Hindu militants storm a disputed mosque-temple site December 6, 1992, climbing atop the building’s dome as they demolish it to clear the site for a Hindu temple. [Representational Image]ReutersA group of Hindu ascetics, Nirmohi Akhara, who are one of the original litigants in the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case on Tuesday, April 9, moved the Supreme Court, pleading against the Centre’s decision to return the non-disputed land around the disputed site of Ayodhya to its rightful owners.The akhara or religious denomination filed the plea stating that the release of the 67.390 acres of land could lead to the construction of smaller temples. It went on to say that the acquisition of the land by the government led to the destruction of many temples which the organisation managed.The Nirmohi Akhara is one of the original plaintiffs in the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid case. Back in 2010, the Allahabad High Court has decided that the disputed 2 acres of land will be divided equally between the Sunni Waqf board, Ram Lalla and the Nirmohi Akhara.What are the Nirmohi Akhara? Nirmohi Akhara Mahant Dharam Dass clicked after the Ram Janmabhoomi case hearing at Supreme Court in New Delhi.Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty ImagesThe Nirmohi Akhara, roughly translated to “Group without Attachment” is a group of Hindu sadhus who are devotees of Lord Ram. They are set to receive one-third of the Babri Masjid land. According to a blog by Washington Post Journal, they claimed that no Babri Masjid every existed on the disputed land. They added that the Mughal emperor Babur, who is said to have constructed the Babri Masjid, did not conquer India. Another claim by the Akhara is that Babur and his army did not occupy any land during the said conquest.In 2011, shortly after the Allahabad High Court’s order in 2010 regarding the division of the land into three equal parts, the Nirmohi Akhara split ties with its long-standing partner, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The two groups were allies for 21 years since 1989.The Nirmohi Akhara said, according to Economic Times, that one of the main reasons for the split was that the VHP was trying to assert its dominance over the Ayodhya dispute.”VHP does not have any claim over Ram Janmabhoomi. It just created communal riots and disturbed the peaceful atmosphere of country. It is responsible for whatever has happened in its so-called Ram temple movement’,” Mahant Jagannath Das, the chief priest of the Akhara was quoted as saying by ET. Close PM Modi’s tenure is ‘undeclared Emergency’: Asaduddin Owaisi IBTimes VideoRelated VideosMore videos Play VideoPauseMute0:02/1:40Loaded: 0%0:02Progress: 0%Stream TypeLIVE-1:38?Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedSubtitlessubtitles settings, opens subtitles settings dialogsubtitles off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window. COPY LINKAD Loading …
The Sahara Group has said that it would be not able to pay ₹36,000 to bond investors in 18 months, as mandated by the Supreme Court last month.In June, the apex court had ordered the Lucknow-based financial services group to refund nearly ₹36,000 crore to bond investors in nine instalments over the next 18 months.However, Sahara told the court that “no business house in the world can pay ₹36,000 crore within 18 months.”Last month, the court had also said that jailed Sahara chief Subrata Roy and two other directors of the company would be taken into custody again, if he defaults on paying on any three instalments.The Supreme Court also rejected to grant a bail to Roy, as he failed to submit a bank guarantee of ₹5,000 crore.The court had ordered Roy to deposit ₹10,000 crore for his release. The court asked him to pay half the amount in cash and remaining half as bank guarantee. Roy has already paid ₹5,120 crore in cash.The Sahara Group chief will remain in jail as long as he fails to produce the bank guarantee.Roy, a high-profile business leader, has been behind bars since March last year, following Sahara’s failure to comply with a court order to return the money to investors it had raised through an illegal bond programme.Currently, Sahara is involved in selling properties of the group to raise the money required to secure a bail for Roy.The group has also informed the court on Tuesday that it is raising ₹110 crore from selling a 44-acre property to Gorakhpur Real Estate Corporation.The case will be up for hearing before the Supreme Court on Monday.
Were celebs on drugs at Karan Johar’s party?Video screengrabFilmmaker Karan Johar has finally broken his silence over allegations of hosting a drug party for a few A-list Bollywood stars at his residence last month.In a recent interview, Karan is furious with the brouhaha around the alleged ‘drug party’, and says all such charges are “baseless and ridiculous”.It was an “easy night out”, the filmmaker says, adding that his mother was also appalled reading about it.”I toyed with the idea of giving out a statement. I toyed with giving out a thought on the social media about something… There were achieving members of the industry who were having an easy night out after a hard week of work, having a good time. I took that video with all the earnestness… would I be putting out that video if there was anything happening at all, I am not stupid,” he said in an interview with Rajeev Masand.Last month, Karan had posted a video on Instagram of a party he hosted at home. Soon afterwards, Akali Dal MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa shared the video, alleging that top stars who were present at the party — such as Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora, and Vicky Kaushal — were flaunting a “drugged look” in the video. He tagged the video with #UdtaBollywood, taking off on the film “Udta Punjab”, which was about the drug menace in the state of Punjab and which, incidentally, starred Shahid.Karan has now opened up on how the reflection of a light near Vicky was misconstrued as proof.”Apparently you are not allowed to scratch your nose. Apparently, you are not allowed to put your phone in your back pocket. Apparently, a shadow of light is perceived to be some kind of powder,” he said, further revealing that Vicky was recovering from dengue and was drinking hot water with lemon.”Some of us were chatting and some of us were having wine, but that was it. It was a baseless accusation, and it really annoyed me because you are taking away the culture and tradition that I have been raised in. My mother was appalled when she read those things because she was there. Which powder? We are all very committed professionals,” he said.The filmmaker called it a night out where friends were letting their hair down.”My mother, five minutes before this video, was sitting with us. It was that kind of a family, happy, social gathering, where friends were sitting and having a good time and we were listening to some music, having some good food and having good conversational energy there. There was nothing else going on,” he said.”The reason I didn’t put it out was because ‘why do I need to justify a house party which was a casual get together with good friends?’ How dare you grab it away from us? How dare somebody constantly make us soft target? It is ridiculous that someone can start spotting these things,” Karan said.He also said that his friends, who were present in the video, also found the accusations ridiculous.”I thought if I justify it will start looking that I am speaking too much in defense.”While he didn’t react to these accusations, he has decided that he will take a legal action next time.”I am not taking this very kindly, the next time where baseless accusations, I will take the legal route. You cannot mar our solid reputations, our sincere reputations our committed reputations just because you are presuming something. You cannot put out a baseless accusation that has no base, no fact, no truth, no reality and try and mar us and our reputations, it’s ridiculous.”The incident, he claimed, has left an impact on his mind.”I am, now, afraid to call up people to my home thinking that they might be afraid to show up,” he said.
A female student injured in the BCL attack being taken to hospital. Photo: Shahidul Islam/Prothom AloThe authorities have closed Rajshahi Institute of Health Technology (IHT) for an indefinite period to avoid untoward incident following an attack of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists on female students.BCL is the student wing of ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL).The authorities asked the institue’s male students to vacate its dormitories by 1:00pm and female students by 3:00pm.Female students alleged that a group of BCL activists entered the female dormitory and hurled abusive words at female students on 3 December as some of them could not turn up at a programme of the Medical Technologists held on the campus on the day.The female students of the institute on Wednesday morning went to the principal office to lodge a complaint against the BCL activists. The principle then assured them of taking actions after investigation.When the female students were about to come out of the principal office, BCL activists brought out a procession chanting slogans against them, frightening female students to return to their dormitories.At one stage, the principal of the institute himself escorted students to the dormitories.Students alleged BCL activists attacked some of them who fell behind while the principal was escorting them to the dormitory, leaving five female students injured.A police man trying to pacifying a BCL activist who was attempting to attack female students on Wednesday. Photo: Shahidul Islam/Prothom Alo The BCL activists launched the attack even in presence of the principal and the police. And police took no action, alleged the students.BCL, however, denied the allegation and the principal echoed it.BCL’s IHT unit president Zahidul Islam claimed that female students got frightened when BCL activists chased certain Mizan, who he claimed is a mentally retarded ex-student of the institute, after Mizan chanted slogans against BCL.“And some of the female students fell sick. Attacks were not launched on them and it will be proved in medical certificates,” he claimed.Later, the academic council of the institute sat for an emergency meeting and decided to close the institution for an indefinite period to fend off any unwanted situation.When approached, institute principal Sirazul Islam said, “BCL did not launch attacks on female students. Some of female students sustained injuries while hastily entering the dormitory.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends a military ceremony in the courtyard of the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, France on 26 November 2014As Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi prepares to be sworn in for a second four-year term on Saturday, a wave of arrests signals his government’s fear of social dissent, analysts say.Personalities involved in the January 2011 popular uprising that brought down president Hosni Mubarak are among those to have been detained, amid a crackdown that began after March elections gave Sisi an official 97 per cent of the vote.Two of those arrested are blogger and journalist Wael Abbas and Shadi Ghazali Harb, one of the youth leaders during the 2011 revolution.They also include Hazim Abdelazim, who has described his decision to head the youth committee of Sisi’s successful 2014 presidential bid as his “biggest mistake”.“The arrests are in line with the repressive policies of recent years, which aim to subdue” all potential checks on power, said Karim Bitar, a researcher at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.A month ahead of the elections, the public prosecutor’s office warned the media it would act against the dissemination of “false information” deemed detrimental to the country’s “safety and security”.The latest arrests show “nothing has changed in the security-focused policies of the regime” in Egypt, said Mostafa Kamel el-Sayed, a political science professor at Cairo University.“There is still worry of a repeat of what happened in January 2011, which the president has expressed more than once,” said Sayed.Economic hardship may also be making the authorities jittery, analysts say.The government has brought in a value-added tax, cut fuel subsidies and hiked electricity prices, as it seeks to keep to the terms of a $12-billion (10.3-billion-euro) loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.The authorities may also fear activists will “use these circumstances to mobilise citizens against Sisi’s regime”, with figures who made their names in 2011 a particular source of potential concern, Sayed told AFP.A collapse in the value of the currency in late 2016 and resultant inflation, which peaked at 33 percent last July, has also left consumers feeling the pinch.Another electricity price hike and cut to fuel subsidies are planned for the summer.To prepare the public for this unpopular medicine, state-run media has cited the government’s massive 104-billion-pound ($5.8 billion, five-billion-euro) petroleum subsidy bill and the squeeze caused by oil prices rising back above $75 per barrel.‘State of oppression’Advocacy groups have condemned the arrests, calling on authorities to release the activists, with Human Rights Watch on Thursday denouncing a “state of oppression”.The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has also condemned the wave of arrests.“Sustainable stability and security can only go hand in hand with the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” her spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.“The increasing number of arrests of human rights defenders, political activists and bloggers in the latest weeks in Egypt is therefore a worrying development,” said Kocijancic.Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid rejected the criticisms, saying the EU’s track record in human rights can also be condemned.Abu Zeid pointed to “the immense difficulty and degrading treatment suffered by many of the immigrants and refugees, as well as the violations committed by law enforcement authorities” in the EU.“That is in addition to the growing effect of the rise of extremist, right-wing parties and movements, with the ensuing manifestations of racism, discrimination, violence and hate speech,” Abu Zeid said in a statement.Also last month an Egyptian military court sentenced Ismail Alexandrani, a prominent journalist and expert on jihadist movements in the Sinai Peninsula, to 10 years in prison.The court has yet to issue its reasoning, but Alexandrani’s lawyer said he had been accused of publishing military secrets and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.For Paris-based researcher Bitar, Egypt’s policy direction is at least in part the consequence of the West’s own policies.“The Western preference for Arab authoritarianism provides rulers in the Middle East blank cheques that make them feel they have no limits in regards to oppression,” said Bitar.
Swedish cable operator Com Hem has named Agnes Reuterskiöld as its new head of consumer sales, effective August 6.Reuterskiöld was previously sales manager for local newspaper group Mitt i Stockholm, having earlier been responsible for direct sales at Viasat.
BBC show Life StoryGoogle will have a raft of BBC content on its relaunched Google Earth service.The internet giant is refreshing its maps and mapping service and has struck a deal with BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster, and Earth will now have BBC footage from what it calls its Natural Treasures collection.Natural Treasures will sit within a revamped feature on Earth called Voyager, which launches today.Google Earth users will be able to journey through 30 locations via the BBC footage, across six habitats: islands, deserts, grasslands, mountains, cities and jungles.The BBC said users can embark upon curated journeys, with filmed insights from its wildlife producers, imagery and clips from series including Life Story, Africa and Planet Earth II.There will also be video from the BBC’s app The Story of Life including various Sir David Attenborough’s clips.“We’re delighted to be strengthening our decade-long partnership with Google by pursuing a common goal to bring audiences everywhere even closer to our incredible planet,” said Jackie Lee-Joe, chief marketing officer at BBC Worldwide.Through this partnership, we’re leveraging BBC Worldwide’s iconic brand and content to deliver audiences a new way to experience the natural world. The BBC has been capturing and sharing the natural world for over 60 years, and now we’re further innovating how we tell these stories.”
“The Impact of High and Growing Government Debt on Economic Growth – An Empirical Investigation for the Euro Area,” by Cristina Checherita and Philipp Rother, European Central Bank, Working Paper Series 1237, August 2010.These papers reflect serious research by world-class economists from the US, Europe and Sweden – and they all confirm the detrimental consequences of extreme governmental indebtedness.Misery on the Rise AgainIn the past year, Okun’s impartial arbiter averaged 10.5%, the highest on record for the third year of an officially recognized economic recovery and almost double the average of the 1950s. The latest readings have occurred despite US gross public debt in excess of 103% of GDP and with the Federal Reserve’s unprecedentedly large balance sheet that approaches nearly $3 trillion.Other measures of well-being confirm the Misery Index. The Poverty Index in 2011 appears to have reached 15.7%, the highest reading in five decades. Not surprisingly, two unenviable records have been set: 46 million, or 14.6% of the population, are now in the food stamp program, up from 7.9% in 1970 and a record-high 41% pay zero national income tax.In the eleven quarters of this expansion, the growth of real per-capita GDP was the lowest for all of the comparable post-WWII business cycle expansions. Real per-capita disposable personal income has risen by a scant 0.1% annual rate, remarkably weak when compared with the 2.9% post-war average. It is often said that economic conditions would have been much worse if the government had not run massive budget deficits and the Fed had not implemented extraordinary policies. This whole premise is wrong.In all likelihood the governmental measures made conditions worse, and the poor results reflect the counterproductive nature of fiscal and monetary policies. None of these numerous actions produced anything more than transitory improvement in economic conditions, followed by a quick retreat to a faltering pattern while leaving the economy saddled with even greater indebtedness. The diminutive gain in this expansion is clearly consistent with the view that government actions have hurt, rather than helped, economic performance. Sadly, many of those who the government programs were supposedly designed to help the most have suffered the worst.The Way OutThe original theoretical argument in favor of deficit spending originated in J.M. Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). A search of Keynes’ work reveals no recognition of the “bang point,” or the condition where a government engages in deficit spending for such a prolonged period of time that a massive buildup of debt leads to denial of additional credit to the government because of fear that the existing debt will not be repaid. Nor did Keynes address the situation where a large number of countries are all simultaneously getting deeper and deeper in debt and there are gradations of debt among these countries – serious shortfalls in the basic Keynesian theory.Keynes, as opposed to some of his interpreters and predecessors, may have implicitly recognized that a bang point could occur, because he did not recommend constant budget deficits. Instead, he advocated cyclical deficits, counterbalanced by cyclical budget surpluses. Under such a system, government debt in bad times would be retired in good times. However, Keynes’ original proposition was bastardized in support of perpetual deficits, something Keynes himself never advocated.Milton Friedman, whom many consider to have been the polar opposite of Keynes, also never addressed the concept of a bang point, but he may also have understood implicitly that such a situation could occur. The reason is that Friedman advocated balanced budgets, which if followed or required constitutionally as Friedman argued, would prevent a buildup of debt. This view was largely rejected as being inhumane since in a recession, government policy would not be responsive to unemployment and other miseries of such a condition. What should have been discussed is whether some short-term misery is a better option than putting the entire country and economic system in jeopardy, as numerous examples in Europe currently illustrate.The most sensible recognition of budget policy came not from Keynes nor Friedman, but from David Hume, one of the greatest minds of mankind, whom Adam Smith called the greatest intellect that he ever met. In his 1752 paper “Of Public Finance,” Hume advocated running budget surpluses in good times so that they could be used in time of war or other emergencies. Such a recommendation would, of course, prevent policies that would send countries barreling toward the bang point. Countries would have to live inside their means most of the time, but in emergency situations would have the resources to respond.In the context of today’s world, this approach would be viewed as unacceptable because it would limit the ability of politicians to continue their excessive spending, thereby saddling future generations with obligations and promises that cannot be honored. But isn’t Hume’s recommendation exactly what we taught our children in preparing them to manage their own personal finances?Lacy Hunt is the executive vice-president of Hoisington Investment Management, a firm with over $5.8 billion under management, and one of the nation’s top-performing bond managers. Lacy’s work has been published in Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Journal of Finance, the Financial Analysts Journal and the Journal of Portfolio Management. Previously he was the chief economist for the HSBC Group, one of the world’s largest banks, and the senior economist for the Dallas Fed.At the Casey Research/Sprott Summit, he will be making a comprehensive presentation on the policy options the government has left to it, the consequences of those options, and how investors can position themselves. He will also be participating in an on-stage exchange of views on the Fed with G. Edward Griffin, the author of the best-selling Creature from Jekyll Island and long-term Fed critic.One of the really great things about these Summits is that most of the faculty, including Lacy, attend the entire event, giving you a rare opportunity to meet them in person and get your specific questions answered.Friday FunnyI have seen a number of iterations of this particular “funny,” but this one goes a couple of steps further in explaining the dynamics, so I wanted to include it here.Suppose that every day, ten men go out for a beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.The fifth would pay $1.00The sixth would pay $3.00The seventh would pay $7.00The eighth would pay $12.00The ninth would pay $18.00The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.00So that’s what they decided to do. The men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day the owner threw them a curve.“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.00.”Drinks for the ten men now cost just $80.00.The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get their “fair share?”They realized that $20.00 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.And so:The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).The eighth now paid $9 instead of 12 (25% savings).The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).Each of the six was better off than before! And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.“I only got a dollar out of the $20” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “But he got $10!”“Yeah, that’s right,” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t I get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.For those who understand, no explanation is needed.For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.Casey Report Editors in the NewsIn the way of weekend reading/watching, following are links to some media coverage senior Casey Report editors Bud Conrad and Doug Casey received this week.The first is an interview with Bud Conrad by the always competent Jim Puplava of the Financial Sense Newshour. In it, Bud discusses his analysis of how the new abundance of natural gas is a game changer for the US. He lays out how the new technology has provided the US with a huge new source of energy that is growing in production and use. Here’s a link to the interview.Better still, you can get the whole story with the details in charts and graphs showing a new method for predicting the price of natural gas, and Bud’s investment prediction, by signing up for a no-risk trial to The Casey Report.Doug Casey ripping things up at the Agora Financial Conference. My dear business partner of some years is many things, but a shrinking violet is not one of them. Regular correspondent Brett of the Contrary Investing Report is in the audience at the Agora Financial Conference now going on in Vancouver, and filed the following recap of Doug’s remarks. Here’s the link.Weekend ReadsMuch of these fall into the category of yet more examples of central planning and the consequences that inevitably follow. Some are quite eye-opening, starting with…Fire Ice – We have all seen the news about the deadly wildfires now sweeping the western United States. Would you believe that there is a proven technology that could have snuffed those fires out long ago? That could snuff them out right away? Yet the company that possesses the technology – which other states have used very successfully – remains sidelined. Perhaps, as one observer put it, by whichever politically well-connected company now has the contract to fight the fires. Here’s the link to the eye-opening story of Fire Ice.Bloomberg on Cops Going on Strike – You probably heard that Mayor Bloomberg of NYC proposed that the nation’s police go on strike until gun control laws are enacted. If not, here’s the story – and a fact-based response to his contention that police are increasingly at risk from being shot by members of the public. The truth, however, is just the opposite – with police shootings, such as set off the Anaheim riot, on the increase. Here’s the story from the always excellent Reason.com.Also from Reason, a Mind-Numbing Story About the IRS – Imagine a family being asked to pay millions in taxes for a piece of worthless art. Worthless not because it’s not fine art (though not to my taste), but because the government’s own rules make it illegal to sell. Here’s the story.Airports and Border Crossings in Canada Wired with Listening Equipment – from Our Friends at the International Man. One of the participants in the forum at InternationalMan.com tipped us off to this story, that the Canadians are wiring their airports and border crossings so that they can listen in and record your conversations as you wait to go through. What has happened to the world? Oh, that’s right, I remember – the central planners, in this case those charged with protecting our “security,” have been at it again. Next time you are in a Canadian airport, any airport, remember, mum’s the word.And Finally…Ending on a positive note, the following just came across the wires. Though the story comes from Cuba, it points to a better, freer future for us all.That’s because while a centrally planned, command economy can last a long time, it can’t last forever. And when the house of (poorly arranged) cards comes crashing down, the free market will reemerge.Here’s the headline of the story, and a link to read it.Cuba to end Soviet-style economy and will implement market-friendly policiesHere’s the linkAnd with that, I will sign off for the week by thanking you for reading and for being a Casey Research subscriber.Remember, the early-bird pricing for our upcoming Summit ends July 31 – don’t miss it.See you there!David GallandManaging DirectorCasey Research “Government Size and Growth: A Survey and Interpretation of the Evidence,” by Andreas Bergh and Magnus Henrekson, IFN Working Paper No. 858, April 2011; Dear Reader,Before I begin today’s musings, I would like to give a musical nod to Bush, a band that seems to me to be largely overlooked. If you are unfamiliar with them (and don’t mind some fairly hard rock), here are a few selections to keep you company this fine day… Glycerin… Everything’s Zen (live)… Comedown.And so, with feet and fingers tapping madly, we move on…What (Almost) Everyone Fails to Understand About Our EconomyI want to start today’s missive with a couple of unusual charts. Unusual because they contain no reference points. Here’s the first.And here’s the second.We’ll return to those charts momentarily. First, however, a confession.As much as I read, and despite interacting with very smart people on a daily basis, until just recently I have missed something about our economy that, on reflection, should have been as obvious as the computer screen I spend far too many hours staring at.Allow me to emphasize the point in somewhat stronger terms.That I could have overlooked this particular aspect of the US economy and the overarching consequences that follow from it for all these years should, if I were a lawyer, cause me to be disbarred. If I were a doctor, the medical practice board would be entirely within their rights to revoke my license. If I were a politician, my benefactors would be entirely justified in cutting off my bribes donations. If I were a… well, you get the idea.Interestingly, as smack-up-the-side-of-the-head obvious as this feature of the economy is, and has been for years, virtually everyone else has failed to spot it as well.So, what is this mystery?Succinctly, it is that, like Europe (where, during my recent trip there, the spark of awareness was lit), the economy of the United States is, and has been for decades, increasingly under the control of central planners at the expense of the free market.As proof of that contention, we return to the two charts above. Here, again, is the first, but with the contextual reference points in place.(Click on image to enlarge)As you can see, the chart tracks the purchasing power of the US dollar since 1914, the year that the government, through its stooges at the Fed, took command of monetary policy. Laughably, the stated mission of these central planners was to preserve the value of the dollar. Predictably, exactly the opposite resulted.And here’s the second chart, also with the reference points in place.(Click on image to enlarge)As you can so clearly see, after severing the last connection with the gold standard in 1971, after which point the central planners took command of fiscal policy, we have seen an exponential growth in government debt.(Of course, the numbers on the national debt are grossly understated as it doesn’t account for the tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded and unpayable obligations tied to Social Security, Medicare and so forth.)Now, I could go on and on, finding dozens of examples of the shift from a free market to a command economy, but in the interest of time will stop there.The point, which I hope is now clear to all, is that the economic model that allowed the United States to rise out of abject poverty at its inception to become the most powerful economy the world has ever seen has been tossed aside in favor of a model that has proven time and again to be fundamentally flawed and always doomed to fail.That the central-planning model, here and around the world, has been advanced by a fiat global reserve currency is undeniable. However, as the two charts clearly show, the consequences of having central planners controlling monetary and fiscal policy have created a ticking time bomb set to explode.A few additional comments are warranted.The first has to do with who the central planners actually are. And the best way to understand that is by considering who they are not.Who they are not is successful entrepreneurs. Stating what should also be obvious, were they successful entrepreneurs, they would be otherwise engaged in creating jobs and building wealth for themselves and their co-workers.Instead, the central planners almost always hail from the halls of academia, their stock and trade consisting entirely of a college degree and a façade of really knowing what they talk about. As a friend likes to say, “The biggest problems in this world are not caused by a lack of knowledge, but by people who pretend to know when they don’t.”Over the years I have met and even gotten to know people who have gravitated toward jobs involved with setting government policies. And to a person, they have never held a real job outside of academia, or if they did, they failed at it. Yet they are unhesitant in telling everyone who will listen in tones most professorial how the world should work, and why enlightened government policies – not the free market – are the only answer.These people have taken over our country, and in fact, the world. The current mess we are in should not be a surprise to anyone. All anyone has to do is look at the history of the Soviet Union, or communist China, pre-economic liberalization, to see how the story of command economies ends. How it always ends.So, where do things go from here?Earlier today I dropped an email to our editors, which I will quote from here as it deals with what I see as the fate of the global economy over the next six months or so.“It’s all about the debt.“The sovereigns owe a lot of money that they can’t repay. As they try to roll over their existing debts and have to borrow more, the lenders – if any can be found – will want higher and eventually unaffordable interest rates. When the lenders dry up, the only solution will be for the central bankers to monetize, but the world will be watching closely, so this will likely trigger a death spiral in the fiat currencies.“There are intractable problems on a fundamental, systemic basis that cannot be resolved in an orderly fashion. The day is coming when the lending locks up again, after which point everything starts to fall apart.“So, no, I don’t think it’s a muddle by outcome, but a systemic crash… hopefully big enough to cause a rethink about the entire current setup with funny money and central economic planning.“But that would take a very big crash.”Now, I know that a lot of dear subscribers, having accepted our arguments for including tangible assets as a core portfolio holding for many years now, have struggled during the latest retracement and consolidation period in the precious metals and associated stocks.But if you step back and look at the big picture as it is constantly revealed in the headlines and regular releases of poor economic data, I think the conclusions we came to back before the crisis hit, that the Fed (and all the central bankers) are stuck between a rock and a hard place, remain the correct conclusions.There is no simple or easy way out of this situation as the central planners are forced into a haphazard and highly destructive retreat. And the consequences won’t just be economic or political… the mini-riots in Anaheim this past week are just a straw in the wind.So, how does one cope in a command economy headed, like all its predecessors, into the trash bin of history – in this case, on a global scale?First and foremost, diversify. Everything contains risk, so spreading it around to mitigate the chances of getting hit especially hard from any one investment sector makes a lot of sense.Personally, I use a spread sheet program to analyze my holdings from a number of different angles, including percentage dedicated to natural resources; percentage in non-US-dollar-denominated assets; percentage outside of the United States; percentage with any one financial institution; percentage in dividend earning stocks; percentage liquid vs. illiquid; percentage in common equities; percentage in cash and so forth.The idea is that if any one area becomes overweight or underweight, I look to make adjustments. In addition, I set certain goals – for example, the percentage of our net worth we want outside of the United States – and manage to that number.In short, pay close attention to where your assets are allocated and don’t go overboard in any one sector.Secondly, skew toward things tangible. Over the next few years, we are going to see massive dislocations as the fiat currency system cracks apart, starting with the euro and then, after a final rush into the “safe harbor” of the US dollar, spreading to the dollar itself.As much as possible, own things with a tangible value. Precious metals are fine, but don’t go overboard as that makes you susceptible to a change in government regulations that could literally be invoked overnight. Consider property, and even income-producing property (in low-tax jurisdictions). But, again, don’t go overboard because real estate is always a fixed target, which means the government can tax it or even confiscate it, and you won’t be able to do much about it. Owning currencies of countries with large resources is a proxy for owning something tangible, though an imperfect proxy.Be careful. It will only get more challenging to build net worth going forward. Whether it be higher taxes on capital gains (a certainty at some point) or the cancellation of tax breaks, or more demands on business owners from legislation such as Obamacare, generating – and more to the point, keeping – net worth will not be easy. Therefore, rule number one has to be to avoid risking big chunks of money.Sit tight, and be right. Per my comments above, I remain convinced that our Casey Research base case – of a global economic crisis that will get much worse before it gets better, and that the central planners have few options left to them other than monetary debasement – is correct.For those of you who already have allocations to the tangibles, and to the gold stocks (which are massively undervalued at this point), sit tight and you will come out right. If you are just now rethinking how to reposition your portfolio to get through what’s next, then do yourself a favor and take a low-cost, money-back-guaranteed subscription to our BIG GOLD service and start adding positions on the inevitable pullbacks.These are, of course, only some of the strategies you can use. The most comprehensive analysis of the situation, and how to prepare for what’s next, will be at the upcoming three-day intensive Summit we are co-hosting with Sprott, Inc., Navigating the Politicized Economy, in beautiful Carlsbad, California, September 7 – 9.Speaking of the Summit, one of the smartest people you’ll rub elbows with at the event will again be Dr. Lacy Hunt, the former economist to the Dallas Fed (but a Fed fan no longer) and the nation’s top-performing bond fund manager. Earlier this week, Lacy shot me over the following article that is well worth your attention.Unintended Consequences of Well-Motivated PoliciesBy Dr. Lacy HuntIn the early 1960s, when JFK was in the White House and William McChesney Martin was Fed chairman, Keynesian economics was in full bloom. One of its major tenets was the Phillips Curve, which posits a stable inverse relationship between the rate of inflation and the unemployment rate. Yale professor James Tobin (1918-2002) and others argued that the social outcome could be improved by a more activist monetary and fiscal policy. Specifically, they contended that the unemployment rate could be lowered while only resulting in slightly higher inflation.The argument posited the notion that economic-policy makers had sufficient knowledge to intervene or fine-tune the economy with tools like those of a surgeon. Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Carter (two Democrats and one Republican) followed this policy. At one point, President Nixon made the famous statement that “We are all Keynesians now.” Moreover, as the White House led, the Fed chairmen of the era – Martin, Burns and Miller – generally acquiesced.To judge the effectiveness of this policy, an objective standard is needed. Arthur M. Okun (1928-80), Yale colleague of Tobin, developed such a standard, which he called the Misery Index – the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates.Under the activist, Phillips Curve-based policy, some reduction in unemployment was temporarily achieved. However, inflation accelerated much more than was anticipated, and the net result was higher unemployment and faster inflation, an outcome not at all contemplated by the Phillips Curve. The Misery Index surged from an average of 6.7% in the 1950s, to 7.3% in the 1960s, to 13.6% in the 1970s, with peak rates above 20% in the early 1980s.Many US households suffered. Wages of lower-paying positions failed to keep up with inflation, and when higher unemployment resulted, many of those people lost their jobs. Those on the high end had far more resources that enabled them to protect their investments and earned income, so the income/wealth divide worsened. A half-century later, the United States has never regained the prosperity of the 1950s.Working independently in the late 1960s, economists Milton Friedman and Edmund Phelps, who would both eventually be awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, had determined that while the Phillips Curve was observable over the short run, this was not the case over the long run. While the economics profession debated the Friedman/Phelps research, the US had to learn their findings the hard way.Growing Evidence of the Long-term Depressants from Activist PoliciesIn addition to the compelling evidence that more active monetary and fiscal policy involvement did not produce beneficial results over the short run, three recent academic studies, though they differ in purpose and scope, all reach the conclusion that extremely high levels of governmental indebtedness diminish economic growth. In other words, deficit spending should not be called “stimulus” as is the overwhelming tendency by the media and many economic writers.Whereas government spending may have been linked to the concept of economic stimulus in distant periods, these studies demonstrate that such an assertion is unwarranted, and blatantly wrong in present circumstances. While officials argue that governmental action is required for political reasons and public anxiety, governments would be better off to admit that traditional tools only serve to compound existing problems.These three highly compelling studies are:“Debt Overhangs: Past and Present,” by Carmen M. Reinhart, Vincent R. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 18015, April 2012;
The good news in resource-related political risk continues: no new disasters, such as nationalization of a major mine. The Middle East remains in conflict, and Africa remains a dangerous place to do business, as has been the case for decades. The most alarming news for us was that Mexico’s Green Party just won a larger portion of the nation’s Congress. It remains a small minority with about 10% of the seats, but that’s more than the German green party… and look what it’s done. Worse, the green party is in alliance with the ruling PRI, which needs it to form a majority coalition. That means the ruling party has to give the greens a lot of what they want. Some of what the greens want is just crazy. However, Mexico is a place where poverty still abounds and the harsh facts of life still matter in politics. Nothing has actually changed yet, and the country does have a stable and workable mining code. It’s too soon to write the place off, but we’ll be watching it closely. Stupidity Watch There’s more bad news than good, as usual. Here’s the latest: June 2015: Top Five Countries This month’s top-scoring countries are: Sweden, Finland, Ireland, the US, and Canada. They are all considered very low risk. Ireland (Casey Country Score 0.06). Thanks to the combined effects of the Minerals Development Act in 1940 and a number of significant tax measures announced in 1956, Ireland has become one of the most pro-mining places in Europe and in the world. Zambia: News is out that Zambia is considering cutting the mineral royalties for underground mines. The cut would push the tax below the recently revised 9%. The original (now abandoned) tax hike saw the government charging as much as 20%. We hope common sense will eventually triumph over political stupidity. This Month’s Country Scores This month’s report examines 66 countries with significant mining activity. We plan to expand this to cover oil- and gas-producing countries and other resource industries. This month the focus remains on mining. Below are the individual country scores, followed by regional groupings and other notes. Europe looks the most investor friendly. The region includes both EU members and emerging European and Balkan countries, such as Russia and Serbia. This group is diverse, but on average its constituent countries tend to have stable and attractive investment climates, which makes them good mining jurisdictions. About the Casey Country Score Before we recommend a company, we always analyze the country (or countries) in which it operates. We examine the government’s level of support for mining, foreign investment, and private enterprise, and try to avoid countries with policies detrimental to investors. To this end, we tap multiple sources with knowledge of the country in question, including government officials, miners, geologists actually working on the ground, independent journalists, and NGOs. Whenever possible, we visit the country to see how the data measure up against the observable reality. It’s impossible, of course, to get our boots on the ground in all the countries we’re interested in as often as we’d like. So to fill the gap, we’ve developed the Casey Country Score (CCS) as a quick way to assess a country’s investment climate. The CCS measures multiple aspects of a country’s investment appeal, including the ease of registering property, investor protection, transparency of government institutions, and logistical infrastructure, among others. Lower scores are better. While the vast majority of countries receive a score between 0.0 and 1.0, some may slightly exceed 1.0 if, for example, they have high inflation in addition to other poor scores. Notes: 1] We designed the Casey Country Score to aggregate multiple ratings from such international organizations as the Fraser Institute, the World Bank, Transparency International, and others, and we augment that data with current indicators, such as inflation. The score gives more weight to mining-specific data than to indicators pegged to the economy as a whole, but of course, it reflects the overall investment climate in a country too. Our proprietary formula assigns a single score to each country. The results give us a rough but interesting insight into how countries stack up against each other as investment jurisdictions, for mining and in general. 2] As we’re focused on resource investments in the Casey International Speculator, the letter for which we created the CCS, we selected countries for this report where mining (excluding the oil and gas industry, but including nonmetals) is a significant industry. We used the size of the country’s mining industry in relation to its GDP as a benchmark and considered mainly those where the figure was 1% or more. 3] For Finland, Sweden, Serbia, and the United Kingdom, mining (excluding oil and gas) fell below our 1% benchmark according to the most recently available data. Yet these countries are interesting mining jurisdictions with a lot of investment opportunities. We made a judgment call and left them in. United States (Casey Country Score 0.08). The US ranking in the current Fraser survey dropped a tick, but with excellent infrastructure, low inflation, and high investor protection, it’s still a great mining jurisdiction overall. Some states are obviously not as mine friendly as the ones that rely heavily on mining in the West: Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, and Utah. This is well understood by both resource investors and the Canada-listed mining companies that operate there. The Big Picture: Regions Sweden (Casey Country Score 0.04). Sweden is a jurisdiction with excellent infrastructure and famously low corruption and inflation. The country features high-quality geological databases and readily available exploration services. Australia scored very well in the Fraser Survey, the World Bank’s report, and the Corruption Perceptions Index. We tend to agree with this result: the country is a good mining jurisdiction, much better than the Asia & Oceania average. There are other outliers in each group that can render a regional average less useful, and we always look at individual countries to determine if they’re worth our investing consideration. Important points to note: Canada (Casey Country Score 0.08). Canada is another country with a long-established mining industry and an extremely favorable investment climate in the majority of its provinces. We don’t have any particular concerns about Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, among other Canadian provinces, when it comes to mining friendliness. There can be variances within a country between its administrative divisions, such as provinces in Argentina or states in Brazil and the US, and each can have significantly different investment appeal. Mongolia: Khan Resources petitioned a US court to weigh in on its protracted dispute with Mongolia. The move comes after the country decided to invalidate a $100 million arbitration claim by the Canadian company. Our view remains that Mongolia’s intention to revoke Khan’s claims was monumentally stupid. It will make it that much harder to attract investment, which the country badly needs. Finland (Casey Country Score 0.05). Finland is a top Fraser Survey jurisdiction and was an undisputed leader in most of the other reports we drew input from. We note, however, that while stable, government processes in Finland can be very slow. Peru: Violent protests against the Tia Maria copper mine rocked Peru again last month. Five deaths and many more injured reported so far. The government declared a state of emergency in the region. The conflict is suspended, but the truce looks fragile. Louis James has provided his take on the situation. Short version: the government is pro-mining, but don’t invest in companies in Peru unless they can convince you they have strong local support. Romania: The country has hiked taxes for mining activities by just under 7%. The government says it wants to align tax rates with inflation. Romania last touched mining taxes in 2013, when it upped them by a whopping 28%. Not a good trend. And stupid: it makes no sense to raise taxes on a business that has almost ground to a halt in your country but which could attract foreign investment, if the politicians would just let it be. Chile: Country’s environmental regulator has filed charges against Canadian miner Lundin Mining Corporation. The reason: alleged environmental violations in its Candelaria copper deposit located in Chile’s Atacama region. It may be that the company is at fault and the authorities are just doing their jobs. We haven’t been down there to check. But the move is part of an ongoing pushback against mining, so view this as another turn toward economic stupidity in Chile. European Union: Last month European Parliament voted in favor of a mandatory certification system for importers of so-called conflict minerals. The bill is largely aimed at Africa, where minerals play a role in several violent conflicts. As a result, 800,000 European companies will have to ensure that revenues from the minerals they use are not funding conflicts. The move doesn’t really affect our investments but is an interesting example of stupid regulation in the EU that will tax business and make not one bit of difference to the people it’s intended to help.
If you’ve ever seen someone with testicles get kicked in the groin, then you probably know that male genitals — often portrayed as a symbol of male strength and virility — aren’t actually that tough.But can testicles — or rather, the sperm they produce — be harmed by something as seemingly innocent as a pair of briefs?A study published Wednesday in the journal Human Reproduction finds lower sperm counts in people who wear tight-fitting underwear. But some experts question whether undergarment choice could make a meaningful difference for fertility.If it does matter, it all comes to down to temperature. As it turns out, a man’s love spuds just can’t take the heat.”Any exposure [to heat] that significantly increases temperature is likely to affect spermatogenesis [or sperm production],” says Dr. Jorge Chavarro, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and an author on the study. “That’s the main reason we have scrotums and testes that are external to the abdomen.”By hanging below the torso, testicles stay cooler — by about 4 to 6 degrees, typically — than the rest of the body. That helps them make happy, functional sperm cells. But when you slap on a pair of briefs, that natural cooling system is disrupted. Your dangly bits are held close to your abdomen and they heat up, harming sperm production.At least, that’s one hypothesis. Several studies have examined this issue, but Chavarro says many of them weren’t large enough, or yielded inconclusive results. Chavarro wanted to know whether the type of underwear worn really influenced sperm count.To do that, he’d have to look at some sperm. Lots of it.In their study, Chavarro and his team examined semen samples from 656 men. These men were selected from couples seeking infertility treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital between 2000 and 2017.Each man had filled out a survey for the clinic that included a question about what underwear he typically wore. This allowed Chavarro to compare men who wore boxers to men who wore tighter-fitting underwear like briefs or bikinis.After correcting for a number of factors, such as age and weight, the researchers saw a trend. “We found that men who wear looser underwear had significantly higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear,” Chavarro says.But Chavarro notes that even though the average sperm count was lower in men who wore tight-fitting underwear instead of boxers, this value was still well within healthy levels. That suggests the difference between underwear types shouldn’t be overblown, Chavarro says.”For most men, it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference,” he says. “The men who are most likely to benefit are the men who are on the border – who have relatively low sperm count.”Even with Chavarro’s caveats, some experts aren’t convinced. Germaine Louis, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University, published a similar study in 2016 examining semen from 473 men, and failed to detect differences in sperm count or fertility outcomes.”There’s absolutely no difference in how long it took people to get pregnant whether [the men] were wearing briefs or boxers,” Louis says.She worries that underwear guidance would only add stress to the equation.”Couples are already stressed out enough when they’re trying for a pregnancy,” Lewis says. “We just don’t need to introduce any other stressors.”Still, Chavarro says that switching to boxers is relatively cheap compared to most fertility treatments. For couples trying to improve their chance at a pregnancy, changing the man’s underwear habits could be low-hanging fruit.”This is something that’s a relatively easy change to do,” Chavarro says. “It involves them going to buy new underwear, but that’s a relatively low-cost intervention.”Dr. Bruce Gilbert, professor of urology at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, says Chavarro and his colleagues ignored several factors that may have influenced sperm count, such as the type of pants typically worn by each patient. Wearing tight jeans, for instance, could outweigh any benefits derived from wearing loose boxers.”If people were just running around this world in underwear that would be one thing,” he says. “But you and I and most people are going to be wearing something over our underwear.”Plus, the questionnaire was vaguely worded, Gilbert says, and should have included more specific questions about each patient’s behavior. “I would like a bit more information from their set of patients before I change what I tell my patients,” Gilbert says. “I can’t say this is going to change my clinical practice.” Paul Chisholm is an intern on NPR’s Science desk. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Fourteen-year-old Caydden Zimmerman’s school days start early and end late.He has a 90-minute bus ride to get from the homeless shelter where he is staying in Boise, Idaho, to his middle school. He wakes up at 5:45 a.m., quickly brushes his teeth and smooths some gel in his hair, and then he dashes downstairs to catch his school bus.About 2.5 million children in the U.S. currently are homeless, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness. That number is rising as house prices and rental costs continue to grow in cities large and small, and the trend is clearly visible in Boise — the fastest-growing city in the nation.Caydden has been living at City Light Home For Women and Children for a couple of months now with his 11-year-old brother, Keston, and his grandma, Pam Cantrell. Cantrell says they moved there after getting an eviction notice at their former duplex.”The landlord decided to sell the property, and we just could not find a place we could afford,” Cantrell says. “The more I looked, the more depressed I got. I just, I didn’t know what to do.”Like Cantrell and her grandsons, many low-income families in Boise struggle to find housing they can afford. Cantrell gets a small disability stipend from the government, but that’s nowhere near enough to cover rent and other expenses.The boys’ mother is addicted to drugs and struggles with mental illness, Cantrell says, which is why grandma is the boys’ full-time caretaker now.”I grew up being alone, raised by my older brother and my grandma,” Caydden says. “She means everything. Without her I wouldn’t be here. I’d probably be dead somewhere.”After three months of searching, the shelter became their only option. Cantrell is grateful to have a place to stay but says not having a permanent home is really hard on her grandsons.”My youngest one, he can be a little terror, because he’s upset by it,” Cantrell says. “He gets angry, and he’ll sit in the corner and say, ‘I hate this place, I hate this place.’ “”It’s just an effort to try not to break down”It’s difficult for Caydden too, but you wouldn’t know it. Caydden is a social 14-year-old with a big smile. One of his favorite things about school is seeing his friends.”My friends know about it — me being homeless — they don’t tease me on it,” Caydden says. “They just know that I’m doing it, I’m trying to work hard. And it’s just an effort to try not to break down.”Homeless kids tend to score lower on standardized tests and have lower graduation rates. It’s harder to concentrate when you’re anxious and worried. And sometimes Caydden does break down with his friends.”They always bring me up when I’m feeling down,” he says. “They make me smile when I’m sad.”Caydden’s grades have improved since he started at this alternative middle school for students who struggle in traditional academic settings. The school district received a grant to pay for a bus to transport homeless students who are scattered across the Boise area.Homeless students often bounce around to different schools as their living situations change. That can make it nearly impossible to keep up, so Pathways Middle School Principal Eric Eschen wants to do everything he can to keep tabs on students like Caydden.”He’s a very positive student, very giving, a very good friend,” Eschen says. He points to a recent time when Caydden approached him to alert him that another student was making a mess with mustard in the bathroom. He took it as a sign that Caydden cares about the community and the school. For homeless kids, sometimes school can be a place of refuge and consistency in an otherwise hectic and messy world.Eschen keeps an eye on Caydden because, like a lot of students in his situation, he struggled with absences last year.”That really affected him and affected his progress, so we’ve got some catch-up to do this year,” Eschen says.At the end of the school day, it’s another 90-minute bus ride before Caydden meets his grandma on the steps of the homeless shelter. They wait outside for Caydden’s brother to arrive on another bus. Meanwhile, Caydden checks in with Cantrell about the week’s schedule.”Grandma, on Friday are you just going to go in and wait for me and Keston?” he says. “Cause you’ve got laundry.””Yeah, I probably will,” Cantrell says. She has to keep Caydden apprised of her comings and goings at the shelter so that he won’t worry.Growing up fastCaydden has had to grow up faster than your typical 14-year-old. With his dad out of the picture and his mom’s drug addiction, he often had to be responsible for his little brother.”Help get him ready for school, I had to make sure Mom wasn’t … gone,” Caydden says. “I had to feed Keston when Mom was passed out for days. There was one time when we only had cereal for, like, two weeks.”Caydden has been trying to convince his grandma that she should let him get a job so he can help with rent. He’d like to earn money at a fast-food restaurant or, at the least, raking leaves and shoveling snow.”It’s like something I want to do,” Caydden says. “I just want to help out.”But Cantrell, aware that her grandson has already been through more than most teenagers, won’t have it.”You are not getting a job. You need to be a child as long as possible, Caydden,” she says, patting his knee. “You don’t want to be in a big hurry to grow up, honey.””This is home!”A few weeks later, there’s good news in Caydden’s world — they found a house. It’s about 700 square feet that they share with another woman from the shelter. Caydden sleeps in the basement, in a tiny room with concrete walls and a small window. Cantrell and Keston sleep on inflatable mattresses in the living room.”It’s not the greatest, but it’s not the worst,” Cantrell says. She’s been working on sprucing up the place. She plans to brighten up the living room with fresh paint.But for Caydden, it’s a huge improvement.”I feel much more comfortable and safe,” he says. He loves that the house is near Boise State University and has a weed-filled backyard that backs up to an alley. On football game days, he figured out that he can sell parking spots in the yard to game-goers.”Last weekend we made 90 bucks!” Caydden says. He’s scheming about trying to sell sodas on game day, too.But probably most importantly, he can claim something he hasn’t been able to for quite some time:”This is home!” he says, smiling.This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau. Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio.
Disabled campaigners and their allies have called on the transport secretary to restore “vital” government funding for projects to improve access to rail stations across England, Wales and Scotland.In a letter signed by more than 50 organisations, Transport for All (TfA) – which campaigns for an accessible transport system – calls on Chris Grayling to restore tens of millions of pounds of funding for the Access for All scheme that has been deferred by the government.The letter says that deferring half of all planned Access for All projects means that the “already slow progress on rail access has all but ground to a halt”.The decision by the chair of Network Rail – later rubber-stamped by Grayling – to cut Access for All funding for 2014-19 from £102 million to £55 million, with the rest carried over to 2019-24, was first revealed by Disability News Service last year.The letter has been sent as Grayling is due today (Thursday) to announce future levels of Network Rail funding, which TfA says provides an “opportunity to get things back on track”.But the department’s Accessibility Action Plan, published in August, pledges only that the government will deliver funding already announced – including the deferred funding – in full, and that it will “continue to seek to extend the Access for All programme further in the future”.The letter calls on Grayling to instead “invest in the potential of Deaf and disabled people” and reverse the decision to defer the Access for All funding, as well as commit to further Access for All funding after 2020 through “an ambitious long-term plan for making our railways fully accessible”.It tells Grayling that it is an “injustice” for Deaf, disabled and older people to be “locked out of our rail network”, and that accessible stations also benefit parents with buggies, dog-owners and people with luggage.The letter says government figures show that any money spent improving rail accessibility pays back nearly three times that amount in economic benefits, while an accessible station can mean “the difference between work and unemployment, a lifeline to friends and family or isolation”.The Transport for All letter has been signed by disabled people’s organisations including Inclusion London, Disability Sheffield, Ealing Centre for Independent Living, Kingston Centre for Independent Living, People First (Self Advocacy), Regard, Shaping Our Lives, Asian People’s Disability Alliance and Real.They say that nearly 80 per cent of rail stations across the UK do not have full step-free access, while many others do not have the other necessary access features such as tactile paving, audio-visual information and induction loops that enable Deaf and disabled people to use them.A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We take the issue of accessibility across all modes of transport very seriously and are continuing to improve station access through the Access for All programme and other major projects.“By 2019 at least 75 per cent of all journeys will be from stations with step-free access.“The Accessibility Action Plan is the next step in a much-needed dialogue with disabled people, carers, transport providers and local authorities to identify new ways to improve travel. “We also secured commitments from the rail industry earlier this year to help make journeys better for disabled people.”
Enroll Now for $5 Add to Queue Guest Writer Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. Russian Hacking Ring Steals More Than a Billion Passwords Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand Next Article Hackers –shares Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Blink, and there’s another headline about yet another data breach. First, it was Target. Then, in quick succession, Neiman Marcus and Michaels announced data breaches of their own. More recently – just this past Monday, in fact — P.F. Chang’s said that customers’ credit-card information at 33 of its locations had been compromised.Back in January, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation warned retailers to expect more attacks.They weren’t joking. Turns out, the rash of reported attacks represents just a small fraction of the personal data already stolen by hackers.Related: P.F. Chang’s Says Credit-Card Breach Affected 33 RestaurantsBeginning in earnest this April, a Russian crime ring has collected the largest known stockpile of stolen online credentials, making off with 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, The New York Times reported.This wide-scale hack job, which was brought to light by the cybersecurity firm Holden Security, targeted over 420,000 websites ranging from big-name companies to smaller websites, the firm wrote in a blog post.“Hackers did not just target U.S. companies, they targeted any website they could get, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small websites,” Alex Holden, the founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security, told the Times. “And most of these sites are still vulnerable.” In part for this reason, the firm has declined to identify a list of victims.All of this havoc was can be traced back to less than a dozen men in their 20s living in a small city in south central Russia, the Times reported. For now, it appears these guys are primarily using the stolen data to spam Twitter for other groups, charging a fee for the service.Related: Target, Neiman Marcus Hacks Could Be More Widespread, Experts SayThis, the Times noted, isn’t the best business strategy: “Selling more of the records on the black market would be lucrative.”Because people tend to use the same password for multiple sites, a single password, along with other stolen credentials, can be very valuable. Let’s say a thief gains access to your password for a retail site; he or she can then test it to try and access your bank account. (In other words, if your password for multiple sites – scratch that, any site – is “12345,” please change it now).This, of course, will not be the last time a massive security breach makes headlines. Do yourself a favor, then, and beef up your password security before the next attack is unearthed. Related: Your Password Is 123456? Wow. Seriously? Laura Entis 3 min read August 6, 2014
The world lost one of its brightest minds to a brain hemorrhage recently.Marvin Minsky was 88 when he passed on Sunday night. A World War II veteran, his life’s work was essentially creating and advancing the field of artificial intelligence. The New York Times has eulogized the Turing Award winner, writing that when Minsky was choosing his career path he “ruled out genetics as interesting but not profound, and physics as mildly entertaining, he chose to focus on intelligence itself.”This is a man who, in 1951, built the premiere “randomly wired neural network learning machine.” He also built the first confocal scanning microscope (read: extremely powerful) at Harvard in 1956.Two years later, along with John McCarthy (the man credited with naming “artificial intelligence”), he cofounded and taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s venerable A.I. lab. The man who wants to resurrect his father as an AI construct via paper records, Ray Kurzweil, was one of his students there too. Hell, director Stanley Kubrick even consulted him during pre-production on 2001: A Space Odyssey to get his take on whether or not computers would be able to speak by the year 2001.Saying he was brilliant would be a vast understatement, and I can’t possibly list all of his accomplishments here. But, that’s what NYT’s exhaustive memorial is for. Godspeed, sir. Timothy J. Seppala January 26, 2016 This story originally appeared on Engadget 2 min read Enroll Now for $5 –shares Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. Next Article Image credit: Bcjordan | Wikimedia Commons Writer Obituaries Marvin Minsky Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand Add to Queue Marvin Minsky, AI Pioneer, Dies at 88
Next Article Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand Google Flights Will Alert You About Expected Price Changes This story originally appeared on PCMag Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. The web giant wants to help eliminate some of the guesswork of trying to get the best deals on travel. Image credit: Shutterstock.com 2 min read Add to Queue October 18, 2016 Angela Moscaritolo Google –shares Reporter We’ve all heard it before: it’s best to book a flight on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET to get the lowest fare. But is that really true? That’s still up for debate, but now you can eliminate some of the guesswork when trying to get the best deals on travel, thanks to Google.Just in time for holiday travel planning, the web giant on Monday updated Google Flights with a feature that will show you when prices are expected to increase for specific flights and the routes in which you’re interested. The update also promises to make it easier to find good hotel deals and plan your trip on a mobile device. Now, when you select a specific flight, you may get a notification letting you know when the current fare is expected to expire and how much you can save if you book right away. If you’re looking at a certain route, but aren’t set on a specific flight, Google may display a notification bar with tips for finding the best price, including recommendations for alternate airports or dates and expected price changes based on past prices for that route.Google may, for instance, tell you something like “historically, 90 percent of the time the cheapest price on this route increased 7 days before departure by about $52.”You can opt to track a specific flight or route and receive email notifications letting you know when prices are expected to change. In the past, Google would only notify you when prices actually did increase or decrease significantly.Google plans to roll out these new fare expiration and expected price jump notifications over the coming weeks everywhere its Flights tool is available.Meanwhile, Google is also offering a better flight-finding experience on mobile devices with new features to let you track and manage your saved flights on your phone. There’s also a new tab called “Deals” when searching for hotels that will show places offering cheaper-than-normal lodging in your selected destination. Enroll Now for $5
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 29 2019MU veterinary oncologists develop a vaccine treatment for osteosarcoma, a common type of bone cancer in dogs, avoiding chemotherapy and opening the door for human clinical trialsIn a first-of-its-kind study, scientists at the University of Missouri have helped advance a patient-specific, precision medicine treatment for bone cancer in dogs. By creating a vaccine from a dog’s own tumor, scientists worked with ELIAS Animal Health to target specific cancer cells and avoid the toxic side effects of chemotherapy, while also opening the door for future human clinical trials.Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, is not common in humans, representing only about 800-900 new cases each year in the U.S. About half of those cases are reported in children and teens. However, for dogs this disease is much more common, with more than 10,000 cases a year occurring in the U.S.”A vaccine is made out of the dog’s own tumor for the dog’s immune system to recognize,” said Jeffrey Bryan, a professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and director of Comparative Oncology Radiobiology and Epigenetics Laboratory. “The dogs received no chemotherapy and received only immunotherapy after their surgery. It’s the first time that dogs with osteosarcoma have experienced prolonged survival without receiving chemotherapy, which is really exciting.”In the study, researchers partnered with ELIAS Animal Health to test a vaccine to treat osteosarcoma by using a dog’s own lymphocytes. Overall, the dogs receiving this therapy had more than 400 days of remission compared to about 270 days for dogs receiving chemotherapy in a separate study by the National Cancer Institute.Related StoriesSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyAdding immunotherapy after initial treatment improves survival in metastatic NSCLC patientsStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessary”Lymphocytes are immune cells that recognize where pathogens are hiding in the body and then kill the cells harboring those pathogens,” Bryan said. “After we remove the tumor, we create a vaccine using the dog’s tumor cells to stimulate anti-tumor lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are then collected by apheresis and expanded outside the body by Elias Animal Health to create a transfusion of the patient’s immune cells. These cells are activated and essentially really angry at whatever they are supposed to attack. When put back into the body, they should identify and destroy tumor cells. Ideally, this immune response would destroy every last tumor cell.”Mizzou researchers hope to continue immunotherapy discovery with dogs in order to optimize the new therapy for future human clinical trials with the hopes of treating osteosarcoma and other cancers, especially metastatic osteosarcoma in children. They are currently continuing this work through another immunotherapy trial in progress with a grant by the Morris Animal Foundation through the National Cancer Institute Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium.Brian Flesner, an assistant professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, presented this research at the 2018 Veterinary Cancer Society Annual Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The same data was shared at the 2018 Paws 4 a Cure Conference in Boston by Jeffrey Bryan.Source: https://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2019/0128-new-precision-medicine-procedure-fights-cancer-advances-treatment-for-pets-and-humans/
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 29 2019Psychologists and philosophers had long suggested that simulation is the mechanism whereby humans understand the minds of others. However, the neural basis of this complex process had not been identified. The amygdala is involved in various functions related to social behavior as well as in autism. However, it was not known whether the amygdala neurons contributed to advanced social knowledge, such as simulating the decisions of other individuals. A recent study identifies a type of neuron that had not previously been described that actively and spontaneously learns from decision-making by other individuals and simulates their mental processes.The dysfunction of these simulation neurons might be involved in the restriction of social knowledge, one of the symptoms of autism and, through hyperactivity, may give an exaggerated version of others and play an important role in social anxiety, the authors speculate.The study, published on 14 April in Cell, one of the journals with the highest impact factor, is the result of research led by Wolfram Schultz, a scientist at the University of Cambridge (UK) involving Gustavo Deco, ICREA research professor with the Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC) and director of the Center for Brain and Cognition (CBC) at UPF.The work suggests that these so-called “simulation neurons”, found in the amygdala, a collection of nerve cells in the brain’s temporal lobe, allow animals (and potentially also humans) to reconstruct the mental state of their social partners and, therefore, predict their intentions.The simulation of decisions is involved in social learning We started to look for neurons that might be involved in social learning. We were surprised to discover that neurons in the amygdala not only learn the value of the objects of social observation, but they used this information to simulate the decisions of their partner”.Fabian Grabenhorst, First Author of the Study and Researcher, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge The simulation of the decisions of others is a sophisticated cognitive process within social learning. “For example, by observing the foraging choices of another individual, we can learn what food is worth choosing. This knowledge is not only to do with our own decisions, but also help us to predict the future decisions of others”, says Gustavo Deco, co-author of the study.For the study, the researchers recorded the activity of amygdala neurons in monkeys while participating in observational learning tasks. Positioned in pairs, facing each other, with a touch screen between them, the animals had to take a decision if they wanted to receive the reward (fruit juice). To maximize their reward, the animals had to learn and monitor the likelihood of reward associated with the different images displayed to them on the screen. The study allowed the animals to observe the choices taken by their partner and learn the reward values of each image. The researchers saw that once the images were switched, the observing animal could make use of this knowledge when it was the recorded monkey’s turn to choose.Related StoriesCompelling New Evidence Further Suggests Parkinson’s Disease Begins in the GutHow an orchestra of neurons control hunger pangsStudy confirms gut-brain link in autismSurprisingly, it was seen that when an animal observed its partner, the neurons in the amygdala of the observer seemed to make a decision computation. These neurons were able to make a prediction about the reward value of the partner’s choices before taking a decision, which is in line with a simulated decision-making process. It is important to highlight that these patterns of activity occurred spontaneously, long before the partner’s choices and options without the need for a decision by the observer.First computational model of the neural circuits of the amygdalaBased on the results obtained, the scientists created the first computational model of the neural circuits of the amygdala involved in social cognition. As Gustavo Deco points out, “when observing how the specific types of neurons influence each other, this model suggests that the amygdala contains a “decision circuit” that identifies the animal’s own choices and a separate “simulation circuit” that calculates the prediction of the choice of the social partner”.Simulation and decision neurons are closely intermingled in the amygdala. The authors have managed to distinguish them and their different functions thanks to the computational model, which would not have been possible only with human brain imaging techniques that measure the average activity of a large number of neurons.Autism and social anxiety, two sides of the same coinThe scientists suggest that an alteration in the functionality of simulation neurons may impoverish social cognition. Grabenhorst, first author of the paper explains: “If simulation neurons do not work properly, a person may not interact effectively with the mental states of others. We know very little about how specific types of neurons contribute to social cognition and the social challenges faced by individuals with autism. By identifying the neurons and mechanisms of specific circuits for mental simulation, our study may provide new ideas on these conditions”.Source: Universitat Pompeu Fabra – BarcelonaJournal reference:Grabenhorst, F. et al. (2019) Primate Amygdala Neurons Simulate Decision Processes of Social Partners. Cell. doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2019.02.042