situation and share different sentiments in regards to Vick as a player and person. But if Vick employs a simple 3-step process, he can restore his image on the way to his triumphant comeback to the NFL. If Vick can recover from his wrongdoings, rebuild his superstar image and return with grace and humility, he just might make it.

Recover: Vick has already started taking the necessary steps to recover from his mistakes. He admitted his wrongdoings and issued many apologies to his team, the NFL, his family and fans. The audience that was most hurt from Vick’s behavior was the young children who looked up to him as a hero. He has personally apologized to that audience and must to continue to do so once his sentence is up.
Based on other athletes who have been in a similar situation, Vick must recover as a person before he recovers as an athlete. In order to make changes and start fresh, Vick must start with himself. Throughout this process, Vick has said that he has found Jesus and has built a strong faith that has allowed him to forgive himself and his actions. And the hope is that his personal forgiveness has been an ongoing process for the past two years. Because once he recovers as a person, he can start to recover as an athlete. And as that process continues, Vick must reiterate how apologetic he is to his fans because they are paramount in his recovery. While PETA and the ASPCA are strong and powerful organizations, Vick’s fan base could overwhelm those critics and be paramount in accepting him back, enabling him to move on from the recovery process and start to rebuild his image and career.

Rebuild: History has shown that the most important element in rebuilding an athlete’s tarnished image is media coverage. Obviously as Vick pleaded guilty to the dog fighting charges, there was nothing but negative stories in the media. Vick was labeled as a “thug,” as story after story emerged about his bad behavior and his “gang-like entourage” from Newport News. But what Vick has going for him is that this is his only blemish on his resume. And coming from the neighborhood where he grew up, there is something to say about that. Other troubled athletes repeatedly get in problematic situations and the media pounces on them, as they are permanently labeled as a troubled athlete with no chance at a return to their sport. But like the majority of the athletes before him, Vick is hopeful to get a second chance. But he is completely at the mercy of the media. As news broke that Vick was involved in a dog fighting ring and participated in the killing of dogs, he was the topic of news stories throughout the country. Talk show hosts, radio personalities, reporters and editors pounced on every detail of Vick’s plight. However, it has been nearly two years since the news broke and there has been very little written on Vick lately. But perhaps time is the one thing that Vick has on his side as he prepares for his return to football.

Return: While many NFL owners, teams and players believe that Vick will suffer from his time away from football, he might also gain from it. Obviously Vick has lost a touch of his speed and will need to train vigorously in order to get back into football shape. So while time away may have hurt him physically, it has also helped society mentally. Fans and media, like any human beings, often have a short memory. Vick’s bad behavior is not fresh in our minds. Other athletes who have had successful returns can credit the memory loss of society. Animal rights activists have not forgotten and they will be anxiously waiting to protest Vick’s return. So Vick can certainly expect backlash from animal organizations and lovers around the country which will certainly bring negative press. But again, two years have gone by and the majority of society and football fans will have forgotten the specific details of Vick’s behavior and forgive him for what he has done. PETA has also said that they will forgive, and even endorse, Vick if he takes and passes a psychiatric evaluation.
As time and society’s tendency to forgive and forget are on Vick’s side, so too is his God-given athletic ability. There is no doubt that one or more of the 29 NFL teams will give Vick a tryout, simply out of curiosity if nothing else. Vick was once the highest paid athlete in the history of the National Football League and a team could sign him now for very little monetary value. In terms of football, it would be a very low risk, high reward situation. But in terms of the public relations backlash, a team might not take a riskier chance all season. However, Vick seems so determined to return with a fresh start and a fresh team, that he will not blow this opportunity. Because history shows that if he is given a second chance, it could very well be his last.

Apple Is Building “Town Squares” Now, Because Somebody Has To

Apple Is Building “Town Squares” Now, Because Somebody Has To

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

At Tuesday’s Apple event in Cupertino, California, Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts revealed that the Apple Store has gone the way of the headphone jack.

“We actually don’t call them stores anymore,” she said. “We call them town squares, because they’re gathering places for the 500 million people who visit us every year. Places where everyone’s welcome, and where all of Apple comes together.” Apple’s other language strives toward the claim, with “plazas” and “forums” to complement the sale of the new, $1,000 iPhone X. “We’re going to open Apple town squares in cities around the world.”

A store is not a town square. A store belongs to a company that wants your money, a town square to a government that serves you. But the idea is of a piece with retail trends, and has long been evident in Apple’s preference for doing business in grand, pseudo-public spaces: an old post office, a train station.

In May, as the company honed its plans to restore Washington’s Carnegie Library, the Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell described some of the proposed changes:

Where the Carnegie Library once housed the city’s book collection, Apple plans a “Genius Grove,” a tree-lined sales floor where company reps will demonstrate how to maximize Apple products for music, photography or other passions. What long ago were reading rooms would become places to browse and sample Apple products.

It is in some ways a fitting succession: The tycoons of America’s second gilded age inherit the intellectual and civic spaces of its first. When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, the Atlantic’s James Fallows wrote: “let us hope that this is what the sale signifies: the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age’s major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence.”

But there is a difference between undertaking that role with corporate profit and doing so for corporate profit. Apple’s “town squares” and Google’s citywide internet should not be mistaken for philanthropic ventures. That Apple is repurposing the District’s old Carnegie Library does not make the comparison more flattering for the company. CityLab’s Kriston Capps has forcefully argued that one of the city’s “most important cultural assets” deserves a more genuine public role. And, he adds, Apple’s aspiration towards public-interest placemaking—like Amazon’s—also make it a better candidate for tax breaks.

At the same time, it is true that companies increasingly provide the functions abandoned by the retreating public sphere. Long before Apple, malls claimed to be the new town squares, and have tried to develop cultural functions to differentiate themselves in a declining retail landscape. As public libraries cut hours or closed entirely, McDonald’s provided a clean, safe space for kids to do their homework. As understaffed public bathrooms deteriorated and closed, Starbucks became the de facto place to go in many cities. As the dream of a free public education recedes, Apple teaches people how to do stuff for free.

It’s easy to be grateful. If we didn’t have a Starbucks bathroom, where would we pee? If we didn’t have an Apple plaza, where would we sit? On the other hand, if we had not designed a society so friendly to the interests of corporations and their executives, we might still be able to provide those things ourselves.

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We can survive longer without food than we can without sleep. About twice as long. Good food may be central to good health, but so is good sleep. And we often miss out on its amazing benefits. Improved sleep has been linked to improved health in many ways. The evidence is clear that those who […]

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Dr. Greene’s take on early puberty: Question: My 8 yr old daughter is showing signs of premature onset of pubery; she has adult-grade underarm odor, blemishes, headaches, and a few hairs under her arms. I have researched out the possible reasons, ie: environmental(plastics & pollutiants) & dietary(hormones in meats & dairy, etc) causes, and am […]

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Giving Kids a Place at the Table

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How much does your family spend on groceries? Could you live on $3 a person each day? For many Americans, that’s what you might spend on a coffee. But, for the nearly 50 million Americans on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, $3 a day is all they have for food. Yes, in the wealthiest country […]

Britney Spears: From Pop Star to Pop Wreck...and Back Again?

by noreply@blogger.com (Giulia Carando) @ Public Relations Problems and Cases

INTRODUCTION

Britney Spears has had a very controversial and highly publicized personal, familial and professional battle for the past 2 years. After hitting absolute rock bottom in every facet of her life, in January 2008, the people behind Spears knew that something had to be done. Before the year was up that “something” had been done and Spears seems to be back on track with herself, her family and her career as she is set to release a new album before the year is up.

RESEARCH/ TIMELINE OF EVENTS

Britney Spears is an American pop musician and performer who has also done work as an actress and author. She was born in December 1981 and raised in the small town of Kentwood, La. Spears showed an interest in performing at a young age. When she was only 8 years old she auditioned for The New Mickey Mouse Club. Although she was turned away because of her age, three years later she was hired and remained employed there until 1994.

Spears took time off to attend high school until Jive records signed her as a solo artist in 1997. She first came into the spotlight at the end of 1998 releasing her hit record, Baby One More Time, which sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Spears went on to put out three more records, Oops!...I Did It Again, Britney and In The Zone as well as a greatest hits album, Greatest Hits: My Perogative. During this time, she also had many endorsements including Pepsi and a line of Elizabeth Arden perfumes. Spears was expected to make her comeback at the 2007 MTV video music awards, but her performance received extensive criticism. This was the only promotion Spears did for her sixth and most recent album, Blackout, which was released on Oct. 30, 2007.

Not only known for her music, Spears’ personal life is often in the spotlight as well. In January 2004, she married childhood friend Jason Alexander in Las Vegas, only to have the marriage annulled after 55 hours. That same year in July, Spears announced her engagement to Kevin Federline, a backup dancer whom she had known for three months. The couple stayed married until Nov. 7, 2006 and in that time had two children, Sean Preston Federline and Jayden James Federline.

In 2007, Spears’ personal life seemed to be spiraling out of control. Her family and management team forced her into rehab in February, but she checked herself out two days later. The following night, Spears infamously shaved her head and then re-entered rehab. She remained in rehab until March 2007. However, her series of controversial behavior have continued since then.

She cut off ties from her family and has had a constant flow of management teams, lawyers and personal assistants in and out of her life. She has attacked paparazzi on several occasions and has been involved in a number of traffic violations including a hit and run and driving without a license. She is also consistently photographed partying and staying out late. Due to this erratic behavior, Spears began to be seen as an unfit parent and a legal battle over the custody of her children arose. In September 2007, the outcome of Spears’ custody battle was announced. She has been ordered to undergo random drug and alcohol testing and to attend parental counseling. Spears and Federline initially had joint custody of their two children, but on Oct. 1, 2007 Federline got full custody of the children.

In early 2008 it proved that things must really get worse before they can get better. On Jan. 3 Spears locked herself and one of her sons in the bathroom of her Studio City home and refused to come out. After a while she finally opened the door and she was taken out of her home on a stretcher. Following this incident Federline was given full custody of their children and Spears was not granted any visitation. On Jan. 28 Spears parents arrive ready to take control and 3 days later, Jan. 31, she was checked into a UCLA psychiatric center for what was supposed to be a 72 hour stay. Instead Spears did not leave until Feb. 6. During her stay Spears father, Jaime, was placed as the conservator of her finances until the end of 2008. For 2 months Spears was kept relatively out of the spotlight. In early May, Spears’ visitation rights with her sons, which had been granted after her father took over her finances, were greatly expanded. In July, those rights were set in place to include 3 visits each week including overnight stays. In the following months news about Spears’ personal life took the back seat to the news regarding her teenage sister’s pregnancy. However, in April it was confirmed that Spears had reconnected with longtime manager Larry Rudolph, whom she had fired in 2007. With much progress being made, Spears was set to appear at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. With a disastrous “come-back” at the 2007 VMAs all eyes were on Spears.

Sept. 7, 2008: Spears opens the VMAs to a standing ovation. Spears looked very put together and spoke with eloquence. She went onto win 3 awards that night thanking her fans every time and not once mentioning her past. Later in September, Spears announced that her new album, Circus, will be out on Dec.2, her 27 birthday. She also released her new single, Womanizer, to great reviews. On Oct.10, 2008, Spears released the video for Womanizer on ABCs 20/20. Also released, was Spears intention to debut, on MTV, a documentary on Nov. 30 entitled, "Britney: For The Record."


PLANNING? EXECUTION?

Britney Spears could have, at one point, been considered a corporation. However, from early 2007 until now she has not had the teams or plans to be considered a corporation. Before Spears fired her management and was left by her PR person, it was known that Spears had to be put back on the right track in the public eye. The plans for her “comeback” would have been relatively simple and had been done before which can be seen in the cases of Robert Downey Jr. and Whitney Houston.

Robert Downey Jr.: Downey started his acting career at the early age of 5, appearing in his father’s films throughout the 70s. His career took off in the 80s and early 90s as he appeared in many Brat Pack films and won an Academy award for Chaplin in 1992. However it was during this time that Downey developed a severe drug habit, one that would come into the spot light in 1996. After his first arrest there was a constant string of other arrests and infractions, due to his drug addiction, that would lead to a year in prison and nearly no acting jobs for 3 years. In 2000 Downey was hired to join the cast of Ally McBeal, and was highly acclaimed in his acting, but that would not last long. In 2001, Downey was arrested again and forced to leave the show. It would be 3 years before Downey would get a significant movie. In the mid 2000s Downey appeared clean and made a major comeback appearing in several films, to be topped off with Iron Man.

Whitney Houston: At the peak of her popularity in 1992 Houston had a Hit record and movie out. It was in this same year that she married Bobby Brown. Brown had been in various legal troubles and already had three children by different women. Despite the skeptics, Houston had a child in 1993. In 2000 Houston and Brown were caught with drugs in their luggage at an airport. From that point on drug allegations continued for Houston, her album sales dropped and her erratic behavior was more noticeable Throughout the marriage Brown had many run-ins with the law, as well as charges for drug possession. In 2004 Houston went in to rehabilitation for unknown substances or problem and then went back in 2005, and completed the program. After divorcing Brown in 2006, Houston has withdrawn from many public appearances and has recorded a new album to be released in the coming months.

The interesting thing about Spears’ case is that most of her courses of action were not influenced by a PR professional. The initial push for Spears to go into rehab to get her life in order was from on-again-off-again manager Larry Rudolf, a move for which he was fired. It was once her family got involved that Spears life took a turn for the better. She was forced into rehab and forced to give up control of her finances. Her father now had control over how she spent her money, which therefore meant he had control over what she did and where she went. After many months of this control, Spears seemed to be going in the right direction. It was during this time that Spears began her new album and started getting healthier. As with Houston, Spears dropped out of the spotlight drastically. She was no longer seen partying till all hours of the morning and was rarely seen not well dressed. It took over a year and for many drastic things to happen for her life to finally be under control.

A PR PROSPECTIVE

After an attempt to connect Spears old PR manager went unanswered, I contacted Lou Iacovelli from Altelier Creative Services, a PR firm, to find out what he would have done in regards to the Britney Spears case. I met Iacovelli during my summer internship at Gottex Models this summer. He is a style consultant who also handles what models wear the Gottex bathing suits. I asked him initially if there was anything he would have done differently and he said “Everything…except what ever is being done right now.” Further explanation revealed that as a PR professional he would have never left his client when she was so deep in trouble, however given the specific circumstances he thinks it was justified: “I understand why her people would have left her, but I hope that they did everything in their power before they took that step.” From a PR professional’s perspective, this is one of the worst clients you could have: one that has made no attempt to neither follow the guidelines provided for them nor show concern about their image. Iacovelli also said that it is hard to gain the trust that is needed for a client to place, essentially, their life in your hands. It is unclear if Spears retained Pr help in light of her “new” management or not. “In the past couple months, I think, that things with her were handled as best they could be…if it were my client I would probably have had her get better extensions.” A jab at Spears hair was his way of saying that she could still use people in her life that monitor what she wears and how she looks. Although it may be demeaning to dress a 26 year old mother of 2, it is “vital that her appearances be flawless” because it is these appearances that she is judged upon.

MEDIA

The media has been nothing but brutal honest and sever in their coverage of Spears and her turmoil. But it can be said that without the media the people who eventually made all of the right decisions would have never know how bad the situation had become. She has had many opportunities to explain her actions to many different reporters and/or talk show hosts: Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen, Diane Sawyer and Matt Lauer. However, not all of these interviews did great things for her image, especially not the catastrophe of an interview with Matt Lauer in 2006. Having no professional hair, make-up or wardrobe, Spears smacked her gum through an interview that discredited anything she had to say because of how she looked. The media has had nothing positive, aside from her reading a prompter at the 2008 VMAs, to show or disprove what gossip writers/photographers give them.

Spears official website has been “Under Construction” since, at least, November 2007. This is the perfect outlet for her PR people to get the facts from so they can have accurate reports. Her Myspace page is strictly a place for fans to hear her latest tunes, write comments of support or scrutiny, look at pictures and to read blogs about upcoming, already publicized events. It may seem trivial, but these media outlets are the main way for Spears to reach her fans and set the record straight. When searched in Google, the second site listed is her official website and yet there is nothing there for a fan to see. A well designed website could do a lot for her image in that it is a perfect place to highlight all of the good things she has going on in her life and to promote her new album. It will be interesting to see how she handles her first sit-down interview in close to 3 years. In the clips that have been leaked it looks as though Spears is in a much better state than she was in 2006 with Matt Lauer.

On a positive note, it does not seem that Spears’ mother’s tell-all book has affected Spears or her fans’ opinion of her. Even thought the book divulges very personal information regarding Spears’ sexuality, relationships and family relations. The book was the first test to her “comeback,” if she could weather this everything else would come easier. For instance, the night before the video for Womanizer aired the song was the top-selling song on i-Tunes. This could be a great sign of things to come especially regarding the relationship between Spear and the media.

EVALUATION

A lot can be learned from this case, especially for someone like me who wants to go into the entertainment aspect of PR. I think that this is one of the toughest cases that and PR person could come across. Spears was relentless in living her own life and doing her own thing. She fired her PR people, her PR people left her and she went sans PR people. However, the past 6 to 7 months have been, in my opinion, have been picture-perfect from a PR standpoint. It is still unclear whether or not she has had professional help with her publicity or not, however what is being done is right out of a public relations text book. The public sees that her life is being controlled: her father taking over as conservator; they see that she is concentrating on getting her children back: she has been granted more visits with her toddler sons; they see that she is taking her career seriously: photos of her rehearsing her dances, a new video and a new album pending. These things, coupled with a decreased presence in the media of her daily occurrences, are helping Spears get her career and life back to normal. Whether it was her family, her management or her PR manager, the correct steps are being taken in restoring this once pop wreck back to her pop star status.

Trump’s firing shots at NFL and Stephen Curry

Trump’s firing shots at NFL and Stephen Curry

by Christina Flygstad @ CW33 NewsFix

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Trump’s firing all the shots lately! At a rally in Alabama, the prez had more than a few choice words to say about some football players when he said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flags to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now! Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!” Trump also followed up with a few tweets: If a player wants the privilege […]

IBM

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Electronics & technology – computers, software, communications equipment; Professional services – technological solutions, management consulting Owner of the brand: International Business Machines Corporation Key competitors: Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Accenture, Amazon

Artykuł IBM pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Lsd / eye dilation /club light show

by Daisylover @ Bluelight

While doing lsd in a club setting with a light show, how safe or dangerous is it to stare at the lights? I became so mesmerized by the lights, I...

How “Press One for English” Became an Anti-Immigrant Meme

How “Press One for English” Became an Anti-Immigrant Meme

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

In August, White House adviser Stephen Miller unveiled Donald Trump’s new immigration plan, a points-based proposal that would favor English-speaking immigrants. In an ensuing confrontation with Miller, CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta accused the administration of “bringing a ‘Press One for English’ philosophy to immigration.”

Acosta was alluding to a right-wing grievance that’s as common as it is curious: that when English-speaking Americans call an automated customer service hotline, they are forced to press a key just to be allowed to speak English. (Para Español, oprima el dos.)

If you’re an American who’s worried about immigration, customer service lines are a convenient transmitter of immigration anxiety you may not actively experience in your everyday life. “Does it bother anyone besides me to call a business with a question or for technical support and have to press one for English or press 2 for….?” Rick Robertson asked in July, in a letter to the Clarion-Ledger. “We shouldn’t have to press ‘one’ for English,” Orwell, New York resident Brenda LaRue told Syracuse.com in March. Neither lives in a county where more than 3 in 100 residents is Latino.

Conservative columnists have picked up the refrain. In a widely shared column that ran during the presidential campaign, talk radio host Howie Carr wrote, “You may be a deplorable if you don’t think you should have to press one for English.” The whole anecdote has become a sympathetic symbol of white resentment projected as a kind of staple experience of alienation in the new multicultural America. “Plenty of Americans do see the increasing prevalence of foreign cultures in the U.S., including Hispanic culture, as an unwelcome invasion,” wrote the Atlantic’s Molly Ball. “They resent having to press 1 for English when they call customer service.”

How did this trivial annoyance, which seems more suited to an Andy Rooney segment than serious political commentary, became a right-wing meme? Many accommodations for the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking population—the U.S. has more Spanish speakers than any country but Mexico—are largely hidden: Spanish-language baseball broadcasts, or Barack Obama doing a Spanish-language television ad. Online, UPS and Amazon both offer parallel Spanish-language interfaces that the average Anglo customer wouldn’t even know exist. But while Spanish-language functionality in customer service reflects corporate priorities for national companies like American Airlines and Verizon, it conveys national demographics to callers who may not have other interactions with immigrants to draw on. (Ironically, English-language callers to U.S. companies may find themselves speaking to deported Dreamers whose excellent English makes them stellar call-service employees in, say, El Salvador.)

And Americans are particularly sensitive about language. A Pew survey conducted in the spring of 2016 and released in January found that 7 in 10 Americans believe it’s important to speak English to be “truly American”—making English a more valued trait than religion, ethnicity, or cultural affinity. (Though several European countries consider language to be more important still.) “If you ask people to define American cultural identity, people will give you all kinds of fuzzy answers,” says Tomás Jiménez, a professor of sociology at Stanford. “But even the most strident multiculturalists will say that people should speak English.”

There’s also a trope that current immigrants don’t want to learn English as much as their predecessors did, says Deborah Schildkraut, whose 2007 book, Press “ONE” for English, explores the role of English in American identity. The perception is entirely inaccurate, Schildkraut says. In her research, she’s found that many immigrants have to sit on waitlists to enter English classes, sometimes for years. But for Anglophone Americans, language still strikes a chord. “Even people who are sympathetic to immigrants, this is the one issue that gets them,” she notes.

But while it may be annoying for native-born Americans to endure a momentary Spanish-language direction, it can be downright debilitating for immigrants who don’t speak English well to attempt to use customer service in a language they don’t understand. (Ask an American who has lived abroad.) Government forms and ISP helplines may make a convenient symbol, but no one ever learned English by talking to a representative from Delta Airlines—or decided they didn’t have to because that representative spoke Spanish.

For companies, the adoption of Spanish in customer service calls is an example of what Tod Famous, the director of product management at CISCO, called “market-driven multiculturalism.” As we’ve seen with corporate America’s blanket support of the gay rights movement, capitalism looks out for minorities because minorities are customers. “They’re just trying to make more money,” says Famous, whose company provides an automated call-response platform that companies can then customize individually. “The call center community is insular, and they’re all copying each other. Respect for language affinity improves customer loyalty. If you offer them options, they will be more likely to stay with you.” If there’s collateral damage in including Spanish-language prompts, the math doesn’t show it—no matter how many people complain about having to press one for English.

And that’s another thing about “Press One.” Do companies really make their Anglophone customers actively choose English? Turns out that hardly anyone does. In fact, if pressing one for English was ever a thing, it has ceased to exist at most of America’s largest companies. I called Albertsons, Apple, Amazon, American Airlines, Best Buy, Bank of America, Citibank, CVS, Dell, DHL, FedEx, Mars, Samsung, Spectrum-TWC, Target, T-Mobile, United Healthcare, UPS, Verizon, and Walmart. Blogs will tell you that some of these companies once forced customers to choose English. Today, none of them do. Most quickly tell you, in Spanish, how to proceed in that language. “Marque el nueve,” “Oprima el dos.” A handful—Albertsons, Amazon, Apple, Mars, Samsung, United Airlines, and Walmart—do not even offer Spanish. The only large company I found that asked callers to select English was Starbucks which also offers, inscrutably, French.

“Typically you’ll get a welcome message that says to speak in Spanish, say Spanish or press one, some combination,” says Judi Halperin, a principal consultant at Avaya. “I’ve never in 20-something years dealt with a system where you had to press one for English. I’m sure at some point it was there, but as time progressed and we started getting more and more experience, the last thing you want to do is get in the way of the caller.”

That tiny, short-lived impediment was spun out into an enduring web of resentment. What some white Americans perceive as a roadblock, in reality, constitutes a crucial bridge for their neighbors—1 in 8 Americans—whose native language is Spanish.

American Express

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Financial services – payment solutions Owner of the brand: American Express Company Key competitors: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, PayPal

Artykuł American Express pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Roberto Cavalli

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Apparel – luxury apparel; FMCG Personal care & beauty – fragrances; Retail – fashion stores, e-retail Owner of the brand: Clessidra SGR S.p.A. (90%) and Roberto Cavalli (10%) Key competitors: Gucci, Valentino, Versace, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana

Artykuł Roberto Cavalli pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Aeroflow Roundup, July 14, 2017

by calie @ Aeroflow Healthcare

We had a lot of great online mentions the past few weeks, and we wanted to share some of our favorite posts so you can check them out. From breast pumps to new partnerships, things have been very exciting this week at Aeroflow! 1. Gugu Guru looks at getting a breast pump through the Aeroflow [Read More....]

The post Aeroflow Roundup, July 14, 2017 appeared first on Aeroflow Healthcare.

The Window of Opportunity for Teaching Your Kids Great Eating Habits

The Window of Opportunity for Teaching Your Kids Great Eating Habits

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Dr. Greene’s take on great eating habits… What does mother goose have to do with getting kids to eat right? Researcher Konrad Lorentz showed that by replacing a mother goose with something else as the first thing a baby goose encountered, he could alter the behavior of the baby goose to view that thing (even […]

A Slow Friendship in the Express Checkout

A Slow Friendship in the Express Checkout

by Rachel Withers @ Slate Articles

For the first four years of my adult life, I worked every weekend as a cashier in my local supermarket. By local, I mean nearby—this was no small-town convenience store. It was one of the busiest outlets of a major supermarket chain in the largest mall in the country, with more than a dozen registers siphoning shoppers out of the store. Despite the store’s size, I, like most cashiers, had my “regulars.” There was the little girl I knew by name who did the weekly family shop with her dad and insisted on seeking out my register, regardless of how long the line might be. There was the man in the tie-dye shirt with tight gray curls, whose name I did not know but whom I mentally referred to as “Old Tom” for his resemblance to a friend of mine (give or take 30 years).

Then there was Bill. Bill (whose name, along with other names, I’ve changed) was a white-haired gentleman, probably in his 80s, whom I never saw without his black beret. He might make a couple of purchases over the course of the weekend, and each one was a small social engagement. A visit. He always came through my register, making courteous conversation. If I had taken off the previous Sunday, he’d ask what I’d been up to. Over the years, Bill brought me chocolates and Christmas cards, and we even once went out for lunch on my break. After I ensured my co-workers knew where I was going, I accompanied Bill to a large café on the other side of the mall, and while I ate a panini (which he insisted on paying for), he told me stories and showed me his sketchbooks.

Bill and I had no reason to ever meet and get to know one another other than through customer service. We never had one another’s telephone number or email address. But the friendly face-to-face interaction we shared week-in week-out created something—perhaps not a friendship but a meaningful relationship nonetheless, an edge case among the kinds of serendipitous encounters customer service can foster. His visits made my day go by a bit more easily. And my conversation, I think, helped Bill avoid feeling lonely.

Over the four years I worked there, the supermarket became more and more focused on providing an automated shopping experience­. The ratio of self-checkout to cashiers continued to shift in favor of the independent style, with space afforded to machines slowly eating into the line of registers. Often I’d find myself assigned to the self-checkout, where my only customer interactions consisted of telling customers they’d miscoded mushrooms as potatoes.

A 2016 RBR report forecasts that the global self-checkout market will grow by 44 percent by 2021. Whether buying chicken nuggets or condoms, businesses increasingly allow customers to skip the interaction and serve themselves. Earlier this year, Amazon opened a completely cashier-free store near its company headquarters in Seattle. The futuristic Amazon Go store tracks customers by cameras and sensors throughout the store and automatically charges them for their items as they exit. With Amazon now taking over Whole Foods, moving closer to its goal of becoming central to both online and offline retail, it’s likely the tech company will be bringing its interaction-free style of shopping into even more Americans lives. Meanwhile, 23 percent of American households completed at least a portion of their grocery shopping online last year, with that number expected to rise to 70 percent within a decade. We want things quickly and we want to deal with as few people as possible.

Loneliness, meanwhile, is on the rise, with twice as many adults describing themselves as lonely than did in the 1980s. Though we are more connected than ever before, it is quite possible to go a whole day without uttering a single word. Objective isolation—a lack of day-to-day human contact—has a strong effect on human mortality, according to John T. Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, who studies the negative health effects of loneliness. “Objective contacts and weak ties are good for health,” says Cacioppo. “Not so much for mental health but for physical health.” Objective isolation increases the odds of mortality by 26 percent, says Cacioppo. While no replacement for family and friends, regular interaction makes you more likely to engage in healthy behavior, like leaving the house to visit the pharmacist you like, and increases the social ties—like that pharmacist checking in on you—that improve well-being.

As casually social activities like grocery shopping become “smarter,” more automated and less personal, as the competitive prices of online shopping drive old-fashioned shops out of business, what will happen to these serendipitous encounters? And what will happen to those who rely on them? These nameless yet familiar faces—faces that light up with recognition—can create a vital sense of belonging, a sense of identity within a neighborhood or a city or even a shopping complex. These little encounters add up to a community.

I don’t know what happened to Bill after I left my part-time job: Our weak ties dissolved as soon as I handed in my badge. But I believe he made new ones. (In fact, I don’t doubt Bill had favorites in every shop he visited regularly.) Here in New York, where I moved one year ago not knowing a soul, the person I see most regularly is a smiling stranger, who greets me like a friend from behind the counter of a Brooklyn bodega. I’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Microsoft's New XNA Game Studio Express Offers Unique Oportunity

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

I have to say that I love the trend of democratization that technology is bringing. Anybody can put up a blog, a web page, video on YouTube, a MySpace profile. Any some stuff out there is actually quite good. Along with this comes new opportunities for small to medium businesses to promote themselves. The key is content Remember the old time radio and TV shows that were not only sponsored by, but produced by the advertisers? You might have the Camel cigarette variety hour, for example. I believe that this trend is coming around again, as soon as businesses figure...

What CEOs Can Suffer

What CEOs Can Suffer

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Slowly, and then all at once. That’s how President Trump’s CEO councils—the Strategic and Policy Forum and the American Manufacturing Council—came apart on Wednesday in the wake of Trump’s disastrous press conference.

It wasn’t because the nation’s executive class collectively woke up at exactly the same time. Rather, it was because Trump’s behavior and the very nature of the role of a modern American CEO made their positions on any body connected to Trump untenable.

I’m generalizing here, but bear with me. Typically CEOs of large organizations are actually quite constrained considering the power they have and the very high compensation they earn. They spend a lot of time doing things they’re supposed to do, behaving the way they’re supposed to behave, and saying things they’re supposed to say. At shareholder meetings or on earnings calls, they talk about how they’re really working hard for shareholders and thinking about the long term. In China, they marvel at the remarkable progress and bright future they see. At employee all-hands meetings, they talk up diversity and inclusion. At the World Economic Forum, they nod earnestly and pledge to reduce emissions. After elections, they express their willingness to work with the new president, no matter how bitter the campaign was. And when they’re called to the White House and Washington, they discuss the need for common-sense solutions to the big issues that plague America.

Of course, many (though by no means all) of them don’t actually care much about diversity or shareholders or Washington. You get to be a CEO because you have the ability to focus like a laser on running your division or your unit or your company to make a profit. You’re passionate about winning sales, gaining market share, doing deals, competing, and getting paid. But part of the deal is that in order to do all of those things these days, you have to adhere closely to the script.

And that’s why when a CEO goes off script—like, say, when the CEO of a big private equity firm compares mild increases in marginal tax rates to Hitler invading Poland, or when the CEO

of a giant software firm rampages on stage like a pro wrestler—it’s so noteworthy.

Typically CEOs can carry off their roles with fairly little cognitive dissonance. Having a more diverse and inclusive workforce generally leads to better results, and helps you market to an America that is increasingly diverse. To a large degree, measures that reduce emissions and promote sustainability actually save money and improve profits. When Washington does policy right and puts resources behind it, it can have huge benefits for companies and entire industries. So mouthing expected bromides about these issues is no big deal—and maybe even helps the bottom line.

But President Trump is a person who almost never says what he’s supposed to say. During the campaign, he flagrantly violated norms regarding the way you talk about women, minorities, and foreigners; he scoffed at the concepts of diversity, inclusion, and climate change; he let China have it constantly. His refusal to adhere to the script was, in fact, one of the reasons that so few CEOs of big companies publicly supported him.

Once Trump was elected, the convention called for CEOs to show up when invited. But that mismatch between Trump’s behavior and the norms and behaviors that CEOs have internalized made the meetings incredibly awkward. Look at that iconic photo of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sitting in Trump Tower with the president-elect and other tech CEOs—you can see the cognitive dissonance on their faces. They knew they were supposed to show up. But they recognized that the professed values and beliefs of the person they were sitting with differed from the values they publicly espoused (and, in many instances, privately held).

In the intervening months, Trump has done little to ease that tension. All the while, CEOs continued to defend their engagement and association with Trump with the bromides typical of their position. “We have a responsibility to engage our elected officials,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said, explaining why he would remain on Trump’s business advisory council even though Trump had just announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. On Tuesday, Newell CEO Michael Polk said he would stay on Trump’s manufacturing council because he wanted to retain a “voice in the conversation.” A spokesman for Michael Dell this week said he would continue to “engage with the Trump administration and governments around the world to share our perspective on policy issues that affect our company, customers and employees.”

But the highly public actions by some CEOs to quit the councils earlier this week—and to call out Trump’s coddling of racists as they did so—and Trump’s bizarre statements on Tuesday defending white nationalists made these protestations laughable and untenable. What’s the point of engaging with someone who expresses views that would likely be cause for the dismissal of any middle manager? What sort of bipartisan policy is possible in an administration run by this president? What’s the point of serving as a prop in somebody else’s show? And how do you justify it to your shareholders, colleagues, employees, and family?

Simple: You don’t.

California Might Be Producing Too Much Legal Weed

California Might Be Producing Too Much Legal Weed

by Akin Oyedele @ Slate Articles

California's marijuana producers are growing eight times the amount needed for consumption, according to a report by Patrick McGreevy at the Los Angeles Times.

Scaling back would be painful for growers, said Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, during a panel discussion at the Sacramento Press Club. The Times reported that a consultant in the audience estimated the pot glut at 12 times what's being consumed.

In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to permit medicinal marijuana. Its residents voted in November to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use. But it now faces a glut ahead of new regulations that ban exports starting January 1.

A consequence of the glut, Allen added, is that some growers on the black market would most likely export their product to other states in violation of federal law.

Seven states including neighboring Nevada, Arkansas, and Massachusetts legalized marijuana in various forms on Election Day last year. In all, 29 U.S. states have legalized marijuana in some form, according to Governing.com.

 

We’ve Sentenced Puerto Rico to a Greece-Like Economic Catastrophe

We’ve Sentenced Puerto Rico to a Greece-Like Economic Catastrophe

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Chances are you haven't thought much lately about the economic tragedy that's unfolding in Puerto Rico. Not with nukes in North Korea and neo-Nazis and Obamacare repeal to dwell on. But Thursday at the New York Times, Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research has written a grim reminder that, in the wake of the island's debt crisis, we've essentially sentenced it to another decade of austerity-fueled economic depression.

Puerto Rico has been in a recession more or less continuously since 2007, which helped force it into an unsustainable spiral of borrowing that ended in default last year. Congress responded to the growing crisis by passing PROMESA, an act that placed the territory under the oversight of a bipartisan financial control board. This March, that panel finally approved a fiscal repair plan meant to close Puerto Rico's budget deficit while setting aside some money for bondholders. There’s an upsetting assumption behind this road map: that it will face another full 10 years of stagnation. As this graph from the plan shows, the territory's economy isn't expected to start growing again until 2022.

Even then, the island's economy will still be smaller in 2026 than it is today, even before accounting for inflation.

And that's probably too optimistic. As Weisbrot writes, the plan doesn't factor in the effects of austerity,  “which would add more years of decline.” More generally, these sorts of debt-sustainability projections are notoriously too sanguine about the ability of governments to keep paying their creditors while absorbing deep budget cuts. We've seen this show play out repeatedly in Greece, where international technocrats spent years making fanciful projections about how the country could slash its spending, raise taxes, gradually bounce back from a depression, and somehow make good on its (reduced) debts. The difference is that, as John Jay College economics professor J.W. Mason notes, Puerto Rico is just now entering into an austerity plan after already experiencing an employment collapse similar to Greece's. And if you take the official projections seriously, Puerto Rico's economy—measured by gross national product—should reach Greece's recent nadir within the next few years.

Europe's austerity politics have reduced Greece to a perpetual economic crisis. We're handing Puerto Rico the same prescription, and bizarrely expecting different results.

Oracle

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Electronics & technology – software, communications equipment; Professional services – technological solutions Owner of the brand: Oracle Corporation Key competitors: IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Amazon, Google, Salesforce,

Artykuł Oracle pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

California Cities Are Trying to Shun the Companies That Build Trump’s Wall

California Cities Are Trying to Shun the Companies That Build Trump’s Wall

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Overmatched in Congress by gerrymandering, rural bias, and clustering, blue cities and states have little power in Washington to stop President Trump’s border wall.

Back at home, however, they issue billions of dollars in procurement contracts to some of the same construction companies that are bidding to build the wall along the U.S-Mexico border. Maybe it’s there, politicians reason, that they could make their voice heard.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to draw up a law to require firms bidding for city contracts to disclose their role in the border wall. Oakland and Berkeley have already said they will not do business with companies involved in design and construction of the wall. Similar efforts have been proposed in San Francisco and New York, and California state legislators have taken aim both at contracting with companies who work on the wall and using state pension funds to invest in them.

The first question that has to be asked about these efforts is: What wall?  Trump’s signature promise hasn’t exactly been coming along as planned. In May, after a rushed bidding process characterized by being open-ended in some ways (the wall should perhaps have solar panels, the president said) and extremely specific in others (the wall must be transparent so Americans can’t be hit by 60-pound packages of drugs, the president said), DHS announced a group of finalists had been selected.

But in July, the Trump administration said that a planned showcase of prototypes from those finalists had been postponed, after a complaint about the bidding process from the Penna Group, a Fort Worth, Texas-based contractor. Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, Penna’s chief executive officer, told me that his company’s bid had been rejected because the government misunderstood the terms of the paperwork. “Any time there’s a rush, mistakes are made,” Evangelista-Ysasaga says.

The wall model display in San Diego that was supposed to be under construction by June has now been delayed twice, first to the end of the summer, and now until November.

Meanwhile, a leaked transcript of Trump’s January phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto revealed that the commander in chief was not nearly as determined to have Mexico pay for the wall as he had been on the campaign trail.*

With all that in mind, threats from local jurisdictions may not be the preeminent hold-up for the wall. If the project goes forward according to Trump’s promises (which it won’t), it would constitute one of the largest nonmilitary contracts in the United States. Senate Democrats say the wall would cost $70 billion to build. Probably worth the cost of being shut out of California procurement, in other words.

Still, the outrage around the wall has been successful so far in dissuading several high-profile companies from participating in the bid process. When the bids are finally revealed, the opprobrium could stick to some of those companies in ways that extend beyond what’s prescribed by local or state law. When it comes time for blue states to award corporate subsidies, for example, firms might find their enthusiasm for the wall becomes a political liability.

The gestures are reminiscent of the movement to divest from private prison companies. New York City’s pension funds decided in May to sell stock and bonds in a trio of prison companies. Architects have also moved to stop their peers from designing prison projects.

Unfortunately for municipal legislators, the problem with the wall (which, again, won’t happen) is that the profit motive is so large, it’s probably worth forfeiting your company’s right to supply steel to California public works projects. Another reason why this border-spanning, solar panel-encrusted nightmare won’t quite die yet.

*Correction, Aug. 10, 2017: This post originally misspelled Enrique Peña-Nieto’s last name.

Trump Has a Nullification Crisis

Trump Has a Nullification Crisis

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

In the 19th century, nullification was the idea that states could void the actions of the federal government if they deemed them unconstitutional. Its proponents, chief among them John C. Calhoun, argued that if something the feds were doing—i.e. tariffs—was contrary to the economic interests of the entity he cared most about—South Carolina—then the state could simply do its own thing. Nullification, like Calhoun’s ideas about slavery, was a profoundly bad one, and it led to a constitutional crisis.

Today, I’d propose a different meaning for nullification—and it is a reason for both hope and concern for anyone dismayed by the presidency of Donald Trump. There is always a tendency for powerful actors—in state and local government, yes, but also in the private sector generally—to decide not to do business with the president, and to act as if the executive branch’s policies don’t exist. In the Trump era that tendency has already become notably pronounced, and it comes in three principal forms.

One form of nullification is denial of patronage: refusing to do business with the entities the president or his family owns. One theory has suggested that the presidency would be a boon to Trump’s businesses, including his golf courses, his private club Mar-a-Lago, and the hotels that carry his name. But with each month, Trump’s conduct in office has pushed people and groups concerned with their brands to cease working with Trump properties. The Trump-branded public golf course in the Bronx, New York, saw its business decline in 2016. While Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel attracts lobbyists and corporate events, most of the rooms are empty. (Its occupancy rate is a measly 42 percent.) Mar-a-Lago, a stalwart of the social and charity scene in Palm Beach, Florida, has been hit by a wave of event nullification. Since Trump’s disastrous series of comments about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, one by one charities and nonprofits have canceled their plans to host luncheons, dinners, galas, and dances at the facility. The club, write Drew Harwell and David Farenthold in the Washington Post, has “lost nine of the 16 galas or dinner events that it had been scheduled to host during next winter’s social ‘season’ in Palm Beach. At least three other groups have also canceled charity luncheons there this week.”

A second form of nullification is denial of association: refusing to provide counsel or show up to photo opportunities, or to be in the same room as the president. In the early days of the Trump administration and during the transition, CEOs, athletes, and other boldface names dutifully showed up—some with glee, some with pained expressions on their faces—to be part of the photo ops and volunteer to serve on various councils.

But the norm is no longer the norm. CEOs, athletes, and celebrities are denying Trump the privilege of their association. After Ken Frazier of Merck and Co. quit the Trump’s council on manufacturing, an exodus of CEOs commenced. Several of the advisory firms set up to grant corporate legitimacy and support for the Trump presidency quickly disbanded: the Manufacturing Council, the Strategic and Policy Forum, the Infrastructure Council.

The people on these committees had significant business with the government, and hence much to gain and lose from changes in government policy. But they decided that having their personal or corporate brands associated with Trump would be damaging, cause an intolerable level of cognitive dissonance at a personal level, or both. As Merck lead director Leslie Brun told the Wall Street Journal about boardroom discussion surrounding Trump: “Informal conversations among board members often revolved around ‘what do you tell your kids?’ ”

The Kennedy Center, about to toast six artists, breathed a sigh of relief when Trump said he wouldn’t show up to its annual Honors and canceled the White House reception associated with the event—this as some of the recipients, including actress and dancer Carmen de Lavallade, said they would not show up at the White House reception. Basketball star Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors said he would not go to the White House to celebrate his team’s victory in the NBA Finals, citing a lack of respect for its occupant. “I don’t agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant said.

A third form of nullification is to act as if the proclamations, executive orders, and policy pronouncements are irrelevant to you, don’t exist, or are to be ignored—and to create alternate markets and realities. This dynamic can be seen most vividly in the energy and environmental arenas. Trump has promised to revive the coal industry, pulled out of the Paris climate accord, and installed a bunch of climate-change denialists and skeptics in relevant government agencies.

But states, cities, and companies make their own climate-change policy through laws, policies, standards, or procurement decisions. And many of them are actively nullifying Trump’s statements and actions.

Here are a few things that have happened so far this year:

California extended its cap-and-trade program through 2030. Hawaii became the first state to commit to having 100 percent renewable energy on its electricity supply grid. Orlando, Florida, adopted a target of getting all its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, joining the growing roster of more than three dozen cities that have done so. JPMorgan Chase said that by 2020, it would power all its operations through emissions-free energy. The bank has joined more than 100 large multinational corporations that have made the same commitment. Through May, utilities announced the closure of eight coal-burning plants as the industry continues its transition to a lower-carbon future.

This is not to say Trump doesn’t have real power or that his administration isn’t affecting change or delivering results to favored constituencies. Whether it is the Environmental Protection Agency rolling back water regulations, general nonfeasance at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the Justice Department’s enforcement of immigration policies, the Trump administration is changing realities on the ground. The rise of nullification does not decrease the danger of an unfettered Trump administration.

What’s more, nullification isn’t a particularly good precedent. I would argue that it is much better for the country and our economy when all sorts of people feel comfortable visiting the White House and making common cause with the White House—and when states, cities, the federal government, and companies are on the same page in the pursuit of goals. There are good historical, constitutional, and practical reasons for the federal government to have primacy over states in many areas. And while it’s nice that some companies are relatively progressive on some issues, and that some CEOs can muster the moral courage to take stands, we shouldn’t be relying on them excessively. CEOs of defense contractors have a much harder time acting as if Trump doesn’t exist than, say, CEOs of consumer products or technology companies. Bench players and role players have far less leeway than all-stars to express their political views.

Still, nullification offers something more satisfying than catharsis or schadenfreude. The fact that people, institutions, and organizations are willing and able to deny their dollars and association with Trump and be celebrated for it is a sign that America’s democratic and market system, which has been under attack, is holding up strong.

One of the features about authoritarian regimes is that there is a price to be paid for defying the expressed wishes and whims of the government and its leader: You can lose your business, or get jailed, or get frozen out from contracts, or lose your license. That’s not happening here.

Codeine linctus syrup possible side effects/health damages?

by zulunation1 @ Bluelight

hi all, long time lurker of this forum but first time starting a thread, So my question is can codeine linctus cause potential health damages?...

Dr Pepper

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Non-alcoholic beverages – soft drinks Owner of the brand: Dr Pepper Snapple Group (North America), Coca-Cola Company (selected countries) Key competitors: Coca-Cola (North America), Pepsi

Artykuł Dr Pepper pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Let’s Talk Dirty… Diapers

Let’s Talk Dirty… Diapers

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Dr. Greene’s take on dirty diapers… There is no one right answer about your baby’s poop frequency, color, smell, and texture. Your baby’s poop is going to change over time and will be different depending on diet — breastfed, formula, solids all make a difference. When those changes happen, many (especially new) parents have serious […]

Dapplecroft Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation Grant

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/dapplecroft-fund-of-the-philadelphia-foundation-grant/

Thank you to the Dapplecroft Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation for the $4,000 grant. We are so blessed by your support and generosity!

That Ridiculous San Francisco Craigslist Ad Is Actually a Sign of Progress

That Ridiculous San Francisco Craigslist Ad Is Actually a Sign of Progress

by Susan Matthews @ Slate Articles

A couple of San Francisco–based, fortysomething executives posted a Craigslist ad looking for a personal assistant on Wednesday. The post is a good example of why not everyone is cut out to be an HR director: It’s a long, stream-of-conscious list of required and desired qualities that, interpreted generously, tries to offer a potential employee a full picture of the gig. Read less generously, it strikes several bizarre notes that border on offensive (most specifically in its all-caps insistence on English-language FLUENCY) and scream micromanager.

The posting has gone viral, thanks in no small part to our collective urge to hate out-of-touch elites and the communal release that comes from complaining that they are awful. Sure, the posters’ decision to explicitly update the listing to state that “due to high demand, we’re offering $15-35 an hour (vs. the former $25-35 an hour)” is a telling indication of how deeply they believe in the harsh efficiency of the market, and a good reason to question what life as their underling would be like. And yes, it is bizarrely specific and unprofessional, particularly the section that attempts to assure applicants that the employers’ insistence that “you take pride in how you look” isn’t weird because they embrace “whatever that ‘look’ or style may be for you.”

It is boring to point out that anyone tweeting the screenshots to this ad ought to read the actual thing and realize the applicant qualifications are broken into “requirements” (mostly reasonable if occasionally ill-put) and “bonus points” (largely ridiculous, but also indisputably not required or expected, and certainly not all at once).

But ultimately, there is an easy way to explain how this post, and its annoyingly intimate rhetoric, came into being, and why it strikes such a nerve. The posters are not just looking for a personal assistant. They are looking for a mom.

The section of the post that establishes the “problem” is both hilariously out-of-touch and occasionally relatable:

…personal social media accounts are neglected, I buy fresh flowers but don't have time to trim daily and change the water, indoor plants are dying, vacations and fun trips aren't taken because there's no time to plan them, dirty laundry is neglected until we run out of clean clothes to wear, merchandise that should be returned doesn't get returned, phone calls to customer support don't get made, prescriptions aren't refilled, instead of dry cleaning something it will just never be worn again, pants that are too long never get hemmed, that cute dog doesn't get taught new tricks or get his coat brushed out as often as it needs to be, things that we're meaning to order don't get ordered, items slated for donation sit in a corner for months, groceries aren't put away into the cabinet, the sink is eternally filled with soaking dishes/pots/pans, picture frames hang on the wall with no photos inside, the closet is in need of reorganization, appointments aren't scheduled, information isn't updated, nail polish gets chipped and remains chipped…

Flowers, Instagram, and chipped nail polish aside, this is a laundry list (no pun intended) of the daily mundanity pretty much everyone needs to deal with to simply exist in the world. And of course, until very recently, we didn’t have to think about these tasks because they were done by people who had little choice in the matter—by servants, or slaves, or women.

We could, and probably should, mock these posters’ naïve assumption that they will have a flourishing and close personal relationship with the serf they are hoping to hire for just a squeak above minimum (and in San Francisco, unlivable) wage. Indeed, I’d suggest that the main source of irritation that comes from reading it is due to the problematically mixed messaging of “we want to pay a professional” and “we expect you to be family.” (Though it also seems to me that part of being a good personal assistant is being a personality match, but having neither had nor been a personal assistant myself, I can’t quite say how out-of-line that particular desire of the post is.).

So, sure, it’s annoying. And it’s by no means a solution—hiring a personal assistant to do housework is not viable for most people. But this ad is just one indication that even annoying people in Silicon Valley have begun to realize the value of housework—indeed, it’s a cousin to the numerous apps that now exist to also try to “solve” this problem. Neither of these solutions will work in the long run. But I’d argue that instead of lamenting this clueless ad as indicative of everything wrong with Bay Area culture, we should file it under “evidence” as we work toward a world that actually accounts for the cost of housework, and doesn’t just ignore it or leave it to certain groups.

BuzzFeed Pulls a Post Criticizing Dove's "Beautiful/Average" Campaign

BuzzFeed Pulls a Post Criticizing Dove's "Beautiful/Average" Campaign


Racked

"We are trying not to do hot takes."

Businesses Are Finally Realizing That Trump Causes “Uncertainty”

Businesses Are Finally Realizing That Trump Causes “Uncertainty”

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Back in the financially tumultuous early years of the Obama administration, it was common to hear worthies of a certain ilk carp that “uncertainty” from Washington was harming economic growth. Here’s Steve Forbes complaining in early 2010—at the beginning of one of the longest expansions on record—that regulatory uncertainty was inhibiting a sustained recovery. Blackstone Group Chairman Steve Schwarzman, in the summer of 2010, compared the mild regulations the Obama administration had passed to Hitler invading Poland. Some of these gripes continued into the late Obama years: In April 2014, supply-sider Larry Kudlow moaned that the “incredible uncertainty about Obamacare and its taxes and regulations” was hampering the markets and the economy.

Of course, business and policy are always uncertain to a degree. And policy changes in 2009 and 2010 did create new mandates and requirements for businesses. But the stimulus, Dodd-Frank, and the Affordable Care Act were generally well–thought out, slow to materialize, and coolly implemented. And there’s simply no evidence that “uncertainty” about the path of policy in Washington, however you define it, hampered business investments, hiring, and especially market performance in the period between 2009 and 2016. Because “uncertainty” doesn’t really mean uncertainty—it’s just code used by supply-siders and right-wingers. What they really didn’t like was the fact that a guy named Obama was sitting in the White House, poised to raise their taxes. (Readers, he did. And the economy and S&P 500 survived.)

When President Trump was elected, the concerns of supply-siders and Wall Street titans over uncertainty seemed to dissipate. They were sure that the impending tax-reform package, regulatory reduction, and the repeal of Obamacare would cause the markets and economy to boom. An incoming administration hostile to facts, norms, and maybe even the sanctity of the republic? No concerns here! And, as Trump often reminds us, the markets have soared to new heights while volatility has decreased. But six months into his presidency, there is abundant evidence of actual uncertainty emanating from Washington—including but not limited to the policy chaos intentionally fomented by the Trump administration—that is beginning to harm business and investment.

Across the board, Trump has generally not bothered to staff up the government, thrown into question long-standing U.S. trade policy, and instigated and supported efforts to blow up the insurance industry. And it is starting to become clear just how these efforts are harming business.

Trade

Trump’s Stalled Trade Agenda is Leaving Industries in the Lurch,” reads the lead story in the business section of Tuesday’s New York Times. Apparently, the uncertainty over whether Trump will impose tariffs on imported steel has been spurring foreign suppliers to ship more steel to the U.S.—which simply makes it more difficult for domestic producers to compete. Adam Behsudi of Politico has a fantastic, deeply reported article this week on how Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Trans Pacific Partnership—and the ensuing efforts by other countries to negotiate trade deals among themselves—is undermining the ability of U.S. agriculture producers to export. “I’m scared to death,” said Ron Prestage, a North Carolina businessman who had just made a big investment in a meat-processing plant in anticipation of more business after the passage of TPP. Behsudi also interviewed corn farmers in Iowa who have seen the price of their product gyrate in response to Trump’s hostile tweets toward Mexico. Trump promised to get Americans better deals on international trade. Instead he’s only delivered migraines.

Pipelines

Trump talked a big game about supporting pipeline construction during the campaign—especially the Keystone XL pipeline. But his slowness to staff up the federal bureaucracy has made it difficult for proposed pipeline projects to get off the ground. In May, Bloomberg reported that some $50 billion in work was either “slowed or stalled” because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wasn’t capable of approving them. “For the first time in FERC’s 40-year-history, the agency doesn’t have enough commissioners for a quorum to vote on project applications.” Last week, Politico put the amount of stalled shovel-ready projects somewhat lower: at $13 billion. “Trump’s slowness to fill vacancies at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is one reason for a growing backlog of natural gas pipelines and a gas export terminal awaiting approval from the agency, which has been unable to conduct major business since February.” Wasn’t this president supposed to be fossil fuels’ best friend?

Health insurance

Nowhere is Trump’s combination of chaotic management and policy ignorance more evident than in health care. With a substantial assist from Republicans in Congress, Trump has done an enormous amount to intentionally create uncertainty for health insurers and health providers. Over the past seven years, the massive health industry has rebuilt itself around the Affordable Care Act and anticipated levels of funding for entitlements such as Medicaid. But Trump has backed—and then not backed, and then backed again—legislation that would have slashed hundreds of billions from Medicaid and eliminated the individual mandate that keeps insurance markets stable. He has threatened on multiple occasions to withhold payments from insurers that offer plans on the exchange. And his Department of Health and Human Services is trying to undermine enrollment in insurance plans. The result, as Politico reported in an article headlined “GOP Uncertainty Over Obamacare Drives Out Insurers,” is that insurers are abandoning markets and lines of business.

Infrastructure

President Trump has talked a great deal about a big infrastructure package, but nobody on his team has really bothered to flesh it out. Remember the clown show of infrastructure week in early June? The Trump administration says it wants to enlist the private sector to fund roads, bridges, and other vital projects, and its proposed budget zeroed out a bunch of grants and programs that support long-planned projects. All of which has had the effect of freezing progress and planning on dozens of ongoing projects. “The sudden uncertainty has left local officials who had long anticipated federal support for their projects worrying whether they will get it,” the Chicago Tribune reported in June.

Saber-rattling

And then there’s what happened on Tuesday when Trump, speaking from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, injected an entirely new source of uncertainty into the world by threatening North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Markets immediately nosedived.

In the Obama years, there was uncertainty over whether the top marginal rate would be 35 percent or 39.6 percent. In the Trump years, there’s uncertainty over whether a country of 25 million people will be here tomorrow.

Jeff Sessions Says Dreamers Are Stealing American Jobs. The Government’s Own Numbers Show That’s Absurd.

Jeff Sessions Says Dreamers Are Stealing American Jobs. The Government’s Own Numbers Show That’s Absurd.

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

On Tuesday, the labor department came out with its latest figures on job openings in the U.S.  At the end of July, there were a record 6.17 million open positions, up from 5.97 million at the end of July 2016. It is ironic that this measure of employers’ inability to fill posts came out exactly a week after Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the alleged scarcity of jobs to justify rescinding the protection afforded to the 800,000 Dreamers—undocumented immigrants who arrived here as small children, who the government has allowed to remain and work here. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was bad, he said, because “it also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”

Sessions betrayed not only a cruel, zero-sum view of the economy but a shocking misunderstanding of the current job market. Today, in the 99th month of the current expansion, at a time when the unemployment rate is 4.4 percent and the economy has added payroll jobs for 83 straight months, there are a bunch of reasons why you might be unemployed. DACA is almost certainly not one of them.

It’s possible that a worker overseas took your job because your company decided your position could be done more cheaply somewhere else—say, in Mexico or China.

It’s possible that a robot or a string of code operating in the U.S. took your job, as is happening at some warehouses and fast-food restaurants.

It’s possible that norms, laws, and regulations stand in the way of you getting a job. For example, most companies ask prospective applicants whether they have been convicted of crimes—and many have formal or informal policies of not offering positions to ex-cons. In addition, per the Council of State Governments, “The American Bar Association has documented 27,254 state occupational licensing restrictions nationwide for people with a criminal record. For a host of reasons, many companies ask prospective employees to take drug tests. Due to the continuing opioid crisis, a rising number of people are effectively excluded from the labor force. The CEO of a manufacturer in Ohio in July told Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times that a quarter of applicants fail drug tests—and hence are ineligible to be hired.

It’s possible that you are what might be called geographically unemployed—i.e., you live in a place where there aren’t many opportunities (like Rome, Georgia, where the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent) but don’t have the means, ability, or desire to move to a place where jobs are more plentiful (like Fort Collins, Colorado, where the unemployment rate is 2.1 percent).

It’s possible you might not have the skills or training to find a job. To hear industry tell it, America is suffering from shortages in a range of disciplines that require specialized training or education. There’s a shortage of nurses, qualified insurance inspectors, truck drivers, and teachers, for example.

It’s possible that you might be unemployed because employers lack the ability or desire to employ you—that is to say, they’re unwilling to offer wages, conditions, or working hours that make it sufficiently attractive or compelling enough for you to accept an offer.

Each of the phenomena I’ve described is real. Each contributes to the problem of unemployment and underemployment in the U.S. Do immigrants (documented and undocumented), new labor force entrants, college graduates, mothers returning to work, old people unretiring, people leaving the military and entering civilian life compete for you to get a specific job? For sure. Is it possible that you are not working at a particular position today because someone—possibly a Dreamer—was hired for a particular position instead of you? Yes.

But their presence alone isn’t denying you a job. The 800,000 Dreamers are a tiny drop in the overall labor bucket in the United States. Every large company that has hired Dreamers has dozens, if not hundreds, of openings it is trying to fill. It is mathematically and physically impossible for the 800,000 Dreamers to displace a large number of American workers at a time when unemployment is 4.3 percent and companies are seeking to fill 6.2 million jobs.

So if Dreamers aren’t stealing jobs, Sessions must have some other reason to want them gone from this country. What ever could it be?

Teen drug dealer calls Indiana police to report someone stole her drugs

Teen drug dealer calls Indiana police to report someone stole her drugs

by Jennifer Shrum @ CW33 NewsFix

GREENWOOD, Ind. — An underage girl called police to report someone had stolen her drugs, according to WXIN. Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, the girl called police and said two boys came to her home, put a gun to her head, and stole the marijuana she had planned to sell them. Police said the incident involved a total of five teenagers, all between 14 and 16 years old. Officers found drug paraphernalia “all over the house” including marijuana, smoking pipes, a […]

Greenpeace

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Non-profit organisations Owner of the brand: Greenpeace Key competitors: WWF, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy

Artykuł Greenpeace pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Axe

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Personal care & beauty – body care, deodorants, fragrances, hair care Owner of the brand: Unilever Key competitors: Nivea, L’Oréal, Gillette, Old Spice

Artykuł Axe pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Solving Night Terrors Lickety-split

Solving Night Terrors Lickety-split

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

We’ve come upon a great solution for night terrors in my house (OK, my wife actually came up with it :) that worked with our son and thousands of others. If you’ve ever run in to this with your child, you’ve probably noticed that your kids are stuck in a state of unfamiliarity, making it […]

Brand DNA: How to Build Values, Inspire Employees, and Elicit Positive Feelings About Your Brand

Brand DNA: How to Build Values, Inspire Employees, and Elicit Positive Feelings About Your Brand


The Grasshopper Blog

Your brand is made up of its own unique DNA. Learn how to build values, inspire employees, and elicit positive feelings about your brand.

Mastercard

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Financial services – payment solutions Owner of the brand: Mastercard Inc. Key competitors: Visa, American Express, Discover, PayPal

Artykuł Mastercard pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Aeroflow Roundup, June 30, 2017

by calie @ Aeroflow Healthcare

This week, we’re sharing some awesome blogs about Aeroflow and the process of getting a breast pump through insurance. One thing we’re really excited about? Our Director of Mom and Baby, Jennifer, got quoted in a very special piece by The Hill that speaks on maternity leave in the United States. We’re honored to be [Read More....]

The post Aeroflow Roundup, June 30, 2017 appeared first on Aeroflow Healthcare.

Who Will Pay for Takata’s Future Victims?

Who Will Pay for Takata’s Future Victims?

by Libby Lewis @ Slate Articles

So far, exploding air bags made by the Japanese auto supplier Takata have been linked to 18 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide. For its failures, the company has been besieged by lawsuits, a global recall, and finally bankruptcy. But odds are there will be more harm. A lot more.

For now, those future victims are potentiality burrowed away in one figure: 69 million. That’s Takata’s own estimate of how many flawed or questionable air bags are still in cars on the road, or on the market, as of July. Somewhere within that best guess are the lives that will be changed, or ended, because of malfunctioning air bags that use the same chemical compound the Taliban uses to make some of its roadside bombs.

But Takata and the carmakers that used the bags have structured the company’s bankruptcy to fend off liability for their actions—arguing that it’s necessary to salvage the disaster. In the end, it may leave future victims with no one to hold liable.

For years, Takata used ammonium nitrate to deploy its air bags because it was cheaper than what its rivals used, despite evidence it was volatile and could sometimes turn an air bag’s metal inflater into a mass of flying shrapnel. (Takata still uses an altered version of the compound in some of its replacement bags, with the approval of U.S. regulators.) As injuries mounted, Takata covered up the problem, and U.S. regulators lurched into overseeing a confusing, chaotic recall—the largest in U.S. auto history. When Takata filed for bankruptcy to deal with its vast liabilities in June, more than half of the recalled air bags had not yet been replaced.

Several states and dozens of families have sued Takata and some carmakers over deaths or injuries caused by metal shrapnel from their cars’ air bag inflaters exploding, either in collisions or by deploying on their own. Those families are represented in Takata’s bankruptcy—in a formal committee of creditors who are injury victims.

So what happens to those faceless victims-to-be?

As part of its criminal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Takata has agreed to pay $125 million to injury victims, both current and future. That won’t be enough for the losses to come. The injuries people have sustained in these cases so far range from quadriplegia to loss of sight, hearing, and speech. And insiders are expecting many, many more. “It seems to be generally accepted there will be billions of dollars in claims,” the U.S. trustee in the case wrote in a recent court filing. 

A Chinese competitor, Key Safety Systems, says it plans to pay $1.6 billion for the healthy parts of Takata’s business, which make seat belts and child seats. It is leaving behind the air bag inflater business that caused all the wreckage. That sounds like a lot of money. But if the sale goes through, most of that will likely go to the carmakers that have paid for much of the recalls and to the lawyers and advisers to the bankruptcy. It won’t leave much for victims.

The Chinese buyers won’t be responsible; why would they buy unless they were free and clear of those liabilities? And after the bankruptcy, there won’t be any Takata left for victims to appeal to.

Who’s left?

The only realistic source of payment for those future victims, in financial terms, is the carmakers. They’re the ones that installed the bad airbags. And there’s significant evidence some of them knew about the flaws and ignored them, because Takata’s air bags were cheaper. But the carmakers have positioned themselves to control Takata’s bankruptcy by persuading the disgraced supplier to let them finance the process with money they already owe Takata for air bags Takata gave them on credit. If they pull it off, it’s a brilliant plan—for them, at least.

Robert Rasmussen, a professor of bankruptcy law at the University of Southern California, said it’s a novel approach to funding a recall that will last several years at the least. “It’s good if you believe what Takata says,” he said, “and I have no reason not to.” Takata says it would cost far more to borrow the money from banks. In theory, that savings would go to creditors. 

But any savings would come at a huge price for everyone other than the carmakers.

In exchange for funding the bankruptcy, the carmakers want the bankruptcy version of superpowers. And they want to use them to fend off and limit their own liability for the Takata disaster. In other words, the carmakers want to use the powerful tools in bankruptcy law for themselves, even though they are not in bankruptcy.

Here’s some of what they’re pushing the judge to approve, according to court documents and interviews. 

First, they want the bankruptcy equivalent of a force field to protect them from the consumer and personal injury lawsuits that have been filed against both Takata and them. That powerful bankruptcy protection is normally given only to debtors, like Takata.

But carmakers argued in court this week that they, as lenders, should get that protection as well—to make the bankruptcy work. Lawyers for the injury victims called that argument “the first salvo by (the carmakers) to coopt the bankruptcy of the supplier to their own advantage.”

Next, the carmakers want the legal protections that go to lenders that loan to bankrupt firms. That would mean securing, or guaranteeing, the money they give Takata with Takata’s remaining assets. And that would give them a lot of control over how Takata’s money can be spent.

Next, they want to use that control, in part, to harness their liability for Takata’s deadly air bags. According to lawyers in the case, the carmakers want to set up a trust for paying victims’ claims, funnel all the claims to that trust, and bar victims from suing them elsewhere. 

It’s a model derived from the Johns Manville Corp. over asbestos—the first mass tort case to go into bankruptcy. But the purpose of the Manville trust was to keep a bankrupt business alive. Here, the carmakers that want the trust are not in bankruptcy. 

Another condition carmakers want as lenders: to bar the injury victims from using any money from the bankruptcy to sue them, no matter how liable the carmakers turn out to be in Takata’s fraud. And they want a strict limit on how much money Takata’s victims can spend from their official bankruptcy funds to even investigate how much carmakers knew about Takata’s fraud and when they knew it. “It’s a fact of life in many cases —where the lender wants to make it difficult and risky for the creditors to sue or challenge the lender,” said William Weintraub, a partner at Goodwin Procter and a bankruptcy expert.

Here, the lender may be co-liable in wrongdoing that has led to an unknown amount of damage.

Lawyers for the dead and injured and for the states are fighting the carmakers’ push for power; it’s for the bankruptcy judge to decide the extent of their control over the case. 

Where does this all leave those future victims? It’s certain the judge will name an advocate to speak on their behalf. There may even be a separate fund created for them. But for how much? For how many? History suggests that future victims never get compensated as well as known victims.

“The dynamics are: When you have actual breathing people with actual breathing claims, they tend to get compensated today,” Rasmussen said. The others get less, “because they’re not there.”

And now, those unknowns could also be bargaining against another living, breathing group—the carmakers, imbued with bankruptcy superpowers.

Body Wash | eBay

Body Wash | eBay


eBay

Shop huge inventory of Dove Body Wash, Body Wash Lot, Olay Body Wash and more in Body Washes and Shower Gels for Bath and Body Care on eBay. Find great deals and get free shipping.

Sugar Is Now Considered A Drug (So Just How Much Are You Dosing Yourself Or Your Kids)

Sugar Is Now Considered A Drug (So Just How Much Are You Dosing Yourself Or Your Kids)

by Amy Ziff @ DrGreene.com

Amy Ziff’s take on sugar… Is sugar really a drug? Can we actually be addicted to it? Are you? And how about your kids? Those are frightening thoughts. There are a lot of people in the health world who have been attacking sugars lately.  I have to admit my first thought was, “Sugar? A drug? […]

Shedding light on a bad shroom trip

by 1timepost @ Bluelight

Wanted to shed some light on what a bad trip feels like from my personal experience for those curious: Your memory and thought processes become...

Tylenol for Babies & Toddlers: Follow-up Discussion on #LTKH Tweet Chat

Tylenol for Babies & Toddlers: Follow-up Discussion on #LTKH Tweet Chat

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

On May 17 and 18, 2011 there was a joint meeting of the FDA Advisory Committee for Nonprescription Drugs and the FDA Pediatric Advisory Committee. I wrote an article about that meeting on May 18, 2011 entitled Tylenol No Longer Deemed a Pain Reliever for Babies & Toddlers. At the time, that was the biggest news that […]

Lawsuit tossed against Little Caesars over non-halal pepperoni

Lawsuit tossed against Little Caesars over non-halal pepperoni

by @ CTV News: Business Headlines

A judge has rejected a lawsuit against a pizza franchise, alleging it sold pork as "halal pepperoni" at one of its locations in a Detroit suburb.

Unilever: our brands, heritage and mission

Unilever: our brands, heritage and mission


Unilever Philippines

Unilever's brands range from luxurious hair treatments and mouth-watering ice creams to low-cost nutritious foods, antibacterial soaps, germ-killing sprays and much more.

Dove

Dove


Integrated Brands

Unilever, a typical house of brands, is the global leader in the personal care market. Each brand in Unilever’s personal care business is precisely targeted to a specific group of consumers with a distinct value proposition to minimize cannibalization. …

EZ  Foam® TLS Soap Dispenser, Dove Gray

EZ Foam® TLS Soap Dispenser, Dove Gray


Tri-Lateral Sales Inc.

These are sold by the case. There are 6 in a case.

17 Cruelty-Free Vegan Bar Soap Brands You'll Love

17 Cruelty-Free Vegan Bar Soap Brands You'll Love


PETA

These soap brands offer cruelty-free vegan products that will leave your body and conscience clean.

Internet Marketing Tips From Dane Cook's Tourgasm

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

I am a big fan of comedian Dane Cook and have been watching his Tourgasm show on HBO. On the show, he and 3 other comedians travel the road in a big bus and perform all over the country. On the last episode, Dane was giving advice to a younger comedian on the tour. He was talking about how he was really utilizing Myspace and other similar technologies to market himself. He said that he had embraced every new technology as a way to reach out to his fans. He showed the young comedian the 12,000 add a friend requests...

Canada Reportedly Wants the U.S. to Scrap Its Right-to-Work Laws as Part of a New NAFTA Deal

Canada Reportedly Wants the U.S. to Scrap Its Right-to-Work Laws as Part of a New NAFTA Deal

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Canadians are apparently sick of competing with nonunionized foreign workers South of the border. According to the Globe & Mail, the country’s negotiating team is asking the United States to scrap its anti-union right-to-work laws as part of an updated North American Free Trade Agreement, presumably in order to prevent poorly paid Americans from undercutting organized Canadian labor on wages. Obviously, this is not what the Trump administration had in mind when it demanded our neighbors return to NAFTA’s negotiating table.

Right-to-work statutes allow employees to opt out of paying fees to the unions that represent them in collective bargaining. These laws are frequently blamed for draining organized labor of financial resources and have likely contributed to the decline of union organizing over the past several decades. States are permitted to enact the laws under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, a landmark piece of union-busting legislation that congressional Republicans passed over President Harry Truman’s veto. Canada, which like the U.S. is seeking to strengthen NAFTA’s labor protections overall, would reportedly appreciate it if Washington would pass new federal legislation banning right-to-work provisions.

“I’m very pleased with the position the Canadian government is taking on labour standards,” Jerry Dias, president of Canada’s largest private-sector union, told reporters outside of this weekend’s NAFTA talks. “Canada’s got two problems: The low wage rates in Mexico and the right-to-work states in the United States.”

To be clear, there is zero chance that a Republican White House would agree to do away with right-to-work laws as part of a trade deal. Breaking the power of organized labor is a key piece of the party’s long-term agenda, and relinquishing that goal in order to appease our lefty neighbors would cause an uproar among the GOP donor class. Canada almost surely knows this, and is staking out an extreme negotiating position in order to signal that it’s treating these talks seriously and is prepared to ask for major concessions.

It’s also an ironic way to throw the Trump administration’s protectionist rhetoric back in its face, which seems like part of the point.

Our president of course loves to complain about cheap foreign labor undercutting American factory workers. And now and then, he has a point. Mexico, for instance, more or less lacks independent labor unions, and partly as a result, wages there have barely risen over the past 15 years, even as auto manufacturing has flourished within the country’s industrializing north. For this reason, the fact that the original NAFTA lacked basic, enforceable labor standards cutting across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is widely looked at as a mistake, which both the Trump administration and Canada are looking to rectify in the current renegotiations. The Trump administration’s official NAFTA wish list includes enshrining the “Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining” among all three countries.

But Canada’s right-to-work jab is a reminder that, for all our talk of raising the rest of the world to our own labor standards, America’s record on workers’ rights isn’t exactly pristine, and that much of the developed world may see a nonunion factory in Alabama much the way we see car plants in San Luis Potosi. In other words, we’re not always the ones being taken advantage of.

Mountain Dew

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Non-alcoholic beverages – soft drinks Owner of the brand: PepsiCo Key competitors: Sprite, Red Bull

Artykuł Mountain Dew pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

After 75 years, remains of sailor killed during Pearl Harbor attack finally identified

After 75 years, remains of sailor killed during Pearl Harbor attack finally identified

by Jennifer Shrum @ CW33 NewsFix

PETERSBURG, Va. — The remains of a New Jersey man killed 75 years ago during the attack on Pearl Harbor have been positively identified, according to WTVR. It’s impossible to measure a family’s grief — even when decades go by and the remains of their loved one remained unidentified in a mass grave. One family, generations later, still held out hope for a final resolve. A New Jersey man, killed during the first wave on the attack on Pearl Harbor […]

The Meaning of the Mooch

The Meaning of the Mooch

by Felix Salmon @ Slate Articles

There are a lot of Mooches. There’s the funny Mooch, the self-effacing Mooch, the schmoozy Mooch, the boastful Mooch, the name-dropping Mooch, the suck-up Mooch, and, yes, the utterly unhinged Mooch. Most of them are visible in just about any TV interview he does, although the angry Mooch is normally off the record. Underneath it all is one man: the chameleon Mooch, the guy who will never think twice about changing his spots if doing so gives him any kind of tactical advantage.

Right now Anthony Scaramucci—failed investment banker, newly minted man of the people, indefatigable self-promoter—is trying to pull off the most high-risk trade of his career, and he’s doing it by channeling Donald J. Trump to the best of his abilities. He has already effectively dispatched Sean Spicer; next up, if all goes according to plan, will be Reince Priebus, followed sooner or later by Steve Bannon. He’ll need friends, though, most immediately at Treasury, because right now he isn’t actually the White House communications director. In order to officially get that job, he needs to disentangle himself from his former businesses in a manner acceptable to the Treasury Department.

Once Treasury approval comes through, the Mooch will finally get the fuck-you money he’s wanted all his life—and, what’s more, he can put it all into Treasury bills and won’t need to pay any taxes on it until it’s liquidated. (All of this thanks to rules benefitting executive-branch appointees who need to sell assets to clear ethics rules.) He will also be effectively the second most powerful man in America, gleefully tramping all over norms and institutions in a way that even Bannon has until now failed to achieve. That’s because Bannon has his own agenda. The Mooch, by contrast, is perfectly happy being a thug for hire, doing whatever bidding the president asks of him and doing it with maximum relish.

The Mooch, it’s important to understand, comes as close as humanly possible to being a man without a soul. His entire career has been based on finding people who are richer, more powerful, or otherwise more successful than himself and trying to be more like them.

In its early years, that strategy meant a pretty standard move from Harvard Law School to Goldman Sachs; later on, after he discovered a taste for the television lights, it meant playing a hedge-fund manager on TV. For a while, the Mooch decided that the pinnacle of capitalism was the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, where he would rent out the famous Piano Bar every year and pour the assembled plutocrats the most expensive wine he could find. That was the period when he would happily tweet out Davos orthodoxy in a vain attempt to get taken seriously as some kind of public intellectual. (Davos, almost uniquely, is the kind of place where drivel like “Walls don’t work. Never have never will” is considered profound.)

At some point, the Mooch discovered that the best way to curry favor with the rich and powerful was simply to throw a ludicrously expensive party in Las Vegas every year, which he called SALT (SkyBridge Alternatives). By giving Wall Street folks an excuse to drink too much and to do everything else that rich guys get up to in Las Vegas, the Mooch also put himself in a position to be able to pay enormous appearance fees to politicians including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair. Both at Davos and at SALT, he saw that it was the politicians, not the billionaires, who were the real center of attention. Thus did he enter presidential politics, first with Mitt Romney, then with Scott Walker, then with Jeb Bush, and finally with Donald Trump.

In each case, the Mooch took on the mien of his new patron—demonstrating, if nothing else, his remarkable shape-shifting skills. Around Trump, he became a no-bullshit bruiser, an aide with no agenda beyond loyalty and no ambition beyond maximizing his Oval Office face time. He also removed whatever trace of the shame gene he might have had remaining, proving himself willing time and again to proclaim anything that Trump wanted him to say, no matter how ludicrous or slanderous or self-incriminating it was. That has won him the all-important trust of the president, at least for the time being.

The problem is that for all his skills at managing up, the Mooch has very few skills as a politician or as a communications chief. For instance: He’s very good at phoning up journalists and shouting at them, as I (and many of my former bosses) can personally attest. (After I published this story, for instance, the Mooch screamed at just about everybody he knew at Thomson Reuters, up to and including the CEO, multiple times.) And tactical fits of sweariness have been a central part of Washington politics forever: Just ask Rahm Emanuel. But Rahm always had a purpose to his swearing, and he always made sure it was off the record. The Mooch, by contrast, does really stupid things, like trying to bully the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza into giving up his sources—a tactic that has never worked on any journalist ever. And then does even more stupid things like throwing Bannon under the bus, in extremely vivid Anglo-Saxon, without first going off the record.

Or, to put it another way, the Mooch has already proved himself to be significantly less competent than Selina Meyer, and he hasn’t even officially started his new job yet. If and when he does get that job, and/or the chief of staff job he clearly covets, we will find ourselves looking back on the days of Priebus and Spicer as the calm, orderly time before everything went really bad. Because if there’s one thing worse than Trump in the presidency, it’s the Mooch standing by his side, applauding all his worst instincts and wallowing in the inevitable chaos like some kind of idiotically sycophantic movie henchman. It has only taken a couple of days for America to learn what kind of person the Mooch really is. The really terrifying prospect is that we’ll be reminded of that fact, on a weekly basis, for months or even years to come.

How unsafe of a decision was this- having anxiety

by hxc @ Bluelight

About 2 hours ago I took 1mg of suboxone. The guy I acquired it from said to take 2mg, but I was nervous so only took half.. glad I did too I can...

BYU to sell caffeinated sodas on campus for first time since 1950s

BYU to sell caffeinated sodas on campus for first time since 1950s

by Jennifer Shrum @ CW33 NewsFix

PROVO, Utah — In a surprise announcement on Thursday, Brigham Young University announced it would begin selling caffeinated sodas on campus, according to KSTU. It is a cultural shift for a campus that has been “caffeine-free” since the 1950s. “Until more recently, dining services rarely received requests for caffeinated soda. Consumer preferences have clearly changed and requests have become much more frequent,” the university said in an FAQ announcing the change. Back in 2012, KSTU reported on demands for BYU […]

A Diarrhea Solution That’s a Real Revolution

A Diarrhea Solution That’s a Real Revolution

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

More than a million times every year, in the US alone, people visit the doctor because of diarrhea. Hundreds of thousands get sick enough to be hospitalized. And as we all know, diarrhea is no fun. For kids and for their parents. On average kids will have diarrhea between 7 and 15 times before they […]

Mother, You’re Still Carrying Me Today

Mother, You’re Still Carrying Me Today

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

You may have read a sentimental Mother’s Day card (or one of those picture books that makes every mother cry) with the sappy phrase,  “Mother, You’re Still Carrying Me Today.” Turns out, it’s true. Literally. Amazingly, even mothers who lost a pregnancy, still have some cells from the baby in their bodies. We found this […]

Is your liquid soap made with corn?

by Nina George @

Lavender Heaven Body Wash Many people believe that when they purchase a bottle of natural liquid soap from the health food store, they are purchasing a product that has been created from simple natural products using a sustainable manufacturing process. Liquid soaps are not all the same, many body washes and 'natural' [...]

The post Is your liquid soap made with corn? appeared first on .

Prada

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Apparel – luxury apparel; FMCG Personal care & beauty – fragrances; Retail – fashion stores, e-retail Owner of the brand: Prada SpA Group Key competitors: Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermès, Ralph Lauren

Artykuł Prada pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

The Truth about LYE by Mountain Sky Soaps

by Nina George @

 Lye is a mixture of sodium hydroxide and water. For real soap to have cleaning and lathering qualities, it has to have some sort of alkali. When an alkali is added to oils, saponification occurs and produces soap. Kali Spice Karma Cleansing Bar Soap Detergents use petroleum products or vegetable oils, all [...]

The post The Truth about LYE by Mountain Sky Soaps appeared first on .

The Latest Version of “Skinny Repeal” Might Give States a Chance to Wreck Obamacare

The Latest Version of “Skinny Repeal” Might Give States a Chance to Wreck Obamacare

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Republicans have finally unveiled the “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill they plan to vote on this evening. Like everybody expected, it’s an atrocious bit of policy—a piece of legislation that, as many GOP senators have already admitted, would destabilize the insurance markets by killing off the individual mandate while leaving the Affordable Care Act’s other regulations in place.

Somewhat surprisingly, the bill also still aims to make it easier for states to dismantle Obamacare on their own—though just how much easier is a bit of an open question, which of course won’t be resolved because Senate procedure is now a farce and Republicans are voting on this thing tonight.

As you may recall, the original Better Care Reconciliation Act made it extremely easy for conservative states to opt out of Obamacare’s rules and regulations by expanding the so-called 1332 “state innovation waivers” contained in the law. This provision was designed to let states experiment with alternative health care systems—like, say, single-payer—so long as officials could show that whatever setup they came up with would cover as many people as comprehensively as Obamacare, and without raising the federal deficit. The Republican bill would have nixed most those conditions, save the deficit bit, forcing the secretary of health and human services to approve pretty much any waiver request that came his way. Worse yet, once waivers were in place, the federal government would not be allowed to revoke it, no matter how states mismanaged their funding.

As Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley wrote back in June, “If state officials blow the Obamacare money on cocaine and hookers, there’s apparently nothing the federal government can do about it.”

Earlier on Thursday, however, it seemed like those waivers-on-steroids might have be removed from the GOP’s bill. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that they were not eligible for a vote under the reconciliation process GOP leaders are relying on to pass their bill, and so would need 60 votes to break a filibuster.

But it turns out a somewhat-less-expansive version of the waivers made it into the skinny bill after all. To get them, states will still have to show that their proposals will cover as many people as thoroughly as Obamacare—those guardrails have been left in place. But once a waiver is approved, they can’t be canceled for eight years, which may effectively give states room to do whatever the heck they want. Or so writes Bagley late Thursday at The Incidental Economist: “So while the ACA’s guardrails are still in place, states can ignore them once a waiver has been granted. And there’s not a thing the federal government can do about it.”

Personally, I’m not so sure these waivers are really a free hall pass for states to revoke insurance from their residents. Presumably, if a state doesn’t abide by the terms of its own waiver, individuals who lost their coverage or premium subsidies could bring a lawsuit. (Likewise, if the administration tried to approve a waiver that clearly doesn’t meet all of Obamacare’s standards, someone would almost surely drag it into court). Would that work? I can’t say. There was some debate about it tonight on Twitter.

And that’s the problem (or, one of the problems, anyway). There hasn’t been nearly enough time to judge how this bill could affect health care for millions. And no matter what Mitch McConnell says, there’s a strong chance it could become law.

Lynx

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Personal care & beauty – body care, deodorants, fragrances, hair care Owner of the brand: Unilever Key competitors: Nivea, L’Oréal, Gillette, Old Spice

Artykuł Lynx pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Your Misery at the Airport Is Great for Business

Your Misery at the Airport Is Great for Business

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

RadioShack is barely walking—but InMotion Entertainment Group, which sells electronics in airports, is thriving. It now has 125 locations and is the 43rd-largest consumer electronics company in the U.S.

Newsstands are shutting down—even Harvard Square’s famous Out of Town News is in jeopardy. But Hudson News, many of whose locations are in airports, has dozens of stores under construction.

Yes, there is a brick-and-mortar retail apocalypse afflicting large chunks of the industry. Sure, home-improvement stores and dining establishments are doing OK, but retail chains are going bankrupt at a furious pace, malls are emptying out, Sears is enduring its decadelong calvary, and Manhattan’s avenues are suddenly pocked with vacant storefronts. But there is one chunk of the vast retailing sector that seems to be going strong, with no caveats: stores in airports.

When was the last time you saw blight in a terminal? Selling electronics, books, clothes, food, and services in U.S. airports is a booming business. Globally, airport retail sales rose 4 percent in 2016.  According to Micromarket Monitor, revenues from U.S. and Canadian airport retailing should rise from about $4.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $10 billion by 2020—an impressive compound annual growth rate of nearly 20 percent. Enterpreneurs are having success building chains that exist only in America’s great in-between spaces. Avila Retail has nearly two dozen specialty stores based in airports, including its Earth Spirit folk-art emporia and the awkwardly named Indigenous, which peddles Native American crafts at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

It shouldn’t be surprising. Airport-based retail, which underwent a transformation in the 1990s as an effort to improve the travel experience, has some significant advantages over its non-airport-based counterpart. As much as traditional brick-and-mortar operations are suffering due to mega-trends—millennials’ preference for experience over stuff, the relentless onslaught of e-commerce in general and Amazon in particular—physical retail in airports seems to be thriving in part due to them. What’s more, many of the factors that have made air travel a miserable experience are weighing in favor of airport retail.

Airports supply the greatest desideratum of physical retail: foot traffic. Outside them, people can easily go through their days without having to pass a shop window. But in airports every passenger has to walk past dozens of them. And foot traffic is increasing. The number of passengers flying has risen in every year since 2009. In 2016, according to the U.S. government, U.S.-based airlines carried a record 823 million passengers, up from 700 million in 2009. And these are good customers. While air travel is mass transit, flyers tend to be wealthier than typical Americans, and thus have more money to spend.

Another advantage: Physical retail tends to see activity concentrated in a small number of hours and often sees business drop off sharply on weekends and holidays. But airports are busy starting at 6 a.m. and don’t start to empty out until about 10 p.m. Which means a lease on a few thousand feet of airport space gets you a solid 16 hours per day of operations. It’s not quite 24/7, but it is 365 days a year. Indeed, weekends and holidays are among the busiest times at airports.

Then there are delays, which make air travelers crankier but which actually work in favor of airport retail. When bad weather or missed connections or general crappiness strands passengers for hours—out of the reach of e-commerce—one of the things they do is walk around and buy stuff. Or relieve stress by getting a massage. XpresSpa, a chain of spas based solely in airports, was acquired for $40 million last year.

There’s another way in which the immiseration of flyers brings joy to airport retailers. On many coach flights, the airline now supplies you with virtually nothing to eat or drink. Worse, the Transportation Security Administration will confiscate any liquids greater than 3.4 ounces you bring with you through security. That means there is a category of necessities that you might need on the plane but that you can only buy in the terminal. Cha-ching!

In addition, people who travel routinely forget to pack things they will need while traveling. Plans change, as well—you’re on vacation and have to go to a business meeting, say. And in these instances, e-commerce can’t be of help. If you’ve left the house without headphones and are about to board a nine-hour flight, or if you realize that you need a tie but are 4,000 miles from your closet, Amazon Prime is worthless. Here are some of the things I’ve purchased at airport retail over the years that I already owned but were inaccessible because they were in my house: inflatable pillows, eyemasks, shampoo, saline solution, contact lens cases, sunglasses, reading glasses, 17 toothbrushes, 14 containers of toothpaste, collar stays, a tie, a dress shirt, headphones, chargers, extension cords, adapters, a sweatshirt.

Many people who travel through airports are either going to a destination, or returning to one, where they are expected to show up with a gift. For a significant percentage of travelers, airport retail is the only thing that prevents them from showing up empty-handed. These are some of the gifts I’ve purchased at airport retail in recent years that I would not ordinarily buy when at home: Vanderbilt T-shirts, plastic Minnesota Viking helmets, See’s Candies, mugs, snow globes. Snow globes!

There’s more. America’s rising snobbishness surrounding food and coffee is pushing more people to purchase food and drinks in terminals. It’s not just that you have to pay for whatever fare is offered onboard; it’s that what you’re offered is likely to be swill (airline coffee) or crap (sandwiches wrapped in plastic, wan salads, highly processed protein packs). Fortunately chains (Starbucks, Shake Shack) have picked up some of the slack. And celebrity chefs and higher-end operations have viewed airports as an expansion opportunity. In the past couple of years, here are a few airport meals my family and I have devoured: burgers at the Shake Shack at JFK, a choriqueso torta from Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera at Chicago O’Hare, Cubano sandwiches at Café Versailles in the Miami airport, a decent brisket sandwich from Noshville at the Nashville airport, chicken tacos from Urban Taco at Dallas–Fort Worth, and a Blonde Bock at the Gordon Biersch bar in San Francisco.

There’s little relief in sight for the woes that contribute to the anxiety and depression of frequent flyers. But we’ve found on old-fashioned way to take the edge off as we wait to board: retail therapy.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Boston - Turner Broadcasting - Guerrilla Marketing Gone Bad

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

If you haven't been living in a paper bag recently, you'll know that Boston was the victim of guerrilla marketing gone bad. Some marketers place some electronic devices around the city - under bridges and whatnot - that lit up to display a character fro the Cartoon Network show Aquateen Hungerforce. The devices were spotted and thought to be suspicious, which set off a number of bomb-scares across the city. As a marketer and resident of Boston I thought I should weigh-in in the pile of opinions. Did the City of Boston overreact? I don't believe so. They had no...

Looking Forward to $4 a Gallon Gas?

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

Mark my words, today's announcement about leaky oil pipes in Alaska are a precursor to US gas prices going up to $4 per gallon within the next year. Pardon me in advance for getting a bit preachy here - but I'm steamed at the state of energy in the US. Gas prices in the US have been scalloping up for a long time. They will raise them 2 steps drop them a step, then raise them two steps. The pricing patterns are regular and even predictable. Yes - I know that Katrina knocked out some production. However, gas prices are...

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Lean Into Their Values

by Sarah Moore @ Mission Minded

In a time when so many nonprofits feel threatened, many companies and nonprofit organizations are doing an excellent job of putting their values at the forefront of their work. This type of brand behavior endears you to your stakeholders. It’s important to live your values when things are good. When the beliefs you hold dear […]

The post When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Lean Into Their Values appeared first on Mission Minded.

Trump, Man of the People, Brags About Corporate Profits as Wages Stagnate

Trump, Man of the People, Brags About Corporate Profits as Wages Stagnate

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

President Trump took to the Twitter-waves to broadcast some important economy news Tuesday morning.

Trump usually posts such tweets—another one Tuesday was on the media’s failure to report on the stock market’s gains this year—to take credit for the strength of the economy and reassure his audience (and himself) of his general awesomeness. Trump never tweets negative news, like, say, the crap sales this year from the auto industry, which is the largest manufacturing and retail sector of the economy.

Never mind the absurdity of Trump taking credit for positive economic news and ignoring the negative—Trump arrived in the White House after an eight-year boom in corporate profits and the stock market that can hardly be attributed to him. There’s something else that’s amiss. The fact that American companies are making more than ever is actually a big part of the problem in this country. And its arguably one of the reasons we ended up with Trump.

Of course, corporate profits are better than corporate losses. And more corporate profits are generally better than less corporate profits. But the signal fact of the past decade or so is that, while the fortunes of the corporate sector recovered rapidly after the financial crisis (thanks, Obama and Bernanke!), the fortunes of American workers never quite did.

For a variety of reasons, in fact, the relationship between pay and profits—which was already  increasingly tenuous in the 1990s and the 2000s—broke down entirely during the Obama era. Companies, having survived the collective near-death experience of the 2008 financial crisis, were eager to keep costs down. With massive slack in the labor market—the unemployment rate was 10 percent in October 2009—and unions on their back, workers at all skill levels were not in much of a position to bargain for higher rates. If they did summon up the courage to ask for more, companies could wield the threat of automation, outsourcing, or offshoring. Oh, and thanks to Republican intransigence, the federal minimum wage has remained stuck at a measly $7.25 per hour for the past decade.

So even as median household income stagnated and wages grew a tiny bit, we saw a massive increase in pre-tax corporate profits, from $1.38 trillion in 2008 to $1.84 trillion in 2010, $2.13 trillion in 2012, and $2.16 trillion in 2016. That’s an increase of more than 56 percent in six years. More significantly, corporate profits as a percentage of GDP, which never topped 6.4 percent in the 1990s, rose from 7.3 percent in 2008 to 10.4 percent in 2014. Another way of looking at this, as Pedro da Costa points out in Business Insider, is that labor’s share of the overall economic pie has been plummeting during this expansion. America has been making a lot bigger pizzas in the past several years, but all the extra slices are being delivered to executives and shareholders.

The strange, unpredicted thing is that this trend continued even as the expansion continued to roll on and the labor market tightened. There have been more than 5 million jobs open in the U.S. since August 2014. The unemployment rate stands at 4.4 percent. In many states and cities, the minimum wage is rising. And yet overall pay isn’t really budging much. Median household income adjusted for inflation in 2015 was below its level in 2006.

This state of affairs is maddening. It’s true that inflation has generally been muted since the onset of the financial crisis. And many important things have become cheaper, like clothes and wireless service. But some goods and services that people really need—say, housing, education, and health care—have become significantly more expensive in the past decade. What’s more, there is something soul-sapping about showing up to work every day and either getting the same as you did last year, or getting paid less than you did last year, and never getting a raise or bonus—especially when you can see that your company’s profits are rising dramatically. It’s almost as if the system was, dare I say it, rigged against those who work and toward rewarding those who sit on their rears and collect dividends.

To aggravate matters, in the past few years, the financial press (me included), Wall Street, the Obama administration, and the Federal Reserve were trumpeting the economic gains apparent in this long-running expansion. That disconnect between corporate prosperity and the struggles of workers was one of the factors that helped ignite Trump’s campaign. While he’s gleefully taking credit for the corporate prosperity now, the previous political establishment’s identification with that disconnect was a theme that Trump played off of masterfully throughout the campaign and even in his closing argument campaign ad.

In theory, of course, profits and wages should be rising in closer harmony. The demand for labor relative to the supply is relatively high. But the structural forces that allowed companies to keep wages down as they recovered—the weakness of unions, the threat from offshoring and automation, the insecurity of millions of people traumatized by the financial crisis—are still with us, even as the economy enters its ninth year of expansion. I’d add another less appreciated factor. A kind of pathology has taken root among business owners. They’ve convinced themselves not only that they shouldn’t have to raise wages in order to attract, motivate, and reward workers, but that it would be detrimental to their business if they were to do so.

Given that the president views every relationship as a zero-sum game, it’s not likely companies will come under any short-term pressure to share a higher proportion of their profits with their employees. But that doesn’t mean executives should rest easy. If jobs stop roaring as profits continue to levitate, Trump may flip the script.

Oxycodone abuse - SWEATING LIKE CRAZY!!! Normal?

by aaMizer720 @ Bluelight

I SWEAT SOOOO MUCH WHEN I TAKE ALOT DURING THE DAY. Like DRIPPING. And I CANT fall asleep normal time. Anyone else?

From Omnivorous to Picky Eater – What Changed?

From Omnivorous to Picky Eater – What Changed?

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Dr. Greene’s take on a picky eater… Ever wonder why a 9-month-old will put anything in her mouth and the same 19-month-old refuses to eat anything new? This activity is so common that there’s even a name for it – neophobia or “the fear of new things”. After observing my patients go through this over […]

Johnson’s

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Personal care & beauty – baby care Owner of the brand: Johnson & Johnson Key competitors: Pampers, Huggies

Artykuł Johnson’s pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Toys R Us Is Dying From a Lack of Imagination

Toys R Us Is Dying From a Lack of Imagination

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Of course Toys R Us has filed for bankruptcy protection. We’re in the midst of a retail apocalypse. Brick-and-mortar chains are losing market share to e-commerce. Big box and mall-based stores are suffering from declines in foot traffic. Kids—even little kids—prefer tablets, phones, and screens to toys and games. Live births have fallen since the onset of the Great Recession, so there are fewer toddlers for which to buy stuffed animals. How would you expect Toys R Us to survive in the Amazon age?

And yet, in some ways, this was not inevitable—or it was not inevitable that Toys R Us would meet its end as a viable company so soon. In the New York Times, Kevin Roose writes this week about how Best Buy, another big-box retailer beset by competition from e-commerce whose products are subject to massive deflation, is actually doing quite well. “Revenue figures have beaten Wall Street’s expectations in six of the last seven quarters,” Roose writes. “The company’s stock price has risen more than 50 percent in the past year. Workers are happy.”

What accounts for the difference? In two words, the balance sheet. And in one word, management. Toys R Us was owned and run by financial engineers when what it needed most was some business re-engineering.

In 2005, Toys R Us was taken private by a consortium of private equity investors—KKR, Bain Capital, and Vornado Realty Trust—for $6.6 billion. In recent years private equity investors have talked a good game about how they improve businesses. But the reality is they use a blunt instrument to impose discipline on the managers they hire to run their companies: debt.

Leverage can be a powerful motivating tool—unless you stay current on your debt, you go bust and surrender ownership. Businesses with large debt loads often act with great urgency to restructure, to cut costs, and to rationalize so they can be sure they have the cash to survive. This exercise often makes companies stronger and more valuable. The tactic works particularly well in industries where managers can rely on steady growth and don’t have to fret too much about fundamentally reinventing the business.

But this modus operandi has its limits if you’re in a deflationary environment and have a tough time maintaining positive margins. And it especially has its limits if your industry is facing fundamental, life-threatening disruption, like, say, Amazon. In these instances, the necessity to pay interest first crowds out other investment. Every penny you spend making bondholders and banks whole is a penny not spent on building new payment systems, constructing whiz-bang superefficient distribution centers, acquiring labor-saving robots, sprucing up stores so that they are more appealing to customers, or raising wages so you can attract and retain the best salespeople and managers in an increasingly competitive labor market.

There’s no guarantee that retailers who successfully make such investments will thrive. But if you’re not trying that hard, there’s no way to keep up with better capitalized competitors. Unfortunately, for the past decade, while it should have been aggressively reinventing itself, Toys R Us has been laboring under $5 billion in debt used to finance the acquisition. In 2016, a year in which Toys R Us sales fell 2.2 percent to $11.5 billion, the company spent $457 million on interest payments on its $4.6 billion in long-term debt. By comparison, the company’s operating income for the whole year was $460 million. Put another way, after paying interest, Toys R Us had only a few million dollars to invest.

Best Buy provides a good example of how to turn around a company in the same position as Toys R Us. The companies were suffering from all the same macro woes. And electronics is a brutal business. But Best Buy’s CEO is a professional business engineer, not a financial engineer. As Roose notes, since taking over in 2012, Hubert Joly, a former McKinsey consultant, has managed a turnaround by focusing on low prices, investing in customer service (so that people could have consultations on products before buying), revamping stores so they have dedicated kiosks for popular manufacturers like Apple, and quietly cutting costs.

In the most recent fiscal years, Best Buy’s sales were essentially flat at $39.4 billion. But the chain, whose sales are nearly four times larger than those of Toys R Us, has only $1.4 billion in debt—about one-third the total Toys R Us has. In all of fiscal 2017, Best Buy spent only $72 million on interest—just .2 percent of its revenues, compared with 4 percent of revenues for Toys R Us. The sharply different financial profile means that Best Buy, for the past several years, has had a far greater ability to use the cash flow it generates to pay for investments that bolster its competitive standing instead of simply channeling it all to interest payments.

Toys R Us could have borrowed from Best Buy’s playbook and added some wrinkles: strengthen its logistics systems so it could compete on price with Amazon, create party and play spaces for kids, spend more to hire employees who will engage children, offer toy and gadget repair. Ultimately, Toys R Us was undone by the lack of the precise attribute that it aims to appeal to in its core customers: imagination.

Call Center Confidential

Call Center Confidential

by Aaron Mak @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

Dialing in to a customer service line is no one’s idea of fun. You often have to navigate through a labyrinth of menu options, crude voice recognition software, and grating hold music before finally reaching a breathing human being. And then you must explain in painstaking detail the problem with your cable box to some person thousands of miles away.

But what about that person? It’s no cakewalk for the service professional on the line, either. What is it like for company representatives fielding thousands of calls every day from customers—many of whom are irate, unreasonable, and/or clueless? We asked members of this invisible workforce from around the country to speak their minds. We didn’t record those conversations for training and quality control purposes—we recorded them to give you an idea what life’s like on the other end of the call.

What's the worst thing that a customer has ever said or done to you?

A customer said to me that they hoped that I had a son who died when he turned 5. He had just gone through that, basically. I worked in benefits administration, particularly in health and insurance. So he had a son who had passed away at 5 due to some health concerns, and had made some mistakes with the benefits he chose based off of losing a dependent. We couldn't go in and just immediately fix those; we had to go through an appeals process. He didn't want to hear that. He said, “Well I hope you have a son, and when he turns 5, I hope he dies, and you have to go through this bullshit.”
—D, customer service rep, insurance

I was calling to follow up on a payment, and he asked me to take the penis out of my mouth. And I was like, “Huh?” Not thinking he would repeat it. And then he said, “You heard me, monkey. I said take the penis out of your mouth.”
—A, customer service rep, financial services

There was a woman who said she was going to report me to the Minnesota government office because I didn’t know where the ticket window at the Minnesota State Fair was.
—P, customer service rep, ticketing services

On the HR end, we were frequently listening to calls. Everything is recorded. One that I remember vividly was an employee repeatedly being called the N-word over and over by a customer very early in the call. The employee did a great job at de-escalating the situation—just sort of kept listening to the customer, kept diverting it back to what the issue was that they were trying to deal with. That employee probably needed a break, probably needed a walk around the parking lot afterwards.
—M, human resources partner, telecommunications

There was a woman who told me that it was my fault that her husband wouldn’t make his mother’s funeral on time, because their check bounced at the store. She was buying a suit for him.
—L, customer service rep, retail

What should customers say and how should they behave to get what they want?

I would say just be clear on what they want, and sometimes they may know what they want and not how to ask for it. I would just say, “Hey, this is what I’m trying to accomplish.” Even if you don’t know specifically what to ask for, maybe say what the goal is.
—A, customer service rep, financial services

Pet peeve for me is when people cut me off. If I’m asking you a question, let me finish my question and then feel free to insert your opinion.
—J, customer service rep, international benefits

You don’t have to bake us cookies or anything, but just be nice to us on the phone and we’ll be willing to go the extra distance for you. Versus someone who’s cussing us up and down and yelling at us—we’ll still get the issue done, because that’s our job. But we’re not going to be willing to go as above and beyond.
—E, customer service rep, financial services

It’s not like a lot of people want to make being a customer service representative their life’s work. A lot of the time that’s an entry-level position so that they can get where they want to go within the company. It may already be a frustrating situation for them in that regard. I try to remember that and treat them with respect.
—L, customer service rep, retail

What’s the most positive experience you’ve had with a customer?

I dealt with an elderly person regarding a pension payment that she was expecting, and she called on the deadline to update her direct deposit. We were saying initially, “Hey, you missed the deadline, so your payment is going to be delayed.” She was like, “I need it. I depend on this money. I’m on a fixed income.” So I just reach out to the department that handles those direct deposits and said, “Hey, is this something that we can manually push through?” They said yes. I got back to her, and she was eternally grateful. She ended up sending me cards and stuff just thanking me.
—A, customer service rep, financial services

I was talking with a lady that had just lost her car and home because of Hurricane Harvey. She just had no idea what to do—she couldn’t get out. We had compiled ahead of time a list of emergency services, like how to get in touch with first responders, what to do, how to be prepared. I said, “I’m going to give this to you, but is there anything else that you’d like us to search for?” She was like, “Yes, please. I need help finding a shelter.” And then she let me know that her grandmother was with her. She was just so afraid that something was going to happen.
—J, customer service rep, international benefits

A guy called in and canceled his wife’s insurance because they were going through a divorce. She had Stage 4 cancer. She called us up and was obviously quite distraught. We were trying to figure out what we could do for her and find some loopholes and pull some strings by reaching out directly to her husband’s employer. I was able to call her back and say “Hey, we’ve got great news for you. We got you back into your benefits. You can get the medical attention you need.” That was probably the best moment that I’ve had there.
—D, customer service representative, insurance

Grandmaster Flash landed on my desk a couple times. And then when I was the manager, there were a couple times when he was escalated up to me just because he wanted to chat.
—M, customer service rep and manager, audio tech

HP

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Electronics & technology – computers, tablets, office equipment; Professional services – technological solutions; Retail – e-retail Owner of the brand: HP Inc. Key competitors: Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Lenovo, Xerox, Canon

Artykuł HP pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Agape Family Shelter receives 2015 grant award from The Women’s Fund!

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/agape-family-shelter-receives-2015-grant-award-from-the-womens-fund/

In November 2015, Agape Family Shelter received a generous $1825.00 award from The Women’s Fund, a partner of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC).

We Appreciate Your Patience. Welcome to Always Right, Slate’s Customer Service Blog.

We Appreciate Your Patience. Welcome to Always Right, Slate’s Customer Service Blog.

by Dan Kois @ Slate Articles

Please read carefully, as our menu options have changed. We know you have a choice of blogs, and we thank you for choosing ours. To read the introduction to Always Right, press ze—

[sound of the zero button being pressed several times]

You no doubt remember a time terrible customer service made you snap. Perhaps your voice shook with bitter sarcasm as you dropped some wisdom on the guy at the Target returns counter. Perhaps you crafted a 1,000-word email to the customer care team at your internet service provider, only to have your internet go out and the message vanish. Perhaps—this is purely invented—you spent a full hour on the phone in a small open-plan office yelling at the people who messed up your wedding invitations, only to hang up and discover that your boss had literally prepared microwave popcorn for all your co-workers as they listened in.

But you also remember a time that good customer service made your afternoon, saved you money, rescued a vacation. Our interactions with companies, services, governments, and organizations can be dismal or delightful, enraging or enervating. Customer service is where capitalism intersects with emotion, where our self-image as very important people meets the cold, hard truths of commerce. It can inspire brand loyalty or create a lifelong enemy. (One friend still will not shop at Old Navy due to a poorly handled 1998 return; when she sees her grandchildren wearing affordable, comfortable Old Navy clothing, she feels betrayed. Her own daughter!)

In Always Right, we’ll spend the month of September exploring customer service from every angle. What makes a customer satisfied? How has satisfaction changed in the era of frictionless return-by-mail and Twitter tantrums? Are there errors so great that service can’t redeem them? And what does a company do when a valued customer is, well, totally wrong?

Today we’ll start out on the phone. Henry Grabar looks at how a minor inconvenience of the customer-care phone call, “press one for English,” became a bugaboo of the anti-immigrant right. And in “Call Center Confidential,” Aaron Mak talks to the people on the other end of the line—the customer service pros who, headsets firmly in place, deal with jerks like me all day.

Thanks for reading. Have I provided exemplary service to you today? If so, press the star key—

[sound of the zero button being mashed, like, nine times]

How We Ruined Airline Jobs

How We Ruined Airline Jobs

by Jeff Friedrich @ Slate Articles

Nobody wants to be a pilot anymore. As the airlines tell it, a so-called pilot shortage has made it impossible to staff their fleets, forcing them to cancel flights and park hundreds of airworthy planes in the desert. One airline ventured to blame its 2016 bankruptcy on its inability to hire enough pilots, and even at always-profitable and carefree Southwest Airlines, the challenge of recruiting millennial aviators keeps middle management awake at night. “The biggest problem,” a Southwest executive told Bloomberg, “is a general lack of interest in folks pursuing this as a career anymore.”

Airline execs tend to make the shortage seem more mysterious than it is, as if something in the contrails is fueling this “general lack of interest” in the profession. That’s evasive. Rather, the shortage is best understood as an obvious manifestation—and perhaps the nadir—of a long-term deprofessionalization of what was once a solidly middle-class career: We made the pilot occupation so unattractive, so tenuous and poorly paid, that people stopped wanting to do it.

Flying, meanwhile, has also become unbearable for passengers. The airlines that survived the volatile decade following 9/11 have since consolidated themselves into a lucrative oligopoly, prompting questions about why smaller cities continue to lose service, why seats keep getting smaller, why fares have remained stubbornly high even as fuel prices dropped and profits soared, and why paying passengers are being quasi-defenestrated from overbooked flights.

The degenerating passenger and pilot experiences aren’t separate phenomena but in fact are intimately related, both resulting from policy choices that have propelled a decadeslong, ongoing makeover of the national air-transit system. The difference, perhaps, is that we are more conscious that we, the passengers, are getting a raw deal.

So are aviation workers, but there is more to the pilot shortage than just pay. Industry representatives are pushing Congress to address the rising cost of pilot training, which can exceed $100,000 after requirements became more stringent in response to a 2009 crash. Competition for pilots has also gone global, causing many young pilots to leave the U.S. to chase more exotic opportunities with Emirates and other Middle Eastern carriers. And there are class-conscious obstacles to recruitment—flying has become less glamorous.

But at the regional airlines where the effects of the pilot shortage are most acute, even management seems to have finally acknowledged that pay matters, as evidenced by their recent efforts to raise starting salaries that paid first-year pilots as little as $15,000 to $20,000. And although many jobs have gotten worse in the past few decades, pilot wage stagnation distinguishes itself in several respects.

First, airline jobs appear to be caught in a steeper free fall. Before President Carter and a Democratic Congress deregulated the airlines in 1978, few industries paid higher wages. In the 1990s, a number of studies reviewed deregulation’s impact on airline wages, attributing decreases in the range of 10 to 20 percent for pilots, and more for flight attendants. While many observers hypothesized that wages would stabilize as the shakeout from deregulation attenuated, wages never managed to find a floor in the decade after 9/11. According to a Government Accountability Office analysis, pilots’ median weekly earnings fell another 9.5 percent from 2000 through 2012—lower wage growth than 74 percent of the other professions included in the GAO’s review.

Nor has this wage erosion been limited to pilots. Today, many flight attendants begin their careers making less than minimum wage—as I did as a flight attendant for Pinnacle Airlines, where I was employed from 2011 to 2013. It’s even worse for those who work outside the aircraft. Average weekly wages for airport operations workers, a category that includes baggage handlers and other support staff, fell by 14 percent from 1991 to 2011—a growth rate that was lower even than the low-wage retail and food service industries, according to a 2013 study. Airline workers also work much harder than they did in the past; the industry had the second highest multifactor productivity growth from 1997 through 2014, according to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Declining wages and inequality are sometimes described as an inevitable, deterministic outcome of abstract economic forces, but none of the usual suspects seem to adequately explain what’s happening to airline jobs in the U.S.—not immigration (pilots and flight attendants must speak English), globalization (so-called cabotage laws have limited the scope of international outsourcing), automation (robots haven’t yet displaced pilots), or the decline of unions (union density remains high). How, then, could the airline industry have fared worse than most other industries?

* * *

In the recent history of pilot wages, two related trends have tipped the balance of power between the airlines and their labor force: the proliferation of outsourcing strategies after 9/11 and the consolidation of the country’s major air carriers.

Regional airlines are having the hardest time hiring pilots. These companies, where most pilots now begin their careers, operate almost half of all domestic flights on behalf of major carriers like Delta, United, and American. David Dao was actually kicked off a United flight that was operated by Republic Airways. Though the employees on the plane wore United uniforms, their paycheck came from Republic.

The regional industry grew as a strategic response to the downturn after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks. The airlines’ losses were unprecedented. Through 2005, the airlines lost more than $50 billion and received more than $5 billion in direct government aid. Four major carriers went bankrupt, and the industry shed more than 100,000 jobs, around 15 percent of its entire workforce.

The 50-seat regional jet played a key role in the industry’s recovery. Until about 1998, smaller airports were served either by larger jets, which were oversized for these markets, or turboprops, which flew slow and not as far. As the airlines attempted to stave off bankruptcy, they began buying a repurposed corporate jet manufactured by Bombardier, the CRJ200. The plane allowed the airlines to better match their smaller markets with demand, which in turn allowed them to redeploy larger planes to more lucrative international routes. The jets could also reach markets that were beyond the reach of the turboprops, allowing airport hubs to expand their customer base.

At first these planes were operated in house or through wholly owned subsidiaries, but after a time the flying was outsourced to independent companies. That strategy was initially constrained by the pilot unions, because collective-bargaining agreements typically limited how much flying could be outsourced.

A standard response emerged: If the unions refused to renegotiate their contracts, the airlines threatened to declare bankruptcy, where they might be judicially absolved from the commitments they had promised to workers. Forced to make concessions, the unions allowed more outsourcing to avoid options that would hurt their current members more, like additional layoffs or pay cuts. Because of these dynamics, every major airline had secured permission to fly more regional jets by the mid-2000s. As a result, regional jet capacity grew by 97 percent between 2000 and 2003, suddenly making these planes an integral part of the system.

Regional airline pilots and flight attendants have always made less than their mainline counterparts, but before 2000, the regional airline workforce was much smaller. In 1978, regional aircraft flew approximately 5 percent of all domestic departures; in 2000, 16 percent; in 2015, 45 percent.

Through outsourcing, the major carriers effectively introduced a permanent secondary scale. The result is that today’s young pilots are embarking on careers that look markedly different from the ones their senior colleagues began a generation ago. Though it’s still possible to make $200,000 flying international routes at a top airline, new pilots must now progress through a regional pay scale before they begin their ascent of a major’s scale, meaning it will take them longer to get to top pay, and their lifetime earnings will ultimately be lower. This helps explain why more than $100,000 in income now separates the top-earning 10 percent of pilots from the lowest-earning decile, a wage differential matched by few occupations.

* * *

Toward the latter half of the 2000s, consolidation played an equally important role in forcing down the pay of entry-level pilots. Though Congress intended for the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 to promote competition, the four largest airlines now find themselves in control of 80 percent of the market. When the reform passed, five airlines controlled 70 percent of the market. This has helped awaken political interest in consumer rights, but less attention has been paid to how airlines could wield market power to depress wages.

In the midaughts, regionals often earned substantial profits, but as the majors struggled through bankruptcies and the 2008 recession, they sought to renegotiate the amount they were paying to the regional carriers, ultimately securing new agreements on much less generous terms. Several concurrent trends also caused the airlines to re-evaluate their reliance on 50-seat regional jets. Most significantly, jet fuel prices rose almost 500 percent between 2002 and 2008. When Bombardier released a larger, 76-seat version of the CRJ200 that had far superior fuel economy, there were suddenly powerful incentives for the airlines to find ways to get rid of their 50-seaters.

Market power made it easier for the airlines to achieve this goal. After the mergers between Delta and Northwest in 2008, United and Continental in 2010, and American and US Airways in 2013, each combined carrier found itself in control of a large fleet of undesirable 50-seat jets. The regionals, on the other hand, had fewer customers to whom they could sell their flying. The majors used their leverage, which resembles what economists call “monopsony power,” to continually bid down the price they paid to regionals.

Delta took an especially aggressive tack, suing three of its regional partners for what it alleged were performance issues, in each case withholding millions of dollars in payments it would have ordinarily owed. This helped force Mesa Airlines into bankruptcy, and all three carriers eventually consented to reworking their agreements with Delta. In the new agreements, Delta sought to pay less for its flying and to retire 50-seat aircraft.

Even as they continued to put downward pressure on regional airline wages, Delta and the other  majors began to earn record profits. Under such conditions in an ordinary market, economists would have expected the majors to face pressure to raise wages (the majors have raised the pay of direct employees, to Wall Street’s occasional chagrin), but outsourcing and market power have positioned the companies to exclude certain workers from their gains.

Certainly, a case can be made that the government should have more closely scrutinized some of the mergers of the past decade. But current antitrust law prioritizes a consumer focus. Prior to deregulation, merger review would have concerned itself with employee welfare, but as currently practiced, questions about monopsony—when there is only one buyer, in this case of labor—still might have escaped the attention of a more vigilant merger review.

In the “hipster antitrust” corner of Twitter, some are arguing for a more expansive form of trustbusting, one that could mitigate the effects corporate concentration appears to be having on wages in certain parts of the economy, and as appears to be happening in the airline industry. It’s a policy solution that deserves more consideration, but for reasons made clear to me by my own experience as a flight attendant, one that might not be enough to arrest the fall of airline wages.

* * *

The airline industry has no formal minimum wage because the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts transportation workers. Because of that, unions are it—the de facto wage floor. The problem is that America’s uniquely permissive bankruptcy laws have undermined the strength of unions.

When I interviewed for my flight attendant position at Pinnacle Airlines in 2010, the hiring manager slid a piece of paper across the table and told me, as if issuing challenge, “That’s how much you’ll make in your first year”—a fairly cinematic way of telling someone their salary is $15,500, though at least she was candid. It compelled me to justify myself, to explain to my interrogators how I planned to live in New York City on so little—less than minimum wage after accounting for the cost of my uniform and unpaid training time.

After I convinced them, I was soon working with pilots who were making about $20,000. Some of them had worked for one or even two failed regional airlines before landing at Pinnacle, where they’d once again found themselves at the bottom of the pay scale.

Nonetheless, when Pinnacle went bankrupt in 2012, a victim of what my CEO termed “a race to the bottom” among the regional carriers, labor became the focus of attention, just as it does in all airline bankruptcies. A judge agreed that the company’s pilots were paid “substantially over market,” granting approval of a reorganization plan that included a 9 percent reduction in pilot pay, plus smaller cuts to flight attendant pay and employee benefits.

As an academic matter, bankruptcy law strives to treat all creditors as equals. But in its actual practice, the law has evolved to allow certain creditors to skip to the front of the line. When that allows one party to successfully evade its fair share of the losses, other parties, including labor, stand to lose more.

Plane financiers, in particular, enjoy special treatment through Section 1110 of the bankruptcy law, a provision that essentially bankruptcy-proofs an airplane, allowing lenders to reclaim an asset that might otherwise be sold in order to pay off other creditors. This protection is unique to the perennially insolvent airline industry and helps explain why the financial industry remains willing to lend it money.

This is a notable intervention into a supposedly “deregulated” industry, and without it the airline industry might require more direct forms of public subsidy. In the case of the regional airline industry, 1110 made it much easier for airlines to make consequence-free escapes from their leases after rising fuel costs made their 50-seat jets less economical.

Labor, conversely, cannot cut the creditor line, and the courts can discharge collective bargaining contracts and employee pensions just like any contractual obligation that isn’t an aircraft. The Supreme Court’s Bildisco decision required the airlines jump through some additional hoops before a judge can allow them to rip up a union contract, but the mere fact of its possibility weakens the bargaining power of unions by making companies less accountable to what they’ve promised workers. Accordingly, the rejection of labor contracts “has not been the mechanism of last resort to save a failing business,” the Air Line Pilots Association told Congress in 2010, “but instead has often been used by employers as a business model to gain long-term economic advantage by unfairly gutting the wages and working conditions of airline and other employees.”

Most other countries’ bankruptcy courts do not work this way. Canada does not let bankrupt companies tear up labor contracts. Some countries jail the executives of bankrupt companies while the boards of insolvent American operators often award “retention bonuses” to their executives. U.S. laws don’t even require bankrupt companies to prove they’re bankrupt, allowing a number of U.S. airlines to enter the process with healthy stores of cash. Of late, as the U.S. airlines have sought to prevent Middle Eastern carriers from securing permissions to serve more U.S. airports, they have pointed out various subsidies these airlines receive from their governments. In response, the Middle Eastern carriers have inventoried the ways in which Chapter 11 shelters U.S. airlines from the free market.

* * *

Even as the airlines have earned record profits in recent years, they’ve canceled or reduced service to cities across the country, quietly rendering a dramatic remapping of the national air transit system. Twenty-three percent of U.S. airports lost more than 20 percent of their flights between 2013 and 2016, and at least 18 airports lost service altogether, according to numbers provided by the Regional Airline Association. The airlines say this is simply the pilot shortage in action, but it’s more accurately understood as the ongoing legacy of the decision to deregulate the industry.

It’s always been tough to make a buck running an airline. In general, the fixed costs of operating any airplane are high, but bigger planes tend to have lower costs per passenger. We have airline hubs because very few pairs of cities are large enough to sustain a high frequency of service using large airplanes. The hubs allow airlines to assemble enough passengers to fill a larger plane, allowing them to profitably increase service between two cities. The academic and former airline executive Michael Levine, one of intellectual forefathers of deregulation, has described hubs as “factories [that] manufacture route density.”

Southwest and other low-cost airlines have famously scorned hubs. They operate as point-to-point operations, mostly flying lucrative routes between major cities, and only as often as they can fill an airplane. By comparison, operating hubs is considerably more expensive and complex. Hub operators—these days Delta, United, and American—have historically recouped these costs by operating as “everywhere to anywhere” airlines. Through the cross-subsidization of routes, consumers paid a premium to access a comprehensive network that could get them from Bemidji to Bamako.

In the first two decades after deregulation, there was enough competition and industry turmoil to inhibit the expansion of low-cost airlines like Southwest. But in the mid-’90s government regulators began to regard Southwest as a positive competitive influence on the hubbed airlines—whenever Southwest managed to enter a new market, fares fell. To promote the expansion of what became known as the “Southwest effect,” the government helped ensure that low-cost airlines were getting opportunities to service major airports.

As more low-cost airlines began competing on the lucrative routes between major cities, it was harder for the hubbed operators to charge the premium they required to recoup their higher operating costs. In short, the point-to-point business model was compromising the sustainability of the network model. That competitive pressure motivated the hubbed carriers to use outsourcing and the market power they acquired from consolidation to continue pushing regional wages down, even while they earned huge profits.

The pilot shortage is the limit of that strategy—pay got too low, so people stopped wanting to do the job. The airlines could try to charge more money to the passengers flying from smaller airports, but that has its own drawback—at some point those passengers will opt to begin their trip by driving to a larger city. Consolidation has also made it less essential for the hubbed airlines to worry about smaller markets. As the airlines consolidated, more traffic is being handled by the largest hubs. This means airlines don’t need to reach as deep into the country to fill a large plane that’s bound for Paris or New York. In some ways the hubbed airlines have become more like Southwest.

Essentially, we have made a consumer-welfare trade-off, swapping a more comprehensive system with somewhat higher fares for a more limited one that can deliver the best value on the country’s most popular flights. The winners of the trade-off are people who make frequent trips between New York and L.A. The losers live two hours outside of Memphis, or work entry-level jobs on the flights that would serve those communities.

This is a defensible policy trade-off. But as has often been the case in the years since deregulation, the changes we made to the air transit system didn’t happen after a vigorous public debate. We have continued to allow the market to sort it out, even as it becomes clearer that the market’s imperfections might prevent it from delivering a system that can satisfy all parts of the country. It’s also an approach that has continued to pass the expense of policy transformation on to employees. We should bear such costs in mind as we continue to demand lower and lower fares.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Boston - Turner Broadcasting - Guerrilla Marketing Gone Bad

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

If you haven't been living in a paper bag recently, you'll know that Boston was the victim of guerrilla marketing gone bad. Some marketers place some electronic devices around the city - under bridges and whatnot - that lit up to display a character fro the Cartoon Network show Aquateen Hungerforce. The devices were spotted and thought to be suspicious, which set off a number of bomb-scares across the city. As a marketer and resident of Boston I thought I should weigh-in in the pile of opinions. Did the City of Boston overreact? I don't believe so. They had no...

The Last Place in America Without an Obamacare Insurer Lined Up for Next Year Just Got One

The Last Place in America Without an Obamacare Insurer Lined Up for Next Year Just Got One

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

As of now, every county in the United States now has at least one health insurer lined up to offer coverage on its Affordable Care Act exchange next year.

CareSource, a nonprofit health insurer, announced Thursday morning that it would offer Obamacare coverage in Ohio's Paulding County, the last remaining market that lacked a carrier for the 2018 open enrollment season. CareSource has previously said it would step in to provide insurance options for 20 other counties within Ohio that were at risk of being left bare.

At various points this year, more than 90 counties across the country have faced a serious chance of ending up stranded without any insurers offering marketplace coverage for 2018. While those communities represented a relatively a small number of enrollees—there are more than 3,000 counties in the United States—their problems were a potent political symbol and have often been cited by Republicans as evidence that Obamacare was either facing an imminent crisis or failing outright.

It is still technically possible that insurers will decide to pull out of some markets before late September, when they must sign contracts with the federal government to offer coverage on the exchanges. Many will almost certainly run for the exits if President Trump follows through on his threat to cut off important subsidies to insurance companies, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, that have been challenged in court (which is why it'd be nice if that bipartisan stabilization bill a few senators are working on actually comes to fruition). Moreover, it's still unclear how sustainable the Obamacare markets are long term in the small, rural counties that have had the most trouble securing insurers.

But for now, Obamacare's most immediate problem seems to have been solved. Take victories where you can, I guess.

Twitter

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Media & entertainment – social media Owner of the brand: Twitter, Inc. Key competitors: Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn

Artykuł Twitter pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Unilever backs up Dove soap ad after questioning

Unilever backs up Dove soap ad after questioning


CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com

Unilever holds its head high after winning an ad battle over its Dove soap after it had dryness claims questioned, and the Advertising Standards authority ruled in its favour.

Why are there so many more food allergies today?

Why are there so many more food allergies today?

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Dr. Greene’s take on food allergies… You probably already know that our kids are growing up in a pretty tough world, and part of the challenge is being certain what to feed your young ones. Since the mid-1990s, food allergies have gone from a relative rarity to becoming increasingly commonplace. What is responsible? Well, it […]

Make Your Brand Values Active!

by Julie Malmberg Grawe @ Mission Minded

Lukewarm, generic, uninspiring—these words should never describe your brand values. Yet, many nonprofit organizations continue to use solitary words as their values. It’s tempting to follow suit because, by definition, words like respect, transparent, and honest provide a solid foundation for your organization. Yet, solitary words as brand values often lack individuality and impact. They […]

The post Make Your Brand Values Active! appeared first on Mission Minded.

Beijing Olympics by Tim Ballas and Emily Kanoff

by noreply@blogger.com (Giulia Carando) @ Public Relations Problems and Cases

Introduction
For centuries, the Olympic Games have provided billions of people with amazing sports entertainment. From Gods and mortals, Hercules and Michael Phelps, the Olympics open the world to more super-human strength, agility and pure talent than they have ever seen. Every stroke in the water, stride on the track, and score of the goal helps to unite the world in a moment of pure joy and excitement. Every four years countries from around the globe send their best athletes to compete in games that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Records are broken, proud countries rejoice, dreams come true. In the summer of 2008, it happened in Beijing.
This case study examines the most recent Olympic Games in Beijing and the controversies that went along with them. Along with providing background and history of the Ancient and Modern versions of the games, the study reveals how and why Beijing was chosen as host city and the years of preparation that it took to hold such an event. During the games, Beijing became the latest casualty in the long list of host cities that have encountered scandals. These scandals will be examined along with comparisons to previous games in which boycotts, protests, and terrorism threatened to overshadow the good intentions of the world event. Finally, the study observes how China responded to the criticism and how the world has reacted since many controversies have been uncovered.












History of Olympics Games
The Olympic Games are an international sport event that celebrates the talent and dedication of thousands of participants while bringing the world together for a common event every two years for both Summer and Winter games. The games date back to Ancient Greece where Olympians were honored with statues and poems, and despite a several century break, they continue to be the world’s most exciting event. The games can be broken down into two sections: The Ancient Olympic Games and the Modern Olympic Movement.
The Ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece. No one knows for sure, but according to popular legend, the god Zeus held sporting events in honor of his succession to the throne of heaven. One of his sons, Hercules, defeated his brothers in a running race and was crowned with a wreath of wild olive branches. Hercules is also given credit for naming the winner of each event an ‘Olympian’ as well as deciding to hold the games every four years. From then on, the Olympic Games became a part of the Greece’s culture and held extreme importance both socially and religiously, with its popularity climaxing in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. Olympians were treated as celebrities and heroes with statues and figures created in their honor. Over time, Roman power in Greece overshadowed the popularity of the Games. In 393 AD Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Christianity the religion of the Empire and due to the games pagan roots, the Olympic Games were banned.
Nearly 1500 years later, the Olympic Games were brought back to the modern world. Although similar games were held before on a smaller and more local scale, it was Baron Pierre de Coubertin who started the preparation for a multi-national Olympic Event. While researching the reasons for the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, he theorized that the French soldiers were not given proper physical education. In order to bring attention to the need for physical activity, he proposed to bring back the Games that were so important centuries before.
The first Games of the Modern Olympic Movement were held in 1896, in Athens, Greece. The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, was responsible for putting together the massive event. This Olympic governing body still continues to organize that event today. The Games were held from April 6 to April 15, 1896 and hosted nearly 250 athletes who participated in nine different sports. These included athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, tennis, weightlifting, and wrestling. The Games were considered a huge success with an outpouring of support from fans who overcrowded the Panathinaiko Stadium day after day to become that largest crowd to ever watch a sporting event at the time.
With each new Olympic Games, more sports were added and new countries participated. It was for this reason that in 1921 the IOC decided to split winter and summer sports into two completely separate entities. Although they would be held the same year, the Summer and Winter Games created equality between the sports and helped spectators focus on one aspect of the Games at a time. The first Winter Olympics were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. It was in 1994 that the IOC mandated that the Winter and Summer Olympics be played every four years on alternating cycles.
Over the last century the Olympic Games have continued to draw unrivaled interest and dedication from fans and athletes all over the world. The 2008 Summer Games in Beijing drew the largest television ratings in United States history and with 302 events in 28 sports, The Olympic Games only continue to grow.
Previous Olympic Scandals
The world is not a perfect place, and the Olympic Games are no stranger to boycotts, protests and scandals. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics were the first Olympics to be boycotted. Countries including The Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland refused to participate because of the cruelty of the Hungarian Uprising by the Soviet Union. Additionally, because of the Suez Crisis, Cambodia, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon boycotted the games. In the heat of the Cold War, opposing countries boycotted each other’s games. Because of Soviet presence in Afghanistan, The Moscow Olympics in 1980 saw 65 nations pull out of its games. In 1984, the Soviet Union and 14 of its communist supporters boycotted the Los Angeles games, citing safety concerns for its athletes.
The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin were used by the German Nazi Party to promote their political policies and demonstrate their anti-Semitism and racism. The country allowed only Aryan athletes to participate in the games, which is just a taste of what the world would encounter in the years following. In a case similar to the Beijing games, the city of Berlin attempted to fool the rest of the world by removing anti-Jew signs from stores in an attempt to mask their prejudice and “clean up” the city.
A political incident on a smaller scale but with resounding influence occurred at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, both black athletes from the United States, were the first and third place finishers in the 200-metter track and field race. During the National Anthem, both men performed the Black Power salute on the victory stand. Peter Norman, the second place finisher from Australia, famously supported his opponents by wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the stand. In response, the United States Olympic Committee was forced to send its two athletes home by the IOC committee.
Sadly the Olympic Games are not immune to Terrorism. The 1972 Summer Games in Munich is the site of the worst tragedy in Olympic history. Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by the terrorist group Black September in what is now known as the Munich massacre. Nine of the deaths were a result of a liberation attempt by police. The five terrorists were also killed, along with a German police officer. Terrorism was also seen at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. A bomb was detonated at the Centennial Olympic Park, which killed two and injured 111 others. The bomb was set by Eric Robert Rudolph, an American domestic terrorist.
Process of hosting Olympics
ABC News article - http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=80796&page=1
Hosting the Olympics is a huge honor, one that takes years to secure. A new two-phase host city election procedure was adopted in December 1999 by the 110th IOC session for the selection of the 2008 host city. The initial selection phase was based on technical requirements and was completed by a team of experts. The cities in the running after the first phase for the 2008 games were: Bangkok, Beijing, Cairo, Havana, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, Paris, Seville, and Toronto. Once approved by the Executive Board of the IOC, the cities became official Candidate Cities and were authorized to go forward into the full bid process. On August 28, 2000, the IOC Executive Board announced the five Candidate Cities for 2008: Osaka, Paris, Toronto, Beijing, and Istanbul. After being announced, each of the five cities were visited by the IOC Evaluation Commission. The Evaluation Commission inspected the sites of the games and submitted their reports two months before the host city was announced.
Beijing Planning Process
http://www.china.org.cn/english/2004/Jul/102281.htm
Beijing was elected as the host city for the XXIX Olympic Games on July 13, 2001. They defeated four other cities in the final round of competition including Toronto, Paris, Osaka and Istanbul. With hosting duties came seven years of preparation, including a huge amount of renovations that needed to take place in the city. Partnerships and sponsorships were secured early on to help with the planning and execution of the Games. By 2004 the Olympic Committee in Beijing had secured partnerships with seven five-star hotels to provide accommodations during the games, signed the Bank of China as the official banking partner of the games, and created the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co. to ensure successful broadcasting of the games to fans around the world. Volkswagen Group signed on as the official automobile partner, GE and Autos Origin became Worldwide Official Partners, and numerous sponsorships were secured with companies around the world.
To market the games, the city introduced the world to the 2008 Summer Olympics emblem, known as Dancing Beijing. The emblem combines a traditional Chinese red seal and a representation of the calligraphic character Jing with athletic features. The slogan was "One World, One Dream" and the mascots were the five Fuwa, each representing both a color of the Olympic rings and a symbol of Chinese culture.
Dozens of arenas were erected and the transportation systems were completely revamped. Thirty-one Olympic structures were built in all, including the Beijing National Stadium, Beijing National Indoor Stadium, Beijing National Aquatics Center, Olympic Green Convention Center, Olympic Green, and Beijing Wukesong Culture & Sports Center. The Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed The Birds nest, is perhaps the most famous structure of all, having been the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.
In preparing for the massive amounts of people who would be attending the Games, the city of Beijing added the new Terminal 3 to its airport which helped it become the world’s largest. The Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Rail was built to shuttle people back and forth between cities on the world’s fastest scheduled train service. Inside the city, Beijing doubled its subway system in capacity and size by adding seven more lines and 80 additional stations. Thousands of buses, minibuses and official cars were brought in to transport people between venues. Overall, the Beijing Olympics Games became the most expensive in history, with the city spending over 42 billion dollars.
2008 Beijing Olympics
Security
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/rosemary_righter/article4460645.ece
For the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, security was going to be a main issue with all of the issues surrounding the country. As a result, there was a big security increase for the Olympics, as each personnel were trained to counter multiple scenarios of terror attacks. To provide the top of the line security for the games, Anti-aircraft missiles were installed in all Olympic stations in Beijing as well as having 110,000 mobile police, 1.4 million security volunteers, and 300,000 surveillance volunteers. Of course, security does not come cheap, either. The security bill for Beijing was an estimated three billion dollars. For cities outside of Beijing that were hosting Olympic events, there was an estimated 34,000 troops, 74 military aircraft, 48 helicopters, and 33 naval vessels that were all placed on high alert.
Tourism
http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/aug2008/gb20080819_224722.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_global+business
Prior to the Olympics, officials anticipated over two million tourists, with one third of them being from overseas. However, due to the Tibetan unrest, the torch relay protests, and an earthquake, the actual volume of visitors fell 9.2 percent than expected.
Many hotel owners invested in a big way for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Many anticipated their hotels to be sold out with room prices jumping through the roof. However, due to an increase in security for visa rules and requirements, it was hard for people to visit Beijing.
According to the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, the 6.8 million tickets to the Games were sold out. However, if you watched the Olympics on TV, there were many empty seats available for many of the events. Because of this, many journalists took shots at the committee about the suspicious claims that all tickets were sold out. It eventually came out to the public that most of the tickets were corporate sponsors that refused to make it to the games due to scheduling difficulties, conflict of interest, and many other reasons. On top of that, besides the 2.7 million tickets that were given to the corporate sponsors, many people didn’t realize that there was no re-entry policy for the events. If you left to go back to your hotel or get something to eat, you would not be allowed to get back into the respected stadium or arena you were in. Another thing that angered many athletes of different countries was that the majority of the tickets that were sold were given to the Chinese, which caused a ton of controversy to those who wanted more representatives of their respected country.
Even though all of the tickets were allegedly sold out, more than six million dollars in tickets were sold by a fake online ticket broker.
Mass displacement
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article526586.ece
Due to the construction of the venues for the 2008 Olympics, over 300,000 Beijing residence were displaced and evicted in preparation for the games and whoever decided to protest the forced evictions would arrested. However, China’s Foreign Ministry and the Beijing Olympic organizing committee said that only 15,000 residents from 6,037 households were displaced. In the end, it left thousands and thousands of people homeless due to get ready for the Olympic Games. The most peculiar thing about this is the fact that they evicted the poor class of Beijing residents and nobody else. Many people believe that China did this to make them look good for the Olympic Games and not look horrible as a city for housing so many slums.
Correct English and etiquette
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6052800.stm
http://www.nbcolympics.com/wgal/news/newsid=154888.html
For the Olympics, The Beijing government issued new requirements for its police officers by demanding them to act more professionally for the Olympics. They told the officers to stay clear from using profanity, being arrogant, and hanging up on people who call to report crimes.
Also, the government issued a drive to improve the English translations on advertisements in China. Due to the poor translation for those who speak English, China wanted to be more welcoming to its incoming tourists by improving the translations of their signs in the city.
Boycotts
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7242016.stm
Boycotting has been a popular issue for many countries over the years of the Olympics. This year was no exception. Those who decided to boycott the games include many prominent people outside of the athletes. Steven Spielberg, who was the artistic advisor for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, stepped down from his role because he protested the Chinese and their refusal to pressure Sudan to stop the criminal activity in Darfur. He went on by saying that there is human suffering in the region and that China needs to stop these crimes against humanity. Due to the activity in Darfur as well as the forced relocation of 300,000 Chinese people to make room for the games, 106 lawmakers in the United States started a letter calling for the United States to boycott the Olympic Games.
Other popular political figures across the world boycotted the Games as well. The Japanese government announced that its royal family would not be there because of the violence in Tibet. France President Nicolas Sarkozy was also in favor of boycotting as well.
Terrorist incident
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7340181.stm
On April 10, 2008, China announced that it foiled a plot against the Olympic Games. According to the Chinese security ministry, separatists planned suicide bomb attacks on Chinese cities to disrupt the Olympics. On April 25, Interpol released a warning saying that there was a real possibility that the Beijing Olympics would be targeted by terrorists.
When the Olympic Torch is being carried around the world getting ready for the Olympics, security always has to deal with protesters attempting to stop the relay or taking the torch. It has been a problem for many Olympics and is one that requires a ton of security, for the Olympic Torch symbolizes what the Olympic Games is all about. For the Beijing Olympics, protestors from Tibet tried to take the Olympic Torch towards the end of the relay before it reached Beijing.
"Racist" advertisement in Spain
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26173075/
Prior to the start of the Games, the Spain Men's and Women's Basketball teams were featured in ads that appeared in the Spanish newspapers. The team was getting a group picture taken on a basketball court when the entire team decided to use their hands and pull back the skin on their eyes, making them look like they are Chinese. Many Chinese papers as well as others across the world and even the IOC called it completely racist and inappropriate. However, the players on the team said that it was by no means trying to come off as racist.
Environmental and health issues
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqZqBvtZpP0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxqQBIoyjr4
http://articles.latimes.com/2008/mar/12/world/fg-olyair12
http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_299.pdf
Environmental and health issues have been a plaguing issue concerning Beijing and China itself. The haze and smog that has surrounded the city has polluted the air of China. During its bid for the Olympic Games, China wanted to clean up its air to give the athletes clean air for their participation. Included are more issues involving the environment that affected the Olympic Games in Beijing.
The United States Olympic Committee, due to their concern with the safety of food products that are produced in China, brought their own food to the Olympic Games through imports. The athletes were concerned that the meat that was raised in China could contain steroids to cause the athletes to test positive for their drug tests. The leader of the food services for the Beijing Olympics was very disappointed with the action of the Americans.
Like mentioned before, the quality of the air in Beijing and other areas of China was a chief concern for the athletes. Even though Beijing committed to lowering their air pollution, the pollution drifted over to neighboring provinces, causing the toxic air to flow into neighboring areas and affecting many millions of people. In order to get rid of the pollution in Beijing, they removed over 60,000 taxis and buses from the roads by the end of 2007 and relocated 200 local factories before the Olympics started. This caused many Beijing residents to relocate to different areas to live with no jobs due to the relocation. In order to be safe with the air pollution in Beijing, many countries and their athletes would arrive at the games as late as possible to limit them from the exposure of the polluted air in the area. They would also set up offshore training camps in Japan and South Korea to avoid the pollution. Also, other athletes, including major ones from different countries, decided not to compete in the games due to the pollution.
In July of 2008, Beijing officials introduced stricter pollution controls, including the suspension of more factories and power plants, lowering the number of cars, and intensifying driving restrictions, which included only driving on alternate days, and depending on whether the last number on their license plate was odd or even. As a result of these restrictions, traffic was reduced by two million vehicles.
Opening ceremony
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4TMpZCKxXE
http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/08/12/fake.fireworks.ap/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/2545387/Beijing-Olympics-Faking-scandal-over-girl-who-sang-in-opening-ceremony.html
It also turned out that there was a major controversy during the Opening ceremony. China faked part of the ceremony when nine-year-old Lin Miaoke was singing “Ode to the Motherland”. However, it turns out that she was just a visual effect, as the real person behind the singing, Yang Peiyi was originally supposed to sing the song live. However, according to the ceremony’s chief musical director Chen Qigang, the more photogenic Lin took her place on stage because a senior Politburo member objected to Yang’s crooked teeth. He then went on by saying that Peyi is a magnificent singer who doesn’t deserve to be hidden.
Also during the opening ceremony, one segment of the fireworks show displayed fake fireworks. During the one part when 29 footprints wandered into the Bird’s Nest (China’s Olympic Stadium), it turned out that they were simulated by computer animation due to the hazy conditions in Beijing. The reaction from the media was extremely negative.
Participants' issues
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/sports/olympics/24kick.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
A number of sportsmen were criticized for their behavior at the games:
• The Chinese Men's Soccer team was severely criticized by the media for poor sportsmanship
• Iranian Swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei pulled out of a swimming meet during the Olympics under the orders from officials of the Iranian delegation for political reasons.
• A Swedish wrestler rejected his bronze medal in 84kg Greco-Roman wrestling in protest over the judging of a semifinal match.
• Cuban taekwondo athlete Angel Valodia Matos kicked a referee in the face after being disqualified. His coach further accused the referee of taking bribes from Kazakhstan. Matos' records at the Beijing Games were erased, and he and his coach were banned from all future taekwondo events.
• Chinese taekwondo judges were accused of throwing games to benefit the Chinese taekwondo team.
State training and expectations of Chinese athletes
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/08/05/sports/gymnast.php
http://www.sportingo.com/olympic-games/a10002_did-weight-chinese-expectation-prove-too-much-liu-xiang
http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_10136505?nclick_check=1
Since China was the host country, it put a ton of pressure on the Chinese athletes competing in the games. For example, Liu Xiang, the defending Olympic champion in the 110 meter hurdles, pulled out of competition in the 2008 Olympics. After winning China’s first gold medal in track and field, he is considered one of the biggest athletes in China. After bowing out of the games, he disappointed his millions of fans and faced harsh criticism for just quitting. It is possible that due to the immense pressure, he was afraid to lose, and that the pressure just worn him out. In his mind, his fans expected him to win the gold medal and nothing less. As a result, he might have felt afraid that if he received anything less than a gold medal, he will be remembered as a failure.
Also, there has been much criticism for the training regime of the Chinese. Considered to be just as harsh as the former Soviet Union, the Chinese government received tremendous amounts of negative attention throughout the world for their training style. If you were Chinese and wanted to be in the Olympics, these young athletes have to sacrifice living with their families at such a young age in order to endure and sustain the tough training that the Chinese instill in these kids. These kids train in certain “sports schools” or what they like to call state academies, where thousands of children give up getting an education to just focus on the sport of their skill. In the end, if a career in sports doesn’t turn out for these kids, they are now forced out into the real world with no education and the fact that they haven’t seen their actual family in many years. However, if a career turns out to be very successful, the Chinese will pay them performance bonuses that equal to ten times more money that a normal family makes per year.
Doping
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7516484.stm
“Zero Tolerance for Doping” was the official slogan for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Out of the 4,500 athletes at the games, six of them were caught with doping. Although it was a significant decrease since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, doping experts express concern however due to the advanced technology to stop doping in today’s society of sports.
Human rights
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7567703.stm
On July 23, It was announced that the Public Security Bureau would issue permits for protesting in protest zones during the Olympics. The three designated locations were Purple Bamboo Park, Temple Of The Sun, and World Park. However, people who requested a permit for protest did not get them for many different reasons, including disturbing the social order of Beijing. 77 people applied to get a permit. Out of those 77, 74 were withdrawn, two suspended and one vetoed. The protesters were eventually wrongfully discouraged to apply for the Chinese government wouldn’t even allow you to do so.
Web and media censorship
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/548f4410-5e3a-11dd-b354-000077b07658.html?nclick_check=1
China promised in its Olympic bid that it would allow open media access during the games, but it didn’t turn out that way. 20,000 journalists were given sub-par internet access to do their work. On top of that, many reporting sites were blocked from their access because China didn’t want anything controversial being said or reported in which it would give China a bad name. In late July, the Beijing Organizing Committee announced that they would allow only “convenient” access, which still blocked sites that included controversial content about the Olympic Games in Beijing. Beijing authorities also didn’t want live broadcasts of locations such as Tiananmen Square because they didn’t want to show all the protests going on in China.
Arrests
According to Business Week, at least 50 Beijing human-rights activists were either arrested, put under house arrest, or banished from the city during the Olympics. Reasons why these activists were arrested include criticizing China’s hosting of the Olympics by comparing it to Nazi Germany.
Reaction/Evaluation
The reaction from the IOC and international media outlets has been positive. Even through all the controversy, the IOC did a great job covering it up with riveting stories such as Michael Phelps’s quest for 8 gold medals. On a public relations standpoint, they always seemed to put a positive spin on what was going on during the Olympics and making sure that nothing controversial will get in the way of the Olympic Games.
On a short-term basis, you can say that the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing have been a success. There were no protests on a medal podium, no terrorist attacks, and the best weather and air quality in over ten years. With recent tragic activity in previous Olympic Games such as the bombing at Atlanta during the 1996 games, this is considered to be a huge victory for the IOC and the City of Beijing. Even with all of the tension going on with Tibet, the altercations during the Olympic Torch relay, and allegations of boycotting the games, China came away as big winners with this years Olympics.
However, many people who live in China have been affected negatively during the Games. Thousands of people are now homeless. Thousands of people now are unemployed. As a result, millions of people now have a skewed view of what China is really like. Elyse Adams, a senior at Penn State, traveled to China this past summer to do research and service work with a professor. She traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, and many other areas of China and came back shocked with how many people’s lives have changed for the worse because of the Olympics. According to Adams, “You have people whose homes are being burned down just for a spectacle for two weeks. It’s unreal how China cares more about what their reputation is going to be like from an international standpoint that they would do anything to make them look good and cover up anything that makes them look worse. It is unfair to the poor families in Beijing who now have to find a new job and a new home.”
It is unclear what the reaction is going to be like in the long-run, but so far it looks good for the city of Beijing. Many people within the country garnered a good amount of national pride as the lasting effect of the Olympic Games will view Beijing as a city on the rise.
Conclusion
While the country of China and the city of Beijing found international respect this year by hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, they also lost a good amount of integrity with the people of their nation. While the country was too busy trying to present a good image for the rest of the world, their own citizens were struggling, and the Chinese didn’t help matters. Instead, they covered up run down buildings, burned the slums in the outskirts of the city, and reduced the air pollution and population by getting rid of factories and enforcing stricter driving laws during the Olympics. While the world was watching Michael Phelps becoming the new Olympic hero, more than 300,000 people had to change their lives by finding a place to live and getting a new job.
In the end, there have been much worse scandals and controversies in past Olympic Games that have been far worse than anything that has happened in this year’s games, but in conclusion, there will always be controversy surrounding the Olympics. Whether it’s political issues, racism, the environment, human rights, or other issues, something will cause a stir before each Olympic Games. Overall, while China had their share of problems before, during, and after the Olympics, in our opinion they did a decent job covering up the problems China was facing and gave society something to cheer about for two weeks that only comes around every four years.

Burberry

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Apparel – luxury apparel, FMCG Personal care & beauty – fragrances, make-up; Retail – fashion stores, e-retail Owner of the brand: Burberry Group plc Key competitors: Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Gucci, Prada, Ralph Lauren

Artykuł Burberry pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Would the GOP’s “Skinny Repeal” Bill Really Wreck the Insurance Market?

Would the GOP’s “Skinny Repeal” Bill Really Wreck the Insurance Market?

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

At some point in the next day or so, Senate Republicans are expected to vote on their Plan C for killing Obamacare—“skinny repeal.” Nobody knows exactly what is in the bill yet, because it was still being written Thursday afternoon. But the rough idea is to wrap a handful of ideas the entire GOP can support into a piece of bare-bones legislation that avoids controversial issues like cuts to Medicaid that have split the party's moderates and conservatives. Above all, it would end the Affordable Care Act's requirement that all Americans buy insurance lest they pay a tax penalty—aka the individual mandate. It would also “partially” repeal the employer mandate requiring businesses to offer their workers coverage. Beyond that, it would make changes around the ACA’s edges.

In theory, this splinter of a bill is not supposed to reach Donald Trump's desk. Republicans are being asked to vote for it merely to keep the repeal process alive, allowing the House and Senate to meet in a conference committee to craft a final, more robust piece of legislation. But at this point, it's not clear that Republicans are actually capable of coming up with anything better. The Senate GOP has been unable to muster 50 votes for any kind of comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare. And even if those votes existed, it's becoming increasingly clear that procedural hurdles would get in the way. If Republicans are determined to notch a win—loosely defined—on health care, Congress may have to pass skinny repeal and call it a day.

What would that mean for health insurance in this country? Nothing good. The individual mandate, while politically loathed, is still the keystone that makes Obamcare's extremely popular consumer protections hold together. Republicans would remove it while leaving in place the regulations that bar insurers from rejecting or charging more to customers with pre-existing conditions. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that such a plan could cause insurance premiums to rise by an additional 20 percent within a year, as young and healthy Americans dropped their coverage, leaving behind a pool of sicker enrollees with higher medical costs. Eventually, the CBO believes 16 million more Americans would be left uninsured—some by choice, and others because they were priced out of the market.

To be clear, that 16 million figure shouldn't be taken as gospel. According to a chart the CBO provided congressional Democrats, the office thinks that by 2021, 5 million fewer Americans would have individual coverage, 4 million fewer would have insurance through their employer, and 6 million fewer would have it through Medicaid. (Presumably, there are unseen decimal points in there that round up the total to 16 million.) The Medicaid number is probably the most controversial part of that prediction, since it doesn't make a ton of intuitive sense that killing a mandate to buy insurance would drive people off a government safety net program. But Medicaid has a lot of turnover each year; people sign up for it and drop off when they find work or other insurance options. And it's entirely possible that without the mandate, some people would never discover they were eligible for Medicaid in the first place, because they would never go looking to find a health plan. Whether it would actually cause the program to shrink by 6 million heads is hard to say.

The bigger question is whether the insurance markets in some parts of the country would collapse entirely. We know that forcing insurers to cover the sick without making everybody buy coverage works poorly because several states tried it prior to Obamacare. Premiums skyrocketed as enrollment in the individual market shrank. But the difference today is that Obamacare provides insurance subsidies that cap premiums as a percentage of a household's income. As a result, there will almost always be some people ready to buy insurance no matter how high premiums shoot up, since the government will pay most of their tab. It seems very unlikely the insurance market would plunge into a full-fledged, nationwide death spiral, where rising premiums drive out the vast majority of healthy customers, and insurers are forced to abandon the market or charge unaffordable prices.

Even so, killing the individual mandate would be sure to rock the insurance market (which is why insurers are shouting apocalyptically about it). First, Obamacare's subsidies cut off for families that make more than 400 percent of the poverty line, or about $82,000 for a family of three; the millions of Americans currently paying full price for their insurance would get gouged. Second, even with subsidies around to act as a cushion, insurers might decide to abandon some parts of the country anyway. Remember, there are already some counties that could end up with zero carriers offering health plans on their exchanges next year. If skinny repeal passes, it wouldn't be surprising if that pain spreads further. We wouldn't see a coast-to-coast death spiral, but we might witness a few localized ones.

That sort of dysfunction might still be preferable to the House or Senate plans to replace Obamacare, which would have dealt a generational blow to the safety net by slashing hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid. But skinny repeal is still bad policy. It's a slight piece of legislation that could deal some heavy damage.

Ignore the Viral Tweets. Airlines Aren’t Really Gouging People Ahead of Irma.

Ignore the Viral Tweets. Airlines Aren’t Really Gouging People Ahead of Irma.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

With Hurricane Irma swirling its way toward Florida, the internet has been filling up with angry accounts of airline price gouging, complete with pictures of thousand-dollar-plus fares that (of all people) Perez Hilton has been collecting. An Arizona PR exec racked up more than 30,000 retweets when she posted a screengrab showing a Delta ticket that had supposedly shot up from $547.50 to $3,258.50. The Miami Herald tracked down an absurdly sympathetic woman who wanted to fly “her mother, adult cousin, 71-year-old grandmother, [and] 11-year-old sister to New York” but could only find a flight that cost $1,318.80 per person. The issue is even getting some attention from the Sunshine State’s politicos: Florida’s attorney general says her office’s newly opened price-gouging hotline has been getting a stream of complaints about airlines, and her staff has been calling carriers about the issue.

Many of these horror stories are obviously real—I’ve found a few $1,000-plus tickets myself. But overall, the rage seems maybe a little excessive. Airfares do appear to be rising in advance of Irma, but generally not by absurd amounts. Meanwhile, some airlines have even responded to the storm by increasing flights and capping fares in order to make sure people can get to safety.

According to an analysis by the travel-booking website Kayak, people looking to fly out of South Florida within a day last week could expect to pay somewhere in the “mid-$300s.” As of yesterday, those prices were up by more than 25 percent. This is not surprising. Airlines set their prices automatically via algorithms that account for the number of seats available, demand, timing, and a whole host of other factors. Last-minute tickets can be especially expensive. When half a metro area suddenly decides to evacuate because a deadly hurricane is bearing down on it, you can expect prices to rise. “Situations such as these drive pricing anomalies due to an instantaneous imbalance between demand and supply,” airline industry consultant Bob Mann of R.W. Mann & Company told me in an email. “Same occurred to United returns to Houston, post-Harvey, and to NY-DC fares after the Amtrak crash eliminated thousands of seats daily.”

Of course, this is not necessarily a good thing. It’s the flying equivalent of Uber failing to turn off surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy, which plenty of people found ethically grotesque.

But a 25 percent bump in last-minute fares is not exactly the equivalent of a $99 case of bottled water, nor are those surges the rule. JetBlue will only charge up to $99 for flights out of Florida to help more families get out of the storm’s path. Delta is capping fares at $399 out of South Florida while adding flights on larger planes in order to provide more seats leaving the area. For what it’s worth, I’ve been able to find sub-$300 tickets along with some obvious rip-offs while searching travel sites. If anything, it seems fair to criticize airlines for being slow-footed and failing to pre-empt their normal pricing strategies before the pre-storm panic set in. But this doesn’t strike me as an example of capitalism at its most rapacious either. As far as fixes go, Mann told me one option would be for airlines to automatically flag rapid fare jumps “for a prompt manual review” by an employee.

Meanwhile, some of the gouging stories may not be what they seem. When I asked Delta spokesman Anthony Black about the $3,258 ticket that caught Twitter’s attention on Tuesday, he pointed out that the screengrab was actually from Expedia. “It wasn’t posted on our site,” he told me. And once Dow checked with Delta, it apparently addressed her issue.

Please Step Aside, Sir

Please Step Aside, Sir

by Jacob Brogan @ Slate Articles

We’ve all lived through the necessary indignity of passing through airport security. Especially when the queue moves slowly, the process leaves you replaying familiar worries. Do I still have to take off my shoes? Should I pull out my laptop? Are my toiletries small enough to escape notice? When you pass through with a medical device, however, the list of questions is longer and the answers more frustratingly predictable. Yes, you’ll waste still more time as the agents scrutinize every aspect of your equipment. Yes, before the experience is done, one of them will touch your groin. Yes, you are being singled out for something that already makes you feel terrible—physically and emotionally—almost every day. If you’re lucky, you still make it to your gate in time.

In my case, the trouble starts with two medical devices that are always attached to my body to treat my diabetes: a wireless insulin pump, which I typically wear on my upper arm, and a constant glucose monitor that adheres to my stomach. Removing either would require me to apply a new module, which is both expensive and time-consuming. And though neither device is especially large, they announce themselves loudly on full-body scans: bright blots of light against the murky gray of my digitally rendered frame.

Each time they show up—and they always do—the next steps are the same. Officers pull me aside and pat me down. Somewhere along the way, they test my fingers for explosives. Inevitably, I’m all but compelled to explain my condition, telling the agents what I’m wearing and why, even as other travelers stream by.

Where devices like mine are designed to make my life easier, allowing me to live without fear of my disease, here they become objects of near-performative skepticism. For a few minutes, I become a sort of showpiece, a dramaturgical prop in the Transportation Security Administration’s ongoing work of security theater. In the moment, it’s hard not to feel that the TSA counts on such screening opportunities, if only because they allow the agents to show everyone else in line just how thorough they are.

Perhaps that’s unfair to officers who are, after all, simply doing an important job. While the agency does a great deal to accommodate those with medical conditions (individuals with disabilities don’t need to remove their shoes, for example), its information pages also clarify that any and all medical equipment may receive further screening. In other words, they’ll do their best to ensure you make it through safely, but they’re almost always going to look at you more closely than they would at another passenger.

This can be frustrating in the moment, but it’s not just those of us who repeatedly receive extra scrutiny who have concerns. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, which researches civil liberties and privacy issues, has argued that that the full-body scanning technology currently in use across the United States is unnecessarily invasive in ways that go beyond the basic imaging process. As the organization put it in a recent petition to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, that’s partly because that system “heighten[s] the burden of disclosure for persons who rely on certain life-sustaining medical devices.”

In May, the court brushed off EPIC’s petition, writing that the issues “do not warrant a published opinion.” Jeramie Scott, director of EPIC’s Domestic Surveillance Project, told me that conclusion was frustrating. In particular, he told me, the court seems to have overlooked or otherwise discounted the pressures that the screening process can put on people with medical conditions to reveal information about their well-being.

Do TSA agents know how to sensitively move travelers like me through security? According to Supriya Raman, a manager in the TSA’s disability office, security screening officers undergo training that addresses both disabilities and medical conditions and devices associated with them. Raman’s office also circulates updates when it learns about new medical technologies as they make their way to the market, attempting to help the agency’s officers recognize devices that might pass through their checkpoints. In my own experience, at least, that training doesn’t seem to have stuck: Though my pump and monitor are both relatively common, few security officers recognize them.

TSA representatives also stress that passengers have the right to request a private screening. The agency even makes cards that travelers can hand to an officer, an approach that can, at least in theory, spare them the uncomfortable experience of declaring a medical condition aloud. But even that process requires that the traveler be publicly taken aside, which may amplify shame or other unpleasant feelings associated with a medical condition. And merely making the request still entails conveying potentially sensitive information to strangers about the private particulars of one’s health, something I, for one, am often loathe to do, even when the circumstances are stress-free.

For all that, these protocols do evince a real desire to ease the burden on travelers. The agency even advertises a passenger support helpline through which concerned travelers can prearrange to have a specialist meet them at a checkpoint, leading them through the process in a way that better accommodates individual needs. While this service is likely critical for many—especially those with mobility impairments—it still requires substantial effort on the traveler’s own part, effort that can only distract from the constant work of medical self-care. And as with other forms of enhanced screening, this process also still leaves the TSA dedicating considerable time and energy to the investigation of innocuous conditions.

TSA spokesman Mike England proposes that the situation is largely unavoidable, at least for now. “The technology we have can tell that something is there, but it can’t tell the difference between, say, a hip replacement or something dangerous,” he says. “We have no choice but to conduct further screening.”

As England and Raman told me, the TSA is working with “industry partners” to allay that situation. To that end, Raman said, the agency hopes to develop a process that would allow “a broader range of individuals to be screened without having to go through secondary screening.” What such a process might entail, and how it might work, remains unclear. It also seems entirely possible that a system capable of clearly distinguishing between medical devices and more threatening objects would raise new privacy concerns.

EPIC suggests that such innovations might not even be warranted. In its brief to the appeals court, the organization writes that a combination of metal detectors and already-available explosive trace detection devices could effectively assess threats without singling out travelers with medical conditions or disabilities. “All things being equal, TSA should have chosen the less privacy-invasive route. The bomb trace equipment is designed to detect the threat for which we have screening in the first place,” Scott told me.

Ultimately, England may be right about the inevitability of additional screenings targeting individuals with medical devices—an inevitability that speaks to the paradox that devices like mine present. When I first received my diagnosis, I did what I could with the options that were available, carrying around fragile insulin vials and sheaths of needles with me everywhere I went. Later, I upgraded to self-contained pens and eventually to the cybernetic attachments I now wear.

While each of those upgrades has made it a little easier to manage my disease, they also bring complications of their own, forcing me to reshape my days around their particulars. New technologies—medical and otherwise—never enhance our lives without transforming them. On occasion, I’ve had to rush home from the office because my pump failed and I didn’t have a replacement in my bag—something that never happened with the old needle method. In other circumstances, I’ve been woken in the middle of the night because my phone was shrieking about a mis-calibrated blood sugar reading. These devices keep me healthy, but they also do as much to manage me as I do to manage them.

It’s hard to grasp the burden of such experiences until you’ve lived with them. And though I spend a great deal of my time trying to forget it, passing through the already liminal space of a security checkpoint only serves to drive the experience home. Much as I appreciate the TSA’s efforts, I worry that its attempt to develop new screening methodologies will bring new irritations, redirecting our time with the agency in as yet unthought ways. For now, at least, I will have to continue resigning myself to the frustrations of enhanced screening every time I fly, as will others who live with chronic conditions.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Dr. Greene’s Guide to Allergy Care: How To Prevent And Treat This Season’s Allergies

Dr. Greene’s Guide to Allergy Care: How To Prevent And Treat This Season’s Allergies

by Alexandra Carmichael @ DrGreene.com

If you’re in the Northern hemisphere of this beautiful planet, it’s the beginning of spring for you. The blossoming flowers and budding leaves are amazing to watch, but can also trigger allergies. If you or a loved one experiences allergies, here are some of my favorite recommendations on what can be done to help – […]

How Do You Create Attentive, Responsible Teens? Give ’Em Jobs!

How Do You Create Attentive, Responsible Teens? Give ’Em Jobs!

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

One of the things I love most about my small town is our grocery store. The prices are low and the selection is decent. But it’s the customer service at Market Basket that makes picking up milk and broccoli such an agreeable errand. As in many retail settings heavy on entry-level jobs, a fair proportion of Market Basket’s employees are teenagers. But these teens aren’t surly or inept or mumblingly awkward like the ones at Cinnabon. These bright young things make friendly eye contact, they dress neatly, and they make pleasantly professional small talk. When I was visibly pregnant a few years ago, baggers walked me out to my car, helped to load my bags, and whisked away the cart afterward. These days they greet my toddler by name in the store. This is Generation Z as if designed in a lab by Greatest Generation scientists.

Now, I’ve been to other stores with some perfectly adequate teenage employees, but how does Market Basket ensure that all their teens are so freshly scrubbed and gung-ho? When I asked the company’s operations supervisor, Joe Schmidt, about its training procedures, I half expected a secret formula: an intense indoctrination program, a complex mentoring system, military-style bagging drills. Instead, he described a one-day orientation, a detailed employee handbook, and corporate “core values” that put customer service first. It all sounded reasonable enough, but it didn’t quite explain why my unremarkable New England supermarket feels like the set of Pleasantville.

As it turns out, one secret to making a good teenage employee is simply employing a teenager. When I reported on teenage employment a few years ago, experts told me over and over how having a job is an invaluable tool for teaching young people “soft skills” like dependability and communication. Employers tend to be much less forgiving of attendance problems than schools are, and the workplace is often the first time teenagers are expected to interact as equals with adult supervisors and customers. Entry-level customer service jobs are where many teens first absorb the kind of basic life skills that make them employable in other fields later—and more pleasant to be around in the meantime. Hiring them is exactly what turns them into people you’d want to hire.

I was 14 when I got my first real job, working the counter at a snack bar on a college campus near my home. Yes, I learned how to operate a cash register and how to reheat the vat of old nacho cheese. But the real skills the job imparted were intangible: I had to learn how to respond to people who had special requests and obscure questions, reasonable and unreasonable. Some were grouchy for reasons that weren’t my fault, and sometimes for reasons that were my fault; they required cheerful on-the-spot solutions either way. In the next few years, those skills were honed further at a series of full-service restaurant jobs, which raised the stakes. Critics point out that tip-based systems end up privileging white men as customers and create a variety of other structural problems. All absolutely true, but I got a real charge out of hustling for tips. When you work for tips, you literally receive cash in proportion to your social expertise—the ability to quickly “read” a group of people and provide the exact style of service (chatty, speedy, flirty) that suits their needs. This was sometimes wildly satisfying, and other times stressful or humiliating. In other words, it was a lot like the rest of my working life would be.

If service-oriented jobs are where teenagers learn to be adults, it’s disturbing, then, that the teenage employment rate has dropped dramatically. In 2000, 46 percent of 16-to-19-year-olds had a job in any given month. Last year, just 30 percent were working. That slump is happening for several reasons, including the decline of entry-level jobs and the fact that more adult workers are resigning themselves to low-paying service work. Meanwhile, white teenagers and those from higher-income families are notably more likely to have jobs. In 2017, the after-school job is becoming a luxury experience.

There’s a risk to fetishizing teen employment as some kind of assembly line for producing cheerful, obedient capitalist drones. But for the teenagers who may not have their first real job until they’re in their 20s, the trend could have real consequences. “This is the first generation that will not have major work experience as part of their adolescent development,” Jeylan Mortimer, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota, told me back in 2014. “This raises major concerns.”

Which brings me back to Market Basket. Schmidt, the company’s director of operations, started working for the company at 14 as a bagger at a store in Danvers, Massachusetts. He worked there throughout high school and college, and made it a career after he graduated. He has now worked for the company for 31 years, and he’s proud that it’s a place that tries to make every employee feel important. “It’s my first job and hopefully my last job,” he said. Schmidt was an amiable, knowledgeable, and helpful guy. Perhaps he learned it on the job.

Columbus, Ohio, Will Offer Free Bus Passes to 40,000 Downtown Workers

Columbus, Ohio, Will Offer Free Bus Passes to 40,000 Downtown Workers

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Downtown business interests in Columbus, Ohio, say rents are down and the office vacancy rate is rising—simply because there’s no place to park.

It’s the same complaint that downtown power brokers made during the 1950s, one that helped create the streetscape of U.S. downtowns, which features plenty of street parking, large single-use parking garages, and parking on the lower floors of office buildings and hotels. (Columbus is not exactly a parking desert, but it is also the country’s largest city without rail transit, and 83 percent of downtown employees drive to work alone.)

Last week, the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District opted for a cheaper and more novel solution than creating more parking spaces: Give 43,000 downtown workers free bus passes for 18 months starting next summer. The passes will be funded by a tax on downtown office owners but made possible by COTA, the regional transit agency, which is slashing the annual cost of a bus pass to $40.50 from $744. The hope is that 4,000 to 5,000 workers will sign up.

The Columbus Dispatch reports:

A successful program is expected to free up 2,400 Downtown parking spaces—the equivalent of four parking garages. Fewer cars commuting Downtown also means cleaner air and would save each worker who participates the $120 or more per month it costs to park Downtown.

The move comes on the heels of an 18-month trial that concluded in January and, Laura Bliss writes at City Lab, "doubled the share of bus commuters among 844 employees at four companies in the district from 6.4 percent to 12.2 percent.”

Generally speaking, free transit has a mixed track record. For big transit systems dependent on rider receipts to fund operations, it’s virtually impossible. For COTA, which relies on riders for about 20 percent of its funding (and sales tax for most of the rest), it’s a little easier to contemplate. One problem that plagues free transit systems, unfortunately, is that homeless people tend to ride on them all day. By limiting its offering to downtown workers, Columbus avoids that issue. (Though you might ask: Aren’t there residents who don’t work downtown who might more deserve a 90 percent discount on a bus pass?)

It seems unlikely that the state capital’s office workers drive because the bus is too expensive, but there’s also evidence that commuters in smaller cities might be more responsive to fare changes than their metropolitan counterparts. Everyone likes stuff that’s free. What’s more, Columbus—which won a $40 million USDOT Smart City grant to develop forward-looking transportation ideas—just redesigned its bus network to be more direct, frequent, and efficient.

More broadly, what’s happening in Columbus is an early look at how downtowns might adapt when transportation technology leaps ahead of 20th-century urban design. Parking will be less of a problem when vehicles don’t need to park, which has some planners excited about the age of driverless cars. But congestion will get much, much worse if all those cars roll around empty all the time.

So far, city governments haven’t demonstrated they’re prepared to deal with that eventuality (if statehouses dominated by anti-urban business interests will even let them address the problem). So it may fall to well-organized downtown business interests to develop solutions that make sense—or work with transit authorities to develop nudges, like a free bus pass, that ensure downtowns don’t get blocked up with private cars.

First time Suboxone report- just took at 3:30 est

by hxc @ Bluelight

I wanted to start low because I have heard how powerful this can be for someone without any tolerance like myself, so I cut my 8mg film into 8 small...

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

by noreply@blogger.com (Giulia Carando) @ Public Relations Problems and Cases

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty
Case Study by Olivia Falcione and Laura Henderson

SITUATION ANALYSIS:
The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was started after Dove conducted a global study on beauty. The study called, The Real Truth About Beauty: A World Report confirmed a hypothesis that the definition for beauty had narrowed and impossible to attain. Dove found that:
§ Just 12 % of women are very satisfied with their physical attractiveness
§ Only 2 % of women describe themselves as beautiful
§ 68 % strongly agree that the media sets an unrealistic standard of beauty
§ 75 % wish the media did a better job in portraying the diversity of women's physical attractiveness, including size and shape, across all ages

When the economy has a downturn women stop shopping, but for higher end items such as shoes and purses, not beauty items. Marketing in the beauty industry is mainly geared toward women for good reason. Women compose over 50 percent of the United States population and they influence or buy 80 percent of products sold. These are influential numbers for any company.

Dove is the number one cleansing brand and is growing at more than 25 percent yearly. They are doing a sixth-month rollout of their hair care line. Unilever prides itself on advertising, announcing in 2002 a multi-million dollar advertising alliance with AOL Time Warner. Unilever expanded a co-marketing deal with Bally’s Total Fitness that makes Dove the exclusive sponsor and provider of personal hygiene products at almost 400 Bally’s fitness centers across the U.S and Canada. It is a crowded market and Dove wanted to separate themselves from the other companies and brands to generate higher sales.
Unilevers’ competitors include Proctor and Gamble, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Avon and others. All of these companies are experiencing growth and healthy sales. Proctor and Gamble is strengthening their leadership in Health Care and Beauty, two of 2003’s largest growing sectors. Proctor and Gamble has 5 billion dollar health care and beauty brands and they acquired a sixth in 2003. Meaning health care and beauty sales will account for half of the company’s sales and profits. In 2002, P&G reported net sales were $10.80 billion, up 11 percent versus 2001 sales.
Estee Lauder has recorded more than 45 consecutive years of annual sales increases. Estee Lauder’s net sales of all products sold in 130 countries reached $5.12 billion in 2003 this includes all labels-Estee Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Prescriptives and Aramis.
L’Oreal is the world’s largest beauty products company. In the past ten years the brand has shifted from 75 percent of sales in Europe to exporting brands around the world. Sales through June 2002 were €7.4 billion up from the first half of 2001 with €4 billion in consumer products and €1.8 billion in luxury products. L’Oreal aims for its 18th consecutive year of double-digit growth year-end 2002.
Avon is the world’s largest direct seller and sixth largest global beauty company with $6 billion in annual sales. Avon sells to women in 143 countries through 3.5 million independent sales representatives. Net sales have increased by 4 percent from 1997 to 2001 and this is expected to continue into 2003. Avon is starting a new line for younger consumers “mark”. It will launch in the fall of 2003 in the U.S. and in the second quarter of 2004 globally.
Beauty companies are doing well leading up to Dove’s launch of its Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. The number of women in the United States and the influence they have on purchasing products make them the primary audience for consumer companies like Unilever to market towards. This combined with the results of women’s issues with the media’s portrayal of women create and ideal stage to launch a campaign focused on real women.

RESEARCH:
For years, the beauty industry and media have been constantly reminding women of the ideal body standards that have been set in today’s society. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, launched in 2004, was to support Dove’s mission of making women of all shapes and sizes feel beautiful every day, while widening stereotypical views of beauty. The campaign was inspired by a global study called “The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report.” As a company within the beauty industry, Dove wanted to have a better understanding of the issues regarding women and beauty by developing this study. Dove asked Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Harvard University professor and author of “Survival of the Prettiest,” and Dr. Susie Orbach, London School of Economics, visiting professor and author of “Fat is a Feminist Issue,” to help develop this global report. The study used quantitative data collected from an international study of 3,200 women from ten different countries between February 27, 2004 and March 26, 2004. Through the study, Dove aimed to explore the relationship women have with beauty, determine how women define beauty, learn the level of satisfaction with women’s beauty and the impact beauty has on the well-being of women. Through two key findings of the study, Dove was able to validate that the narrow definition of beauty is having a significant impact on the self-esteem of women today. The two findings are:
· Only 2% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful
· 81% of women in the United States strongly agree that “the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can’t ever achieve.”
In addition to these statistics, the study uncovered that only 5% of the women felt comfortable describing themselves as pretty and 9% felt comfortable describing themselves as attractive. When it came to body image and weight, women from all countries proved to be unsatisfied with themselves. The women of Japan had the highest levels of dissatisfaction with their body weight at 59%, followed by Brazil (37%), United Kingdom (36%), United States (36%), Argentina (27%) and the Netherlands (25%).
The study asked women about a wide range of issues regarding the mass media and pop culture. From all countries, cultures, ages, ethnicities and race, the women felt that there is a narrow definition of beauty. Specifically within today’s society, women acknowledged how they felt more pressure from the beauty standards set by the present mass media. Sixty-three percent strongly agreed that women today are expected to be more attractive than their mother’s generation.
The women surveyed believed that they are surrounded by unrealistic beauty images that are unattainable. The majority (76%) wished female beauty would be portrayed in the media as being made up more than just physical attractiveness. Also, seventy-five percent wished the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, including age, shape and size.
Based on these findings, Dove created The Campaign for Real Beauty to address the issues that were revealed in the study. Since the campaign has been launched, Dove has conducted numerous global and national studies. In 2005, Dove conducted the study, “Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs.” This study collected information from 3,300 girls and women, between the ages of 15-64 from 10 different countries. This study was designed to explore self-esteem and the impact of beauty standards on both the lives of girls and women. The study showed that of the women and girls surveyed, 90% wanted to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance (with body weight ranking the highest). In addition, Dove found that 67% of all women withdrew from life-engaging activities due to feeling badly about their looks.
In 2006, Dove conducted the global report “Beauty Comes of Age.” The study surveyed a total of 1,450 women, aged 50-64, from 9 different countries. This report was done to help reveal the stereotypes associated with beauty and aging. Dove found that 91% of the women surveyed felt that the media and advertising need to do a better job of representing realistic images of women over 50. A vast majority of the women (97%) believed that society is less accepting of appearance considerations for women over 50 compared to their younger counterparts, especially when focused on the body.
In 2008, Dove commissioned the national report, “Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem.” Girls ages 8-17 were surveyed and were asked questions based on the three areas of self-acceptance, confidence and emotional orientation. Scores were assigned based on how the girls rated themselves in the three areas. Girls were classified into three groups of high, average and low self-esteem, based on their individual scores. The report exposed that in the United States, seven in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, academic performance and relationships with family and friends and 62% of all girls feel insecure or not sure of themselves. In comparing girls’ level of self esteem and their feelings on their own beauty, 71% of girls with low self-esteem felt their appearance did not measure up, including not feeling pretty enough, thin enough or stylish or trendy enough. This was compared to 29% of girls with high self-esteem.


EXECUTION:
What
Dove created The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty to help start a societal change and an expansion of the definition and discussion of beauty. The campaign supports Dove’s mission “to make more women feel beautiful everyday by widening stereotypical views of beauty.” The campaign uses advertising, a Web site, billboards, events, workshops, viral marketing and a Self-Esteem fund in Dove’s effort to create a global discussion about beauty with women all over the world. Rather than using professional models, the campaign stands by Dove’s mission in using “real” women of various ages, shapes and sizes to promote discussion and debate about the narrow beauty standards and images set in today’s society.

When/How
The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was communicated to the public through a variety of print and television advertisements, a Web site, workshops and films. The campaign that launched in September 2004 began with an advertising campaign that featured women whose appearance strayed from the stereotypical beauty standards that are commonly seen in the media. Dove wanted to get “real” feedback by having the ads ask viewers to judge the women’s appearances. Viewers were asked to cast their votes on Dove’s Web site, campaignforrealbeatuy.com. The second phase of the campaign launched in June 2005 was print and outdoor advertisements that featured six everyday women who had real bodies and real curves. This phase was created to challenge the ideal body type standards set by the media. In February 2007, the third phase of the campaign was introduced with Dove using advertisements that targeted women 50 years and older. Annie Leibovitz, a world renowned photographer, was the artist behind the print and television advertisements, which celebrated the beauty in older women. Currently, the campaign focuses on young girls and self-esteem. For this part of the campaign Dove created self-esteem workshops and online self-esteem tools for mothers and daughters. In addition, Dove has created online films such as “Evolution,” “Onslaught” and “True Colors” which was a highly regarded commercial during the 2006 Super Bowl. Many of the tools used for the campaign are funded by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund. In the US, the fund supports Uniquely ME!, a program of the Girl Scouts of the United States, which aims to build confidence and self-esteem in young girls.

Where/Why
The campaign launched in England in September 2004. The Dove campaign was inspired by the study “The Real Truth about Beauty: A Global Report.” According to the Campaign for Real Beauty Mission, “the study validated the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable.” The study showed that the narrow beauty standards were having a significant impact on the self-esteem of women. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was created to address this issue by attempting to widen the definition of beauty.

EVALUATION:
The results of this campaign were overwhelming from the consumers and the media. The goal was to reach 5 million young people with the Self-Esteem Fund by 2010 and according to their Web site, they have reached 2 million already.
The campaign returned $3 for every $1 spent. Dove’s page on Unilever’s Web site says that the current campaign has been shown on over 25 major TV channels and in more than 800 articles in opinion leading newspapers as well as in popular women’s magazines. In the first six months of the campaign, sales of Dove’s firming products increased 700 percent in Europe and in the United States, sales for the products in the advertisements increased 600 percent in the first two months of the campaign. In 2004, the first year of the campaign, global sales surpassed $1 billion, exceeding company expectations.
Dove’s public relations company built in news coverage for Asia with the Dove “models” appearing in 618 different newspaper clippings with a circulation of 139 million. By the end of 2005, sales in the Asian-Pacific market increased from 19 percent to 26 percent.
In the United States, the campaign got free advertising space from media coverage on national television shows reaching 30 million daytime television viewers. These shows included The Oprah Winfrey Show, which included the campaign everyday for a week, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, The View and CNN.
“Evolution” the viral video and the most famous execution of the campaign to date had global impact. The viral has been viewed more than 15 million times online and seen by more than 300 million people globally in various channels of distribution, including news coverage, by the estimation of Ogilvy Chairman-CEO Shelly Lazarus.
Dove and Ogilvy have won awards for this campaign. These include the two Grand Prix Cannes Advertising Awards in 2007. This is an unprecedented number of awards to win. “Evolution” the viral won Film Grand Prix and a Cyber Grand Prix. Dove won a silver IPA for effectiveness with the campaign. In 2006 it was awarded a Grand EFFIE, which honors the most significant achievement in marketing communications effectiveness.

Sources

Dove:
www.dove.com
www.campaignforrealbeauty.com
In the News- Campaign for Real Beauty
Unilever:
http://www.unilever.com/brands/personalcarebrands/dove.aspx
From Ogilvy:
http://www.ogilvy.co.uk/ogilvy-advertising/index.php/2008/11/05/dove-campaign-for-real-beauty-takes-silver-prize-at-the-ipa-2008-effectiveness-awards/

Other Sources:
Ad$pender database
http://www.brandrepublic.com/Campaign/News/532448/Top-Performers-2005-International-Advertiser-Year--Dove/
http://www.marketingprofs.com/7/dove-pro-age-primetime-women-barletta.asp
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/teachable_moments/campaignrealbeauty.cfm
http://www.udel.edu/PR/UDaily/2007/apr/sports041207.html
http://adage.com/article?article_id=120091
http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-2504316/Global-report-brands.html
Media Awareness Network- Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty
http://www.slideshare.net/finance3/pg-2003-annual-report
http://www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2005/10/top-20-global-beauty-companies.php
http://articles.latimes.com/2004/apr/26/local/me-lauder26
http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-2504316/Global-report-brands.html
My Black is Beautiful Campaign
Nike campaign

National Geographic

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Media & entertainment – TV channels, magazines; Non-profit organisations; Kids products – publishing & media; Education & art – educational resources; Travel & transportation – tour operators; Retail – e-retail Owner of the brand: National Geographic Partners LLC (a joint venture between 21st Century Fox – 73% and the National Geographic Society – 27%) Key competitors: […]

Artykuł National Geographic pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

The Delicate Art of the Amusement Park Caricature

The Delicate Art of the Amusement Park Caricature

by Benjamin Frisch @ Slate Articles

 

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

I was scheduled that day to draw caricatures in the Italian-themed section of Busch Gardens, an amusement park in my hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia. The caricature stand was sandwiched between the giant spinning teacups and the train that runs the perimeter of the park. A few hours after opening, a middle-aged woman approached the stand pushing a heavy-duty wheelchair occupied by a disabled teenager. She asked that I draw a $10 sketch of the boy’s face, black and white, no body.

I asked the boy if he would look straight at me, and he didn’t respond. The seat of the wheelchair was tilted back, and his head was cocked slightly to the side, so I saw it from a ¾ view rather than the usual straight-ahead perspective. He didn’t smile when I asked, but he had an expression that I read as contented. The drawing took longer than usual, as I was being extra careful. I drew what I saw. It was a pretty good likeness and a friendly representation of this teenager, neither exaggerating his disability nor “correcting” for it.

As I tore the sheet from the easel, I showed it to the boy, who didn’t respond. Then I showed it to his caretaker. Her breathing quickened.

The caricature artist, like every employee at a theme park, is in the business of customer service. But our relationship with the customer is more charged than that of the ride operator or the cotton candy vendor. A caricature is a symbolic representation of a person’s face. Through cartooning, a caricaturist reduces the features of a person to simplified shapes and reorders them to create an image that represents the person. It’s not a portrait of the person; it’s a portrait of the idea of the person. When you ask for a caricature, you are asking to be confronted by your own appearance or the appearance of your loved one. Drawing caricatures that were both good and benign is a somewhat unnavigable problem.

Caricaturing takes place on a battlefield between our physical appearance as observed by others, our often dysmorphic view of our own appearance, how we wish we appeared, and societal standards of what is “beautiful.” Theme park caricatures tend to smooth over the rough edges in the interest of pleasing the customer, but conflicts are unavoidable due to the nature of the form. Some people have big noses, long necks, and ears that stick out enough to threaten the likeness if removed. I also believe it’s condescending to assume people should automatically be ashamed of certain aspects of their face. Were a caricature artist to reduce the size of my strong nose, she wouldn’t be doing me any favors.

But not everyone feels the same way, and it’s the artist who must guess, based on the demeanor of the subject and his companions, how far to push. Pleasing children is easy; they aren’t very self-conscious, and kids look much more alike than people realize. But parents project their neuroses onto their children, so not only must you draw the child well, but you must also navigate the parent’s idealized idea of what that child looks like.

Adults are much more difficult. Adults have a lifetime of societal judgments drilled into their self-image, and their faces vary dramatically in proportion. Generally, more exaggerated caricatures are better caricatures, they look more like a person, but they are also dangerous. The more exaggerated, the more likely someone will find something to object to.

There is nothing inherently cruel about the process of caricaturing. There’s a misconception that caricaturists simply choose a feature to exaggerate arbitrarily (a big nose on this one!) and then draw around that exaggeration, but in reality it’s more complicated. Caricaturing is mostly a game of proportion, seeing what parts of a face exist in larger or smaller proportion to the rest of the face, and pushing those proportions via exaggeration. It’s not exactly objective, but the rules of resemblance are fairly reliable, and it’s very easy to ruin a likeness with a poorly placed hairline or set of cheekbones.

Sometimes clients would tell me outright, “Don’t draw me with freckles” or “Don’t exaggerate my chin.” Once the instructions I received were blessedly clear: As I sat down to draw a boy with Down syndrome, his mother leaned in and told me warmly, “It’s OK if you draw him like he has Down’s. We know what he looks like.” The implication was that they’d had a previous bad experience in which a caricaturist had changed his face to look more “typical.” The advice gave me confidence in my artistic choice; I breathed a little easier and drew the boy riding a choo-choo train.

That day by the spinning teacups was different. When I handed the boy’s caretaker his caricature, she refused to make eye contact, and yelled, “You’re a terrible artist and a horrible person!” She pulled the boy’s wheelchair from the stand and stormed away. I was still a junior artist, so getting rejected was a common occurrence, but this was especially bruising. I still don’t know what caused her to reject the sketch; I assume she believed I was belittling the boy somehow, but I’ll never know. Perhaps she thought the very act of exaggeration could be upsetting to a child whose differences might have been mocked by others.

I caricatured for four summers as a teenager. It was a good job and paid well (when people liked my work). I wonder, though, if the moral responsibility of managing people’s self-image issues was the healthiest activity for a teenage artist who was already deeply insecure in his artwork. I wasn’t stung by being called a horrible person; I felt confident enough in my ethical approach to caricaturing to feel that wasn’t the case. But being called a terrible artist, the only time in my life someone has said that to my face, felt far more cruel.

After she left the stand that day, I spent a lot of time looking at the sketch they left behind. I can picture it more easily than any other caricature I’ve ever drawn. In truth, I believe my failure was a customer-service failure, not an artistic one. I certainly should have asked more questions, or she could have been more specific in her requests. Such communication might have helped me better understand what she was hoping for or undercut any unconscious bias I might have brought to the task. But I don’t think either of us were prepared for the ethical quandary at the heart of it, which was particularly thorny this time but fundamentally the same as the one every caricaturist faces when she puts pen to paper: People put faces in your hands, and your job is to make them more themselves than they are in real life. Can you bridge the gulf between what they dream of and what you see?

(amphetamines) Is there a drug that is worse than methamphetamine

by AvenaSativa @ Bluelight

After I actually got into meth I realized why they have that lifestyle thing going on. Heroin junkies and crackheads get bad off too but I am so much...

The Benefits of Instantly Ready SpeediCath Catheters from Coloplast

by calie @ Aeroflow Healthcare

If you have trouble emptying your bladder — whether it’s due to a chronic illness or a traumatic event that requires surgery — your doctor may recommend that you use a catheter to help you urinate. While every person has different preferences, the SpeediCath catheter from Coloplast is a great option for people who need [Read More....]

The post The Benefits of Instantly Ready SpeediCath Catheters from Coloplast appeared first on Aeroflow Healthcare.

Miami: Symbols of Human Ingenuity and Ambition Wrecked by Wrathful Nature

Miami: Symbols of Human Ingenuity and Ambition Wrecked by Wrathful Nature

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Miami’s cranes, the towering symbols of South Florida growth, are collapsing.

The city dodged a bullet when Irma tilted toward Florida’s southwest coast, but even 125 miles from the eye of the storm, the surge from Biscayne Bay turned Brickell streets into rivers. Gusts of nearly 100 miles per hour whipped palm trees back and forth like reeds.

Sunday morning, a crane atop a 25-story downtown rental building called Vice came apart in the wind. The boom is hanging off the tower by a cable; the counterweight has fallen at least a story through the building’s interior.

Later in the afternoon, another crane collapsed, this one two miles north on top of the Gran Paraiso, a luxury condo building under construction in Edgewater. Video showed the boom dangling next to the mast. No one has been injured.

The city’s two-dozen construction cranes were a known hazard. On Tuesday, the deputy director of Miami’s Building Department Maurice Pons warned residents not to stay in buildings next to construction sites with cranes during the storm.

Why isn’t taking down construction cranes part of Miami hurricane prep? There just wasn’t enough time: “Streets have to be closed, another crane has to be brought in,” the city manager told a local radio station. That can take five to six days per crane, and in a booming city like Miami, cranes need to be reserved in advance. The prospect of doubling the city’s crane count to disassemble all the construction sites just wasn’t realistic.

So they focused on minimizing the damage instead. “These tower cranes are designed to withstand winds up to 145 miles per hour,” Pons said in his statement. Building cranes’ booms are usually fixed at 67-degree angles before a storm but left to rotate in the wind like a weather vane.

Clearly, though, some were not designed for that kind of wind. One reason why? In 2008, Miami-Dade passed a law to require construction cranes in the county to withstand 145-mile winds. It was overturned by federal appeals court after a challenge from the construction industry, which argued that crane regulation was a workplace issue and not a matter of public safety.

Miami isn’t the only city wrestling with crane regulation. When Superstorm Sandy hit New York, high winds left a 26,000-pound boom dangling from the top of a 74-story building whose penthouse sold for $95 million. The building engineer later told the New York Times he thought the boom had an 80 percent chance of falling onto the busy street below, and the blocks around the site were under evacuation for several days.

Four years later, a crawler crane (mounted from a truck, not on top of a building) collapsed in New York during a blizzard, killing a 38-year-old man. The city reacted with strict new rules that the construction industry said were onerous and would grind work to a halt, driving up construction costs (and by extension, housing costs).

Miami’s downtown residential boom is one of the few real urban revival stories in the U.S. Nearly all that growth has occurred since Hurricane Andrew in 1992; there are some signs that, despite post-Andrew revisions to the state’s building code, Miami’s high-rise architecture wasn’t quite ready for a storm like this.

And yet. Those cranes may be symbols of the folly of human settlement in South Florida, but they represent a very anomalous piece of the city. And one that is, all told, a slightly more sustainable proposition for life in the flood zone than the barely reclaimed swampland that constitutes much of South Florida’s urban development.

Fanta

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Non-alcoholic beverages – soft drinks Owner of the brand: Coca-Cola Company Key competitors: Tango, Mirinda, Sunkist, Orangina

Artykuł Fanta pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Knorr

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Food – Soups, sauces & seasonings Owner of the brand: Unilever Key competitors: Campbell’s, Maggi, Heinz

Artykuł Knorr pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Location Location Location - What To Think About When Choosing a Retail Location

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

So, you're ready to set up shop somewhere selling your wares to the public. Good for you. There are some extremely important considerations that you should make when choosing a business location. Let's look at a few things to consider. 1. How are your customers going to use you? This is a very important first consideration that many small businesses miss. For example: if you are opening a lunch counter, you may do better in an area where people work rather than where they live. If you are selling auto parts, you want to be fairly close to the local...

Canon

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Electronics & technology – cameras, office equipment, healthcare solutions Owner of the brand: Canon, Inc. Key competitors: Nikon, Sony, Konica Minolta, Olympus, Xerox, HP

Artykuł Canon pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Pampers

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Personal care & beauty – baby care Owner of the brand: Procter & Gamble Co. Key competitors: Huggies, Johnson’s

Artykuł Pampers pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Walmart testing service that delivers right into customers' fridges

Walmart testing service that delivers right into customers' fridges

by @ CTV News: Business Headlines

Would you be OK with letting a stranger into your house for the sake of convenience? Walmart is testing the idea with a new service in California that lets a delivery person walk into your home when you're not there to put groceries in the fridge.

PlayStation

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Electronics & technology – video game consoles; Media & entertainment – games, streaming services Owner of the brand: Sony Corporation Key competitors: Xbox, Nintendo

Artykuł PlayStation pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Smaller Is Better

Smaller Is Better

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Like so many Americans, particularly ones who experience both the U.S. air system and transit in the New York City area, I have come to dread out-of-town travel.

Just to get home, tri-staters must endure a series of Herculean labors. Whether you’re taking the train, stomaching an expensive car service, or self-parking in a garage that’s practically in another time zone, getting to and from LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark can take an hour or three hours, depending on traffic, construction, or weather. And even once you arrive, there are mob scenes, long and hostile TSA lines, half-mile walks through the terminals, chaotic boarding procedures, and the dreaded 45-minute taxi, which inevitably ends with “We’re No. 16 for takeoff.” When my ticket reads JFK, LGA, or EWR, I now resort to mindfulness exercises.

But there is one airport code that inspires calm when I travel: HPN. That’s the identifier for the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. Sitting on 700 acres 30 miles north of New York City, it’s not exactly hidden or undiscovered. The 99th busiest airport in America, it manages a few dozen flights daily and handled 755,000 departing passengers in April (which is about what JFK does in two days). For those fortunate enough to use it, HPN—like so many small, charming airports—offers the illusion that the American air transit system is tidier and chiller than it actually is.

In business and transport, scale is generally an advantage, leading to lower costs, more economic efficiency, and a better user experience. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that smaller airports—like the ones I’ve come to love in Lansing, Michigan; Ithaca, New York; Portland, Maine; Charleston, South Carolina; and Bismarck, North Dakota—offer a much higher level of functionality. And Westchester, while sharing all the advantages of other small airports, has a huge factor working in its favor: It’s close to where lots of people live and runs direct flights to many huge population centers.

The experience of flying out of Westchester is the polar opposite of using one of the region’s big three. The drive there from my home in Connecticut is short and peaceful. Once off the Merritt Parkway, you head up King Street, which is one of the few streets in the country in which the houses on the eastern side have an address in one state while the houses on the western side have an address in another. Cruise past the ultra-posh Brunswick School, take a hard left, carve 270 degrees of a roundabout, and you’re there. And driving is a cinch, since the parking garage is about 50 feet from the terminal.

The terminal itself is a throwback. Though the area is wealthy, the airport has no luxury retailers, no outposts of celebrity chefs, no airline lounges. It basically has the mien of a bus stop. HPN has two TSA lines and only six gates, but things move very quickly. Before security there’s an ATM and a Dunkin’ Donuts. Tucked away on the second floor is the Purchase Country Diner, whose ambitions eclipse at pancakes, BLTs, and club sandwiches. This airport may lack many of the amenities that the big airports have developed to reduce the misery of flying—fancy stores, a spa, gourmet food. But those can only take the edge off a miserable experience. What a lot of travelers really crave is less wasted time and more dignity.

The reason HPN works is precisely because it doesn’t scale—or, more accurately, can’t scale. Since the airport is located in an area where property values are high and the residents have political clout, there are sharp limits on the level of activity at the airport: Just 240 passengers may move through the terminal each hour, both arriving and departing. According to the Westchester Journal News, HPN allows just four departures or landings every 30 minutes.

Think about that. At any given time, only two flights are being prepared for boarding and takeoff. But don’t mistake the low volume for irrelevance. Four of the nation’s big airlines service the airport. American ferries passengers to Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, and Miami. Delta takes customers to Atlanta and Detroit. United connects to its major hub at Chicago’s O’Hare. And JetBlue offers service to five airports in Florida. There are also two smaller regional operations that service Boston, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard.

There may not be much competition among airlines at Westchester. But the reality is that the airlines operating here are competing against the operations of all the airlines at the other three large airports in the region. (Somehow, the cost of flying to on short notice from Westchester to Washington on American is pretty much the same as the Delta shuttle from LaGuardia.)

So you can get from Westchester to a lot of the places you can get to from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark and at roughly the same price. But the hassle is much lower. You don’t have to arrive 90 minutes early; it usually it takes just 10 minutes from the time you park your car to the time you’re through security. The staff and crews are much less stressed, precisely because they’re handling a maximum of two departures and two arrivals per hour. When a plane arrives at Westchester, you never sit on the runway until some other plane leaves the gate. You breeze right through the terminal and are on your way to you next destination in five minutes.

Sure, things do go wrong. In fiscal year 2016, 1.7 percent of the flights from Westchester were canceled, while 76 percent left on time, and 73 percent arrived on time. The level and frequency of delays is roughly the same at Westchester as it is at the region’s bigger airports. (At LaGuardia, 2.9 percent of flights were canceled.) But it doesn’t feel that way. That’s partly because at the big airports, airlines often build in 30 minutes for taxiing and sitting on the runway. Which means that at LaGuardia and JFK, even a normal flight can seem like it is delayed.

Of course, in an era when businesses and people are flocking to the largest cities, small, provincial airports are finding it difficult to compete. But smaller airports that are in relatively close proximity to large metroplexes are finding more fans among passengers and airlines that appreciate the smaller degree of hassle. Many frequent travelers who live near big cities have their go-to small places. T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, which is emerging as an alternative to Boston’s Logan, has added several flights from Norwegian Air and Frontier. Many Angelenos traumatized by the scrum at LAX flock to the low-key Long Beach Airport, which has added JetBlue and Southwest flights. At the Colorado Springs airport, which connects Denver-area residents to a growing number of markets, passenger traffic in June was up 22 percent from last year.

The appeal of these places is obvious: The entire experience—the parking, the security lines, the boarding lines—is much less dehumanizing. The best thing an airport can do for you is move you into and out of it as quickly as possible. It helps when there’s less airport in the first place.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Study Finds People Who Eat More Veggies are Happier

Study Finds People Who Eat More Veggies are Happier

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

I’m always delighted when studies emerge finding unexpected benefits from eating healthy. As a pediatrician passionate about getting kids and families to adopt healthier eating habits, the more evidence I have as to to tempting reasons why, the better. This study really makes me smile because the researchers found a connection between happiness and eating […]

Dove Ad Features Dad Pretending to Be Mom

Dove Ad Features Dad Pretending to Be Mom


American Family Association

Another company decides not to remain neutral in the culture war.

Pearson

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: Education & art – educational resources, schools & universities; Media & entertainment – publishers Owner of the brand: Pearson PLC Key competitors: McGraw-Hill Education, Kaplan, Cengage Learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Artykuł Pearson pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

Blocking Mosquitoes and Ticks

Blocking Mosquitoes and Ticks

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Five bug repellents scored high marks for preventing bites, but three common choices didn’t make the grade in 2014 testing by Consumer Reports. As a parent and pediatrician, I want a mosquito and tick repellent that is safe, effective, and easy to use. It also helps if it doesn’t smell like bug spray. Why Is […]

Ballantine’s

by Magda Adamska @ BrandStruck

Category: FMCG Alcoholic beverages – whisky, whiskey & bourbon Owner of the brand: Pernod Ricard Key competitors: Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Jameson, Grant’s

Artykuł Ballantine’s pochodzi z serwisu BrandStruck.

HealthTap: From 1 Doctor Answering Questions Online to >10,000 – All in One Place

HealthTap: From 1 Doctor Answering Questions Online to >10,000 – All in One Place

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

When we started here at DrGreene.com there was just one doc answering questions online. As the years have gone by the amount of health information (all information) has exploded. But even so, there haven’t been all that many docs answering questions online. Until recently… According to Ron Gutman, CEO of HeathTap, “There’s a new movement […]

Flashback: 20 Texas GOP Representatives and Both Senators Voted Against the Sandy Relief Act

Flashback: 20 Texas GOP Representatives and Both Senators Voted Against the Sandy Relief Act

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Hurricane Harvey is on pace to produce the greatest single-storm rainfall in the United States in at least a century and may wind up being one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. To make matters worse, since much of the damage is occurring inland and outside of the 100-year floodplain, insurance coverage will be low.

Naturally, a congressional relief package will be forthcoming. Which means it's time to turn to another round of Southern Republicans Who Voted Against the Hurricane Sandy Relief Package but Will Soon Want Federal Disaster Money for Their Flooded Homes. (Previous contestants included the congressional delegations of Florida and Louisiana.)

This time the spotlight is on Texas, where 20 sitting Republican congressmen and both of the state’s senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, voted against the 2013 Sandy Relief Act. (Ironically, in the 2011–2012 fiscal year, Texas received more federal disaster relief money than any other state.)

Republicans hate the comparison, arguing that the Sandy relief package contained spending for unrelated items. (This is true of virtually every single-issue spending bill that passes Congress; even a vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense said the 2013 package was "better than business as usual.") Cornyn communications director Drew Brandewie essentially argued that Cornyn was for it before he was against it, voting for a pared-down version of the legislation.

At the time, conservatives also insisted on cuts to federal spending elsewhere to justify Sandy expenses, an unusual and onerous requirement for a disaster aid bill. (This was during the pre-"Mexico Will Pay for It" era, when the national debt was still a serious GOP conceit.) “Emergency bills like this should not come to the floor without offsets to pay for it or structural reforms,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said.

Rep. Peter King from Long Island, one of the Republicans who voted for the final bill, doesn't buy the argument that his Southern colleagues were making a good-faith effort to help New York and New Jersey recover. But, he said, Texas has nothing to worry about. "I won't abandon Texas the way Ted Cruz did New York," he wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

LiveStrong

by noreply@blogger.com (Giulia Carando) @ Public Relations Problems and Cases

Lance’s Legacy

At a young age, Lance was one of the world’s top cyclists. He won multiple World Championships, the Tour Du Pont and many Tour de France stages. Lance was nearing the peak of his cycling career. At age 25, Lance was diagnosed with cancer.
His diagnosis was testicular cancer and is the most common cancer in men ages 15-35. With early detection, chances of curing the disease are 90 percent. Yet, Lance ignored the warning signs and went untreated until the cancer spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain.
With a combination of physical conditioning, a strong support system and a competitive spirit, Lance declared himself a cancer survivor, not a cancer victim. He actively sought education about his disease and treatment, underwent aggressive treatment and eventually beat the disease.
Before he was fully recovered and knew his own fate, Lance established the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This was the start of his life as an activist for people living with cancer and world representative to the cancer community.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation
"At the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), we inspire and empower people affected by cancer. For more than 10 years, the Foundation and its founder, cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, have partnered with other organizations and dedicated advocates to make cancer a national priority in the United States. Now the Lance Armstrong Foundation is taking the battle to fight cancer global.”
The Lance Armstrong Foundation was founded in 1997 by Lance Armstrong. LAF was created to offer cancer patients information, knowledge, and attitude that are important for dealing with cancer and its exhausting treatments.
LAF is founded on four key programs that provide resources that cancer victims can utilize to help battle and deal with the difficulties of their illness. The first program focuses on education and offers patients and their doctors the information they need to successfully choose the right treatment method. Education not only concentrates on medical advice, but it is also open to give emotional support as well.
Another of the core programs is advocacy, especially at political gatherings and lobby sessions where representatives of people suffering from cancer encourage the government to take action against the war on cancer. Representation can help increase research funding and promote new scientific options that may lead to treatment options in the future.
A public health program is the third program that offers cancer patients and their families post treatment support and special services. The ultimate goal of the LAF is to further cancer research. Through extensive fundraising, the donated money supports and offers financial assistance to doctors and scientists to develop clinical trials and medications to provide advanced cancer treatment. The funding also aides programs who aim to improve the lives of those living with cancer and assisting them with the daily challenges.
LAF has invested more than $18.7 million in research grants. The Lance Armstrong Foundation believes that “knowledge is power and unity is strength”.

www.livestrong.org

“Wear Yellow Live Strong”

In 2003, LAF launched two educational resources, the LiveStrong Survivorship Notebook and the LiveStrong online Resource for Cancer Survivors. Both provide information on the physical, practical and emotional aspects of surviving the disease. They are free resources for cancer victims, survivors and families to explore.
In response to the start of Lance’s LiveStrong theme, Nike approached LAF to create 5 million yellow wristbands with “LIVESTRONG” engraved on them in support of Lance during his sixth Tour de France.
The yellow wristband has its roots in “baller bands,” rubber bands that street basketball players wear on their wrists to get psyched up for games. Nike initially thought to make baller bands with different messages for promotional items, but the idea wrapped around the LiveStrong campaign instead.
The wristbands’ start was support for Lance’s efforts in both cycling and raising awareness for cancer across the nation. Armstrong and his entire team wore the yellow wristband.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike launched the Wear Yellow Live Strong campaign on May 17, 2004.The campaign’s goals were to raise money for cancer research, increase cancer awareness and encourage people to live life to the fullest. Nike’s goal was to raise $5 million through wristband sales on top of the $1 million they donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. All proceeds would eventually go to LAF in efforts to raise $25 million.
This was a significant milestone for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike’s corporate relationship, considering Nike was the only sponsor to stick with Lance when he was diagnosed with cancer. During the 2004 Summer Olympics, the wristbands were given to each U.S. athlete to wear on their arm to show support.
The wristbands became an astounding craze overnight and gave rise to “cause marketing” –the pairing of a product with a social mission. Both the 2004 Tour de France and Summer Olympics created national media attention for Lance’s LiveStrong wristband. Media such as People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and Advertising Age were drawn to this yellow rubber silicon wristband. Appearances and endorsements on television shows such as Oprah raised the wristbands profile to a fashionable level.

The Wristband


The alliance between Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation not only created an awareness wristband, but it also sparked a consumer craze. The wristbands cost $1 a piece and the proceeds go directly to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Everything about the wristband breathes Lance. The engraved “LiveStrong” is the foundation’s motto. The color yellow signifies the lead rider’s jersey in the Tour de France and is also the color of hope.
After their debut, the wristbands were worn by Lance and his team at the Tour de France; the U.S. Summer Olympic athletes; celebrities such as Matt Damon, Bruce Willis and Robin Williams; and even politicians such as John Kerry. They were summer 2004’s hardest item to get. Many resorted to the eBay market with hopes of obtaining these charitable wristbands.
Although eBay provided new ground for wristband sales, people were buying them for prices well beyond their original price. People could have easily donated $1 or more to the Lance Armstrong foundation, but it was the visual symbol of concern that was valued more so than the actual cause it was supporting. The wristbands posed a question whether philanthropy was posing as fashion or vice versa.
Philanthropy as a fashion statement goes back to earlier days. Since ancient times, people wore jewelry as a way of expressing some sentiment, feeling or as a symbol. The wristband is a modern adaptation of an age old tradition; jewelry as a symbol of hope, courage and support of a worthy cause.
However, the wristbands are usually worn for personal reasons, whether to support someone fighting cancer or tribute to someone who has lost their battle. The bright yellow attracts attention and has been compared to the red AIDS awareness ribbons. The difference between the AIDS ribbon and the LiveStrong wristband is the lack of controversy surrounding the wristband’s visible concern for cancer.
The most interesting facet of the wristband is its association with Lance’s heroic battle over cancer at the peak of his fame. The LiveStrong wristband satisfies the desire to have something to believe in, making it a “champion of the good-will game”. Cause Marketing Forum President David Hessekiel says it best,
“If this was a bracelet done by an obscure organization, and didn’t have the celebrity attached that created this buzz, we wouldn’t be talking about.”
The wristband zoomed in on the power of today’s youth. The wristband carries a simple message that even kids can identify with. In particular, teenagers were drawn to it because not only do proceeds go to a good cause, but it is a cheap way to look cool. The wristband was versatile and could be worn with any outfit. The LiveStrong craze was a powerful reminder to businesses not to underestimate the power of the youth consumer market.
By 2005, fifty-five million wristbands were wrapped around people’s arms. In spite of the fashion trend they started, the wristband-clad community understood the real meaning behind the wristband.

Going Strong


The “Wear Yellow Live Strong” campaign has been through years of continued success. The wristband is still visibly worn on many arms, but not to the extent that it was in the early stages of the campaign. The wristband’s popularity followed a bell curve path. However, LiveStrong is at its all-time high today today. The campaign has grown through social marketing (www.livestrong.com and www.livestrong.org), special events, and LiveStrong Challenges. Nike and LAF have even extended the LiveStrong line by adding the “10/2” collection. A dollar from each sale goes to LAF.
Betty Otter-Nickerson, the Chief Operating Officer at the Lance Armstrong Foundation said it’s busier than ever with Lance getting back on the bike to train for the 2009 Tour de France and the campaign’s move to go global.
Ms. Otter-Nickerson said the number one thing they must focus on with globalization, is the mere fact that they must expand their message to reach the key countries. The Lance Armstrong Foundation conducted research to determine their target countries by assessing public perception of cancer, media audits and press coverage, and the medical environment. They determined their target countries would be Italy, South Africa, and Mexico. Their global message will emphasize the fact that cancer kills more than 8 million people every year worldwide which totals more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The LiveStrong campaign is leveraging Lance to carry this message as he makes his comeback to the cycling world.

LiveStrong Lessons


The LiveStrong campaign gave us a charitable cause and paired it with an element of fashion, making it a very successful campaign. After the initial release of the wristband, many non-profit organizations followed in LAF’s footsteps, pushing for donations in return for a colorful wristband to let others know of one’s philanthropic efforts.
However, the LiveStrong wristband posed an issue for some. People started purchasing the wristband for fashion purposes rather than for the original cause. In my opinion this was one of the few flaws to the campaign. It got too big for its own good. However, as time went on, the underlying message resounded its tune and people were brought back from the fashion element they gravitated toward.
Sales on eBay created a black market for the wristband, creating demand so high that prices increased and people were essentially giving their money to profiteers for the dollar-worth wristband. Once again, I think the craze grew too fast. Supply couldn’t keep up with demand; such high sales were not inticipated.
The yellow wristband filled a creneau for philanthropies and called it cause marketing. People who donated to foundations could now visibly announce their generosity. It also filled a creneau in the fashion world. The wristband is versatile enough to be worn with almost any outfit while sharing Lance’s and the Foundation’s message of living strong.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a similar foundation rooted in their effort to raise money for breast cancer research. Instead of fashionable wristbands, Susan G. Komen for the Cure prides themselves in the pink ribbon that so many women and their supporters wear. Both foundations established themselves as the leading foundations for cancer through the use of special events and corporate relationships.
I think Lance’s return to cycling to spread the global message comes at a good time. LiveStrong has fallen off the media map in the past few months. I have always been taught that with growth comes globalization and vice versa. LiveStrong’s globalization efforts not only signal the campaign’s success up until this point, but also shows the impact that this message imparts on its audience. People across the globe want to see and hear this message. LAF’s message speaks truth and that truth is that cancer is the number one killer in the United States and kills 8 million people every year worldwide. This is an astounding truth, but the Lance Armstrong Foundation is giving people the resources they need to live happy and to live strong.

Agape Family Shelter receives grant award from The Kids Trust!

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/agape-family-shelter-receives-grant-award-from-the-kids-trust/

This April, Agape Family Shelter received a generous $1,250.00 award from The Kids Trust, a partner of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC). With this funding, we were able to construct a safe, well-lit walkway between Agape Family Shelter and the Lebanon Free Clinic. Now our ladies – especially our moms with children — feel secure coming home after dark!

Googling The Internet Within

Googling The Internet Within

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

About 82% of the people who answered a recent Scanadu poll question say they search online first about their symptoms, before turning to their doctors. Even some doctors who responded said they searched first. This is a relatively recent phenomenon. When we launched DrGreene.com in 1995 people didn’t have access to medical information. Subscriptions to […]

Microsoft's New XNA Game Studio Express Offers Unique Oportunity

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

I have to say that I love the trend of democratization that technology is bringing. Anybody can put up a blog, a web page, video on YouTube, a MySpace profile. Any some stuff out there is actually quite good. Along with this comes new opportunities for small to medium businesses to promote themselves. The key is content Remember the old time radio and TV shows that were not only sponsored by, but produced by the advertisers? You might have the Camel cigarette variety hour, for example. I believe that this trend is coming around again, as soon as businesses figure...

Malls and Restaurants Schedule Workers at the Last Minute. Oregon Just Made That Illegal.

Malls and Restaurants Schedule Workers at the Last Minute. Oregon Just Made That Illegal.

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

As the Democratic Party continues to flail over what besides resistance to Donald Trump it stands for (what’s the health care plan, anyway?), they can look for inspiration to Oregon, where Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed the country’s first statewide employee scheduling law on Tuesday.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Starting in July 2018, Oregon will require big companies in retail, hospitality, and food service to give employees schedules at least a week ahead of time, and offer stress pay to workers who don’t get a 10-hour break between shifts. By 2020, employers covered by the law will have to hand out schedules two weeks in advance.

Oregon is the first state to pass such a law, which grows out of a vibrant municipal movement to humanize low-wage fast food and mall jobs that can no longer be thought of as stopgap positions, if they ever were. The median age of a retail employee, for example, is 39. According to a New York state study, most retail workers are breadwinners. It's hard to spend time with your family if you never know when you get off work.

San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City all have similar policies in place. The Oregon bill may be a sign that the movement is about to jump from cities to states. In December, the Illinois attorney general announced that a group of large retailers including Aeropostale and Disney would stop using on-call scheduling after an investigation. A handful of other blue-state AGs are also looking into it. In 2015, Elizabeth Warren introduced a fair scheduling bill in the Senate.

Conservative states have rallied against the movement, drafting pre-emption bills to prevent cities from passing their own ordinances. Georgia, Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, and Tennessee have such laws on the books. But voters seem to generally approve of protections for low-wage workers: In November, deep-red Arizona voted by referendum to mandate paid sick days, in a rebuke to the Legislature's broad anti-worker pre-emption bill.

The bigger pictures is that scheduling laws are the latest addition to a slate of state-level progressive policies, inspired by city-level reforms, to help the largely ignored 25 million Americans who work in retail and food service. Those include:

  • Paid sick leave laws
  • Bans on noncompete agreements (yes, even Jimmy John’s and Amazon warehouses have forced workers to relinquish their value on the labor market)
  • Minimum-wage hikes

It’s adding up to something like a platform. Want to be the party of workers? Go to where the jobs are.

In that sense, it could be a particularly salient counterpoint to Donald Trump’s inane quest to resuscitate the tiny, tiny coal-mining industry, with its immoral effects on both workers and the environment. Retail work is flagging in some sectors but remains an enormous section of the labor force (16 million workers), and warehouse employment is skyrocketing to keep pace with e-commerce demand. Restaurants have created more jobs since January than health care, construction, or manufacturing.

That reflects a structural change in American life. In 2016, for the first time ever, Americans spent more money at restaurants and bars than on groceries. We’ve been eating out more since the ’70s, when female labor force participation was rising dramatically. But even as that rate has plateaued and slowed, the trend toward restaurant spending has increased as young people delay marriage and household formation. It also helps that the supermarket is cheaper than ever, meaning we can spend more money away from home. (It’s not just that Americans are trading TV dinners for Chipotle; it’s also that we are spending less on groceries—down from 8.3 percent of disposable income in 1982 to 5.7 percent in 2011.) By 2020, Derek Thompson writes at the Atlantic, restaurant work will surpass manufacturing.

In short, there is nothing niche about improving the quality of retail and restaurant work.

Why don’t we pay as much attention to retail and restaurant jobs? Demographics are partly to blame. The retail jobs that have been hardest hit by job loss tend to be held by females and an above-average share of minorities. The female employment share in restaurant work is two points above the BLS average; the black-American share is two points above, and the Hispanic share is nine points above. This translate to a perceived lack of value, Slate’s Jamelle Bouie wrote in April:

Work is gendered and it is racialized. What work matters is often tied to who performs it. It is no accident that those professions dominated by white men tend to bring the most prestige, respect, and pay, while those dominated by women—and especially women of color—are often ignored, disdained, and undercompensated.

But the problem is also that restaurant and retail jobs just aren’t that good. They pay, on average, just over half as much as manufacturing jobs. They don’t provide the routine shifts of punch-in, punch-out factory work.

Make the jobs better, and people will care more about them—both politicians and the workers who hold them. Fair scheduling is a more bulletproof policy than the progressive stalwart Fight for $15. (There are early signs that the rising-to-$15-wage has caused low-income workers to take home less as a group, even in booming Seattle.) Ensuring that workers have predictable, human schedules could be easily implemented across rich and poor cities, and it doesn’t need to cost a dime.

Codeine linctus syrup possible side effects/health damages?

by zulunation1 @ Bluelight

hi all, long time lurker of this forum but first time starting a thread, So my question is can codeine linctus cause potential health damages?...

Foaming Body Washes made with Concentrated Castile Soap

by Nina George @

Foaming Body Washes Are Not All Natural There are a lot of foaming body washes out there on the planet. And, there are a lot of refills for those foaming pump bottles, but did you know that not all of these liquid refills are the same. Many body washes are actually detergents made with decyl [...]

The post Foaming Body Washes made with Concentrated Castile Soap appeared first on .

Lsd / eye dilation /club light show

by Daisylover @ Bluelight

While doing lsd in a club setting with a light show, how safe or dangerous is it to stare at the lights? I became so mesmerized by the lights, I...

Dove Has A Beauty Problem - Ms. Magazine Blog

Dove Has A Beauty Problem - Ms. Magazine Blog


Ms. Magazine Blog

In April, I posted Dove’s Real Beauty campaign video on my Facebook with the caption, “You’re more beautiful than you think.” At first glance, this video seemed comforting, almost therapeutic as an antidote against our airbrushed versions of beauty typified by Hollywood and glossy magazine covers. Instead of telling women to lose weight, apply makeup correctly …

The Economy Minus Houston

The Economy Minus Houston

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

It’s too early to tally the economic losses from Hurricane Harvey. But with the waters yet to subside, analysts are already suggesting that the financial impact of Harvey may not be as bad as Katrina was—at least for insurers. As CNBC reported on Monday, “Damages from Harvey, the hurricane and tropical storm ravaging Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast, are estimated to be well below those from major storms that have hit New Orleans and New York, according to [reinsurance company] Hannover Re.”

The analysis may be correct when it comes to the financial losses suffered by insurers. But the suffering is massive—in this natural disaster and in every natural disaster. And while it is understandable to look at Harvey through the lens of Katrina—they’re both hurricanes that swamped low-lying Gulf Coast areas with lots of energy infrastructure—doing so doesn’t provide the clearest possible picture of the economic damage. And it misconstrues the relative importance and economic power of New Orleans and Houston.

For the U.S. economy to lose New Orleans for a couple of weeks was a human and cultural disaster and an economic challenge. For the U.S. economy to lose Houston for a couple of weeks is a human disaster—and an economic disaster, too.

The Houston metropolitan area, with a population of well over 6 million, has nearly five times the number of people as the New Orleans metropolitan area. More significantly, Houston has more than five time as many jobs as New Orleans, 3.06 million to 578,000. And they tend to be well-paying jobs. The Houston metropolitan area gross domestic product in 2015 was $503 billion, compared with $78 billion for New Orleans. For any retailer or large e-commerce company, the Houston region likely represents close to 3 percent of annual sales.

Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, has a massive, diversified economy. Sure, New Orleans sits near the mouth of the mighty Mississippi River and is an important entrepôt and site for export of raw materials, agricultural commodities chemicals, and petroleum products. But Houston is a larger, busier, and far more important node in the networked economy. Economies derive their power and influence from their connections to other cities, countries, and markets. And Houston is one of the more connected. It is one of the global capitals of the energy and energy services industries. The Johnson Space Center has 10,000 employees. Houston is home to the headquarters of 20 Fortune 500 companies and the massive MD Anderson Cancer Center. The two airports, George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, combined handle about 55 million passengers annually, about five times the number that Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport does.

Yes, there’s a degree to which consumption and other economic activity that is forestalled or foregone during a flood is consumption and economic activity deferred. And cleanup efforts tend to be additive to local economies. But in today’s economy, a lot of value can easily be destroyed very quickly. With only a small portion of the housing stock carrying flood insurance, billions of dollars in property will simply be destroyed and not immediately replaced. People who get paid by the hour, or who work for themselves, won’t be able to make up for the income they’re losing a few weeks from now. Hotel rooms and airplane seats are perishable goods—once canceled, they can’t simply be rescheduled. Refineries won’t be able to make up all the time offline—they can’t run more than 24 hours per day. And given that supply chains rely on a huge number of shipments making their connections with precision, the disruption to the region’s shipping, trucking, and rail infrastructure will have far-reaching effects. If you’re a business in Oklahoma or New Mexico, there’s a pretty good chance the goods you are importing or exporting pass through the Port of Houston.

There’s a conventional wisdom that holds that natural disasters aren’t always that bad for the economy. Reconstruction and relief efforts often function as miniature stimulus packages. And many sectors of our economy are indeed highly resilient and flexible—and hence able to weather the storm. Writing in the New York Times earlier this week, Neil Irwin was relatively sanguine about the economic impact of Harvey on the system at large. He noted that any disruption to supply chains was likely to be short-term and that insurers were well-situated to weather the storm. So, yes, it is tough to quibble with the notion that taking a long-term perspective, Harvey will be a blip. But we all know what John Maynard Keynes said about the long run. And in the meantime, there will be a lot of financial and human suffering.

The Tricky Path to Employment Is Trickier When You’re Autistic

The Tricky Path to Employment Is Trickier When You’re Autistic

by Sarah Carr @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Leigh epitomizes the underemployed. The 39-year-old has a master’s degree in library science from a top-ranked school, years of experience working the circulation desk in a Boston library, and an IQ of 145. He is reliable and considerate, and he works hard.

Yet for the past eight years, since he lost his salaried Boston library job due to austerity measures, the only permanent job Leigh has landed is at the T.J. Maxx near his mother’s home on Cape Cod. He works part time dusting, vacuuming, and washing the mirrors, and he is paid the minimum wage, $11 an hour. Over the past few years, Leigh has applied for dozens of library positions. Every one has turned him down, most without an interview.

What’s held him back? The library business is contracting, not expanding, and full-time employment is hard to come by, of course. But Leigh, who asked that his last name not be used to protect his family’s privacy, faces an additional hurdle: He has a mild form of autism, a condition that used to be labeled “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified” and is distinct from both autism and Asperger’s.

Autistic adults may very well be the most disadvantaged disability group in the American workplace. Only 14 percent of adults with autism held paid jobs in their communities, according to one May report from Drexel University’s Autism Institute (the report looked just at those who had received state developmental disabilities services). Yet a pathetic 2 percent of all autism research funding goes to understanding adulthood and aging, according to a 2017 report from the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, based on 2015 numbers. While most research is focused on figuring out how to prevent or treat autism disorders when they are first diagnosed at young ages, we also have to remember that this work has not yet materialized as a solution for the more than 3.5 million Americans living with autism. “It’s only in the last 10 to 15 years that there’s been growing recognition of the fact that children grow up to be adults,” says Susan Daniels, executive secretary of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. As Leigh’s story demonstrates, autistic adults have their own needs—needs that we as a society are just figuring out how to fill.

* * *

For Leigh, autism has complicated the job search on a number of fronts: He takes most everything literally, so when a job listing requires only a bachelor’s degree, he neglects to mention his master’s degree on his résumé. He lacks the networking skills and friend base that could provide personal connections and social introductions to potential employers. And in interviews, he invariably presents as quirky, which can be off-putting for those less familiar with folks “on the spectrum.” When asked last year during one library interview how well he would do managing a small team of volunteers, Leigh replied, “Not very well. I can be tyrannical.” He did not get the job.

“I’m at a precipice,” Leigh says. “I’m so high-functioning that I don’t really register as disabled, but I’m not high-functioning enough that I can easily utilize anything social.”

When Leigh was 2 years old, his mother, Carole, noticed that her son behaved differently. He didn’t make eye contact or talk (a delay the family pediatrician implied was the mother’s fault, instructing her “to repeat until he gets it”).

Leigh clearly absorbed information and communicated in his own way, however. Carole recalls one day when Leigh, a toddler, climbed into the cabinet and started banging pots and pans. Over and over again, she cried at her son to quit the banging and put the pots down. “It was like I wasn’t there,” she says. Desperate, she finally wrote “stop” on a piece of paper and held it in front of Leigh’s face. He immediately paused. “It’s like the channels are different,” she said. “We weren’t always sure he heard or understood us.”

Leigh was teased sometimes during his years in the Nauset public schools on Cape Cod, where he took mostly honors classes and had a small group of friends—his “Faction,” he called them—who looked out for him. I was Leigh’s classmate during middle and high school and took many of those honors classes with him. I mostly remember his love for the Moody Blues’ music, as well as the rapport he developed with a few select teachers and classmates, and how grounded it was in a mutual respect for heart and mind (more grounded, I would argue, than the vast majority of teenage friendships). Leigh would regularly rise and salute our English teacher; he engaged in intellectual banter with our biology and chemistry teacher; he routinely addresses people using terms like “me lady,” “fare thee well,” or with a salute and bow. The Moody Blues (of course) quote he chose for his senior class yearbook: “Why do we never get an answer when we’re knocking at the door.”

“He had an utter respect for the people who were his friends or were kind to him, and it came out in his behaving like a knight,” recalls Amanda Sevak, one of his longtime friends and a member of his Faction.

Leigh still tries to come to the rescue: One day a few years ago, Sevak reached out to Leigh with an urgent question. She was chaperoning a field trip for her twin grade-school daughters’ class, and an autistic classmate was having a meltdown. He had cut himself but refused to wear a bandage.

Leigh calmly explained that they should tell the boy that the “strange sensation of the adhesive” would be preferable to the pain of getting an infection from air exposure. Sevak quickly relayed the message to the child. It connected with the child in a way that other pleas had not.

Although Leigh strikes most strangers as very serious, those who know him well often glimpse his humorous side. His mother recalls one time when he brought a video to his special education class featuring Victor Borge, a comedian and musician who pronounces different phonetic sounds when reading punctuation marks. It was one of his favorite clips, yet the screening still made Leigh laugh so uproariously he fell off his chair. And when the senior class decided to pelt water balloons at one another to celebrate graduation, everyone assumed Leigh would take a pass. Instead he showed up with a tin man–style container filled with water and gleefully sprayed his classmates.

When he graduated from high school, Leigh knew he wanted to pursue a career. And I don’t think anyone who knew him in high school would have questioned his capacity to succeed in a profession, at least one that didn’t require great social ease and self-possession: He had thrived in classes that were intellectually challenging and managed to find a kind of niche. He attended Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for two years before questioning whether he could handle the patient counseling required of pharmacists. “Given my troubles with socialization, I was a bit leery,” he said.

So he switched to the library track, earning a master’s degree in library science from Simmons College. Over 12 years, he worked his way up from volunteer to full-time employee at a Boston public library branch, where he discovered that he was capable of interacting with patrons while manning the circulation desk. He lived by himself and enjoyed the independence and solitude. Unlike the more rural Cape Cod, Boston was a good city for him since he could easily navigate on foot and public transportation (he does not drive).

In 2010, Leigh’s quiet life was upended when he lost his job due to austerity measures across the city’s library system. Within a year, he moved back home to the Cape to live with his mother and look for work from there (his father died in late 2008).

The job search was unending. At first, Leigh sought out only library jobs. He estimates that he submitted resumes for 20 to 30 open positions scattered across New England—to no avail.

When he asked for advice, he sometimes ran up against job stereotyping, Leigh says. People suggest computer coding to him all the time, since many people with mild autism are detail-oriented and adept at solitary work (a new startup called Coding Autism aims to train people on the spectrum for technology jobs). “People look at my autism and assume I like coding,” Leigh says, adding an exuberant, “Not here!”

Instead, Leigh has two great passions: books and birds. He craves a job that is intellectually engaging and relates to at least one of those areas. Yet most of the jobs available for those with disabilities on the Cape are more menial in nature, like his T.J. Maxx position. “There are jobs for more severely disabled people” but not ones set aside for people with more modest challenges, Leigh says. “People with mild disabilities like my own don’t register on anyone’s radar.”

In addition to the T.J. Maxx job, Leigh eventually began volunteering at a Cape library and for an organization called Wild Care, where he feeds baby birds. He broadened his search from library work to any clerical position. He also met with a counselor through a state-sponsored vocational rehabilitation program, but for years his job search produced few interviews—and no jobs.

In early 2016, however, Leigh’s job search seemed to turn a corner when he connected with Cape Abilities, a local organization that provides a range of support and job placement services for people with disabilities. Leigh’s first counselor there, Peggy Boskey, was determined to find him a job that made better use of his mind. They began corresponding regularly and meeting every other week, working on résumés, interview strategies, and more. Given Leigh’s extensive education and experience, as well as his formidable intellect, Boskey assumed it would only take a few months to find him something more stimulating than janitorial work.

* * *

Employment rates for autistic adults are abysmal in both absolute and relative terms—they’re lower than those for just about any other disability type studied. Drexel’s Autism Institute found that 58 percent of young adults on the spectrum worked at some point in the years after high school, compared with 74 percent of those with an intellectual disability and 91 percent of those with an emotional disturbance. “People with autism tend to flounder more,” said Anne Roux, a research scientist at the Autism Institute who worked on the study.

Some employers and social service agencies have started trying to make inroads on the problem. A couple major businesses like Microsoft and PetSmart have prioritized hiring and supporting autistic employees. Microsoft, for instance, did away with its traditional interview process for applicants on the spectrum, instead inviting them to come and spend several days on site so they could be observed while working on projects.

And in many places, including Leigh’s home state of Massachusetts, adults with autism qualify for more state-sponsored job training and support than they did just a few years ago. A 2014 state law expanded the number of people on the spectrum who are eligible for help from the state’s Department of Developmental Services for services like job coaching (previously it was more difficult for those with IQs above 70 to qualify). More than 1,300 people have been newly deemed eligible for services as a result of this change.

Among the lessons learned: The autistic population is unfathomably diverse, in terms of skills, interests, and aptitudes. That means there is no easy, one-size-fits-all accommodation that employers can make and no single occupation that could be targeted as a solution for people on the spectrum. Some have severe cognitive or intellectual impairments; others, like Leigh, have sky-high IQs. Some possess little to no verbal skills; others can communicate with much greater fluency. Some are more socially aggressive than the average person; others are more withdrawn.

“The abilities of people with autism are just as diverse—maybe even more diverse than other people,” said Denise Resnik, a founder of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center who has a 26-year-old son with autism. That means the outreach to potential employers needs to be both broader (encompassing a larger range of job types) and more concrete (making clearer the potential needs and accommodations of autistic workers). It isn’t enough to create thousands of new positions for computer coders with autism spectrum disorders because thousands of others, including Leigh, won’t go that route. Technology jobs might be higher level and better paid, but Leigh says he can’t wrap his head around HTML and doesn’t enjoy coding-related work.

Resnik, as well as some employers, agree that once an autistic worker lands a suitable job, he or she usually excels. “I’ve heard over and over that they tend to be the first to arrive, the last to leave, the hardest workers, and people who bring out the best in their co-workers,” said Resnik. For people on the spectrum, work tends to be the main priority in their lives, rather than competing against social and other interests, Resnik added.

That said, part of the employer outreach component is educating potential bosses about unique needs of employees with autism. Phil Francis, the former CEO of PetSmart, said he’s found it more challenging, on average, for workers on the spectrum to follow multistep, complicated instructions; he tells their supervisors to break it down or assign more discrete tasks. “They are different in some respects, but many of the differences are highly positive,” he says.

The biggest hurdle in many instances seems to be helping them get to the point of being employees. That might require changing interview processes, where autistic individuals typically flounder—perhaps by allowing a counselor to sit in, ensuring that someone familiar with autism conducts the interview, or adopting Microsoft’s “interview-less” approach. Julie Urda, another of Leigh’s counselors at Cape Abilities, says people on the spectrum typically “don’t get nuance or body language or social convention,” yet interviewers often rigidly assess them on those traits.

Workers who are autistic often require at least some minimal level of ongoing job support, a person who can serve as intermediary if conflicts or confusion arise over their role or conduct. Leigh’s mother, Carole, says she feels like people with autism would benefit tremendously from job coaches who they can check in with, even if only for five minutes on the phone each week. “Someone who is readily available and can step in before misunderstandings get too big,” she says, noting that people with the disorder often struggle to “read” other people, as much as they may want to.

Leigh had volunteered as a docent at one wildlife organization but stopped because he struggled to know when to approach people and when to hang back. Yet he possesses his own form of empathy, and genuinely wants other people to feel at ease around him. Said his mother: “He’s very uncomfortable about making other people uncomfortable.”

* * *

Despite the increased awareness, the problem, as always, is how to scale up solutions in a country where the national conversation surrounding autism is so focused on young children and where we know so little about what drives macrolevel trends and outcomes for autistic adults. Our knowledge is patchy and anecdotal rather than systemic and informed by data. That’s partly because it’s “less sexy and more difficult” to study adulthood than to do research on “brains and genes”—the two topics that receive the lion’s share of the funding, said Roux. There’s a lot hype around prevention and finding a “cure” and very little around helping adults thrive.

“The consequence is a stagnation to the quality of life of people who are already with us … it’s hard to improve outcomes because we don’t know enough,” said Roux. Daniels from the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee says she envisions this changing in the coming years, as the National Institutes of Health and other groups have started new programs that fund projects aimed at helping adolescents transition to adulthood or support adults on the spectrum with independent living.

Better and more widespread research could help us pinpoint the unique needs of autistic adults; the most effective ways of supporting them in finding, and keeping, jobs; and the states that are doing the best at providing services. We don’t even know exactly how many adults on the spectrum live in the United States, said Roux.

We also don’t know how severity of the disorder impacts employment prospects. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the highest-functioning people on the spectrum can be particularly hard to place in jobs since they can, and want to, do more ambitious work than the menial roles so often assigned disabled workers in the American economy. Yet routine interactions rarely come easily, even for the most verbal of them.

It didn’t turn out to be as easy as Peggy Boskey had hoped last year to find Leigh a better job. On the tourism-dominated Cape, service industry jobs abound, but entry-level office positions are more elusive. And those that exist often have dozens of qualified applicants. Leigh came close to close to landing one library job but struggled with the interview. “If they have three people who are qualified, they are going to go with the one they feel most comfortable with,” Boskey said. Leigh wants more engaging work but also needs it. He is trying to complete the paperwork to qualify for disability payments, which he currently does not receive. His mother would like him to be as financially secure as possible, particularly when she dies. Leigh has no siblings or other close relatives to fill the void that she will someday leave. “I’m trying to set things up as best I can for him,” she says.

She says she finds it encouraging how many more life and career options people with disabilities have than they did a generation or two ago. “We’ve greatly expanded our definition of who can take part in humanity,” she says. But there’s still a huge distance to go.

In January, Leigh finally got a break when the Barnstable Housing Authority hired him for a temporary, part-time position doing general office work, including preparing spreadsheets and retrieving mailings. He dropped some of his hours at T.J. Maxx but continued the two volunteer positions in an effort to keep his options open. It wasn’t clear whether the housing authority job would continue past the summer.

His counselor Urda noted that the housing authority representative who interviewed and hired Leigh has autistic relatives, which made her more aware and accommodating throughout the process. That personal connection is not something people with autism—and in need of jobs—can usually count on.

Last month, Leigh learned that his job at the housing authority would conclude at the end of August, putting him back at square one.

Leigh’s mother says that in spite of the long search, and its many disappointments, her son has never complained about his limited professional options.

As a society, though, we should be concerned. Leigh’s story has many lessons. But, for me, two stand out: First, too little attention has been paid to the employment needs of those with mild disabilities, as a disproportionate share of the assistance, support, and set-asides (understandably) target those with the most severe needs. We shouldn’t stop supporting employees with the most intense challenges, but we need to be much more willing to make accommodations and develop new programs for less disabled workers like Leigh, rather than expecting them to seamlessly “blend in” or relegating them to narrow career tracks.

Beyond that, change requires not only greater awareness but concrete alterations to the hiring and employee-support processes. More employers need to figure out a way to understand the skills of people with autism. Microsoft’s model, developing a distinct interview process for applicants on the spectrum, is a good start. As the numbers of Americans with autism spectrum disorders continues to rise, it’s not just a matter of social justice but of national economic health. And, in Leigh’s case, we’re failing to make use of a unique and elegant mind that continues, more than 20 years later, to enrich the few people who have gotten to know him well, a mind that has much to offer the lives—and, hopefully, workplaces—of most anyone who gives him a chance.

(amphetamines) Is there a drug that is worse than methamphetamine

by AvenaSativa @ Bluelight

After I actually got into meth I realized why they have that lifestyle thing going on. Heroin junkies and crackheads get bad off too but I am so much...

Letting People Buy In to Medicaid Is the Hot New Democratic Health Care Idea

Letting People Buy In to Medicaid Is the Hot New Democratic Health Care Idea

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

With Obamacare repeal defeated for the time being, Democrats have begun looking ahead and crafting plans to expand health coverage to the millions of Americans who still remain uninsured. On Tuesday, Vox previewed one such proposal from Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, which would let middle- and upper-income Americans buy into Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. “Exclusive: Sen. Schatz’s New Health Care Idea Could Be the Democratic Party’s Future,” declared the somewhat breathless, if technically accurate, headline. (I mean, Dwayne Johnson could be the Democratic Party's future, too.)

When I asked Schatz's office for more details, I was told the bill is still a work in progress with some pieces subject to change. But after reading a draft summary of the plan that's been making the rounds in health-policy circles, it strikes me more like an old idea with some important new twists: Schatz wants to bring back the concept of a strong public option on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. Medicaid just happens to be the vehicle to do it.

As you no doubt recall, Democrats spent much of the 2009 Obamacare wars arguing over whether to create a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers. But even among public-option advocates, there were two camps. On one side, you had progressives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, advocating a “strong” public option that would save costs by using the same doctor payment rates as Medicare. Moderate and conservative Dems saw this as a step too close to socialized medicine and preferred a weaker public option that would have to negotiate rates with providers just like Aetna or Humana.

In the end, both ideas proved objectionable to industry-friendly centrists like Connecticut's Joe Lieberman. The public option died.

Eight years later, liberals are now seriously debating the merits of full-on Medicare-for-all. In this new, lefty0friendly milieu, Schatz is more or less resuscitating the strong public option and serving it up as a political half-measure, just in case Congress can't muster the votes for single payer whenever Democrats next regain power.

As I said, though, it's not quite the same idea as before.

Instead of creating a federally run insurance plan, Schatz would give states the option to offer Medicaid coverage for purchase through their Obamacare exchanges. The plans would be open to all residents who were not otherwise insured and, according to the outline, would be modeled on the sort of insurance offered through Obamacare's Medicaid expansion—which, among other things, means it would cover the ACA's 10 essential health benefits. Crucially, premiums would be capped at no more than 9.5 percent of a family's income. Customers could also use their Obamacare tax credits toward the cost.

Letting middle-class families buy into Medicaid this way would fix two of the Affordable Care Act's fundamental flaws. First, it would create a health plan of last resort in places where private carriers decided not to do business. That seems more necessary than ever now that dozens of rural counties have just narrowly avoided being left without insurance options for next year. Second, it would create a new guarantee of affordable coverage for upper-middle-class families. Today, households that make more than 400 percent of the poverty line aren't eligible for Obamacare's tax credits. That's created millions of disgruntled Americans, who've been left exposed to rising premiums on the individual market. Opening up Medicaid to everyone, and putting a ceiling on its cost, would give that group some protection.1

It's not clear that either of these moves would vastly expand the number of Americans with health coverage. But they would sure up Obamacare's promises. Every family would have access to coverage on the individual market, and it would cost less than a tenth of their income, no exceptions.

Schatz's plan has one other important plank. It would increase Medicaid's payment rates to doctors and hospitals so that they matched Medicare's, with Washington picking up the full cost of the change. This move would be expensive—Medicaid pinches its pennies today, paying providers 72 percent of what Medicare offers, on average. But it would likely go a long way toward fixing what many people consider Medicaid's biggest flaw: the fact that many doctors simply won't accept the program's patients because it pays too little. Hiking the pay rates would give Medicaid enrollees access to wider networks of care and make the program more appealing to middle-class customers.

One quirk of using Medicaid to create a public option is that it might not really be public, strictly speaking. While Medicaid is funded by states and the feds, most of its enrollees today actually receive their insurance through private managed-care organizations that contract with the government. Judging from Schatz's outline, a state could lean on the same companies to offer buy-in plans. Some of these carriers, like Centene and Molina, already sell coverage on Obamacare's insurance exchanges; in places where they do, Schatz's plan might simply serve as a way to extend ACA-like subsidies to more upper-middle-class families.

That might make the Medicaid buy-in a bit more palatable to the insurance industry, which came out hard against the public option in 2009. Instead of putting them out of business, it could pad their profits. Of course, that might also be a turn-off to the left-wing activists who've been driving the Democrats' health-care debate, many of whom want to drive the private sector out of the health insurance business entirely.

There's at least one other obvious downside to using Medicaid as a public insurance backstop: States might simply choose not to expand it, just like many chose not to expand the program under the ACA. For that reason, some Democrats might still prefer to let Americans buy in to Medicare, since it's available everywhere.2 The upside of using Medicaid, so far as the left might be concerned, is that it would give states flexibility to make their buy-in's more generous. A state like California might even use it as a vehicle to pursue single payer, with federal funding.

Potential qualms aside, Schatz's plan says something interesting about the changing politics of health care. Once maligned as a poor program for poor people, Democrats are now treating Medicaid as a viable option for ensuring the middle class. For that, we can thank its successful expansion under Obamacare, as well as the Republican Party's failed attempts to slash its budget, which helped rally liberals in support of Medicaid.

Schatz's plan has also shown how far the Overton window has shifted on health care. Less than a decade ago, the public option was a bridge too far Democrats. Now, it's being treated as a modest step toward something bigger. “If there’s ever a vote for single-payer, I’m a ‘yes,’ ” Schatz told Vox. “But there are lots of things we can do in the meantime.”

1For families that earn 300 to 400 percent of the poverty line, Obamacare's subsidies cap premiums at about 9.6 percent of income. So you could argue that Schatz's plan is effectively expanding Obamacare-like subsidies to everyone.

2 I suppose Congress could also let people buy into both, and see which gets more traction.

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No, You Don’t Want a Four-Day Workweek

No, You Don’t Want a Four-Day Workweek

by Allard Dembe @ Slate Articles

This story was first published on the Conversation and has been republished here with permission.

Many employers and employees love the thought of a four-day workweek. Supposedly, a four-day work schedule allows workers extra time to pursue leisure activities and family togetherness. Spurred on by visions of spending more time at the beach, many people are now encouraging businesses to adopt this kind of work plan.

There are many purported advantages. Some authorities say that a four-day work schedule facilitates the ability to provide child care and assistance for the elderly.

Proponents of such “compressed” work schedules—those in which employees work longer hours for fewer days of the week—point to gains in productivity that result from decreased overhead costs, such as not having to keep the lights on when nobody is working. Additional cost savings can be obtained from reducing total weekly commuting time.

A variety of businesses has tested the four-day concept, including Amazon, Google, Deloitte, and a host of smaller firms. Amazon announced in 2016 that it was experimenting with an even shorter workweek of 30 hours for select employees, who would earn 75 percent of their full-time salary, should they choose to opt in.

Many of the pilot programs have shown promising results. Statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management indicate that 31 percent of employees were in a compressed workweek schedule as of 2015. That’s the case, however, for only 5 percent of large companies.

This is an issue in which I have considerable experience. I have been studying the health effects of long working hours for nearly 30 years. All the studies point to the potential dangers that can occur as the result of the additional risks created when work demands exceed a particular threshold. Most of the studies I have performed suggest that the dangers are most pronounced when people regularly work more than 12 hours per day or 60 hours per week.

The idea of a four-day workweek is not new. Labor experts have been studying and advocating these approaches since the 1970s. For example, in 2008, researchers from Brigham Young University conducted a series of surveys among employees and community members to assess their perspectives about a four-day workweek. The researchers found that about four-fifths of the employees reported a positive experience working that type of schedule.

Based on these positive results, Utah’s governor enacted a mandatory four-day workweek for all state employees. The state’s goals were to curb energy costs, improve air quality, ensure that needed services would still be available (for instance, garbage collection), and help to recruit and retain state employees. In 2011, however, Utah reversed course, saying that savings never materialized.

Other research has also supported the development and adoption of compressed work schedules. A 1998 study found that compressed schedules were related to high levels of job satisfaction and employees’ satisfaction with their work schedules; supervisors also reported they were pleased with the four-day workweek schedules.

Despite the widespread enthusiasm for a four-day week, I am not convinced that kind of schedule is beneficial for employees or for businesses. The primary problem with the idea is that whatever work needs to be done needs to get done in the same amount of total time. Despite wishes to the contrary, there are still only 24 hours in a day.

The math is simple: Working five eight-hour shifts is equivalent to working four 10-hour shifts. That’s true. But the implications of these schedules are different. The danger is in disregarding the health effects that can occur as a result of fatigue and stress that accumulate over a longer-than-normal working day.

I performed a study showing that the risk of suffering an industrial accident is raised by 37 percent for employees working more than 12 hours in a day. The risk is 61 percent higher for people in “overtime” shifts. Working more than 60 hours in a week is related to an additional injury risk of 23 percent. As the hours worked in those schedules increase, the risks grow accordingly.

More recently, Dr. Xiaoxi Yao, a colleague of mine who is now at the Mayo Clinic, and I recently performed another study using 32 years of work-hour information to analyze the relationship between long working hours over many years and the risk of being diagnosed with a chronic disease later in life. We found that the dangers were quite substantial, especially for women.

Women working more than 60 hours per week, equivalent to 12 hours per day, were more than three times as likely to eventually suffer heart disease, cancer, arthritis, or diabetes, and more than twice as likely to have chronic lung disease or asthma, as women working a conventional 40-hour workweek. Working just a bit more, an average of 41 to 50 hours per week, over many years appeared to substantially increase the long-term risk of disease.

These studies show that not all hours are created equal. The research suggests that harm may occur past a certain point. A four-day week causes workers to squeeze more hours than usual into a day. For workers who are already prone to overwork, the additional burden of compressing five days into four could break the camel’s—or worker’s—back.

Besides the health issues, employers and workers also need to consider the effect that compressing hours into a four-day period has on workers’ mental health, stress levels, and fatigue.

Occupational psychologists realize that people do not function as effectively when tired or stressed. This may be even more of a concern for older workers.

Moreover, just squeezing five days of 10-hour-a-day work into a compressed 40-hour schedule can create more rigidity and reduced flexibility for families and children. For example, if the two additional work hours per day are added onto a conventional day schedule that begins in the morning at approximately 8 or 9 a.m. and extends into the late afternoon hours at about 4 to 5 p.m., then many working parents will lose the ability to interact with their children just at the “prime time” of about 5 to 7 p.m. when kids otherwise would be most likely to be in the house and potentially available to socialize with their siblings and parents—before their bedtime arrives.

There are many obvious ways to address these concerns and make life easier for workers and their families. Don’t overwork. Don’t stay too long at work. Find a job with an employer that has flexible working hours.

I don’t know about you, but the prospect of a four-day week scares me. I already have a hard enough time getting my regular weekly work done over five days. And it’s always so tempting to glance at my work email—just a couple more notes to jot down.

Instead, why not just pull back at a certain point? Maybe it’s time to take Friday off every so often. How about ending work at noon on Fridays, as is the practice of many Jews, to bring in the weekend in a gradual way? The trade-off, if necessary, would involve adding a small increase of one hour per day to the normal Monday through Friday schedule. That approach is actually my personal favorite.

My friend Lonnie Golden, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, Abington, advocates adopting a “Goldilocks” workweek: one that is not too long, not too short and that satisfies the employer’s interest in productivity and the employee’s interest in attaining good health and well-being.

CEOs Are Running Out of Reasons Not to Bail on Trump

CEOs Are Running Out of Reasons Not to Bail on Trump

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

CEOs of large public companies have faced something of a conundrum in the age of Trump. On the one hand, here was a historically unpopular president who lost the popular vote, who is actively hostile to many of the values to which their companies are committed—diversity, inclusion, reckoning with climate change, globalization, free trade, and all the other Davos virtues. Put aside whatever their feelings as individuals are. As leaders of companies with huge global operations and large employee bases, CEOs of large firms have to be careful not to publicly side with someone who is openly antagonistic to their modus operandi.

On the other hand, the federal government—as a policymaker, as a procurement agency, as a customer, as a dispenser of favor and tax breaks, as a rule- and standard-setter—has a great ability to impact the short-term fortunes of many companies. Trump has been in favor of much of what businesses generically want, from lower taxes to lighter regulation. And this window in which Republicans control the White House and Congress presents a rare opportunity for achieving some long-desired goals. (Global companies would really, really like to be able to repatriate all the profits they’re holding overseas on a tax-favored basis.) So the general consensus of CEOs was to not take any rash or immediate action. While it might anger their employees or spouses or children, publicly breaking with and attacking Trump wouldn’t pay any immediate dividends.

There was another reason that CEOs were circumspect. If you run a large, publicly held company, there are norms about the types of things you say. Everyone deserves a chance. We respect the office. When the president of the United States calls and asks you to come to a meeting or to serve on an advisory board, you show up. It’s part of being a public statesman or stateswoman. And with a president who insulted his way to an election victory, there was an extra reason to show up. Those who cross him are likely to be targets.

So you can understand why CEOs like Ken Frazier of Merck and Elon Musk of Tesla and so many others agreed to serve on Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing. They all had specific—and general—needs and asks. Trump would almost certainly be the president for at least the next four years. As one Trump-hostile billionaire put it to me, “He’s got the gavel now.”

But seven months into the Trump administration, we’re seeing that showing up and uttering pro forma support may not be a viable PR, business, or personal strategy for CEOs who want to lead their companies while being true to themselves.

Some CEOs have discovered that mouthing even anodyne support for Trump can have a really negative impact on their business relationships and stock price. In February, Kevin Plank, the CEO of apparel-maker Under Amour and a member of the manufacturing council, said "to have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset to this country." In response, some of the company’s leading endorsers, including Stephen Curry, expressed their anger, customers rebelled, and the stock was ultimately downgraded.

Other CEOs have discovered that while the policies of Trump and the GOP may be theoretically good for “business,” they are really bad for their particular business. Duh. Musk was the first to bail from Trump’s manufacturing council after Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Meanwhile, companies are coming to two collective realizations. First, while the Trump administration is delivering favorable policy to energy companies, Wall Street, and for-profit colleges, the prospects for broad-based tax reform (or even tax cuts) aren’t particularly good. Second, given Trump’s unpopularity, his power to inflame the public against any single company has diminished.

Still others have concluded that, regardless of whatever pressure their business might come under, they simply can’t abide sitting quietly while Trump rampages his way through his term. That was the conclusion that Ken Frazier, the CEO of drug giant Merck, apparently reached over the weekend, as a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly and Trump condemned the violence only in broad, ambiguous terms. On Monday morning, Frazier announced over Twitter that he was resigning from the manufacturing council.

Why? “Our country’s strength comes from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs. America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal. As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscious, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Frazier’s move—and note that this is precisely the statement that Trump should have made on Saturday—now puts the other CEOs on the manufacturing council in a tough spot. Each will likely face questions as to what they think about Trump’s response to last weekend’s events and why they remain on the council now that its only black member has resigned.

Frazier has given them all an out if they want it. Sure, Trump responded in typical fashion, immediately attacking Frazier and his company on Twitter:

But it’s not likely Frazier or his firm will suffer any immediate damage. In early trading Monday morning, Merck’s stock was up .8 percent.

Overcoming My Fear of Returns, With the Help of E-Commerce

Overcoming My Fear of Returns, With the Help of E-Commerce

by Heather Schwedel @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

Typically an item left in the office kitchen is a reason for celebration: leftover birthday cake, homemade cookies, fresh tomatoes from someone’s garden. But the saddest thing I ever saw in an office kitchen was an abandoned pair of brand-new women’s pants I found sitting on a table one day. I remember the pants were from Coldwater Creek, size large in a dark color, and they were still in the plastic wrap and packaging they’d been shipped in. They had a note on them that said something like “take me” or “free!”

Sure, those pants weren’t “baby shoes, never worn,” but they broke my heart anyway. Whose were they? What was wrong with them? Was the idea of visiting a store or post office to return them so upsetting that the pants’ owner couldn’t bear it and decided the only way forward was desertion? Since I was a kid, I’ve always felt apprehensive about demanding my money back, stemming no doubt from all the childhood weekend shopping expeditions I spent quietly dying inside while standing in line with my mom at Toys R Us or Caldor or Kmart, watching the women of her generation pursue returns with single-minded purpose. Even if you don’t have full-blown return anxiety, you probably don’t like returning stuff. As Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and the author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind, told me, “People returning in a store, the emotions there are so clear to read. There’s a combination of either guilt or shame, and it’s also layered over with anger at the hassle of returning.”

But one major thing has changed about retail since my childhood return anxiety: the rise of e-commerce. Because we don’t have fitting rooms on the internet, we tend to return a whole lot more. Some e-commerce players have put in place generous return policies that seem to acknowledge the inevitability of returns and maybe even the possibility that the people who return the most might actually be the most discerning, and best, customers, as Zappos has posited. This year, Amazon introduced a service called Prime Wardrobe, wherein members of the company’s Prime program (who pay an annual fee) can try on clothes and return whatever doesn’t fit. The clothes arrive in a resealable box that already has a prepaid label for mailing it back included inside. Some experts—in particular, makers of retail software who have a dog in the e-commerce race—have encouraged companies beyond the Zappos and the Bonobos of the world to put as much thought into the “after-buying” experience as they do the purchase itself.

It’s difficult to isolate the monetary impact of doing so unless the companies themselves trumpet their results, but a few studies have borne out that it pays to create easy return policies. One 2012 paper in the Journal of Marketing found that a free returns policy at one leading website boosted consumer spending 158 to 457 percent. Another study, this one in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2015, concluded that providing positive return experiences was a valuable tool for creating customers who would bring in more money in the long run.

Yet even as e-commerce makes returns easier there’s still the matter of, as David Sobie calls it, “the dreaded arts and crafts project.” You have to find a box, fit your product back into that box, print out a label, visit the post office. Two years ago, Sobie and Mark Geller co-founded a company called Happy Returns in their own bid to improve the return process. Their idea was to open physical locations in high–foot traffic areas where people could go to return goods purchased at e-commerce-only outlets. At Happy Returns bars, “you don’t need a receipt, you don’t need to do any prep. You simply hand your items to someone, answer a few questions, and get your money back immediately,” Sobie told me. Happy Returns currently has a few dozen locations across the country and works with companies such as Everlane, Eloquii, and Tradesy.

This got me to thinking. Sobie said that what customers want with e-commerce is the ability to buy online and return in person. But even that feels a bit like a compromise—yeah, I guess I’d agree to talk to someone in person to do a return, if my only alternative is having to locate one of those weird padded envelopes and surreptitiously use the office Xerox to print out a label. Everyone knows the real holy grail solution to any problem is that it solves itself without you having to do anything at all: How about instead of sending something back, I do nothing, keep the thing, and get a refund anyway? Greedy, maybe, but it’s what the e-commerce boom has wrought. When one site offers a great perk, like free shipping, suddenly every site has to offer it to compete, and when one retailer gives you a full refund one time, you think maybe you could get accustomed to that kind of service.

I know, because it’s happened to me: Recently, the snaps on a pair of sandals I bought last summer broke. They were from one of those chichi startups that like to trumpet their superior quality and customer service, so I emailed to ask if there was any restitution the company could offer me. (Yes, I used the word restitution.) I never would have done this—complained about a year-old pair of shoes or used an embarrassing word like restitution—in person, but I had no problem firing it off in an email. The impersonal nature of e-commerce had emboldened me. Maybe it’s emboldened us all.

It’s not just that people return more of what they buy online because it doesn’t fit. The whole culture of shopping has evolved over the past few decades. “There’s a lower level of trust between the retailer and the consumer,” Yarrow told me. As mom-and-pop stores have declined and soulless chains have taken over, the power has shifted to consumers. Meanwhile, we’ve also got online stores conditioning us to expect VIP service. “At one point I think consumers felt an obligation of fairness toward a retailer,” Yarrow said. “And then at some point, that sentiment really changed and consumers lost their trust in retailers. Retailers noticed consumers were becoming much more unethical in how they shopped, and they tightened up. It is just a mentality of distrust on both sides.” Among the $260 billion worth of goods Americans returned last year were no doubt billions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent, sneaky, or just plain tacky returns. Haven’t we all seen this firsthand? A friend recently told me about a trip to Costco in which she was appalled to see that the woman in line ahead of her returned a third of a pizza.

It doesn’t feel great that my journey of self-actualization is part of a larger story of the decline of American consumer ethics. On the other hand, though, thinking back to those Coldwater Creek pants, present-me might take them and see what I could get for them. Hell, I have half a mind to write Coldwater Creek now, all these years later, and see what it’ll offer for my troubles, in the way of, ahem, restitution. The old me, who felt a sense of obligation and shame, is gone, replaced by the retail industry’s worst nightmare: a woman who isn’t afraid to ask to speak to the manager.

Workers Are Going Galt

Workers Are Going Galt

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

In the early years of the Obama administration, as new taxes on upper-income Americans were enacted as part of Obamacare and the expiry of the Bush tax cut loomed, it was common to hear libertarian types warn that businesspeople and entrepreneurs might just Go Galt. That is to say, if they determined that losing 50 cents of every dollar in taxation wasn’t worth their trouble, they’d take a cue from the hero of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, fold up their businesses, and quit work altogether. Check out this March 2009 Michelle Malkin column for an exegesis of this, um, idea. “Enough,” she wrote. “While they take to the streets politically, untold numbers of America’s wealth producers are going on strike financially.”

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

The logic of protesting taxes on income above a certain threshold by forgoing all income—including the income taxed at much higher rates—always escaped me. But people don’t always behave in a rational manner, and they continually do have to weigh the utility of working for what will not be a satisfactory return against the free time or leisure they might enjoy from not working at all. Anyway, the movement fared about as well as the widely panned, hardly seen 2011 film adaptation of Rand’s book.

Fast-forward eight years, and it seems that a different group of people may be deciding to Go Galt: workers.

Earlier this week, the Department of Labor released the latest Job Opening and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) report, which tallies job openings, hires, and quits. In June, the number of open positions spiked to 6.2 million, up 461,000 from May. That’s slightly more than the entire population of Missouri. It’s a record, and it’s up 11 percent from June 2016.

There are plenty of explanations for the seeming shortage of workers. Baby boomers are exiting the workforce. Many of the undocumented immigrants who fill low-paying service jobs have left the country or have been deported. The economy has been expanding for more than eight years, and the unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. Which means many of the people who can hold down jobs—or want to hold down jobs—already have them. In some areas, the need to pass drug tests is disqualifying individuals from the workforce. And in some instances, there just aren’t enough people with the relevant skills to fill the openings.

But as readers of this column have heard me say before, one of the big—perhaps the biggest—problem in the labor market today is that employers aren’t willing to pay people enough to fill their open positions. And this is happening even as they must fill a record number of openings. Hiring today means you have to convince someone to leave their job, leave school, or get off the couch. And if the incentive isn’t sufficiently large, it is hard to find a new employee.

Now, there are plenty of people without jobs in the U.S., and there are plenty of people who are working part-time but would prefer to work full-time. But the labor market isn’t always particularly efficient. People don’t always live near where the jobs are plentiful. And even if they do, they may not be willing to do the job at the going rate. Some number of people are essentially telling employers to take their crappy jobs with their crappy wages and shove it.

And so crops are rotting in the fields in Florida and California because farmers can’t find people to pick them. (Another way to think about this is that farmers were willing to invest the money to buy seeds, plow the fields, plant the crops, buy water and pesticides—but aren’t willing to bring the stuff they grow to market.) Roofers have been forgoing taking on new jobs because they can’t hire people to schlep the shingles. Bed and breakfasts and restaurants in Maine were slow to open or have operated with reduced hours this year because they can’t find housekeepers and waiters.

It’s not just happening in rural areas. At the end of June, there were 225,000 open positions in construction, up 31 percent from 171,000 in June 2016; 723,000 open positions in accommodations and food services (hotels and restaurants), up 12 percent from June 2016, and more than 1 million in trade, transportation, and utilities (which includes retail).

When you operate in a market, you have to keep raising your price until someone is willing to accept your bid. But for the last several years, American employers have steadfastly refused to raise wages. And now their stinginess is catching up with them. In many instances, employers simply aren’t offering sufficient incentives for people to apply for their jobs, show up to interviews, accept their offers, or show up to work. Some number of people would prefer the low level of income they have, or no income at all, to doing the work on offer at the wages listed. As Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari told a group of businesspeople earlier this week, “If you’re not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining.”

The Senate Parliamentarian Is Throwing a Wrench Into the GOP’s Ultimate Health Care Plan

The Senate Parliamentarian Is Throwing a Wrench Into the GOP’s Ultimate Health Care Plan

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Right now, Senate Republicans are desperately attempting to pass something—anything—that can plausibly be called Obamacare repeal so they can then sit down with their colleagues in the House and craft a piece of compromise legislation both chambers will vote on. The plan is to keep making forward progress and hope that sheer momentum carries this whole shambolic legislative effort over the goal line.

There are many reasons why this strategy could fail. But one of the most important, and perhaps most underappreciated, is that it seems unlikely any bill capable of passing the House right now will also be able to pass the Senate purely due to procedural reasons.

For this we can thank Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who since last week has ruled that several key pieces of the GOP's plan to replace Obamacare would not be eligible for a vote using the budget reconciliation process, which Republicans are banking on to pass their bill. Reconciliation is designed to pre-empt filibusters on tax and spending matters, allowing them to be enacted with a bare 51-vote majority (the GOP has 52 seats in the Senate, plus Vice President Mike Pence to break ties). But it is not supposed to be used for purely regulatory changes. MacDonough has advised lawmakers that many of their proposals don't pass muster under the procedure, including provisions that would defund Planned Parenthood and bar Americans from using government subsidies to buy insurance that covers abortion. The rule that would make people wait six months to purchase a health plan if they have a lapse in coverage—Republicans' proposed replacement for the Obamacare's individual mandate—is also a no-go, as is a change allowing insurance carriers to charge older customers up to five times what younger enrollees pay.

A repeal bill could conceivably survive Congress without these pieces. The broader problem is that the parliamentarian appears to be interpreting the reconciliation rules strictly, which means she may force the Senate to strip other key conservative regulatory demands, such as Sen. Ted Cruz's amendment allowing insurers to sell bare-bones health plans or waivers giving states the right to opt out of Obamacare's market rules.

Losing the waivers, especially, would be an enormous, possibly insurmountable obstacle for Republicans. Right now, the Senate is expected to try to pass a stripped-down “skinny repeal” bill that would kill off Obamacare's tax penalties for Americans who don't buy insurance, the requirement that employers offer their workers insurance, and the tax on medical devices. The idea is to advance a piece of legislation that almost everyone in the Senate can agree on—there's been a lot of talk about settling on the “lowest common denominator,” which, yeesh—and then go into a conference committee with the House to negotiate a final compromise. Already, House conservatives are telling the media that they won't simply accept the skinny repeal option and move on. “You’ve got to give freedom to the states at a minimum,” Rep. Raul Labrador told the Daily Beast. “In my opinion, we should get rid of the entire bill—the entire Obamacare—but that’s not going to happen. ... This is our one chance to repeal Obamacare and to give the states flexibility.”

But what if the parliamentarian decides that “state flexibility” is a no-can-do under reconciliation? At that point, Republicans have two options.

On the one hand, hard-liners could choke back their frustrations and just vote on whatever milquetoast piece of legislation the Senate is capable of producing.

On the other, Republicans could choose to overrule the parliamentarian, and thus more or less end the Senate as we know it. Technically, MacDonough's rulings are only advisory. Vice President Pence gets the actual final word on whether a bill meets the requirements for reconciliation, and he could choose to simply greenlight any bill Congress produces, allowing it to pass with 51 votes. But this would be a tectonic rupture in Senate history. No vice president has overruled the parliamentarian since Nelson Rockefeller in 1976, and choosing to do so in today's political climate would amount to gutting the filibuster, since pretty much any legislation could pass with 51 votes so long as it had the veep's blessing.

Would Republicans actually go this route? It's hard to say. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would almost certainly make the final call on this issue, has resisted the idea of ending the legislative filibuster out of concern that, one day, a President Bernie Sanders might be able to pass single-payer or nationalize Trump Tower with fewer than 60 Senate votes. But despite his reputation as an “institutionalist,” the majority leader has shown himself more than willing to obliterate the Senate's procedural precedent during this year's secretive and rushed health care push. If he has to choose between fulfilling a seven-year pledge to blot out Barack Obama's legacy and preserving Senate traditions, it's not at all clear to me which McConnell would pick.

Terminal

Terminal

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

 

This is a story about how the airport became the setting for the Great American Freakout. Once an icon of progress, then another stale waiting room of modern life, the airport has now entered a third phase.

This summer, Ann Coulter threw a three-day tantrum over a Delta seat assignment, comparing the airline gate attendants to Nurse Ratched, the sadistic warden who rules over the lunatics in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There was some truth to the observation. It was the latest incident in a year of airport fracases—including a brawl at the Spirit Airlines counter in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (May), the concussion of the 69-year-old David Dao who wouldn’t relinquish his seat (April), widespread pro-immigrant protests (January), two full-on panic stampedes one year ago, and a steady drumbeat of racial and religious profiling at security and immigration—that have confirmed the airport’s new role in American life as the marble-floored home of our national, fear-fueled psychosis.

The airport is, on the one hand, as representative a civic space as America has. Nearly half of American adults fly commercial each year, making the airport nearly as common a shared experience as the voting booth. It is also roiled by the ceaseless friction of its many internal borders, real and felt, that separate safety from danger, admittance from expulsion, brown from white, the rich from the rest. Real anxiety has swelled in this liminal space for decades, as airlines grew stingier, the security state grew stricter, and the borders in airport basements grew busier. But as with many conflicts in American life, the rise of Donald Trump has both clarified and exacerbated the fault lines.

This was evident in January, when the Trump administration unveiled its travel ban and thousands of protesters assembled at terminals across the country. But that was only a reminder of all the ways in which the airport has become a symbol and a stage: for the related and unrelated detentions of visitors, immigrants, and American citizens; for flare-ups over dress, language, and skin color; for increasing stratification by class; for massive delays borne of computer failures; for that dangerous hunch that America ain’t what it used to be; and for the aggrieved knowledge that it isn’t all it could be. It is a temple for a political era built on paranoia, as good a symbol for our age as the corporate skyscraper was for the postwar era and the suburban megamall was for the end of the century. The airport is the place to understand America today.

People who run airports know this. You can see it in their attempts to soothe. We now have art designed to keep us calm in the terminal. Ponies. Herds of kindly dogs. A therapy pig, in San Francisco. Chairs that rock and chairs that massage. Jazz music and country music. Mostly, we keep our aviation-related anxieties at bay with chemistry. The airport bars open early and endow patrons with both fortitude and an aura of righteous intoxication rarely found in morning drinking. Savvy travelers not among the nearly 1 in 10 Americans who have prescriptions for Xanax and its ilk nevertheless procure their favored pills for air travel. Take one just after passing through security to sink into an Eames tandem sling, that familiar, inclined bank of chairs.

Whatever we do, it’s not working.

* * *

In 1962, New York’s Idlewild Airport inaugurated Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center, a swooping concrete-and-glass icon of jet-age glamor. The building incarnated an idea of air travel’s allure that lingered like a contrail in the national imagination. In his 2015 book The End of Airports, Christopher Schaberg diagnosed the end of an idea: “The end of airports as romantic places; the end of airports as sites of excitement; the end of airports as apexes of travel culture. The end of airports means the end of our ability to appreciate airports, to inhabit them as dynamic, fascinating, forward-looking spaces.” In his latest book, Airportness, he has turned darker still: “It is a miserable place—you can see it on everybody’s face.”

But the romantic idea of the airport has been dying at least since the hijacking crisis of the 1970s, when American airports began to install metal detectors. Gradually, all aspects of the flying experience would be securitized. Metal detectors first sliced the grand TWA atrium in two decades ago, dispensing the sense of the airport as a genuine public place, where lovers parted at the jetway and the homeless could nap undisturbed, and marking the rise of the age of terror and security. As late as 1997, J.G. Ballard, writing of the world’s international terminals as a “discontinuous city” of global travelers, could claim that “above all, airports are places of good news.” But the raft of changes implemented since 9/11 have amplified security’s psychic cost.

It’s not clear how much the Transportation Security Administration’s methods are protecting us: In a 2015 investigation, undercover agents succeeded in smuggling weapons past screeners in 67 out of 70 attempts, and the agency’s acting head was reassigned. The drawbacks are easier to perceive. The screening requires you to expose yourself, both to the eyes of agents (see the ex-screener Jason Edward Harrington’s confessional “Dear America, I Saw You Naked”) and to fellow passengers, who watch you disrobe. Bags are unzipped to put underwear on display like on a backyard laundry line.

“Taking off shoes,” Harvey Molotch writes of one of America’s more frustrating air travel requirements in Against Security, “makes bodies touch foreign surfaces in unaccustomed ways, bringing to mind the ass on the restroom toilet seat.” Molotch argues that the prison-visit style of airport security is a perpetual worry machine, stoking the concern that justifies its escalating rigors. A design firm hired by the TSA argued that the unpleasant nature of checkpoints was hurting security procedures by giving all travelers the sweaty, nerve-wracked mien of terrorists and drug smugglers, and illustrated the point with photographs of a shark in calm waters (easy to see) and rough waters (invisible).

As with mass incarceration, efforts to reform airport security are hamstrung by politicians and administrators who would prefer to inflict hassle on millions than be caught making one mistake. Normalcy won a rare victory over the security state in 2005, when small scissors, screwdrivers, and pliers were again allowed in carry-on bags over the objections of Congress. (“This is the equivalent of handing back the box cutters to the 9/11 hijackers,” Rep. Ed Markey wrote. Hillary Clinton introduced a special bill to stop the policy.) The exception proves the rule: In 2013, the TSA was set to allow pocket knives and golf clubs on planes before the policy was overruled by lawmakers.

These protocols, like other airport routines, extend a burden beyond the terminal. No traveler can set his or her alarm or pack a tube of toothpaste without thinking about the TSA. The years since Sept. 11, 2001, can be measured out in 3-ounce bottles and other security restrictions. Shortly after 9/11, my sister got carsick on the way to the airport. At the time, there were no trash cans in the check-in area, and so my mother passed the plastic bag of vomit through the metal detector. This story is dated, but only because you can no longer get a bag of vomit through a metal detector.

It’s the conditioning effect of these rituals, as much as terrorism itself, that makes even false alarms so harrowing. Last August, a mass panic enveloped New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, sending thousands of travelers fleeing from a phantom terror attack. The false alarm spread between terminals, and flights were delayed nationwide as terrified travelers stormed the tarmac, hiding behind jet wheels and luggage carts or running for the safety of the Atlantic Ocean. What set them off, apparently, was the collapse of a line of bollards whose clack-clack-clack against the floor sounded like gunshots. Two weeks later, police evacuated four terminals of LAX after a phantom shooting, while in Terminal 4, panicked passengers ran willy-nilly. Outside Terminal 6, they scurried down the sidewalk with their rolling luggage, heading nowhere at all.

* * *

As this everyday security check unfolds upstairs, a more substantive vetting process is underway below. For decades, America’s international airports have been an increasingly important port of entry for visitors and immigrants. In 2005, 81 million people—19 percent of international travelers—entered the U.S. by air. By 2015, that number had risen to 112 million, and 29 percent of international arrivals. (Those numbers underestimate the central role of airports, since hundreds of thousands of commuters cross the U.S.–Mexico border every day and are counted multiple times.) Just as airports are places where America must be defended from terrorism, they are frontiers through which immigrants, foreigners, and American expatriates pass onto U.S. soil. They are borders, with their attendant violence, nestled at the heart of domestic life.

This has occurred despite laborious efforts in Washington to push border functions out of our airports, through a series of international data-sharing negotiations, the export of biometric sensors to visa application sites abroad, and supplementary security requirements for U.S.-bound flights. “With a virtual border in place,” the security theorist Gallya Lahav writes, “the actual border guard is meant to become the last point of defense rather than the first.”

At least, that is the idea. The 2014 Ebola crisis demonstrated it hadn’t quite worked out that way. That summer at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie detained Kaci Hickox, an American nurse who had treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, placing her in a mandatory quarantine at a Newark hospital. Trump tweeted about the Ebola outbreak more than 50 times, calling for a travel ban and opposing the return of two infected U.S. aid workers. “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back,” our future president wrote. “People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences.”

It was a stance that, in its callousness and shallow thinking, anticipated Trump’s ham-handed attempt at a Muslim ban. On Jan. 26 of this year, the country’s international airports once again reprised their role as a conflict zone. Holders of visas and green cards arriving from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, some of them refugees, found that their legal status had changed overnight. After months of planning, they were imprisoned in the airport.

So it was the international airport, not the Mexican border or an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center, that became the first testing ground for the Trump administration’s strident xenophobia. And concurrently, the site of the first, substantive protests against it.

On the Saturday after the ban was enacted, thousands of protesters convened in the parking lot outside JFK Terminal 4. Inside, U.S. representatives, lawyers, and the families of the detained arrivals struggled to determine where authority in the airport lay, which parts of the terminal belonged to whom, and who was responsible for directing the agents of Customs and Border Protection. “Call the president” was the response. We now know that CBP was deploying some kind of centralized strategy to flummox lawyers and members of Congress . But navigating the administration’s reversals often fell to the rank and file.

The vision of the airport as an austere, Taylorized space, where even the architecture is mathematically deduced (150 square feet per design-hour passenger is a common metric), has fallen away to reveal a deeply human frontier, in all the worst ways. A 2005 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom determined that there was “extreme” variation in the way that asylum cases were handled at different airports. In the past five months, we have seen the agency’s worst actors deploy their cynicism at the airport border. A French Holocaust historian was detained for 10 hours in Houston. A 70-year-old Australian children’s book author was detained and questioned in Los Angeles. Customs agents checked IDs on the jetway of an arriving, domestic flight. Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of the heavyweight champion, was detained in a Florida airport and asked about his Muslim faith. And those were just the names we knew.

* * *

Whether security and customs inspire reassurance, anguish, or outrage, there is a third and overarching gantlet at work in the form of economic stratification. The airport is to America’s petite bourgeoisie—the small-time capitalists and traveling salesmen who delivered us to Trump—what the factory is to the white working class: a symbol of how much better things used to be. (And the president agrees.) But there is a more widely shared feeling that the airport experience is a reminder of one’s paltry but declining status.

The oldest, basic sorting mechanism of ticket sales has been supplemented by a variety of market incentives, with the path to the plane (and back from the plane) lit by buy-ins and buy-outs: baggage fees, seat fees, concession fees, TSA Precheck and Global Entry, travelers’ clubs, and finally the unseemly bidding process to remove the most cash-poor, time-rich SOB from the plane. Airlines earn lower marks on customer satisfaction surveys than loathed institutions like the U.S. Postal Service and social media. When things go awry, the airport experience encapsulates that peculiar, desperate feeling of the modern American economy. Not the balm of total helplessness, but the regretful hunch that if you had just done one thing differently—routed yourself through Houston instead of Denver, gotten in line earlier, not gotten disconnected with the help line—you might be on your way to where you want to be.

Most gripes about the airport stem from the same No Exit complaint that motivates so much worry in America today: There are simply more people there than there used to be. More kids in your school district, more buildings in your neighborhood, more cars on your road, more people who don’t look like you or talk like you at the mall. Or at the airport. Tickets are cheaper, and the airport experience feels cheaper too. Democratization is stressful; tight quarters serve as the kindling for fires of racist fury (and all kinds of other bad manners).

Private jets and lounges have siphoned off onetime airport luxuries. Thanks to higher baggage fees, Americans increasingly lug their possessions through airports themselves. Not only is an airport delay an extended confrontation with your peers in a seating area, but with all the things they carry: blankets, neck pillows, hair brushes, 30 generations of digital devices—a state of disarray bordering on the domestic. To be in the airport is to inhabit Zeno’s static moment that movement requires. “It is dead time,” Don DeLillo wrote. “It never happened until it happens again. Then it never happened.”

A structural shift in the industry’s economics, spurred by a string of corporate mergers, has added a spark. Small- and medium-size airports have declined as more and more flights are routed through megahubs. Domestic boardings rose 7.7 percent between 2005 and 2015, but more than two-thirds of that gain occurred at the nation’s 10 busiest airports.

It can be difficult to untangle the lived airport from the airport of the mind, but it is easier with airports than with other buildings. Because each one is a glassy, highly regulated remix of its peers, with the same marked-up Dasani and magazines for sale, one airport can easily stand in for many. The airline whose hold music plays softly as you sink into a worn-leather every chair and watch a day and a vacation slip away could be any airline. The tarmac looks the same. The whole system, from the entry through security to the exit past the border agents, is a reminder of how little control you have—not just economic power, but even, for the moment, power over your own movement. From David Dao to the LAX stampede to delay-induced tantrums, these viral acts of airport chaos draw power from this sense of widespread agitation, like storms from a heated sea.

* * *

More from this series:

To understand why air travel has gotten so dreadful, just look at its labor force.

The factors that make travelers cranky are tightly intertwined with the reasons why pilots, flight attendants, and other aviation workers are learning less and less. And it’s partially our fault.

By Jeff Friedrich

But if the experience for everyone is so bad, why is airport retail booming?

That’s exactly why. The factors that immiserate travelers benefit retail sectors that would otherwise struggle in airports the way they do in the real world. Airport retail has guaranteed foot traffic and no competition from e-commerce (when you need new earbuds right before a flight, you’re not hitting up Amazon). They also benefit from delays and the fact that airlines are less likely to give you free food or drink.

By Daniel Gross

There is still one way to dodge the hellscape: small airports.

Just look at the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. It turns out that airport function is not helped by scale—the bigger the building, the more prone to morasses it is. Smaller, it turns out, is better.

By Daniel Gross

If you must navigate an airport, at least make the best of it.

A pilot’s tips for appreciating what there is to appreciate about air travel. Airports are destinations of accidental wonder, places an extra 10 minutes can reveal the marvel of travel still beneath the unpleasant surface. Take in the departures board, admire the small variations in culture between places that are all quite similar, people-watch, gaze at the architecture, and savor the exit.

By Mark Vanhoenacker

But not everyone can, of course. Being hypersurveilled in airports is now a part of being brown in America.

A reflection by an expert on surveilled communities on how his own experience is deepened by his day job and the fact that he is Indian. Like a lot of people, he opts out of the scanning machines, meaning instead he gets a physical patdown—a process that has become uncomfortably more invasive in 2017.

By Prashant Sinha

And the net of scrutiny catches even those people who need accommodation.

The devices that make life easier for people with medical conditions—like enhancements for diabetics—make life a much bigger hassle in the airport, and the subject of almost-performative scrutiny from the TSA, despite the agency’s attempt to improve its treatment of such passengers.

By Jacob Brogan

Seeing Red

by Molly M. Ginty @ Ms. Magazine Blog

Flowing with wry wit through its lively chapters, "Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity" is part memoir and part social analysis.

The post Seeing Red appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

Tim Hortons franchisee association accused of leaking information

Tim Hortons franchisee association accused of leaking information

by Aleksandra Sagan @ CTV News: Business Headlines

A group representing frustrated Tim Hortons franchisees says its board members have been accused by the company of helping leak confidential information.

This Startup Will Let You Go to the Movies Anytime for $10 a Month. It’s Probably Doomed.

This Startup Will Let You Go to the Movies Anytime for $10 a Month. It’s Probably Doomed.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, Americans have gotten used to thinking about home entertainment as a $10-per-month, all-you-can-binge buffet. Now, a company run by one of Netflix's co-founders wants to bring a similar model to movie theaters—which are decidedly unhappy about it.

This week, the 6-year-old startup MoviePass announced that it was dropping the cost of its ticket subscription service to $9.95 a month. For a little more than the price of a large popcorn, users will (theoretically) be allowed to catch one flick every day at any theater in the country that accepts Mastercard. (According to the company's website, that covers 91 percent of theaters nationwide). However, the announcement drew a quick rebuke from AMC, the country's biggest cinema chain, which said in a statement that it was conferring with lawyers about whether it could block customers from using MoviePass at its theaters.

It's unclear whether AMC can do such a thing. Then again, it might not need to, since MoviePass seems to be counting on AMC's long-term cooperation to survive.

At the moment, MoviePass is poised to burn a prodigious pile of cash subsidizing the cost of its subscriptions. That's because every time a customer buys their movie ticket using one of the company's debit cards, it pays the theater for the full cost of admission. Given that the average film ticket cost $8.65 last year, MoviePass will end up losing money on every user who sees two or more showings a month. In big markets like New York, where catching the latest Avengers installment can easily cost $15, they'll come out behind on users who see just one movie a month.

This is not promising arithmetic. But CEO Mitch Lowe, the Netflix co-founder and Redbox executive who took the reins at MoviePass last year, thinks he has a vision to make his low, low price point work. He argues that his company's service gives theaters a big boost to ticket and concession sales, and eventually, theaters will feel compelled to hand MoviePass a slice of the extra profits, or maybe pay them back via advertising.

“There must be some way to make us whole,” Lowe told Variety. “We know we have to prove the value we deliver and, at that point in time, where we’re delivering value to studios and theaters, we can work together with them in a constructive manner so that everybody makes more money.”

That might not be quite as crazy as it sounds. U.S. movie ticket sales have been stagnant for about a decade now, as Americans have come to prefer Netflixing and chilling to sipping $6 Sierra Mists in an air-conditioned cavern full of strangers. At the same time, ticket prices have continually hit record highs, thus chagrining regular filmgoers, along with anybody who has ever suffered the indignity of paying out the nose to see a mediocre summer blockbuster. And while box office totals have edged up slightly over that time, they've failed to keep pace with inflation since 2009. In the era of unlimited TV and tunes, trying to lure Americans to go back to the cinema by cutting prices conceivably seems worth a try.

But it's also easy to guess why a company like AMC would recoil at Lowe's plan. In its statement, the chain argued that MoviePass' pricing was economically unsustainable, and “only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled.” That's probably a valid concern. But more broadly, AMC can't be happy about the idea of a digital middle-man inserting itself into its industry, ultimately angling for a cut of the profits from each moviegoer even as it puts downward pressure on the price of an individual ticket. (AMC and MoviePass actually launched a pilot program together a few years ago when the startup's subscription prices were much higher, but the relationship has clearly soured.)

The sort of odd thing about MoviePass is that it's trying to become a middle man without asking permission first—or securing any payment for its services. Online ticketers like Fandango strike deals with theaters for the right to sell their seats, then market their service to the public. MoviePass is going to the public first, and hoping to gin up so much business that theaters will eventually strike a deal. The reason it can go that route is that its product is essentially just an app with movie times and a subscription debit card that customers can use to charge tickets to the company's account. Lowe argued to Bloomberg that for AMC to block his service from their theaters, they'd have to start declining Mastercard. Still, he's not going to make any money until he wins them over.

And if he can't? It's possible MoviePass could find other paths to profit. Eventually, it wants to use data on its users' moviegoing habits to sell targeted advertising. (How lucrative that could really be seems like an open question.) Or, it's possible that at $9.95, hordes of would-be film buffs will sign up for the service, then fail to see a movie each month. Milking money from subscribers who don't actually use the service was the company's original plan back when it was founded in 2011 and charged $30 a month, Bloomberg notes. But becoming the AOL of movie tickets doesn't seem like a recipe for long-term success.

It's a rather daring plan, all in all, made slightly less daring by the fact that MoviePass has already offloaded some of the risk: It sold a majority stake to a data-analytics firm on Tuesday to finance the scheme. If it succeeds, Lowe will have pulled off the impressive feat of fixing theaters' business model against their will. If it crashes and burns, at least savvy moviegoers will get a few cheap flicks out of the deal.

2014 Annual Report Released

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/2014-annual-report-released/

The Lebanon Rescue Mission's 2014 Annual Report, "Thank you for caring!", is now available for download.

New Fidget Spinner Safety Guidelines Prove We Can’t Have Nice Things

New Fidget Spinner Safety Guidelines Prove We Can’t Have Nice Things

by Nick Thieme @ Slate Articles

Along with “decline of civilization,” add “danger” to the list of reasons fidget spinners are bad for the youth: Two recent incidents reveal the mindfulness tool and classroom distraction can burst into flames and explode.

Michelle Carr of Fenton, Michigan, told an NBC outlet in May that her Bluetooth fidget spinner caught fire while it charged on her bookshelf. Another incident in June in Gardendale, Alabama, ended with a screaming child dousing a flaming fidget spinner in the sink. Like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7s of flammable products past, the culprit seems to be the batteries: In both cases, the spinners were Bluetooth-enabled and were charging when they caught fire.

On Thursday, Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairwoman of the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, released a statement addressing reports of “fires involving battery-operated fidget spinners” and providing guidelines for usage. The regulations recommend being present when the batteries are charging, only using the charger provided with the spinner, and unplugging the spinner as soon as the batteries are fully charged—the “do not look into the sun” of safety recommendations. If their recommendations on the obsolescing toy seem uninspired, well, we’ve been here before.

The CPSC has also released guidelines in response to reports of children choking on nonbattery spinners. The most notable of these accidents happened in May, when a 10-year-old girl from Texas needed surgery to remove a bearing from her throat. The CPSC reasonably recommends not putting fidget spinners in your mouth. You can imagine the eyeroll that accompanied the writing of that sentence.

Fires and choking kids undoubtedly give ammunition to humbugs and culture critics. But the CPSC disagrees, noting “they can be fun to use,” and giving a list of ways to stay safe. Maybe instead of knocking fidget spinners, pick one up and let loose. Just make sure not to mistake it for a snack.

Snapchat Is Doing Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

Snapchat Is Doing Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

by Will Oremus @ Slate Articles

On Snap Inc.’s second earnings call as a public company, CEO Evan Spiegel started with the good news. Users visited Snapchat more frequently in the latest quarter, and spent more time on it “than ever before,” Spiegel said Thursday.

It’s the sort of generic superlative that tech executives reach for when they need to put a positive gloss on a discouraging trend. Snapchat did add 7.3 million daily active users in the past three months, which sounds like a lot—until you realize it added 8 million in the three months before that. Investors were hoping for a number closer to 9 million or 10 million, which would have suggested that growth was rebounding rather than slowing.

For a company in Snap’s position, rapid growth is expected. What people really care about is: Are you growing faster than before? Or are you heading for—gasp—a plateau? In Snapchat’s case, it’s beginning to look like the latter. That’s why, as of about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, the company’s stock had tumbled a precipitous 17 percent in after-hours trading.

That disappointing user growth was actually worse news than the ugly-sounding $443 million net loss Snapchat posted. Those investing in it were hoping for a rocket ride to global ubiquity, similar to the ones Facebook and Google enjoyed in the years following their IPOs. They would have been happy to tolerate plenty of big losses along the way, as long as the future looked bright. (Just ask Amazon.) Instead, they’re hearing whispers of dirty words like “Twitter,” whose growth began to flatline almost as soon as it went public.

Snapchat was supposed to be the hip teen that made Facebook look old and out-of-touch. Instead, Facebook is pushing it around like the class bully and stealing its lunch money. Mark Zuckerberg’s company, whose acquisition bid Spiegel once famously spurned, has copied Snapchat’s key features—not just once, but on nearly every platform it owns—and the competition appears to be taking its toll.

Spiegel sounded embattled and a little irritable on the earnings call, which at one point featured a hot mic snafu in which an analyst could be heard mocking Spiegel for failing to answer his question. That question came after Snap executives excused the company’s lackluster growth by saying that Snapchat doesn’t rely on “growth-hacking” tricks like some of its competitors do. What specific growth-hacking tricks, the analyst asked, does Snapchat not engage in? “I think there are plenty of examples online if you want to go for a Google,” Spiegel replied.

As poorly as things are going for Snapchat, there are still a few factors working in its favor. Growing by 7 million active users may be a disappointment given its previous trajectory, but the 4 million that it added in North America suggests that there is room for more even in its home market. It would be worse if Americans were fleeing and all of the growth was coming from low-hanging fruit overseas.

More importantly, those who do use Snapchat still seem to use it a lot. Daily users under 25 spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the app, Spiegel said, while those over 25 average 20 minutes. Such deep engagement has been a key to Facebook’s long-term success. Then again, Twitter has loyal users too—it’s attracting the casual ones that has given it fits.

It’s too soon to write off Snapchat, which is still by most standards a young and fast-growing company. But when your competitive edge is being the trendy upstart, it’s never good to see the trends turning in the wrong direction.

Looking Forward to $4 a Gallon Gas?

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

Mark my words, today's announcement about leaky oil pipes in Alaska are a precursor to US gas prices going up to $4 per gallon within the next year. Pardon me in advance for getting a bit preachy here - but I'm steamed at the state of energy in the US. Gas prices in the US have been scalloping up for a long time. They will raise them 2 steps drop them a step, then raise them two steps. The pricing patterns are regular and even predictable. Yes - I know that Katrina knocked out some production. However, gas prices are...

(DPH - 1600mg) - Experienced - Short and Long Term Use Report

by illyaandor @ Bluelight

Hello everyone! I've been going to this forum for years for advice but I finally made an account today. A big reason I'm making this is because there...

Oh hi there

by OhHighThere @ Bluelight

Hey. New as a registered bluelighter but have searched the forums for years. I'm just a girl who wishes there were not so many consequences to...

Dietary Advice to Address Arsenic Concern

Dietary Advice to Address Arsenic Concern

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

I’d like to thank co-author Ashley Koff, RD for her initiative on this issue. More of her work can be seen at AskleyKoffApproved.com. You’ve heard the news, and in sets panic. Have I been inadvertently poisoning my family with arsenic? We share your concerns and as such created the following to help you where it […]

Bush Gets Caught Saying "Shit" on Open Mike at G8 Summit

by J D Moore @ Marketing Comet - Small Business Marketing Secrets

President Bush today uttered a colorful expletive while referring to Hezbollah in what he thought was a private conversation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The two were attending a lunch at a G8 summit and speaking candidly about the current situation in Israel, unaware there was an open mike in front of them. Bush said something to the effect of, "someone needs to tell Hezbollah to stop that shit". The video is available currently on CNN.com. This is not the first time Bush has gaffed with a hot mike he thought was off. Once while speaking to Cheney, he...

The Lessons of Marco Island

The Lessons of Marco Island

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Hurricane Irma arrived in Florida by tearing through the Keys, but it made its second landfall at Marco Island, a picture-perfect resort community with a five-mile white-sand beach just south of Naples. Each winter, Marco swells from about 17,000 people to more than 40,000 thanks to vacationers and southbound snowbirds. On Sunday morning, as the Gulf of Mexico rose around the island’s houses, Marco’s fate elicited far-flung cries of concern in the way that only a beloved beach town can.

Now, residents return to survey the damage. There is no power. No water. The Dolphin Tiki Bar & Grill is in ruins. Virtually all of Marco Island is in the FEMA flood zone; it is also threaded through with 91 miles of canals that abut nearly every house like the wires of a circuit board. It is a perfect symbol of how yesterday’s South Florida ambition is today’s vulnerability. And it is the kind of community where, once it has dried out, planners will have to ask: How should this place—always susceptible to hurricane damage, newly exposed to rising seas—be rebuilt?

Forty years ago, the consensus of the state and federal governments was that Marco Island should not have been built at all. The community was the setting for one of the biggest development controversies in the United States and nearly ruined one of Florida’s largest and most celebrated developers. In a region with a notorious building addiction, it became the site of the environmental movement’s greatest victory over the Florida growth machine. Ecological foresight halted millions of dollars in real estate development and all but ended an engineering technique that had turned the South Florida coast from swampland to resort.

“This may be the last major development to take place in Florida,” Florida Sierra Club lobbyist David Gluckman said in 1982, when Deltona, the developer of Marco, turned over its remaining holdings to the state of Florida as a nature preserve.

Of course, it wasn’t. Two thousand miles of levees and canals have transformed South Florida from a “barren, swampy, and good-for-nothing peninsula,” in the words of an American soldier who fought to conquer the place from the Seminole Indians in the 1830s, into a glittering mega-region of 8 million souls. It’s a real-life Joni Mitchell chorus where the joke, Dexter Filkins recalls, was that every new housing development was named for the ecosystem it vanquished. You better believe Marco Island has a Mangrove Court.

Still, Marco Island is a reminder that we’ve changed the way we build before, and could again.

When brothers Robert, Elliott, and Frank Mackle discovered Marco in the early 1960s, half of its 10 square miles consisted of mangrove swamps. Home to just a few hundred people and an abandoned clam factory, it was the single largest undeveloped barrier island property in South Florida.

“They had a vision,” says Mike Coleman, a resident and the author of a pair of books about Marco. “It was nothing but a mosquito-, alligator-infested swamp.”

The Mackles were among the most famous developers in South Florida, which is like saying someone is one of the best-known actors in Hollywood. Between General Development Corp. and Deltona, which they founded in 1962, the brothers were responsible for building 75,000 Floridians’ homes, including the communities of Port Charlotte, Port St. Lucie, Port Malabar, Deltona, Spring Hill, Citrus Springs, Marion Oaks, Sunny Hills, and Key Biscayne, where Richard Nixon later bought a home.

But Marco was bolder still. The plan called for 35,000 residential units, which would require displacing 18.2 million cubic yards of ground (more than 150,000 dump trucks’ worth), dredging the land into channels, and using the dredge to create development sites in the swamp. This method is common across South Florida; Cape Coral, a little to the north, is a good example. Still, at the time, Marco Island was the largest “finger-fill” waterfront housing project to ever come before the Army Corps of Engineers, Science reported in 1976.

Since each Army Corps permit lasted just three years, the brothers split the project into five phases. A sales campaign brought 25,000 people to Marco on “sponsored visits” for which Deltona footed the bill. By 1971, Deltona had sold 11,000 lots—most before they even existed. It was a literal version of the old Florida joke about land sold by the gallon. Marco’s appeal was sold on the back of the very land it would destroy. “Cast up close to the mangroves, grass beds, and oyster bars,” the brochures read. “That’s where the fish are.”

The environmental policy revolution of the late ’60s and early ’70s thwarted the Mackles’ plans. First, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring biological impact studies for all dredge-and-fill projects. Second, the Army Corps agreed to consult with the secretary of the interior before approving permits for controversial projects. Third, the Army Corps denied a permit to fill in 11 acres of Boca Ciega Bay, near Tampa, to build a trailer park, in a closely watched case that was upheld in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And finally, in 1975, the Army Corps published a rule that wetlands should not be sacrificed for uses that were not either water-dependent (i.e., a dock) or required by the public interest.

The final phases of Marco Island—creating 4,000 lots on reclaimed land in Barfield Bay and Big Key—did not meet that standard, the corps ruled in 1975. Deltona sued, arguing the ruling constituted a taking of their property rights. After half a decade, its appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, and the company ultimately agreed to a land trade with the state of Florida.

It took years for the Mackles to settle with the buyers of lots that were never built, costing the developers an inflation-adjusted quarter billion dollars. They had to sell their beloved beachfront hotel to Marriott and ultimately stopped building homes. The remaining Mackle family members sold the company to out-of-state investors in 1985 and left their roles there a few years later. East of developed Marco Island lie great swaths of mangroves, which in addition to their role in marine ecosystems are also excellent protectors from storm surges. If you can find one, a mangrove creek is still the best place to keep a small boat in a hurricane.

Florida, of course, did not stop building. Developers never lost control over state and local politics. “The problem is that the Florida economy is driven by real estate and tourism,” says Jeff Goodell, the author of The Water Will Come, a book about cities and rising sea levels. “There’s no sales tax, so these cities and counties are hugely dependent on property tax. The only way to raise money to pay for city services and defenses against flooding is by building more.”

Goodell pointed to Homestead, an Everglades boomtown south of Miami that was leveled by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Nearly 80 percent of its housing stock was damaged or destroyed. “The city was like a war zone. I served in the war in Korea so I know what one looks like,” the former City Councilman Nick Sincore told the Miami Herald recently. But the city bounced back:

Homestead leaders decided its future lay in encouraging a breakneck sprawl of residential, shopping-mall and commercial development on the potato fields and farms on the east side of U.S. 1 that had long supported the town’s economy. Before long, Homestead was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

It remains one of the most vulnerable communities in the country to hurricane damage.

Meanwhile, as Marco Island recovers from the eyewall, the town must confront its exposure to both storms and rising seas. “Climate change is not always a popular term down in the Marco area,” says Austin Bell, the curator of the Marco Island Historical Society. “But it’s definitely something that needs to be looked at when planning the future of the city.” Freeboard requirements in Marco—how high in relation to the base flood elevation a flood-zone home must be built—are comparatively relaxed. Multimillion-dollar homes, each with a screened-in swimming pool, are perched just above the high tide.

And so Marco, the symbol of one generation’s environmental recklessness, finds itself in that role once more.

Amazon’s Hit Clothing Brand for Kids Is a Crime Against Taste and Childhood

Amazon’s Hit Clothing Brand for Kids Is a Crime Against Taste and Childhood

by Cleo Levin @ Slate Articles

In the past year, Amazon has quietly slipped into the apparel-manufacturing business, with goods ranging from lingerie to men’s dress shoes. These private-label brands have innocuous names like Paris Sunday and Goodthreads, and they haven’t made huge splashes in their respective markets—except for one. Scout + Ro, Amazon’s children’s brand, has exploded, according to a recent report from analytics firm 1010data. The brand has increased its offerings five times over and achieved a 542 percent increase in overall growth year over year. The kids are wearing Amazon.

As a faceless corporation begins to dress children, the truly scary prospect is not simply the threat that Scout + Ro poses to precious, local brick-and-mortars. It’s how mind-numbingly dull these Amazon clothes are.

If you search for Scout + Ro on Google, you’ll find no dedicated online store or URL, just an Amazon landing page that features a small logo and generic campaign image. The store, such as it is, borrows its palette of gray and tangerine straight from the Amazon mothership, and with a half-hearted nod toward whimsy, perches a bird atop the o in Scout.

The brand is generally designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, with just enough creativity to seem relevant. The name itself follows the well-worn millennial tradition of sticking an ampersand or plus sign between two cute, vaguely vintage-sounding words. Scout scores double points, as it’s also part of the somewhat inexplicable To Kill a Mockingbird–inspired baby names trend.

The brand’s message is based around the very simple principle that children’s clothing should be comfortable and designed for play. Beyond that, it’s really more about what the clothes are not than what they are. One of the brand messages is, “Never interrupt a playdate with itchy fabrics or fussy styles.”

The clothes are all remarkably similar with only slight variations from item to item. You can, for instance, buy almost the same short-sleeve dress in five different, equally safe patterns. This is not to say that children need to be dressed in shoulder pads or asymmetrical hems, just that Scout + Ro’s offerings appear to have been filched from the closet of an extremely unimaginative doll.

While the kids offerings at stores like Target and the Children’s Place try to cater to modern sensibilities with hashtagged catchphrases and destroyed denim, Scout + Ro clothing doesn’t even necessarily look contemporary. Instead, the pieces seem like something any child from a Disney sitcom in the past 30 years could have worn. There are no obnoxious slogans, no overly prissy ruffles or aggressive camouflage. While shirts that say “#1 Princess” or “Future Heartbreaker” won’t get points for panache or creativity, at least they show some character.

If clothes this dull were being sold somewhere other than Amazon, they would likely be left in the remainders basket, but Amazon already has a huge, captive audience and pool of Prime subscribers. A study from last year estimated that Amazon captures 43 cents of every dollar spent online. The site’s shoppers are happy to stock up on a whole variety of basic items with free, two-day shipping, which has led to success with other private label lines, showing that they can dominate categories like batteries and baby wipes. Scout + Ro clothes are simple enough that they can be thrown into the shopping cart with the rest of your Prime order—kids don’t really need to try on clothing in stretchy fabrics and unobjectionable colors.

Retail analysts also note that because Amazon aggregates data on the market, it can use that to inform its own designs and create logical price points. Quickly identifying and manufacturing trends is key to success in a fashion market moving ever more quickly. As Marc Bain at Quartz points out, the speed of production is what has allowed fast-fashion brands to overtake longtime favorites like Gap.

The clincher is that Amazon’s scale allows it to slightly underprice its competitors. The site encourages shoppers to comparison shop, placing equivalent brands in tabs next to the Scout + Ro items, which are priced just low enough that they seem of similar quality, but clearly the better deal, an average of about 35 percent cheaper.

Scout + Ro clearly has a winning business model, and parents will appreciate the ease of buying their kids’ wardrobe at the same time as their light bulbs and hedge trimmers. But dressing hideously as a child is a rite of passage, one that even the convenience of Amazon shouldn’t force us to ditch. Kids’ clothing should not be data-driven; kids should learn to root through messy piles of sale T-shirts to find one in a heinous shade of neon green printed with a giant cat head. They should have to occasionally wear a fussy velvet dress with an itchy collar or starchy pants. Cheesy, attention-grabbing, even ugly clothing is a key part of childhood. Let’s not one-click it into obsolescence.

Why toddlers have sleep issues, and how to solve them

Why toddlers have sleep issues, and how to solve them

by Dr. Alan Greene @ DrGreene.com

Dr. Greene’s take on toddlers and sleep… As your baby becomes a toddler, chances are they will give you some sleepless nights. In this week’s post I’ve got your solution. But first a little fun fact. Strange but true: whether or not your toddler awakens you, each night you’re almost certainly waking up about every […]

Agape Family Shelter receives 2015 grant award from The Kids Trust!

by l3Br3sQ892 @

https://www.lebanonrescuemission.org/agape-family-shelter-receives-2015-grant-award-from-the-kids-trust/

This May, Agape Family Shelter received a generous $2,455.00 award from The Kids Trust, a partner of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC). With this funding, we will be able to create an exciting new outdoor play space for Agape’s children (and parents!) to enjoy. This grant will cover the cost of maintenance for our current playground equipment as well as the installation of a brand new wooden clubhouse with a slide and sandbox.

Bernie Sanders’ Big Single-Payer Proposal Skips Over the Hardest Thing About Single-Payer

Bernie Sanders’ Big Single-Payer Proposal Skips Over the Hardest Thing About Single-Payer

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

After weeks of buildup, Sen. Bernie Sanders has finally released his latest plan to create a single-payer health care system in the United States, tugging along 16 Democrats as co-sponsors of the Medicare-for-all legislation, many of whom appeared with him at a buoyant press conference Wednesday afternoon. On its face, the rollout was an impressive show of political support for an idea that, not so many years ago, was widely considered a patchouli-scented left-wing fantasy, on par with dragging George W. Bush before a war-crimes tribunal and cutting the defense budget in half.

But in some subtle ways, Wednesday’s health care pep rally also showed what an uphill climb Medicare for all still faces, even among Democrats.

The fact that one-third of Senate Democrats have now endorsed Sanders’ version of Medicare for all mostly affirms something that’s been obvious for a while: Thanks to America’s favorite irascible socialist, single-payer health care is now a mainstream liberal policy idea. Even more telling is the number of potential 2020 contenders who have decided to get on board with the plan. Sens. Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren each took turns at the podium Wednesday extolling the virtues of socialized health insurance. Such a scene that would have been utterly unimaginable eight years ago. Their support may or may not be 100 percent heartfelt, but it’s pretty clear where they think Democratic primary voters will be standing on this issue in four years.

It’s also important that these senators have planted a flag on what they mean by “Medicare for all.” For months now, Democrats have been murmuring the phrase without fully defining it. Now, they’re getting specific. The new bill would not only extend Medicare to the entire population, but—much like the plan Sanders campaigned on—make it dramatically more generous by eliminating co-pays and deductibles while adding benefits for dental and eye care. It’s a truly all-encompassing vision of publicly financed government health care. And it will be extremely hard for other Democrats to brand less ambitious ideas—even interesting, Medicare-related ones, like blowing out Medicare Advantage—as “Medicare for all.”

But the reality is that 16 Democrats did not back a fully workable single-payer plan Wednesday. At best, they backed half of one. While the Sanders bill details how a “Medicare for All” system would work, it tap dances around the all-important question of how to pay for it.

The legislation itself does not include any taxes. Instead, its authors have written up a complementary white paper titled “Options to Fund Medicare for All” with a menu of tax hikes that add up to about $16.9 trillion over a decade (which, for what it’s worth, might not actually be enough to cover the cost of a single-payer system). That might give wonks a sense of what the bill’s backers are thinking. But it definitely gives the co-sponsors a convenient out from endorsing any specific tax increase that could be used against them in a campaign ad. More importantly, at least if you’re a single-payer fan, it means they haven’t committed themselves to some of the more controversial trade-offs that would be necessary to make single-payer a reality. If four years from now Democrats win control of Washington, it’s entirely possible some of the politicians jumping on the Medicare for all bandwagon now will jump off once Congressional Budget Office scores start rolling in and they have to reckon with the actual cost, just as some Republicans have suddenly had second thoughts about repealing Obamacare now that they’ve had to write a bill.

It’s not especially surprising that Sanders & co. would choose to leave the sticky question of taxes for a later date. As the senator himself said, this legislation is just an appetizer designed to “begin the debate” about the future of health care and single-payer. The unveiling functioned as an early head count of Democrats who are at least enthusiastic about the idea in theory. At such an early stage, it would be political malpractice to alienate potential allies by forcing them to sign on to $17 trillion of carefully spelled out tax hikes when Democrats barely have enough power in Washington to rename a post office.

And, to be sure, the senators who endorsed Sanders’ bill Wednesday did take some risks. The polling on single-payer is mixed—the Kaiser Family Foundation describes support as “malleable”—and some voters are still going to hate the idea of giving up their current coverage for whatever plan Washington cooks up. Moreover, Wednesday’s bill would reimburse doctors at current Medicare rates, which would save the government money but would surely arouse opposition from hospitals and some physician groups. The fact that Medicare for all is still controversial was probably best illustrated by the fact that one of the Senate’s most reliably progressive members, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, declined to co-sponsor it. It’s not much of a mystery why: He’s running for re-election next year in a state Donald Trump won by eight points and that has largely elected Republicans to statewide office in recent years.

But Brown’s hesitation is a sign of the challenge single-payer supporters face. If the left wants to remake the entire U.S. health insurance system from the ground up, it will need the support of purple- and red-state Democrats. And as of now, it can’t even get a died-in-the-wool, labor-loving progressive to support a fantasy bill that shunts inevitable tax hikes into a companion document. Medicare for all might be mainstream. But it’s got a long, long way to go before it becomes consensus.

Why Texas May Not Be Equipped for the Recovery From Harvey

Why Texas May Not Be Equipped for the Recovery From Harvey

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

The vast Greater Houston area continues to dig out, dry off, and otherwise recover from the epic floods of Harvey. Even before the total damage estimates have rolled in, it’s clear that the impact is going to be significant and far-reaching. This is true not just because a lot of the property damaged was uninsured, and not just because Houston is an important node in the global networked economy, or because it may not have enough construction workers.

Rather, it’s because Houston is in Texas.

Which, of course, is obvious. What is less obvious is that when a region or state is hit by a devastating effect, it’s easier to have an effective and equitable recovery when the impacted area is relatively small, densely populated, and in jurisdictions that are capable of some degree of central planning and mobilizing significant resources to build public goods for all residents.

Texas needs money, and lots of it—damages are estimated at well over $100 billion. But it also needs to be make some serious decisions: what neighborhoods should be rebuilt (and which ones should not be rebuilt); how to invest in reservoirs, dams, and other infrastructure; how to ensure that all schoolchildren have a classroom to attend; how to ensure that everybody has safe drinking water. This is a time when collective action is both necessary and sufficient. Houston doesn’t just need to rebuild houses, replace cars, and fix schools; it needs to re-engineer its housing, transportation, and educational systems.

Does Texas possess the capability to take collective action quickly and effectively? I’m not so sure.

Yes, it’s a very rich state in which people have made vast fortunes and in which huge companies (from ExxonMobil to Dell) have grown up.
And we have seen some of that exuberant, can-do Texas spirit in the Hurricane Harvey response: Mattress Mack taking people in, Michael Dell kicking in $36 million for relief, and so on. The federal government has pledged an early $8.7 billion, with more to come should Congress get its act together. Given the scope of the damage and the scale of Texas, these are drops in the bucket.

On the other hand, Texas has a long history as a quasi-libertarian paradise. This is also a state that didn’t bother to bring electricity—a basic amenity of human life and a prerequisite for a modern economy—to huge chunks of its territory until Franklin Roosevelt set up the Rural Electrification Administration in the 1930s. (Some of the most affecting passages in Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson cover the way in which power finally arrived to the state’s farms and ranches.)

Even as it has grown wealthy, Texas has not taken adequate steps to hook up its residents to 20th century living. And it’s all been a matter of choice. Texas does not have a state income tax (aside from Florida, it’s the only truly large state not to have one). Which means it doesn’t have a mechanism to mobilize statewide revenues for big efforts. In the state, some 500,000 people live in colonias—informal settlements that aren’t connected to infrastructure like sewers and lack other basic government services.

Because it refused the Medicaid expansion and hasn’t worked to make Obamacare work, Texas has a rate of uninsurance—about 16 percent—that is nearly twice the national average. In fiscal year 2014, only seven states spent less per capita on education than Texas did.

The costs of recovery and reconstruction are unknown. But it is likely that the combination of federal and insurance payments won’t cover the entire cost. Five years after Sandy, New York state, New Jersey, and New York City are still spending significant funds to repair the damage from that storm.

Texas and Houston have chosen and built up their organizational designs over the last several decades. And when commodity prices are high and collective challenges are low, it works quite well. Being a libertarian paradise suspicious of central planning, overlaid on top of a systematic lack of interest in the plight of the poor, may be a recipe for having low housing costs, high employment, and lots of rich people. But it’s not a recipe for bouncing back strongly from a once-in-500-years weather event that affects large swaths of territory and a big section of your population.

Pandora Is Fleeing Two of the Three Countries Where It Operates

Pandora Is Fleeing Two of the Three Countries Where It Operates

by John Lynch @ Slate Articles

Pandora announced that its internet radio service will be discontinued in Australia and New Zealand on Monday, leaving only its United States service in operation.

Pandora subscribers and free users who tried to log on to the service in Australia and New Zealand over the weekend were reportedly warned of the shut down with the following message:

"Dear Pandora listener, We will be shutting down the Pandora service in Australia and New Zealand on July 31st, 2017. After this date, you will no longer be able to access the Pandora app of website. We're honored to have connected so many listeners with the music they love these past few years. Thank you for your loyalty and the opportunity to serve you. Sincerely The Pandora Team."

Pandora launched its regional services in Australia and New Zealand in 2012. It has recently struggled financially, lost its founder CEO, and been unable to turn around its momentum despite launching its own on-demand streaming service, Pandora Premium, in March.

In June, Pandora also landed a $480 million investment from Sirius XM, after it rejected an offer from Sirius to buy the company outright.

Pandora will now be available in the US only. Global radio operation laws have prevented Pandora from launching its radio service in any countries other than Australia, New Zealand, and the US in the past.

Pandora's stock dropped over 5 percent in trading early on Monday, following news of its Australia and New Zealand closures.

Flying While Brown Is Getting More Traumatic

Flying While Brown Is Getting More Traumatic

by Prashant Sinha @ Slate Articles

If your skin is brown and you spend as much time going through security in American airports as I do, you’re likely to eventually lose your cool. For me, it happened in customs coming into one of New York’s airports, on the tail end of a work trip I took last year to India.

Exhausted, I was looking forward to clearing the line and catching the final leg of my trip back to the Bay Area, where I live. My colleague, also brown, cleared the line. As I thought I was about to follow her, a Customs and Border Protection agent looked at me and directed me to the “special screening” line. There, I knew, agents would open my bags one by one and give me a pat-down.

Without thinking, I snapped back at the officer: “This happens to me every single time I come back through customs, and no one else. Is this racially motivated?

The officer was thrown. “Uh, no not that I know of,” he said. “We just picked you randomly.” But this wasn’t the first time I’ve been taken out of the line. It had already happened to me in customs that January, and I was singled out for an extra security screening entering the Seattle airport on another trip—meaning an extra pat-down, followed by agents rifling through and messing up my bags. I’ve been “randomly” pulled out of line returning to SFO, my own airport. On a trip in July 2015, I was coming back from a vacation in Amsterdam. As I walked up, a white CBP agent gave me a derisive look and said, “Yo dawg, you coming back from the Netherlands—you have any drugs on you?” I actually had eaten a pot cookie in Amsterdam to make the flight easier—he didn’t need to know that—which felt especially justified once I encountered the agent. These are just some of the humiliating experiences I’ve had traveling through U.S. airports. After I cleared that special screening in Philadelphia, my co-worker ruefully said to me, “It’s because you are brown and traveling with a beard.” When I shared my experience later with a good friend who is a white woman, she said, “Airports are just like a big mall to me. I don’t get hassled.”

Whether you’ve had these kinds experiences or simply heard of them, they are not new: Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu travelers with brown skin have known to expect extra scrutiny at the airport for a long time. And yet—perhaps because of my frequent travel, or perhaps because of my day job, which makes me hyperaware of broad-brush surveillance against communities of color—it is clear to me that this experience has become even worse during the presidency of Donald Trump.

I was born in New York City to parents who emigrated from India. I grew in New Mexico and made my adult home in California. I’m a brown kid, a little on the hippie side, sometimes with brown hair, and sometimes I grow a beard because I’m just that lazy about shaving. I work as a technologist—helping analyze how computing technologies such as encryption, machine learning, and networking impact surveillance and expression throughout the world. As such, I know that moving through the airport is just one of many places that makes us vulnerable to the modern panopticon.

That panopticon has had its eye trained intently on a lot of Americans for a long time. While some kind of screening is of course necessary for air travel, TSA and CBP’s methods are traumatic for many groups, as I hear often from my trans friends, my friends with disabilities, my immigrant friends. While we don’t have reliable statistics on discrimination against Muslims and other groups in airport screenings, many advocacy groups have sounded alarms about the issue for years, responding to countless shocking anecdotes. Earlier this year, the Muslim travel ban resulted in another round of arbitrary and near-malicious conditions of travel, dropping a dragnet not only on immigrants and refugees but even U.S. citizens, including small children detained away from their families and engineers who had their work devices confiscated. It felt like a sudden and violent expression of a more subtle message brown-skinned travelers have been hearing from airport officials for a long time: Leave this place.

But I also now hear that message in another way. Since the introduction of full-body scanners to the standard security procedure in the last decade, I have also been one of the small group of travelers that opts out of this process. Sometimes, one may choose a pat-down instead of the scanner because of a disability; sometimes you are randomly chosen, as I have been. I have many personal and political reasons for choosing to opt out, as do others: I have unresolved health concerns as well as a general desire to have my biometric data be kept to myself. I first came to that decision because of the scandal in which TSA agents