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Why Do You Need to Dominate Your Profession on LinkedIn Search?

Because you still can! 

Unlike Google, Bing, and Yahoo, who have algorithms that weigh keyword density,
relevance, links, and SENIORITY (that’s right – if you have had dominance for a keyword for years, it’s darn hard for anyone tobump you from it) LinkedIn is still relatively virgin territory.

For business owners in the more popular competitive fields it is virtually impossible to beg, steal, or borrow a top page one ranking on Google. The smart larger firms started optimizing for SEO ages ago.  They hire rooms full of people in Bangalore or Shanghai to sit around for $2.20 a day and stuff keywords into content, Meta tags, Meta descriptions, photo titles,pop-ups, dropdowns, and URL’s.

LinkedIn is still doable, and it’s more than just keyword stuffing.  If you research the appropriate words to compete with, and integrate them into valuable content it does not detract from the integrity of your profile.  For several of my clients I have been able to get keywords like “real estate – 95131” ranked not just on the first page, but NUMBER ONE, on LinkedIn: The fastest growing search medium for professional services.  Check it out at http://bayintegratedmarketing.com

I would also invite you to check out my small business blog (great tips) at: https://bayintegratedmarketing.wordpress.com

 

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World’s First Public Testing for Monsanto’s Glyphosate Begins 

Glyphosate Testing Feature

 

Contact: Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association,katherine@organicconsumers.org, 207.653.3090

OCA Joins Feed The World Project to Offer Testing that Could Lead to a Ban on Roundup Herbicide

FINLAND, Minn.—The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today, in conjunction with the Feed The World Project, launched the world’s firstglyphosate testing for the general public. The project, with specific focus on women and children in the U.S., is offering the first-ever validated public LC/MS/MS glyphosate testing for urine, water and soon breast milk.

“For decades now, the public has been exposed, unknowingly and against their will, to glyphosate, despite mounting evidence that this key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide is harmful to human health and the environment,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director. “Monsanto has been given a free pass to expose the public to this dangerous chemical, because individuals, until now, been unable to go to their doctor’s office or local water testing company to find out if the chemical has accumulated in their bodies, or is present in their drinking water.

“The testing OCA, Feed The World and many other organizations will begin offering today will allow everyone who wants to know whether or not, and to what extent, they personally have been exposed to glyphosate. We expect that once the public learns how widespread the exposure has been, and how it has personally invaded their bodies and homes—in the context of the recent report from the World Health Organization that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen—public pressure will eventually force governments worldwide to finally ban Roundup.”

The OCA and Feed The World hope the testing will convince the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban glyphosate, which is currently up for review in 2015. The goal of the testing is to inform the public and promote a worldwide ban of glyphosate.

According to a recent New York Times report, the EPA first declared glyphosate a human carcinogen in 1985, but later, under pressure from the biotech agency, reversed that decision.

Late last year, a U.S. Department of Agriculture representative said that the USDA does not test food for glyphosate residues because it is “too expensive.”

A growing number of scientists are risking attack by the biotech industry by releasing studies that link glyphosate to cancer, kidney and liver failure, birth defects, infertility, increased risk of allergies and digestive orders, among other chronic illnesses.

“We hope that at the very least, states—and eventually the federal government—will require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms, 84 percent of which are grown with glyphosate and likely contain glyphosate residues,” Cummins said. “But ultimately, this dangerous chemical must be banned.”

In 2013, El Salvador banned glyphosate after the chemical was linked to the deaths of thousands of agricultural workers, from chronic kidney disease.

For information on how to order testing, click here.

 

What presidential candidates need to understand about income inequality

Before I sat down with President Obama to talk about trade a few weeks ago, I called a few economists with different perspectives. One of them was Robert Shapiro, a longtime Democratic advisor, who urged me to look at a paper he had recently written about income growth over the last several presidencies. I did.

At first glance, that paper, which the Brookings Institution published a few months ago without much fanfare or a catchy headline, is just another of those dry papers that Washington’s smartest economists churn out every year and that almost no one else actually reads. On closer inspection, though, Shapiro’s study is a remarkable analysis that refutes much of what we think we know about economic stagnation and inequality.

It’s worth trying to understand the argument here, even if you found your freshman economics class as baffling as I did. Because Shapiro’s data might explain why our politics feels so disconnected from reality — and what next year’s presidential candidates on both sides are in danger of missing.

First, a word about Shapiro, whom I’ve known for years, and why he’s a little unusual in his field. Shapiro went to the University of Chicago at 16 and studied, of all things, metaphysics; he went on to study philosophy at the London School of Economics and Political Science before deciding to take up economics, earning his doctorate at Harvard.

Later, he served as Bill Clinton’s principal economic adviser during the 1992 presidential campaign and directed economic policy at the Commerce Department during the Clinton administration. More recently, he’s done scholarship for the major Democratic think tanks (mostly the pro-trade, pro-immigration NDN, formerly known as the New Democratic Network) while also compiling statistical analyses for a stable of nonprofits, government agencies and corporate clients that include software and pharmaceutical industry associations (which will no doubt make his findings suspect to some liberals).

All of which is to say that Shapiro doesn’t approach this subject looking to validate any particular agenda. Perhaps because he came to economics late and to politics even later, he’s mostly interested in deciphering data, rather than trying to cram it into one ideological box or another.

More than a year ago, Shapiro noted that the Census Bureau had made available online, for the first time, data on household incomes broken down by age cohorts. In other words, before, if you wanted to understand what had been happening to incomes in America, the best you could do was to look at the averages for everyone over time.

But now it was possible, if painfully time-consuming, for an economist to follow distinct groups of Americans as their income rose or fell over a period of decades. And that meant you could track the progress of certain age groups throughout their lives, rather than bundling them together at any given moment with, say, college graduates in their first entry-level jobs.

What presidential candidates need to understand about income inequality

Robert Shapiro has revealed the complicated truth behind the statistics on income inequality over the last three decades. (Photo: Lise Metzger)

So that’s what Shapiro decided to do by examining the data from the last five presidencies going back to Ronald Reagan’s.

The story we’re always told about incomes in America is one of “stagnation.” On both ends of the political spectrum, there’s an accepted wisdom that income growth for most Americans began to slow in the 1970s and has essentially flattened out. The American Dream is imperiled, our candidates are always telling us, because it’s getting harder and harder for new generations of middle-class Americans to do better financially than their parents did.

Shapiro’s exhaustive analysis tells a much more complicated — and ultimately more disheartening — story.

It turns out, first of all, that most American families were actually doing a lot better in the 1980s and 1990s than we thought they were. The aggregate median household income — that is, the number we’re used to citing, which lumps everyone together — was about $46,000 in 1982 and had risen to almost $55,000 20 years later. That’s just a little less than 20 percent higher, or an average of less than 1 percent growth per year.

But Shapiro shows that if you were the head of a household and were between the ages of 25 and 29 in 1982, your income grew over the next two decades, on average, by more than 70 percent, from $45,440 to $77,543.

That may be one reason why both Reagan and Clinton were popular presidents, despite their ideological differences. According to Shapiro, it turns out they presided over much stronger income growth across just about all age groups than we previously understood.

After 2002, however, household incomes did more than flatten; they essentially cratered for middle-aged and older Americans. That same group whose income had risen by something like 70 percent under Reagan and Clinton experienced a drop of about 19 percent over the next decade. If you were in your early 50s at the start of the Bush years, generally speaking, your income fell by an average of about 30 percent.

Only the youngest Americans were lucky enough to see their incomes stagnate under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And while college graduates did better than less educated Americans, their gains were marginal. Most American households tumbled backward.

“As far as we know, this is anomalous,” Shapiro told me. “This has not happened before.”

image

American incomes rose during the Reagan and Clinton administrations but have flattened or declined since 2002. (Photo: Larry Downing/Reuters)

To put this in its plainest terms, the American Dream that’s at the center of our national identity is not, in fact, in danger of slipping away. For most Americans, it’s already long gone, like Oldsmobiles and New Coke.

The question, of course, is why, and here you will get wildly different answers, depending on whom you ask. For his part, Shapiro contends that some of this trend has to do with policy choices. He credits both Reagan and Clinton for jolting moribund economies while ultimately keeping revenue and spending in balance (in Reagan’s case, later in his tenure), which helped attract business investment.

But mostly what we’re seeing, Shapiro says, is the inevitable result of a global marketplace that forces industry to keep its prices low and its dividends high in order to compete for customers and capital, even as fixed costs continue to rise.

This has led him to a series of solutions, aimed at reducing costs in energy and health care, that most policymakers in his own party would probably reject out of hand, mainly because they involve relieving the burden on industry rather than punishing it. But even if you’re inclined to disagree with Shapiro’s remedies, or even if some rival economist wants to debate aspects of his methodology, there are a few essential conclusions we should draw from his work.

First, we should recognize that neither party is giving us an especially accurate accounting of what’s happened over the last 20 years. Government hasn’t, in fact, throttled economic growth, as conservatives maintain that it has; incomes rose sharply under an activist administration in the ’90s (and under a Republican administration that raised taxes several times) while falling off a cliff under an administration that slashed taxes and regulation.

While the inequality cited by Democrats is real and pervasive, Shapiro’s data shows us that this is really a symptom of a larger structural problem in the economy, rather than the problem itself. Inequality was rising in the ’80s and ’90s too, when most Americans were getting richer and the wealthiest earners were outpacing everyone else. Inequality seems more acute now mainly because while the wealthy continue to soar, college-educated workers are barely gaining, and everyone else has been in free fall.

Second, in an era that has already given us the tea party and Occupy Wall Street, we should understand just why Americans are so angry at their political system. And we should face the reality that the longer this economic trend continues, the more unhinged our politics will likely become, as voters search for scapegoats and easy answers.

When we talked this week, Shapiro pointed to the bizarre situation in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott put his National Guard on alert over a routine U.S. military exercise in the state, allegedly to forestall the threat of a federal invasion.

“It sounds psychotic,” Shapiro said. “It is psychotic. So the question is, how can significant numbers of Americans come to believe this? How has their view of government turned so incredibly dark?”

Shapiro believes the answer is in his data sets, and I think he’s right.

You can expect the presidential candidates on both sides to talk a lot this year about bridging the sharp partisan divide in our politics, just as Bush promised to “change the tone” and Obama vowed to blend red and blue into “purple states.” But Shapiro’s study lays bare a stark and underlying truth.

No candidate should expect to change the tenor of American politics if he or she doesn’t have a genuine plan to stem the decline of the American household.

 

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Monsanto’s Worst Fear May Be Coming True

By Jonathan Latham, PhD

The decision of the Chipotle restaurant chain to make its product lines GMO-free is not most people’s idea of a world-historic event. Especially since Chipotle, by US standards, is not a huge operation. A clear sign that the move is significant, however, is that Chipotle’s decision was met with a tidal-wave of establishment media abuse. Chipotle has been called irresponsible, anti-science, irrational, and much more by the Washington PostTime Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and many others. A business deciding to give consumers what they want was surely never so contentious.

The media lynching of Chipotle has an explanation that is important to the future of GMOs. The cause of it is that there has long been an incipient crack in the solid public front that the food industry has presented on the GMO issue. The crack originates from the fact that while agribusiness sees GMOs as central to their business future, the brand-oriented and customer-sensitive ends of the food supply chain do not.

Chipotle Mexican Grill

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL

The brands who sell to the public, such as Nestle, Coca-Cola, Kraft, etc., are therefore much less committed to GMOs. They have gone along with their use, probably because they wish to maintain good relations with agribusiness, who are their allies and their suppliers. Possibly also they see a potential for novel products in a GMO future.

However, over the last five years, as the reputation of GMOs has come under increasing pressure in the US, the cost to food brands of ignoring the growing consumer demand for GMO-free products has increased. They might not say so in public, but the sellers of top brands have little incentive to take the flack for selling GMOs.

From this perspective, the significance of the Chipotle move becomes clear. If Chipotle can gain market share and prestige, or charge higher prices, from selling non-GMO products and give (especially young) consumers what they want, it puts traditional vendors of fast and processed food products in an invidious position. Kraft and MacDonalds, and their traditional rivals can hardly be left on the sidelines selling outmoded products to a shrinking market. They will not last long.

MacDonald’s already appears to be in trouble, and it too sees the solution as moving to more up-market and healthier products. For these much bigger players, a race to match Chipotle and get GMOs out of their product lines, is a strong possibility. That may not be so easy, in the short term, but for agribusiness titans who have backed GMOs, like Monsanto, Dupont, Bayer and Syngenta; a race to be GMO-free is the ultimate nightmare scenario.

Until Chipotle’s announcement, such considerations were all behind the scenes. But all of a sudden this split has spilled out into the food media. On May 8th, Hain Celestial told The Food Navigator that:

“We sell organic products…gluten-free products and…natural products. [But] where the big, big demand is, is GMO-free.”

According to the article, unlike Heinz, Kraft, and many others, Hain Celestial is actively seeking to meet this demand. Within the food industry, important decisions, for and against GMOs, are taking place.

Why the pressure to remove GMOs will grow

The other factor in all this turmoil is that the GMO technology wheel has not stopped turning. New GMO products are coming on stream that will likely make crop biotechnology even less popular than it is now. This will further ramp up the pressure on brands and stores to go GMO-free. There are several contributory factors.

The first issue follows from the recent US approvals of GMO crops resistant to the herbicides 2,4-D and Dicamba. These traits are billed as replacements for Roundup-resistant traits whose effectiveness has declined due to the spread of weeds resistant to Roundup (Glyphosate).

The causes of the problem, however, lie in the technology itself. The introduction of Roundup-resistant traits in corn and soybeans led to increasing Roundup use by farmers (Benbrook 2012). Increasing Roundup use led to weed resistance, which led to further Roundup use, as farmers increased applications and dosages. This translated into escalated ecological damage and increasing residue levels in food. Roundup is now found in GMO soybeans intended for food use at levels that even Monsanto used to call “extreme” (Bøhn et al. 2014).

The two new herbicide-resistance traits are set to recapitulate this same story of increasing agrochemical use. But they will also amplify it significantly,

The specifics are worth considering. First, the spraying of 2,4-D and Dicamba on the newer herbicide-resistant crops will not eliminate the need for Roundup, whose use will not decline (see Figure).

Predicted herbicide use to 2025 (Mortensen et al 2012)

PREDICTED HERBICIDE USE TO 2025 (MORTENSEN ET AL 2012)

That is because, unlike Roundup, neither 2,4-D nor Dicamba are broad-spectrum herbicides. They will have to be sprayed together with Roundup, or with each other (or all of them together) to kill all weeds. This vital fact has not been widely appreciated.

Confirmation comes from the companies themselves. Monsanto is stacking (i.e. combining) Dicamba resistance with Roundup resistance in its Xtend crops and Dow isstacking 2,4-D resistance with Roundup resistance in its Enlist range. (Notably, resistance to other herbicides, such as glufosinate, are being stacked in all these GMO crops too.)

The second issue is that the combined spraying of 2,4-D and Dicamba and Roundup, will only temporarily ease the weed resistance issues faced by farmers. In the medium and longer terms, they will compound the problems. That is because new herbicide-resistant weeds will surely evolve. In fact, Dicamba-resistant and 2,4-D-resistant weeds already exist. Their spread, and the evolution of new ones, can be guaranteed (Mortensen et al 2012). This will bring greater profits for herbicide manufacturers, but it will also bring greater PR problems for GMOs and the food industry. GMO soybeans and corn will likely soon have “extreme levels” of at least three different herbicides, all of them with dubious safety records (Schinasi and Leon 2014).

The first time round, Monsanto and Syngenta’s PR snow-jobs successfully obscured this, not just from the general public, but even within agronomy. But it is unlikely they will be able to do so a second time. 2,4-D and Dicamba-resistant GMOs are thus a PR disaster waiting to happen.

A pipeline full of problems: risk and perception

The longer term problem for GMOs is that, despite extravagant claims, their product pipeline is not bulging with promising ideas. Mostly, it is more of the same: herbicide resistance and insect resistance.

The most revolutionary and innovative part of that pipeline is a technology and not a trait. Many products in the GMO pipeline are made using RNA interference technologies that rely on double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs). dsRNA is a technology with two problems. One is that products made with it (such as the “Arctic” Apple, the “Innate” Potato, and Monsanto’s “Vistive Gold” Soybeans) are unproven in the field. Like its vanguard, a Brazilian virus-resistant bean, they may never work under actual farming conditions.

But if they do work, there is a clear problem with their safety which is explained in detail here (pdf).

In outline, the problem is this: the long dsRNA molecules needed for RNA interference were rejected long ago as being too hazardous for routine medical use (Anonymous, 1969). The scientific literature even calls them “toxins”, as in this paper title from 1969:

Absher M., and Stinebring W. (1969) Toxic properties of a synthetic double-stranded RNA. Nature 223: 715-717. (not online)

As further evidence of this, long dsRNAs are now used in medicine to cause autoimmune disorders in mice, in order to study these disorders (Okada et al 2005).

The Absher and Stinebring paper comes from a body of research built up many years ago, but its essential findings have been confirmed and extended by more modern research. We now know why dsRNAs cause harm. They trigger destructive anti-viral defence pathways in mammals and other vertebrates and there is a field of specialist research devoted to showing precisely how this damages individual cells, whole tissues, and results in auto-immune disease in mice (Karpala et al. 2005).

The conclusion therefore, is that dsRNAs that are apparently indistinguishable from those produced in, for example, the Arctic apple and Monsanto’s Vistive Gold Soybean, have strong negative effects on vertebrate animals (but not plants). These vertebrate effects are found even at low doses. Consumers are vertebrate animals. They may not appreciate the thought that their healthy fats and forever apples also contain proven toxins. And on a business front, consumer brands will not relish defending dsRNA technology once they understand the reality. They may not wish to find themselvesdefending the indefensible.

The bottom line is this. Either dsRNAs will sicken or kill people, or, they will give opponents of biotechnology plenty of ammunition. The scientific evidence, as it currently stands, suggests they will do both. dsRNAs, therefore, are a potentially huge liability.

The last pipeline problem stems from the first two. The agbiotech industry has long held out the prospect of “consumer benefits” from GMOs. Consumer benefits (in the case of food) are most likely to be health benefits (improved nutrition, altered fat composition, etc.). The problem is that the demographic of health-conscious consumers no doubt overlaps significantly with the demographic of those most wary of GMOs. Show a consumer a “healthy GMO” and they are likely to show you an oxymoron. The likely health market in the US for customers willing to pay more for a GMO has probably evaporated in the last few years as GMOs have become a hot public issue.

The end-game for GMOs?

The traditional chemical industry approach to such a problem is a familiar repertoire of intimidation and public relations. Fifty years ago, the chemical industry outwitted and outmanoeuvered environmentalists after the death of Rachel Carson (see the books Toxic Sludge is Good for You andTrust Us We’re Experts). But that was before email, open access scientific publication, and the internet. Monsanto and its allies have steadily lost ground in a world of peer-to-peer communication. GMOs have become a liability, despite their best efforts.

The historic situation is this: in any country, public acceptance of GMOs has always been based on lack of awareness of their existence. Once that ignorance evaporates and the scientific and social realities start to be discussed, ignorance cannot be reinstated. From then on the situation moves into a different, and much more difficult phase for the defenders of GMOs.

Nevertheless, in the US, those defenders have not yet given up. Anyone who keeps up with GMOs in the media knows that the public is being subjected to an unrelenting and concerted global blitzkrieg.

Pro-GMO advocates and paid-for journalists, presumably financed by the life-science industry, sometimes fronted by non-profits such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are being given acres of prominent space to make their case. Liberal media outlets such as the New York Times, theNational GeographicThe New YorkerGrist magazine, theObserver newspaper, and any others who will have them (which is most) have been deployed to spread its memes. Cornell University has meanwhile received a $5.6 million grant by the Gates Foundation to “depolarize” negative GMO publicity.

But so far there is little sign that the growth of anti-GMO sentiment in Monsanto’s home (US) market can be halted. The decision by Chipotle is certainly not an indication of faith that it can.

For Monsanto and GMOs the situation suddenly looks ominous. Chipotle may well represent the beginnings of a market swing of historic proportions. GMOs may be relegated to cattle-feed status, or even oblivion, in the USA. And if GMOs fail in the US, they are likely to fail elsewhere.

GMO roll-outs in other countries have relied on three things: the deep pockets of agribusinesses based in the United States, their political connections, and the notion that GMOs represent “progress”. If those three disappear in the United States, the power to force open foreign markets will disappear too. The GMO era might suddenly be over.

Editors note: Click here to Find a Local Farmer

 

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Waco, Texas, Biker Gang Members Face ‘Organized Crime’ Charges in Brawl After 9 Dead

By and EMILY SHAPIRO

PHOTO: Authorities block an access road as an investigation continues near a Twin Peaks restaurant

Waco police now say 170 suspected gang members were arrested after a meeting between rival Texas biker gangs at a restaurant turned into a deadly brawl, and many are being charged with engaging in organized crime.

Nine people died in the incident — eight at the Twin Peaks restaurant and one at the hospital, in killings Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton characterized as capital murder “because of the number of victims that were killed in one episode here.”

Eighteen people were taken from the scene to hospitals, mostly for gunshot and stab wounds, Swanton said at a news conference. Everyone involved was a gang member, police said.

“This was a true gang fight that occurred at this location,” Swanton said earlier Monday, adding that the people involved were using “bad-guy weapons” such as brass knuckles, knives and guns.

Police originally reported that 192 people were arrested, but Swanton later said the number has been revised to 170. Swanton added that the exact number of arrests still could change.

“Those individuals are being charged with engaging in organized crime, in reference to the shooting at Twin Peaks, which is a capital murder,” Swanton said.

Swanton said five known biker gangs were involved but he declined to name them.

“I am not about to give them the respect of mentioning their names,” he told reporters.

The gang members had gathered at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in the Central Texas Market Place early in the afternoon to discuss their differences, Swanton said.

Swanton did not give a specific timeline of events today, but said the incident “happened very fast.”

A fistfight began and quickly escalated to include knives and firearms, and then spilled into the parking lot, where gang members fired at each other, Swanton said.

“As that fight progressed, it progressed very rapidly from hands and feet as weapons to chains,” he said. “My understanding [is that] a club was involved and knives were involved.”

PHOTO: A McLennan County deputy stands guard near a group of bikers in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Waco, Texas.

Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP Photo
PHOTO: A McLennan County deputy stands guard near a group of bikers in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Waco, Texas.

Officers were at the scene when the shooting started, Swanton said, and responded within 30 to 45 seconds.

Some officers “appropriately” returned fire at the bikers, Swanton said.

No officers were injured, police said.

Police closed the entire Central Texas Market Place shopping area following the shooting. TheFBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also at the scene to help with the investigation.

Police are continuing to process evidence from the crime scene and Swanton described the scene today as “pretty secure.”

Over the past few months, Swanton said, the police were aware of rival biker gangs causing issues at the Twin Peaks restaurant.

Swanton said officials are not ordering Twin Peaks to keep the restaurant closed, but he thinks it’s the right thing to do. He added that liquor sales, and movement of liquor in and out of the restaurant, will be forbidden for seven days.

“I hope that they have the courtesy and respect for our citizens and the dead individuals there that they will use this as a cooling-off period and not be open for business,” Swanton said.

In addition, the restaurant’s corporate parent said it was “immediately revoking” the franchise agreement with the location where the shootings occurred.

“We are in the people business and the safety of the employees and guests in our restaurants is priority one,” Twin Peaks said in a statement. “Unfortunately the management team of the franchised restaurant in Waco chose to ignore the warnings and advice from both the police and our company, and did not uphold the high security standards we have in place to ensure everyone is safe at our restaurants. We will not tolerate the actions of this relatively new franchisee and are immediately revoking their franchise agreement. Our sympathies continue to be with the families of those who died and are very thankful no employees, guests, police officers or bystanders were hurt or injured.”

Jay Patel, operating partner of the Twin Peaks Waco franchise, earlier posted a statement on Facebook saying the franchise had worked with police.

“We are horrified by the criminal, violent acts that occurred outside of our Waco restaurant today,” the statement said. “We share in the community’s trauma. Our priority is to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for our customers and employees, and we consider the police our partners in doing so. Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police and we will continue to work with them as we all want to keep violent crime out of our businesses and community. We will continue to cooperate with the police as they investigate this terrible crime.”

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just “star” this story in ABC News’ phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here. To be notified about our live weekend digital reports, tap here.

 

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The 2015 Preakness Stakes: The Field, Post Positions, And Odd

American-Pharoah-Derby-Barbara-Livingston

The field for the 2015 $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, in post position order.

1) American Pharoah. The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands winner has met every challenge in his short racing career—an injury, a sloppy track, wide post positions—and crossed the wire first in every race except his first, back in August of last year. The Preakness will throw another at him: can he overcome the dreaded inside post? He did it winning the Del Mar Futurity in September, which offers his trainer Bob Baffert some hope that he can do it again.

“I don’t like the inside,” Baffert said after the draw on Wednesday afternoon. “I never like the one-hole. Sometimes they don’t break as well. When I was watching the draw and all these numbers were coming up, I go, ‘This is not looking good.’ I’m just glad I didn’t draw that for the Derby.” Morning line odds: 4-5

American Pharoah and Victor Espinoza win the Kentucky Derby. Photo credit Barbara Livingston/DRF. Used with permission
American Pharoah and Victor Espinoza win the Kentucky Derby. Photo credit Barbara Livingston/DRF. Used with permission

2) Dortmund. Breaking right next to American Pharoah will be his stablemate Dortmund, third in the Kentucky Derby, his first loss. “I can’t believe I drew the 1-2 of all draws,” lamented Baffert. “I don’t love it, but they’ll be easy to watch.” Breaking from post 7, Dortmund set the pace in the Derby before yielding late; getting to the lead won’t be quite so easy on Saturday, given this draw. Morning line odds: 7-2
3) Mr. Z. Until Wednesday, Mr. Z was owned by Zayat Stables, who also owns American Pharoah. But hours before the Preakness was drawn, this 13th-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby was sold to Forbes 400′s Brad Kelley, who races in the name of Calumet Farm, who upset the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Oxbow. The horse will remain in the barn of 79-year-old D. Wayne Lukas, who will be trying to win the Preakness for the seventh time. Morning line odds: 20-1

4) Danzig Moon. Fifth in the Kentucky Derby, Danzig Moon is still trying to get his second lifetime victory, after winning his only race in February at Gulfstream Park. He was thought to have a shot in the Derby and continues to garner the interest of handicappers. Content to sit off the pace, Danzig Moon is unlikely to be hampered by his post position. “I thought it was a great post,” said trainer Mark Casse. “We know they’re all going to outrun us, so hopefully we can tuck in. Hopefully the rail’s good and we can come with a good run.” Morning line odds: 15-1

5) Tale of Verve. After five losing efforts, this horse got his first win on April 23, and then entered the Kentucky Derby as an also-eligible. He didn’t draw into the race, but his owner, Canadian diamond-mining magnate Charles Fipke, takes another shot here, trying to get a second win and deny American Pharoah a Triple Crown shot. Morning line odds: 30-1

6) Bodhisattva. One of three horses to run here without having run in the Kentucky Derby, this Maryland-based horse comes off a win over the track at Pimlico in the Federico Tesio Stakes last month. He’s the only horse in the race who’s ever run at Pimlico, an advantage that may not be enough to overcome that he’s never before faced horses of this caliber. Morning line odds: 20-1

7) Divining Rod.He had enough points to enter the Derby, but owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, of Lael Stables, elected to skip that race and run here instead. Divining Rod is their first Preakness runner since Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner that broke down in this race in 2006, battling injury for eight months before succumbing in January 2007. He might not be the first betting choice, but he’ll be a sentimental favorite. Morning line odds: 12-1.

8) Firing Line. In six lifetime starts, he’s never been worse than second, and he mounted a serious challenge to American Pharoah in the Derby, falling short by only a length. He’s run some tough races to get here, and perhaps his campaign will take its toll as he runs back after only two weeks, but if past performance is any indication, he’ll be there again at the finish on Saturday. Morning line odds: 4-1.

Looking for more information? Check out Hello Race Fans’ quick handicapping guide, and we’ll be back tomorrow with picks and analysis.

 

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The Hasidim Building A Kosher Corner Of The Internet

 
‘ALL THAT IS NEW IS FORBIDDEN’


On this week’s episode of the Reply All podcast, the second part to a story about the Internet encroaching on a world that has managed pretty successfully to block it out — New York’s Ultra Orthodox Jewish community.

(You can read part I here)

Shulem Deen used to live in an Ultra Orthodox Hasidic community called New Square. He spent all his time praying and studying the Talmud. He had an arranged marriage when he was 18, five kids by the time he was 27.

Somewhere in all of that, he got a computer. It came with a 3.5 floppy disc—a free AOL trial. Without realizing what it meant, Shulem installed it. And just like that he was plucked from his insulated life into a world of news, shopping and chat rooms. Eventually, he lost his faith and was banished from his community.

Shulem Deen now lives in Brooklyn. He’s a writer. And the one thing he misses most are his children; it has been seven years since he last saw them. There’s no way for him to check up on them. They’re not on Facebook. There’s no local paper with news about the yeshiva. To outsiders, New Square is a black box.

In the last few years, however, he’s discovered an opening, another way to reconnect with his community and the people he loves.

To explain how that opening came to be, you first have to look at Shulem’s story through the eyes of the Hasidim. At the time that he began taking baby steps into the secular world, the same thing was happening to other people in his community.

Footsteps, a New York organization that helps people who want to leave the Orthodox world, says that since 2009, it has seen a four-fold increase in the number of people reaching out to it. Restless Hasidic people were finding each other online. All kinds of resources were now at their fingertips. They were sharing information, airing information about things that happened within the community. And they were talking about a community which prides itself on being closed off to outsiders.

So, in 2012, an Orthodox group decided the time had come to reckon with the Internet. They organized something called the Asifa, Hebrew for “gathering.”

The Asifa was historic within Jewish circles. Citi Field, the baseball stadium in New York, was filled with thousands of Orthodox men—a sea of black hats and binoculars. The spillover crowd filled a nearby stadium, where people watched the event on video screens. All in all, about 60,000 people came together to protect their way of life from the Internet.

The Hasidim have been resisting the temptations of modernity for a long time—since the 1800’s when an Austrian rabbi, Chasam Sofer said, “All that is new is forbidden by the Torah.” Every time a new technology has come along, the Hasidim have taken what they like and left the rest behind.

Take the radio, for instance. Radios are strictly frowned upon in the Hasidic world; they are in banned in some communities like New Square. When Hasids buy a cassette player to play religious music, they break off the radio antenna. Or, if they want traffic news and interviews, they call a Hasidic hotline: 212-444-1100. It’s all over the telephone and one Hasidic person we spoke to called it his community’s “podcasts.”

So that’s how they fixed the radio problem. Hasidim could get everything you need from the radio, minus the chance they’d come upon a Miley Cyrus song or Viagra ad.

After the Asifa, the Orthodox elders decided on a similar strategy to deal with the Internet. They would mandate filters, so only work-related content would get through. If they could turn parts of Brooklyn into a shtetl, they could do the same thing online. They would make a Hasidic Internet.

And there are a whole bunch of businesses that made this happen: Hasidic filter companies, Hasidic Internet providers, Hasidic Internet cafes. We visited one Internet cafe in Williamsburg where the owner, Joseph, showed us how a Hasidic version of the Internet looks. Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, the New York Times were all blocked. The New York Post came through, but with all the images and several headlines grayed out.

Joseph prefers his news this way. He doesn’t want to see anything disturbing, like the ISIS video. And he certainly doesn’t want to see anything that would make him question his faith. Joseph says he’s happy where he is. He loves his neighborhood. He has a big family. On Sabbath, he turns off his phone and plays with his kids. He doesn’t want that to change.

And that is why he was at the Asifa. To him, the idea of building this safe, shtetl-version of the Internet — it’s essential. Even if it seems against the whole nature of the Internet

“We are not naive,” says Joseph. “We know the Internet is here, it’s here to stay. We’re not fighting with the Internet. We’re fighting with ourselves.”

The Asifa was in 2012. And thanks to the work of Joseph and many other Hasidic tech guys, there is kosher corner of the Internet. You can use it and not be branded a heretic.

Which brings us back to Shulem’s story. One section of the Hasidic Internet that came into being after the Asifa was a web forum called Kaveshtiebel, yiddish for Coffee House. It’s a place where Shulem began spending time in 2012.

Kaveshtiebel looks like a stripped down Reddit. Everything is in yiddish. The usual forums and message boards — Reddit, Craigslist — the Hasidic filters would block them. But this one is generally allowed. There are the topics you’d expect to find — news, religion, the Talmud. But also people talk about things they wouldn’t talk about in New Square.

For instance, Shulem pulled up a thread about Serial, the podcast. “If he killed her two weeks ago, would he have told the cops he asked her for a ride that day?” one commenter asked in yiddish.

Even though Shulem is an atheist who left his community at great cost, he still misses some of the discussions and debates that were at the heart of his Hasidic life. Kaveshtiebel provided a tiny hit of that feeling. He could listen in on familiar conversations about religious music and texts. Or long arguments over whether the microscopic shrimp in New York City tap water mean that it’s not kosher. All in yiddish, the language that had been his for so long.

“It’s like coming back to your hometown,” says Shuelm.

When he goes back to New Square, Shulem says he’s spit at, called names. But here, on this forum, all these observant Hasids were welcoming him. For a few months, he made friends, caught up on gossip, settled in. 

Until he got an email from a guy he knew — a mole of sorts. The man sent him a PDF of a behind-the-scene discussion about how to deal with the fact that Shulem Deen was a part of this forum. There were pages and pages of fierce debate over whether to allow this or not, whether a heretic deserved to be here.

It was a déjà vu moment for Shulem. It was the exact same debate as before, back in 2005 when a rabbinical council kicked him out of New Square. Except this time he could see it happening in front of him. There were people who thought he was pure evil, people who stood up for him, people who fell in the middle.

“It gives me a complicated feeling,” says Shulem. “They’re insane and they’re ignorant but some of them are really smart and even the ignorant ones are sometimes really funny and some of them are really sharp.”

In the end, the moderators at Kavestheibel decided to let Shulem stay. He’s glad, but also bitter about being put through another tribunal.

He still hangs around though because he sees himself in the people — people who would appreciate a good tish and then talk about Serial afterwards. They might see him as an outsider, but his hope is that they’re more like him than they know. That Kaveshteibel exists because the chasm between his world and theirs is narrowing. Maybe one day those worlds will close enough that his kids will be able to cross over.

Shulem can already imagine that his older son has gotten a hold of a smartphone. Maybe he has Whatsapp. Maybe he’s curious about the world, and one day he reaches out to his father. “I wonder what it’s going to be,” says Shulem, “In my mind I know for certain something’s going to be.”

About this, Shulem has faith.

 

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‘Free’ Windows 10 Has High Cost To Windows 7 And Windows 8 Users

windows_product_family_9-30-event-741x416-580-90Are you tempted by Windows 10? On paper you should be: it combines the best of Windows 8 with a desktop similar to Windows 7, it works across PCs, phones and tablets and – best of all – it will be free. Actually scrap that last part…

Here is the official line: Windows 10 will be a free upgrade to existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade within a year of its release.

Furthermore Microsoft MSFT +0.77% states “once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time – for no additional charge.”

Yes there are some exclusions – notably Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise and Windows RT/RT 8.1 – but for the everyday user this sounds almost too good to be true.

Read more – Why Microsoft Announced Windows 10 Is ‘The Last Version Of Windows’

And the problem is: it just might be. Here’s three reasons why:

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Reason #1: Windows By Another Name

Windows 10 may not be out yet, but Microsoft has already confirmed the name of its successor: ‘Windows’.

Windows 10 works across every device – image credit Microsoft
Windows 10 works across every device – image credit Microsoft

Yes, Windows 10 will be the last numbered version of the OS and going forward it will simply become a ‘Windows’ subscription service. This upsets those who don’t like the idea of a subscription service, but the biggest concern is this: while Windows 10 will seamlessly upgrade to ‘Windows’ – this is a new beginning. Your OS would evolve into a new product for which you have to pay.
When would this happen? Microsoft hasn’t put a date on it, but two major Windows 10 updates dubbed ‘Redstone’ (a Minecraft reference) have already been flagged for release in mid and late 2016 respectively.
Could this be ‘Windows’? Right now we don’t know, but with two years between Windows Vista (2007) and Windows 7 (2009), three years to Windows 8 (2012) and three years to Windows 10 (2015) you may be getting pushed to a paid subscription ‘Windows’ in 2-3 years.

Read more – Microsoft Windows 10 Leak Reveals New Offensive Emojis

Reason #2: Nagware

Of course there is a simple answer to any ‘Windows’ upgrade for Windows 10: don’t upgrade.

After all no matter how many times Microsoft may ask you to install ‘Windows’ when it arrives, that doesn’t mean you have to and you can keep using your free version of Windows 10. Then again this looks like it won’t be a pleasurable experience.

The hint comes from the Microsoft patch ‘KB3035583’. Microsoft officially describes it as: “This update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications when new updates are available to the user”

But the reality is KB3035583 is nagware which creates four folders on Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices designed to push Windows 10 adverts both as the release approaches and after release urging users to upgrade.

How important is this strategy to Microsoft? Clearly very. The company recently upgraded the status of KB3035583 to being an ‘Important’ update for both Windows 7 and Windows 8 which means it will install automatically. There seems no reason why Windows 10 users won’t receive similar treatment when ‘Windows’ becomes available.

As for Reason #3, it may be the most costly of them all…

In Defence of Microsoft: There’s No Decent Alternative

At this point I suspect there are a great many of you who hate this idea. That’s not surprising. There remains a powerful appeal to the sense of ownership. DVDs and CDs versus Netflix NFLX -0.28% and Spotify.

But this is at odds with where software development is heading. In a rapidly moving world it is no longer good enough to work on a major operating system release every 3 to 5 years, push it as a big upgrade which causes upheaval to install and issue Service Packs once a year. The future is evolutionary, ongoing updates where the monetary value cannot be equated to a one-off payment.

In short the last thing Microsoft wants is another Windows XP situation where a single payment at its launch in 2001 resulted in 13 years of free development and tech support followed by customer scorn when it eventually called time. Endless warranties do not make for a practical business model – especially for software which has been pirated time and time again.

Windows10_Phone_Laptop-3C

Of course there is an alternative for angry customers: jump ship to any one of hundreds of open source platforms and I’m sure many will (even though a lot also charge for ongoing support, rather than the software itself).

Read more – Microsoft Surface 3 Vs Surface Pro 3: What’s The Difference?

Will It Work?

All of which begs a bigger question: has Microsoft got this new Windows strategy right? Personally I think it has, but it comes with the very large caveat of how often and how much users are charged.
I also think it won’t be possible for customers to pressurise Microsoft to go back. Last month Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform, admitted the future of Windows could be as open source software. Which ultimately means Microsoft has given more consideration to giving Windows away in future than it has to continuing the existing model.

“Like I said, it’s a new Microsoft” explained Russinovich when pushed on the company’s increasingly clear desire to split from its past.

Like it or not, I think we’re all starting to get that message…

Read more – Microsoft Is The New Google, Google Is The Old Microsoft

 

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