A tropical wave that entered Costa Rican territory from the Caribbean Sea on Wednesday is increasing rainfall over several regions, the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) reported.The weather phenomenon, the fifth so far this year, is moving over Costa Rica from east to west and prompted increased rainfall on Wednesday evening.Costa Rica is currently amid the rainy season that usually runs May-November, but the tropical wave is increasing average rainfall levels even further, the IMN noted.IMN monitoring stations reported heavy showers with thunderstorms in the Central Valley, the Northern Zone, the Central and Southern Pacific regions and in the mountainous areas of the Caribbean region.Precipitation on Wednesday resulted in accumulated rainfall levels between 30 and 60 liters per square meter in these regions.Caution: landslidesThe agency warned residents of areas prone to landslides to remain alert, primarily those in the higher lands of the Central Valley, in the Northern Zone and in the Northern Caribbean.Heavy rainfall is also expected to increase river volume throughout the north. The IMN warned people near rivers in the surroundings of the Poás, Turrialba and Rincón de la Vieja volcanoes to be alert, as higher waters could carry materials accumulated from recent eruptions.Experts also advise caution while driving, as rains this week have caused some landslides along various roads. The Traffic Police reported landslides this week on Route 32 between San José and Limón, on the southern stretch of the Inter-Amerian Highway and on the road to Tarbaca, south of the capital, San José.Meteorologists expect showers to slowly begin to decrease on Thursday evening, particularly in the Central Valley and the mountainous areas of the Caribbean region. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica nearing record rainfall for May Landslides block roads, cause losses at farms in Tilarán Low-pressure system over Costa Rica brings rain National Emergency Commission issues preventive alert for heavy rains
September 12, 2002 Concrete batch planthas been an integral part of our construction history for many years.[Photo & text: T] Conveyer belt movessand, gravel and cement into the transit mixer truck. [Photo & text: T] Breaking cement bagsby hand is indeed a hands-on-in-dust experience for Arcosanti workshop participants. [Photo & text: T] We are back! Weapologize for the whole week of absence while our web and mail serverswere down. We missed a few of the Daily Progress postings too. Soplease check the last few we posted with this announcement. [Photo &text: T]
12Jan Rep. Noble announces FIRST Robotics grants to local schools State Rep. Jeff Noble today announced a combined grant award of $18,100 to FIRST Robotics programs at Northville Public Schools and Plymouth-Canton Community Schools from the Michigan Department of Education.Northville’s Robostangs and Redbulls robotics teams were awarded $2,500 and $1,300 respectively, with Plymouth-Canton receiving over $14,000 to 26 programs ranging from elementary to high-school levels.“I’m very proud of Northville and Plymouth-Canton schools for securing this important funding,” Noble said. “It is essential to continue providing opportunities and funding to our students, teachers, and school districts.”FIRST is an international educational organization focusing on the development and implementation of science and technology in schools. The Michigan Department of Education awarded over $2.5 million in grants to FIRST programs in public and non-public schools this year. Since 2014, Michigan has invested over $12 million to FIRST programs.PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Jeff Noble with students from Northville’s Robostangs robotics team during the Michigan Association of Computer Users and Learning Annual Technology Showcase in December. Categories: Noble News
UK-based Digital TV Labs has unveiled what is says is the first conformance testing service for the new HbbTV logo programme for hybrid devices.The new HbbTV logo program enables manufacturers to display compliance with the HbbTV specification and official test suite in return for an annual licence fee. The Digital TV Labs programme includes periodic market sample audits as well as a compliance system for suspected non-compliant devices.The test regime will be based on Digital TV Labs’ Ligada iSuite, its platform for HbbTV and MPEG-DASH.The company will also use its HbbTV 1.5 test suite and country-specific suites to provide compliance testing for the rench TNT2.0 and Spanish TDT Hibrida HbbTV platforms.Keith Potter, CEO of Digital TV Labs, said, “We recognise that the growing adoption of HbbTV across Europe – and now into Asia – means that interoperability is vitally important to guarantee the continuing success of the standard and a quality user experience. The new HbbTV logo programme, incorporating a rigorous compliance monitoring regime, provides clear indication of HbbTV device compliance.”
Editor’s note: Doug Casey is known around the world for many very good reasons. Among investors, he’s well known for being a very successful speculator and author. More broadly, his unwavering support of human liberty and his criticism of institutions based on coercion as well as those who support them have made Doug a hero to many… and perhaps public enemy number one to some of those whom he criticizes. Whether one agrees with him or not, Doug almost always has a singular take on issues and ideas, making his essays and talks highly stimulating. As we approach the end of the year – a time when people often reflect on their progress or lack thereof over the past year across all areas of life – this February 2011 interview of Doug Casey by Louis James on the morality of money seems especially trenchant. We hope it helps you reflect on your relationship with money and investing, and brings a renewed sense of clarity and purpose to your financial activities in 2013. Doug Casey on the Morality of Money Interviewed by Casey Research Chief Metals & Mining Investment Strategist Louis James Louis: Doug, every time we have a conversation, I ask you about the investment implications of your ideas, and we consider ways to turn the trends you see into profits. The assumption is that’s what people want to hear from you, since you’re the guru of financial speculation. But this, your known status as a wealthy man, the fact that you have no children, and other things may lead some people to form an incorrect conclusion about you – that “all you care about is money.” So let’s talk about money. Is it all you care about? Doug: I think anyone who has read our conversation giving advice to people just starting out in life (or re-starting) knows that the answer is no. Or the conversation we had in which we discussed Scrooge McDuck, one of the great heroes of literature. However, I have to stop before we start and push back: If money were all I cared about, so what? Would that really make me a bad person? L: I’ve grokked Ayn Rand’s “money speech,” so you know I won’t say yes, but maybe you should expand on that for readers who haven’t absorbed Rand’s ideas… Doug: I’m a huge fan of Rand. She was an original and a genius. But just because someone like her, or me, sees the high moral value of money, that doesn’t mean it’s all-important to us. In fact, I find money less and less important as time goes by, the older I get. Perhaps that’s a function of Maslow’s hierarchy: If you’re hungry, food is all you really care about; if you’re freezing, then it’s warmth; and so forth. If you have enough money, these basics aren’t likely to be problems. My most enjoyable times have had absolutely nothing to do with money. Like a couple times in the past when I hopped freight trains with a friend, once to Portland and once to Sacramento. Each trip took three days and nights, each was full of adventure and weird experiences, and each cost about zero. It was liberating to be out of the money world for a few days. But it was an illusion. Somebody had to get the money to buy the food we ate at missions. Still, it’s nice to live in a dream world for a while. Sure, I’d like more money, if only for the same genetic reason a squirrel wants more nuts to store for the winter. The one common denominator of all living creatures is one word: Survive! And, as a medium of exchange and store of value, money represents survival… it’s much more practical than nuts. L: Some people might say that if money were your highest value, you might become a thief or murderer to get it. Doug: Not likely. I have personal ethics, and there are things I won’t do. Besides, crime – real crime, taking from or harming others, not law-breaking, which is an entirely different thing – is for the lazy, short-sighted, and incompetent. In point of fact, I believe crime doesn’t pay, notwithstanding the fact that Jon Corzine of MF Global is still at large. Criminals are self-destructive. Anyway, what’s the most someone could take, robbing their local bank? Perhaps $10,000? That’s only enough to make a wager with Mitt Romney. But that leads me to think about the subject. In the old days, when Jesse James or other thieves robbed a bank, all the citizens would turn out to engage them in a gun battle in the streets. Why? Because it was actually their money being stored in the bank, not the bankers’ money. A robbed bank had immense personal consequences for everyone in town. Today, nobody gives a damn if a bank is robbed. They’ll get their money back from a US government agency. The bank has become impersonal; most aren’t locally owned. And your deposit has been packaged up into some unfathomable security nobody is responsible for. The whole system has become corrupt. It degrades the very concept of money. This relates to why kids don’t save coins in piggy banks anymore – it’s because they’re no longer coins with value; they’re just tokens that are constantly depreciating and essentially worthless. All of US society is about as sound as the dollar now. Actually, it can be argued that robbing a bank isn’t nearly as serious a crime today as robbing a candy store of $5. Why? Nobody in particular loses in the robbery of today’s socialized banks. But the candy merchant has to absorb the $5 loss personally. Anyway, if you want to rob a bank today, you don’t use a gun. You become part of management and loot the shareholders through outrageous salaries, stock options, and bonuses, among other things. I truly dislike the empty suits that fill most boardrooms today. But most people are mostly honest – it’s the 80/20 rule again. So, no, I think this argument is a straw man. The best way to make money is to create value. If I personally owned Apple as a private company, I’d be making more money – completely honestly – than many governments… and they are the biggest thieves in the world. L: No argument. Doug: Notice one more thing: making money honestly means creating something other people value, not necessarily what you value. The more money I want, the more I have to think about what other people want, and find better, faster, cheaper ways of delivering it to them. The reason someone is poor – and, yes, I know all the excuses for poverty – is that the poor do not produce more than they consume. Or if they do, they don’t save the surplus. L: The productive make things other people want: Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Doug: Exactly. Selfishness, in the form of the profit motive, guides people to serve the needs of others far more reliably, effectively, and efficiently than any amount of haranguing from priests, poets, or politicians. Those people tend to be profoundly anti-human, actually. L: People say money makes the world go around, and they are right. Or as I tell my students, there are two basic ways to motivate and coordinate human behavior on a large scale: coercion and persuasion. Government is the human institution based on coercion. The market is the one based on persuasion. Individuals can sometimes persuade others to do things for love, charity, or other reasons, but to coordinate voluntary cooperation society-wide, you need the price system of a profit-driven market economy. Doug: And that’s why it doesn’t matter how smart or well-intended politicians may be. Political solutions are always detrimental to society over the long run, because they are based on coercion. If governments lacked the power to compel obedience, they would cease to be governments. No matter how liberal, there’s always a point at which it comes down to force – especially if anyone tries to opt out and live by their own rules. Even if people try that in the most peaceful and harmonious way with regard to their neighbors, the state cannot allow separatists to secede. The moment the state grants that right, every different religious, political, social, or even artistic group might move to form its own enclave, and the state disintegrates. That’s wonderful – for everybody but the parasites who rely on the state (which is why secession movements always become violent). I’m actually mystified at why most people not only just tolerate the state but seem to love it. They’re enthusiastic about it. Sometimes that makes me pessimistic about the future… L: Reminds me of the conversation we had on Europe disintegrating. But let’s stay on topic. So you’re saying that money is a positive moral good in society because the pursuit of it motivates the creation of value. It’s the bridge between selfishness and social good, and it’s the basis for voluntary cooperation, rather than coerced interaction. Anything else? Doug: Yes, but first, let me say one more thing about the issue of selfishness – the virtue of selfishness – and the vice of altruism. Ayn Rand might never forgive me for saying this, but if you take the two concepts – ethical self-interest and concern for others – to their logical conclusions, they are actually the same. It’s in your selfish best interest to provide the maximum amount of value to the maximum number of people – that’s how Apple became the giant company it is. Conversely, it is not altruistic to help other people. I want all the people around me to be strong and successful. It makes life better and easier for me if they’re all doing well. So it’s selfish, not altruistic, when I help them. To weaken others, to degrade them by making them dependent upon generosity, as we discussed in our conversation on charity, is not doing those people any good. If you really care about others, the best thing you can do for them is to push for totally freeing all markets. That makes it both necessary and rewarding for them to learn valuable skills and to become creators of value and not burdens on society. It’s a win-win all around. L: That’ll bend some people’s minds… So, what was the other thing? Doug: Well, referring again to our conversation on charity, the accumulation of wealth is in and of itself an important social as well as a personal good. L: Remind us. Doug: The good to individuals of accumulating wealth is obvious, but the social good often goes unrecognized. Put simply, progress requires capital. Major new undertakings, from hydropower dams to spaceships, to new medical devices and treatments, require huge amounts of capital. If you’re not willing to extract that capital from the population via the coercion of taxes, i.e., steal it, you need wealth to accumulate in private hands to pay for these things. In other words, if the world is going to improve, we need huge pools of capital, intelligently invested. We need as many “obscenely” rich people as possible. L: Right then… so, money is all good – nothing bad about it at all? Doug: Unfortunately, many of the rich people in the world today didn’t get their money by real production. They got it by using political connections and slopping at the trough of the state. That’s bad. When I look at how some people have gotten their money – Clinton, Pelosi, and all the politically connected bankers and brokers, just for a start – I can understand why the poor want to eat the rich. But money itself isn’t the problem. Money is just a store of value and a means of exchange. What is bad about that? Gold, as we’ve discussed many times, happens to be the best form of money the market has ever produced: It’s convenient, consistent, durable, divisible, has intrinsic value (it’s the second-most reflective and conductive metal, the most nonreactive, the most ductile, and the most malleable of all metals), and can’t be created out of thin air. Those are gold’s attributes. People attribute all sorts of other silly things to gold, and poetic critics talk about the evils of the lust for gold. But it’s not the gold itself that’s evil – it’s the psychological aberrations and weaknesses of unethical people that are the problem. The critics are fixating on what is merely a tool, rather than the ethical merits or failures of the people who use the tool and are responsible for the consequences of their actions. L: Sort of like the people who repeat foolish slogans like “guns kill” – as though guns sprout little feet when no one is looking and run around shooting people all by themselves. Doug: Exactly. They’re the same personality type – busybodies who want to enforce their opinions on everyone else. They’re dangerous and despicable. Yet they somehow posture as if they had the high moral ground. L: OK, so even if you cared only for money, that could be seen as a good thing. But you do care for more – like what? Doug: Well, money is a tool – the means to achieve various goals. For me, those goals include fine art, wine, cars, homes, horses, cigars, and many other physical things. But it also gives me the ability to do things I enjoy or value – like spend time with friends, go to the gym, lie in the sun, read books, and do pretty much what I want when I want. Let’s just call it as philosophers do: “the good life.” It’s why my partners and I built La Estancia de Cafayate [in Argentina]. We have regular events down there I welcome readers to attend. But I don’t take money too seriously. It’s just something you have. It’s much less important than what you do, and trivial in comparison to what you are. I could be happy being a hobo. As I said in the conversation on fresh starts, there have been times when I felt my life was just as good and I was just as happy without much money at all. That said, you can’t be too rich or too thin. L: Very good. Investment implications? Doug: This may all seem rather philosophical, but it’s actually extremely important to investors. What is the purpose of investing or speculating? To make money. How can anyone hope to do that well if they feel that there is something immoral or distasteful about making money? Someone who pinches his or her nose and tries anyway because making money is a necessary evil will never do as well as those who throw themselves into the fray with gusto and delight in doing something valuable – and doing it well. L: The law of attraction. Doug: Yes, but I don’t view the law of attraction as a metaphysical force – rather as a psychological reality. If you have a negative attitude about something, you’re unlikely to attract it… even if you try to talk yourself into thinking the opposite. L: OK, but that’s not a stock pick… Doug: Sure. We’re talking basics here. No stock picks today, just a Public Service Announcement: If you think money is evil, don’t bother trying to accumulate wealth. On the other hand, if you want to become wealthy, you’d better think long and hard about your attitudes about money, work through the thoughts above and those you can find in the rest of our conversations… Cultivate a positive attitude about money, which is right up there with language as one of the most valuable tools man has ever invented. Think about it, and give yourself permission to become rich. It’s a good thing. L: Very well. Thanks for what I hope will prove to be a very thought-provoking conversation! Doug: My pleasure. Talk to you next week. A successful investing strategy requires much more than choosing the right stocks: it requires an understanding of cultural, political, and economic trends as well as being able to analyze a sector and the companies in it. Doug Casey’s decades of successful speculation show that he’s “the real deal” – and now you can have deeper access into his mind, in one convenient location. Doug has recently written a book, Totally Incorrect, which offers his thoughts and investment implications on topics as wide-ranging as NASA, paying taxes, ethics, why college education is a waste of resources, the immorality of voting, and much more. It’s available as an e-book as well as in physical format – get all the details here.
In This Issue. * Dollar rebounds on first day after April. * Greece appears to have blinked first. * U.K. election this week, so far it’s a toss up * Zero Hedge points out manipulation.And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts.Is The IMF Greasing The Tracks?Good day.. And a Marvelous Monday to you! May the Fourth be with you. HA! Whew! I’m worn out from the Baseball games this past weekend, which featured a sweep of the Pirates, and 3 consecutive extra inning walk off wins! Classic, old-school, baseball with two teams evenly matched, and both waiting for the other team to blink. All the kids were over yesterday, as I fired up the Big Green Egg, and we watched the game together, except the end. Everyone had given up, except darling daughter Dawn, and Dad, we watched the walk off home run and then rubbed it in to the rest who had gone inside! HA! Speaking of waiting for a team to blink. Chris sent me a note on Friday, saying, “Sounds like Greece blinked first”, and he forwarded an article that talked about some concessions that Greece had agreed to, so that they could remain in the euro. This is the first step of kicking the can down the road for the Eurozone and Greece. Chris added: “Not that the stare down is over, but certainly sounds like the Greek leaders are realizing they need to stay in the euro”. Yes, it sure does. The “concessions” haven’t led to a euro rally though. The euro’s April rally ended with the month, and May is looking as though it will be a tough row to hoe for the euro, or at least it looks that way from the start. As I kept reminding you during the April rally, which actually ended up being the best month for the euro since 2010, came about from all the weak data in the U.S., it wasn’t about anything good going on in the Eurozone. And with April behind us now, Traders are thinking that the data here in the U.S. is going to begin to look better.. Why would they think that? Because the Fed told them last week that it was going to get better. I’m not buying whatever it is they are selling, folks. I’m from Missouri, they are going to have to show me! And I get all creeped out, thinking that these guys (Traders) are all hanging their hats on the Jobs Jamboree that will take place at the end of the week on Friday. Let me put it this way. I have NO DOUBTS, the jobs numbers will be better in April than they were in March. And that’s all I’ll say about that now. While I’m on the subject of U.S. Data. Remember when I told you Friday that the U.S. ISM Manufacturing index was going to print for April that day, and it would be the first test to see if the Fed’s call that the very weak 1st QTR was just “Transitory” was fact or fiction. I also told you the consensus was for this data to stop the trend toward weaker prints each month. Well, guess what? The April ISM was 51.5, same as March’s number. So no increase, no change that would make one think the 1st QTR was just “Transitory”. yes, you could say, but, Chuck, it didn’t fall again. and I would say yes, but it also didn’t rise, which makes me believe the manufacturing sector is just muddling along. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will meet tonight (tomorrow for them) and make a rate decision. I still don’t believe Australia needs a rate cut. Granted I’m not there, and my view from the cheap seats is from thousands of miles away. But the RBA is going to take the “Everybody else is doing it” approach, and probably cut rates this evening. The Aussie dollar (A$) hit 80-cents last week, and that level has proved to be much like the star that shines the brightest before it burns out, and it was right after hitting 80-cents that Traders began talking about a rate cut by the RBA. Hmmm. I wonder where they got that idea? You don’t think the RBA whispered sweet nothings into the ears of the Traders do you? Nah, that wouldn’t happen. would it? I don’t doubt it for a minute that it happened just like that, for the RBA saw the A$ 5-cents away from the 75-cents figure they’ve stated that would like to see the A$ trade, and decided they had better do something. Of course I don’t know that to be fact. Just an observation, like I said. So, May is starting off in the U.S. dollar’s favor, even after the week before IMM Positions report showed the biggest drop in long U.S. dollar contracts since the week leading up to the March FOMC. 35,000 contracts were cut last week, with the biggest beneficiary to the cut going to the euro, where net short contracts were cut back by 17,000. the pound sterling and Mexican peso were the only currencies that saw their net short positions increased! And that makes sense given the U.K. election is this week, and it’s still up in the air as to who will win, and if they do, they probably won’t be able to form a coalition government. And we’ve talked about unknowns being bad for currencies for as long as I’ve been writing this letter, which is in its 23rd year. The Chinese renminbi/ yuan was weakened a bit overnight, stopping the string of appreciation that took place last week. I have to tell you that The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is reporting that the IMF is close to declaring China’s renminbi / yuan to be fairly valued for the first time in more than a decade.. The WSJ says that “this will be a milestone in the country’s efforts to open its economy that would blunt U.S. criticism of Beijing’s currency policy”. Sounds like the IMF is greasing the tracks to include the renminbi / yuan in the SDR’s, like I’ve been talking about. For the IMF has not been a fan of Beijing’s currency management in the past. China must be exerting a lot of power here folks. They very badly want the renminbi / yuan included in the SDR’s for that would be a major step toward them removing the dollar as the reserve currency, which has been their plan for quite a few years now. I was writing and doing weekly videos to subscribers of the Currency Capitalist monthly newsletter published by the Sovereign Society in 2008, when I first began to notice and write about China’s Currency Swap agreements, which they had signed with most of the Asian countries and Belarus when I first noticed what was going on, so let’s say, it was 2006 that they began this quest. I first told the audience in Orlando at the Money Show, in 2010, that I thought the renminbi would remove the dollar as the reserve currency by the end of the decade. So we are now ½-through the decade, and look at all the progress the Chinese have made in 5 years? I don’t talk about the dollar losing the reserve status flippantly either. I also tell audiences that to lose the reserve status is a devastating thing to a country. I always refer back to, as a kid, watching the Beatles the first time on the Ed Sullivan show, and how they showed us pictures from the Beatles home town of Liverpool, and how depressing those pictures looked. That was the U.K. economy after being stripped of the reserve status for the pound that took place first in the 1920’s but got it back when the U.S. went through the stock crash and depression, only to lose the reserve status for good after WWII. It took the U.K. 50 years to recover from the loss of the reserve status, and it was only because Richard Nixon took the U.S. off the Gold standard, with everyone else eventually following, and the great rise in Credit (read debt) took place for the G-7 countries. The Canadian dollar / loonie experienced a nice rally in April too, which was ½- generated by weak U.S. data, and the other ½-generated by the brighter outlook by the Bank of Canada (BOC) early in April allowed the loonie to have the best one-month performance VS the dollar in 6 years! The problem with that brighter outlook, is that it was all based on a weaker loonie, which was helping exports. It was a real conundrum for BOC Gov Poloz. If he talks glowingly about the economy, which makes him look good, the loonie rallies, which is NOT what he wants to see happen. This Friday, as with most Fridays when the U.S. has a Jobs Jamboree Canada also prints their jobs report for the previous month. The thing I want to point out here is something I’ve told you ever since Poloz became the Gov of the BOC. And that is he is from the Trade side of the Gov’t. and those people are born and raised to complain about currency strength. So, I don’t think the loonie has much chance to add to its 5% gain in April, for Poloz will not allow that to happen. Well, I just had to stop and sing along with Leon Russell, and his song: Back to the Island. And watch the sun go down. Hear the sea roll in.. But I’ll be thinking of you.. And how it might have been. Ok. I’m back now. And it appears that the only currencies gaining VS the dollar today are Gold and Silver. And I wouldn’t exactly call Gold’s move a strong move higher. Zerohedge.com ran a pretty interesting story on Friday, and included some really cool screen shots of trading in Gold. Here’s a snippet of the whole piece. “Much to our dismay, overnight we learned that while the CFTC continues to be very, very confused and challenged by all those lobby payments by the world’s “liquidity providing” HFTs and ignores all documented evidence of manipulation, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange – owner of the futures exchange where the bulk of modern manipulation takes place – did read this evidence of manipulation, and decided to immediately take action, suspending two traders for placing the manipulative “spoofing and layering” trades profiled here three days ago which were virtually identical to the ones that got Navinder Singh Sarao into headlines around the world last week. Except, of course, the asset class manipulated was gold. And, perhaps what’s far worse, the manipulation sent the price of gold briefly higher.” You should read the whole article here. that is as long as you believe in the price manipulation of Gold & Silver. I know that some of you don’t believe it, so You can go ahead move along for these are not the droids you’re looking for. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-01/gold-manipulator-busted-after-zero-hedge-report-hft-gold-spoofing The U.S. Data Cupboard on Friday had the aforementioned ISM, but it also had some very disturbing Construction Spending data from APRIL! So new data that goes toward the 2nd QTR GDP. April Construction Spending fell -.6% , and get this. The Atlanta Fed cut their 2nd QTR GDP outlook to .8%, after seeing the color of the Construction Spending data. This was the worst print here since 2009, when the Fed began QE1. In fact 7 of the last 10 months this data has missed expectations. Today, we have Factory Orders For March. And quite frankly, now that the Fed has put all their eggs into the basket of the next two month’s data I don’t care about March prints. I will be keeping score on April and May data. and so far, we had a no gain ISM and a disastrous Construction Spending in April. To Recap. It appears that April’s currency rally has run into a road block for May, as the dollar is rebounding against all currencies this morning. Traders are buying into the Fed’s call that the bad 1st QTR Data was “Transitory” and will be better in the 2nd QTR, and trading the dollar accordingly. I wonder what will happen when they wake up and smell the fact that the 2nd QTR Data isn’t “better”. The U.K. election is this week, still no real clear winner or party. the WSJ is reporting that the IMF is about to say China’s currency is fair valued. And Gold & Silver have small gains VS the dollar today Then There Was This. I thought you might like to see how the U.S. economy is looked at by someone outside of the U.S. The U.K. Telegraph. You can read the whole article here: but I have a couple of snippets that tell the story first. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11578200/US-jobs-relapse-raises-fresh-doubts-on-Fed-tightening.html “A key indicator of manufacturing jobs in the US has dropped to its lowest level since the financial crisis as industry remains stuck in the doldrums, dashing hopes for a swift rebound after the economy ground to a halt in the first quarter. The surprisingly weak data greatly reduce any likelihood the US Federal Reserve will raise rates in June for the first time in eight years, once again putting off the long-feared turning point in the global monetary cycle and perhaps offering another reprieve for dollar debtors across the world. The closely watched index of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) remained anemic in April, confirming fears that the strong US dollar and energy crash in the once-booming shale states are taking a serious toll. The employment component dropped sharply to 48.3, below the “boom-bust line” of 50 and the lowest in almost six years. The relapse is likely to set off alarm bells at the Fed, where chairman Janet Yellen pays very close attention to the labor market.” Chuck again. See? It’s not just me that sees these things. But why doesn’t the Fed see them? Only the shadow knows, I guess. Currencies today 5/4/15. American Style: A$ .7830, kiwi .7525, C$ .8240, euro 1.1135, sterling 1.5095, Swiss $1.0685, . European Style: rand 12.0590, krone 7.5980, SEK 8.3805, forint 272.45, zloty 3.6305, koruna 24.5690, RUB 51.87, yen 120.25, sing 1.3330, HKD 7.7530, INR 63.42, China 6.1165, pesos 15.56, BRL 3.0770, Dollar Index 95.53, Oil $59.43, 10-year 2.13%, Silver 16.29, Platinum $1,132.63, Palladium $775.75, and Gold. $1,182.21 That’s It For today. Well that was an exciting Kentucky Derby race on Saturday wasn’t it? Yes, the favorite horse won, that’s why he was the favorite! My wife came back home on Saturday, and the first thing she said upon arriving at the house was that the grass hadn’t been cut. I tried to explain to her that I had been very sick all week, but she was having none of those excuses! See how badly she treats me? HAHAHAHA! Well, Tomorrow is the Cinco de Mayo Celebration, that I think gets more attention here in the U.S. than in Mexico. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the famous email I received years ago, on Cinco de Mayo. Well, my beloved Cardinals are off to their best start since 1944 (they won the World Series that year!) And now the upstart, kids from Chicago come to town. Appropriately named the Cubs, this team is a collection of high draft choices and trades, to form a good young team. Woke up this morning with a mouth full of blood, from the tumor in my jaw. It’s shrinking again, which is what causes the bleeding. UGH! But I’m fine now, had my breakfast, and I’m good to go! So, now you have to promise that you’ll go out and make this a Marvelous Monday! Chuck Butler Managing Director EverBank Global Markets
Recommended Link Year 53.7 Year 20190.0 Justin’s note: Today’s essay comes from our good friend and colleague Chris Mayer.If you’ve never heard of Chris, he’s one of the best value investors on the planet. His proprietary investment strategy outperformed not only the S&P 500, but also legendary investors like Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn, John Paulson, and David Einhorn for 10 years straight.In short, when he offers advice, we listen. Below, Chris reveals the three signs he looks for when searching for 100-baggers (stocks that return 100-to-1), even when the broad market is overvalued like it is today… By Chris Mayer, editor, Chris Mayer’s FocusThere’s one question I get from readers over and over again…Why invest in stocks if the world is going to pot?I’m going to cite one piece of remarkable evidence I uncovered in my own massive study of the stock market’s biggest winners.I call these winners “100-baggers” (stocks that returned 100-to-1). And after spending three years and $138,000 to investigate them, I discovered they all have certain aspects in common.I’ll tell you about those attributes in a moment. For now, let’s agree that there is plenty to worry about. And the stock market is not cheap.The S&P 500’s CAPE ratio (a stock valuation measure designed to smooth out earnings volatility) has only been this high one other time in the last century—right before the dot-com crash of 2000. That means many stocks are expensive.But just because a stock market index like the S&P is pricey doesn’t mean there aren’t good values out there. Unless you are a buyer of the index itself, it is not relevant to the business of finding great stocks today.Let me give you a historical example: 1966 to 1982.This 17-year stretch was dead money for stocks—or what so many people would have you believe. The Dow Jones Industrial Average basically went nowhere. And if you factor in the period’s high inflation, the performance was even worse. Thus, you might conclude you didn’t want to be in stocks. — Revealed for the first time ever on Camera: Chris Mayer’s “Secret Weapon”?You may not recognize this man… But he’s a former analyst at Peter Schiff’s New York brokerage firm… a former CPA at Deloitte… and a former analyst of special micro-cap investment firm, Sidoti & Company… Now, he works for Chris Mayer… Just three of his most recent ideas could have made you gains of 108.9%, 120.3% and 116%… all in less than 16 weeks! And now, for the first time, he is going to publicly share three ideas on camera that could make you a considerable amount of money in the next 12 months. Details here. Year 1013.8 — It’s really just a matter of scale.McDonald’s did about $25 billion in sales last year. So if it wants to double that number, it would need to sell an extra 5 billion Big Macs next year. Granted, this is an oversimplified example, but you get the idea.But it’s not as hard for a small company to increase its sales by double, triple, or more.Not all small companies become big companies, of course. But after studying over 360 100-baggers, I have a basic few clues to look for.The ability to expand into national and/or international markets. Think about the three big winners above. You had a small tax preparer, airline, and retailer. All three started as local, or regional, businesses. And all three grew into national brands. To get those big returns, even in lousy economic environments, you need to have room to grow.Strong returns on the capital invested in the business. If you invest $100 in a business and it generates a cash profit of $20, that’s a 20% return on equity, or ROE. You don’t need to know a lot about finance to know that is a very good return.Well, nearly all of the stocks in my 100-bagger study were good businesses by this measure. They earned returns of 20% and above.H&R Block, for example, earned astronomical returns on its equity—in the early days, especially. ROEs were well over 30% in most years. For L Brands, ROE was over 25% for years and years. And low-cost Southwest had—and still has—among the best economics of any airline.Which brings me to the final—and perhaps most important—clue I’ll share with you today…The ability to reinvest profits and earn high returns again and again and again. This one is just math. If you can earn 30% on your equity and reinvest your profits and earn 30% again… well, the dollars start to pile up real fast.Take a look: Year 11.3 Recommended Link But here’s what my research on 100-baggers found: There were 187 stocks you could’ve bought between 1966 and 1982 that would have multiplied your money 100 times.In fact, during that 17-year stretch, you’d have had at least a dozen opportunities each month to multiply your money 100x if you just held on.In some cases, you didn’t even have to wait very long. Southwest Airlines returned more than 100 times in about 10 years beginning in 1971. Leslie Wexner’s L Brands (owner of Victoria’s Secret, among other retail properties) did it in about eight years starting in 1978. In 1966, you could’ve bought H&R Block and turned a $10,000 investment into $1 million in under two decades.So, the indexes can tell you what kind of environment you are in. But they don’t predict what will happen to individual stocks.It’s certainly harder to find great opportunities in highly priced markets. And it’s easier to find big winners at market bottoms (but perhaps not so easy as to make yourself buy them, as fear is rife at such times). These facts should surprise no one.However, my point is simply this: Don’t fret so much with guesses as to where the stock market might go. Keep looking for those 100-baggers.If history is any guide, they are always out there…All 100-Baggers Have This in CommonAs I mentioned above, companies such as Southwest Airlines, L Brands, and H&R Block have returned more than 100 times to investors during a period when the broader market went absolutely nowhere.And there is something these three companies had in common:Southwest recorded $6 million in sales in 1972. By 1975, it did $23 million in sales. And by the end of the decade, it hit $200 million in sales.L Brands had sales of $210 million in 1978. It hit $1 billion in sales in 1980. By the end of the 1980s, it hit $5 billion in sales.H&R Block did just $14 million in sales in 1967. In 1975, it passed the $100 million mark in sales.See a pattern here?All three were small companies with lots of room to grow.For larger companies, the condition of the economy can be a constraint. They depend on broad-based economic growth. It is hard for Coca-Cola or McDonald’s to grow faster than the overall economy. They’re just so big already. ATTENTION Seniors: Mark October 19th on Your Calendar!If you put your name on this list of recipients before October 19th… You could be entitled to a deposit up to $1,720 or more! It’s all thanks to a little-known contract between the Social Security Administration and the private sector. Click here for the details. After 10 years, you’ll have 14 times what you started with. After about 18 years, you’ll have a 100-bagger. This is how you power through bad economic times.Finally, there is a great Charlie Munger quote I want to share because it shows you the importance of this concept of ROE:Over the long term, it’s hard for a stock to earn a much better return than the business which underlies it earns. If the business earns 6% on capital over 40 years and you hold it for that 40 years, you’re not going to make much different than a 6% return—even if you originally buy it at a huge discount. Conversely, if a business earns 18% on capital over 20 or 30 years, even if you pay an expensive looking price, you’ll end up with a fine result.So there you have it. Even though the overall market looks expensive, remember that you are not buying the market. You’re buying individual stocks.That’s why you should look for great small-cap stocks with the traits I’ve shared above.If you find a business that can earn 25% or so on its capital over many years, what happens to the overall market won’t matter.Regards,Chris MayerEditor, Chris Mayer’s FocusP.S. Some of the world’s best investors email me ideas… But until now, I haven’t been able to share them with you.Now, for the first time, I’m preparing to share three of these ideas from my private network… And I’m so convinced they’ll pay off for you, I’m putting $5 million on the line to prove it. Click here to learn more…Reader MailbagToday, a reader writes in with a question regarding our recent essay on the marijuana boom. It’s something you might even be wondering yourself…If marijuana really becomes a big business, it will be taken over by the cigarette companies who are in the best position to market it on a large scale. It would be hard for a small company to compete with them.Justin’s note: This reader is absolutely correct. When marijuana’s legalized at the federal level, big tobacco will go after marijuana profits. Big alcohol and big pharma will also fight for slices of the pie.But that shouldn’t stop you from investing in marijuana. If anything, this is a reason to buy marijuana stocks now. Casey Research founder Doug Casey explained why in the October issue of The Casey Report:My guess is that as cannabis becomes fully legal in all its forms in the years to come, that big food and drug companies will take over the leading players—at a big premium. When you’re a big company, it’s much cheaper and easier to buy expertise and production than to make all the usual—and numerous and inevitable—mistakes trying to get in at the ground floor. Someday—not far in the future—you’ll see a takeover mania in the area.You’ll obviously want to own marijuana stocks before this “takeover mania” begins.You can learn about the top marijuana stocks by watching this new presentation. As you’ll see, the best marijuana money-making opportunity isn’t in the United States. It’s north of the border, in Canada. To learn why, check out this free video. You Don’t Want to Miss This…From November 6–10, Doug Casey, Crisis Investing editor Nick Giambruno, and Casey Report editor E.B. Tucker will gather together with a group of close friends at one of the most unique places in the world: Doug’s world-class residential community in Argentina—La Estancia de Cafayate.As a reader of the Dispatch, we’d like to invite you to join.This is not an investment conference—far from it. It’s friends gathering at a place built for like-minded people.There’ll be great steaks, locally produced wine, and probably a few too many Cuban cigars. We’ll discuss what’s going on in the world, and what’s around the bend.This is a unique chance to spend a few days with great people in one of the world’s most beautiful settings. If you haven’t seen the high desert of Argentina, please consider joining us.Keep in mind, space is limited and spots are filling up quickly. So if you’re interested, don’t wait to sign up.To get more details, just send us an email using this link. We hope to see you at La Estancia de Cafayate November 6–10.
Justin’s note: Today, in-house commodities expert Dave Forest shares the details behind his Casey Cost Curve system… and the two key metals it’s flashing buy signals on today.As you’ll see, these are two metals to own in addition to gold in the months ahead. And the window to get in is quickly closing…Justin: Dave, thank you for taking the time to speak with me again. During our last conversation, you mentioned how you see a financial crisis on the horizon. You also mentioned how gold is the number one metal to own heading into, during, and after a crash.Is that the only commodity you like these days?Dave: Right, so we’re kind of in “protective mode” right now. But that doesn’t mean that we’re avoiding all other commodities.I say this because two commodities really stand out right now in our Casey Cost Curve system. Simply put, Casey Cost Curves tell us how much it costs for mines around the world to produce a commodity. When commodity prices are near or below the cost curve, it’s a buy signal… meaning that producers are making little or no profit – and thus prices need to rise in order to preserve supply.Justin: And what two commodities stand out?Dave: Platinum and uranium… but for different reasons. So I’ll start with platinum.Right now, more than half of the platinum mines in the world aren’t profitable. It’s very rare for a metal’s price to be so depressed that half the industry is not making money. But it’s because about 70% of the world’s platinum comes from South Africa.And South Africa, as you know, is having all kinds of problems. It’s plagued by labor issues, high-power costs, and government legislation.South Africa’s mines are also generally old and exceptionally deep (up to a few kilometers in some cases). Not only that, mining costs here are on the rise – at a time when platinum prices are at a historic low.When you add it all up, it’s basically a powder keg for one of the world’s key metals. “I Will Not Apologize” (Notice Of Termination)Like it or not, this Wall Street legend has the ultimate unfair advantage in the market… and routinely spots the markets fastest-growing stocks – up to 30 days in advance.On January 24th, an obscure semiconductor company named Xilinx (XLNX) was the #1 stock on the Nasdaq… he spotted it over a month in advance.Last August 10th, The Trade Desk (TTD) was the Nasdaq’s #1 stock. He spotted it on July 27th — exactly two weeks earlier.And Paycom Software (PAYC) rose to the top of the NYSE, the world’s largest stock exchange. He recommended it to readers 20 days before it soared.And like it or not, his publisher is pulling his groundbreaking presentation offline on April 30th at midnight. Recommended Link Click here now or miss out Justin: A recipe for higher prices?Dave: Absolutely.We have a world-class platinum company in our International Speculator portfolio.I’m also looking to add more platinum positions. The challenge is that there aren’t very many platinum companies on Earth, and most are in South Africa.The two other major platinum-producing countries are Russia and Zimbabwe. And neither is an A-grade investment destination, either.So it’s not exactly easy to speculate on platinum. But we’re keeping a close eye on the situation.Justin: What about uranium? What makes it stand out?Dave: So uranium is also pretty attractive on the cost curve.Like platinum, most uranium companies are losing money. Even Cameco, the world’s largest public uranium producer, has been shutting down mines due to low prices. Not only that, it’s shutting down some of the world’s lowest-cost mines, like McArthur River.When an industry’s lowest-cost mines are shutting down due to low prices, you know the situation is pretty dire. That makes uranium interesting.We’ve kept our uranium positions for that reason… and we’ve actually added a few more, including one of the only uranium producers based in the U.S. We think it will do really well.Justin: And what if there’s a financial crisis? How should uranium fare?Dave: Uranium demand is pretty steady, regardless of the financial environment. After all, the lights have to stay on no matter what, and since uranium powers nuclear plants – which supply around 20% of America’s energy – there’s not a lot of room to lower that demand.It’s also worth mentioning that uranium has less of a speculative element than other commodities, like copper. Because of this, uranium is less vulnerable to a financial correction.Justin: What do you mean by that?Dave: I’m specifically referring to its price…With a highly liquid metal like copper, you get a lot of people speculating on it. A lot of people buy and sell paper futures on it. There’s a lot of that with gold, too. Even iron ore now has a lot of speculative trading. But uranium has very little speculative buying.Sure, there’s a uranium futures market. But it’s not a very big market. This is important because a lot of people will dump copper futures when there’s a financial crisis. That won’t happen with uranium. “Eye-opening” Big Surprise Coming for the White HouseWill this go down in history as THE moment that changed America – forever? At first, I didn’t think so. And you won’t either, I bet. But your mind will change in 60 seconds… once you see the stunning proof this millionaire and former hedge fund manager is releasing today. Recommended Link — — Justin: What about uranium stocks? Aren’t they some of the most speculative assets on the planet?Dave: Yes. Uranium exploration stocks have a huge speculative element.If the uranium price goes up, they can catch fire. Paladin, for example, went from one cent in 2003 to $9.57 in 2007. It was incredible… a 95,600% gain in less than four years.There was also a lot of speculation in physical uranium when the market picked up. A bunch of people created funds to buy physical uranium when uranium moved up from $20 to $40.But the uranium market has been depressed for so long that all of that speculation has evaporated.Of course, that could all come back if the market heats up again. And that would be great. It would help propel things higher.But we don’t have it right now. So we’re not going to see speculators dump uranium en masse if a financial crisis hits tomorrow.Justin: That’s interesting.I know a lot of people understand the upside potential of uranium. But few probably realize that it has a lot less downside than most commodities… particularly in the event of a major financial crisis.Dave: Correct. Speaking of uranium’s potential, we actually just wrote an entire issue on uranium in International Speculator. [Subscribers can access that issue here.]We believe that the nuclear industry has reached an inflection point. Just look at what’s happened recently.On March 22, Energy Secretary Rick Perry unveiled a $3.7 billion funding package to complete the last remaining nuclear plants under construction in the U.S. Commissioning is expected in 2021 and 2022, making these America’s first nuclear starts in 25 years.That’s big news. But an even bigger announcement came for nuclear, just a week later.On April 1, reports emerged that China is about to approve construction of new reactors. Papers quoted the head of China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration, Liu Hua, who said, “China will start building new nuclear projects this year.”This would be the first approval of new reactors in China in three years – and Liu’s comments suggest building is going to restart imminently.That’s great news for uranium producers, because China has been the biggest driver of global reactor buildouts this decade. In fact, Chinese-installed nuclear capacity has increased more than 20-fold since 1990.China’s reactor builds are the biggest factor affecting global uranium demand. Even with the slowdown in reactor construction recently, Chinese projects still account for 25% of the nuclear capacity being built worldwide.China has lots of nuclear projects it could choose to activate. Planned and proposed projects across the country would add 162,476 megawatts electric of capacity. That would triple China’s overall nuclear generation.And several recent moves from China’s uranium companies support a coming surge.So uranium is attractive from both fundamental and sentimental perspectives. For the longest time, “nuclear” was seen as a bad word. But it’s now being embraced, even seen as a solution by the climate change community. It’s quite interesting.Justin: Great stuff, Dave. Sounds like a big money-making opportunity. Thanks for sharing.Dave: My pleasure.Justin’s note: Dave says we’re about to witness the birth of a brand-new, $9.6 billion market.And today, you can get in on the ground floor.If his projections are correct, you’ll be able to turn a small stake into $50,000 – maybe more.In this short video, he explains everything you need to know about this opportunity… including how to position yourself for the biggest gains possible.For reasons you’ll soon discover, this opportunity won’t last long… So please pay close attention.Reader MailbagWill you be taking advantage of this money-making opportunity? Are you invested in commodities today? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.In Case You Missed It…You’re invited to spend time with your favorite investing masterminds in southern California… the only time this year that all of Casey Research’s gurus will be together on one stage…As a Dispatch reader, you’ve got an exclusive invitation to join us at the second annual Legacy Investment Summit on September 23-25.Join the smartest minds in finance – like the legendary Doug Casey, former hedge fund manager Teeka Tiwari, master trader Jeff Clark, and angel investor Jeff Brown – for their exclusive, in-person insights.And for a limited time, you can secure your tickets for hundreds less than everyone else will pay…
New York University’s School of Medicine is learning that no good deed goes unpunished.The highly ranked medical school announced with much fanfare this month that it is raising $600 million from private donors to eliminate tuition for all its students — even providing refunds to those currently enrolled. Before the announcement, annual tuition at the school was $55,018.NYU leaders hope the move will help address the increasing problem of student debt among young doctors, which many educators argue pushes students to enter higher-paying specialties instead of primary care, and deters some from becoming doctors in the first place.”A population as diverse as ours is best served by doctors from all walks of life, we believe, and aspiring physicians and surgeons should not be prevented from pursuing a career in medicine because of the prospect of overwhelming financial debt,” Dr. Robert Grossman, the dean of the medical school and CEO of NYU Langone Health, said in a statement released by the university. NYU declined a request to elaborate further on its plans.The announcement generated headlines and cheers from students. But not everyone thinks waiving tuition for all med students, including those who can afford to pay, is the best way to approach the complicated issue of student debt.”As I start rank-ordering the various charities I want to give to, the people who can pay for medical school in cash aren’t at the top of my list,” says Craig Garthwaite, a health economist at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.”If you had to find some cause to put tons of money behind, this strikes me as an odd one,” says Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and researcher at Indiana University.Still, medical education debt is a big issue in health care. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which represents U.S. medical schools and academic health centers, 75 percent of graduating physicians in 2017 had student loan debt as they launched their careers, with a median tally of $192,000. Nearly half owed more than $200,000.But it is less clear how much of an impact that debt has on students’ choice of medical specialty. The AAMC’s data suggest debt does not play as big a role in specialty selection as some analysts claim.If debt were a huge factor, one would expect that doctors who owed the most would choose the highest-paying specialties. However, that’s not the case.”Debt doesn’t vary much across the specialties,” says Julie Fresne, AAMC’s director of student financial services and debt management.Garthwaite agrees. He says surveys in which young doctors claim debt as a reason for choosing a more lucrative specialty should be viewed with suspicion.”No one [who chooses a higher-paying job] says they did it because they want two Teslas,” he says. “They say they have all this debt.”Carroll questions how much difference even $200,000 in student debt makes to people who, at the lowest end of the medical spectrum, still stand to make six figures a year. “Doctors in general do just fine,” he says. “The idea we should pity physicians or worry about them strikes me as odd.”Choice of specialty is also influenced by more than money. Some specialties may bring less demanding lifestyles than primary care, or more prestige. Carroll says when he opted for pediatrics, his surgeon father was not impressed, calling it a “garbageman” specialty.There is also an array of government programs that help students afford medical school or that forgive student loans, although usually such programs require the new doctors to serve several years either in the military or in a medically underserved location. The federal National Health Service Corps, for example, provides scholarships and loan repayments to medical professionals who agree to work in mostly rural or inner-city areas that have a shortage of health care providers. And the Department of Education oversees the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which cancels outstanding loan balances after 10 years for those who work for nonprofit employers.Medical schools themselves are addressing the student debt problem. Many — including NYU — have created programs that let students finish medical school in three years rather than four — reducing the cost by 25 percent. And the Cleveland Clinic, together with Case Western Reserve University, has a tuition-free medical school program aimed at training future medical researchers. It takes five years, but grants graduates with both a doctor of medicine title and a special research credential or master’s degree.This latest move by NYU, however, is part of a continuing race among top-tier medical schools to attract the best students — and possibly improve a school’s national rankings.In 2014, UCLA announced it would provide merit-based scholarships covering the entire cost of medical education (including not just tuition, but also living expenses) to 20 percent of its students. Columbia University announced a similar plan earlier this year, although unlike NYU and UCLA, Columbia’s program is based on a student’s financial need.These programs are funded, in whole or in part, by large donors whose names brand each medical school — entertainment mogul David Geffen at UCLA, former Merck CEO P. Roy Vagelos at Columbia, and Home Depot’s co-founder, Kenneth Langone, at NYU.Economist Garthwaite says it is all well and good if top medical schools want to compete for top students by offering discounts. But if their goal is to encourage more students to enter primary care or to steer more people from lower-income families into medicine, waiving everyone’s tuition “is not the most target-efficient way to reach that goal.”Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service, is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, and is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Copyright 2018 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit Kaiser Health News.
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ShareDavid Ruth713email@example.comJeff Falk713firstname.lastname@example.org Baker Institute experts: Islamic State is down but not outHOUSTON — (Feb. 7, 2018) — As president, Donald Trump has continued — and intensified — the military effort against the Islamic State begun under President Barack Obama. The physical caliphate may be on the verge of extinction, but ISIS and jihadist movements as a terrorist threat remain very much alive and pose a major challenge, according to a new issue brief by experts at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University“Trump Policy in the Middle East: ISIS” was co-authored by Joe Barnes, a foreign-policy expert and the Bonner Means Baker Fellow at the institute, and Robert Barron, policy assistant to the Baker Institute director.In 2017, Trump’s policy achieved a signal victory: The caliphate declared by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 has largely been defeated on the battlefield, the authors said. “With last October’s fall of the Syrian city of Raqqa — ISIS’ unofficial capital — the Islamic State, which once stretched over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, has been reduced to a handful of enclaves manned by a few thousand battered fighters,” they wrote.By the time Trump became president in January 2017, the tide had already turned decisively against ISIS, the authors said. “Obama may have underestimated ISIS before the seizure of Mosul; he notoriously dismissed it as the ‘JV team’ less than six months before the organization routed the Iraqi army and took control of the city,” they wrote. “But by the end of Obama’s term, the United States had long since made defeating ISIS militarily a top priority and committed substantial military resources to degrading and destroying the organization.”Moving forward, there is no sign of any change in the United States’ broad approach to jihadist terrorism (which includes allies beyond the region, notably in Europe), the authors said. In addition to direct military action, this approach includes intelligence sharing, coordination among law enforcement and cooperation to stem the flow of funds to terrorist organizations.“Addressing the deeper causes of jihadist extremism — weak states, inadequate economic performance, alienated Sunni populations — remains beyond our reach, though the United States can help on the margins, in places like Iraq, through fostering more inclusive political systems,” the authors wrote.“Complicating this effort is what many consider to be the anti-Muslim bias of Trump himself and some of his administration’s policies — notably the travel ban on certain Muslim countries. We should not overestimate the impact of such rhetoric and policies on ISIS and similar organizations; after all, the anti-U.S. views of jihadist terrorist groups long predate Trump’s assumption of office. But a widely held belief that the president of the United States holds a personal animus against Islam is surely unhelpful in sustaining support among the vast majority of Muslims who oppose terrorism.”In conclusion, the defeat of ISIS on the battlefield may be cause for celebration, the authors wrote. “But the organization remains a significant threat in the region and beyond,” they said. “Moreover, the movement of which it is part — jihadist terrorism — represents a major challenge, not just across the Muslim world, but in places as far-flung as the United States, Western Europe and even Oceania. Not least, the defeat of the physical caliphate still leaves the Middle East a region in turmoil, with the Syrian civil war a major focus of instability.”This brief on the Trump administration’s approach to the battle against ISIS is the first of a three-part series on America’s foreign policy in the Middle East. Subsequent reports will examine U.S. policy in Syria and the intensified competition between Iran and traditional U.S. partners in the region, notably Saudi Arabia and Israel.“These issues do not, of course, exhaust the challenges that the United States faces in the Middle East; we do not, for instance, address the perennial challenge of the Arab-Israeli dispute,” the authors wrote. “But the three areas do, we believe, represent a useful start in assessing the Trump administration’s policies toward the Middle East.”For more information or to schedule an interview with Barnes, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at email@example.com or 713-348-6775.-30-Related materials:Issue brief: www.bakerinstitute.org/research/trump-policy-middle-east-isis.Barnes bio: www.bakerinstitute.org/experts/joe-barnes.Follow the Baker Institute via Twitter @BakerInstitute.Follow Barnes via Twitter @BrazosRealist.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top three university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog. AddThis
Add to Queue Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently updated its unpaid internship guidelines, and that’s good news for employers. The reason: Under the DOL’s former guidelines, if even one of the six factors it listed wasn’t met, interns were entitled to compensation.Related: 5 Ways Your Small Business Will Benefit From Hiring InternsBut, that’s changed: Now, companies are expected to meet a single central standard (determined by seven factors) to clarify who is the “primary beneficiary” in an unpaid intern-employer relationship. That primary beneficiary, of course, must be the intern.Among those factors are that both parties must understand there is no expectation of compensation or a job offer. And, the company hiring the intern must provide educational training and align that training with the intern’s formal education program and academic calendar. Regardless of this newer, easier standard, however, unpaid internships remain a complicated subject. John S. Ho, partner and chair of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration practice at law firm Cozen O’Connor’s New York City office, explained just how complicated, saying that, “The analysis [of the primary beneficiary] depends on the unique circumstances of each case, giving businesses more flexibility to make their case that an intern is properly classified based on individual facts.”Here’s how the guidelines have changed and what these changes mean for employers:Both parties can now benefit.The old standard required that employers derive no benefit from the internship. Of course, some unscrupulous employers managed to squeeze valuable, unpaid labor out of their interns.But for the honest ones, the unrealistic former “no benefit” requirement tied companies’ hands and limited the experience that unpaid interns could receive.The new, seven-factor test, however, is more flexible. It allows employers to benefit from the intern’s activities as long as that young person remains the primary beneficiary of the relationship. For that to occur, employers must make sure they:Provide educational, hands-on training.Accommodate the intern’s academic commitments.Complement the work of their paid employees rather than displace them.Conclude the internship once the intern has learned all that he or she can from the experience.Overall, the employer should provide educational experience that meets specific learning objectives set prior to the internship’s start. Providing the intern descriptive materials akin to a university-style curriculum and syllabus might be helpful to ensure that “educational experience.”Related: Stop Delegating Social Media to Your InternsIn addition,employers should meet with their interns reguarly to discuss their progress, ideas and goals. That way, they can provide a more personalized and educational internship experience. The experience must be good — but not too good.While reviewing a client’s internship program, Joey Price, founder and owner of Jumpstart:HR, LLC, an HR outsourcing and consulting firm in Baltimore, heard multiple negative reviews from interns.The company the interns had gone to work for made sure the interns received daily lunches, solid work experiences and materials. But, the interns’ lack of payment still prevented the program from being a success. The reason was the work’s revenue-generating nature.“I advised my client that any time an ‘intern’ . . . is focused primarily on revenue-generating activity, it is no longer an internship,” Price explained. In essence, the client was teaching interns how to trade, giving them funds to manage and then monitoring the progress of those trades. And this went against the idea of complementing, rather than displacing, the work of paid employees — one of the seven factors in the new unpaid internship guidelines.So, while an intern’s experience with a company should be good, it shouldn’t be so good that it takes the place of paid employees’ work. And that means focusing on the educational aspect of the internship above all else.To do this, Ryan Glasgow, a labor and employment partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams LLP in its Richmond, Va., office, suggested the need to connect internships with college educational programs and the college or university’s system for offering academic credit.Glasgow also said he finds it important for internships to go beyond the work experience offered in the typical office. This could mean adding in classes and educational programs, Glasgow said, so that students receive training in a university-like environment.The DOL internship guidelines aren’t mandatory, but they demand your respect, nonetheless.Because the DOL is not a legislative body, the primary beneficiary intern test it provides is merely a guideline for unpaid internship programs. If there is a grievance, no judge will arbitrate.Despite that fact, said Dan Kalish, the managing partner at law firm HKM Employment Attorneys LLP’s office in Seattle, Wash., leaders should still proceed with caution. “Even if an employer meets the federal test to have an unpaid internship, it is possible that the employer will not meet the state law requirements to have an unpaid internship; and the employer would have to pay the intern in accordance with the state law,” Kalish told me by email.Related: Paying Interns Is a Good Investment In the Future of Your Business To keep small companies safe and both parties happy, therefore, consult an employment lawyer if you have any doubts about your internship program. Then, go out and create a program that will be an unforgettable experience for those students lucky enough to be accepted to it. Image credit: Shutterstock Internships Next Article Contributor 5 min read Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. The days of interns’ long hours and endless coffee runs are hopefully ending, thanks to new federal guidelines. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Heather R. Huhman February 1, 2018 It’s Easier Than Ever to Not Compensate Interns, But There’s a Catch. –shares Enroll Now for $5
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 16 2019A new study from BC Children’s Hospital, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and an international team of researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine is the first to identify a rarely-seen type of DNA mutation as the cause of an inherited metabolic disorder.Inherited metabolic disorders — where the body can’t break down specific nutrients from food leading to a range of serious health problems — are often caused by a defective gene.In this important study, researchers found an unusual genetic mutation behind three children’s undiagnosed, degenerative conditions: a repeat expansion of DNA. In this specific mutation, the gene appears undamaged but does not function because the DNA adjacent to it has extended several hundred times its normal length.”To detect this kind of DNA multiplication, you can only use whole genome sequencing and have to search through billions of pieces of DNA; it’s truly a search for the needle in the haystack,” said lead author Dr. Clara van Karnebeek. “With our new approach we have finally solved our mystery cases, and we now expect to find the genetic cause of other, as of yet unexplained, genetic metabolic diseases.”To date, DNA repeat expansions have been linked to approximately 30 different diseases.”For kids with rare diseases and their families, finding the root causes of their disorders is tremendously important,” said Dr. Wyeth Wasserman, a co-author of the study. “A diagnosis gives us the potential to intervene, relieves undeserved parental guilt, and provides insights into more common diseases.”For a child with an unexplained medical condition, a diagnosis lays the groundwork for further research that could lead to new interventions such as gene therapy aimed at “turning on” the impaired gene, dietary modification or supplements that provide the nutrients the body is missing. Effective treatment can slow or stop damaging symptoms, improving the quality of life of children with rare disorders and their families.In this study, initial work by van Karnebeek and her research team narrowed the search for the genetic causes of this rare disorder to key areas of the genome. However, after further investigations using exome sequencing and whole genome sequencing, the international research team couldn’t pinpoint the error in the DNA.Related StoriesMolecular switches may control lifespan and healthspan separately, genetic discovery suggestsFungal infection study identifies specific genetic vulnerability among Hmong peopleResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeIt’s here that researchers at BC Children’s took a novel approach. Through in-depth, manual analysis and the use of emerging bioinformatics tools and techniques study co-authors Dr. Britt Drögemöller and Phillip Richmond discovered and confirmed that the gene responsible for the disorder was intact but a repeat expansion error prevented it from functioning.”In our search, we focused on variations that would have been hard to discover through exome sequencing” said Drögemöller. “After months of experimenting with various different analyses, we finally uncovered this novel genetic variant by using new targeted approaches aimed at identifying DNA repeat expansions.””These findings were made possible by a multidisciplinary approach and advances in technology, techniques and software,” said Richmond. “It wouldn’t have been possible as recently as two years ago and, most importantly, it shows us what to look for in other undiagnosed cases.”The gene identified as the cause of this particular disorder is an enzyme that enables the body to turn an amino acid called glutamine into glutamate. More work is needed to determine how exactly this genetic error leads to disease, but it’s likely that either a build-up of glutamine or the lack of glutamate caused the children’s serious developmental delays and disabilities including difficulty with language, speech, balance and coordination.Through collaborations with sequencing consortiums around the world, researchers were able to confirm that this particular repeat expansion was found in only 1 in 8,000 people, establishing the mutation as very rare.Over one million Canadians suffer from a rare disease and in over 50 per cent of these cases, the underlying genetic cause of the illness remains unknown.”We can do better for children with rare diseases. For the 50 per cent who can’t find answers, this discovery and new approach will help us dig in and potentially find the causes of their disease,” said Richmond. Source:https://www.ubc.ca/
Flexible batteries a highlight for smart dental aids In its development of batteries for wearables, Fraunhofer IZM combines new approaches and years of experience with a customer-tailored development process: “We work with companies to develop the right battery for them,” explains the graduate electrical engineer. The team consults closely with customers to draw up the energy requirements. They carefully adapt parameters such as shape, size, voltage, capacity and power and combined them to form a power supply concept. The team also carries out customer-specific tests.Smart plaster to measure sweatIn 2018, the institute began work on a new wearable technology, the smart plaster. Together with Swiss sensor manufacturer Xsensio, this EU-sponsored project aims to develop a plaster that can directly measure and analyze the patient’s sweat. This can then be used to draw conclusions about the patient’s general state of health. In any case, having a convenient, real-time analysis tool is the ideal way to better track and monitor healing processes. Fraunhofer IZM is responsible for developing the design concept and energy supply system for the sweat measurement sensors. The plan is to integrate sensors that are extremely flat, light and flexible. This will require the development of various new concepts. One idea, for instance, would be an encapsulation system made out of aluminum composite foil. The researchers also need to ensure they select materials that are inexpensive and easy to dispose of. After all, a plaster is a disposable product. Fabrication of micro batteries with side-by side electrodes on silicon wafer. Credit: Fraunhofer IZM Explore further Success through segmentationRobert Hahn, a researcher in Fraunhofer IZM’s department for RF & Smart Sensor Systems, explains why segmentation is the recipe for success: “If you make a battery extremely pliable, it will have very poor energy density – so it’s much better to adopt a segmented approach.”Instead of making the batteries extremely pliable at the cost of energy density and reliability, the institute turned its focus to designing very small and powerful batteries and optimized mounting technology. The batteries are pliable in between segments. In other words, the smart band is flexible while retaining a lot more power than other smart wristbands available on the market. Citation: Pliable micro-batteries for wearables (2018, October 1) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-10-pliable-micro-batteries-wearables.html In medicine, wearables are used to collect data without disturbing patients as they go about their daily business – to record long-term ECGs, for instance. Since the sensors are light, flexible and concealed in clothing, this is a convenient way to monitor a patient’s heartbeat. The technology also has more everyday applications – fitness bands, for instance, that measure joggers’ pulses while out running. There is huge growth potential in the wearables sector, which is expected to reach a market value of 72 billion euros by 2020.How to power these smart accessories poses a significant technical challenge. There are the technical considerations – durability and energy density – but also material requirements such as weight, flexibility and size, and these must be successfully combined. This is where Fraunhofer IZM comes in: experts at the institute have developed a prototype for a smart wristband that, quite literally, collects data first hand. The silicone band’s technical piece de resistance is its three gleaming green batteries. Boasting a capacity of 300 milliampere hours, these batteries are what supply the wristband with power. They can store energy of 1.1 watt hours and lose less than three percent of their charging capacity per year. With these parameters the new prototype has a much higher capacity than smart bands available at the market so far, enabling it to supply even demanding portable electronics with energy. The available capacity is actually sufficient to empower a conventional smart watch at no runtime loss. With these sorts of stats, the prototype beats established products such as smart watches, in which the battery is only built into the watch casing and not in the strap. There is a new technology gripping the markets of the future – technology to wear. Wearables, as they are known, are portable systems that contain sensors to collect measurement data from our bodies. Powering these sensors without wires calls for pliable batteries that can adapt to the specific material and deliver the power the system requires. Micro-batteries developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM provide the technical foundation for this new technology trend. Mechanically flexible micro battery stripe made from segmented battery cells. Credit: Fraunhofer IZM Customer-tailored solutions Millimeter-sized lithium-ion batteries with interdigital electrodes. Credit: Fraunhofer IZM, Volker Mai Provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft 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. 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