Paolo Soleri graduated from the Politechnico in T

first_img Paolo Soleri graduated from the Politechnico in Torino with highest honors and a Ph.D. in architecture in February 1946. He received a grant given to outstanding students; at that time, just after the war, the grant amounted to about ‘6 lb. of butter’. Soleri wrote F.L. Wright expressing his desire to study at Taliesin and was accepted. As it was the custom with students who could not afford Wright’s already high student fees, Soleri was initially assigned to work on the the kitchen and then to be personal aid at the dining table for the Wright family. Soleri became an apprentice to Wright, working primarily in the kitchen as a waiter and dishwasher, and also as a gardener and construction worker at both Taliesin East (Wisconsin) and Taliesin West (Arizona). Soleri also became a personal waiter to Mr. and Mrs. Wright. Soleri was still learning English while at Taliesin. He built a very simple shelter on Taliesin grounds, as other Wright’s apprentices do, as living quarters. Paolo studied with F.L. Wright for 18 months. March 24, 2005 The board of directors of the Taliesin Fellows held its annual meeting for Taliesin Fellowship, FLlW Staff and former apprentices of the FLlWSA at David Dodge,a long-time fellow at Taliesin, designed and built this house on his property adjacent to Taliesin West. [Photo:tt & text: sa] last_img read more

Just what are cash and cash options Some of u

first_imgJust what are “cash” and “cash options?” Some of us take those terms for granted, but after a recent article on sector allocation, one of our subscribers wrote in asking for clarification. Money Forever recommends holding approximately one-third of your portfolio in cash or cash options, but what does that really mean? To clear up any confusion, “cash options” are not publicly traded options. “Cash alternative” is probably a more appropriate phrase. I had a pleasant surprise over the holidays, as my own baby-boomer children struck up several kitchen-table discussions. They are wrestling with how to fund their children’s college followed by their own sprint to the retirement finish line. My daughter Dawn said it best: “Dad, this time it feels different. In the past the government would sell Treasuries, and people would lend us money to pay our bills. Now the government is just creating money out of thin air. Isn’t that eventually going to cause the dollar to collapse?” Of course, that was followed by a discussion of how we can protect ourselves. They understand the gray cloud looming on the horizon very well. We no longer have a safe, good, interest-bearing account to park our cash in. We need to find safe alternatives, including ways to diversify outside of the US dollar. Finding cash alternatives is one of the most important issues affecting us as investors. To help this make sense, let me begin at the beginning… the good old days of 2007, when most of us kept our cash in brokerage “sweeps” accounts. Sweeps accounts automatically “swept” a portion of our brokerage account into an interest-bearing account so that our idle cash would provide some income. At that time, my Schwab sweeps account was paying 4% interest. To keep the math simple, imagine a person with a $150,000 portfolio who wanted to earn 10% overall – that’s $15,000. If one-third of that portfolio ($50,000) were in cash, earning 4% interest, that’s $2,000. That means that the other two-thirds of the portfolio has to earn $13,000, or 13%, on the remaining $100,000. That wasn’t so outrageous in 2007. Many conservative portfolios would take a portion of that remaining $100,000 and invest it in fixed-income instruments paying 6% or more. Even then, the remaining balance could be invested wisely to make for a 10% overall return with only a portion of the capital at any real risk. Now fast forward to 2012. Today my sweeps account pays exactly 1/100th of 1%. That same $50,000 only earns $5.00 in interest annually. That means that the other two-thirds of the portfolio has to earn close to 15% to reach the same target of 10% overall… in a down economy. That’s a tall order. I want to really emphasize this point for all of our readers. In 2007, it took $50,000 to earn $2,000 in interest in our normal cash account. To earn the same $2,000 today, we would need $20 million in our sweeps account. In addition, back in the “good old days” part of the remaining two-thirds of a conservative portfolio would have been invested in CDs or top-quality bonds. What’s happened to that portion? The best rate I can currently find for a five-year CD is 1.2%. Not only has the one-third cash allocation taken a huge hit, so has the portion that would have been safely invested in CDs and high-quality bonds.Betty B., Defensive Solider in the War on Seniors and Savers I received a very interesting letter from a subscriber, Betty B., who wrote in after reading Straight Talk About Working in Your Golden Years. She has kindly allowed me to quote from her letter. She writes: “If I were able I could have written the today’s straight-talk message. I am an 80-year-old widow. When my husband died in 2000 he left me quite comfortable. I invested [a certain amount] in bank certificates of deposit paying good monthly interest. I also purchased a large Georgia Power bond paying 6% each month. Also I had some other utility bonds paying monthly.“Well, today I do not have one CD, and all of my bonds have been called as of this year. So I have had to do exactly what you wrote about and start managing my own money. I must say I have lost some and am now depending on dividends mostly and I have had to start living off my principal. I just hope now that my money will last as long as I live. I once lived very well, but I now am trying to be frugal. I worry about older people who did not have anything to fall back on except Social Security, which for the first time I have to admit I look forward to my Social Security check.” In essence, the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates artificially low to support banks that made poor business decisions. They are doing so at the expense of the public; seniors and savers are often the hardest hit. A few months ago, I wrote that I felt like the federal government had declared war on seniors and savers. Much to my surprise, some folks took issue with that remark. Today my response to those folks is, “Talk to Betty B.” Or perhaps they should ask all the retired people who have unretired and found a job to help pay the bills how they feel. We must make up for the difference in yield somewhere; that is the reality retirees face today. There are no cash instruments that will make up that difference with the same safety that was available in 2007.Investors – particularly those who are retired or getting close to it – have to come to grips with the fact the investing paradigm has changed, and it will likely continue to change. Today, investing cash the same way we did in 2007 will provide only a small fraction of the yield. The current challenge with the cash portion of your portfolio is to find safe, somewhat liquid investments that provide some sort of yield, hopefully enough to keep you even or ahead of inflation. Sad to say, even a 1% return is 100 times greater than what you’d earn on a current sweeps account. And you have to earn double that just to try to stay even with the government reported inflation. (Take a peek at Paul Revere, The Fearmonger if you have the sneaking suspicion that the figure isn’t quite right.) The reality today is that same $50,000 in your cash account will earn $5 in interest and lose $1,000 in buying power due to inflation during the year.Building a Hedge with Cash Alternatives In the September issue of our premium publication, I interviewed Chuck Butler of EverBank, who knows more about this issue than anyone I know. One hedge against inflation is foreign currencies. If you can find one that’s paying interest, even better.EverBank has 90-day, FDIC insured CDs that are denominated in foreign currencies. One particular currency that Chuck outlined is currently paying 1.63% while appreciating against the US dollar. Would you rather tie up your money for five years to earn a meager 1.2%, or commit to 90 days and earn 1.63% while adding inflation protection against the declining value of the dollar? I sure know my answer to that question. My wife Jo and I currently have a portion of our personal cash in three EverBank 90-day CDs, with one maturing each month. They’re liquid enough for our comfort level, and they earn us much more than any long-term US-dollar-denominated CDs would. Exchange-traded funds are another avenue for accessing the benefits of foreign currencies. Vedran Vuk, our senior research analyst, did a terrific analysis of some liquid, short-term bond funds in The Cash Book. Sure, the yields are not like they used to be, but they’re certainly better than 1/100th of 1%. It’s 2013, and good old days of 2007 are long gone. No one can afford to keep one-third of their portfolio in a US-dollar-dominated cash, totally liquid, interest-bearing account. The yield isn’t there anymore; it fact, it’s virtually nil. That’s why finding cash alternatives becomes so critical. Our team here at Money Forever still believes that one-third of your portfolio should be in cash or cash alternatives. It just shouldn’t all be in US dollars, nor all in a cash account. There are other options out there, and investors need to consider them, at least for a portion of their cash. It needs to be safe, predominately liquid, and providing some yield to take the pressure of the other two-thirds of your portfolio. Particularly for seniors and savers, trying to earn unrealistic gains in the market means putting too much capital into speculative investments, at too huge of a risk. But the thought of letting $50,000 in cash sit idly, earning a measly $5 annually is truly detestable. It’s like trying to invest your life savings with one hand tied behind your back. What this really means for seniors and savers is simple. Wake up and smell the coffee! The Federal Reserve has made it quite clear that it is not going to change its interest-rate policy anytime soon. As I realized at our kitchen table this week, the situation is not one exclusive to seniors; baby boomers trying to accumulate wealth are facing the same challenges. Those who are close to either side of the cusp of retirement have worked hard and saved money, and likely made retirement projections based on the old rulebook. Now those rules have changed… for good. As a young Marine, I learned that with a bit of training and good practice, it’s not that difficult to hit a moving target. Investing today is not a whole lot different. It may seem impossible, but with a little practice you can learn to hit your target. Our premium subscription includes three special reports which dig deeper into these issues and recommend potential cash alternatives for safety-conscious investors: The Cash Book, The Yield Book, and our most recent release, Money Every Month. Our team has put in hundreds of hours looking at various ways to help our subscribers invest cash wisely. Folks who’ve to saved up a nest egg are not afraid of hard work. It takes ingenuity, intelligence, and common sense to build up a nice retirement – the same attributes that will keep you ahead of the crowd. We are here to help you make that hard-earned nest egg work for you. If you have not taken advantage of our premium subscription, I urge you to take advantage of our 90-day guarantee. Sign up and get your copy of my book Retirement Reboot, all of our monthly reports and special reports – including The Annuity Guide and Income-Producing Stocks, and check out what we have to offer. If you don’t like what you see, you can cancel your subscription within the first 90 days and receive a 100% refund (and keep the material as a thank-you from me to you for looking us over).On the Lighter Side Congratulations to the NFL teams that survived the season and made it to the playoffs.  It seems “Black Monday” lived up to its name with several coaches and general managers were handed their walking papers. We scrambled to get the tree down in order to motor over to Jacksonville, FL to watch Northwestern win their first bowl game since 1949 – when I was 8 years old.  It wan cool watching the entire team after the game thanking their fans and those who have supported them for many years. And finally… Over the holidays we had many cute moments with the little ones – there is so much humor in having young grandchildren. I received this timely message from a friend that warmed my heart: “Our four-year-old grandson came home from the doctor with a prescription for some pills. When Grandma reminded him, ‘It’s time to take your pill,’ he was allowed to swallow it with a cup of root beer to turn it into a treat. “Our grandson struggled and could not open the bottle. He finally handed it to Grandma, who promptly opened it and took out the pill. The little boy asked, ‘Grandma, how come it was easy for you to open the bottle, but I couldn’t?’ “Grandma responded with, ‘The bottle has a childproof cap.’ “That was followed with a puzzled look on the little guy’s face as he said, ‘How does it know I am a kid?’” Until next week…last_img read more

The precious metal mining companies fully aware o

first_imgThe precious metal mining companies, fully aware of what’s happening, do nothing As as has been the case for a while, all four precious metals got sold down in early Far East trading on their Monday morning. Gold was no exception—and it hit its low price tick shortly after 1 p.m. Hong Kong time.  The subsequent rally lasted until around 11:30 in New York—and that was pretty much it for the day, as it got sold down a few dollars going into the 5:15 p.m. EST electronic close. The CME Group recorded the low and high ticks as $1,318.70 and $1,339.20 in the April contract. Gold closed the Monday session at $1,336.60 spot, up $10.50 from Friday’s close.  Volume, net of February and March, was pretty decent at 143,000 contracts. Freegold Ventures Limited is a North American gold exploration company with three gold projects in Alaska. Current projects include Golden Summit, Vinasale and Rob. Both Vinasale and Golden Summit host NI 43-101 Compliant Resource Calculations. An updated NI 43-101 resource was calculated on Golden Summit in October 2012 and using 0.3 g/t cutoff  the current resource is 73,580,000 tonnes grading 0.67 g/t Au for total of 1,576,000 contained ounces in the indicated category, and 223,300,000 tonnes grading 0.62 g/t Au for a total of 4,437,000 contained ounces in the inferred category. In addition to the Golden Summit Project the Vinasale also hosts a NI 43-101 resource calculation which was updated in March 2013. Indicated resources are 3.41 million tonnes averaging 1.48 g/t Au for 162,000 ounces, and Inferred resources are 53.25 million tonnes averaging 1.05 g/t Au for 1,799,000 ounces of gold utilizing a cutoff value of 0.5 grams/tonne (g/t) as a possible open pit cutoff. Please send us an email for more information, The gold stocks opened in positive territory—and then chopped and flopped sideways for the rest of the day.  The HUI finished up 0.35%.  I was underwhelmed. The dollar index closed at 80.27 on Friday afternoon in New York—and traded in a 15 basis point range on either side of that number for the entire Monday session.  The dollar index closed 80.22—down 5 basis points on the day. Sponsor Advertisement Platinum and palladium both got sold down in morning trading in the Far East.  From those lows, they rallied right up until almost the 1:30 p.m. EST Comex close—and then both got sold down into the 5:15 p.m. close of electronic trading.  Both finished up a few dollars on the day.  Here are the charts. I was even more underwhelmed by the performance of the silver shares.  They were up about 1.5% until shortly after 1 p.m. EST—and then down they went, closing in the red—and on their absolute low of the day.  Nick Laird’s Silver Sentiment Index closed down 0.08%. Silver really got hit pretty hard in early Far East trading on Monday, with the low tick coming shortly afternoon Hong Kong time.  From that point, the silver price rallied back to unchanged by the London a.m. gold fix at 10:30 a.m. GMT—and then it really took off to the upside, and appeared to go ‘no ask’ shortly after 11 a.m. GMT. That state of affairs wasn’t allowed to last long—and once that spike was beaten down, the rally assumed a more leisurely pace, with the high in New York coming at the same 11:30 a.m. EST that gold did.  From that point, the silver price ran into selling pressure—and by the 5:15 p.m. electronic close, the price was safely back under the $22 spot price once again. The low and high ticks were recorded as $21.59 and $22.18 in the March contract, an intraday move of almost 3%. Silver finished the Monday trading session at $21.965 spot, which was up 11.5 cents from Friday’s close.  Net volume was pretty chunky at 37,500 contracts.  We are in the final days of the roll-over out of the March delivery month in silver, so volumes will be quite high for the next three trading days.  First Day Notice numbers will be posted on the CME’s website late on Thursday evening EST—and I’ll have all that for you on Friday. The CME’s Daily Delivery Report for Monday showed that 9 gold and 1 silver contract were posted for delivery tomorrow within the Comex-approved depositories.  Checking the CME’s website  I note that there are still several hundred gold contracts are open in the February delivery month—and it remains to be seen how many will stand for delivery between now and Thursday. There were deposits in both GLD and SLV yesterday.  In GLD an authorized participant added a decent 106,025 troy ounces—and in SLV there were 384,740 troy ounces deposited. The U.S. Mint had a sales report on Monday.  They sold a chunky 825,500 silver eagles—and that was it. There was only a small movement in gold over at the Comex-approved depositories on Friday.  They reported receiving 5,144 troy ounces—and that was all.  All of it went into Scotia Mocatta’s vault. The link to that activity is here. There was a big deposit in silver on Friday as well—and all 1,566,700 troy ounces ended up in Scotia Mocatta’s vault, too.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if this silver wasn’t being brought in to cover their short position in the Comex futures market.  As I’ve said on many occasions, it’s my opinion that outside of JPMorgan Chase and two other U.S. bullion banks, Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia is the only bank that holds a material short position in that metal.  The link to that ‘action’ from Friday is here. It was a very eventful weekend—and I have the most stories that I can ever remember posting—and I’ll happily leave the final edit up to you. After buying back short silver contracts in the prior two reporting weeks (as well as adding long gold contracts), JPMorgan returned to the sell side in silver with a vengeance, accounting for the entire big 4 short increase or more than 43%  of the commercial silver selling this [past] week. While there’s no doubt in my mind that the raptors behave conclusively with JPMorgan in playing the technical funds, it must be noted that the raptors were selling existing long positions, not adding to shorts. In the reporting week, JPMorgan increased its short COMEX silver position to 17,500 contracts, or to a 15% net market share (minus spread positions). From what I can tell, JPMorgan was the only commercial increasing short positions in the reporting week, something that has recurred on previous silver price rallies. Please think about that for a moment. JPMorgan was the sole short seller in COMEX silver and the largest seller in COMEX gold, accounting for 43% and 52% of all the commercial selling in each market this week. How could such large shares of net weekly trading not be manipulative to the price of silver and gold? And why is the nation’s largest bank also allowed to be its largest precious metals speculator? – Silver analyst Ted Butler: 22 February 2014 Precious metal prices yesterday followed a pattern similar to what they did most of last week, which was down in Far East trading—and then a rally back from there.  There were a couple of times during the Monday trading session, one in London and the other in New York, where  it appeared that a not-for-profit seller showed up and touched the brakes on these rallies in gold.  Once just after 11 a.m. in London—and the other at 11:30 a.m. in New York.  If these sellers hadn’t put in an appearance, the closing price in gold would have been materially different. And if that was true for gold, it was beyond blatantly obvious in silver, as the price appeared to go ‘no ask’ shortly after 11 a.m. GMT in London—and JPMorgan et al hammered that spike flat in short order.  And as I mentioned at the top of this column, they also closed silver back below the $22 spot price once again. The price action of the precious metal shares didn’t impress me, either. So despite the rallies in all the precious metal since the New Year began, it’s obvious that their rallies are being managed, as JPMorgan et al are letting the technical funds shorts off the hook easily, without ripping out a pound of flesh by demanding much higher prices.  If “da boyz” stood back and did nothing, there would be a disorderly rally in hours, or maybe minutes—which is the last thing that the powers that be want. As Ted said on the phone yesterday, these rallies could go on for months—but whatever length of time they last [or are allowed to last] the ending will be the same; an engineered price decline where JPMorgan et al ring the cash register one more time.  It was ever thus. Of course the precious metal mining companies, fully aware of what’s happening, do nothing. In Far East trading on their Tuesday, all four precious metals got sold down just a bit.  The exception was silver, which got sold down over a percent going into the London open, an event that occurred about 10 minutes ago as I write this paragraph.  Gold volume is already sky high at 33,000 contracts—and all of it is of the HFT variety.  Silver’s volume isn’t exactly light, either—although a goodly chunk of it is roll-overs out of the March contract and into May, which is the next front month.  The dollar index has rolled over a bit and is down 9 basis points at this time. And as I send this off to Stowe in Vermont two hours later at 5:15 a.m. EST, the precious metal prices aren’t doing much—and with the exception of platinum [at least for the moment] the other precious metals are all down from Monday’s close in New York.  Gold volume is over 40,000 contracts—and all of it of the HFT variety.  Silver’s volume, even net of roll-overs is way up there as well.  Based on these volumes, it’s a good bet that JPMorgan et al are selling up a storm in order to prevent prices from rising.  The dollar index, which dipped dangerously close to the 80.00 mark in late Far East trading, is now rallying a bit, as it appears that someone was there to catch that proverbial falling knife once again. I have no idea what’s in store for prices during the New York trading session, but the big volumes at this time of day—considering the tepid price action—doesn’t make my heart go pitter patter, if you get my drift.  But, in this market, you just never know. That’s more than enough for today—too much, actually—and I’ll see you here tomorrow.last_img read more

Just a week until Christmas and that timing means

first_imgJust a week until Christmas, and that timing means this is our last missive of the year. Fret not, though; if you truly miss me, you can tune into this new Bitcoin video from our good friends at Mauldin Economics, where I play the skeptic as usual. Maybe you’ll want to pick up some virtual currency for a stocking stuffer. You’ll have some more time on December 25 anyway, since hackers got what they wanted: Sony canceled the release of The Interview after the five largest theaters bailed on the film under vague threats. See below for more details, but this thing is about to turn into something far more serious as the US government throws its weight into accusations of nation-state espionage.Us? We’re spending that extra time keeping our eyes on the small-cap selloff for bargains instead. In today’s brand-spanking-new issue of Extraordinary Technology, we just unwrapped a profitable young digital advertising platform Wall Street hasn’t really caught on to yet. With 63% growth last quarter, you can bet they will soon. Pick up your copy here, along with a risk-free peek at the whole portfolio.Now, on to the news moving the market…Rape, Stalking, and Intimidation Ripe from Silicon ValleyI held up this issue just as we go to press because there is some breaking news I feel I must comment on. Like so many in the tech media we’ve been following the roller-coaster ride that is Uber. After months of seemingly bad news for the once-untouchable startup, Uber’s troubles just escalated big time.What was once easy to write off as an isolated incident—the driver in India accused of rape—now looks systemic. Four people in Boston have complained about being sexually assaulted in the last month by Uber drivers, including a rape allegation. This, on top of the company’s internal suggestions of casing an annoying female journalist and lax attitude to cyberstalking by employees, shows a company probably growing too darn fast. In the race to stay ahead, the company seems to have gotten lax on security for its systems and its drivers, putting customers in harm’s way. It’s announced new technology to better screen drivers—with a two-day turnaround, the company was either already working hard on this tough problem or they are masters of bullshit. The more bad stuff that comes out about the company, the more it looks like the latter.To top it all off, it’s not just Tampa and Portland banning Uber. India did it last week. Now all of France has bowed to a protest from taxi drivers, banning UberPop (the EU offering from the same company). Then the company’s “surge pricing” backfired again, this time in the Sydney hostage crisis. That price algorithm is going to get it in real trouble someday soon, running afoul of anti-price-gouging laws in effect in many cities like New York.But Uber’s problems aren’t necessarily its own fault. After all, taxi drivers have always had a dark streak. Rape, robbery, and assault are just a few of the things that occur with some regularity in the profession. It’s no surprise then that Uber would face the same challenges—especially when its drivers aren’t going through secondary background checks from the government and don’t have the financial bonding issues of a taxi medallion hanging over their heads. (Maybe Uber might consider selling bonds of its own, letting people sponsor drivers and risk their capital for a share of good performance? It would distribute the incentive for safety in a way the company can’t do now. Or maybe they should only hire women drivers? Though then you’d find stories about employee safety… taxi driving is a rough gig.)Regardless, the company has a serious PR problem. Unless it gets out in front of it in a big way, the company could end up being remembered only for the crimes of its staff and drivers.Windows May Live for Another Day, Market Data SayBack in July, we called your attention to the fact that after eight consecutive quarters of decline, the PC market had stabilized at about 315 million annual units. That good news caught many industry experts by surprise, as they had expected annual demand, which peaked at 365 million units in 2011, to continue to plunge until it was well below the 300 million mark.The free-fall in PC demand was halted by two main factors:The ending of support by Microsoft (MSFT) for its Windows XP operating system, which is motivating XP users to buy new computers with supported systems; and The slowing of the cannibalization of the PC market by tablets, whose meteoric sales plateaued.Now, another catalyst for PC sales has appeared on the horizon. Windows 10 was announced by Microsoft in September and is expected to be released next fall. That could spark a big upgrade cycle for PCs even though, or especially since, its predecessor flopped.Pacific Crest analyst Brendan Barnicle maintains that many PC owners have delayed replacement of their old units because of their dislike for Windows 8, which was released in October 2012 to reviews which ranged from blasé to complete bashings.“Microsoft (MSFT) saw relatively weak adoption of Windows 8, but early reviews are encouraging for Windows 10,” Barnicle said. He went on to say that Intel has sized up the opportunity by suggesting that as many as 600 million PCs might upgrade to Windows 10.The investment implications are immense. However, picking the right stock(s)… those that will experience significant benefits from the trend but don’t have those benefits already built into their share price… will, as usual, be the trick. In the September issue of BIG TECH, we recommended such a stock. It’s already started to drift higher as Wall Street’s unfounded fears that the PC era ended have abated like a soccer mom’s concern over the last “food that will kill you” from the evening news. But it’s still a bargain. In fact, we see the stock returning 50% in the next 12-18 months, regardless of what happens to the broader market. For access to this recommendation, sign up for a risk-free trial of BIG TECH.Apple Pay Sees Massive Corporate Adoption… Actual Users Remain to Be SeenApple Pay appears to be gaining traction in the electronic payments arena, succeeding where tech giants such as Google, Verizon, and AT&T have floundered. In recent weeks, Apple (AAPL) has signed up dozens of banks and retail stores—and posted many a press release about it. The company claims that Apple Pay supports the cards used for 90% of purchase volume in the US. “Retailers and payment companies see Apple Pay as the implementation that has the best chance at mass consumer adoption, which has eluded prior attempts,” says industry expert Patrick Moorhead.Our take: no company will turn down the opportunity to put its name next to Apple, the most valuable brand (and stock) in the world. Supporting Apple Pay is not technically complex for a bank, and it requires almost nothing of most retailers who have had NFC-capable terminals (the tech behind Apple Pay) for years. For them to say they are on board is nothing but a PR exercise.But Apple phones only comprise about 25% of the US-installed base, so even if it could get 50% of users to ditch tried and true credit cards, they’d still only support less than 10% of purchasing power at most. And getting to that 50% level is an enormous undertaking that would costs billions in marketing and promotions—old habits die hard, especially when the replacement is more complicated to use and adds no value. As it is right now, the limited data say most people just aren’t using it, not even the decidedly tech-forward panel that InfoScout put together:Even if Apple succeeds in capturing a significant share of the electronic payments market, the resulting profit probably won’t be enough to move Apple’s share-price needle much in the intermediate term. Carl Icahn estimates that by 2017, Apple Pay could generate $2.5 billion in annual revenue, which by our estimation, would increase earnings per share by only about $0.32.But here’s the bigger picture: Apple Pay is one more element in a growing ecosystem of lifestyle products and services that, in Icahn’s words, differentiate Apple from a simple hardware company. Not only that, but a few solid base hits with products such as Apple Pay and Apple Watch could, when taken together, turn out to add up for shareholders. Still, at recent prices driven by the massive shift from small- to large-cap stocks, Apple stock’s too rich for our blood now.3D-Printing Stocks Collapse Back to Industry RealityIn general, it’s been a good year for tech stocks. But the same can’t be said for 3D printing, with the industry’s main players getting massacred.What gives? For starters, enthusiasm has waned and multiples have rapidly contracted, which always eventually happens with emerging technologies. At that point, only companies that can actually deliver sales and earnings growth will bounce back. Also, investors are concerned over increasing competition from the likes of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which is making an aggressive push into the space.Nevertheless, Canaccord Genuity is bullish on the incumbents, calling for a much better performance in 2015, especially for 3D Systems (DDD) and Stratasys (SSYS), which the firm expects to appreciate 66% and 62% respectively.We’ve seen and won similar rises before in the 3D-printing space, but we wouldn’t bet on that big a comeback this time around. We’re still high on the technology, but we’ll wait until our evaluation turns up more companies that can meet our 9 Ps criteria.Solar Investors Get a Bad BurnSolar stocks are taking a beating, with Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) shedding 25% over the last three months. The drop in solar almost mirrors the drop in oil prices, which has bewildered both analysts and solar execs alike, according to an Investor’s Business Daily article. The cause of the confusion: oil isn’t used to create much electricity, so falling oil prices should have no direct effect on solar demand. But of course, the market probably realizes that, so there’s likely something else at work, like a rotation out of all energy stocks.At any rate, the pullback in solar will be short-lived, according to Merrill Lynch, which expects the industry to bounce back in 2015, thanks to soaring installations. The firm cites SunEdison (SUNE), SunPower (SPWR), SolarCity (SCTY), and Vivint Solar (VSLR) as top picks. SunEdison looks especially interesting, since the firm boasts a deep roster of accomplished investors, including Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn, who recently gave an informative and entertaining presentation on why he’s investing in the company.We’re not ready to wade in just yet. Government manipulation in the solar markets has been on the wane, and it remains to be seen if the biggest benefactors, Europe and China, have the steam to keep pouring good money after bad on an energy source that costs more than market rate. Or does it? If these kinds of economics end up scaling, solar energy could finally see a bright future.Bits & BytesThe hot field of financial technology had a big week, with the market debut of LendingClub (LC), which was the largest IPO for a US-based tech company this year. LendingClub’s highly successful IPO marks the beginning of a revolution in which a host of startups will upend the financial industry, according to an interesting article published on TechCrunch. If there was ever an industry that needed a good whooping from tech, it’s banking. Oh, wait… LendingClub’s biggest investor was actually Wells Fargo.IPOs for New Relic and Hortonworks each opened up by a big margin as well. But questions are already starting to emerge on whether the companies, especially Hortonworks with its massive losses, can sustain those prices very long. (Just who’s buying all those open market shares at huge premiums as IPO participants jump ship on day one anyway? Could it be the banks themselves?)Free stock trades? There’s an app for that, courtesy of Silicon Valley startup Robinhood. In addition, the trading platform doesn’t require an account minimum. Early signs point to the app being a big hit, with over half a million users already signed up. Fidelity, an incumbent brokerage, has certainly taken notice, running an ad campaign in an attempt to keep customers from fleeing its trading site. In the end, how the site will make money is still a secret—I’d guess by selling your financial info like does.Gartner is out with its Q3 smartphone numbers, and the market is still booming. A total of 301 million smartphones sold in the quarter, up 20% from a year ago. But not all handset makers fared well. Samsung saw unit sales decline from 80 million in Q3 2013 to 73 million in Q3 2014. On the flip side, Xiaomi had a remarkable quarter, with sales jumping from 3.6 million in Q3 2013 to 15.7 million in Q3 2014. Xiaomi is gaining significant traction with its low-cost handsets in China, which is one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets, as well as India for now (but not for rival OnePlus).BlackBerry has officially launched a new handset too: the Classic. It comes equipped with a full QWERTY physical keyboard, physical navigation keys, and a nearly indistinguishable design from BlackBerry smartphones from yesteryear. The company says the phone will appeal to those looking for the traditional BlackBerry experience… all two of them.The Edge Consulting Group is known for making accurate calls, such as the eBay and Symantec breakups. And now the London-based firm is back with another prediction, calling for a spinoff of Amazon’s Web Services business next year. With Amazon’s quarterly losses and low-margin retail business irking investors, spinning off AWS would trigger a re-rating of Amazon’s overall business at a more favorable valuation, according to The Edge Consulting Group. The firm estimated that an AWS spinoff would raise the total valuation of Amazon’s two businesses to a combined value of $195 billion, a 36% increase from today’s market cap… unless Microsoft’s big gains start to cost it some share:The feds are going after emails held by Microsoft as part of a drug-related investigation. But Microsoft refuses to comply on the grounds that the emails are stored in a data center in Ireland, which is outside the US government’s jurisdiction. Tech giants such as Verizon, Amazon, Cisco, and HP are backing Microsoft. The decision is up to the courts, with a ruling expected in the coming months.Google has released its top searches for the year. Robin Williams, World Cup, Ebola, MH370, ALS, and Flappy Bird headed up the list. No Apple products, though, which hasn’t happened in a few years. Alas, even Tom Cook’s coming-out distraction couldn’t rekindle the magic of Steve Jobs.Turns out Google has a virtual reality headset. And it’s made of cardboard and a smartphone. It started as a jab at Facebook for paying a whopping $2 billion for Oculus VR, a virtual reality company. But evidently, it’s starting to catch on, with over 50,000 Google Cardboard copycat units delivered from real companies capitalizing on the joke.Google is expressing greater interest in the healthcare space. Its venture capital arm, Google Ventures, allocated more than one-third of its investment dollars this year toward healthcare and life-sciences companies, up from 9% each of the prior two years. Google sees some major opportunities in health care, but also said valuations in the sector are much more reasonable than others sectors, such as Consumer Internet.Tinder has company in the mobile dating space. Meet Hinge, a mobile dating app that has positioned itself as the thinking man’s/woman’s Tinder. Whereas Tinder just shows you anyone in your age range, Hinge only matches you with friends of friends that its romance-graph algorithm thinks you’ll get along with. In other words, it’s more of a matchmaking service than a meat market. Now we get to see what daters really want from their app.As is too often the case, it emerges that the hack attack on Sony exploited a vulnerability the company knew about already. The unfortunate reality is there are just far too many security holes in most systems to ever patch. Until entirely new methods of securing applications emerge, I just don’t see the constant string of hackings slowing down at all. Don’t forget to teach your kids encryption this holiday break…The hacking has also shone a light on some pretty unsavory tactics from Sony and its allies in combatting Google’s power, as well as a questionable plan to battle piracy. And that Malcolm Gladwell is a real gossip.It appears that Facebook is changing its relationship status from “Married to Bing” back to single, as the company dumped the Microsoft search engine.Yahoo, meanwhile, empowered by its new Firefox search takeover, is urging Chrome users to “upgrade” their browsers.Tech headlines love to poke fun at Microsoft. But this interesting read from The Verge shows just how tough the battle is to get enterprises to adopt new tech, even when you pay them huge amounts to do so.Your tax dollars at work: an app to guess your blood alcohol level from playing games.Tired of fading into irrelevance, UK telecom BT is buying back into mobile after exiting nearly a decade ago.Is the Net neutral if you cannot open the HBO Go app when you’re on Comcast’s network? Frightening precedent for outright censorship of what cable providers see as threats.Is PowerPoint going bye-bye? Sway looks like a subtle way to try out a whole new way to build presentations without scaring off meeting kings in the meantime.Apparently Apple DRM didn’t hurt anyone, proving caveat emptor and common sense hold up after all.Lastly, you’ll never believe what travelers are trying to sneak past the TSA. Snakes, chain saw blades, and even a samurai sword. Don’t believe it? See for yourself.last_img read more

This week the governor of Connecticut proposed a

first_imgThis week, the governor of Connecticut proposed a statewide tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. Several cities have already enacted such soda taxes to raise money and fight obesity. And there’s new evidence suggesting that these taxes do work — although sometimes not as well as hoped.Kris Madsen, an associate professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of the researchers who has been studying soda taxes, in part because she’s convinced that sugary drinks are a menace to society, a direct cause of obesity.”It’s a pretty high bar for public health to be able to say that something is causing a major epidemic,” she says. “We can do that for sugar-sweetened beverages.” Berkeley was the first U.S. city to tax those drinks, making them more expensive, and Madsen is leading a team of researchers that’s trying to see how the tax is working. “We’ve been going out to the same neighborhoods every year for the last five years, and we’ve been asking people the same questions,” she says. Researchers interview people on the street, primarily in low-income neighborhoods.They started doing this before the soda tax went into effect four years ago, and they’ve continued every year since.”We saw a 52 percent decline in consumption over the first three years” since the tax went into effect, she says. “This has a huge impact.” Madsen’s study was published online this week by the American Journal of Public Health.Memories, of course, aren’t totally reliable; also, it’s possible that people in Berkeley may be underestimating their consumption because they don’t want to admit that they’re still drinking lots of soda.Other researchers, meanwhile, are trying to quantify the impact of soda taxes by looking at sales data from retail establishments, including grocery stores and convenience stores.Anna Tuchman, at Northwestern University, is part of a group studying Philadelphia’s soda tax. Philadelphia’s tax is different from the one in Berkeley. It’s bigger, and it also covers both beverages sweetened by sugar and drinks containing low-calorie sweeteners. This is partly because the goal of the tax is largely to raise more money for schools and playgrounds.Tuchman says that sales of those drinks in Philadelphia have dropped sharply, by 46 percent, since the tax went into effect.But there’s a catch. “We find a very large increase in sales of soda and other taxed products at stores that are located zero to four miles outside the city,” she says.Basically, it seems that a lot of people in Philadelphia are driving to stores right outside the city to buy their beverages. This is especially true in the case of sugar-sweetened drinks (and less so of artificially sweetened drinks). When you take that into account, sales in and around the city dropped about 20 percent, not 46 percent. And sales of sugar-sweetened drinks fell even less.This gets in the way of both of the city’s goals for its soda tax. “People are able to maintain their sugar and calorie intake, and the city is falling short in their ability to raise tax revenues,” Tuchman says.Tuchman and her colleagues are still revising their paper; it hasn’t been formally reviewed by other scientists yet. Right now, though, it does show some of the difficulties that cities face with their soda taxes. There are political obstacles as well. The soda industry has been fighting back, arguing that soda taxes are unfair to consumers and won’t really make people healthier. In fact, it recently strong-armed California’s legislature into reluctantly passing a moratorium on further soda taxes by cities in that state.San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., however, have soda taxes already in place, and Seattle implemented one at the beginning of 2018.Soda tax advocates, meanwhile, say that there’s a simple way to keep people from avoiding the tax by going outside the city: Just pass a tax that covers an entire state — or maybe even a whole country.Mexico, in fact, put in place a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014. That tax is smaller than the soda taxes in the U.S., and its effect on consumption also has been smaller. According to one study, consumption of sugary drinks fell on average by about 8 percent as a result of the tax. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit read more

Dockless electric scooters are available for rent

first_imgDockless electric scooters are available for rent in dozens of U.S. cities. While the companies behind them are quick to extol their benefits, some health and safety experts are starting to see the challenges that come along for the ride. Scooter companies and city officials say they are aware of the issues, but solutions aren’t coming anytime soon.Stand-up electric scooters have been around since the 1980s. But the latest trend in micromobility — dockless electric scooters — launched in 2017. They arrived in the District of Columbia in 2018, and now, just over a year later, thousands of scooters are on the streets.”They sort of just popped up out of nowhere,” says Matthew Lachance, who works in fundraising for an international AIDS relief nonprofit in D.C. Lachance says he rents scooters often, even throughout the winter, because they’re fun and convenient.But not all rides are quite so fun. Some end in injuries. Fractures and head injuries most commonScooter-related injuries are a common sight at the George Washington University Hospital, says Dr. Kate Douglass. “Almost during every shift, you’ll see somebody come in with an extremity injury or a head injury or a laceration or something along those lines,” she says. Douglass says that’s partly to do with how riders actually use them. With riders in the streets, in the bike lanes and on the sidewalks, there’s a greater potential for injury.Dr. Joann Elmore sees the same things in emergency rooms in Los Angeles. Elmore was the principal investigator on a team from the University of California, Los Angeles that looked at scooter injuries over their first year as a ride-share offering in L.A. In their study, published in January, they observed the most common injuries to be fractures and head injuries — about 30 percent and 40 percent, respectively. They also discovered that, of the scooter users they observed, fewer than 5 percent were wearing helmets.”It is immensely easy to use and … given this ease, many of us underestimate the potential for public health and trauma-related issues,” she says. But even though injuries can be common, Douglass at George Washington says the injuries she’s seeing are relatively minor — broken wrists and bruised knees. Severe injuries and even fatal injuries are far less common. And most injuries are preventable.Scooter companies part of the solutionInjury prevention is also on the minds of micromobility companies. They are working to educate their users on how to ride safely through city streets. They’re also working to educate users on where to leave scooters when they’re no longer needed.Juliette Rizzo is a disability rights activist and pedestrian advocate who leads what are called “walking audits.” The goal of the audits is to assess pedestrian access. In other words, what challenges stand in the way of safely navigating a city?During a recent walking audit in downtown D.C., Rizzo brought attention to a scooter found blocking the sidewalk. This prompted a conversation with Beaudry Kock, who was along for the audit. He works for Spin, one of the five companies with licenses to operate scooters in Washington.Kock voiced his frustration about scooter placement. “There’s no excuse. There’s really no reason,” he said. Kock said the responsibility of scooter placement is just as much on the companies as it is on the users.Ultimately, most of these companies feel that the best way to address all safety concerns is to push for long-term solutions — solutions like redesigning city streets and improving traffic flow for all vehicles, including bikes and scooters. The District Department of Transportation agrees. Jonathan Rogers, a policy analyst at DDOT, says that infrastructure and building safe streets are the foundation of tackling scooter-related issues. But improving infrastructure and building safer streets make for a slow and expensive process. The same could be said for building safer sidewalks.While temporary measures like flex posts and paint can help in the short term, most of the solutions are still months, if not years, away. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit read more

Luxury Industry Training Expert Joins the Customer Experience Group

first_imgThe Customer Experience Group is delighted to announce the appointment of Isabelle Damour as Managing Director, EMEA & Americas of FACE2FACE Training Consultancy.  In her new role, Isabelle will expand the FACE2FACE global client portfolio and pursue strategies aimed at driving growth in Europe, USA, Middle East and Africa.The Customer Experience Group (CXG) is an alliance of five agencies that help premium and luxury brands transform transactional moments into relationships and emotional experiences. Comprised of Wisely Insights, Activate Experience, Albatross CX, SmartCX, and FACE2FACE, together CXG offers a platform that elevates customer experience through research, consultancy, experience feedback, training and coaching. FACE2FACE works directly with the front-line teams of luxury retailers to elevate in-store experience and drive profitability.As the new Managing Director of FACE2FACE in the region, Isabelle will oversee the company’s corporate strategy and manage the organization’s training, sales, marketing, partnerships, and business channels.  Isabelle will also look after implementing extensive programs within all the markets in the region, developing a new platform for leadership and retail experts, and strengthen the synergy between FACE2FACE and the agencies of the Group.Isabelle shares: “I’ve spent my career driving profitability in the retail fashion industry; initially, from a sales and distribution perspective, and more recently through front-line training strategy.  Joining FACE2FACE is the perfect opportunity for me to use my experience to support premium and luxury retailers and help them provide enhanced customer experience.” Founder & Executive Director of FACE2FACE, Fabrice Tavel-Besson expressed great enthusiasm for Isabelle’s appointment and he comments: “More and more luxury retailers are beginning to understand that the value of unparalleled customer experience starts with their front-line teams. With Isabelle’s deep understanding of training and retail excellence, FACE2FACE is confident in progressing our global partnerships and helping brands nurture their talents.”Marketing Technology News: SeQuel Response Hires New Director of Marketing to Propel Brand AwarenessThe CEO of Customer Experience Group, Christophe Caïs, is similarly enthused with the appointment of Isabelle to FACE2FACE’s senior management team he comments: “The luxury retail market is becoming more competitive day by day, and companies are waking up to the importance of a dedicated CX strategy.  With her wealth of cross-channel experience from working with industry powerhouses such as Timberland, Kickers, and particularly Lacoste, I’m highly confident that Isabelle has the insight and skills we’re looking for to evolve our business, so we can continue to meet our clients’ needs well into the future.” A Wealth of Experience in International RetailIsabelle is bringing more than 25 years of international retail industry experience with her to FACE2FACE, having taken on many senior management roles throughout her career. As Lacoste Footwear’s International Sales Director, Isabelle quadrupled annual turnover, recruited 15 new distribution partners and was responsible for launching the company’s very first standalone footwear boutique in Asia.After spending two years as Kickers International Commercial Director, Isabelle had helped the business expand into four new international markets – Canada, Denmark, Slovenia, and Australia – which resulted in a 27% increase in turnover, before taking her talents to French fashion retailer, Morgan De Toi where she consolidated her expertise in retail management, cultivated retail excellence standards with strong training initiatives.Marketing Technology News: Leadspace Acquires ReachForce to Offer Customers Even More Robust B2B Customer Data PlatformA True Training ExpertAfter many successful years working in sales, distribution, and licensing, Isabelle was appointed as Lacoste’s Retail Academy Director in 2014, responsible for building the Academy and developing Lacoste Global retail training strategy. Impressively, she succeeded in rolling out Lacoste’s Academy customer experience programs in more than 25 countries in the first 2-3 years while creating a worldwide community of 90 internal training experts.Isabelle’s record of achievement in CX strategy and staff training puts her in a prime position to lead FACE2FACE going forward.Marketing Technology News: Community Management Is the Main Course for Hospitality Sector FACE2FACE Training ConsultancyIsabelle DamourMarketing TechnologyNewsSmartCXThe Customer Experience Group Previous ArticleSharpSpring Recognized as “Top Rated All-in-One Marketing Tool for 2019” by TrustRadiusNext ArticleCisco Intends to Acquire Acacia Communications Luxury Industry Training Expert Joins the Customer Experience Group MTS Staff WriterJuly 9, 2019, 5:53 pmJuly 9, 2019 last_img read more

Brain synchronization depends on the language of communication

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 15 2019Experts from the Basque research center BCBL have shown for the first time that the way in which the activity of two brains is connected depends on whether the dialogue takes place in the native language or in a foreign language.As two people speak, their brains begin to work simultaneously, synchronizing and establishing a unique bond. This is what in neuroscience is called brain synchronization.New research by the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL) in San Sebastián and published in Cortex magazine confirms that this phenomenon depends on the language we use to communicate.The study, carried out with the collaboration of several international institutions such as the University of Toronto (Canada) and the Nebrija University of Madrid, has allowed scientists to analyze how brain wave synchrony occurs in different linguistic contexts.Thus, experts have found for the first time that the way in which the activity of two brains becomes synchronized or similar depends on the language used in the conversation.This work, led by Alejandro Perez of the BCBL, adds to an earlier work done in 2017, which described the phenomenon of brain synchronization in communication between two people who speak in their native language.As in the first experiment, the researchers arranged 60 people into same-gender pairs, each composed of individuals who, separated by a screen, did not know each other and were similar in age and demographic characteristics.Following a script, the pairs engaged in a general conversation alternating their native language with a foreign language. Using electroencephalography (EEG) – a non-invasive test that analyzes the electrical activity of the brain – scientists measured the activity of brain waves simultaneously.”We have seen how the alignment of brain waves occurs differently when the conversation takes place in a native language or in a foreign language. This study has allowed us to move forward and show that brain synchrony depends on the linguistic context,” Pérez explains to SINC.”The brain areas that synchronize best between the two brains are different according to whether a foreign or a native language is being used,” adds the expert. “This new discovery raises many questions and new lines of research in neuroscience.”Synchronizing to understand the interlocutorRelated StoriesWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskPosterior parietal cortex plays crucial role in making decisions, research showsStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingSpeaking a foreign language makes our brains align in a different way to understand the interlocutor. “The brains of two people who speak a foreign language establish a different neuronal bond from when they use their native language in order to understand the interlocutor,” assures Pérez.Although the specific reasons for this are not yet clear, those responsible for the study are mainly inclined to think that it is due to the so-called joint attention strategies, an essential phenomenon for coding and processing information in a coordinated manner, which is specific to each language.”When a conversation takes place in one’s native language, both interlocutors pay attention to it in a more global way, focusing on the sentences and the global content of the message,” stresses Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, co-author of the study.However, when done in a foreign language, attention resources focus primarily on other, more complex linguistic levels for non-native speakers, such as sounds and words.”In the latter communicative context we need to reconfigure our attention strategies so that we can understand each other, and this may be directly related to the difference in the areas synchronized during the conversation,” suggests Duñabeitia.Future ImplicationsFor the authors, this work opens up the future possibility of quantifying verbal communication between two people. “Real-time signal processing and cheaper devices that measure brain activity will make it possible to integrate sensors into the actual headphones of computers,” says Alejandro Pérez.”This will offer a quantitative assessment of the quality – personal involvement – and characteristics – language or emotional charge – of verbal interaction through online communication tools such as Skype,” concludes Pérez. Source: read more

Surprising discovery offers clues to limit graftvshost disease

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 22 2019A protein that protects people with inflammatory bowel disease has quite a different effect in graft-vs.-host disease, a common and challenging side effect of bone marrow transplants.In a surprising finding, researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center showed the protein NLRP6 aggravated the difficult symptoms of gastrointestinal graft-vs.-host disease. Knocking out this protein in mice led to significantly better survival and less severe GVHD.Graft-vs.-host disease, a response to the donor bone marrow, causes symptoms similar to ulcerative colitis, including diarrhea and abdominal pain. Generally, the mechanisms that cause colitis overlap with those that cause GVHD, and many of the treatments are similar.Studies have shown NLRP6 lessens symptoms in colitis. So when researchers looked at NLRP6’s impact on graft-vs.-host disease, they assumed it would also be protective.”There are a lot of reasons NLRP6 seemed to work well in those other diseases, but in the case of GVHD, it seemed to do the opposite. In mice where we knocked out NLRP6, instead of doing worse, they did better. That was a big surprise,” says co-senior study authors, Pavan Reddy, M.D., deputy director of the Rogel Cancer Center and division chief of hematology/oncology at Michigan Medicine.In their study, published in Nature Microbiology, the team compared mouse models expressing NLRP6 and those in which the protein was eliminated. In both models, the mice had undergone a bone marrow transplant.The second surprise was that NLRP6 played a role that was not dependent on microbiome composition. Previous data had suggested NLRP6’s protective role is directly related to the microbes within the intestinal tract: the more good microbes, the more protective effect.In this study, researchers measured the levels of various microbes, then worked to alter the microbiome, wiping out certain microbes or breeding mice together to share their microbiome. They developed mice in a germ-free environment and then exposed them to a microbiome with and without NLRP6. Each time, those without NLRP6 had better outcomes.Related StoriesStudy reveals how protein mutation is involved in Christianson syndromeVirus killing protein could be the real antiviral hero finds studyHinge-like protein may unlock new pathways for cystic fibrosis treatment”Even when we did all of those manipulations, the protection was still there in the NLRP6-knockout mice. The composition of the microbiome does not seem to matter, unlike with other disease processes,” says study author Hideaki Fujiwara, M.D., Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher in Reddy’s lab.Digging deeper, researchers found a metabolite called taurine that appears to be, in part, responsible for turning on NLRP6 and ultimately making GVHD worse. Changes in the microbiome can lead to excess taurine, which signals NLRP6, which in turn triggers GVHD.”Just measuring changes in the microbiome is not always sufficient. We have to look at what specifically changes and the consequences of those changes. A change that leads to the generation of metabolites like taurine or other proteins or enzymes will need to be understood to comprehend the effects of the microbiome on GVHD,” says co-senior author Grace Chen, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of hematology/oncology at Michigan Medicine.”Conceptually, if we can target this protein and block NLRP6, we can mitigate intestinal GVHD. Or, if you look at it the other way, changing the diet or microbiome to avoid an excessive amount of taurine could be another way to reduce GVHD,” Reddy says.NLRP6 is expressed in gut cells but not in the tumor cells the researchers studied. This means the bone marrow transplant could do its job to eliminate the tumor. In principle, blocking NLRP6 could limit GVHD without limiting the transplant’s anti-tumor effect.Reddy notes that no blocker currently exists against NLRP6 and any potential clinical benefit still needs to be explored. His lab plans to follow up with more study of taurine and other metabolites, including how modifying them impacts NLRP6 and GVHD.last_img read more

Why we made iWitnessed an app to collect evidence

Citation: Why we made iWitnessed, an app to collect evidence (2018, April 3) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Eyewitness evidence can be critical to investigations and trials. However, research shows that eyewitness memory can be inaccurate and vulnerable to distortion depending on what happens next – for example, inaccurate information encountered through leading questions, discussion with other witnesses, or journalists. Sydney study finds false memories are common Explore further Provided by The Conversation This is particularly true when there is a long delay between witnessing an event and reporting the details to police. We forget details very rapidly, and the more we forget, the more our memories become prone to inaccuracies. I am part of a team of eyewitness memory experts, and together we have developed the iWitnessed smartphone application. Starting today, the app is available to the general public for free download for both Apple and Android devices across Australia.iWitnessed was designed upon an evidence base, to help witnesses and victims provide a detailed account of an event in a way which helps preserve and protect their memory. Such recordings can then be used in court to refresh the memory of a witness – either for one-off events (such as a car accident), or multiple, related events (such as bullying).We believe this is the first smartphone application designed by cognitive scientists to help protect witness memory evidence. iWitnessed helps preserve eyewitness memory as soon as possible after an event. Police officers are often very busy in the immediate aftermath of an incident, and can be unable to question witnesses until days, or weeks later. Also, some witnesses do not come forward to police immediately after an event because they may be reluctant to report a crime. This delay can lead to forgotten and contradictory details, which can undermine the quality of the evidence when witnesses do decide to make a statement. Helping witnesses record evidenceMemory researchers have studied the ways that a witness’ memory can be protected against forgetting and memory distortion.One of the best ways to do this is to give witnesses an opportunity to provide a comprehensive account at the earliest possible time. We know from research that this early account is often more complete than later retellings. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. There’s been an accident – but witness accounts will stray and lose accuracy over time. Credit: More importantly, the act of recalling soon after the event helps protect the memory. That is, details recalled in this early account are less likely to be forgotten or changed by the introduction of post-event information. These beneficial effects are dependent upon the early comprehensive account being given within 24 hours of the incident. Can iWitnessed evidence be used in court?Legally speaking, evidence collected using iWitnessed will be treated like contemporaneous notes. Contemporaneous notes are witness accounts composed during or immediately after a critical event, and in court proceedings they can range from a note scribbled on the back of a napkin to a meticulous description of the event.According to the Evidence Act 1995 NSW (sections 32 and 34), contemporaneous notes or contemporaneous recordings of events can be used to refresh the memory of a witness to an event. Even if very rudimentary, they can add to the reliability and strength of the evidence being given in court proceedings. It is also possible that developments in evidence law may enable evidence collected using iWitnessed to become directly admissible. While there is some legislation on the admissibility of this type of evidence in court, this has not kept pace with the rapid development of modern technologies. As a result, the evidence may be used only upon strict proof in individual cases – for example, regarding the use of audio recordings. Anyone with a deviceiWitnessed is designed to be used by anyone within Australia with a smartphone or tablet, and does not require high levels of literacy or language skills. Users can type details using their keypad, and record spoken notes – standard voice-to-text functions also work in iWitnessed. Responses do not need to be in English, allowing witnesses to use their preferred language to give the most accurate and detailed account. iWitnessed also includes contact details of support services and some general advice on responses to traumatic events.With the app opened up, users are first given advice on how to protect their memories. Then they are asked to follow a series of prompts and enter details of the event they witnessed. As well as text and audio recordings, images can be uploaded. All entries can be time, date, and location stamped, and the history of any changes made to the entry is recorded. Information entered via the iWitnessed app remains on the user’s phone/tablet, and can be locked with a PIN code. If witnesses choose to do so, they can send their account to police in the form of an email. All evidence stays on the device unless this step is taken, although the potential exists for this information to be subpoenaed by police. There are many advantages of iWitnessed as highlighted above, and we believe the development of our tool is timely. Australians use advanced technologies on a daily basis, with the majority (88%) owning a smart phone). This statistic explains why more and more people are recording incidents they witness (such as racist attacks in public transport). iWitnessed will formalise the way that this information is collected. Ultimately, we expect the information gathered by iWitnessed will facilitate police practice and investigation as well as litigation in both criminal and civil trials. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. iWitnessed prompts the user to add a range of information. Credit: Helen Paterson, Author provided read more

Hands off my data Making your devices border safe

first_img Culture 20h ago Of Nostalgia And Emotional Ties To Stuff Related News Tech News 10 Jul 2019 Marriott faces US$124mil fine from UK for data hacking These days, you hear more and more reports of travellers being asked to unlock their smartphone and hand it over to officials at borders and airports for inspection. It’s even been reported that the Chinese government installs a surveillance app on visitors’ smartphones.How you want to prepare for such a situation depends entirely on your own risk assessment, says the civil rights organisation Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).Factors you should consider include your travel history and the sensitivity of your data. The EFF offers some tips if you do decide to take precautions:- Back up your data: Before the trip, back up all data on smartphones, tablets or notebooks that you’re bringing along. This will protect against total data loss if a device is seized. Tech News 08 Jul 2019 TM to offer Unifi Air with unlimited data at RM79, according to leaked slide (Updated) – Buy a travel phone: This way, you can use a device with little or no sensitive data for the duration of the trip.- Delete or outsource data: If you are travelling with your regular device, you should delete as much data on it as possible, from emails to documents to your browser history. Alternatively, you can store your data, preferably encrypted, in a cloud service.- Data hiding is no use: There are apps that can be used to hide documents and pictures on smartphones, and notebook hard drives can be set up with hidden partitions. However, border guards know about these methods.- Don’t use biometric access locks: Fingerprint, eye and face scanners are convenient but less secure than strong passwords.- Encrypt: The EFF advises full-disk encryption of your devices. For iPhones, this is done automatically via the password. For Android devices you have to enable it in the settings. Both Windows and Mac laptops also have built-in encryption programs.- Switch off: Turn off your devices before you reach the border or control point – this may prevent high-tech attacks.- No unusual precautions: These can make border guards suspicious, warns the EFF. For example, someone who takes a new or visibly unused phone out of their pocket while keeping their regular device hidden is likely to attract attention and so be even more thoroughly investigated.- After the border check: If you believe that after the check your devices are being spied on, you should change all your passwords. If you suspect spyware has been installed, you should reset your mobile device to its factory settings or reformat your notebook. – dpa Related News The Electronic Frontier Foundation has some guidelines for anyone worried about having their devices seized during border controls. — dpa {{category}} {{time}} {{title}}last_img read more