A 55yearold heritage train once used on regional

first_imgA 55-year-old heritage train once used on regional rail lines in NSW made its longest-ever mainline journey on Tuesday 15 November 2016, when it carried 90 rail and sail passengers on a 800-kilometre trip from the Victorian town of Seymour to Sydney.Cruise travel specialist, Cruise Express, which ran the unique cruise tour, invited rail buffs and locals in towns from Seymour to Sydney to see the two-car, 620-class rail motor, stop or pass by and give the passengers from around Australia a welcoming wave.The record-breaking rail journey was part of a four-night tour that included a three-night cruise from Sydney to Melbourne aboard Golden Princess, a night in Melbourne, dinner on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant and the return train trip to Sydney, initially aboard the historic Spirit of Progress from Melbourne to Seymour and then aboard the rail motor through to Sydney.Built in 1961 and operated by the Rail Motor Society and based in Paterson in the Hunter Valley, the rail motor set 621/721 has been preserved in its original Indian red colour scheme and is the only 620-class rail motor in active preservation service. The NSW Government built 18 620-class diesel sets from 1961 to 1971, with six sets remaining in active commuter service in the Hunter area until 2007. The sets although were used all over NSW till the early 1990s. Unlike modern trains, the rail motor’s windows can still be opened so passengers could enjoy fresh air, unencumbered views and wave to sightseers.The rail motor’s pairing with the famous Spirit of Progress on the cruise tour was another rail history first. The Seymour Railway Heritage Centre also assisted with the historic rail journey. This was the rail motor’s first-ever visit to Seymour. Aboard the rail motor from Seymour to Sydney, eight rail enthusiast volunteers, including two drivers from Junee, accompanied the 90 passengers, who lunched en route at the 138-year-old Junee Railway Station, with refreshments also brought aboard at Goulburn from local suppliers.Cruise Express Director Meg Hill said the heritage rail and sail tour had proved very popular with travellers, with another planned for April 2017, with the rail motor this time travelling from Sydney to Seymour.last_img read more

Rep Kahles plan helps protect newborns and women in Michigan

first_img Categories: Kahle News State Rep. Bronna Kahle today introduced a bipartisan plan to protect women and their children by allowing for the installation of newborn safety devices in Michigan hospitals.Since 2001, Michigan’s Safe Delivery of Newborns Law has allowed parents to surrender their newborns to hospitals, as well as police and fire stations, instead of endangering their lives through abandonment. Over 200 babies have been safely surrendered in Michigan since the law was originally passed.The plan would expand current law to allow for newborn safety devices as a method to safely, legally and anonymously surrender a newborn child at a hospital. The devices are optional and would be privately funded. This plan takes the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the newborn and helps make sure that no mother feels like she has to abandon her child illegally again.“A newborn safety device is an extension of the arms of the medical staff in the hospital,” said Kahle. “This legislation protects newborns and gives a safe alternative to a struggling mother who surrenders her infant to the Safe Haven location.  Protecting the child and ensuring their safety is a priority.”The device would be installed in the exterior wall of a hospital that has heating and cooling features to keep newborns safe and comfortable. Sensors are attached that notify hospital staff within seconds of an infant being placed inside.The plan protects children and provides a safe and legal alternative to abandonment. The bills also change the definition of a newborn from 72 hours old to not more than 10 days old. This gives parents up to 10 days to safely, legally and anonymously surrender their child.HB’s 4523-26 have been referred to the House Committee on Families, Children, and Seniors for consideration.### 30Apr Rep. Kahle’s plan helps protect newborns and women in Michiganlast_img read more

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first_imgShareTweet DETECTIVES have charged a 35 year old man to appear before Limavady Magistrates’ Court today, Wednesday, June 26. He has been charged with drugs offences including cultivating cannabis, possessing article infringing copyright, possession of a Class A drug, possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply and possession of a Class B drug. He has also been charged with trading counterfeit products. As is normal procedure, the charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service. During the search, quantities of suspected Class A and Class B drugs were seized.Man charged to Co Derry court on drug dealing and fake goods charges was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by John2John2 Tags: He has been released on police bail pending further enquiries in relation to grievous bodily harm with intent and theft.The charges follow a search in the Ballymena area earlier on Tuesday by detectives investigating a paramilitary style attack on a 20 year old man.He was attacked by three men as he walked through the pedestrian underpass between Moat Road and Crebilly Road in Ballymena on Thursday 30th May. The men also stole cash and a mobile phone before making off. cultivating cannabisLIMAVADY MAGISTRATES’ COURTMan charged to Co Derry court on drug dealing and fake goods chargesPolicepossessing article infringing copyrightpossession of a Class A drugpossession of a Class A drug with intent to supplyPSNIlast_img read more

Oil 9171 9536 7968

first_imgOil91.7195.3679.68 Silver34.8532.1028.69 One Month Ago Dear Reader,With gold back up within reach of its nominal record high last year, a lot of new investors are thinking about gold mining stocks.With this in mind, today we take a peek at one of the issues that confuses some metals investors: cash mining costs. It’s simple in a way, but also nuanced and subject to misinterpretation. I’ll let Andrey Dashkov explain.The point, for now, is no surprise; be careful, think things through, be thorough in your due diligence. But there are opportunities out there, and more coming.Sincerely,Louis JamesSenior Metals Investment StrategistCasey Research TSX Venture1,344.981,246.271,413.65 Gold Junior Stocks (GDXJ)24.8222.0328.22 Gold1,784.001,690.001,617.00 Silver Stocks (SIL)25.3921.8020.99center_img Cash Cost Figures: Are They For Real?By Andrey Dashkov, Research AnalystWhen you read about mining companies, you’ll often see “cash cost” figures given for production. “XYZ Gold Corp. produced 25,000 ounces of gold from its mines this quarter at a cash cost of $676 per ounce.” This is a non-GAAP figure similar to the general idea of “cost of sales” – what it takes to calculate a gross margin.Why would anyone report something so near the top line when it’s the bottom line that’s, well, the bottom line? Because it’s useful. The bottom line can be subject to major fluctuations from quarter to quarter, even in large companies if they get hit with one-time write-downs, changes in taxes, changes in accounting, etc. that are separate from the actual profitability of mining operations. By looking at cash costs, we can make our own estimations of how rich a company’s mines are, and hence how much abuse a company can take on non-mining costs and still deliver to the bottom line over time.For exploration and development companies, of course, there is no EBDITA, and the bottom line is almost always negative. Reasonable cash cost projections can give us a basis for evaluation when normal metrics don’t apply.With rising costs, we’ve been hearing industry talk about shifting away from reporting cash costs, which can make mining companies seem more profitable than they are to the financially illiterate – like politicians. Political leaders in some countries are pursuing windfall profit taxes, higher royalties, etc., because they see higher metals prices and relatively low cash cost figures, when in reality there may be little or no windfall profits to be taxed.At a recent meeting at the Denver Gold Forum sponsored by the World Gold Council, the idea of moving away from the traditional cash cost reporting figures was proposed. A more standardized, “all-in” cost figure has been proposed, to include operating costs, sustaining capital expenditures, and general and administrative costs. If adopted, this figure would provide a more accurate and definitive picture of actual mining costs.Here at Casey Research, we aggregate our own “all-in” costs when not reported by a company, so such a change would not impact the way we look at companies much. However, for others who are used to looking at cash costs, the “all-in” figures could come as a bit of a shock, and could result in negative investor reactions toward companies that make the change. That’s probably just as well; the smart money will be back – it already knows there’s much more to the picture than cash costs.More on this shortly. First, let’s have a quick look at cash costs for gold producers today.Cash Cost UpdateThe latest update to the Thomson Reuters GFMS Gold Survey reports that in the first half of 2012, average cash costs for gold producers increased to a new high of US$727 per ounce. However, higher year-on-year gold prices have seen producer margins increase by 11%. Still, GFMS also points out that “on a quarterly basis, margins have in fact declined for the last three quarters.”The chief reasons cited for cash costs increasing are declining ore grades, labor cost increases, higher energy prices, and other input factors. Our expectation is that on average, these costs will continue to rise throughout this year and beyond.However, profit is not a one-variable calculation. With the underlying commodity – gold – rising faster than cash costs for over a decade now, many mines that were previously unprofitable have become profitable.Sharp investors have noticed that many profitable mining companies aren’t seeing fatter margins. Why? Because mines with higher-grade material start processing previously uneconomic lower-grade ore while they can do so at a profit, adding to the life of their mines and total cash flow while maintaining their bottom lines today. In other words, what was once waste becomes ore, leading to increases in overall production and profit. It’s a good business strategy, but it also contributes to the rise in average mining costs.Still, while costs have risen in nominal terms, gold has continued upward as well. As a result, average operating margins, based on the spot gold price, have gotten wider in recent years. The below quarterly comparison of the average cash cost vs. the average price of gold over the past seven years shows this quite clearly.(Click on image to enlarge)A real eye-opener, however, comes from another chart we built using the same data set. Here you’ll see that wider margins mean that cash costs – stated as a percentage of the price of gold – were at multiyear lows earlier this year.(Click on image to enlarge)This year we have observed rising costs, so it will be interesting to see how this chart looks going forward. If gold continues trading sideways, the window of profitability will shut down for marginal operations. However, if gold heads much higher – as we expect it to – the trend in the chart above could keep margins fattening.CapExCapital expenditure – “capex” – is also a cost of doing business for mining companies, but as the name implies, it’s capitalized. That means it’s subject to depreciation and not treated as an expense, and doesn’t show up in operating costs. You still need to pour this money into the ground to build and operate your mine, of course, so it does affect the bottom line, where depreciation, taxes, and other costs are all taken into account. For exploration and development companies, you look for the impact of capex in internal rate of return (IRR) and net present value (NPV) figures.Capex has been ballooning of late, due to higher labor and material costs and much greater regulatory burdens. There’s nothing new in this trend, but it seems to be accelerating substantially, especially for larger projects. We don’t have updated industry-wide average figures for this, but one of most striking recent examples of skyrocketing capital costs is Barrick’s Pascua-Lama project on the Chile-Argentina border.Business News Americas reports: “A previous cost estimate for Pascua Lama was US$3.3bn-3.6bn, but this was revised up to US$4.7bn-5bn after a review in 2011.” The current cost estimate is about US$8 billion.Barrick’s situation is a vivid example of why capex has become a significant detriment to building new mines – more so than rising operating costs. When it comes to calculating a project’s IRR, the size of the initial investment has a huge impact. So, in spite of the rising gold price, we’re not seeing as many new mines being built as we might expect.Indeed, the relatively low pace of mergers and acquisitions among mining companies this year may be principally due to concerns about rising capital costs. Many of the larger companies that might have been snapping up successful exploration companies while they were on sale over the summer had their plates full with huge projects they were already committed to.That will change at some point; the majors must replace depleting ounces or cease to be major mining companies. However, that tipping point does not seem to have been reached yet.ConclusionOperating costs are rising, but on a yearly basis over the last ten years, production margins have been rising faster. The industry, recognizing problems with cash cost reporting, is considering a new metric that would provide a more accurate picture. However, many in the industry hesitate: some executives want to keep using the cash cost figure since it reflects how much it costs to mine right now.We don’t know how that issue will turn out, but unless and until the industry does adopt a more comprehensive and accurate figure, we’ll keep using our own “all-in” estimates. All investors in the sector need to remember that the real cost of any mining is going to be higher than what companies report as cash costs.And – obviously – there’s much more to evaluating a precious metals producer than just costs. Does its management team have a track record of success? Does it have enough money (or access to it) to move its projects forward? Is the company likely to be taken over by a major producer?That last point is particularly important, because when juniors are bought out, their investors usually get big windfalls. Right now Louis has identified seven companies that are especially ripe for takeover.Gold and Silver HEADLINESRupee Aids India’s Gold Buying Ahead of Festivals (The Economic Times)An appreciated Indian rupee pushed local gold prices to a five-week low, providing an opportunity for gold importers in that country to stock up on bullion for upcoming festivals. The world-famous Indian festival and wedding seasons start in late October, a time when people traditionally buy gold for gifts and dowries.The rupee rose to its highest level against the dollar in more than five months, which kept prices of the precious metals in rupee terms subdued, even as dollar-priced gold hit an 11-month high above $1,795 last week.“There is heavy demand, because the rates have come down on rupee appreciation,” said Ganesh Agarwal, director of Shiv Sahai and Sons India Limited, a Chennai-based wholesaler, noting that investors were also among recent gold buyers.It is unlikely that the autumn festivals and revived demand will offset the considerable decline in India’s gold consumption that we’ve been seeing during the year. A weak rupee and higher import duties on gold imposed by the government in an attempt to cut the deficit were among the main reasons for demand decrease from Indian customers.$2,200 Is a Realistic Target for Gold in 2013 (Mining.com)In a recent interview, Kitco’s head of precious metals, Peter Hug, said gold prices could hit the $2,200 level next year. However, he doesn’t expect to see gold reaching such lofty highs prior to the year’s end.Hug observes the market as constructively bullish, given aggressive stimulus plans by the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. But he says gold prices could dip short-term on profit-taking, providing a buying opportunity for investors.These expectations are in line with our own. For more information, read an exclusive Kitco interview with BIG GOLD‘s Jeff Clark.For Both Gold and Apple Fans: A 24-Karat Gold-Plated iPhone 5 (Mining.com)London jeweler Gold & Co. has hit the market with a 24-karat gold-plated iPhone 5 that costs “only” $4,380 (£2,695).“This stunning iPhone is uniquely crafted. Best quality crystal stones are added to its own mounted 24ct gold logo and home button. Like the diamond setting process, each stone is individually set into cut clasps adding seductive detail.”We like gold, but we also know it’s a soft metal. Somehow, this plating doesn’t seem very practical – but, we suppose that’s the point.Striking South Africa Miners Fired by Platinum Producer (Toronto Star)Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has embarked on a massive layoff of striking miners. The company reported that “approximately 12,000 striking employees chose not to make representations, nor attend the hearings, and have therefore been dismissed in their absence.” The company representatives said that a more detailed statement would be issued soon.80,000 miners – about 16% of the country’s mine workforce – are on strike, causing mine stoppages and political complications. The country’s president called for “constructive social dialogue,” but the turmoil continues.We’re keeping a close eye on the situation in South Africa. The current crisis may present interesting investment opportunities – and our subscribers will know about them first. Rock & Stock StatsLast Copper3.793.533.10 TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange)12,418.9911,990.1411,457.22 One Year Ago Gold Producers (GDX)53.6547.9354.88last_img read more

Sticking with fact versus selfserving fiction th

first_img Sticking with fact versus self-serving fiction, the Centre for Ocean and Ice plotted the daily mean temperature for the Arctic (you know, where the warming is supposedly causing widespread ice melting and a die-off of polar bears) for the period between 1958 and 2013. It, too, found no statistically meaningful deviation from the mean in 2013. Here’s the link. So, let me ask again… what the hell is wrong with Obama? Why would he use the powers of the executive to unleash yet another bungling army of bureaucrats and foist yet another expensive body of regulations upon the nation – and do so at such a precarious time for the economy… a period when businesses need help, not hindrance? I can only assume he is doing so not because he is ignorant about the science, but because he is pandering to the “progressives” (a misnomer that, corrected, would read “regressives”) and others his party needs the support of in order to prevail in the next election. Fortunately, slowly and steadily the truth will come out. My favorite recent public turnaround was delivered by the mayor of London, the straight-talking Boris Johnson, in an article he penned for the Telegraph titled, The Weather Prophets Should Be Chucked in the Deep End. A relevant quote: For more than 20 years now, we have been told that this country was going to get hotter and hotter and hotter, and that global warming was going to change our climate in a fundamental way. Do you remember that? We were told that Britain was going to have short, wet winters and long, roasting summers. It was going to be like 1976 all over again, with streakers at Lord’s and your Mr Whippy melting before you could even lick it, and Hyde Park scorched into a mini Kalahari. They said we were never going to have snow again, and that we should prepare for southern England to turn gradually into a Mediterranean world. There were going to be olive groves in the Weald of Kent, and the whole place was going to be so generally broiling in summer that no one would be able to move between noon and 4pm, after which people would come out to play boules and sip pastis, to the whine of a mandolin, in the dusty square that had once been a village green. That’s what they said: the BBC, and all the respectable meteorologists – and I reckon there were tens of thousands of people who took these prophecies entirely seriously. Omigod, they said to themselves, we are all going to fry. He goes on to suggest, tongue-in-cheek, that every English homeowner who anticipated taking advantage of the pending warmer climate by building a swimming pool should be able to file a claim against the government for reimbursement. In that same vein, I would propose that the tab for hundreds of billions in wasted taxpayer funds on electric cars, solar, and so forth be divided up and sent for payment to Obama, Al Gore, and anyone else found to have profited – financially or politically – from climate alarmism. Some of the money collected could be spent trying to deprogram a generation of state-schooled students who now unquestionably accept the bad science of manmade climate warming, despite the huge body of science pointing to the contrary. Weekend Reads Save Us from the Meddlers… this from the always excellent Reason.com: Starting this fall, high school students in New Jersey who taunt each other during games will be subject to investigation not only by the state’s athletic association, but the state’s government. “The days of taunting, baiting and trash-talking during high school sporting events are over,” reads a press release from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). Thanks to collaboration between NJSIAA, the New Jersey Attorney General, and the New Jersey Civil Rights Division, “discriminatory conduct will also be reported to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and may result in further investigation.” Oh, and the regulation applies to off school grounds as well. The Making of a Global Security State. Terry Coxon forwarded me an excellent article on the topic by Tom Engelhardt that appeared in the Asia Times.  Here’s the link. Despicable He – If you want to confirm just how degraded the US government and its various corporate quislings have become, check out this story about the IRS Deputy and the $500 million contract he awarded to a buddy… then refused to testify about it. And with that, I will leave you for the week by thanking you for reading, and for being a Casey Research subscriber. I hope I didn’t come off overly pessimistic in today’s musings – I am actually quite optimistic, but that may only be because I don’t have my head stuck in the sand about where things are likely heading. As a result, I continue to take the steps I feel are personally necessary to weather the storms ahead. Then I go about living the best life I can manage. If you’d like a bit of help in making your own plans, I’d highly recommend taking a risk-free trial to our flagship publication, The Casey Report… and signing up for our October 4 – 6 Casey Research Summit in Arizona before it sells out. These are tough markets to be going alone. And here’s a link to another analysis by a serious scientist that shows just how far off the predictions of global warming have been when compared to actual temperatures. Thou Shalt Not Fail to Rebalance After Big Run-Ups. The sector in which he is so heavily invested, US equities, has already had a big run-up. As you can see from the chart here, it is looking perilously close to a near-term top. As an aside, the pattern evident in the chart suggests a trading pattern you might want to use to your advantage. It should continue for awhile – maybe even until the entire Fed-led Ponzi scheme collapses the economy. Underscoring the global warming purportedly caused by excessive carbon, a clearly overheated Obama dramatically wiped his face with a white hanky during his out-of-doors announcement. Given that summer in Washington DC is famously hot and humid, maybe some staff member should have scheduled an air-conditioned room for the announcement… oh, wait… silly me, the whole sweating thing was staged! Duh! (Do these people really think that the public consists entirely of gullible morons?) Quoting Bloomberg on the president’s announcement… Saying that science had put to rest the question about whether the planet was warming, Obama vowed to use his executive powers to act, arguing that limiting emissions would spur technological advancement and new jobs. “I don’t have much patience for anyone that denies that this challenge is real,” Obama said in the speech at Georgetown University. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.” The irony here is that, at least as far as I can tell, the science tells us nothing of the kind. In fact, for the last seventeen and a half years – a period over which the climate alarmists tell us the planet has been dangerously warming – the planet has shown no warming. Quoting a recent article by Christopher Monckton on the always excellent Wattsupwiththat.com site… Superimposing the temperature curve and its least-squares linear-regression trend on the statistical insignificance region bounded by the means of the trends on these published uncertainties since January 1996 demonstrates that there has been no statistically significant warming in 17 years 4 months: The rapid increase in social spending reflects the unintended consequences of the “chicken in every pot” promises that have become the basis of every election campaign for decades now. This is a picture of what happens when you train the masses to look to the government, and not the free markets, to solve every problem, water every plant, kiss every boo-boo. Thanks to the surge in socialism, this pattern is mirrored the world over. It’s now projected that Italy will need a bailout from the EU within six months – again due to its unfunded and non-payable social obligations. Since the latest crisis began, we have seen governments around the world “socialize” the bad debts of failing financial institutions by transferring those debts from private balance sheets to those of the governments (and the central banks). This has only exacerbated an already impossible situation, requiring the widespread adoption of global monetary madness. Seriously, who in their right mind could possibly think creating trillions in new monetary units in order to support virtually unchecked government spending is a sound and sustainable policy? Yet that’s exactly the operating model of the leadership in most of the world’s largest economies. I suspect this is so only because they simply don’t see any other way to delay the inevitable. Flash riots in places like Brazil only encourage these governments to continue acting like monetary sluts in order to keep the public slops flowing. And to the extent that it helps even temporarily mollify the expectations of the masses, expect other equally counter-productive measures as well. In the case of Brazil, its government is seriously levying yet another tax on the successful to pay for the social spending being demanded by the rioters. And the global economy continues to spiral around the drain. When might the hard truths become unavoidable? For an answer, I turn to Ayn Rand’s classic Atlas Shrugged… “Do you wish to know when that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.” –Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged, p. 385 (1957) If Rand is right, we’re getting close. Meanwhile, for those of you deluded enough to believe the US government will someday soon get its fiscal house in order, the social and political consequences of doing so be damned, here’s a quick snippet from USA Today last week… WASHINGTON — The U.S. House failed to pass a sweeping five-year farm bill with sharp cuts to food stamps, a surprising development that sets the stage for an uphill fight in Congress to craft a new law. The Republican-led House soundly rejected a $500 billion measure by a vote of 195-234, failing to muster enough support from conservative Republicans concerned about costs and Democrats and concerned about deep cuts to the country’s popular food stamp program. Of course, per the above parable, when it comes to keeping hogs and people happy, a steady supply of food is essential. So, do you really think the US government is going to cut back the food stamps now being provided to 1 in 5 households (approximately 50 million people)? Hardly. The simple reality is that “We the people” took the slops, and the consequences of passing our personal responsibilities to the nation-state are yet to be paid in full. As the nation-states have no path open to them to continue to meet their obligations – at least no path that doesn’t end in widespread pain – expect things to get very, very bizarre in the months and years just ahead. Remain vigilant. Friday Funnies A Lesson in Irony… Apropos to the Above Article The Food Stamp Program, administered by the US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever, to 46 MILLION PEOPLE. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the US Department of the Interior, asks us, “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is: “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.” THUS ENDS TODAY’S LESSON IN IRONY. Leno on the Scandals “I was going to start off tonight with an Obama joke, but I don’t want to get audited by the IRS.” On NSA surveillance: “We wanted a president who listens to all Americans – now we have one.” On a new IRS commissioner: “He’s called ‘acting commissioner’ because he has to act like the scandal doesn’t involve the White House.” On closing the Guantanamo prison for terrorists: “If he really wants to close it, turn it into a government-funded solar power company. The doors will be shut in a month.” Concerning the Benghazi, Associated Press, and IRS scandals: “Remember in the old days when President Obama’s biggest embarrassment was Joe Biden?” On Obama saying he didn’t know about the IRS scandal: “He was too busy not knowing anything about Benghazi to not know anything about the IRS.” “The White House has a new slogan about Benghazi: Hope and change the subject.” “It’s casual Friday, which means that at the White House, they’re casually going through everybody’s phone calls and records.” “It is not looking good for President Obama. Today his teleprompter took the fifth.” “FOX News has changed its slogan from ‘Fair and Balanced’ to ‘See, I told you so!’” “These White House scandals are not going away anytime soon. People in Kenya are now saying he’s 100 percent American. That’s how bad it’s gotten.” On Obama’s commencement address: “He told the young graduates their future is bright – unless, of course, they want jobs.” On a Chicago man who set a record for riding a Ferris wheel: “The only way to go around and around in a circle that many times is to read the official report on Benghazi.” On White House claims of ignorance on the scandals: “They took ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ out of the Pentagon and moved it into the White House.” Concerned about NSA Spying? Here’s one (funny) solution: everyone should begin speaking like a terrorist… here’s the video link. Thou Shalt Not Fail to Watch Your Investment Expenses. In this case, a full-service broker has been charging him 2% (and maybe more) to underperform in the sector he has him in up to his ears. And, I suspect, does a fair bit of trading. Essentially, the client takes all the risk and the brokerage house earns a bigger net return. Additionally, if the broker is aggressive, then there’s a good chance he’s not particularly attentive when it comes to short- versus long-term capital gains. Thou Shalt Not Keep Too Much of Your Money in a Single Institution. Effectively, he has all of his money in a single financial institution. As the investors with money on account at MF Global will attest, in today’s world that’s just plain reckless. Very few banks and brokerage houses aren’t entangled in the obscure and impenetrable web of derivatives markets and so are at risk. (This is a topic that David Webb will be addressing in depth at our only Casey Research Summit in 2013, Oct. 4 – 6 in Tucson, Arizona. Details here, registration is limited. ) Thou Shalt Not Be Ignorant About What You Own, and Why. His portfolio is made up entirely of investments that he doesn’t even know the names of, let alone the basic metrics related to their underlying value or financial soundness. David Galland Managing Director Casey Research More Irony Donald Grove, The Casey Report’s man in Washington, sent along the following, which, though true, properly belongs in the Friday Funnies section. Here’s the text of his email: “The White House is on a roll this morning. The audacity of this administration! That it would suggest that it has any credibility for instilling financial responsibility in young people just takes my breath away. The secretary of the Treasury will have oversight. That will keep it on the up and up, won’t it?” Don is referring to the Obama administration’s Executive Order earlier this week establishing The Presidential Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans (or TPACOFCFYA, for short). Quoting from the Executive Order… “By starting early, young people can begin to learn the difference between wants and needs, the importance and power of saving, and the positive and productive role money can play in their lives. Having a basic understanding of money management from an early age will make our young people better equipped to tackle more complex financial decisions in their transition to adulthood, when critical decisions about financing higher education and saving for retirement can have lasting consequences for financial security. Strengthening the financial capability of our young people is an investment in our nation’s economic prosperity.” Don adds, “How about advising young people to observe the fiscal and monetary practices of the federal government and simply do the opposite at every turn?” Sounds about right to me. A Good Laugh My golf buddy Frank sent this along a few minutes ago. Even though the Friday Funnies is longer than usual, I just had to share it. It’s the voice of a man leaving a message for his boss when he witnesses a car accident… and the incredible events that then follow. It’s really funny. Here’s a link to the recording. What the Hell Is Wrong with Obama? – Part Two This week, the Panderer-in-Chief moved forward with his initiative to curb carbon emissions. Thou Shalt Not Blindly Rely on the Advice of a Commissioned Broker. It’s their job to get you to trade. It’s how they earn the money to buy that nice house. Sure, if a commissioned broker provides real value, then they have earned their commission. But you need to do your own homework and not just acquiesce to their every recommendation. That’s how you end up with 90% of your retirement assets at risk in a single investment sector. As an alternative for those who want to leave their investing to a pro, a pure fee-based money manager can make sense as their only goal is (or should be) to impress you so you’ll continue to retain their services. For a few days the hogs waited patiently for their usual rations, but when the farmer failed to come through, the hungry hogs began to fight over the reduced slops provided. It was not long after that the farmer – confident that the hogs were properly domesticated – let himself into the pen only to find himself surrounded by angry hogs who made him what’s for lunch. The moral to the longer-version story is that the domesticated hogs will remain docile only for as long as you keep them snout-deep in slops. Which brings me to the riots in Brazil, the latest footnote on the continuum of the slow-motion global financial collapse now underway. Simply, years of expanding politically motivated social welfare programs around the world have raised the expectations of the masses to the point where they simply can’t be met. The results are that growing segments of the previously submissive masses, seeing their slops reduced in both quantity and quality, are now drifting back towards a more feral state. (Note the Mad Max hair in the photo above… yet another example of life mimicking art.) You can see the problem in this chart showing the federal government’s expenditures by function. While the chart is a little out of date, the trend couldn’t be clearer… or more concerning. Dear Reader, For today’s missive, I plan on keeping things fairly loose… no major themes, just bits and pieces, mostly related to some of the news items that have caught my eye, and maybe yours. And with that uncharacteristically short warm-up, it’s on to the news. What the Hell Is Wrong with Obama? In recent polls, 65% of Americans said they were against the US government becoming involved in Syria. Yet, the Obama administration has made it abundantly clear that it will now actively support the rebels there. Disturbingly, our so-called allies in this fight – the anti-Assad rebels – are the sort of people who use suicide bombers to achieve their goals. Which is not surprising given that Al-Qaeda has openly taken a leading role in the opposition the Obama administration now sees fit to support. And so it is that the very same Al-Qaeda that the US claims is Enemy #1 will soon be receiving weapons from the US, and probably already has. In one particularly notable display of the world view of our new friends, a prominent rebel leader named Khalid al-Hamad was videotaped snacking on the lung of a dead enemy soldier. The highly placed member of the intelligence community whom I briefly referenced in my last missive told me that the most favorable interpretation of this barbaric act the analysts could come up with was that the fellow was actually trying to eat the heart, but ate the lung instead. This was taken as “favorable” because Commander Cannibal’s lack of basic human anatomy suggested that eating internal organs was not a regular practice among our new BFF. Now, as to the “bad guy” in this entire drama … he is the son of Hafez al-Assad, the man who in 1973 changed the constitution of Syria to drop the provision that only Muslims could be president… triggering a running battle against Muslim extremists demanding that the country be Muslim and not secular. In 1987, Syria actually participated in the so-called willing countries in supporting the US invasion of Iraq. In 2000 Bashar Assad, the second son of Hafez, succeeded to power after his father’s death and five months later ordered the release of hundreds of political prisoners. Now, that’s not to say that Assad is a wonderful fellow. No one would argue the fact that he’s accustomed to using a hard hand to keep the discontented in line. And given that those discontented are dominated by the sort of folks willing to blow themselves up in pursuit of religious goals (or, at least encourage the more gullible into doing so), the actions of the Assad government have, on occasion, been uncompromising. As an aside, you may remember that in 2006 our current allies, the radical jihadists that Assad has also been trying to keep a lid on, attacked the US embassy in Damascus… and now we’re on the same side. Funny how a little time heals all wounds, eh? Even so, until this latest phase in the conflict blew up in 2011, the level of violence was relatively minor. But that was then. Now, with the place in flames, the death toll has soared with the latest body count at over 100,000 and counting. Which brings me back to the question above, what the hell is wrong with Obama? Or, more accurately, what the hell is the US government thinking to interject itself in the conflict? Why would we want to hand the largely secular country over to the jihadists? Who wins? I thought this quote out of an article on the situation by the folks at CATO worth sharing. Those most serious about intervention, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, want to do everything. Their joint statement demanded: “provisions of arms to vetted Syrian opposition groups, targeted strikes against Assad’s aircraft and SCUD missile batteries on the ground, and the establishment of safe zones inside Syria.” Graham also argued that “you’ve got to get on the ground” to seize chemical weapons stockpiles.  Sound familiar? Though I am not privy to any special information on the political calculations of Washington, it sure seems like we are following the script set down by the neocons (Kristol, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Abrams, et al.) that years ago infiltrated the US military-political complex. This is the “Might is right” crowd who believe in exercising US power proactively to knock down the dominos of all Middle Eastern countries Israel feels threatened by, with the end goal of remaking the Middle East as a region dominated by friendly democracies (or, in the case of Saudi Arabia, friendly dictatorships). Failing functioning democracies, turning the outcast countries into failed states that pose no real threat to US or Israeli interests in the area also works. It’s never been a secret that Syria is a prominent domino: as recently as 2009, Israel bombed a site in Syria where they claim secret nuclear research was being conducted. According to the script, after Syria the US will escalate its targeting of Iran. Given the hostile neighborhood it’s in, it’s understandable that Israel feels the need to act aggressively to dull the threat. Like individuals, nation-states possess finely honed survival instincts. I do, however, blame President Obama and the State Department and all the many sycophants in government and parasites in businesses that profit from war for once again entangling the country in a foreign conflict. That they do so in the face of overwhelming opposition among the public reveals “government of the people, for the people” as the meaningless platitude it has become. That our new allies are jihadists who upon taking power will oppress the country like Assad never did, then turn their weapons against the Great Satan that provided them, makes our support of them not just a bad joke but spectacularly bad karma. Then there’s the tens of thousands of innocents who will suffer and die before this is over. But, hey, it’s the Middle East where life is priced very low, so why should anyone care? The neocons certainly don’t. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the constant turmoil in places like Syria, and the hardships it causes to the civilian population, is a damn shame, but it’s not our damn shame. Left to their own devices, maybe – just maybe – they’d finally get their act together. That the Obama administration would ignore the will of the people and deliberately make the troubles in Syria our own, and freakishly do so in an alliance with jihadists, strikes me as highly suspect and even treasonous. One can only hope that one shiny day not too far down the road, these people would be held accountable for their actions. Maybe starting by impeaching the president? I’m not holding my breath. Death of (the Retirement Dreams of) a Salesman Last week I played in a semi-serious golf tournament hereabouts. It’s only the second such tournament I’ve played in, and I had great reservations about doing so again. Mainly because of the stress associated with playing tournament golf. As one’s state of mind has a huge effect on one’s state of play, undue stress can result in all manner of bad outcomes. In this tournament, my usually reliable putting went out for coffee and didn’t come back until near the end of the third match, at which point it was way too late. Even so, I mostly enjoyed the experience and didn’t mind losing as the competition played significantly better than I and were nice fellows, to boot. I mention this only to set the context of a rather revealing conversation I had over a consolatory beer in the clubhouse. The fellow who so kindly bought me that beer was a sales manager who, over the course of the conversation, revealed to me that he was hoping to retire in the coming year in order to spend his golden years doing little more than playing golf. Without any urging, he then expressed some concern that the amount of money he had saved up might not be enough to see him through his retirement. It’s a valid concern: with a steady stream of advances in medicine and the fact that he is a fit 64 years old, his retirement could easily last twenty years. And thirty or even forty years isn’t out of the question. That’s a lot of time, and a lot of money. In the way of idle conversation, I asked him how much of his assets he has in the stock market. The answer, “Something over 90%,” made my eyebrow inadvertently twitch. “What sort of stocks are you in?” “I don’t know, stuff my broker said I should own. I think I have some stuff in the health industry, but I’m not sure.” “Have you looked into how the companies you own might fare under ObamaCare?” “No, I sure hope my broker does, it does kind of worry me.” “What kind of broker do you use?” “A full-service one. He’s kind of a friend.” “And you keep all your money with a single broker?” “Yes.” “How much commission do you pay on a trade?” “Ah, um…” “You don’t know?” “No, but I seem to recall it’s around 2%.” “Does your broker live in a pretty nice house? Better than yours?” “Yeah, he’s very successful.” As I didn’t want things to get awkward or spoil his happy day, I nudged the topic in a different direction. Yet when I got home, I couldn’t help but shake my head at the idea that someone could be so unmindful about the funds he is relying on for retirement. Which, reading between the lines, is an amount just a bit over $1,000,000 – the rewards of a lifetime of hard work. In fact, as far as I could tell, he had committed what might be called the 7 Commandments of Investing. Thou Shalt Not Over-Concentrate. For starters, his portfolio is way over-concentrated in a single asset class. Thou Shalt Not Be Ignorant About Managing Money. Anyone who hopes to maintain and increase their portfolio over time needs to have at least passing familiarity with the fundamentals of investing and managing money. Otherwise you are likely to violate the preceding commandments. And you need to keep yourself informed about the macro-picture for the economy and for the primary asset classes in which you are invested. These are not easy times to be an investor. Especially when you consider that global stock markets are now rallying on bad economic news – as that is (correctly) taken as providing an excuse for the Fed to continue the money printing. That should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the big picture. As Terry Coxon, co-editor of The Casey Report, recently put it, “The stock market is levitating on QE. When QE ends, the stock market falls to earth.” Thus, your investment returns depend not only on investing in the right individual asset, but on whether the Fed in all its infinite wisdom (or proven lack thereof) decides to withdraw liquidity… or, as was the case recently, ponders doing so. Simply put, we will see a lot of volatility between now and when the vultures finally come to rest on the bones of this crisis (either through a deflationary collapse, but more likely an inflationary one). In the interim, the “right” investment for the long term might turn out to be a very wrong investment for the short and medium term. As to the longer term, again quoting from Terry Coxon, the smartest person I know on central banks and matters related to monetary policy… “The Fed is not going to exit the business of monetary easing. They may pause now and then, but when they see the results, they will resume. Every hyperinflation has been punctuated with pauses during which the central bank resolved to stop printing, to avoid destroying the currency.” At the end of the day, for any of us to successfully make it to the other side of this crisis with our assets intact is going to require diversification, bullet-proof income investments, a fair bit of cash, a focus on quality, and, while it may not seem the case at the moment, gold. Of course, we’ll be addressing all those topics and a whole lot more at our Casey Research Summit this October 4 – 6 in Tucson. Hope to see you there. (Because gold has been much in the news this week, and because he’ll be participating as a faculty member side by side with the audience over the three days of our Summit in Arizona, I thought you might enjoy this quick clip of Jim Rickards sharing his outlook for gold.) Speaking of the Summit, one of the panels will feature Ron Paul and Doug Casey, among others, addressing the topic of “Politics Gone Wild.” This topic is of no small importance, as the entire world is currently locked into a destructive paradigm of sick nation-states committed to doing “whatever it takes” to maintain the status quo. Yet, as the result of decades of irresponsible governance driven by political expedience and vote gathering, the underpinning of the status quo has been shattered, and there’s no easy way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Consequently, it’s all but certain we’re going to go through social, as well as financial, hardships before this thing is over. Which delivers me somewhat seamlessly to the next item catching my eye this week… Failed Expectations, Failing States There is a parable about a Southern farmer who takes up the challenge of capturing a herd of particularly aggressive feral hogs. The story proceeds with him putting out some food where he knows the hogs will find it. He then continues putting the food out day after day while, at the same time, slowly building a pen around the feeding spot. The story ends with the farmer simply closing the newly constructed gate on the hogs while they are snout-deep in their slops. If one so desired, however, one could continue the parable as follows… Some months later, the farmer found himself facing hard financial times and decided he could no longer afford to keep feeding the hogs at the same level. The decision made, the next day he cut back the quantity of their rations and substituted the higher-quality feed he had been dishing out with far less tasty tidbits.last_img read more

Colorectal cancer is the secondleading cause of c

first_imgColorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, most frequently diagnosed among adults over 65. To catch those typically slow-growing malignancies early, when they can often be cured, most doctors’ groups recommend colorectal cancer screening starting at age 50.But the American Cancer Society this week changed its advice and is recommending that screening start five years earlier.”There is compelling evidence that the optimum age to start is now 45,” says Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer of the society, who cites a sharp increase in deaths from colon and rectal cancers among men and women under age 50.”People born in the ’80s and ’90s are at higher risk of developing colon cancer, particularly rectal cancer, than people born when I was born back in the ’50s,” Wender says.And the rise is not just because detection is getting better, he says. In fact, the risk of developing colon cancer is twice as high as it was years ago and the risk of developing rectal cancer is four times higher.”We just have to face reality,” says Wender. “We just don’t know why it’s increasing.”Some of the increase could stem from the increase in obesity in the U.S., a known risk factor for colorectal cancer, he says.”But we don’t think that explains the entire change,” he adds. “There is a great deal of interest and a lot of research beginning to try to answer that question.”So far, other groups are maintaining their recommendation that colon cancer screening start at age 50, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine.Stanford University internist Douglas K. Owens, the task force’s vice-chairperson, says the group’s 2016 recommendations were based on extensive review of the benefits and harms of colorectal screening at the time.”There was limited data on screening people under age 50,” Owens says. The new American Cancer Society guidelines, he adds, should prompt more research into the relative benefits and harms of screening among younger people.Dr. Robin B. Mendelsohn, a gastroenterologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, says there’s been an “alarming” increase in cancer among younger adults. She’s the co-director of the recently established Center for Young Onset Colorectal Cancer there.Over the last 10 years, Memorial Sloan Kettering has seen 4,000 new colorectal cancer patients under age 50, she says. Many of them did not have traditional risk factors such as obesity, smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity or a diet high in fat or low in fiber.In fact, Mendelsohn says, they were typically less likely to smoke and less likely to be overweight than their older counterparts.”Anecdotally, when you talk with these patients, [some] are marathon runners who don’t eat red meat, don’t smoke, do everything ‘right’ and say ‘why did this happen to me?’ ” she says.Often, they tell her they’ve seen multiple doctors because of rectal bleeding, but have been told, since they’re under 50, they “can’t have cancer.” That’s clearly not the case, she says.Ongoing studies are looking at a multitude of factors that might be contributing to the earlier cancer incidence. Potential culprits include over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines, antibiotics and antidepressants, as well as multiple vitamins, probiotics and other dietary supplements.The new recommendations should bring greater attention to the value of screening, says Mendelsohn, who suggests that future studies investigate whether even younger people — in their early 40s or even 30s — should be screened.A first colon cancer screening does not have to be a colonoscopy. In its new recommendations, the cancer society recommends choosing from one of six screening tests, which are also currently recommended by other expert groups. The guidelines don’t prioritize among screening choices.The choices include three at-home kits that test stool for blood.These kits need to be ordered by a doctor; primary-care providers often have them on hand in the office to give to patients, Wender says, or they may be mailed.”It’s done in the privacy of your own home,” he says. Patients mail the sample to a research facility which tests for microscopic traces of blood.If the test is positive, a colonoscopy is recommended, Wender says; but only one in five people test positive for blood in their stool.Typically, these home tests of feces are repeated every year for good results.Alternatively, some patients opt for what’s called a “virtual” colonoscopy — essentially a CT scan of the colon — which should be done every five years, according to the new recommendations.Another approved option is a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which looks at the lower part of the colon, and is followed up by a colonoscopy if polyps are found.A positive result picked up in these screening tests is typically followed up by a colonoscopy, which uses a tiny camera to investigate the entire colon. It is not only a search for early cancer; more often than not, Wender says, it detects pre-malignant, suspicious lesions, or polyps, which are removed during the procedure.”When we find and remove polyps we actually prevent any future chance of that developing into cancer,” he says.Despite the high cure rate when colon cancer is caught early, only two-thirds of Americans over 50 get screened.The American Cancer Society says it endorsed the full range of screening tests “without preference” in order to improve the rate of screening. In its latest advice, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says head-to-head comparison studies have shown that no one screening test is more effective than another in early cancer detection.While they differ on the age of first screening, both groups suggest that screening over age 75 should be a joint decision between patient and doctor. And after age 85, screening is no longer necessary, the doctors’ groups agree. That’s because the risk of colonoscopy among this elderly population can outweigh any benefit. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

The Liberal Democrats have published a manifesto w

first_imgThe Liberal Democrats have published a manifesto which – of the five main parties covering both England and Wales – appears to offer the most extensive series of proposals around disability rights.Among them are pledges to formally recognise British Sign Language (BSL) as an official UK language, and to enact the remaining unimplemented clauses of Labour’s Equality Act 2010, including the provisions on discrimination by taxis and private hire vehicles.Possibly the most eye-catching is that the party will “aim for the goal” of bringing together disability benefits and social care – including personal independence payment, employment and support allowance, a “replacement for the Independent Living Fund” and health and social care funding – into a single pot of funding, offering disabled people “one assessment, one budget” for all their needs.On social care, the party promises to end the practice of care workers being forced to rush from one job to the next; to “provide more choice at the end of life”, such as having the choice to die at home rather than in hospital; and to offer free end-of-life social care, if it is “affordable and cost effective”.Like the Conservatives, Greens, Labour and UKIP, the Liberal Democrats want to integrate the NHS and social care systems, but seem to be alone in suggesting a target date – of 2018 – for full pooling of budgets between health and care services.Full responsibility for social care would shift to the Department of Health, while a Liberal Democrat government would commission a “fundamental review” of NHS and social care funding in 2015.The Liberal Democrat manifesto also has a significant focus on mental health, through its “equal care for mental health” pledge.Among its mental health policies, it would ensure people with mental health problems “get the help they need to stay in or find work”, while it would continue the government’s support for the Time to Change anti-stigma programme.A string of welfare reform policies that would impact on disabled people include a promise to devolve support to local areas through a “reformed and improved” Work Programme, in partnership with local authorities and the Welsh and Scottish governments, and ensure better support for those furthest from the labour market, which would include many disabled people.It also pledges to improve links between jobcentres, Work Programme providers and the local NHS, to “ensure all those in receipt of health-related benefits are getting the care and support to which they are entitled”.It says it must continue to find “savings” in the welfare budget, but that its priority would be to tackle the causes of rising social security bills, such as high rents, low pay, sickness and unemployment.One cut would come from a one per cent cap on annual increases in working-age benefits, which would apply for the first three years of the next parliament.Although the party says it would exclude disability benefits from this cap – including personal independence payment (PIP) – it has confirmed that this protection would not extend to the main component of employment and support allowance (ESA), or the work-related activity top-up component of ESA, but only to the ESA support group top-up.Other social security pledges include a review of the work capability assessment and the PIP eligibility test, to ensure they are “fair, accurate and timely”.The party also holds out the possibility of scrapping the controversial use of private sector companies such as Atos, Capita and Maximus to carry out assessments, and replacing them with a public sector provider.There is also a pledge to review benefit sanctions procedures in jobcentres, ensuring there are no “league tables or targets”, and introducing a “yellow card” warning system so claimants are only sanctioned if they “deliberately and repeatedly break the rules”.And the party promises to clear the backlog of PIP assessments, “simplify and streamline” back-to-work support for disabled people, and “seek” to expand the Access to Work programme.As part of pledges on the coalition’s spare room subsidy removal policy – known by most campaigners and opposition MPs as the bedroom tax – the manifesto promises to ensure that all disabled people receive housing benefit for an extra room if they need one.The party would also ensure that all existing social tenants do not have their housing benefit reduced until they have been offered “reasonable alternative accommodation”, while disabled tenants whose homes have been “substantially adapted” will also not see their housing benefit reduced.The party promises to make parliament “more family-friendly”, including a review that would “pave the way for MP jobsharing arrangements”, which many disabled campaigners believe would make it easier for disabled people to enter parliament as part-time, job-share MPs.The manifesto also says that a Liberal Democrat government would encourage employers to shortlist all suitably qualified disabled candidates for jobs, and provide employers with advice on workplace adaptations, as well as copying across the public sector the Civil Service programme that offers accelerated progress through the ranks for under-represented groups, such as disabled people.On access, the party pledges to make more stations wheelchair-accessible and give wheelchair-users priority over children’s buggies when space is limited – a high-profile issue for many disabled people travelling on buses – and improve access to public transport for people with visual and hearing impairments.It also promises to produce a new standard for benchmarking the accessibility of cities, and to improve legislation on blue parking badges.The Liberal Democrats also say they would ensure “proper monitoring” of disability hate crime by police forces and other public bodies.And they promise to ensure that the government’s push for its “transactional” services to become “digital by default” does not leave some people behind, by “upholding the highest standards of accessibility in digital services and maintaining government programmes on digital inclusion”.The manifesto also says the party would review the impact of the coalition’s cuts and reforms to disabled student’s allowance, to “consider additional protections for the most vulnerable” disabled students, and ensure all disabled students receive “appropriate support”.Kelly-Marie Blundell (pictured), the disabled Liberal Democrat candidate for Guildford and a leading member of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association (LDDA), said she was pleased to see policies that she and other LDDA members had worked on make it into the manifesto.These include the commitment to recognise BSL as an official language, to take further action on disability hate crime, and to work towards reviewing and simplifying disability benefits, “including the assessments which have caused so many problems since Labour introduced them”. She said: “Protecting disability benefits from proposed cuts and limits on year-on-year increases will help a lot of people on low income, but also moving employment support to local councils, an area which I led on nationally, will help people with disabilities be best placed to find the right provisions and help to find work.“Protecting the Human Rights Act is vital to ensuring people with disabilities are protected in society, and strengthening resources to tackle disability hate crime, are also important inclusions.”She said she would have liked to have seen more of a commitment in the manifesto to incentivise companies to adapt workplaces for disabled people and to take them on as employees.She said: “All too often there are huge barriers in employing people with disabilities, and only through incentivising companies to get involved will we redress this inequality.” She added: “I’d also like to see more on disabled access to public transport, an area which is poorly provided for across the country, to level the playing-field for thousands of people with mobility problems.”Another disabled candidate, Loraine Birchall, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats in Carlisle, said she was pleased to see a commitment to creating jobcentre “complex case teams”, for benefit claimants who face greater challenges in returning to work or who may never be able to work.    And she welcomed the Liberal Democrat pledge to publish a disability and health employment green paper, working closely with service-users and third sector organisations.She also praised the manifesto’s focus on mental health, including the promise of equality of access to treatment.last_img read more

AfriLabs Announced 7 New TechHubs to its PanAfrikan Innovation Hub Network

first_imgiRise Tech-Innovation Hub first of its kind in Somalia. (Photo Courtesy: Quartz) Advertisement Pan-Africkan innovation hub network; AfriLabs has been working through tech hubs to build an innovation infrastructure that encourages the growth of Africa’s knowledge economy by supporting the development of start-ups, technology, and innovation, fostering partnerships between tech hubs across the different regions and promoting opportunities that the hubs and their communities can benefit from.On June 1st, this year, the pan-hub added 11 hubs including Uganda’s own – The Innovation Village, to its pan network. According to new reports, the tech networking and acceleration association has officially welcomed 7 other new hubs including iRise; the first ever incubation hub in Somalia that had just recently opened up, expanding its network to 67 tech and innovation hubs across more than 27 African countries with over 50,000 community members.Below are the new added incubation hubs;GE Garage, Nigeria.Ecolia Labs, Cameroon.Kumasi Hive.iRise Hub, Somalia.aLabs, Sierra Leone.CTID (Centre de Technologie, d’Innovation pour le Developement) Djibouti.Centre d’innovation de Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). – Advertisement – In a press statement, AfriLabs Executive Director; Anna Ekeledo, said, they are beyond ecstatic about AfriLabs expanding its network.“We look forward to carrying out more projects with our partners and members across Africa to support these hubs and the startups, entrepreneurs and innovators in their communities achieve even greater impact,” she said.last_img read more

Brain Break LG Releases Weird Ad With Jason Statham for its Weird

first_img Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Image credit: LG Mobile Global Next Article Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Senior Editor for Engadget April 1, 2016 Aaron Souppouris Brain Break: LG Releases Weird Ad With Jason Statham for its Weird New Phone –shares 3 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget There’s no denying it: the LG G5 is weird. The Korean company is pitching its latest flagship as a do-everything device and selling a bunch of accessories called “Friends” that expand its capabilities. There’s a swappable battery, a camera grip, a VR headset, a VR camera, a high-res audio attachment and even a rolling robot.Our first impressions of the device, and its Friends, were good, but one question remained: How exactly would LG market the G5? The answer, at least initially, is an equally weird ad with Jason Statham:Let’s unpack this. Throughout the minute-long spot, Statham’s face is literally everywhere. It starts with a bunch of Stathams huddled around an LG G5 on a crowded subway. A fight breaks out, before we randomly see the high-res audio attachment, and then switch to a Stathamized mother and baby. Cue cross-dressing Stathams played for laughs, and a quick shot of the camera grip.A quick aside: Throughout the commercial, we see Statham clicking in modular accessories and batteries. In the real world, switching accessories (at least the ones that plug directly into the phone’s expansion port) requires the phone to turn off and boot up again. Small print on the ad points this out.Some mayhem later, and the British model-turned-action-star’s face is now in a bank heist, where all the hostages are playing with G5s. We then briefly see the rolling robot and VR headset, before we switch to a Pamplona-esque running of the bulls, which is LG’s chance to highlight the VR camera: Sorry, your browser doesn’t support HTML5 video.It’s a terrible piece of filmmaking, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a terrible ad. It’s fun, and memorable — helped by the background track, Ievan Polkka, being one of the catchiest songs ever. The problem is, apart from a voiceover at the end stating that the phone has “a modular design,” it fails to explain why anyone would want a G5, or one its Friends.Do you need to change the LG G5’s hardware to listen to music? What does that weird camera grip even do? Wait is that robot a camera? What’s that thing he holds up at the end? I know the answer to all those questions, but someone coming to the ad without knowing about the device will surely be confused. Hopefully LG follows up this spot with short looks at each of the accessories. LG Add to Queue Register Now »last_img read more

EngagementLed Marketing How Brands Can Deliver More CustomerFocused Journeys in 2019

first_img Today’s technology-driven digital economy has led to there being more opportunities now than ever for marketers to engage with their customers in-the-moment throughout the full customer journey. Marketers and brands don’t need to be ‘journey dictators’, deciding how a journey will pan out before their customers even embark upon it. Today’s technology makes it possible for them to listen and truly hear and understand the intent of their customers as they interact. Through the use of today’s latest technology, brands now have the option and capability to orchestrate context-driven, real-time and ‘live’ journeys at a scale previously unimaginable.With this in mind, it is time to look with fresh eyes at how brands can deliver on customer engagement, and at how brands and marketers can build experiences and more meaningful long-term relationships that meet customer expectations. Ultimately, these days, customers today want to manage their own journey, and it’s up to brands to understand what they need and then deliver value with every interaction, no matter where or when that takes place.Read more: Goldilocks Principle of Marketing: The Need for a Consistent View of the Consumer JourneySeamless customer experiences build relationships  In March 2019, Thunderhead surveyed 4,000 consumers in the US and UK to uncover what consumers expect of brand experiences across the banking, auto, insurance, telco, energy, and retail sectors. Titled Driving The Customer Journey into 2019 and Beyond, the results of Thunderhead’s report were interesting. We found 94% of consumers were frustrated by disjointed experiences and poor customer journeys.When a customer interacts with a brand, he or she is interacting with a collection of different moving parts, including sales and marketing, digital, mobile and e-commerce management, and various backroom functions such as inventory and supply chain management. The problem is that these departments might be optimized for their specific function, but they are sub-optimal at looking at the world through the lens of the customer’s full journey with the brand.The situation is exacerbated by the multiplicity of touchpoints, with around three in five consumers (58%) admitting to having a different experience from the same brand depending on the channel they use. This is an urgent issue that brands are clearly struggling to address. The secret to delivering a quality customer experience is to ensure that the customer doesn’t notice these silos. With almost one-third of customers (31%) still regarding their interactions with brands as merely transactional, there is clearly more than brands can do to build relevant and memorable experiences. Continuity is critical.Customer Loyalty is being challengedConsumers have told us they are no longer willing to put up with poor customer experience and will look elsewhere for products and services if they’re dissatisfied. Two in five of the consumers Thunderhead surveyed (38%) have already taken action and stopped buying from a brand altogether as a result of a bad customer service experience in the last year.This is worrying news for customer retention; consumers are unforgiving and a negative experience can have a direct impact on the size – and profitability – of a brand’s customer base.Indeed, the damage to a brand can go beyond just the loss of a customer. Our survey showed four out of five (82%) disaffected customers will share their views on their experience widely – especially over social media. Of these, 20% said they’d share their thoughts with more than five people, while 7% said they’d share with more than 10. Negative sentiment on social media can spread exponentially, and brands can risk ‘death by social’. It is therefore critical brands ensure every experience is the best they can deliver.Customers are willing to pay a premium for better responses All is not lost, however; if brands are willing to listen, then consumers know what they want. In fact, around a third of customers (35%) are even open to the idea of paying more if the experience is seamless. What consumers want above all else are faster responses, real-time recognition, and an understanding of their context so that the interaction with a brand is easy. Context and customer knowledge clearly matter as demonstrated by the 77% of consumers who said their experience of a brand would be improved if that brand interacted with them via their preferred channel. But brands have to get this interaction right or their customers will punish them.Three in ten consumers (29%) said they’d consider changing to another retailer or provider if they felt comms from a brand to be an invasion of their privacy. And one in five said they’d consider changing if they received no communication at all. That said, more than three quarters (77%) admitted they’d feel more positive about a brand if it engaged in an ongoing conversation that was beneficial to them, as opposed to simply trying to sell them something.What’s more, should customers see these communications as representing genuinely better value and service, they’re far more likely to be willing to share personal information in return – particularly in exchange for loyalty programs, time-saving opportunities, and priority customer services. Striking the right balance in terms of both the frequency and content of customer interaction is a tricky business. It is important to think of it as a conversation. There is as much to be lost as there is to be gained, depending on how far a brand deviates to either side of what appears to be a fairly thin line.Marketing with customers not at themIn order to create the ideal customer experience, brands must be able to make sense of the wealth of interaction and touchpoint signals in real-time to identify the customer and what it is they’re wanting to do. This requires a change of mind set from the brand; instead of asking what it’s trying to sell, the brand now needs to ask how to serve the customer.This is what we at Thunderhead refer to as an ‘intent-driven’ approach to customer journeys. Unlike the more traditional approach, in which product is pushed to a particular customer segment, intent-driven journeys the customer becomes central, recognizing their individual goals and helping them to meet them at the moment they’re interacting. Using all the available insight and context, the brand can then call upon its mobile communications, sales team, or call operators in order to demonstrate its attentiveness to the customer and their needs and of course treat them like a human being, not a ‘target’.ConclusionThe role of the customer journey has now been elevated from delivering planned actions to fostering relationships. We must ensure that these relationships are driven by the customer. It is time, therefore, that we stopped dictating customer journeys, and started enabling them.Read more: Four Ways To Measure The Always-On Consumer Engagement-Led Marketing: How Brands Can Deliver More Customer-Focused Journeys in 2019 Jason HemingwayJuly 9, 2019, 9:00 pmJuly 9, 2019 customer engagementcustomer experienceCustomer Interactionscustomer journeycustomer loyalty Previous ArticleWhy Gamification Doesn’t Work in B2B Customer SupportNext ArticleRubicon Project Appoints Sarah Harden to Board of Directorslast_img read more

Individuals with infection history have higher risk of developing Sjögrens syndrome

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 20 2019Individuals with a history of infection had a two-fold increased risk of developing Sjögren’s syndrome in a Journal of Internal Medicine study. Respiratory, skin, and urogenital infections were most prominently associated with this increased risk.The study included 9,048 individuals from the general population in Sweden and 945 patients with Sjögren’s syndrome–an autoimmune disease characterized by dysfunction and destruction of the salivary and lacrimal glands, leading to dry eyes and mouth.The findings support the hypothesis that environmental triggers of the immune system play an important role in the development of Sjögren’s syndrome.”To design strategies to prevent rheumatic diseases, we need to learn how and why they develop. This is a step in that direction,” said senior author Dr. Marie Wahren-Herlenius, of the Karolinska Institutet. Source:https://newsroom.wiley.com/press-release/journal-internal-medicine/infections-linked-increased-risk-developing-sjoegrens-syndrolast_img read more

European shares flat Daimlers profit warning knocks auto stocks

first_img(For a live blog on European stocks, type LIVE/ in an Eikon news window) July 12 (Reuters) – European shares were little changed in early trade on Friday, as investors parsed through China trade data that came in at market open, an indicator of global economic growth, while a profit warning from Daimler knocked down auto stocks. China’s yuan-denominated exports rose 6.1% in the first half of this year from a year earlier, while imports increased 1.4%, customs data showed, which resulted in a trade surplus of 1.23 trillion yuan ($178.94 billion) for the first six months. The data comes after a spate of disappointing economic reports from around the globe, which showed that the global economy suffered from a protracted U.S.-China trade war that forced major central banks to take a more accommodative stance. The pan-European stocks benchmark was flat at 0712 GMT with auto stocks down 0.6%. AdvertisementDaimler slipped 2.7% after the luxury carmaker warned investors it expected to swing to a second-quarter loss before interest and taxes of 1.6 billion euros. Healthcare stocks slipped as drugmakers resumed their slide after the White House said it was ditching a key plan to lower U.S. drug prices and raising the possibility of new measures focused on drugmakers. Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by ArunKoyyurOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.last_img read more

Auditing Muslim cemeteries in KL

first_imgThe new double-storey office for the Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery. Central Region Related News World 11 Jul 2019 At Vatican, empty tombs add new twist to missing girl mystery Golf 07 Jul 2019 Region’s top amateurs set for Kuala Lumpur showdown Nation 22 Jun 2019 DBKL has planted 600,000 trees in Kuala Lumpur since 2010 Related Newscenter_img “I will ensure DBKL takes action. By early next month, a minimum of two cemeteries will get new signage,” said Nor Hisham during the official opening of a new office and surau at the Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery.The cemetery is the first of 29 in Kuala Lumpur to be reconditioned with a new office, surau, workers’ rest room, toilets, rubbish collection room and repaved roads at a cost of RM900,000. The two-year project was completed in May.Nor Hisham also received contributions from Fawziah Holdings in the form of nine gazebos costing RM50,000. The gazebos were built in various parts of the cemetery to shelter visitors and workers.Meanwhile, DBKL Health and Environment Department assistant administrator Mohd Syamsul Qamar Sabaruddin said the cemetery only had 300 vacant burial plots.He added that the Jalan Kuari Cheras Muslim Cemetery had run out of burial plots.The cemeteries in Jalan Ampang and Jalan Kuari are the only ones under the responsibility of the Kuala Lumpur mayor’s office while six are managed by Jawi and another 21 by mosques supervised by Jawi. AN AUDIT committee will be set up soon to decide on much-needed upgrades of Muslim cemeteries in the city.Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan said the committee would identify cemeteries that need upgrading.The committee will comprise representatives from the Federal Territories Religious Department (Jawi) and Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council.Nor Hisham said some cemeteries under the supervision of mosques were in bad condition due to financial constraints. AdChoices广告Over the past three years, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had hired contractors to upkeep some Muslim cemeteries. Improvements will range from facility and infrastructure upgrades such as new signage, walkways, gazebos and fencing. Tags / Keywords: Nor Hisham signing a plaque to offically open the new office and surau at the Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery as Fawziah Holdings director Datuk Fawziah Abdul Karim looks on. {{category}} {{time}} {{title}}last_img read more

With 100 members in attendance Lok Sabha sits till 1158 pm to

first_img Press Trust of India New DelhiJuly 12, 2019UPDATED: July 12, 2019 13:05 IST During the debate, the Opposition accused the Modi government of trying to sell off railways’ assets instead of focusing on services. (File Photo)The Lok Sabha sat till 11.58 pm on Thursday to conclude discussion on demands for grants for the Railway Ministry, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi saying it is for the first time in nearly 18 years that the Lower House has sat for this long.Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is likely to reply to the debate Friday afternoon, following which the demands for grants will be put to vote.Nearly a 100 members participated in the debate which began Thursday afternoon and concluded at 11.58 pm.”It is a record,” Joshi said.During the debate, the Opposition accused the Modi government of trying to sell off railways’ assets instead of focusing on services, but the BJP asserted that the transport behemoth is breaking new ground everyday especially in areas of infrastructure and safety.The Congress, TMC and other parties tore into the government as they opposed alleged attempts to “privatise” the railways and claimed that the NDA dispensation was “selling dreams” like the ‘bullet train’ to the people, which were “not feasible”.Countering the opposition’s allegations, BJP MP Sunil Kumar Singh said the performance of railways is much better now than under the Congress rule and the national transporter was achieving new milestones.Railway accidents have reduced by 73 per cent in the five-year period of Modi government from 2014 to 2019, he noted.ALSO READ | 29 elected unopposed to Parliamentary Estimates panelALSO WATCH | Narendra Modi arrives for the first parliament session of 17th Lok SabhaFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted bySnigdha Choudhury With 100 members in attendance, Lok Sabha sits till 11.58 pm to conclude debate on railwaysParliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said it is for the first time in nearly 18 years that the Lower House has sat for this long.advertisement Nextlast_img read more

Mumbai 12yearold boy drowns in pit at Worli Sea Link

first_imgMumbai: 12-year-old boy drowns in pit at Worli Sea LinkThe boy was admitted to a nearby hospital by locals but he was declared brought dead.advertisement India Today Web Desk New DelhiJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 20:12 IST A 12-year-old boy drowned in a pit in Mumbai, Maharashtra | Photo from ANIHIGHLIGHTSThe pit was dug for Coastal Road Project at Coastal RoadThe boy was rushed to a nearby hospital after the incidentThe boy was declared dead by the hospitalA 12-year-old boy in Mumbai drowned in a pit on Saturday.The 12-year-old boy drowned in the pit dug for a Coastal Road Project at Coastal Road, Worli Sea Link.The boy was admitted to a nearby hospital by locals but he was declared brought dead.Earlier in the week, heavy rainfall in Mumbai led to the temporary suspension of activity at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.Large parts of the city and suburbs, besides Palghar, Thane and Raigad, were lashed with heavy rain since this week.As Mumbai started the week on a flooded note, a roof collapsed in Shivaji Nagar in Govandi. Eight people were injured in the incident.According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Mumbai will experience intermittent rain or showers with heavy falls at isolated places.Also Read | Mumbai’s Tulsi lake overflows due to heavy rainsAlso Read | Mumbai: Unable to locate 3-year-old Divyansh who fell into gutter, search teams call off operationsAlso Watch | Did this scooter fall into a rain-filled pothole’ in Mumbai?For the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byMohak Gupta Tags :Follow MumbaiFollow Worli Sea Link Nextlast_img read more