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The Easy Way to Amplify Your Brand

Let’s face it, the thought of posting on yet another social media platform is overwhelming, right? Insta-what? Tik-too much work? Face-endless scroll? We get it. But there is one platform that many real estate agents overlook to their detriment: LinkedIn. Before you brush it off, here are some benefits of using LinkedIn. Designed for business… The post The Easy Way to Amplify Your Brand appeared first on RISMedia. Let’s face it, the thought of posting on yet another social media platform is overwhelming, right? Insta-what? Tik-too much work? Face-endless scroll? We get it. But there is one platform that many real estate agents overlook to their detriment: LinkedIn. Before you brush it off, here are some benefits of using LinkedIn. Designed for business LinkedIn, unlike all other platforms, was designed for business. In translation, you won’t be penalized for connecting with people that could be potential clients, nor will those potential clients find your content on business-related matters tiring. So, go ahead, post about your open houses, post about your client’s closings, and post videos where you are educating your community about significant trends in your area or the industry. Less competition. Less noise. More visibility. According to LinkedIn, only 1 – 2% of its users post content. This means that LinkedIn is a content-poor platform, which allows you to stand out from the crowd with your posts, videos, and overall content. In translation, this means that, on average, 98 – 99% of the users in your network are consuming content on LinkedIn rather than creating it. How many of the people in your network could be potential customers? So, go ahead, share away and take advantage of the less-crowded nature of content on LinkedIn. Read the room Unlike other platforms, you can hone your search for connections on LinkedIn. You can target connections by their profession, geography, employer, job title, etc. This extreme targeting based on professional factors rather than just personal factors gives you a chance to speak to your audience rather than just throw content out there and hope something sticks. You can create content based on your local market, offer advice to your network based on things going on in your area, and build your overall know, like, and trust factor with your audience as THE market expert. Knowing what to post So you are ready to get started on LinkedIn, but you sit down to write out a post and crickets. We’ve all been there. Sometimes we just don’t know WHAT to say. If you are unsure of what to post or need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, check out our free guide to 60 social media prompts. Don’t post and ghost. When you post on any platform, but especially on LinkedIn, make sure to leave yourself a few moments to comment on the posts of others, like another person’s post, and reply to comments on your posts. This sounds like it would take a lot of time, right? It doesn’t. Just leave 3 – 4 minutes while drinking your coffee in the morning to do this, and you will soon reap the rewards. Read our creative content guide here. The post The Easy Way to Amplify Your Brand appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaMay 20th, 2022

Summer reading: 6 leadership books Fortune 500 CEO consultants say are must-reads

Management consultants shared their top summer picks, including works from bestselling authors and creatives. Tara Jaye Frank is the author of "The Waymakers," a recently published title that Fortune 500 consultants recommend.Tara Jaye Frank Leadership consultants who work with Fortune 500 CEOs shared the books they're currently reading. The books address topics ranging from racial justice to decison-making and self-improvement.  Titles include "New Power" by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms and "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. Reading good, old-fashioned books is a great way to stay on the pulse of the latest trends in business. Whether you're an aspiring business leader or a current one, delving into titles that top Fortune 500 leadership consultants recommend is an easy way to get up to speed on conversations happening in executive meeting rooms. Multiple CEO consultants who work in general management, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), as well as communications recommended their top reads for the summer. The list includes a mix of newly published reads and classics. "New Power" by Jeremy Heimans and Henry TimmsPenguin Random House LLCJeremy Heimans, the CEO of Purpose, a company that supports businesses and organizations working on social movements like fighting COVID-19 disinformation, and Henry Timms, who created #GivingTuesday, a global philanthropy day that follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, coauthored "New Power." In this book — which business visionaries like Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, and Reid Hoffman, the cofounder of LinkedIn, recommend — the authors examine the rise of companies like Facebook and Uber, people like President Barack Obama, and movements like #MeToo. The book offers a new way to look at power and how to use it for good. Clarke Murphy, the CEO of the management consultancy Russell Reynolds Associates and the author of the forthcoming book "Sustainable Leadership," recommended "New Power" for its analysis on leadership. "The book clearly sets out how rapidly changing business models will demand flatter structures, more collaboration and supercharged communication," he said. "It articulates how more sustainable businesses learn collectively, how they have less hierarchy, and how they adapt faster as new power structures create more agile and decisive cultures." "The Waymakers" by Tara Jaye FrankAmplify PublishingIn this recently published book, Tara Jaye Frank, a DEI consultant and speaker, offers leaders a roadmap to creating inclusive cultures within their companies. She focuses on how people can be better allies to those from marginalized groups, or how to "make way" for others, hence the title "The Waymakers." Nika White, a Fortune 500 consultant, recommended the title for its actionable steps leaders can take to dismantle barriers people from marginalized groups often face. "Tara is masterful at leadership-capacity building," White said. "She helps leaders and allies translate DEI strategies into daily choices and behaviors. Any leader needing this kind of support should consider this book and after reading it, read it once again, and then again." "Atomic Habits" by James ClearAvery PublishingIn this bestseller, James Clear, an author and entrepreneur, argues that success is built on not just habits, but "atomic habits," or micro-routines that make you healthier and happier. Clear examines the atomic habits of top doctors, athletes, and artists.   Eric Yaverbaum, the CEO of Ericho Communications, suggested this title for anyone looking to improve their personal or professional life. "The book leans into positivity and focuses on fixing problematic habits instead of negative self-blame," the communications veteran said. "I'm a big fan of positivity and being solution-focused." "Team of Teams" by Stanley McChrystalAmazonStanley McChrystal is a retired US Army general best known for leading the Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008, a team that oversaw high-profile missions like the operation that killed a top leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In his book "Team of Teams," McChrystal lays out the leadership and management tactics he drew on. He argues leaders of any kind can apply the same rules to their own endeavors. Jon Henes, the CEO of the leadership consultancy C Street Advisory Group, recommended the book for its advice on decision-making. The big takeaway, Henes said, is figuring out if an issue you're tackling is complicated or complex. A complicated task — like fixing a car engine — is tricky, but once you figure it out, you can replicate the solution easily. A complex task on the other hand — like analyzing financial markets — is complex. Distinguishing between the two helps you figure out how to approach a problem. "With complex issues, you can analyze, but the ground is always shifting. You'll never know the outcome with 100% certainty, so you have to be prepared for a range of eventualities," Henes said. "Leaders need to understand the difference and become comfortable with uncertainty when making decisions."  "Plantation Theory" by John GrahamMynd Matters PublishingJohn Graham, a self-described "DEI provocateur" and the vice president of employer brand, culture, and diversity at Shaker Recruitment Marketing, a marketing and recruitment firm, wrote "Plantation Theory." In this book, Graham shows how prevalent inequity is in corporate America through a combination of upsetting first-hand accounts and research. He begs the question: Why should Black professionals work twice as hard for a fraction of the pay? Netta Jenkins, the founder of Holistic Inclusion Consulting and the author of the forthcoming book "The Inclusive Organization," recommended this book for any leader interested in advancing racial justice. "The author doesn't shy away from the way in which Black people experience trauma and pain within the workplace. This level of insight allows leaders to better understand life experiences to create a deeper level of action and commitment," Jenkins said. "Many organizations want to start and continue their DEI journey, but fail at understanding the historical context. This gives all a chance to do that.""Talking to Strangers" by Malcolm GladwellAmazonIn this 2019 title, Gladwell explores the assumptions and interactions we have with people we don't know. The Canadian journalist and bestselling author explores how quickly we label others, in many cases, to our detriment.The book is a great read for anyone interested in exploring the nature of trust and communication, according to Lenora Billings-Harris, a diversity-and-inclusion consultant and speaker. "It certainly should be read by leaders who are ready to explore more deeply how and why their biases interfere with making accurate judgements about others," she said. "Gladwell uses research and anecdotes to provide clarity and relevance to today's opportunities and challenges in attracting and retaining top talent." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 28th, 2022

Salary Journeys: The income of employees across every industry. From the administrative assistant making $16.50 an hour to the pharmaceutical exec making $203,000 a year.

From administrative assistants to IT managers, Insider's "Salary Journeys" series gives job seekers more info so they can advocate for fair wages. Alyssa Powell/Insider "Salary Journeys" is a series that shows the wages people received at different times in their careers. The goal is to increase salary transparency and empower workers to achieve fairer wages. Each salary journey spotlights a different person's path and the relationship they have to money. With predictions that a recession is looming, US job seekers may be contemplating switching jobs, asking for the raise they've been dreaming of, or even changing industries entirely. Insider's "Salary Journeys" careers series, showcases how employees have navigated these types of transitions — from the editor making $46,000 a year who has never been comfortable negotiating to the marketing director making $125,000 who learned about salary adjustments via TikTok. Some participants feel fulfilled by their journeys: "I'm never going to be a millionaire, but I think I'm well-compensated and that I make a fair wage for the kind of work I do," a pharmaceutical executive making $203,000 annually told Insider. Meanwhile, others are disheartened by recent trends. "In the midst of the Great Resignation, I seem to be left sorting through the scraps of jobs that no one else wants," said a 59-year-old accounting specialist. The goal of "Salary Journeys" is to create more transparency around pay, negotiation tactics, and career progression for job seekers across industries. One Glassdoor study found 70% of employees across seven countries said they believed salary transparency is good for employee satisfaction. An even more sizable portion, 72% of respondents, thought it was good for business. Additionally, knowing how much those with your same title are paid, can help workers advocate for raises and salary adjustments, career experts previously told Insider. Insider is looking for more professionals to share their journeys and help paint a fuller picture of what the salary landscape of the American workforce looks like. If you are interested in sharing your salary journey, please email salaryjourneys@insider.com with your name, age, occupation, and a description of your salary journey. All submissions are kept confidential and all stories are anonymized.Administrative assistant, $16.50 an hourCOVID-19 was devastating for this 37-year-old white woman working in the Midwest. She was jobless for nine months and said she didn't receive unemployment for half that time.Today, she works in a role that she loves and looks back at the experience as a learning opportunity. "I know how to ask for a raise and adjust to a pay cut," she said. "And I've learned to look out for myself and keep an eye on potential opportunities."Read more: I'm a 37-year-old administrative assistant making $16.50 an hour, and I've never been happier. Here's my salary journey over 4 jobs.Editor, $46,000 per yearNegotiations have never come easy to this Latina editor in the Southeast, and she fears it could be having a negative effect on her overall career trajectory.As a result, the 27-year-old said she's never had a negotiation go well and has settled for what she's been offered."Working closely with my higher-ups has taught me how replaceable we are to them," she said. "I'm nervous that if I push too hard, I will be out of a job."Read more: I'm a 27-year-old editor earning up to $46,000 a year. I have a hard time negotiating and don't know what it will mean for my career.Accounting specialist, $50,000 a yearThis 59-year old woman found herself unemployed in August of 2021. Even with more than two decades of experience under her belt, she struggled to find a job that would compensate her fairly or offer her a flexible working environment. She finally found a hybrid role and will be making $50,000 annually. "In the midst of the Great Resignation, I seem to be left sorting through the scraps of jobs that no one else wants," she said. "The places that would give me more money were places I didn't want to work — they didn't offer remote work."Read more: I'm a 59-year-old whose accounting job was eliminated after 20 years. Finding something new felt like 'sorting through the scraps' of bad jobs.IT manager, $67,000 a yearA 30-year-old white man started working at his current employer in 2010, and made about $32,240 a year. Today, he earns around $67,000, but based on listings for similar jobs, he thinks he should be making closer to $85,000 or $95,000."I know that changing jobs is typically the most effective way to increase your salary," he said, "but I have a lot of anxiety about the idea of switching jobs." Growing up, his father bounced between many jobs after leaving the military, creating a feeling of instability. Read more: I'm a 30-year-old IT manager making $67,000. I've had one employer for 12 years, but I'm too anxious to leave.Social media editor, $70,000 a yearCurrently, in her second job, a 24-year-old white woman at a major media company believes she's underpaid by 20-30%. She's currently pulling double duty as an editor and show host for the brand, and says she's built much of the company's social following herself. "I'm in the process of drafting something telling my company that I need a raise to $85,000 or $90,000, or I'm going to look elsewhere," she said. "Even though I like my job, if another offer came my way that offered better opportunities, I'd take it without hesitation.Read more: I'm a 24-year-old social media editor making $70,000. I'm learning to ask for a salary that matches my worth. Clinical psychologist, $72,000 a yearThe COVID-19 pandemic has made this 59-year-old white woman's job as a clinical psychologist even more challenging. She's been working with patients with severe and persistent mental illness for 14 years, and while she loves her work, she feels underpaid and has $32,000 in debt."It's really unfortunate because, especially over the past two years of the pandemic, it seems as though everyone has a mental-health problem," she said. "But mental-health providers can't take any more clients." Read more: I'm a 59-year-old psychologist who used to be a private chef. I make the same salary as I did 20 years ago, but now have $32,000 in student-loan debt.HR professional, $81,000 a yearFor over a decade, a 32-year-old white woman in human resources felt hamstrung by the Great Recession's effects on her compensation. She tried negotiating and asking for more responsibilities, but in the end, the only thing that worked was finding a new job.Now, she says, her employer pays her fairly and she feels valued by her manager. "It's clear that the job market is very different from when I first started," she said. "I'm glad to finally be making what I'm worth, with a work-life balance that is comfortable for me."Read more: I'm a 32-year-old HR professional making $81,000 a year. Job-hopping was the only way to make what I'm worth.Telecoms sales, $7,000 a monthAfter an early stint as an ad executive in radio broadcasting, a 26-year-old Black man living in the South moved into telecommunications sales as an hourly employee.He is the sole breadwinner for his family, so he was determined to achieve a managerial role within the first year. As it turned out, his dedication and willingness to take advantage of opportunities that came his way led to a promotion offer within the first six months, taking his income to $3,500 a month, plus an average of $3,500 a month in commission.Read more: I'm a 26-year-old in telecommunications sales making $7,000 a month. Hard work and clever planning helped me negotiate a life-changing promotion.Marketing director, $125,000 a yearA 30-year-old Asian American woman who works with influencers says she owes a vote of thanks to social media for her own salary journey.After realizing she was the lowest-paid director on the team at a former job, she vowed to do her research and make the case at her current company that she deserved more."I had heard mention of 'salary adjustments' on TikTok and looked into that," she said. "They're not annual raises but out-of-cycle pay increases that get you where you need to be based on your role and responsibilities."Read more: I'm a 30-year-old influencer-marketing director making $125,000 at my dream job. TikTok helped me negotiate my salary.Data architect, $150,000 a yearEven though he knows he could make more elsewhere, a father of two in the South explains the trade off he makes to keep his work-life balance. He says the job isn't grueling, and it allows him to spend time with his wife and kids. "The work is interesting, my colleagues are smart, and this company is committed to its workers and its workers' families," he said. "If I ever need to leave work in the middle of the day to pick up my children, my manager or coworkers cover me."Read more: I'm a data architect in my 40s earning roughly $150,000 a year. I could make more money, but I know that comes with trade-offs. Lawyer, $154,000 per yearFeeling valued at work was never part of the equation for a 36-year-old white male lawyer, until he began making more and noticed it was coming with a cost.His current job — in-house counsel for an environmental-markets company — has been a radical shift from his grueling prior roles. He described the culture and atmosphere as "life-changing." "My boss treats me well," he said. "And my colleagues take an interest in me, getting to know my wife's name and asking about my kids' T-ball team."Read more: I'm a 36-year-old lawyer making $154,000. My salary journey over 7 years is a story of learning my self-worth.Software engineer, $183,000 per yearGrowing up with two engineer parents and a strong understanding of finance, a 32-year-old white man living on the West Coast talked about feeling underpaid relative to his peers in Big Tech. "I know I'm incredibly lucky and privileged," he said. "Still, given my field, when I apply for a job, I'm probably not going to settle for less than $220,000 a year, which is closer to what I believe other people in my position are making."Read more: I'm a 32-year-old software engineer at a Big Tech company making $183,000. I know I've been incredibly lucky, but I'm still underpaid.Associate director, $170,000 a year plus a 15% end-of-year bonusThis 42-year-old associate director loves her job working at a biotech company with oncology patients — she's passionate about her work, makes a high salary, and operates remotely. However, as a woman working in STEM, she has had to be bold about asking for what she wants. "There's more money on the table, and you just need to know how to ask for it," she said. "It doesn't come naturally — it's not a thing that women are socialized to do, but men do it all the time."Read more: I'm a 42-year-old woman researcher in biotech making $170,000 a year plus bonus. I've never been afraid to ask for a raise because 'there's more money on the table.'Head of employee relations, $170,775 a year plus a $20,000 signing bonus and 25% target bonusA 31-year-old Black human-resources manager is a proponent of job-hopping, having benefited from the practice herself —today, she's with her fifth employer and earning $212,000 a year. Since she works in HR, she has a transparent view of salary dynamics and how pay works. She also believes most employees will only see an annual raise of 3% or 5%. The only way to get a significant salary increase is to take a new job, she added. "Some of my more traditional colleagues look down on job-hoppers and see them as less committed to their organizations," she said. "I don't look at how long candidates stayed in jobs. Instead, I ask: What did they accomplish?" Read more: I'm a 31-year-old Black woman in HR who makes over $200,000 a year. Job-hopping gets a bad rap, but it's always helped me make what I'm worth.Property-management sales, $125,000 a year, plus a $75,000 commissionThis 38-year-old Black man found himself struggling to build his career in interior sales after signing a non-compete contract with a former employer. The multiple lawsuits he faced from his former employee were anxiety-inducing at the time, but they eventually led him to real estate—a field he really connects with and loves. "My parents' generation was staunchly loyal to employers," he said. "As a millennial, I feel a little differently: I feel like I have to do what's best for me, my mental health, and my career path."Read more: I'm a 38-year-old Black man making $200,000 in real-estate sales. I finally feel like I'm making what I'm worth.Pharmaceutical executive, $203,000 per yearThe 25-year salary journey of a white male pharma executive is one of slow and steady increases. Starting as a contractor 16 years ago, he worked his way up the ladder. Today, he makes $203,000 in salary plus bonus, and an additional $25,000 in stock options."I'm never going to be a millionaire," he said. "But I think I'm well-compensated and that I make a fair wage for the kind of work I do. At this point, I'd have to be offered an exorbitant amount of money to jump ship to a new company."Read More: I'm a 46-year-old pharma exec making over $200,000 a year. I had no idea the industry would be this lucrative.Chris Weller contributed to earlier versions of this post. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 28th, 2022

Discovery Plus streams shows from Discovery, TLC, Food Network, and more — here"s how to sign up

Discovery Plus offers on-demand access to shows from the Discovery family of networks. The service costs $5/month with ads or $7/month without ads. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Discovery Plus starts at $5 a month, and new members get a one-week free trial.Discovery Plus Discovery Plus is an on-demand streaming service from the Discovery family of networks. The service costs $5 a month with commercials or $7 a month without ads. For a limited time, new members can get two months of the ad-supported plan for just $2.  If you're a fan of reality TV, nature documentaries, cooking shows, and true-crime series, you should consider a Discovery Plus subscription. The on-demand streaming service features a massive library of shows from all of the major Discovery networks. You can sign up for $5 a month with commercials or $7 a month for ad-free streaming.Discovery Plus is designed to provide easy access to all your favorite Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, and HGTV series in one streaming app. The service also features a selection of brand-new exclusive programs you won't find anywhere else. Subscribers can access more than 55,000 episodes and over 2,500 shows.Below, we've broken down some of the basics for Discovery Plus to help you decide whether it's a good fit for your needs. How much is Discovery Plus?Discovery Plus offers two plans: an ad-supported option for $5 a month, or an ad-free option for $7 a month. For a limited time, new members can get their first two months of the ad-supported plan for only $2. The deal expires on July 31.If you're a Verizon customer, you might be eligible for an even better deal. Select Verizon members can receive up to 12 months of ad-free access to Discovery Plus for free. The one-year offer is available with Verizon's Play More or Get More Unlimited plans. Meanwhile, Unlimited, Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, Above Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Start Unlimited plans come with six free months.Discovery Plus also offers a student discount. Students at accredited American universities can get an ad-supported subscription for $3 a month.How do I get Discovery Plus?If you'd like to try Discovery Plus, you can sign up for the service directly through the Discovery Plus website or as an add-on to an existing Amazon Prime subscription. Though Discovery Plus no longer offers a free trial directly through its website, Prime members who sign up for the service as an add-on channel can still receive a seven-day trial. Which devices support Discovery Plus?Discovery Plus is available on iOS and Android mobile devices, Apple TV, Android/Google TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung smart TVs, Vizio smart TVs, Xbox consoles, Chromecast, and web browsers. For more streaming player recommendations, check out our guide to the best streaming sticks and devices. What can I watch on Discovery Plus?Discovery Plus is home to an extensive library of content from 14 networks, including Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, HGTV, ID, A&E, History, Lifetime, OWN, Travel, Science Network, and more. The lineup features popular programs like "90 Day Fiance," "Ghost Adventures," "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives," "Chopped," "Property Brothers," "Deadliest Catch," "Dirty Jobs," and many more. New episodes of currently airing shows get added to Discovery Plus the same day they air on a Discovery network.Original shows developed exclusively for Discovery Plus are also available to stream. Discovery Plus Originals include titles like "Bobby and Giada in India," "American Detective with Lt. Joe Kenda," "90 Day: The Single Life," and more. Many of these exclusive series feature popular personalities from the Discovery family of networks, as well as celebrities like Ludacris, Melissa McCarthy, and Martha Stewart.A new feature, called "Discovery Plus Channels," is also available. This option allows members to stream continuous 24/7 feeds of select shows, like "House Hunters," "Fixer Upper," and "Chopped." Is Discovery Plus merging with HBO Max?In May 2021, AT&T announced plans to merge its WanerMedia unit with Discovery. WarnerMedia features several popular brands, including Warner Bros., HBO, CNN, and TNT. The deal places all of Warner's entertainment assets and Discovery's huge library of media brands under one combined company called "Warner Bros. Discovery." On March 14, Discovery confirmed plans to combine HBO Max and Discovery Plus into one streaming service at some point in the future. Before the services are fully merged, the company intends to offer a bundle option.An exact timeline for when customers can expect an HBO Max and Discovery Plus bundle has not been announced yet. Likewise, it's unclear when the combined HBO Max and Discovery Plus service will launch. For now, both services will continue to be offered separately. Is Discovery Plus worth it?The value of a Discovery Plus subscription will largely depend on your tastes as a viewer. After spending some time with the service, we think Discovery Plus' low price makes it an enticing option for big fans of reality TV, cooking shows, nature docs, true crime, and other nonfiction programs.It's also an affordable choice if you're looking for a secondary service to supplement another app you use as a primary streaming platform, like Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Disney Plus, or Hulu.Check out our full Discovery Plus review for detailed impressions. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 27th, 2022

Question Everything

Question Everything Authored by Jeff Thomas Via InternationalMan.com, The average person in the First World receives more information than he would if he lived in a Second or Third World country. In many countries of the world, the very idea of twenty-four hour television news coverage would be unthinkable, yet many Westerners feel that, without this constant input, they would be woefully uninformed. Not surprising, then, that the average First Worlder feels that he understands current events better than those elsewhere in the world. But, as in other things, quality and quantity are not the same. The average news programme features a commentator who provides “the news,” or at least that portion of events that the network deems worthy to be presented. In addition, it is presented from the political slant of the controllers of the network. But we are reassured that the reporting is “balanced,” in a portion of the programme that features a panel of “experts.” Customarily, the panel consists of the moderator plus two pundits who share his political slant and a pundit who has an opposing slant. All are paid by the network for their contributions. The moderator will ask a question on a current issue, and an argument will ensue for a few minutes. Generally, no real conclusion is reached—neither side accedes to the other. The moderator then moves on to another question. So, the network has aired the issues of the day, and we have received a balanced view that may inform our own opinions. Or have we? Shortcomings In actual fact, there are significant shortcomings in this type of presentation: The scope of coverage is extremely narrow. Only select facets of each issue are discussed. Generally, the discussion reveals precious little actual insight and, in fact, only the standard opposing liberal and conservative positions are discussed, implying that the viewer must choose one or the other to adopt as his own opinion. On a programme that is liberally-oriented, the one conservative pundit on the panel is made to look foolish by the three liberal pundits, ensuring that the liberal viewer’s beliefs are reaffirmed. (The reverse is true on a conservative news programme.) Each issue facet that is addressed is repeated many times in the course of the day, then extended for as many days, weeks, or months as the issue remains current. The “message,” therefore, is repeated virtually as often as an advert for a brand of laundry powder. So, what is the net effect of such news reportage? Has the viewer become well-informed? In actual fact, not at all. What he has become is well-indoctrinated. A liberal will be inclined to regularly watch a liberal news channel, which will result in the continual reaffirmation of his liberal views. A conservative will, in turn, regularly watch a conservative news channel, which will result in the continual reaffirmation of his conservative views. Many viewers will agree that this is so, yet not recognise that, essentially, they are being programmed to simply absorb information. Along the way, their inclination to actually question and think for themselves is being eroded. Alternate Possibilities The proof of this is that those who have been programmed, tend to react with anger when they encounter a Nigel Farage or a Ron Paul, who might well challenge them to consider a third option—an interpretation beyond the narrow conservative and liberal views of events. In truth, on any issue, there exists a wide field of alternate possibilities. By contrast, it is not uncommon for people outside the First World to have better instincts when encountering a news item. If they do not receive the BBC, Fox News, or CNN, they are likely, when learning of a political event, to think through, on their own, what the event means to them. As they are not pre-programmed to follow one narrow line of reasoning or another, they are open to a broad range of possibilities. Each individual, based upon his personal experience, is likely to draw a different conclusion and, thorough discourse with others, is likely to continue to update his opinion each time he receives a new viewpoint. As a result, it is not uncommon for those who are not “plugged-in” to be not only more open-minded, but more imaginative in their considerations, even when they are less educated and less “informed” than those in the First World. Whilst those who do not receive the regular barrage that is the norm in the First World are no more intelligent than their European or American counterparts, their views are more often the result of personal objective reasoning and common sense and are often more insightful. Those in First World countries often point with pride at the advanced technology that allows them a greater volume of news than the rest of the world customarily receives. Further, they are likely to take pride in their belief that the two opposing views that are presented indicate that they live in a “free” country, where dissent is encouraged. Unfortunately, what is encouraged is one of two views—either the liberal view or the conservative view. Other views are discouraged. The liberal view espouses that a powerful liberal government is necessary to control the greed of capitalists, taxing and regulating them as much as possible to limit their ability to victimise the poorer classes. The conservative view espouses that a powerful conservative government is needed to control the liberals, who threaten to create chaos and moral collapse through such efforts as gay rights, legalised abortion, etc. What these two dogmatic concepts have in common is that a powerful government is needed. Each group, therefore, seeks the increase in the power of its group of legislators to overpower the opposing group. This ensures that, regardless of whether the present government is dominated by liberals of conservatives, the one certainty will be that the government will be powerful. When seen in this light, if the television viewer were to click the remote back and forth regularly from the liberal channel to the conservative channel, he would begin to see a strong similarity between the two. It’s easy for any viewer to question the opposition group, to consider them disingenuous—the bearers of false information. It is far more difficult to question the pundits who are on our own “team,” to ask ourselves if they, also, are disingenuous. This is especially difficult when it’s three to one—when three commentators share our political view and all say the same thing to the odd-man-out on the panel. In such a situation, the hardest task is to question our own team, who are clearly succeeding at beating down the odd-man-out. Evolution of Indoctrination In bygone eras, the kings of old would tell their minions what to believe and the minions would then either accept or reject the information received. They would rely on their own experience and reasoning powers to inform them. Later, a better method evolved: the use of media to indoctrinate the populace with government-generated propaganda (think: Josef Goebbels or Uncle Joe Stalin). Today, a far more effective method exists—one that retains the repetition of the latter method but helps to eliminate the open-ended field of alternate points of view. It does so by providing a choice between “View A” and “View B.” In a democracy, there is always an “A” and a “B.” This illusion of choice is infinitely more effective in helping the populace to believe that they have been able to choose their leaders and their points of view. In the modern method, when voting, regardless of what choice the individual makes, he is voting for an all-powerful government. (Whether it calls itself a conservative one or a liberal one is incidental.) Likewise, through the modern media, when the viewer absorbs what is presented as discourse, regardless of whether he chooses View A or View B, he is endorsing an all-powerful government. Two Solutions One solution to avoid being brainwashed by the dogmatic messaging of the media is to simply avoid watching the news. But this is difficult to do, as our associates and neighbours are watching it every day and will want to discuss with us what they have been taught. The other choice is to question everything. To consider that the event that is being discussed may not only be being falsely reported, but that the message being provided by the pundits may be consciously planned for our consumption. This is difficult to do at first but can eventually become habit. If so, the likelihood of being led down the garden path by the powers-that-be may be greatly diminished. In truth, on any issue, there exists a wide field of alternate possibilities. Developing your own view may, in the coming years, be vital to your well-being. *  *  * Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his colleagues just released an urgent new PDF report that explains what could come next and what you can do about it. Click here to download it now. Tyler Durden Wed, 07/27/2022 - 06:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 27th, 2022

A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Real Estate Influencer

In today’s world, social media is king. No matter how big or small a real estate brand, broker or agent may be, to keep up with today’s demographic of buyers and sellers, having a strong presence on social media is a must. But what about those real estate professionals looking to dive a little deeper,… The post A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Real Estate Influencer appeared first on RISMedia. In today’s world, social media is king. No matter how big or small a real estate brand, broker or agent may be, to keep up with today’s demographic of buyers and sellers, having a strong presence on social media is a must. But what about those real estate professionals looking to dive a little deeper, expand their reach a little further and ultimately, become an ‘influencer’? Across social media, there are nearly endless opportunities for people, brands and businesses to grow. Influencers are established and passionate leaders who people want to follow and hear from. This fact is no different in the real estate industry. Here is a guide for beginners, laying out the steps you need to take and the work you need to commit to in order to boost your brand, inspire others and build your business, to become a real estate influencer. Develop a brand identity Whether you’re a broker who works for themselves, or an agent working for an established brokerage, having your own brand identity is crucial, even if you aren’t looking to become an influencer. Remember that a brand is more than a logo, and your brand should be personalized to you. Developing a real estate niche is a good place to start your branding journey, however it is not necessary. The key to honing in your brand identity is connecting to and resonating with your audience, who should see you not just as a real estate agent, but a local expert and resource for all things real estate. Check out the series below for a deeper dive into real estate niche marketing on social media! Read: Social Media Tips for Your Real Estate Niche – Part 1: Rentals  Read: Social Media Tips for Your Real Estate Niche – Part 2: Vacation Homes Read: Social Media & Marketing Tips for Your Real Estate Niche – Part 3: FSBO Read: Social Media & Marketing Tips for Your Real Estate Niche – Part 4: Urban Markets Create a social media marketing strategy In today’s landscape, it is crucial to have a social media strategy, whether you are looking to become an ‘influencer’ or not. From the pandemic driving more people online to the new, social media-driven generations entering the market, having a strong social media presence is essential for finding success in this industry. Write down your goals and objectives for becoming an influencer, identify your audience, their interests and pain points, choose the platform(s) where you plan to execute these strategies, and ultimately, curate content and get sharing! Watch: ‘Stop Getting Ready to Get Ready’ – How to Build a Social Media Strategy That Builds Business Increase your engagement In any relationship, communication is key—and this rings especially true when it comes to your social sphere. By interacting with your audience, you are driving up engagement, helping your audience grow in numbers and allowing for your content to be seen by a wider pool. Ask your audience for comments and be sure to respond to them, even if it is just a ‘like’ or a more generic response. Be sure to tag accounts, such as your company’s page, vendors and even other agents, as this will also help boost your engagement, ultimately pushing your content to the top more frequently. The higher your engagement levels, the better the algorithm across social platforms will work to your advantage. Connect with other real estate influencers If you’re looking to become an influencer, what is a better place to get started than researching relevant real estate influencers? Hop onto TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter and search for hashtags such as #realestate, #realestatetips, #realestateagent, #realestate, #realestate, #realestate, or any other relevant keywords for your business. Pay attention to their followers and likes, the interaction with their audience and the type of trends and topics covered in their content. This will help inspire your content creation, develop your social media strategy and learn what potential leads are looking for! Just like with leads, prospecting for new connections can be as simple as sending a message. Once you find a real estate influencer on the platform(s) you plan to start your journey, reach out! Direct or private message the real estate professional and share that you are looking to grow your online presence and become an influencer. More likely than not, these agents will be more than willing to help, answer questions or even plan to jump into a live video with you, giving you a chance to reach a new, wider audience. Check out these real estate influencers for inspiration or a new connection on TikTok! Liz Brown, 40.2k Followers – @lizbrownrealtordaily Stephanie Kebede, 85k Followers – @stephaniekebede Sierra Yeager, 94.9k Followers – @sierrayeager Sean Christopher Cochran, 320.2 Followers – @thecowboyofrealestate Harley Maxwell, 350k Followers – @harleymaxwell3 So, you want to be an influencer? Becoming an influencer isn’t easy, and requires a lot of hard work and attention. From sharing educational and entertaining content to being your most genuine and authentic self, you can build your brand, grow your audience and become an influential expert in your market. It is important to monitor your analytics, build partnerships across social media and even pay to promote your posts. Though this may take some time, dedication and the drive to succeed will help get your started on your journey of becoming a real estate influencer. The post A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Real Estate Influencer appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaJul 27th, 2022

Delta forgot to put a passenger"s wheelchair onto a flight from New York to Ireland, then broke it on the way home

After Delta initially failed to send the chair to Dublin, it briefly ended up in Boston, before making its way to Ireland two days late. Tim Kelly and his wheelchair.Courtesy of Tim Kelly Delta staff forgot to put a passenger's wheelchair on his flight from New York to Dublin. Tim Kelly's custom-fitted wheelchair didn't arrive in Dublin for another two days. Kelly told Insider he considered flying over 3,000 miles back home to pick up a spare chair. A passenger had to spend two days on vacation without his wheelchair after staff forgot to load it onto his flight from New York to Dublin.Staff at John F. Kennedy International Airport tagged Tim Kelly's custom-fitted wheelchair for his flight on Saturday, July 2, and Kelly rode in the chair right to the plane's door.Arriving in Dublin the next morning, however, Delta staff realized that Kelly's wheelchair hadn't been put on the plane."Being a wheelchair user, you're always the last person off the plane, so they were just waiting for my chair to come up," Kelly told Insider. "And then they said, 'we don't have your chair.'"Kelly said that staff were unsure where it was and thought it may have gone to baggage reclaim. After a while, it became clear it wasn't in Dublin."It seems as if my chair was tagged by the gate agent, but she never scanned the tag," Kelly said. "So my name was never attached to the chair, it seems, or my destination."In a statement sent to Insider, Delta apologized for the misplacement of Kelly's wheelchair, saying: "We consider a wheelchair an extension of a person and understand that any mishandling of this mobility device directly impacts their daily living."Kelly told Insider that Delta staff provided him with a chair that had no push rims, meaning he was unable to move himself. Later, staff at JFK contacted him saying they'd found his chair and that they'd send it on the next flight so it would arrive in Dublin the next morning."So the plane arrives roughly at nine o'clock in the morning," Kelly told Insider. "And then they called me, 'we don't have your chair again.'""For some reason, JFK sent it to Boston," Kelly said.Tim Kelly's manual titanium wheelchair, made by TiLite, wasn't flown with him to Dublin.Courtesy of Tim KellDelta's flight from Boston to Dublin was set to arrive around an hour earlier than the flight from JFK."It sounds like JFK potentially made a judgment call to get it in earlier for me," Kelly said. "So it got tagged to go to Boston and then Boston never flipped it over to the overnight flight to come to Dublin."Kelly said he struggled to explore Dublin in the replacement chair the airline had given him."I had a hard enough time just going two blocks on Sunday night to go to a restaurant," he said. He even considered flying back hime, picking up his spare wheelchair, and flying back to Dublin, a round trip of over 6,000 miles.After his own chair failed to arrive on Monday, Delta offered to get him an electric wheelchair for his trip, something he said was "not me.""To be put into a wheelchair that's either electric or somebody has to push me, I feel embarrassed at that point. At that point you've taken all dignity from me, to go in that type of chair."Both Kelly and Delta reached out to a company in Dublin that supplied his brand of chairs, and on Monday afternoon he was able to get one similar to his own. Kelly said that Delta paid for the chair's rental, which was around $700 for two days.Kelly's chair eventually arrived on Tuesday.On the flight back, however, handlers accidentally "snapped off one of my handbrakes on the chair," Kelly told Insider.He said that this happens occasionally and was easy to fix, and that Delta footed the bill for this.In May, US airlines "mishandled" 1.53% of wheelchairs and scooters taken on flights, according to data from the Department of Transportation.Staff in Dublin — who he called "fantastic" — offered Kelly, his wife, and two children $1,000 each in Delta Choice vouchers, an email viewed by Insider shows. Delta staff on the plane and at the airport also gave him 37,500 SkyMiles, he said.But Kelly asked Delta for more compensation.In an email viewed by Insider, Delta later offered Kelly and his family 20,000 SkyMiles each as a "goodwill gesture," then told him his case was considered closed and that he wouldn't get any more offers of compensation.A single ticket from JFK to Dublin in late August could cost around 60,000 SkyMiles per person."I'm gonna squeeze them hard," Kelly said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 26th, 2022

Here"s How Much You"d Have If You Invested $1000 in Dollar Tree a Decade Ago

Investing in certain stocks can pay off in the long run, especially if you hold on for a decade or more. For most investors, how much a stock's price changes over time is important. This factor can impact your investment portfolio as well as help you compare investment results across sectors and industries.FOMO, or the fear of missing out, also plays a role in investing, particularly with tech giants and popular consumer-facing stocks.What if you'd invested in Dollar Tree (DLTR) ten years ago? It may not have been easy to hold on to DLTR for all that time, but if you did, how much would your investment be worth today?Dollar Tree's Business In-DepthWith that in mind, let's take a look at Dollar Tree's main business drivers. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Chesapeake, VA, Dollar Tree Inc. is an operator of discount variety stores offering merchandise and other assortments. Its stores successfully operate in major metropolitan areas, mid-sized cities and small towns. The company offers a wide range of quality everyday general merchandise in many categories, including housewares, seasonal goods, candy and food, toys, health and beauty care, gifts, party goods, stationery, books, personal accessories, and other consumer items. Its stores are supported by a nationwide logistics network and distribution centers.Dollar Tree also owns an e-commerce platform – DollarTree.com – which sells its merchandise in bulk to individuals and small businesses as well as organizations. Through its online platform, the company advertises its in-store events and showcases its special and seasonal promotions for featured products. Further, it acquired Family Dollar Stores, Inc. on July 6, 2015.The company operates in two reporting business segments: Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.Dollar Tree: Being the major operator of discount variety stores, this segment offers merchandise at the fixed price point of $1.00. The segment has nearly 7,652 stores operating under the Dollar Tree and Dollar Tree Canada banners, 12 distribution centers in the United States and two in Canada. Dollar Tree stores primarily range from 8,000 - 10,000 selling square feet.Family Dollar: This segment operates general merchandise discount retail stores with competitively-priced merchandise in the neighborhood stores. It has nearly 7,827 stores, which sell merchandise at prices ranging from $1.00 to $10.00. These stores primarily range from 6,000 - 8,000 selling square feet. The segment includes store operations under the Family Dollar brand and 11 distribution centers.   As of Jan 29, 2022, the company operated 16,077 stores in 48 states and five Canada provinces.Bottom LineAnyone can invest, but building a successful investment portfolio requires research, patience, and a little bit of risk. So, if you had invested in Dollar Tree ten years ago, you're likely feeling pretty good about your investment today.A $1000 investment made in July 2012 would be worth $3,347.80, or a gain of 234.78%, as of July 25, 2022, according to our calculations. This return excludes dividends but includes price appreciation.The S&P 500 rose 190.73% and the price of gold increased 3.21% over the same time frame in comparison.Going forward, analysts are expecting more upside for DLTR. Shares of Dollar Tree have outpaced the industry in the past year on robust earnings surprise trend, which continued in first-quarter fiscal 2022. The company reported 10th startight quarter of earnings beat in the quarter. The also top line beat estimates and improved year over year. Results benefited from the completion of the $1.25 multi-price point initiative at the Dollar Tree stores, as well as robust margins, despite the increase in freight costs and SG&A expenses. Following the robust first-quarter fiscal 2022 performance, Dollar Tree raised its guidance for fiscal 2022 and provided a decent second quarter view. However, the company witnessed soft sales and comps, along with margin declines, for the Family Dollar banner in the fiscal first quarter. Higher freight and supply-chain disruptions are likely to persist in fiscal 2022. The stock is up 9.41% over the past four weeks, and no earnings estimate has gone lower in the past two months, compared to 9 higher, for fiscal 2022. The consensus estimate has moved up as well. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Dollar Tree, Inc. (DLTR): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJul 25th, 2022

Anti-trans comments from Dave Chappelle and J.K. Rowling show the risk organizations face when celebrities go off script

Guilty by association: Companies and organizations that depend on celebrity star power sometimes have to cut ties after missteps by boldfaced names. Dave Chappelle has been dealing with backlash over his comments that critics view as anti-trans.Eamonn M. McCormack/Stringer/Getty Images Organizations have cut ties with Dave Chappelle and J.K. Rowling after their controversial remarks. When celebrities draw criticism, companies that depend on big-name ties often have to respond. Insider spoke with crisis experts who offered advice on when to sever problematic partnerships. It sounds like the setup for a joke: Dave Chappelle, quidditch, and Paula Deen.But for the organizations forced to deal with public backlash over celebrity ties, there's little to laugh about.Take Chappelle, for instance: The comedian has for months been grappling with accusations that some of his jokes malign the transgender community. On Wednesday, a Minneapolis venue, facing criticism for booking Chappelle, canceled his performance for that evening. The same day, administrators for the game quidditch — a sport inspired by J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" novels — announced plans to change the sport's name to quadball, in part to distance the sport from the author, who has also faced criticism for controversial comments about the trans community.These are just the latest examples of how organizations that enjoy the benefits of celebrity ties can draw scrutiny when the boldfaced names they're linked to face a public reckoning. To avoid damage from celebrities' public-relations missteps, companies and other organizations should be ready to sever ties with problematic endorsers, experts told Insider."Companies have the challenge of balancing their commitment to doing the right thing against making decisions that could potentially affect their bottom line," Angela J. Reddock-Wright, a labor lawyer and expert in diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, told Insider.Angela J. Reddock-Wright, a labor-law litigator and DEI expert, says it's important for organizations to demonstrate authenticity.Angela J. Reddock-WrightAuthenticity is the benchmark by which companies are judged, Reddock-Wright said. This is why, she added, companies must be driven by their mission and values.That's not always easy because for some celebs, getting into hot water seems to be a second job.Nine years ago, a former manager at Paula Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia, sued the celebrity chef and television personality, alleging sexual and racial harassment. The result: Deen, who admitted in a court deposition to using the N-word, was dropped from her contract with Food Network. Amid the controversy, big names including Walmart, Home Depot, QVC, and Target, followed suit, ending deals with the infamous "Butter Queen."Not all celebrities face that measure of corporate punishment.Chappelle has been dealing with the backlash from a stand-up act streaming on Netflix in which he asserts opinions many view as inflammatory, particularly toward LGBTQ communities. Some Netflix employees staged a walkout over their displeasure with the streaming service's decision to keep Chappelle on Netflix.But aside from the recent cancellation in Minneapolis, he's still touring.And while Rowling has faced pushback — including from actors in the "Harry Potter" movies — for her controversial tweets about the trans community, there's been little measurable consequence. Losing the reference to the game of quidditch, invented in 2005, is likely only a symbolic hit.Even though Chappelle and Rowling appear more or less cancel-proof, experts say that doesn't mean organizations with ties to controversial celebrities can expect to always come through unscathed.Reddock-Wright and McKensie Mack, an executive advisor and the CEO of MMG Earth, which focuses on crisis and change management, said brands and organizations that hesitate to walk away from problematic celebs were taking a risk.McKensie Mack, an executive advisor and the CEO of MMG Earth, says organizations need to hit the right tone and listen to diverse voices.McKensie MackPeople can smell inauthenticity. Be real.In a survey of consumers from the public-relations giant Edelman, 64% of respondents said they believed CEOs should take the lead on social change. But experts say inauthentic support can do more harm than good. Public outcry has caused brands to rush to the podium on sometimes divisive issues like Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ concerns, and abortion rights.In a statement following its rebrand, the founders of Major League Quadball said: "The name change indicates a firm stance with our trans players and members."Declarations like this demonstrate authenticity, Reddock-Wright said. It's easy for organizations to say they support a cause, but they need to show it, Reddock-Wright said. She pointed to steps that companies took following the 2020 police killing of George Floyd. Many companies donated money to civil-rights and other nonprofit organizations. Some companies took out advertisements expressing support for Black Lives Matter."While this all was well and good, employees and consumers are now challenging the companies to demonstrate long-term, sustained commitments to these issues by ensuring fairness and equity in hiring, promotions, board representation, and other issues within their organizations," Reddock-Wright said. Ultimately, companies cannot say they stand for one thing and align with someone who demonstrates another.Be internally inclusiveIn a written apology for booking Chappelle, the First Avenue venue in Minneapolis said: "To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you, and we are sorry. We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down."Reddock-Wright said while the venue surely lost money on the canceled show, it gained much more by way of credibility and brand loyalty.Mack said First Avenue's statement hit the right tone and indicated leadership benefited from listening to diverse voices within the organization."It's important to keep in mind that often concerns around a person's problematic behavior don't start external to the company," Mack said. "In my experience, they often start within the company."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 24th, 2022

Choice Equities Fund 2Q22 Commentary: Crocs And SiteOne

Choice Equities Fund commentary for the second quarter ended June 30, 2022. Dear Investor: I hope this letter finds you well. Choice Equities Fund generated losses of -17.4% on a net basis in the second quarter, taking year-to-date performance to -34.6%. This compares to the Russell 2000’s -17.2% loss for the quarter and -23.5% loss […] Choice Equities Fund commentary for the second quarter ended June 30, 2022. Dear Investor: I hope this letter finds you well. Choice Equities Fund generated losses of -17.4% on a net basis in the second quarter, taking year-to-date performance to -34.6%. This compares to the Russell 2000’s -17.2% loss for the quarter and -23.5% loss year-to-date and the S&P 500’s loss of -16.1% for the quarter and -20.0% loss year-to-date. Since inception in 2017, the fund has generated annualized gains of +15.7% versus +5.6% and +12.0% for the Russell 2000 and S&P 500, respectively. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Executive Summary In this letter, we discuss the major macroeconomic events of the quarter and their influence on market performance. We also take a closer look at how the stocks within the market performed in the first half of the year. I highlight two new positions in Crocs, Inc. (CROX) and SiteOne Landscape Supply, Inc. (SITE). Finally, I conclude with a few thoughts on the current outlook and provide a few big picture charts that inform our optimistic view of the coming years. Quarterly Commentary 2022 has been a tough year so far for owners of almost all assets. Equities, bonds and basically everything other than energy-related equities and commodities have produced meaningful losses at the halfway point. Headlines remain bleak. According to the University of Michigan study, consumer sentiment recently hit all-time lows. Declining optimism and increasing interest rates have led to reduced trading multiples across the market. Though earnings thus far have remained resilient, the decline in market multiples has the S&P 500 off to its worst start to a year since 1970, with its decline past the -20% threshold sending the index into bear market territory. Likewise, the Russell 2000 experienced its worst start to a year ever, with trailing four year returns again going negative, much like we saw in the spring of 2020. At times of such market duress, I find it useful to look at how the stocks in the market have behaved rather than just the market-cap weighted indices which contain them. I believe this can a) help us better contextualize how we got here, and also b) inform us of the opportunity set going forward. To that end, the table below, which breaks out the performance of the stocks of several important indices into quintiles by average price performance, highlights just how far-reaching the first half’s selloff has been. Though it is perhaps unsurprising that a subsegment of small caps were among the worst performers, declining nearly -65% since the year began, it is a bit eye-opening to see the components of the Nasdaq producing similar performance. This is even more remarkable when considering mega-caps like Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Meta, Inc. (META) landed in the fifth quintile, together accounting for nearly ~$700B of market cap that has evaporated. Portfolio Commentary Against this backdrop, our holdings have not been immune with our portfolio experiencing market-like performance in the recent quarter. All of our equity holdings declined in price, while light hedging activity added about 2% to our return. As always, during the quarter, I attempted to balance the sometimes competing aims of protecting capital with increasing future prospective returns. This is not always an easy balance to achieve, as our portfolio orientation which is primarily constructed around owning equities means that from time to time we will incur mark-to-market losses. Our performance thus far this year reflects this fact. Even so, despite the disappointing performance thus far, or to some degree because of it, I believe our portfolio of companies are trading at unusually high discounts to fair value. I also believe our holdings are well-positioned competitively, well-managed and offer attractive growth prospects. I provide updates on existing holdings below and highlight two new holdings, both from the “fifth quintile.” CROX Crocs, Inc. (NASDAQ:CROX) trades at 5x this year’s earnings and 6x EBITDA. Like many of its peers in the consumer space, the valuation implies the market regards the company as a one-time pandemic beneficiary, and business prospects offer little growth beyond this year. While it would be ill-advised to suggest the company did not benefit from the pandemic’s effects on consumer spending of goods, I think this view is incomplete and neglects to incorporate the tremendous success the management team has achieved since they arrived five years ago. Most recall Croc’s original success as having come from pretty much out of the blue, as the funny-looking but comfortable clogs sent the stock on a meteoric rise shortly after its IPO in 2006. Many also conflate the stock chart with a fad driven boom and bust cycle, even though a closer look at clog volumes actually shows fairly consistent growth over the last twenty years. Even so, the company was not without its problems, primarily from management missteps as an overburdened cost structure created profit headwinds. Accordingly, when Andrew Rees became CEO in 2017, he had his work cut out for him. Initially, he focused his efforts on taking costs out and making the operation more efficient. He shrunk the store count by more than a third and began optimizing their go to market strategy by emphasizing sales through the direct-to-consumer digital channel and through wholesaler channel partners. This enabled the company to devote greater resources to product innovation and marketing, a smart reallocation of corporate resources that offered great payoffs for the branded consumer products company. These efforts have paid off handsomely. Deft and efficient marketing spend with influencers on social media via platforms like Instagram put Croc’s back in the limelight. Clever products like jibbitz, the fun and offbeat charms which can be appendaged to the clogs, grew a second consumables-like revenue stream. Growth and profitability for the core Croc’s brand followed. Today, management is focused on perpetuating the success of the Croc’s clogs, with new product adaptions partly aided by a consistent new diet of jibbitzs. But they are also keen on duplicating their successful playbook in new markets, both geographically in markets like Europe and Asia where they have a lot of room for growth, and importantly, across new products like sandals, and most recently, lightweight loafers. The company’s December purchase of HeyDude was initially panned by investors. Management took on debt to finance the acquisition (though at 3x ebitda it looks quite manageable) and paid a full multiple for a nascent company – born in Italy but selling shoes in America – that most investors had never heard of. Despite the initial share price reaction, the HeyDude acquisition looks quite promising, particularly when considering the company catapulted to half a billion dollars in sales and a low 30s EBITDA margin in just over a decade’s time. Now Croc’s proven management team is intent on building on this strong start by bringing greater resources like increased marketing budgets and broader distribution to the promising brand. Proven industry veteran Rick Blackshaw has been appointed to lead the company’s efforts. Accordingly, the recent acquisition broadens Croc’s product line and adds another promising avenue of growth, positioning the company well to achieve its recent goals which imply multiyear sales and earnings CAGRs north of 20%. Insiders seem to agree the future is bright with several executives and board members making open market purchases all year long. SITE In some ways, quite a lot has changed since our first purchases of SiteOne Landscape Supply Inc (NYSE:SITE) some six years ago. Yet in others, particularly regarding the company’s competitive positioning, very little has. It was this durability in the company’s competitive position that was core to our original investment thesis at the time. Today, after years of growth through acquisitions, the company continues to enjoy a near monopoly-like position in the specialized distribution vertical of lawncare and maintenance supplies, with our latest checks suggesting the company is now 5x the size of its closest peer. Equally promisingly, the industry continues to remain quite fragmented with small independent players. The stock is off nearly 60% from recent highs. The share price decline suggests a meaningfully impaired growth trajectory. Yet, even assuming a 25% haircut to this year’s likely EBITDA, shares still trade at the company’s cheapest valuation on offer since coming public in 2015. The long horizon market growth and consolidation opportunity remains, only now the company stands to benefit from having the best balance sheet it has had at any point since being public. We are delighted to be able to repurchase this business at attractive prices. FARM Farmer Bros Co (NASDAQ:FARM) remains unloved and overlooked. I recently had the opportunity to visit with the company and some other shareholders while touring the new plant in Dallas, TX. Reviewing the visit on my flight home, I had two primary takeaways. First, this company’s operating environment has been exceptionally difficult since this management team took over in late 2019. A great number of the company’s customers were closed due to the pandemic, while coffee-focused day parts like breakfast and locations like hotels have been slower to return to normal purchasing patterns than others. Though the external environment has not cooperated, execution on items within the company’s control have been more promising, as management has positioned the company to prosper when normalcy returns. Second, the company’s market cap of $.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJul 23rd, 2022

The Commodity Bull Market Will Continue

Money has been shifting aggressively into commodities for several months now... and it's not going to stop anytime soon. Jeremy Mullin explains why this market trend is so popular and highlights three ways to take advantage of these big moves. The stock market saw a spectacular bull run after the pandemic lows hit in 2020. Tech stocks, meme stocks and anything involving cryptocurrency surged higher on the backs of Fed support and stimulus checks.But over the last six months there has been a shift out of what was working. The hot stocks of the past decade have been sold aggressively, leading the S&P 500 to its worst first half in over 50 years.Investors have instead avoided the names that usually make the news and piled into commodities.Whether it’s stocks that deal in the commodities, or the underlying commodities themselves, they were being snapped up aggressively since Q4 2021.But the possibility of a recession has increased, which has caused a big pullback in the names that were surging just a month ago.Now investors are asking...Is there more meat on the commodity bone and how does one buy? The Case for Commodities 1) Inflation - If you follow the markets, you may be familiar with the staggering year over year inflation numbers that have posted lately. Economic stimulus measures were enacted to fight the COVID pandemic, but these policies have unfortunately led to the 7-9% inflation we have been seeing.This is inflation that hasn’t been seen in 40 years!The best place to be when inflation hits is hard assets. Your house is one way, but a lot of other goods you use on a daily basis give you exposure as well. Oil, gas, wheat, lumber and steel are just a few examples.Prices in almost every commodity have gone up this year, so investors might feel they are too late. However, the companies that deal in these commodities are just printing cash and their stocks look attractive after the broad market sell off.Think oil and gas names, fertilizers, gold miners and steel producers. These companies will see margins and profits increase as prices do. And with that, the stock price will head higher as well.2) Russia and Ukraine – It’s hard to tell how long the Russia/Ukraine Conflict will last and there are a lot of moving parts as to how it may end. What makes this war different from other recent conflicts is that we have some of the biggest exporters of commodities essentially being cut off from global demand.This creates massive supply constraints on a global scale that has sent prices higher. Some of the biggest exports for these two countries are wheat and energy. Crude oil and gasoline have both spiked higher on the news and held their gains. While wheat surged 60% higher after the invasion, it has since pulled back very close to pre-invasion levels.3) Supply Chains - For two years, the pandemic prevented a big percentage of the global population from living their normal life. In the early stages, global demand for commodities was turned off and prices tumbled.Producers adjusted, by lowering their output as commodity prices dropped. But as global demand came back, commodity producers were slow to adjust, unsure if COVID would come roaring back.At the moment, most of the world is free from the hassle of COVID. However, shutdowns over the years have clogged supply chains. The demand for goods is creating an environment where consumers are driving prices higher for goods that aren’t immediately available. Demand destruction is yet to be seen with these higher prices and while supply chains are improving, the relief on prices seems far away.Continued . . .------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Last Chance to See Zacks’ Top Inflation-Fueled TickersDon’t miss the Sunday deadline to get in on our unique approach to the skyrocketing potential of commodities including oil, metals, agricultural products, lumber, coffee, and more.Although the market is generally down, prices and demand for these products are soaring. Now is an ideal time to invest in them the easy way. No futures contracts or option moves – just quality stocks and ETFs. New moves: Our latest two buys (just posted yesterday) offer significant upside for early investors. You can be among the first to take advantage.Important: Your chance to access our private recommendations ends midnight Sunday, July 24.See Our Buys Now >>------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------How Can an Average Investor Play? Most investors are not sophisticated enough to trade futures. However, there are products that will allow us to take advantage of the big moves in commodities.1) Commodity ETPs - Exchange traded products like ETFs or ETNs allow investors to get broad exposure to the underlying commodity.For energy, there are popular products like USO for crude, UGA for gasoline and UNG for natural gas that allow the investor to buy commodities like they would a stock. XLE is a popular option that seeks investment results correlated with stocks that are in the Energy Select Sector Index.For grains, there are ETFs for wheat (WEAT), corn (CORN) and soybeans (SOYB).In fact, you can find an ETF for almost any commodity out there. Investors can also go to ETFs that capture a basket of stocks instead of the commodity itself. DBC is the Invesco Commodity tracking fund that gives an investor diversification into the space. This ETF was up as much as 50% earlier this year and is still sitting on 30% gains for 2022.2) Commodity Stocks - Instead of capping upside within an ETF like DBC or XLE, less risk-averse investors can target individual stocks. There have been moves in some commodity stocks that even tech investors are jealous of.Let’s look at some names and what they have done so far in 2022:• Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY): 100%• ExxonMobil (XOM): 44%• EOG Resources (EOG): +35%• Chevron (CVX): +30%• Mosaic Company (MOS): +28%4) Inverse ETPs - Commodity players can also profit from certain commodities going down thanks to inverse ETFs. While these products don’t target every commodity space, they allow energy and mining speculators the ability to play on the short side.For example, the Proshares ETF KOLD is an inverse ETF that reflects the 2X the daily movement of natural gas. The commodity recently experienced a big sell off, which helped the ETF move up over 140% in under a month!The Trend Is Your Friend Nothing goes straight up, so investors shouldn’t chase this volatile commodity group higher. Instead of blindly buying, investors should target pullbacks like the one we are seeing now. Commodities can trade in a very technical manner, so buying moving averages and other indicators can be very fruitful.When Should You Invest in Commodities?This largely ignored asset class is typically used as a small percentage of an investor’s portfolio. While 10-15% as a percentage is widely accepted, there is reason to believe that right now is the perfect time to increase exposure.  In fact, due to recent events, there is a case that investors should become directly involved in individual commodity plays.The Best, Easiest Way to Get Started The commodity markets are not for the faint of heart, but they can be extremely rewarding. Now, more than ever, is perhaps the greatest time in a decade to find exposure to the ups and downs of this volatile market.Additionally, while the prices of these commodities might see a lot of volatility, the stocks that benefit from the price of those commodities look to see big profits for years to come.Today, I invite you to follow my Commodity Innovators portfolio.I’m stalking the strongest trends to find commodity stocks with the most promise. We will minimize our risk without being exposed to the futures market, while keeping the same potential rewards.Using the Zacks Rank, I have a plethora of ETFs and stocks to choose from that will allow us to capture this profit potential created within the commodity markets.Over the past few months, the Commodity Innovators portfolio already handed members recent gains like +109.6%, +50.8%, +65.3%, and even one for +93.1% in just 17 days.¹And I just posted two brand-new trades on Thursday that could rival or surpass the above performances for early investors. You can still be one of the first to see them.Overall, research indicates that current market trends are likely to continue producing big opportunities at least through the end of 2022.Bonus: To maximize your profit potential in today's inflationary market you can also access our Special Report, Oil Market on Fire: 4 Stocks with Smoking Upside.  It reveals Zacks’ top tickers in what could become the hottest commodity of all.I urge you to take advantage of this right away. The deadline to gain access to Commodity Innovators and claim our Oil Market on Fire report is midnight Sunday, July 24.Access to these picks must be limited so there will be no extensions to the deadline.Check out Commodity Innovators  and Oil Stocks on Fire today >>All the Best,Jeremy MullinZacks StrategistJeremy Mullin is a technical expert with 17 years' experience pinpointing the best times to buy and sell commodities. He is the editor of Zacks Commodity Innovators. ¹ The results listed above are not (or may not be) representative of the performance of all strategies developed by Zacks Investment Research.  Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJul 23rd, 2022

Digital Authoritarianism: AI Surveillance Signals The Death Of Privacy

Digital Authoritarianism: AI Surveillance Signals The Death Of Privacy Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “There are no private lives. This a most important aspect of modern life. One of the biggest transformations we have seen in our society is the diminution of the sphere of the private. We must reasonably now all regard the fact that there are no secrets and nothing is private. Everything is public.”  - Philip K. Dick Nothing is private. We teeter on the cusp of a cultural, technological and societal revolution the likes of which have never been seen before. While the political Left and Right continue to make abortion the face of the debate over the right to privacy in America, the government and its corporate partners, aided by rapidly advancing technology, are reshaping the world into one in which there is no privacy at all. Nothing that was once private is protected. We have not even begun to register the fallout from the tsunami bearing down upon us in the form of AI (artificial intelligence) surveillance, and yet it is already re-orienting our world into one in which freedom is almost unrecognizable. AI surveillance harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and widespread surveillance technology to do what the police state lacks the manpower and resources to do efficiently or effectively: be everywhere, watch everyone and everything, monitor, identify, catalogue, cross-check, cross-reference, and collude. Everything that was once private is now up for grabs to the right buyer. Governments and corporations alike have heedlessly adopted AI surveillance technologies without any care or concern for their long-term impact on the rights of the citizenry. As a special report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace warns, “A growing number of states are deploying advanced AI surveillance tools to monitor, track, and surveil citizens to accomplish a range of policy objectives—some lawful, others that violate human rights, and many of which fall into a murky middle ground.” Indeed, with every new AI surveillance technology that is adopted and deployed without any regard for privacy, Fourth Amendment rights and due process, the rights of the citizenry are being marginalized, undermined and eviscerated. Cue the rise of digital authoritarianism. Digital authoritarianism, as the Center for Strategic and International Studies cautions, involves the use of information technology to surveil, repress, and manipulate the populace, endangering human rights and civil liberties, and co-opting and corrupting the foundational principles of democratic and open societies, “including freedom of movement, the right to speak freely and express political dissent, and the right to personal privacy, online and off.” The seeds of digital authoritarianism were planted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, with the passage of the USA Patriot Act. A massive 342-page wish list of expanded powers for the FBI and CIA, the Patriot Act justified broader domestic surveillance, the logic being that if government agents knew more about each American, they could distinguish the terrorists from law-abiding citizens. It sounded the death knell for the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights, especially the Fourth Amendment, and normalized the government’s mass surveillance powers. Writing for the New York Times, Jeffrey Rosen observed that “before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity.” Who could have predicted that 50 years after George Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel 1984, “He loved Big Brother,” we would come to love Big Brother. Yet that is exactly what has come to pass. After 9/11, Rosen found that “people were happy to give up privacy without experiencing a corresponding increase in security. More concerned about feeling safe than actually being safe, they demanded the construction of vast technological architectures of surveillance even though the most empirical studies suggested that the proliferation of surveillance cameras had ‘no effect on violent crime’ or terrorism.” In the decades following 9/11, a massive security-industrial complex arose that was fixated on militarization, surveillance, and repression. Surveillance is the key. We’re being watched everywhere we go. Speed cameras. Red light cameras. Police body cameras. Cameras on public transportation. Cameras in stores. Cameras on public utility poles. Cameras in cars. Cameras in hospitals and schools. Cameras in airports. We’re being recorded at least 50 times a day. It’s estimated that there are upwards of 85 million surveillance cameras in the U.S. alone, second only to China. On any given day, the average American going about his daily business is monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears. Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing. Yet it’s not just what we say, where we go and what we buy that is being tracked. We’re being surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of hardware, software and data collection that scans our biometrics—our faces, irises, voices, genetics, microbiomes, scent, gait, heartbeat, breathing, behaviors—runs them through computer programs that can break the data down into unique “identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its corporate allies for their respective uses. As one AI surveillance advocate proclaimed, “Surveillance is no longer only a watchful eye, but a predictive one as well.” For instance, Emotion AI, an emerging technology that is gaining in popularity, uses facial recognition technology “to analyze expressions based on a person’s faceprint to detect their internal emotions or feelings, motivations and attitudes.” China claims its AI surveillance can already read facial expressions and brain waves in order to determine the extent to which members of the public are grateful, obedient and willing to comply with the Communist Party. This is the slippery slope that leads to the thought police. The technology is already being used “by border guards to detect threats at border checkpoints, as an aid for detection and diagnosis of patients for mood disorders, to monitor classrooms for boredom or disruption, and to monitor human behavior during video calls.” For all intents and purposes, we now have a fourth branch of government: the surveillance state. This fourth branch came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum, and yet it possesses superpowers, above and beyond those of any other government agency save the military. It is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. It operates beyond the reach of the president, Congress and the courts, and it marches in lockstep with the corporate elite who really call the shots in Washington, DC. The government’s “technotyranny” surveillance apparatus has become so entrenched and entangled with its police state apparatus that it’s hard to know anymore where law enforcement ends and surveillance begins. The short answer: they have become one and the same entity. The police state has passed the baton to the surveillance state, which has shifted into high gear with the help of artificial intelligence technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic helped to further centralize digital power in the hands of the government at the expense of the citizenry’s privacy rights. “From cameras that identify the faces of passersby to algorithms that keep tabs on public sentiment online, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools are opening new frontiers in state surveillance around the world.” So begins the Carnegie Endowment’s report on AI surveillance note. “Law enforcement, national security, criminal justice, and border management organizations in every region are relying on these technologies—which use statistical pattern recognition, machine learning, and big data analytics—to monitor citizens.” In the hands of tyrants and benevolent dictators alike, AI surveillance is the ultimate means of repression and control, especially through the use of smart city/safe city platforms, facial recognition systems, and predictive policing. These technologies are also being used by violent extremist groups, as well as sex, child, drug, and arms traffickers for their own nefarious purposes. China, the role model for our dystopian future, has been a major force in deploying AI surveillance on its own citizens, especially by way of its social credit systems, which it employs to identify, track and segregate its “good” citizens from the “bad.” Social media credit scores assigned to Chinese individuals and businesses categorize them on whether or not they are worthy of being part of society. A real-name system—which requires people to use government-issued ID cards to buy mobile sims, obtain social media accounts, take a train, board a plane, or even buy groceries—coupled with social media credit scores ensures that those blacklisted as “unworthy” are banned from accessing financial markets, buying real estate or travelling by air or train. Among the activities that can get you labeled unworthy are taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals. In much the same way that Chinese products have infiltrated almost every market worldwide and altered consumer dynamics, China is now exporting its “authoritarian tech” to governments worldwide ostensibly in an effort to spread its brand of totalitarianism worldwide. In fact, both China and the United States have led the way in supplying the rest of the world with AI surveillance, sometimes at a subsidized rate. This is how totalitarianism conquers the world. While countries with authoritarian regimes have been eager to adopt AI surveillance, as the Carnegie Endowment’s research makes clear, liberal democracies are also “aggressively using AI tools to police borders, apprehend potential criminals, monitor citizens for bad behavior, and pull out suspected terrorists from crowds.” Moreover, it’s easy to see how the China model for internet control has been integrated into the American police state’s efforts to flush out so-called anti-government, domestic extremists. According to journalist Adrian Shahbaz’s in-depth report, there are nine elements to the Chinese model of digital authoritarianism when it comes to censoring speech and targeting activists: 1) dissidents suffer from persistent cyber attacks and phishing; 2) social media, websites, and messaging apps are blocked; 3) posts that criticize government officials are removed; 4) mobile and internet access are revoked as punishment for activism; 5) paid commentators drown out government criticism; 6) new laws tighten regulations on online media; 7) citizens’ behavior monitored via AI and surveillance tools; 9) individuals regularly arrested for posts critical of the government; and 9) online activists are made to disappear. You don’t even have to be a critic of the government to get snared in the web of digital censorship and AI surveillance. The danger posed by the surveillance state applies equally to all of us: lawbreaker and law-abider alike. When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies. As Orwell wrote in 1984, “You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” In an age of too many laws, too many prisons, too many government spies, and too many corporations eager to make a fast buck at the expense of the American taxpayer, we are all guilty of some transgression or other. No one is spared. As Elise Thomas writes for Wired: “New surveillance tech means you'll never be anonymous again.” It won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whomever we wanted, buy whatever we wanted, think whatever we wanted, go wherever we wanted, feel whatever we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants, sold to government agencies, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies. Tread cautiously: as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, 1984 has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day AI surveillance state. Without constitutional protections in place to guard against encroachments on our rights when power, AI technology and militaristic governance converge, it won’t be long before Philip K. Dick’s rules for survival become our governing reality: “If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.” Tyler Durden Fri, 07/22/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 23rd, 2022

The night the Lord of the Skies got away

In 1985, US agents had a chance to stop Mexico's top drug lord. Years later, evidence from that night proved valuable in a way no one could predict. Reuters; John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne night in 1985, US agents may have had a chance to stop the rise of Mexico's most powerful drug lord — a chance they quickly gave up without knowing it. But the evidence gathered that night would prove valuable in a way no one could predict. If he'd blinked he might have missed them.The pair of cars were parked window to window, just off the side of Highway 67, nine miles north of the tiny border town of Presidio, Texas. As David Ramirez cruised by in his dun-colored U.S. Border Patrol sedan, the night sky outside the range of headlights was so pitch-black that he could have been forgiven for not spotting the vehicles.    Ramirez guessed that something was up. Slowing the cruiser, he banged a quick U-turn and headed back. "They were on the side of the road, at that time of night, in that area, which was known for drug trafficking," Ramirez recalled. "And there wasn't any other traffic. We were out there in a patrol vehicle and we saw maybe two other vehicles in a three-hour time span."It was May 1985, and Ramirez had only been with the Border Patrol for two and a half years. But at a posting as remote as southwest Texas, where only a handful of agents were stationed at the time, that qualified him to train the new guy. So, in the passenger seat sat his partner for the evening, a trainee agent learning the ropes as they cruised along this ribbon of pebbles, dust, and potholes masquerading as a state highway.As Ramirez maneuvered his patrol car, two pairs of headlights came on, two engines rumbled to life, and two cars peeled out. A late-model pickup truck went first, and, following closely behind, a big-body, white Mercury Grand Marquis. They were headed south, toward Presidio, and toward Mexico.Ramirez spun the cruiser around once again and sped off in pursuit, flashing his red-and-blues to signal the drivers to stop. The two vehicles ignored him.The Mercury wasn't going that fast, 60, maybe 70 miles-per-hour, but it acted as a sort of rearguard, allowing the driver of the pickup truck to put more and more distance between himself and the Border Patrol agents giving chase. This went on for a while, five minutes maybe. Finally, with the pickup truck out of sight, the driver of the Mercury eased to the side of the road and crunched to a stop. Ramirez knew it was a feint designed to let the other driver — and whatever cargo he might be carrying — get away. But he also knew that at the end of that road, just before the international port of entry, was a Border Patrol station. He radioed ahead for agents to be on the lookout, and turned his focus to the Mercury.Carefully opening his door, Ramirez climbed out of the cruiser, unclasped the snap on his holster, and drew his .38-caliber service revolver, holding it at a downward angle. It had been dark for hours, but in these parts even after midnight  in late spring can be mind-bendingly hot. The thermostat hovered around 95 degrees and the night air hung heavy like a blanket. As Ramirez approached the Mercury from the driver-side door, his heart rate quickened. The ambient sounds of the desert night, the buzz of insects and snuffling of wild javelinas, receded into the background. His training — and his survival instinct — kicked in to guide him. The trainee, armed with a shotgun, mirrored the more experienced agent and sidled toward the car from the passenger side. Speaking in Spanish through the rolled down window, the driver had an easy-does-it, friendly manner. With the trainee standing back, Ramirez holstered his revolver and requested the suspect's documents. The driver obliged.One was a border-crossing card, issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, that allowed Mexicans living close to the border to cross back and forth for errands and jobs.The other document identified the driver as an agent of the Federal Security Directorate, or DFS, a powerful — and phantasmagorically corrupt — branch of Mexico's federal law enforcement. For Ramirez, this didn't prove the man was a cop. The DFS was notorious for its connections to drug traffickers, and its agents were known to hand out fake badges to the smugglers they worked with. But he couldn't be sure the man wasn't a cop.Ramirez asked the man if he had any weapons, and the driver said no, no guns. But peering into the Marquis, Ramirez could see a box of ammo sitting on the passenger seat, clear as day. He asked again. No weapons? You sure about that?David Ramirez (r); John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe driver made no attempt to keep the lie going and admitted that, sure, he had a small gun in the trunk. On Ramirez' orders, the driver opened the door and walked around to the rear to pop the trunk. The "small gun" turned out to be a loaded AR-15 assault rifle.Ramirez eyed the driver more closely now. He stood about six feet tall, trim and lanky, and dressed like a well-heeled cowboy, with nice boots and well-fitting clothes. Despite everything, he seemed relaxed. Ramirez gave the driver a careful patdown and, finding no other weapons on him, escorted him back to the Border Patrol cruiser and directed him into the back seat, locking him in there but deciding not to place him in handcuffs, given the DFS badge."In any law enforcement, I would say there's a certain courtesy you give to [other] law enforcement," Ramirez told me. "As a young agent, I didn't really know how to deal with it. I was naive."The trainee took the keys to the Mercury and started back to the station at the Presidio-Ojinaga border. Ramirez followed. In the backseat, the driver sat – quiet, calm, no fuss.The man's name, according to his INS card and DFS badge, was Amado Carrillo Fuentes.The Lord of the Skies Within a decade of that traffic stop, Amado would be the most significant drug trafficker in Mexico. His knack for using airplanes to smuggle huge quantities of drugs earned him the nickname "el señor de los cielos," the Lord of the Skies, and, to this day, he is easily the most prolific and most powerful drug lord the country has ever seen. His would be a household name in Mexico and a curse on the lips of U.S. federal agents tasked with fighting the narcotics trade. Another two decades after that, he would feature prominently as the absurdly white-washed protagonist of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico. But on the night David Ramirez encountered him on that desolate stretch of Highway 67, Amado was just one trafficker among many. Not a nobody, certainly, but his photo wouldn't yet be on any police bulletin boards, nor his name in any newspapers.Amado was then 28 years old, and for years he had found a comfortable niche for himself in the growing drug empire run by his uncle — a fearsome brute named Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca — Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, and Rafael Caro Quintero. Like nearly all major drug traffickers of the era — including Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, who was born around the same time as Amado — they all hailed from the northwestern state of Sinaloa. But they ran their operation out of the city of Guadalajara, and became known as the Guadalajara cartel. As the demand for cocaine began to surge in the late 1970s and exploded in the early 1980s, most cocaine headed to the U.S. from Colombia, across the Caribbean, and into Florida. But as the DEA and the Coast Guard cracked down on that route, the Colombians needed a new way of getting drugs north The syndicate that Don Neto, Félix Gallardo, and Caro Quintero operated, which previously focused on heroin and marijuana and was well positioned to offer an alternative route to their new friends in Colombia, was busy forging contacts with Colombian cocaine suppliers. Within a few years, the Mexican traffickers had become an integral link in the chain that saw cocaine travel by air from its roots high in the Andes to labs in the jungles of Colombia to local smugglers in Mexico, and finally to an eager customer base in the United States. Using the staggering infusion of cash that came along with their new specialty in moving cocaine, the Guadalajara network was able to bring most of the major drug traffickers in Mexico under a unified protection racket negotiated by Félix Gallardo and overseen by the DFS and other federal police agencies.Amado, who was quickly gaining a reputation for being cool-headed and having a talent for forging political connections, played a key role in this transformation of the drug game, coordinating cargo planes, loaded down with hundreds — and later thousands — of kilos of coke, to clandestine air strips in northern Mexico.An act of supreme recklessnessEverything changed, however, just a few months before Amado was stopped in southwest Texas. In February 1985, a group of gunmen snatched a young DEA agent named Enrique "Kiki" Camarena off the streets of Guadalajara, tortured and murdered him along with a pilot who'd worked with the DEA, and dumped their bodies on a distant ranch. Amado Carrillo Fuentes (c). Henry Romero/Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe brutal kidnapping, torture, and murder of a U.S. federal agent was an act of supreme recklessness and the consequences were sweeping. By April, Don Neto and Caro Quintero were in prison, Félix Gallardo was in hiding, and the network they had carefully built and paid a fortune to protect was in disarray, cracking under the pressure of a vengeful United States, and the obligatory, if belated, efforts of Mexican cops. (Just this month, on July 15, Caro Quintero was arrested in Mexico in a joint U.S.-Mexican operation. In 2013, while serving a 40-year sentence for the murders, a Mexican court had ordered Caro Quintero released. U.S. officials immediately sought to re-arrest him, adding him to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, but Caro Quintero went into hiding. During the operation on July 15, 14 marines died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed outside the city of Los Mochis. A few days after the re-capture of Caro Quintero, in a seemingly unrelated move, Félix Gallardo officially trademarked his own name, apparently for a fashion brand.)Mid-level traffickers who were lucky or savvy enough to escape the dragnet exploited a sudden power vacuum and set up territorial fiefdoms, negotiating new protection pacts with corrupt officials and continuing to traffic all the cocaine, heroin, and marijuana that North Americans could sniff, shoot up?, or smoke.Amado was one of those survivors, but he couldn't stay in Guadalajara. So he headed to Ojinaga, just across the border from Presidio, Texas, where he joined forces with a rough-and-tumble smuggler named Pablo Acosta. The Wild West At the northern extreme of the Chihuahuan Desert and the southwest extreme of Texas, Presidio sits just east of Ojinaga — rather than the proverbial "north of the border," as the Rio Grande runs south there. Located just to the south and east lies Big Bend National Park, and with its canyons, culverts, and deep ravines scored into the earth over millennia, the landscape is such a godsend to smugglers of all kinds that it could almost seem as if it was created for that express purpose.   For as long as the border has divided Presidio and Ojinaga, this remote land has been a causeway for smugglers looking to take advantage of prohibition in the U.S. — first of alcohol, later of marijuana and heroin, and finally cocaine — and of Mexico's booming black market for illegally imported commercial goods that resulted from the country's high tariffs.David Ramirez, a native of of El Paso, arrived in Presidio in 1982, shortly after joining the Border Patrol. He could almost count his fellow agents on two hands, and together they were tasked with patrolling not only the port of entry, with its wooden, two lane bridge crossing the river, but also the vast desert landscape stretching out on either side. (It was still many years before the Border Patrol would morph into the veritable army that polices the border today, with its drones, seismic motion sensors, and agents more numerous than the armies of more than a dozen small nations.) "We often had no radio comms, and all of Big Bend [National Park] to deal with," Ramirez recalled. "It was like the Wild West."Ramirez and his fellow agents may have had the might of the U.S. government at their backs, but down in Presidio, with the drug trade in overdrive, they were tilting at windmills.It wasn't like they could rely much on the Mexican authorities across the border either. The dirty and not so well-kept secret of the drug trade in Mexico is that it is inextricably tied to and controlled by extra-official protection rackets run by corrupt members of the country's business, political, and judicial elite. Just like every other lucrative smuggling corridor along the border, Ojinaga was controlled by a local boss. For much of the 1970s, that person had been Manuel Carrasco; when he eventually ran afoul of too many people he fled town and with time — and after a few shootouts — control passed to an up-and-coming trafficker named Pablo Acosta. 'He's their guy'According to the journalist Terrence Poppa, who chronicled the rise and fall of Acosta in his 1991 book "Drug Lord," Acosta came to power in Ojinaga in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and by 1982 he was either directly involved with, or charging a tax on, all illegal merchandise flowing across the border.Acosta, like Amado, was treated to a sympathetic portrayal in Narcos: Mexico. The actor Gerardo Taraceno plays Acosta up as a sentimental, old-school cowboy — reckless and violent at times, sure, but living by a code of honor and harboring a sentimental streak to boot. This flies in the face of all available evidence. Poppa — and a number of sources I spoke with who either investigated Acosta or did business with him — said that the real-life Acosta was a brutal thug, quick to mete out violence and shocking cruelty against anyone he saw as a threat. He shot men down in the street in broad daylight, subjected people to brutal torture, and was said to have once strapped a rival to the back of his pickup truck and dragged him to his bloody, horrible death. And as the years wore on, Acosta grew ever more erratic, thanks in part to his growing number of enemies and also to his fondness for basuco, a crude cocaine paste that he sprinkled into cigarettes and smoked around the clock.He was, in other words, the polar opposite of Amado. Little is known of Amado and Acosta's working relationship, one the young face of the drug trade to come and the other the proud, battle-scarred avatar of what came before. Amado was there not to do Acosta's bidding but to look after the interests of his uncle's syndicate in Guadalajara, which was increasingly coordinating shipments of cocaine on behalf of the Colombians and moving it through Ojinaga. David Ramirez (r); Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne player who had the opportunity — or misfortune — to see that dynamic up close was Don Henry Ford, Jr, a former drug trafficker working in the region in the '70s and '80s."Amado Carrillo was never working for Pablo Acosta, not for one fucking day," Ford told me. "He represents the big guys down there, the cartel, he's their guy."When Pablo Acosta was finally gunned down in a raid by Mexican police in the tiny village of his birth in 1987, rumors immediately proliferated that Amado had paid a corrupt police commander $1 million to take him out. Unrepentant cowboyIf Ramirez that night in 1985 saw the amiable, confident face that Amado showed when being detained, Don Henry Ford Jr., two years prior, saw something closer to the real Amado — the careful balance of friendly and ruthless with which Amado gained the trust of business partners and government benefactors, while rooting out potential traitors and rivals.Ford grew up on a Texas ranch a few hundred miles north of the border, but as his family's business started to fail in the late 1970s he began to drift down to Mexico, making trips back and forth across the border in search of easy money and unlimited weed."You may consider one side Mexico and one the U.S., but it ain't either. It's the border," Ford told me recently when I reached him by phone. "People in Presidio and Ojinaga have more in common with each other than with anyone in Washington or Mexico City."By the time I talked to him, Ford had been out of the drug game for decades. The beginning of the end had come in 1986 when he was arrested in Texas but then managed to escape and spend a year or so as an honest-to-god fugitive outlaw, laying low in a tiny communal ejido south of the border, guarding multi-ton shipments of Colombian weed in a cave with just a rifle by his side. In 1987, he was caught while moving about a hundred pounds of weed in southern Texas and ended up serving seven years of a 15-year sentence before being released on good behavior — after which he spent another few years under tight restrictions, pissing in a cup for his parole officer as many as three times a week. As much as he hated giving up those years to prison and parole, Ford knows how lucky he was: less than a year after his second arrest, in 1988, the US eliminated parole for federal offenses and introduced mandatory minimums for large-scale drug trafficking. If he'd been busted any later, he could have spent the rest of his life behind bars, as did many drug traffickers — particularly Black and Brown people — sentenced amid the drastic ramping up of the U.S. war on drugs.He put that life behind him — raised kids, raised cattle, and even put aside some land and a business to pass on to his children. But he still has the spark of an outlaw in his voice. Even his email address, which includes the words "unrepentant cowboy," makes clear that he remains resolutely nonconformist. The south Texas ranch where Ford spends his days is so remote that his cell phone barely gets a signal. When we spoke, his voice crackled out of earshot every time he moved in the wrong direction or when he sat down.Ford had a rather haphazard start as a drug trafficker, running into some greedy cops on his first trip to Mexico who were happy to relieve him of his seed money and send him packing. But before long he found a knack for the business, and developed a lucrative operation trading with a loose network of marijuana growers and wholesalers, trafficking hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in weed at a time.He did most of his business in the state of Coahuila, east of Acosta's territory in Chihuahua, where he could work without having to deal with Acosta, who he knew by reputation to be a fickle and violent man. Years later, Ford would find that out firsthand, when he was attacked by men he believes to have been working for Acosta, and interrogated at length by a man he believes to be Acosta himself. He believes it to have been Acosta because he was blindfolded, and Ford is not one to say things he's not 100% sure of. (I had to take Ford's word on this incident, as there's no record of it aside from Ford's memory of the experience, and Acosta is not around to confirm it.)But before his near-death encounter with Acosta, it was in Coahuila, in the home of his main connect, a guy named Oscar, that he first met Amado around 1983.Their first meeting was just in passing; Amado was one of several cowboy-looking guys milling about during a visit to the home of his partner, where Ford was visiting on one of his many trips south to score wholesale loads of weed. Amado was dressed, like the rest of the guys, in wide-cut polyester pants and the boots popular with Mexican cowboys with a high, slanted Spanish riding heel."He didn't look like anybody extraordinary at all, he looked like Oscar was giving him some work on the farm," Ford told me. "He wasn't wearing a bunch of gold jewelry and shit that would give away the sense of being wealthy. His boots were worn."For most of his career, Ford had stuck to marijuana. And even in the early years of the cocaine boom he said he could see the effect that the introduction of cocaine was having on the business of smuggling. Guys he had known to be sworn pacifists motivated by peace and love as much as money, began carrying weapons, acting all jittery."All of a sudden it was like Miami Vice," he recalled. But he wasn't so altruistic as to turn down good business, and it soon became clear to him that the real money was in cocaine. He wanted in. So he made some inquiries and was told the person to talk to was Amado — that quiet guy in cowboy boots he'd met once a while back.The meeting happened sometime in 1983, just Ford, his cousin, his partner Oscar, and Amado in a motel room in the city of Torreon, in the southern reaches of Coahuila. It started off well enough — like many meetings between drug traffickers, it was mostly a chance to size each other up. Amado brought with him some of the product he had on hand, and for a few hours, the wirey Texan and the Sinaloan trafficker hung out, drank, sniffed cocaine, and chatted pleasantly. Just as Ramirez would observe later, Ford recalled Amado as a smooth customer, calm and collected but friendly. Even a few drinks and a few lines deep, Amado kept his wits about him."He did a lot more listening than he did talking," Ford said.Ford liked that, and he told Amado that he didn't have any interest in working with a hothead like Acosta."I told him 'If you're like that, I don't wanna do business with you,'" Ford said. "I'm interested in fuckin' moving some drugs and making some money."Ford and Amado didn't make a deal that night, but Ford said they agreed to "something tentative." When it was time for Amado to go, but he left the remaining coke as a gift, more where that came from, and Ford and his cousin set about enjoying it.Rachel Mendelson/InsiderA few hours later, as they were trying to sleep off their coke jitters, there came a series of thunderous knocks on the door, bam-bam-bam, and chaos descended on them. A team of heavily armed men rushed into the hotel room. They wore no uniforms, but they moved with such trained precision that Ford immediately took them for cops of some sort. Over the next few hours, he said, they questioned the pair relentlessly."This motherfucker did this to see if I was a cop," Ford said. "He didn't trust us, and decided he was gonna find out who we were."He never saw Amado again.200 miles from El PasoTwo years or so after Ford met him in Torreon, Amado sat patiently in the Border Patrol station in Presidio with agent David Ramirez. The other driver, the one Amado had slowed down to let escape, had made it to the point of entry. His car was clean and, after showing his ID — along with a DFS badge like Amado's — the agents who spoke to him had nothing to charge him with, and let him cruise back into Mexico. (In an interview, Ramirez told me ruefully that he had written the man's name down in his notebook but later lost it, and the question of the man's identity piques his curiosity to this day.)As for Amado, Ramirez may not have caught him trafficking drugs in flagrante, nor had he proven any collusion with the driver of the pickup truck. But there was the AR-15 he'd found in the trunk. For a nonresident of the United States, it was a serious crime to be in possession of a loaded assault rifle. If charges were brought, it could have earned him a few solid years in a federal prison. No one knew it then, but that could have put a serious crimp in Amado's upward trajectory. But that wasn't the purview of the Border Patrol. If they were going to hold Amado, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms — 200 miles away in El Paso — would have to get involved. If they agreed, someone would have to come in from El Paso, a four-hour drive away, bring Amado back, and then take him to magistrate court in Pecos, another two-hour drive from El PasoRamirez made the call, and waited. In the meantime, in case Amado would be charged, Ramirez fingerprinted the suspect, and took a couple mugshots.By now it was around three in the morning. Amado had been pretty quiet as they drove into Presidio, but sitting in the Border Patrol station, he started to open up a bit more, chatting with Ramirez, even boasting a bit as they made small talk to kill time."The guy, once again, had not a worry in the world," Ramirez said. "Real easy guy, and you know it was strange, he offered a lot of info, like that his uncle was Don Neto and that Caro Quintero was his partner."It might seem strange that an experienced heavy in the drug trade would brag about his connections to a well-known trafficker like Don Neto and the notorious killer of a federal agent like Caro Quintero, but the code of silence only applies to the saps at the bottom of the totem pole, or to the civilians ensnared in the web of violence, corruption, and extortion that funnels money up to the bosses. For the guys making the real money, the relationship with law enforcement is a lot more fluid, with a lot more give and take. Perhaps Amado saw an opportunity to cultivate a contact, pocket a card that he could play at a later date. Or maybe he just knew that no ATF agents were getting their asses out of bed at three in the morning and driving all the way to Presidio and back to book him. Much more likely was that he'd be back in Mexico by sun-up no matter what he said to Ramirez.An hour passed, and then Ramirez got word from the Bureau that they weren't going to bother with this one. Coming all that distance to Presidio, it was too much trouble. So he let Amado go. Ramirez held on to the box of ammo, but Amado drove back into Mexico a free man with the illegal AR-15 in his trunk.'You can't live in what-ifs'Looking back to that night in Presidio in 1985, It's hard to fathom how it was possible that agents of the federal government had one of the top drug traffickers in Mexico in their custody and didn't even know it. But according to Ramirez, that was par for the course back then. "At that time, in that area, there was no intelligence collection. It was very primitive," he said. "We were patrol, we weren't really trained for intelligence gathering. Unfortunately that was the attitude back then."Ramirez doesn't pester himself much wondering how things might have gone if the ATF had bothered to haul Amado in. "He coulda done some time, sure," Ramirez replied when I pushed the point. "But you can't live in what-ifs."After that night in 1985, Ramirez would see Amado from time to time around town on the other side of the border. Ramirez would mostly avert his gaze so as not to make eye contact with the man whose night he'd ruined. He saw him at the border crossing too, and from the way Amado carried himself there, Ramirez said he could tell Amado had pull among Mexican officials."He was a charismatic kinda guy," Ramirez recalled. "He made friends with the inspectors there on the U.S. side, the Customs inspectors and the immigration inspectors, invited them to his ranch and they would go over and come back and tell about the cookouts and the time they had." One of the inspectors even invited Ramirez to the party. Ramirez politely declined.Whatever scrutiny caused him to flee Guadalajara did not appear to have followed Amado to Ojinaga, according to Ramirez. "He wasn't hiding! I mean he was out in the open," Ramirez said with some bemusement.In the years that followed, Amado continued to plot his deliberate, careful rise to power. That evening he spent with Ramirez would go down as his only known brush with US authorities — or at least the only one in which he was a suspected criminal rather than a guy asking Customs inspectors over for lunch. Alongside other major traffickers of his generation, like "El Chapo" in Sinaloa and Sonora and the Arellano-Félix brothers in Tijuana, Amado expertly navigated every power vacuum that presented itself — or triggered power vacuums himself. By the late 1980s Amado had moved his base of operations to Ciudad Juárez, the sprawling metropolis that sits across the river from El Paso, where the multiple ports of entry allow a far greater amount of train, truck, and car traffic — and contraband — than Ojinaga ever could. It was there that Amado truly came into his own, controlling organized crime in the city so tightly that normal, everyday street crime became a rarity, lest criminals incur the wrath of the henchmen tasked with keeping things quiet and orderly. David Ramirez had left Presidio as well, transferring to his hometown of El Paso, where he began doing undercover work investigating trafficking networks alongside Mexican cops. He saw firsthand the control that Amado exercised in the city.He even saw Amado once. Ramirez was in Juárez, eating breakfast with some Mexican colleagues, including a federal police commander, when who walks in but Amado, surrounded by a swarm of burly, heavily armed guards. Amado made a beeline for their table and greeted the commander warmly as Ramirez studied his food and preyed that he wouldn't be recognized. "I thought 'oh shoot, this is the guy I arrested!'" Ramirez recalled. "Everybody says they're looking for him, and he's right there!" Once again, though, Ramirez's hands were tied: no matter how much the U.S. might want its hands on Amado, he was out of reach in Mexico, where his massive web of bribes and political connections made him largely untouchable. Still, even if Ramirez's actions did nothing to stop Amado's rise to power, it wasn't all for naught.The Lord of the Skies is deadOn July 3, 1997, Amado Carrillo Fuentes entered Hospital Ángeles Santa Mónica in the ritzy Mexico City neighborhood of Polanco. Amado had had a rough time of it recently, and it would have shown, his voracious cocaine habit and relentless workload taking their toll on his face and his increasingly heavy frame. The hospital was under heavy security, with an entire wing shut down for the guest of honor's privacy. Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderAmado was by now the undisputed public face of the drug trade in Mexico, with mansions all over the country and countless men doing his bidding. Being the boss is great for a guy like Amado, but not if everyone knows it. In Juárez he and his henchmen had worked hard to keep his name out of the papers, intimidating and threatening journalists and even discouraging singers from composing narcocorridos, the norteño ballads penned in honor of prominent drug traffickers that form an important role in the folk history of organized crime in Mexico. But when you amass power and wealth like Amado had, you can only remain in the shadows for so long. Things had really taken a turn for Amado that February, when one of his most important guardian angels — General Jesús Héctor Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's drug czar  — was arrested and publicly accused of collaboration with Amado. Just a few months earlier, Guttierrez Rebollo had been feted in Washington, described by his American counterpart as "a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity." So it was with a deeply embarrassed vengeance that the attention of both governments now trained itself on Amado.Amado knew as well as anyone that a drug lord's days are numbered as soon as he becomes a liability to the government. By multiple accounts, Amado started looking for an exit almost immediately. He bought property in Chile, moved money abroad, and was even rumored to have approached contacts in the government to offer a massive bribe in exchange for his freedom to retire in anonymity.On July 3, he checked in under a fake name at the hospital in Polanco to undergo plastic surgery to alter his features. (Or, it was rumored later, for a bit of liposuction. It may have been both.)He was never seen alive again.The next day, July 4, about two miles away from the hospital in the similarly posh Lomas Altas neighborhood, Fourth of July festivities were underway at the fortress-like mansion that was home to the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Diplomats and dignitaries, bureaucrats and spooks were spread out across the lawn, mingling with their spouses. Among the revelers were a handful of agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who, as Amado might have suspected, had been racing to pin down Amado before he could vanish.Their day off came to a sudden end when one of the DEA agents got a call. According to his source, Amado had succumbed to an overdose on the operating table and the body was headed for burial in his home state of Sinaloa.The call kicked off a furious race by U.S. and Mexican officials alike desperate to confirm the drug lord's death. Rumors were swirling that it was all a lie, that Amado couldn't possibly be dead, and to quiet this talk Mexican officials would a few days later take the extraordinary step of laying out Amado's body — puffy by now; his skin a ghastly grey-green — for a viewing at a government building in Mexico City, inviting journalists to show his corpse to the world.Meanwhile, a young intelligence officer for the DEA named Larry Villalobos was racking his brains to think of a way to confirm that the body was Amado's.Then it hit him: the fingerprints. Villalobos had worked for a while as a fingerprint technician with the FBI before joining the DEA, and, prior to his posting in Mexico City, he had been stationed at the DEA field office in El Paso, where he'd helped build a dossier on Amado. As part of his research, he had learned of Amado's brief detention by Border Patrol agent David Ramirez back in 1985, and he knew Ramirez had taken Amado's mugshot and fingerprints. Villalobos made some calls, and it wasn't long before Ramirez found himself awoken by the ring of his telephone. Amado may not have been worth getting out of bed for when Ramirez called the ATF back in 1985, but he sure was now.."They called me about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, wanting to know if I still had his prints," Ramirez recalled rather matter-of-factly. "So I dug 'em up and I sent 'em to him."In Mexico City, Villalobos received a fax of the prints and headed to the morgue to compare them with those belonging to the corpse.They were a match.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 22nd, 2022

How Better Inventory Management Can Improve Your Finances

One of the best ways to improve your company’s finances is to practice better inventory management. Inventory management is a crucial part of your operational approach. How you choose to implement and maintain this strategy can have a lasting effect on your business’s efficiency and profitability. What does this relationship look like? What steps can […] One of the best ways to improve your company’s finances is to practice better inventory management. Inventory management is a crucial part of your operational approach. How you choose to implement and maintain this strategy can have a lasting effect on your business’s efficiency and profitability. What does this relationship look like? What steps can you take to improve your approach to inventory management? Why Inventory Management Matters Inventory management is important for your bottom line for several reasons. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Charlie Munger in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more 1. Accurate Forecasting Whether you’re taking counts in person or remotely, it’s important to generate accurate forecasting. Monitoring your inventory levels as you land more sales and interact with customers on a daily basis is crucial. It gives you the opportunity to track the ebb and flow of transactions in your organization. Similarly, it allows you to figure out exactly how many products you should be ordering. You must know how many products you’re going to need to satisfy consumer demand. There aren’t any tools that can offer perfectly accurate forecasting because the future isn’t inherently predictable. However, you can at least get close if you track inventory levels with meticulous precision. Once you have this process down, you’ll also be able to accurately project several things. These include revenue, profit, losses, and other important business metrics. From there, you’ll be able to make better business decisions. You’ll also make them in a timelier, more decisive way. 2. Improved Cash Flow Improvements to your inventory management should also result in improved cash flow. When you have a tight leash on your business inventory, you reduce losses. You’ll seldom run the risk of overspending on products you don’t need. The number of products that remain on your shelves, unsold, will be minimal. You’ll keep your inventory on active rotation as more consumers buy what you’re selling. Downstream, this means you’ll have more revenue coming in and fewer expenses. This allows you to have more free capital to allocate as you see fit. 3. Sufficient Supply Better inventory management should also improve the supply you provide to your customers. When someone shops with your business and wants to purchase one of your top products, they don’t have to worry about whether or not that product is available. With your accurate forecasts and consistent approach to purchasing, you’ll always have exactly the products you need most to serve your target demographics. This is important for a few reasons. Most notably, keeping products on the shelves means you’re going to land more sales immediately. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that an adequate supply will improve your reputation among customers. This incentivizes them to return to your business and leave good reviews for your brand. Over time, this can lead to a massive breakthrough in your reputation, allowing you to reach even more people. 4. Higher Efficiency Inventory is at the center of most of your business operations. You want higher efficiency. Purchasers will need to think carefully about the products they buy on a regular basis. Additionally, product managers and salespeople will need to keep tabs on inventory. Customer purchases will be entirely dependent on what you have in stock and when you’re going to have new stock next. Accordingly, the more efficient you are with inventory management, the more efficient your business is going to be overall. With smarter, higher-tech approaches to inventory management, you’ll be able to spend less money, save time, and better serve your customers simultaneously. 5. Loss Prevention Inventory management is also effective for improving loss prevention. If you’re keeping a close eye on the flow of products coming in and out of your organization, you’ll be able to detect when there’s a problem. These include theft, destruction, or some other external threat. Combined with a proactive management strategy, you should be able to save significant money in your business. 6. Data and Insights Finally, if you’re equipped with the right system, inventory management becomes much easier. In one location, you’ll be able to gather tons of data about how your business is operating. As a result, you’ll see how your customers are behaving and how you might change your approach. Used intelligently, the reports and analytics you generate with inventory management software can provide you with more data that you can use to make smart business decisions. The Elements of Effective Inventory Management Designing an effective inventory management system requires your attention to the following areas, at a minimum. 1. Tracking Improving your inventory turns starts with in-depth tracking. You need to have a system in place to keep constant tabs on the products in your warehouses and stores, where those products are going, where they’re coming from, and even their current condition. The more data you gather, and the more seamlessly you gather it, the better. 2. Purchasing Most inventory management systems also have built-in support for purchasing management. Using current data sets, you can plan your next purchase, connect with your suppliers, submit a purchase order, and even follow up to make sure your purchase orders were fulfilled successfully. 3. Shipping If you’re in the shipping world, you need to think about how you’re going to get your products into the hands of your customers. When an online user places an order with your business, how and when do you ship the product to them? How do you create tracking codes, and how do you provide those codes to your customers? 4. Order Management Speaking of orders, a good inventory management system will include elements of order management. Whether placed online or in person, new orders from customers should be effortlessly tracked and managed. 5. Transfer Management If you have multiple physical locations, such as multiple store locations or multiple warehouses, you need a system in place to facilitate faster, more efficient, and more trackable transfers. For example, if one of your warehouses is low on a specific good, how do you trigger a new transfer? How do you determine which warehouse to send inventory to? How do you track the shipment? 6. Measurement and Analysis Throughout all these activities, your inventory management system will be tracking data in the background. At the end of each tracking period, you can generate a report that tells you everything you need to know about your past activity. With these metrics, you can identify potential issues, evaluate the cost-effectiveness of your strategy, and make better decisions in the future. Improving Your Inventory Management System If you want more efficient inventory management, you’ll need to spend time upgrading your inventory management system. 1. Designate a point person. Choose one person on your team to be the designated authority on the inventory management front. They may choose to enlist the help of other people and delegate some of their responsibilities, but they serve as the individual in charge. Centralizing inventory management decision-making is a practical necessity if you want the process to go smoothly. 2. Document your approach. Too often, inventory management strategies fall apart simply because team members aren’t on the same page. If you want to prevent this and keep your team working consistently, you have to document your approach. 3. Choose the right tech system. It’s inadvisable to practice modern inventory management without the help of inventory management software. The right software platform will guide you in the creation of your strategy, automate most elements of inventory management, and make it easy to create and distribute new reports. 4. Invest in RFID and automated tools. RFID chips make it easier to track individual shipments and individual products, as do automated tools like scanning devices. The less manual effort you expend as a team, the better. 5. Train and educate employees. No matter how many high-tech tools you use in your approach to inventory management, you’re still going to have at least some human beings carrying out your strategy. Accordingly, you need to take the time to train and educate your employees on proper inventory management processes. Each team member should be thoroughly acquainted with the tools you use to track and manage inventory, the goals of the organization, and the troubleshooting processes necessary to resolve issues. 6. Employ consistent processes. Try to implement processes that can be easily and consistently replicated. If your day shift and night shift have radically different viewpoints on inventory management or if they track things differently, it’s going to result in a chaotic catastrophe. Therefore, enforce a single system that is predictable and replicable. 7. Track in real-time. Most modern inventory management systems have the capacity to track items in real-time. When you ship out a product, you can see exactly where it is and where it’s going. On the other hand, when you’re expecting a shipment, you can predict the specific time of its arrival. When you’re looking at inventory currently on store shelves, you can give customers accurate expectations. Real-time analytics give you more transparency into how your operation runs, and it can help you identify and resolve any issues that stand in the way of your success. 8. Negotiate new deals with suppliers. After practicing more effective inventory management, consider negotiating new deals with your suppliers. For example, is there a way they can get inventory in your hands faster? Can you create an arrangement where suppliers give you smaller, more frequent shipments? How can you save money without overbuying new stock? If you have good relationships with your suppliers, they’ll want to proactively work with you to find a mutually beneficial arrangement. 9. Get rid of obsolete inventory. Always take the time to get rid of your obsolete inventory. There’s no reason to keep items that are no longer relevant to your business or interesting to your customers. There are many ways to liquidate this inventory, such as offering it for a steep discount, reusing the inventory for some other purpose, or recycling or disposing of the inventory. 10. Learn from your reports. Understand the value of your inventory management reports. Many of the numbers and details from these reports may seem inconsequential. However, the truth is that they can tell you valuable information about how your business is running. 11. Keep changing. Agile, flexible inventory management systems tend to be much more effective than their stagnant, unchanging counterparts. As a result, you’ll have much more wiggle room for incorporating new technologies, experimenting with new strategies, and correcting issues that hold your team back from their productive potential. Technologies to Watch in Inventory Management Inventory management is set to grow even more sophisticated and powerful in the near future, thanks to the onset of new innovations and technological developments. If you want to get even more value from your own inventory management, it’s up to you to keep watching these technologies and incorporate them into your system when appropriate. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Machine learning and artificial intelligence are both designed to bring smarter processing and predictive functionality to the inventory management world. As a result, with pattern recognition, intelligent predictions, and more sophisticated automation potential, you can manage inventory more reliably and with far less manual effort required. The Blockchain Most people only know the blockchain for its applications in cryptocurrency. However, the blockchain system can be used for a wide range of business applications. For example, the “shared ledger” system of the blockchain makes it easier and more efficient to track transactions, which could be exactly the tool your system needs. The Internet of Things RFID chips, scanners, and other smart devices are in warehouses all over the country. But next-generation “internet of things” technology is going to be even more comprehensive, enabling new techniques and management approaches for businesses willing to upgrade. However, better inventory management doesn’t always come easy or cheap. However, if you’re willing to spend some time and effort upgrading your systems and processes, you can end up in a much better position. In the same vein, improved inventory management means higher efficiency, lower costs, and perhaps best of all, better customer relationships, so there’s no excuse not to invest in it. Article by Deanna Ritchie, Due About the Author Deanna Ritchie is a financial editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 1000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 40,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite. Updated on Jul 21, 2022, 3:29 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJul 22nd, 2022

The Hypocrisy Of Elites

The Hypocrisy Of Elites Authored by Erik Torenberg via Ideas & Musings, Recently we discussed why the masses adopt redistribution/egalitarianism — because it means more status and money for them. This week we’re going to discuss why the elites adopt redistribution/egalitarianism, since, after all, aren’t they the ones losing something by redistributing? Why then, do they unequivocally endorse giving away money and status? What’s in it for them?  Well. There’s one school of thought that says it’s a cynical ploy to prevent blowback from the masses. If the elites weren't advocating for egalitarianism, they’d be unpopular with the masses and would be at risk of rebellions. In that way, redistribution can be seen as a tax they pay to keep their power. An even more cynical take is that the elites’ virtue signaling allows them to be seen as morally good without having to sacrifice much in terms of business interests. Corporations embraced the social causes of the last few years, but they didn’t embrace Occupy Wall Street. It’s easy for JP Morgan to promote diversity since diversity should only make JP Morgan richer. Occupy Wall Street, though, was asking for significant taxes on JP Morgan. JP Morgan didn’t like that kind of social progress — not one bit.  There’s likely truth to the idea that promoting this certain kind of egalitarianism is a way for elites to have air cover against a populist uprising — but this doesn’t do justice to the fact that many elites are, in fact, true believers.  As we’ve discussed, ever since Christianity we’ve conceived moral good to be valorization of the victim. We’ve since shed the theological roots of Christianity, but kept the same superstructure that redistributes status to the less well-off. When you see ambitious philanthropic projects started and funded by our ruling class, you can’t help but think much of it has good intentions. (What’s the Road to Hell paved with again?) Another theory holds that promoting egalitarianism is just another way elites compete amongst each other. That it’s just another status game. We recently discussed Rob Henderson’s Luxury Beliefs, the idea being that if people buy expensive luxury goods to showcase how well-off they are, people also hold “expensive” beliefs for the same reason.  This idea is not new: Jared Diamond has suggested one reason people engage in displays such as drinking, smoking, drug use, and other costly behaviors is because they serve as fitness indicators. The message is: “I’m so healthy I can afford to poison my body and continue to function." Saying, “I’m willing to redistribute my money and status” is a costly but effective way of signaling, “I’m so secure in my status and money that I can afford giving it away, seeing as I have a surplus of both.” Consider the phrase “Defund the police” as an example — a call back to a previous post. This phrase was popularized by highly-educated elites who will almost certainly not move to areas that suffer from high crime and a defunded police force. Regardless, the phrase has been adopted by a broader set of people — including those in high-crime areas who don’t have the means to hire security or move somewhere safer. Why are high status people more likely to propagate luxury beliefs? Because they can afford it. And ironically, the highest status people are the most insecure about maintaining their status. Another irony is that redistribution is always an aristocratic thing. Aristocrats want it even more than the peasants. People assume that conditions are economic, but nearly all social movements are led by the rich. (Fidel Castro went to college and wore two Rolexes). This is what being an elite is about, after all. It’s not about money, although money plays a crucial role. It’s not even about education, though education plays a large role as well. It’s more about the set of behaviors and dispositions that indicate a person to be a member of the elite — which center around wanting to change the world. Recall we discussed the leveling and importance game: Wanting to change the world hits the sweet spot because it shows how important one is (you can afford worrying about the planet and not your rent), while also highlighting one’s empathy (wanting to take care of the less fortunate). Which is the whole point of being an elite. It’s what separates a person from simply being a bourgeois. Aristocrats want to *matter*. Bourgeoisie just want comfort and safety. Meanwhile proletariats just want to put food on the table. It’s worth noting, however, that the elites have evolved in one key respect: our elites are in denial that they’re elite. 100% of our present aristocratic oligarchs think aristocracy is evil and that they personally are fighting for the little people. Pareto called this the aristocracy of lions vs the aristocracy of foxes. Lions are proud, forceful aristocrats who explicitly own their position as leaders. Foxes, however, are humble servants who will forever deny that they’re in charge. While lions want to run the world, foxes want to save the world.  Ultimately, though, the egalitarianism of the elite is hollow. People want egalitarianism when they’re being selected, but they’re elitist when they’re doing the selecting. When people seek a job, partner, or doctor, they do not seek the average job, partner, or doctor — they seek the best. This is the ultimate luxury belief: wanting average for everyone else while wanting the best for ourselves. We see this everywhere: Elites advocate for public schools that disavow gifted programs for the poor while simultaneously sending their own kids to fancy private schools with gifted programs galore. Elites advocate for defunding the police while living in gated communities with private security. Elites throw a fit about getting homeless people off the streets, while moving to neighborhoods where they will never see any homeless people.  Not only do they advocate for egalitarianism for others while pursuing elitism for themselves, elites also recommend practices for others that they themselves don’t follow. This isn’t just hypocrisy; it’s pulling up the ladder. Rob Henderson quotes a study that showed that individuals with higher income and/or social status were the most likely to say that success comes as a result of luck and connections as opposed to hard work. Meanwhile, low-income individuals were much more likely to say success comes as a result of hard work and individual effort.  “This is where the hypocrisy comes in: affluent people often broadcast how they owe their success to luck. But then they tell their own children about the importance of hard work and individual effort.” Again, we see this everywhere: elites promote body positivity — the idea that being overweight is healthy — while being most obsessed with maintaining perfect health. Elites promote sexual independence and polyamory, yet themselves are most likely to be monogamous in stable long-term relationships. Elites complain about overpopulation and carbon footprint, but they’re the ones having the most kids and inflicting the largest carbon footprint. The Last Contrarian twitter account summarizes this well. Harvard is a great example of this hypocrisy. Harvard considers itself at the forefront of promoting social progress and egalitarianism. They invented schools of thought such as Critical Race Theory. And yet, Harvard is the ultimate engine of inequality — by design. Harvard has the best brand in the world, with a 40 billion endowment to boot. If it wanted to, Harvard could expand its class size by several orders of magnitude in order to give a more egalitarian education for all. But Harvard doesn’t want to do that. It just wants to talk about equality. After all, the school literally advertises its low acceptance rates. And yet, Harvard is willing to critique an entity like Amazon, which by comparison employs millions more people (compared to Harvard’s 1,000 people), and serves billions of people.  So we see a pattern: elite egalitarianism doesn’t practice what it preaches. It’s also actually counter-productive, since elites are insulated from the area they’re trying to help and thus have neither knowledge of the problem nor skin in the game. One example of this can be seen in public housing in the 1960s in places like Chicago and New York. Public housing at the time was designed by elites who didn’t have any skin in the game — they were never going to live there. Because of this, they destroyed the natural ecologies of low income housing and replaced them with housing projects that may have caused more harm than good. Yet again, we see this everywhere. Elites recommend dysfunctional behaviors and counterproductive policies for poor people while being precisely the ones most insulated from any and all consequences of such behaviors and policies. The tragedy of luxury beliefs is that, since they're free, and since the non-elites aspire to eliteness, the beliefs themselves trickle down to the masses who can’t “afford” them. It'd be as if the masses bought a ton of expensive luxury products they didn't need and became saddled with credit card debt. And since being high status means avoiding what the masses are doing, as soon as the masses adopt the luxury beliefs, the elites drop them. So elites accrue the short-term status benefit while the masses get hit with the long-term debt. And luxury beliefs are far more costly and dangerous than credit card debt — beliefs like polyamory is better. Marriage is sexist. Family is oppressive. Religion is bad. Fitness is fascist. Having kids is bad for the planet. Hard work isn’t needed to be successful. Success itself is an illness. Rationality, punctuality, and urgency are white supremacist values. And yet, what do elites do? Work hard, work out, get married to one partner, have kids, and teach them the opposite of what they recommend to the masses. This is the hypocrisy of the elites. Subscribe here... Tyler Durden Thu, 07/21/2022 - 23:15.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 22nd, 2022

Revive Enhances Its Brand, Changes Its Top-Level Domain Destination to revive.realestate

Revive, a presale home renovation solution for sellers and cash-backed offer programs for buyers, has announced the enhancement of its brand, becoming Revive Real Estate, and changes its top-level domain to revive.realestate. “By officially becoming Revive Real Estate, we boost the clarity of our brand and can amplify it with a hot top-level web domain… The post Revive Enhances Its Brand, Changes Its Top-Level Domain Destination to revive.realestate appeared first on RISMedia. Revive, a presale home renovation solution for sellers and cash-backed offer programs for buyers, has announced the enhancement of its brand, becoming Revive Real Estate, and changes its top-level domain to revive.realestate. “By officially becoming Revive Real Estate, we boost the clarity of our brand and can amplify it with a hot top-level web domain extension,” said Michael Alladawi, Revive Real Estate CEO and founder. “Very few Proptech firms, if any, can say that their domain is only their name. It gives our business instant recognition and elevates our marketing,” he added. Created by the National Association of REALTORS® and launched in 2018 alongside .realtor for members of NAR, the .realestate domain is free of restrictions from NAR affiliation. It allows firms like Revive Real Estate to creatively market its brand by leveraging “real estate” as a descriptive and universally understood term, they said. “Securing .realestate is a fantastic fit for Revive to better connect with brokers and their agents, as well as home sellers, buyers and others who are part of the presale renovation ecosystem,” said Colleen Doyle, vice president, RIN and Strategic Initiatives at NAR. “This top-level domain helps firms like Revive own their segment in our industry, setting them apart from their competition,” she added. Revive is one of nine Proptech firms in the 2022 NAR US REACH program, operated by Second Century Ventures, the strategic investment arm of the National Association of REALTORS® and the most active global real estate technology fund, according to a release. Revive offers presale renovation services for homeowners to help maximize their profits from their home sales. When homeowners renovate their homes before selling, they maximize their return on their most significant asset—their home. Revive research shows that sellers leave 15% to 20% of potential profits on the table if they sell their homes “as is.” Alladawi notes that presale renovation is a burgeoning new industry, offering a new tool that more agents and sellers need to know about. “Revive sellers average $186,000 more than the costs of the renovation, and substantially more in higher-cost markets,” Alladawi explained. “The more we spread the word—and our new enhanced brand will help—the more wealth we can help create for homeowners when they sell their homes,” he added. According to Revive research, a little more than 8% of all homes in the U.S. as of February 2022 were worth at least $1 million. If just one in 10 sellers of homes worth $1 million or more chose a presale renovation, sellers would net tens of billions of dollars in additional sale proceeds. “The potential of additional annual wealth creation is staggering,” said Revive Real Estate cofounder Dalip Jaggi, noting, “Every year, some 5 million to 6 million existing-home sales occur. If just 5% of these homes chose a presale renovation, sellers could increase by $56 billion.” The post Revive Enhances Its Brand, Changes Its Top-Level Domain Destination to revive.realestate appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaJul 21st, 2022

To Create an Enduring Brokerage, Invest in Agent Marketing, Training and Tech

The real estate landscape continues to become more competitive, whether you’re an agent facing challenging market conditions or a broker/owner looking for unique perks to attract new agents. According to a recent National Association of REALTORS® survey, agents reported continued intense buyer competition and fewer clients overall compared to last year. Only one thing is… The post To Create an Enduring Brokerage, Invest in Agent Marketing, Training and Tech appeared first on RISMedia. The real estate landscape continues to become more competitive, whether you’re an agent facing challenging market conditions or a broker/owner looking for unique perks to attract new agents. According to a recent National Association of REALTORS® survey, agents reported continued intense buyer competition and fewer clients overall compared to last year. Only one thing is certain: Standing out from the crowd isn’t easy, but it’s necessary for success. So, how can you differentiate your brokerage, and yourself, from the competition? When a brokerage competes for the very best agents by enhancing their value proposition and investing, they also compete for dedicated clients, and in turn, create an enduring, evergreen business model. Simply put, if you want to attract more clients, train, motivate and lead your agents. One way for brokerages to add value and retain quality agents comes via exceptional marketing and support. Agents often seek expert assistance to market their unique value to clients, so a strong brokerage marketing team, plus training and leadership, can make a huge impact. Although free marketing assets for social media, direct mail and even swag items can assist, a solid foundation of best practices and tools that capitalize on sphere of influence marketing is key. Tech-enabled sphere of influence (SOI) marketing made possible through a robust CRM is just the start. All marketing and tech offerings should be bolstered by an exceptional training department and first-rate curriculum. Teaching agents strategies for staying connected to clients through their SOI, and simply connecting the dots between marketing and tech to increase business, all create a comprehensive approach for REALTORS® to provide maximum value no matter the competition. By providing training across a broad spectrum of marketing activities and tech, brokerages help agents use their extensive networks to prosper, build their brand and compete. When agents combine the power of these tools, clients looking for resourceful, skilled agents benefit, too. SOI marketing strategies connect agents to interested clients through any and all market conditions, making both the agent and brokerage a unique asset to consumers. Further, these benefits attract exceptional agents in the first place, creating a more competitive brokerage model that can withstand the inevitable fluctuations in any real estate market. While a brokerage or agent can’t control the market itself, we can control our approach to the marketplace. A strong value proposition from agent and brokerage alike—using marketing, training and tech together—creates a business strategy that beats the competition time and time again. For more information, visit www.vyllahome.com. Chad Ruggles, head of Vylla Home and senior vice president, is a passionate leader with 25-plus years of management experience. He currently leads Vylla Home, a unique brokerage with more than 1,175 real estate agents across 37 states. The post To Create an Enduring Brokerage, Invest in Agent Marketing, Training and Tech appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaJul 21st, 2022

Stellantis Ends Its Manufacturing Joint Venture In China

Stellantis Ends Its Manufacturing Joint Venture In China Stop us if you've heard this one before, but another U.S. manufacturer is calling it quits on a joint venture in China.  Stellantis, the auto maker responsible for mainstays such as Dodge Ram pickup trucks, said that a "lack of progress" has caused it to abandon its joint venture with China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd. The company is instead going to focus on importing vehicles to the country instead of manufacturing them there, the Wall Street Journal noted this week. Stellantis also has a joint venture in China with Dongfeng, to manufacture Peugeot and Citroën brands. Dongfeng Motor Group Co. Ltd. said recently it planned on selling its 3.16% stake in Stellantis, the Journal reported.  The company commented: “Stellantis intends to cooperate with GAC Group in an orderly termination of the joint venture formed in March 2010, which has been loss-making in recent years.” JV's in China haven't been easy for foreign manufacturers while local brands have flourished, the report says. Chinese domestic-brand vehicles saw sales up 18% during the first half of 2022, despite the country's Covid lockdowns. Foreign JVs saw sales fall 6% over the same time.  At the beginning of this year, Stellantis had previously planned  to increase its stake in its partnership with GAC to 75% from 50%, the report says. GAC snubbed Stellantis the day they announced their intention, putting out a statement that said it “deeply regrets that this release is not agreed by us.” Chief Executive Officer of Stellantis Carlos Tavares has cited geopolitical risk as a reason "not to over-invest in China, particularly in owning factories," the Journal wrote.  Tyler Durden Tue, 07/19/2022 - 19:05.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJul 19th, 2022

Amazon"s first smart TV supports voice control without a remote, but image quality falls short of the competition

The Omni Fire TV is one of the first TVs developed by Amazon. It boasts extensive Alexa support but underwhelming picture quality. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Amazon The Omni Fire TV is one of the first Amazon-branded smart TVs to hit the market. It features Alexa built-in for easy voice control and even lets you connect a webcam for video calls. The TV's picture quality is mediocre, however, and can't match competing models from TCL and Hisense. Amazon's Omni Fire TV is one of the very first TVs developed by Amazon itself. With a built-in microphone and access to tons of apps, the Omni is basically a 4K display, Echo Dot, and Fire TV streaming stick all rolled into one device. But, while the set's hands-free voice control is convenient, the Omni's picture quality can't match similarly priced TVs from Vizio, TCL, and Hisense. With a list price of $830, the 65-inch Omni is simply too expensive for what you get.  That said, the Omni is rarely ever sold at full price. Amazon frequently discounts the TV to as low as $500. At that price, it delivers better value, but it's still hard to recommend unless you're someone who really prioritizes the convenience of Alexa over image performance. Amazon Omni Fire TV specificationsAmazon 65-inch Omni Fire TVSpecificationsResolution:4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160p)HDR formats:HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLGPanel type:LCDBacklight:Direct-lit LED (no local dimming)Refresh rate:60HzHDMI ports:Three HDMI 2.0, one HDMI 2.1 eARCSmart TV system:Fire TV OSRemote:Alexa voice remoteExtra features:Built-in microphone with hands-free Alexa, video call support with webcam (sold separately)Dimensions:57.1" x 33.3" x 2.9" (without stand)Weight:42.5 lb (without stand)Amazon sells two different smart TV models: the Omni Series and the 4-Series. The 4-Series is positioned as the entry-level model, while the Omni is meant to be the brand's flagship (or highest-end) offering. Both series offer 4K panels with high dynamic range (HDR) support and voice remotes, but the Omni steps things up with hands-free Alexa capabilities, webcam support, and Dolby Vision playback. Omni TVs are available in 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch screen sizes, but Dolby Vision is only supported on the 65- and 75-inch versions. We received the 65-inch model for review.InterfaceSteven Cohen/InsiderThe Omni is powered by Amazon's Fire TV OS (operating system), so using the display is a lot like using a Fire TV Stick. The home screen lets you see rows of recommendations, along with recently used apps and recently watched content. Amazon supports every major streaming service, so there aren't any notable apps missing. The interface gets the job done and works well, but we find the simpler, app-focused design used on Roku TVs to be easier to navigate.Navigation speed is solid but can be inconsistent. Moving around the home screen is generally snappy, but some occasional lag crops up when sifting through menus in individual apps.Boot times for most apps are similar to what you'll get on other streaming devices, but certain services, like HBO Max, can take up to 20 seconds to load. That's double the time it takes on Amazon's own Fire TV Stick 4K Max.There's also an occasional delay if you try to pull up the Omni's settings menu while the TV is playing a video. It can sometimes take a full five seconds for the menu to pop up after you click the button. Despite the lag here and there, overall speed is similar to other models in this range. But, since the Omni is positioned as Amazon's best smart TV offering, we were hoping for an experience more on par with the company's Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Alexa featuresSteven Cohen/InsiderOne of the Omni's biggest selling points is its support for hands-free voice control with full Alexa capabilities. There's also a handy switch on the front of the display to deactivate the microphone for privacy protection.You can ask Alexa to turn the TV on, switch inputs, adjust volume, open apps, pause videos, scroll through menus, and search for content without ever touching the remote. Alexa can also answer questions, check weather, set timers, and handle other tasks while the display is off, just like any other Echo device would.   Response time is good, but it's a little more delayed than an Echo Dot. Voice recognition is also solid, but we've run into a few issues with Alexa misunderstanding certain search queries. For instance, the TV tends to hear "Hulu" instead of "Vudu" whenever we try to launch the latter app. Alexa isn't a complete substitute for a remote, but you can get by watching a lot of content on the Omni without ever lifting a finger.Webcam supportSteven Cohen/InsiderVideo calls are now a big part of many people's work and home lives, so Amazon included webcam support for the Omni. You just need to plug a compatible webcam (sold separately) into the TV's USB port, and you're good to go. The Omni supports video calling using Alexa Communications and the Zoom app. Amazon provided a Logitech C920x with the TV so we could test this feature, and it works really well. Using the Zoom app, we were able to join a meeting with family. The app runs smoothly with no issues. Compared to typical video calls on a laptop or phone, being able to casually sit on the couch and see everybody on the big screen makes the chat feel a bit more like actually being in the room with everyone. Though we wouldn't call this a must-have feature, it's a handy option to have and it's not one that many other smart TVs support. Picture performanceSteven Cohen/InsiderThe Omni's image quality can best be described as entry-level. The TV lacks many of the handy contrast and color features you'll find on mid-range sets from competitors like TCL, Hisense, and Vizio. As a result, it just can't compete with those similarly priced displays.Most notably, the Omni is missing local dimming support. Local dimming allows LCD TVs to brighten and darken in specific zones across the screen to create deeper black levels and brighter highlights. The Omni just has a standard backlight, so black levels veer toward a gray appearance when watching movies in a dark room. Brightness is also limited with a max of around 300 nits when using the TV's "Movie" picture mode, which is the display's most accurate setting. That's fine for casual viewing but it isn't enough to really show off the benefits of high dynamic range (HDR) content. Wide color gamut support is also missing, so HDR movies and shows aren't displayed with their full range of colors. For comparison's sake, the 65-inch Hisense U6G, which often sells for $550, has local dimming with up to 600 nits of brightness, as well as quantum dots with wide color support. If you're buying a TV with HDR performance in mind, you're better off going with a set like the U6G.That said, for people who don't care about home theater-level image quality, the Omni looks decent enough. 4K movies appear sharp, color looks punchy despite some accuracy issues, and the TV actually has solid contrast considering its lack of dimming. Just keep in mind, you can find much better looking TVs for a little more money.     The bottom lineSteven Cohen/InsiderAmazon's first attempt at its own smart TV is a decent effort, but it's not quite on par with the competition. At a list price of $830, the 65-inch Omni is way too expensive. When on sale for $500, the TV offers better value — but only if features like hands-free Alexa and webcam support are big selling points to you.Buyers who want a budget-friendly home theater display with much better HDR performance should pay a bit more for the TCL 5 Series or Hisense U6G. Those TVs have better picture quality features, like quantum dots and local dimming, for a typical street price of $550-$600.  If you really want Amazon's interface, you could also just pair a Fire TV Stick 4K Max with one of the above displays. You'll lose the all-in-one Alexa integration and web cam support of the Omni, but overall performance will be better.Pros: Built-in Alexa support with hands-free voice control, video call feature when paired with a webcam, Fire TV OS with access to many appsCons: No local dimming, can't get bright enough to show off HDR content, doesn't support wide color gamutRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 19th, 2022

24 gifts to give someone just because

If you're looking to send a sweet gift "just because," these picks are perfect for showing love to your family and friends, no occasion necessary. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.These gifts are perfect for showing love to your family and friends, no occasion necessary.Studs/The SillLife is filled with many occasions encouraging gift-giving, from birthdays and anniversaries to a laundry list of holidays and celebrations. But giving a great gift doesn't need to wait for a special date — sometimes "just because" is reason enough to show someone you care. Below, we rounded up some sweet gifts that are occasion-less. They're thoughtful, fit a range of different budgets and styles, and can be gifted at any time. Keep reading for 25 of our favorite "just because" gifts that are sure to put a smile on someone's face. The 24 best "just because" gifts in 2022:A tin of Milk Bar CookiesMilk BarAssorted Cookie Tin, available at Milk Bar Store, $27Anyone with a sweet tooth will love a box of Milk Bar's iconic cookies. The brand makes some of the most delectable cookie creations around and ships in insulated packaging so your gift will arrive in perfect condition any time of year.A beautiful floral bouquetUrbanStems"Just Because" Floral Bouquets and Gifts, available at UrbanStems, from $30UrbanStems is one of our favorite online flower delivery services. The selection is beautiful, the flowers are fresh, and the shipping process is easy. Plus, UrbanStems curated a whole collection of "just because" flowers and plants that make great gifts for any reason or occasion.A bouquet made for carnivoresAmazonOlympia Provisions Salami Bouquet, available at Amazon, $95Take your "just because" bouquet to the next level with this delicious assortment of meats. With six types of fresh salami made in Oregon, this savory bouquet makes a great gift. A box of trinkets and treatsGreetablGreetabl Custom Gift Box, available at Greetabl, from $15Greetabl is the perfect place to create a small but thoughtful gift for any occasion or just because. The site lets you pick out a few small gifts like candles, soaps, and candies, wrapping everything up in a paper box that also functions as a card with a personalized message.An instant cameraAmazonFujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera, available at Amazon, $69.99Help them document the beauty of everyday life with an instant camera. The mini pictures develop within minutes and are great for sharing memories just because.A luxurious lip maskSephoraLaneige Lip Sleeping Mask, available at Sephora, $24For the friend who never wants to splurge on themself, treat them to this little bit of everyday luxury. This lip mask is a really great product with serious moisturizing abilities. A milk frotherAmazonAerolatte Milk Frother, available at Amazon, $23.25This milk frother is proof that you can get barista-level coffee in the comfort of your own home. This little gadget will help them turn any milk into the perfect layer of frothy foam to top their beverages and make every day special.  Champagne-infused gummy bearsSugarfinaSugarfina Champagne Bears, set of 4, available at Nordstrom, $36Skip the bottle of bubbly and cheers with these more casual, champagne-flavored gummy bears.A lighthearted to-do listAmazonKnock Knock Action Items! To-Do Pad, available at Amazon, $9.59Knock Knock makes paper goods with a funny touch. Gifting them these to-do list notepads are a thoughtful gesture that will make jotting down their daily tasks feel a little more fun. A fun game for every night of the weekUrban OutfittersWhat Do You Meme, available at Urban Outfitters, $30Give the gift of endless laughter with this silly card game. It's perfect for pulling out at dinner parties and game nights when everyone needs a little laughter.A smart travel pillowAmazonTrtl Pillow, available at Amazon, $44.99Any frequent flyer needs this travel pillow. The Trtl Pillow has a unique design that supports their head and neck so they can feel comfortable and get some shut-eye while traveling. Plus, it's machine washable for easy cleaning.A reusable grocery bagBagguStandard Baggu, available at Baggu, $14If they always find themselves without a reusable bag and crowd their apartment with plastic bags post-grocery shop, help them out with a Baggu. They're durable, hold up to 50 pounds worth of groceries, and come in many fun colors and patterns. A gift card to a great readBookshop/InstagramGift card, available at Bookshop, from $10Giving a bookstore gift card can be a really thoughtful gift that gives back. Bookshop.org is a great place to buy books online as it supports local, independent bookstores across the country. If you'd rather get them a physical book and need some inspiration, check out our best book recommendations for 2022 here. An otherworldly candleOtherlandOtherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36Candles make great gifts for pretty much every occasion. While there are plenty of great candle brands from which to choose, Otherland's options boast beautiful packaging and delightfully unique scents like Verdant Verve which has notes of oak moss, neroli blossom, and fresh thyme, or Nectar Pop which smells like coconut cream, chili salt, and golden mango.A pair of funky socksHappy SocksBanana Socks, available at Happy Socks, $14These banana socks are a simple and silly "just because" gift. But if this design isn't the perfect pair, Happy Socks has countless other funky prints that anyone would love.A deliciously spicy chili crispWalmartLao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp, available at Walmart, $9.99If there's nothing they love more than experimenting with new flavors in the kitchen, Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp will be an amazing addition to their spice cabinet. The bold and spicy topping brightens up everything from avocado toast to noodle dishes. For more chili crisp options, check out our guide to the best ones here.A heart-shaped succulentThe SillHoya Heart, available at The Sill, from $34Nothing says "thinking of you" like this cute little heart-shaped plant. It's the same sentiment as a bouquet of flowers but is much more low-key and space-saving.A funny coffee table bookUncommon Goods"F in Exams," available at Uncommon Goods, $8.50This book filled with hilariously wrong test answers is a sure way to gift someone (especially a teacher) a "just because" laugh. A cute pair of earringsStudsDangle Earrings, available at Studs, from $10Studs has an amazing selection of funky earrings with unique designs like lava lamps, cowboy boots, mushrooms, and so many more. These make the perfect "saw these and they reminded me of you" kind of gift. A tea towel of their favorite cityWest ElmClaudia Pearson City Tea Towels, available at West Elm, $20These beautiful tea towels boast a fun illustration inspired by one of America's cities. Whether they're missing the city they call home, adjusting to a new one, or just reminiscing on a great place they once traveled to, these make for a perfect addition to their kitchen.A fancy hand sanitizerTouchlandPower Mist, available at Touchland, $9Touchland's hand sanitizers are a major upgrade from the sticky, drying options they're probably used to. The Power Mist is fast-evaporating, moisturizing, effective, and comes in lots of fun, fresh scents as well as seriously sleek packaging.A deck of cards for music loversUncommon GoodsMusic Playing Cards, available at Uncommon Goods, $10Any music lover will appreciate this deck of cards. Each suit is represented by a genre of music and each card boasts a portrait of one of music's biggest names. An adorable ceramic planterEtsyCeramic Head Planter, available at Etsy, from $31.45These adorable ceramic planters make a great home for their favorite plants and are sure to spark joy.  A framed photo of you togetherFramebridgeThe Piccolo, available at Framebridge, $45Show someone you've been thinking about them with a framed picture. Framebridge will print and frame your favorite picture in a beautiful solid-wood frame that can stand on its own or be mounted on the wall. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 19th, 2022

12 home deals from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale — from candles that double as decor to luxe bath towels

Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale is a great time to refresh your home and kitchen — save on Barefoot Dreams blankets, Simplehuman products, and more. NordstromWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a great time to buy high-end products for all-time low prices. Known for clothing and apparel deals, the Anniversary Sale also features a selection of home and kitchen goods. Here are the best home deals and kitchen discounts to shop now, from brands like Simplehuman and Great Jones. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a major shopping event with deals on everything from men's fashion to back-to-school essentials. This year, the event comes right on the heels of Prime Day — if you missed a deal then, you may get a second chance at Nordstrom. While the sale is especially noteworthy for clothes and shoes, there are also tons of deals on home products. We rounded up the best home deals to shop during the event. For discounts across every category, check out this page where we collected the best deals from Nordstrom's sale.Fellow Stagg EKG Electric KettleSteph Coelho/InsiderMade for the modern kitchen, the Fellow Stagg Kettle is our pick for the best electric kettle on the market. Its sleek design suits any kitchen decor, and the temperature controls help craft perfect tea or coffee brews. Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Throw BlanketNordstromLevel up your lounging with a Barefoot Dreams throw blanket. The 100% polyester throw is machine washable and comes in 12 colors, all of which are 33% off during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Moccamaster KBGV Select Coffee BrewerAmazonFor serious coffee drinkers, the Moccamaster KBGV is one of the most sophisticated models you can get. The machine uses a copper boiling heating element and glass hardware to brew smooth full or half carafes of coffee. Peri Home Panama Stripe Shower CurtainNordstromGive your bathroom a subtle seaside nod with a Panama Stripe Shower Curtain. The machine-washable cotton comes in navy or gray and features tasseled accents near the top, making your shower curtain attractive and functional. Click and Grow Smart Garden 9NordstromIndoor countertop vegetable and herb gardens make fresh herbs and produce accessible no matter how little space you have. The Click and Grow 9 has a water reservoir that holds a month's worth of water and a LED arm light. The garden comes with seed pods to get you started: three basil starter pods, three mini tomato pods, and three green lettuce pods.Simplehuman 8-inch Sensor MirrorNordstromThis is not your typical five-times magnification mirror – the tru-light system simulates sunlight and candlelight with adjustable brightness settings. Now you can confidently tailor your look, whether it's an outdoor event or low-lit restaurant. Great Jones The DutchessNordstromKnown for its durable and brightly colored cookware, Great Jones is one of the most popular cookware startups. The 6.75-quart Dutchess is the brand's Dutch oven, made of enameled cast iron for great heat retention and easy clean-up. The only color currently on sale is marinara red. Voluspa Japonica Mini Pedestal Candle SetNordstromLuxury candles are perfect gifts whether for yourself or others. Voluspa sets are as beautiful to look at as they are to smell. This set includes six scents: apple blue clover, goji tarocco orange, french cade lavender, santal vanille, forbidden fig, and spiced pumpkin latte.UGG Coastline Plush Throw BlanketNordstromCold nights just got a lot cozier with the Coastline Plush Blanket from Ugg. It combines flannel and plush fabric for maximum warmth, creating a 50-by-70-inch blanket of warmth and comfort. All seven colors are currently on sale. OHOM Ui Mug and Warmer SetOHOMIf cold tea or coffee is the bane of your existence, a smart mug like the Ui Mug from OHOM may be the solution. The base uses magnetic induction energy to keep liquid in the paired mug at 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Nest New York Wild Mint and Eucalyptus Candle DuoNordstromNest is one of our favorite candle brands — we love the beautiful packaging and simple glass holders. This set includes wild mint and eucalyptus candles made of sage green wax to refresh your space.Nordstrom Hydrocotton Bath TowelNordstromThere's nothing better than stepping out of the shower into a plush towel. The Hydrocotton Towels from Nordstrom are ultra-soft without sacrificing absorbency. All 11 colors are made of 100% cotton.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 18th, 2022