Discover Melbourne with Air Canadas agent contest

first_imgDiscover Melbourne with Air Canada’s agent contest Share Friday, April 13, 2018 TORONTO — Air Canada’s new travel trade contest gives one lucky travel agent a chance to win two roundtrip tickets from any Canadian city serviced by Air Canada to Melbourne, Australia.Also part of the prize is a 7-day inspiring journey discovering ‘Victoria’s Hidden Gems’ with AAT Kings. The contest was launched in the March 29, 2018 issue of Travelweek.AAT Kings, one of the best-known names when it comes to Australia tour and trip ideas, has more than 100 years of experience in guided holidays in Australia. Part of The Travel Corporation, AAT Kings offers everything from day tours to short breaks to guided holidays.The 7-day ‘Victoria’s Hidden Gems’ itinerary, part of AAT Kings’ lineup of Inspiring Journeys, features hand-picked accommodation and immersive experiences in a smaller group setting. The trip starts with an arrival in Melbourne courtesy of Air Canada’s new year-round service starting June 1, 2018. By choosing from three classes of service aboard Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner, clients can get the ultimate in inflight comfort to arrive feeling refreshed and ready for their adventures.The first day is the perfect introduction to the capital city with a ride on Melbourne’s famous Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. After a guided city tour the next morning, taking in Melbourne’s charming arcades and trendy street art, it’s on to the eclectic spa town of Daylesford and its world-renowned healing waters for a relaxing overnight.A leisurely start to the day has travellers enjoying a stroll through the enchanting Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. There’s a stop at Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm for morning tea (think warm lavender honey and freshly baked scones) before heading to Creswick Woollen Mills for an exclusive guided tour. Next up: the historic town of Clunes and its beautifully preserved Victorian architecture, followed by Dunkeld and the picturesque surrounds of the Southern Grampians.A highlight for every visitor, the next day features a Welcome to Country ceremony, followed by demonstrations by local Gariwerd, Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people on how to throw a boomerang and gather local bush tucker for sampling.From there it’s down to coastal Warrnambool for one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives, where golden beaches stretch endlessly along the route. Highlights include the Bay of Islands, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge and the famous Twelve Apostles.The last leg of the Great Ocean Road is the surf capital of Torquay and then across the Bellarine Peninsula to the Mornington Peninsula. The tour wraps up back in Melbourne with a quick trip to the hallowed grounds of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, followed by a Farewell Lunch.Click here to enter. Tags: Air Canada, Australia, Contestcenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Posted bylast_img read more

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Cruise industry vet is Riviera River Cruises new VP of Sales Marketing

first_img FAIRFIELD — Riviera River Cruises, the largest European river cruise operator in the U.K., has appointed Marilyn Conroy as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for North America.In her new role, Conroy will oversee a team of Regional Sales Directors at Riviera, which has an office in Fairfield, Connecticut. Six months ago, the company retained David Morris International, where Conroy is Executive Vice President, to assist with growth in North America.Due to the positive feedback from the travel agent community, Conroy has taken on sales and marketing of Riviera in Connecticut on a full-time basis.“We’re thrilled to have Marilyn Conroy as our new Vice President of Sales and Marketing as we continue our expansion in North America,” said Jana Tvedt, Riviera River Cruises’ Executive Vice President. “She brings a wealth of expertise in the cruise industry and a proven record for growth, and we look forward to her leadership in our sales efforts.”More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksConroy is a travel industry veteran with more than 40 years of experience in cruise line sales and marketing. She spent 20 years with Cunard, starting in the hotel division and later joining the shipping division, which at the time had a fleet of 17 vessels that included the Queen Elizabeth 2. She rose to become Vice President of Sales at Cunard Line, making her the youngest and only female Vice President in the cruise industry.Conroy later joined Crystal Cruises as Vice President of Sales in 1995, and Silversea Cruises as Vice President of Sales in 2004 before being promoted to Silversea’s Senior Vice President of Sales. Eight years ago, Conroy and her business partner David Morris formed David Morris International, assisting niche cruise lines in launching their product in the North American market.Riviera River Cruises is entering its 11th year of operations, and offers 13 itineraries on nine rivers and waterways that include spacious cabins and suites, four-course dinners and expert-led excursions. It currently boasts a fleet of 12 ships, 6 of which were launched in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, the company will launch the MS George Eliot and MS William Wordsworth. Tags: New Hires, Riviera River Cruises Travelweek Group Cruise industry vet is Riviera River Cruises’ new VP of Sales & Marketing, North America Sharecenter_img Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Wednesday, December 19, 2018 last_img read more

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Tourism award winner forges ahead

first_imgSource = Ossian Hall Valley Retreat Karina Groth receives her tourism award A string of industry awards has seen Tourism Business Solutions manager Karina Groth gain national recognition, this time as a winner of the 2011 Accommodation Association of Australia A.C.E.S. Awards.The former information centre manager in the Hawkesbury region took out the award for outstanding contribution to the tourism accommodation industry. “Karina was the manager for Tourism Hawkesbury at the Clarendon Visitor Information Centre back in 2000-2004 in which time she elevated the Hawkesbury tourism industry to new heights and literally put it on the map,” said Jim Swaisland, owner of multi-award winning Ossian Hall Valley Retreat at Colo, north-west of Sydney.“In her role during those years she was able to create incredible opportunities for operators throughout the shire,” he said. “Karina also led Tourism Hawkesbury to win the Western Sydney Industry Awards over four successive years (2001-2004).”In 2002, Karina won the Wendy O’Donohue NSW Young Achiever in Tourism Award. Two years’ later she was solely responsible for the winning submission for the Best VIC in the NSW Tourism Awards for Excellence.“Karina has demonstrated a strong ability to develop programs that directly benefit regional tourism, most notably the Hawkesbury Valley,” said Jim. “In her role as Tourism Manager for Tourism Hawkesbury, Karina was instrumental in developing innovative programs that took the area from being ‘just Windsor and Richmond’ to encompass the entirety of the local government area.”Karina’s work and her business direction support regional tourism. She works in numerous capacities to assist regions with the development of tourism, accommodation and in particular, awards programs to increase the profile of the industry and the individual businesses.Karina also teaches for Western Sydney Institute of TAFE, at Baulkham Hills College to further develop and educate newcomers to the industry. And she supports a guest speaker program with other teachers to promote current changes and issues in the tourism industry at large. The award-winning executive is kept busy with Tourism Business Solutions, a business she established in early 2005.Tourism Business Solutions offers services which provides, not for profit and private enterprise assistance in the development, enhancement or expansion of their new or existing tourism operation – nationwide.last_img read more

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Dear Reader Befitting its status as a classic

first_imgDear Reader,Befitting its status as a “classic,” George Orwell’s 1984 is frequently mentioned by practitioners of the written arts, usually in a context such as, “Reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984, the US government today revealed plans for more scanning of private Web traffic, email.”Actually, the energetic referencing of Orwell’s most dystopian of works – which is saying something – has caused it to transcend the realm of a mere classic, enshrining it as a cliché.The reason for said overuse is that the parallels between the all-powerful government so starkly envisioned in Orwell’s book and the steady growth in government power in the real world today are hard to ignore. It’s almost as if Orwell penned a script that every subsequent government, as circumstances and technology allowed, has followed as closely as a devout Amish follows the Ordnung.But there is one aspect of 1984 that most commentators fail to mention: in the end, Big Brother wins.It’s not even a close thing: at no point in Orwell’s book does Big Brother break even a little sweat as it goes about crushing Winston Smith and all other would-be malcontents.Now, it may be that Orwell, seriously afflicted with tuberculosis at the time of writing his darkest book, couldn’t muster the creativity to concoct a deus ex machina to tip Big Brother over. But in my opinion, he simply came to the conclusion that once a certain threshold of power has been attained by government, there’s no way to unseat it. Minor examples for that contention are found in abundance and include, I would propose, the longevity of Robert Mugabe’s reign and North Korea’s Kim Il Sucks dynasty.For me, then, the real message of 1984 is that once governments are allowed to get too firm a grip on the reins of power – including the judicial, the constabulary, the military, the media – they are not just imminently corruptible but super-hardened to any real change.Which brings me to the theme of today’s musings: the chestnut from whence such grand power grows.I, Pencil, Leonard Read’s 1958 essay, a video version of which you can watch here, explains how the free market works using the simple example of how the lowly pencil is produced and brought to market.While I can have no hope of duplicating the success of Read’s work, I’ll try to use the same sort of simplistic example – replacing the pencil with the coca leaf – to expose the genesis of Big Brother’s steady assent to unassailable power.That there is even a law against such a plant as this – or any plant, for that matter – seems just the right starting point for today’s musings. And so tucking a few coca leaves into the space between my cheek and jaw, which thanks to culture and tradition in this corner of Argentina is still legal, we begin.I, CocaHere in Salta province, in the northwest of Argentina, as well as in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru, coca has been grown and used for millennia.It can be consumed as a green tea, pleasantly sweet and musky, or gently masticated, much the same way folks in the southern US enjoy chaws of tobacco.To assist in releasing the coca plant’s active ingredients, one usually dips a moistened pinkie finger into a small bag of bicarbonate of soda – or “bica,” as it’s called locally – and rubs the powder on the gums.No matter how you enjoy your coca, it acts as a very mild stimulant, approximately like a cup of coffee, but just a couple of ticks different. Not stronger, just different.In fact, unlike coffee, with coca there is none of the stomach upset or jitteriness. Quite the opposite, the locals – and yours truly – drink a spot of coca tea now and again to settle the stomach, especially ahead of a long drive on winding roads.In countries where it is available, the plant is also valued by the indigenous folks for the properties it possesses in reducing hunger, thirst, and fatigue.As for the “drug” aspect of the plant, it is, of course, the base for cocaine, a dangerous and addictive substance. But to make that drug requires some fairly complex chemistry and often includes using additives to produce more bang for the significant bucks charged by the dealers.To conflate coca leaves with cocaine, however, is the equivalent of conflating charcoal with gun powder. Sure, charcoal is used in the process of creating gunpowder, but the two are as different as night and day. In fact, the level of active ingredients in coca leaves is so low that you could chew the stuff pretty much day and not experience anything remotely resembling the high provided by cocaine.As much as I resist quoting Wikipedia, in the interest of moving expeditiously forward, I will do so here.“Addiction or other deleterious effects from the consumption of the leaf in its natural form have not been documented in over a 5,000-year time span, thus leading to the logical conclusion that coca left in its natural form has no addictive properties at all. There is no empirical evidence showing the coca plant’s potential for addiction.“And yet, in most of the known world, the possession and use of coca leaf is not just illegal, it is seriously so. In the US, coca is considered a Schedule 1 drug, a category that includes heroin and, of course, cocaine. In the DEA sentencing guidelines, possession of more than 5 kilograms of the leaf demand that…“…such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 10 years or more than life and if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of such substance shall be not less than 20 years or more than life, a fine not to exceed the greater of that authorized in accordance with the provisions of title 18 or $4,000,000 if the defendant is an individual or $10,000,000 if the defendant is other than an individual, or both.”Yet, millions of people in the areas of Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru where its use is legal imbibe the stuff daily without any side effects. So what’s the disconnect, and what does it have to do with our story today?I’ll get to that in a moment, but first allow me a brief but necessary detour to provide those of you dear readers unfamiliar with the leaf a bit more background on the coca plant.A Brief History of CocaIn the beginning – and in the case of coca, the beginning is lost to the millennia, so all we can do is use our imagination – a native with an active curiosity, or in need of a snack while laboring in the lower Andes, popped a coca leaf in his mouth and found the flavor to be somewhat pleasing. As a bonus, he didn’t keel over dead from some previously unknown poison. And so he popped in a few more.We might conjecture that said native mentioned his new-found partiality for the leaf to fellow tribe members, some of whom also decided to give it a whirl.It was about this time when one of the early adopters, a pioneer of the scientific method, realized that not only was the coca leaf delicious and perhaps nutritious, it also had an agreeable side effect of reducing hunger and putting just a bit of extra pep in his step. He shared his observation with neighbors, who, based on their own observations, confirmed the side effect… and the word began to spread.And so it was that in the proverbial blink of an eye, the coca leaf had become something of a fad. Everywhere you might look, happy natives now went about their business – in those days usually meaning clubbing small animals and each other, rooting about for grubs and berries and so forth – with wads of coca leaves stuffed in their cheeks.Again, while largely lost to the fog of history, based on rock-solid archeological evidence, we know that even as long as 8,000 years ago some minor Einstein figured out that adding a dash of lime to the coca further amplified the energy-enhancing attributes of the leaf, and that, too, quickly caught on.Unfortunately, as the millennia sped by, humanity’s perpetual love affair with mysticism began to interfere with the widespread chewing of coca. It began, no doubt, when an influential shaman realized that controlling the supply of a commodity in such high demand would give him serious clout around the camp, and so passed a judgment that the beneficial attributes of the leaf could only have been bestowed by a deity. Which is to say, that the leaf was simply too good, too divine, for the common folk.By the time the Incas solidified their bloody grip on the lands hereabout, coca could only be cultivated by the state, and only those in power, or in favor with those in power, were allowed to enjoy it.And so it was that a plant with known beneficial qualities – as an analgesic, energy booster, antidote for altitude sickness, anesthetic, calming agent for upset stomachs, and source of a variety of minerals and essential vitamins – first found itself suppressed by the state.As an aside, I’m one of those people who tend to get drowsy when driving distances longer than about an hour. I’ve had the problem looked into, and medically there’s nothing wrong with me, other than the fact that my mind begins to wander and then doze. Stuffing a small wad of coca leaves in my cheek, however, pretty much eliminates the problem.Skipping forward in time, we come to the introduction of coca into Europe in the 16th century, after which various extracts and preparations of the plant found their way into all manner of tonics, patent medicines, liquors, and so forth.But it wasn’t until 1859 when a German university professor, one Albert Niemann, managed to isolate and concentrate the primary alkaloid in coca into cocaine. Much as the original tribes people in our story tried and liked the coca leaf, the European community tried and liked cocaine, and its use for medicinal and recreational purposes spread.Except, unlike the coca leaf, the concentrated drug cocaine is clearly addictive and carries with it significant negative side effects.And so it was that by the early 20th century, cocaine – like heroin, morphine, and so forth – came to be outlawed in most countries.Then, in 1961, the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs categorized coca leaves themselves as a Schedule 1 drug, side by side with heroin and cocaine. It went so far as to decree, “The Parties shall so far as possible enforce the uprooting of all coca bushes which grow wild. They shall destroy the coca bushes if illegally cultivated” (Article 26), and that, “Coca leaf chewing must be abolished within twenty-five years from the coming into force of this Convention” (Article 49).Interestingly, there’s solid evidence that the inclusion of the coca leaf in the Single Convention was encouraged by the then head of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, who moonlighted as a flunkie of the Coca-Cola company, which used decocainized coca extract as part of its secret formula. The end result was that while the coca leaf was banned, a provision was written into the regulations allowing Coca-Cola to continue using it in making its signature beverage.Since the passing of the Single Convention, there has been some pushback from countries such as Bolivia, where coca chewing is as much a part of the local custom as eating apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese is in parts of the US Midwest, but nonetheless, outside of a few remote parts of South America, the prohibition remains.And that concludes our brief and entirely inadequate story of the coca plant to this point in history. The question begging to be answered is: Why would any government make something as generally beneficial as the coca leaf illegal?Let me sum it up again:Coca doesn’t pose a health threat to anyone – based on archeological evidence dating back 8,000 years, virtually coincident with the accepted beginning of recorded human history.Consuming the raw leaf is not addictive. That’s not to say that some people’s fondness for the plant won’t lead them to regular use… just like many a coffee drinker, it will. But stepping on a plane for a month-long holiday in a country without access to coca won’t cause any real discomfort or withdrawal symptoms. And you certainly wouldn’t sell your baby for a wad.It has many beneficial attributes – per the list of benefits catalogued above.It doesn’t have any negative societal consequences. Unlike alcohol or marijuana or any of dozens of recreational or even medicinal drugs, chewing coca doesn’t impair a driver’s ability to react, but actually mildly increases concentration. And you won’t find coca users overindulging and tripping over themselves in public places or passed out in back alleys.Therefore, is it actually anybody’s business whether a person chews coca? In terms of simple logic, not in the slightest. In today’s legal terms, it is, which brings us, finally, to the connection with Big Brother.Big Brother’s BeginningsIn a simple society, the needs of the villagers are known because they are obvious. In Maslow’s attempt to arrange basic human needs into a hierarchy, he placed at the broad base of his pyramid the physiological… unfettered access to air, food, water, a roof over the noggin, that sort of thing.Once those essentials were secure, the villagers could turn their attention to the next level up in the hierarchy, safety. This involves securing basic protections for self, and for the food and water just mentioned.Looking around and feeling somewhat comfortable that the day was likely to pass without any serious unpleasantness, our villagers were then free to focus on what Maslow labels loosely as “Love/belonging.” In this category, he identifies the making of friends, the cosseting bosom of family, and that and a bit more with a willing sexual partner.After a good night’s rest, the villagers, according to the widely accepted hierarchy, would then be at liberty to work on matters involving esteem, expounded upon as “self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect by others.”And, finally, with absolutely nothing better to do, the villagers ascend to the very pinnacle of the pyramid, “self-actualization,” where, according to Maslow, he will ponder the universe and in so doing discover morality and strive to achieve his full potential.Now, one might ask, where on this list does banning the use of coca (or any of the other nanny-state prohibitions) come in?It is certainly of no concern to the physiological layer of Maslow’s pyramid… you know, where the poor hungry villagers huddle around the barely flickering warmth of a campfire as the temperature drops toward zero. Unless, of course, it would be a handy bush to burn, or useful to chew in order to absorb the minerals and vitamins earlier mentioned. In other words, at this level it’s a clear help, not a hindrance.Likewise, it has no role to play in matters related to safety.Love/belonging? Hardly, unless its energizing attributes lead to use as a primitive form of Viagra, again, a positive.Self-esteem? Ah, here’s where we first get a glimpse at Big Brother, stepping out of his warm hut with a good-looking mate on arm and thinking himself a rather grand fellow with grand prospects. While coca neither helps or hinders at this level, as will shortly be made clear, it starts to become a target.Self-Actualization? And here’s where the rubber finally meets the road, because Big Brother, or “BB,” as his friends like to call him, having decided that he’s a grand fellow who deserves wider adoration – and possessing the traits of a sociopath found in pretty much all aspirants for the top spot – will use his innate human creativity to convince others that he and only he can secure and maintain them in their place on the pyramid.All of which finally brings us to why the entirely useful coca leaf is outlawed.And that is because the rest of the tribe, having clawed up the pyramid to the point where life is feeling somewhat predictable, a pre-condition for activities such as capital formation and investment in the future, look to cement that predictability in place.Yet, the world is, and always will be, inherently unpredictable. That we believe differently is clear testament to the human mind’s tendency to self-delusion and willingness to believe in illusions and fantasies.If only I pray a little harder, one might come to believe, I’ll keep my job while others lose theirs. If only I take this homeopathic medicine, water imbued with the vibration of an undetectable herb, I will restore or enhance my health.If only the Republican, or the Democrat wins, then finally, this time, the government will improve things instead of shaking them apart.More to the point, the tribe comes to believe, because they are taught to believe by those in positions of power, in the mass delusion that only the power elite – the shaman, the chief, the official of government – possess the know-how, the finesse, the innate acumen required to run “the big show.” Which, in modern times, is defined as the nation-states.And so it is that Big Brother arises. At first it was the little things, the baby steps with formal laws codified against the same anti-social and destructive behaviors that had been outlawed from the beginning of humanity as unacceptable for communal harmony – stealing, murder, cheating, etc. – and therefore quickly punished by the tribe.But then, as the tribes evolved into larger societies, new rules and regulations came into being, in some cases out of necessity – for example, rules related to private property in societies where private property had not previously existed. Increasingly, however, the laws and regulations expanded beyond the obvious – and in many cases, the necessary – leaking into the realm of fantasy, misguided morality, and bad science, the common denominator being that the power elite found a self-serving reason to act and no one stood up to stop them.This is all easily understood. As is the fact that most people in a society won’t bother taking a stance against a law or regulation that doesn’t directly impact them in an urgent and important way. For example, what does it matter if the state you live in mandates that hair dressers must first go through extensive training and licensing before being allowed to coif your curls?Likewise, when it came to the so-called scourge of drugs, most people were happy to go along with the notion that the state should regulate what we put into our body. In the case of heroin or cocaine, some might make the argument that addicts are not only self-destructive but have the potential to act destructively towards others. As addicts lose their ability to earn their own keep – as anything other than a paper weight, perhaps – they’re left perpetually short of cash, so needing money each day to feed the monkey could cause them to turn to a life of crime to get by.However, there are other ways to deal with the addictive personality types than criminalizing them by outlawing the stimulants they seek. Besides, you could blast pretty much every known drug on earth into outer space and the addict would still find a way to get high – witness First Lady Wannabe Kitty Dukakis turning to hair spray and after-shave when no better options were available – but that’s another topic, and I’m already well adrift.The point is that there is absolutely no reason for something as obviously benign and actually beneficial as coca to be criminalized, anywhere and under any circumstances. That it is, is only part of Big Brother’s steady grasping for power.And that is true of thousands of other laws and regulations that the power elite has burdened society with over the last 100 years.The sheer volume and the implied threat inherent in the current body of controlling laws weigh on the human spirit, making us as individuals uncertain where we stand at any given moment but pretty sure we have broken, or are in the process of breaking, a law. (Does writing an article in favor of coca make me guilty of advocating drug use? Does chewing a little coca leaf here, where it’s legal, make me a criminal back in the US, where it’s not?)This growing insecurity in the face of a powerful government pushes us back down Maslow’s pyramid to the point where all of a sudden we’re not feeling so safe. We begin to worry that a misstep will cause us to be stopped when next crossing the border into the US, or worse, trying to cross the border on the way out. We begin to worry about the police car following us down the road; is going the speed limit suspicious? And even though there is no traffic in sight, we hesitate to cross the street without waiting for the green “walk” light.And come tax time, we sweat at whether we have a proper grasp of all the many rules and fear that we may have forgotten something, tripping an algorithm and triggering a forensic audit.(On that last note, I just received a fine from the IRS for almost $800 for 2012, even though I overpaid my taxes by a substantial amount. My accountant, who is pretty much the best in the business, confirms that even though it makes zero sense, the regulations allow for it.)As the body of laws and regulations increase, and along with them our fear of the state, the state’s power only grows. Soon, we find ourselves feeling the need to ask permission to do pretty much anything.Toss into the mix an act of terrorism or a war, and the now cowed population, encouraged by the media, becomes even more fearful and desiring of a strong state.Today, at least in the United States, the overarching meme is, “Better to fight them over there than fight them over here.” Which, when you break it down, is just a different way of stating Big Brother’s famous dictum, “War is peace.”And so it is that, mostly unaware it is following script, the power elite in the United States, hand in glove with the military-industrial complex, unabashedly mimics BB by constant sabre rattling and indulging in power projection into countries around the globe.Welcome to 1984There is, I would contend, a point of no return in the growth of government power. Past that point, there’s no wrestling power back from Big Brother. I think that Orwell came to believe the same, which explains why once Winston Smith was arrested, he was a dead duck walking without even a glimmer of hope that he’d be rescued.How can it be otherwise when the state has grown to the point where it is today, with surveillance methods that Orwell could only dream of?Thanks to your cell phone, BB knows where you are at pretty much any time of day, and the NSA has incredibly powerful tools to track your every electronic communication. About 12 years ago, I was a shareholder in a small tech company that perfected the ability to track a person’s every click on the Internet… and track the click back to the physical address of the clicker, complete with map and, in most cases, a photo of your house. The CIA bought the software. And that was 12 years ago – can you imagine BB’s capabilities today?Then there’s the billion or so laws and regulations hanging over your head, any number of which can be trotted out as needed to ruin your day, or even your life. When doors start getting kicked in at farms solely for producing raw milk, as they are today, you know the point of no return has been passed.Seeing the all-powerful government in action, reading stories about its arbitrary and pernicious clamp-downs, causes the masses to cling to their position on Maslow’s hierarchy and to willingly trade their freedoms for the illusion of predictability and safety. They come to believe that, provided they follow the laws, they’ll be left alone to pursue the next-generation iPhone or whatever else the media says should make them happy. And so Big Brother rises to the point of invincibility.“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness, and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”―George Orwell, 1984Now, I know that there are a large number of dear readers who cling to the fantasy that “if only” the Republicans or some libertarian type get elected, all can be made right in the world.Others, even more delusional given the extraordinary fire power of BB – soon to be further enhanced with swarms of miniature drones able to inject you in the back of the neck with a paralyzing agent or an explosive charge – expect upstanding men of stout character to rise up in armed revolution and throw the socialists out of power.Sorry, it’s just not going to happen. Again, leaning on Orwell…“The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”―George Orwell, 1984Simply put, America is the “standard of comparison,” the shining Camelot on the hill. That it now more resembles Mordor and most Americans have no idea that the change has happened is yet another clear sign that BB has won.I know this perspective – that Big Brother is now fully evolved and in control, and that he’s only going to grow more dangerous from here – is almost as dystopian as the world portrayed in 1984. Unfortunately, stepping back from the trees, I can’t find a more optimistic view to hang my hat on.So, what does being free to ingest coca in whatever form best suits you have to do with Big Brother’s rise to the sort of unassailable power elaborated by Orwell in 1984? In my view, everything. As I have tried to illustrate, once the government is allowed to concern itself with matters outside of the basic protections – banning coca, as in my example – the stage is set for Big Brother to materialize.It’s time to wake up to the reality that Big Brother is here and, thanks to technologies even Orwell couldn’t imagine, is only going to get stronger and more dangerous.Anything We Can Do at This Point?The first rule of protecting personal safety is to put physical distance between you and the threat. While Big Brother, in one form or another, rules much of the Western world, there are still places – here in Argentina, for example – where its grip is weak.Of course, we have our own Little Sister, Christina Kirchner, but her operation lacks the sophisticated surveillance apparatus and efficient bureaucracy that are hallmarks of Big Brother. In addition to Argentina, there are places – in Asia, for example – where the presence of an all-powerful, all-controlling government is still mostly absent.While it is still even somewhat possible, moving funds out of Big Brother’s easy grasp also seems a sound move to contemplate. Although jumping through hoops may be required, especially if you are a serf to the biggest Big Brother of all – Uncle Sam – unless you are trying to move a lot of money, $10 million or more, you are probably not worth BB’s time and effort in smashing down foreign legal protections to get at you.Other than potentially moving yourself and/or your money, if you plan on staying put, then keeping your head down seems a good idea.While the world we live in may be entirely unpredictable, with the right outlook and a little luck, it can also be interesting, energizing, and downright fun. Just don’t make the mistake of taking the good times for granted, and don’t become so enamored of your position on Maslow’s hierarchy that you willingly trade your freedom to Big Brother in an attempt to maintain it. That makes you a slave.And with that, and my apologies for going on so long, I move on by leaving you with what I think is one of the most revealing passages from 1984. In my view, it’s equally applicable to all the political parties in power today. “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”―George Orwell, 1984The Catastrophe in Gold & Silver StocksAs you may be aware, during the recent Harvest Celebrations here at La Estancia de Cafayate, we ducked out of the activities to quickly assemble a cast of sound thinkers on the topic of precious metals, with a focus on the bombed-out junior resource sector.The program was so hastily assembled, in fact, that I was the only ready choice to serve as moderator, which is unfortunate because, as my mother still likes to point out, I tend to mumble.Even so, last night I saw the rough cut of the webinar – titled Downturn Millionaires: How to Make a Fortune in Beaten-Down Markets – and even though I typically don’t like to sit through long videos, and I already knew what the panelists said (having been the moderator), I still found myself glued to the screen.Bill Bonner, John Mauldin, Doug Casey, Rick Rule, and Louis James each brought their “A-games” to the table – sharing important insights on the big picture for the metals, as well as detailed recommendations of what to do with your precious-metals stock portfolio today.Once again this week, the metals took a pounding, adding to the sense of capitulation – total surrender  among those who invest in the shares – and sending prices even lower. This, despite the global economy still being trapped in crisis and the central bankers reasserting their commitment to fight back with the only tool left to them: extreme money printing.This disconnect between the massive money printing and the price performance of the monetary metals – and especially the companies responsible for the brutal task of wrestling them out of the earth – can’t last. As you’ll hear if you tune in this Monday, April 8, at 2 pm Eastern Time – when the market comes to its senses, fortunes will be made.Other than the mumbling of the master of ceremonies, I can promise you that the webinar is well worth your time. And feel free to invite others to listen in, too.Friday FunniesCoffee with the PopeNescafé manages to arrange a meeting with the pope at the Vatican.After receiving the papal blessing, the Nescafé official whispers, “Your Eminence, we have an offer for you. Nescafé is prepared to donate $100 million to the church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘give us this day our daily coffee.’”The pope responds, “That is impossible. The prayer is the word of the Lord. It must not be changed.”“Well,” says the Nescafé man, “we anticipated your reluctance. For this reason we will increase our offer to $300 million.”“My son, it is impossible. For the prayer is the word of the Lord, and it must not be changed.”The Nescafé guy says, “Your Holiness, we at Nescafé respect your adherence to the faith, but we do have one final offer… We will donate $500 million – that’s half a billion dollars – to the great Catholic Church if you would only change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘give us this day our daily coffee.’ Please consider it.”And he leaves.The next day the Pope convenes the College of Cardinals.“There is some good news,” he announces, “and some bad news. The good news is that the Church will come into $500 million.”“And the bad news, your Holiness?” asks a Cardinal.“We’re losing the Wonderbread account.”(Okay, okay… I was in a hurry and grabbed whatever had most recently popped up in my email box. For the record, I don’t have anything against Catholics – or any religion, as long as it’s not knocking on my door on a Saturday morning trying to hand me pamphlets – and in fact join my Argentine friends in celebrating the Argentine pope… so, please don’t send me finger-wagging emails.)The Infamous IRS Star Trek Parody VideoI had heard rumors of this video, made by IRS executives for upwards of $60,000, but only now got around to watching it.It is funny, but not in a ha-ha sort of way… rather the sort of grimacing gasp one might emit when watching a video of some jackass trying to land a skateboard on a metal handrail and connecting instead with his gentleman parts.Then again, given they coerced the money to make this travesty from hard-working citizens, maybe it’s not so funny after all.Cats & LaddersA fire-fighter was working on the engine outside the station, when he noticed a little girl in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the sides and a garden hose tightly coiled in the middle.The girl was wearing a fire-fighter’s helmet.The wagon was being pulled by her dog and her cat.The fire-fighter walked over to take a closer look.“That sure is a nice fire truck,” he said with admiration.“Thanks,” the girl replied. The fire-fighter looked a little closer. The girl had tied the wagon to her dog’s collar and to the cat’s testicles.“Little partner,” the fire-fighter said, “I don’t want to tell you how to run your rig, but if you were to tie that rope around the cat’s collar, I think you could go  faster.”The little girl replied thoughtfully, “You’re probably right, but then I wouldn’t have a  siren.”And That’s It for the WeekAs I was going to press, colleague Vedran Vuk sent across the following.“I was looking for data on Cyprus for The Casey Report and stumbled upon this gem from the State Department on the Cyprus investment outlook for 2013. I’m not sure of the exact date of the report, but it makes references to data in Dec. 2012, so essentially it’s right before the crisis:“Cyprus has modern and efficient legal, banking, and financial systems. EU accession on May 1, 2004 was instrumental in establishing an efficient capital market in Cyprus through the abolition of such restrictions as the interest rate ceiling in 2001 and exchange controls for residents.“Credit to foreign and local investors alike is allocated on market terms. The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments, which has been enhanced through the operation of private venture capital firms. The banking sector is generally sound and well supervised.”“Interested, I did some more poking around and found some other choice words from the site of the US Embassy in Cyprus.“The accounting, legal, and financial services sectors are efficient and one of the strong points of the economy.”Whoops…And with that, I’ll sign off the day and the week, heading off with friends for a favorite hike in the lower Andes. While I can’t be sure, I expect somewhere along the way a coca leaf might get chewed… just don’t tell Big Brother.David GallandManaging DirectorCasey Researchlast_img read more

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July 12 Two canisters of tear gas are thrown

first_img July 12 Two canisters of tear gas are thrown into the British House of Commons. May 8 A huge mob of construction workers in New York attacks protestors. Sept. 6 Terrorists hijack four airplanes on flights to New York. Violent crime is decreasing, and significantly. Deaths in fires are dropping: Dec. 13 Martial law is declared in Poland. April 8 47 children are killed by (peacetime) bombs from a neighboring country. Aug. 7 Terrorists take a judge hostage in California, then kill him. Disaster losses are falling too: March 6 A bomb being assembled by terrorists explodes, killing three. June 9 A bomb explodes at New York police headquarters. Sept. 1 An assassination attempt on the King of Jordan. Dec. 4 Spain declares martial law. May 14 Police fire on a crowd at a college, killing two and injuring 12. May 4 Soldiers kill four American college students. Oct. 5 Terrorists kidnap a British diplomat. Nov. 25 Terrorists seize the headquarters of Japan’s defense forces. I could go on, but you get the point. Lots of things are getting better in real life, but no one thinks so because everything’s getting worse on TV. Fear works. One final example: Here’s a list of events from a year that generally inspires no fear in us—1970: Nov. 27 An assassination attempt on the Pope. Dec. 3 A major government caves and releases five terrorists. We’re 14 years into a new century, which is typically how long it takes for a century’s unique characteristics to show up. The 20th century, for example, looked a lot like the 19th until 1914; from there on it looked a lot different. So I think this is a good time to take a look at our new century and see how it’s shaping up. I see two particular things that are defining the mainline culture just now. Let’s go with the easy and obvious one first: The 24-Hour Fear Cycle Nothing makes humans easier to manipulate than fear. Get a group of Homo sapiens afraid of something and most of them will run wherever you want them to. Unfortunately, all the manipulators of our time know this and are maximizing their use of it. On top of that, we have a 24-hour news cycle, and nothing rivets eyeballs to screens like fear. Good news, as we all know, doesn’t sell papers. There have always been bad things happening on Earth. Take the truly horrifying stories that pop up here and there of women killing their own children. Sadly, these have always been with us, but they weren’t blasted on five or ten news channels 24/7. Likewise, horrifying stories from the Middle East or in Africa; these are very definitely nothing new. What’s new is using these stories as tools… tools to make Homo sapiens run to where you want them. Here’s the reality: Oct. 10 Terrorists kidnap a Canadian Minister. He is found dead a week later. Dec. 7 A Swiss ambassador is kidnapped. These events were accepted in 1970. People thought they were sad, but they didn’t panic over them. I don’t think that would be true in this 21st century. We are living in a fear soup, which is being stirred by the overlords of the age. And it’s working for them. Going Nowhere There’s a great line in the Bible that says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” And that is exactly what we’re being treated to from the mainstream culture right now. This is a second defining characteristic of our new century. How many of us can answer this question in any positive way?: Where is Western civilization going? In this 21st century, we have no vision, no goal, no direction. And that’s a very bad thing. Lots of modern people want to live healthier and longer, but to what end? So they can eat more fancy food? So they can have sex a few more times? To what great future does that lead? Millions of 21st-century people want to get rich, but what do they do with their big pile of money? Is it just to look at? To salve their insecurities? To prove their superiority? Money is a fine tool, a good thing to have, but anyone who thinks it’s going to make them into some kind of superior person has a big surprise coming. The one thing they may get from it is status, but only in the eyes of shallow people. At one time, the men and women of the West did have goals. At one time, they strove to attain righteousness, to love their neighbors, and to eliminate slavery. (And yes, I’m talking about the early Middle Ages.) Was this universal and perfect? Of course not, but it was quite real and quite effective, no matter what pop history says. Even during my youth, we had a vision: We were sending men to the moon, then outward from there. However poorly the effort was handled, it was a real goal, and one that positively affected millions of us. Now there are no goals, no striving, no searching, no becoming. Instead, we have distractions, fears, and stasis. Humans need goals, and we as a civilization currently have none. The Current Necessity So what do we do about this? The common reflex is to “reform the system,” but I think that’s a tragic mistake. There’s a line from Emerson that goes like this: We are always getting ready to live, but never living. And that’s precisely what the usual path will get you. Always “gonna live soon” but never actually living. “Things will change as soon as we get X out of office.” “They’ll change as soon as we get Y into office.” “As soon as we change the Supreme Court!” You can chase these rainbows for decades, but it ends up making no real difference. One day you’ll wake up and realize that you’re old and nearing the finish line… and that the system still sucks. So, I recommend that you dump all of that and get busy changing the world directly. Forget the visionless 21st-century culture and start creating your own vision. Read, learn, choose! And get busy doing. Without a vision, we stagnate, we walk in circles… we perish. Don’t live in that trap. A Free-Man’s Take is written by adventure capitalist, author, and freedom advocate Paul Rosenberg. You can get much more from Paul in his unique monthly newsletter, Free-Man’s Perspective.last_img read more

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Updated at 130 pm ETHealth insurance giant Cign

first_imgUpdated at 1:30 p.m. ETHealth insurance giant Cigna is buying Express Scripts, the company that administers prescription drug insurance plans for millions of Americans, in a deal worth $67 billion, including $15 billion in Express Scripts’ debt.The proposed combination is the latest in a string of mergers in the health care industry. Drugstore chains, pharmacy benefit managers and insurers are realigning to gain market share, enhance negotiating leverage and cut costs.Cigna is one of the nation’s largest insurance companies. Express Scripts is the second-biggest PBM; it manages prescription drug benefits for about 80 million people.”We’re at a tipping point,” says Stephen Klasko, president and CEO of Jefferson Health and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He says this deal is the beginning of a major realignment in what is now a fragmented health care system.”Cigna-Express Scripts by itself isn’t anywhere close to a revolution,” he says. “But the combination of mergers across sectors is the beginning of a revolution.”In December, CVS Health, whose Caremark PBM competes with Express Scripts, said it intends to buy health insurance giant Aetna. Last month the grocery chain Albertsons agreed to buy Rite-Aid pharmacies, and in January, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway said they were joining forces to create an undefined health care company.Cigna and Express Scripts say the combination of the companies will make health care simpler for their customers and will cut costs.Klasko says it will “de-layer the ridiculous middleman structure” that defines the pharmaceutical industry.Express Scripts and other PBMs usually negotiate rebates on the list price of medications and pass on some of the discounts to the insurance companies they work with. Those discounts, however, remain secret so the true prices paid for prescription drugs is usually unknown.FDA Commissoner Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday called that system a “rigged payment scheme” that drives competition out of the market.The combination of Express Scripts and Cigna could be good for customers in terms of their health care because the interests of the companies that pay for medications will be aligned with the ones who pay the doctor and hospital bills, says Craig Garthwaite, director of the Health Enterprise Management Program at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.”If I’m just responsible for your pharmacy spending, I want to make that as low as possible,” he says. For example, a PBM may not pay for expensive but easy-to-administer insulin for a patient with diabetes.”But if I’m responsible for your medications and your hospital costs, I want to make it easier for you to take your drugs so I can prevent that hospital visit,” he says.What’s less clear is whether the prices of insurance or medications will go down for consumers.The companies say they expect the deal to close by the end of 2018, but it must pass antitrust and regulatory scrutiny.The merger announcement comes in the same week that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and the FDA’s Gottlieb both warned the pharmaceutical industry that they intend to take actions to lower prescription drug prices. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

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Many women have a hard time admitting — even to th

first_imgMany women have a hard time admitting — even to themselves — that they’re being abused by their husband or partner. Suzanne Dubus’ first husband hit her, but still, she didn’t initially identify herself as a victim of abuse. “I attributed it to alcohol,” Dubus says. “I knew that his father abused his mother. And I thought, ‘Well, this is just poor learning, and I can help him with this.’ ” But after Dubus’ husband beat her so severely that he broke her eardrum, her thinking began to shift. She eventually left him. Years later, after the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, Dubus felt compelled to volunteer for victims of domestic abuse. Now Dubus is the CEO the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, a domestic violence crisis center in Massachusetts. She and her colleagues have created a program designed to identify women who are in high-risk situations and provide them with resources to build new lives. She joined Rachel Louise Snyder, author of the book No Visible Bruises, in a conversation about the often hidden psychological effects of abuse and how they keep women trapped. Snyder notes that it’s more important than ever to take the threat of domestic violence seriously. “For years we said that three women a day were killed by their partners in America, and since 2017 that statistic is now four,” Snyder says. Snyder and Dubus agree on the need to focus resources on women during the time when they are most at risk. “The first 90 days after a victim leaves [her partner] is the most dangerous time for them of any kind of violence,” Snyder says. “Some of these protections … that they established at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center [are] not a sort of permanent state of being but a way to build systemic protections around a victim for a period of time to kind of ride [that] out.” Interview HighlightsOn identifying risk factors in abusive relationships Dubus: Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell from Johns Hopkins’ School of Nursing had done this really interesting research study on femicide, and she identified 20 lethality factors that are in play as the violence is escalating. …Threats to kill [are] a really important risk factor. Strangulation — we know that in 50 percent of domestic violence cases, strangulation is used. Do they have access to a gun? Are they threatening to kill themselves? Is the behavior escalating? Is there extreme and constant jealousy? Those are some of those lethality factors. …We began to look at the cases that came through our doors in a different way and really identify those that would give us an opportunity to intervene in a way that we can hold offenders accountable. And we could really make sure that survivors were getting services. We know that when survivors are receiving services, they’re much more likely to survive and live.On why women often don’t leave abusive relationships Dubus: There are so many reasons that victims stay in violent and abusive relationships. Number one, domestic violence happens over a time period. It’s not like someone goes out on a date and gets slapped on the first date. If that happened, they would never go back on the second date. But it happens over time: The emotional abuse, the insults, the slowly wearing away at a woman’s soul and a sense of who she is begins to have its effect. At the same time, oftentimes when domestic violence is escalating and it’s getting worse and scarier, she’s also just busy trying to keep everything together and try to anticipate his next move, try to keep the peace, at the same time that she’s trying to figure out, “Is there a way for me to leave? How do I leave?” And most of the time she is met with a lot of insistence on the part of her abuser that she’ll never be able to leave. No one will believe her. There aren’t options for her. So it is a process. It is very rarely one time does a woman call a hotline and that’s it. Snyder: I spent almost 10 years researching this. It’s not that they don’t leave; it’s that we don’t know what leaving looks like. So leaving, as Suzanne said, is a process, not an event. And what happens is they kind of dip their toes into the system. They see if there are resources for them. In many cases, the abuser has such control over a victim [that] he or she (most of the time “he”) has isolated a victim from friends, from family, from other types of resources. In many cases they’re not able to hold jobs, so they have no economic resources of their own. There was a woman that I covered in Ohio who had never even opened a bank account on her own, and so when she finally managed to get free — and she got free because her daughter killed her father — she didn’t know how to do anything. She didn’t drive on her own. She couldn’t navigate financial systems. She didn’t know how to pay for the house. So now that’s a really extreme example, but in those cases where are you going to go? What are you going to do? How are you going to do it? On why many women recant their testimonies Snyder: Recanting happens as much as 70 to 80 percent of the time. Sometimes they recant because it wasn’t a serious incident. I have to allow that sometimes that happens. But most of the time, they recant because they know that they’re going to have to continue to negotiate with that abuser, particularly if they have kids, and they fear retaliation, so they recant as a show of solidarity. … Part of the psychology of an abusive relationship is that an abuser has to convince a victim that he is more powerful than the system. On how if a woman testifies and her abuser gets out of jail, she’s in more danger Dubus: When survivors or victims testify against the abuser, that is a very powerful statement. You have not only told the family secret to somebody — you’ve told it to the system. And when they’ve spent so much time proving how powerful they are, how they are tougher than the police, than the courts, that no one is going to catch them, no one’s going to believe them, then it is really incumbent upon the system — and when I talk about “the system,” I’m talking about everybody who touches the lives of a domestic violence victim and the offender — we need to work together. The probation department and the court and the DA and law enforcement and domestic violence advocates need to all be working together to make sure we’re sharing enough information quickly enough so that we can always protect that survivor and her children. On how narcissism is key to understanding abusers Snyder: Narcissism is one of the key components of an abuser. … [Most] abusers, in fact, are not people with anger problems. Generally speaking, they are about power and control over one person or the people in their family. They’re often very gregarious. Only about a quarter of the abusers fit that stereotypical definition of someone who is, you know, generally angry. And so the narcissism plays out in the idea that they are owed something, in the idea that they are entitled to their authority, that their partners have to be subservient to them. There’s very often traditional gender dynamics in abusive relationships. Dubus: In our work with survivors, we also notice that abusers typically really do feel like their home is their castle and that everything must be adjusted and retrofitted to his whim, to his mood, to his needs, and there is quick and rapid punishment when it’s not. On how women having guns doesn’t make them safer Snyder: Guns are [often] used as symbols to keep victims in line. Really none of the research backs the idea that a gun in the home makes a woman safer. The other point about that is that guns say to a woman, “You need to arm yourself against your armed abuser.” [This] is in essence asking a woman to psychologically inhabit the same intellectual and emotional space that someone who is violent toward her inhabits. In other words, let’s try to stop violence with violence, and it doesn’t work. There’s a researcher in Massachusetts named David Adams who interviewed 14 men who were in prison for killing their wives. Eleven of the 14 said they would not have killed had a gun not been readily available.On what to do if you are being abused Dubus: My advice is to tell the story. I think that once you begin to tell the story and you hear your own words describe how it feels … and describe the actions and the terror that you may feel, it begins to feel real. And sometimes the person that you want to talk to is your best friend or someone who can be very neutral about the partner. It’s tough to include your friends because sometimes they’re friends with both of you. But every state in our country has a statewide coalition of domestic violence programs, and it’s a listing of all domestic violence programs in each state, and so to find a domestic violence program, they’re out there. Call an advocate. Call a therapist, someone you know and trust and begin to tell your story, and then things change. Things really do change. There’s also the National Domestic Violence Hotline.Sam Briger and Thea Chaloner produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Carmel Wroth adapted it for the Web. Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.last_img read more

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Skype now handles 2 billion minutes of connections each day

first_imgAdvertisement Voice over IP service Skype has revealed today that its users now spend two billion minutes each day communicating with one another on its cross-platform calling and messaging service. That’s a colossal figure, which has been no doubt been bolstered by Microsoft’s impending closure of Windows Live Messenger, and the continued development of its various mobile and desktop apps.It’s important to remember that this figure represents all forms of communication over Skype. As with other Voice over IP (VoIP) such asViber and Facebook Messenger, that means text messages, video voicemail and audio calls are also included. Nevertheless, the milestone shows that Skype is still very much a household name when it comes to video calls. In fact, in recent years the service has become almost synonymous with the act of calling someone, so that users might say “I’ll Skype you at 7pm”, similar to ‘Googling’ a search query on the Internet.Skype announced that it had hit 10 billion total Skype-to-Skype video and audio calls back in June 2005. The service, which launched in August 2003, surpassed 1 billion minutes in July 2004, which is a crucial insight into just how far it’s grown. – Advertisement – Tony Bates, CEO of Skype, then announced in July 2011 that users were spending 300 million minutes per month on video calling alone, making up roughly half of the service’s total traffic. Telecom market analysis firm TeleGeography then followed it up with some new research,published last February, which suggested that Skype-to-Skype voice and video traffic had grown by 44 percent in 2012, up to 167 billion minutes.In that time, Skype has improved its software on a plethora of mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets. The company, now owned by Microsoft, launched a new video messaging service for its Mac, iPhone and Android applications in February, which enabled users to send pre-recorded messages to their friends and family.Credit: TNWlast_img read more

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In AboutFace Uber Will Apply for California SelfDriving Car Permit

first_img Reporter In About-Face, Uber Will Apply for California Self-Driving Car Permit It wasn’t long ago that Uber dramatically pulled its fleet of autonomous Volvos from California’s streets after refusing to secure an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit in the state.Now, Uber has decided to play by California’s rules after all. According to The Mercury News, Uber will apply for the state permit required to test its autonomous vehicles in the state.The ride-hailing app previously argued that it didn’t need the $150 permit since humans were present in its autonomous Volvo XC90 SUVs at all times, ready to take over if necessary. The California DMV didn’t agree and revoked the SUVs’ registrations, effectively ending the expiriment. Uber in December loaded its vehicles onto flatbed trucks and rolled them over to Arizona, where Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed them with open arms.Passengers in Tempe now have the option to get picked up by a self-driving Uber. The company’s self-driving vehicles still have a human behind the wheel to take over if something goes wrong.Uber did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment, but the company has confirmed it will be taking steps to begin testing in California again.”As we said in December, Uber remains 100 percent committed to California,” an Uber spokeswoman told The Mercury News.Meanwhile, the about-face in California comes as Uber was dealt a legal setback in London this week. According to Reuters, a London court ruled that Uber drivers are indeed required to pass an English language exam to prove their reading and writing skills. Uber had challenged the mandate, arguing that it would cause 33,000 London drivers to lose their licenses.Uber CEO Travis Kalanick also this week found himself at the center of another controversy after being caught on a dash camera disrespecting a driver. In the video, first published on Bloomberg, Kalanick raises his voice and uses profanities while arguing with an Uber driver, identified as Fawzi Kamel, over fares. Kalanick has since issued an apology. Register Now » –shares The ride-hailing app previously argued that it didn’t need the $150 permit since humans were present in its autonomous Volvo XC90 SUVs at all times. Uber 2 min read Next Article center_img Image credit: via PC Mag Angela Moscaritolo Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. March 3, 2017 Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business This story originally appeared on PCMag Add to Queuelast_img read more

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Take a Look Back at Twitters Earliest Incarnation

first_img Twitter’s official account yesterday shared a throwback photo to the company’s origins, showing Jack Dorsey’s early sketch of what he wanted the social media platform’s user interface to look like..@jack’s very first drawing of us back in 2005. Love ya, Dad! pic.twitter.com/fTtMUYMkDu— Twitter (@Twitter) September 18, 2018Entrepreneurs refer to their companies as their babies all the time, so we suppose it’s not completely unheard of for it to go the other way around, even if it does read a little odd. And when a user asked who the company’s mom was, it came back with co-founder Biz Stone as the answer, who agreed with the assessment.Yes, I’m the mom. I worry more.— Biz Stone (@biz) September 18, 2018A lot has happened in the intervening years since Dorsey sketched out that drawing.People have used the platform to make friends and meet significant others, get jobs, report the news and grow social and political movements. But there have also been some major ramifications of the company’s growth. In early September, Dorsey joined Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg on Capitol Hill to testify before the House and the Senate about what they were doing to prevent people at home and abroad from using the platforms to spread misinformation, especially with regards to elections.They grow up so fast. September 20, 2018 Nina Zipkin Next Article Entrepreneur Staff Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture. Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Add to Queue Small Business Heroescenter_img Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business 2 min read The company shared co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey’s first sketch of the platform. Image credit: SOPA Images | Getty Images –shares Take a Look Back at Twitter’s Earliest Incarnation Register Now »last_img read more

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