But this San Francisco company is just one of many start-ups across the country that are finding new ways of developing the future of retail. Cash is dead, haven’t you heard? In recent years, Americans have used less and less physical money when purchasing items. Several don’t use it in stores, and many more don’t keep bills and coins in their pockets. The “cling” of stray pennies hitting the counter at your local coffee shop may soon become a distant memory. According to a survey by Walker Sands, a Chicago-based public relations firm, nearly 1-in-5 consumers do not carry any cash on them. In total, more than 60 percent of consumers carry $20 or less in cash. Surprisingly, about 1-in-20 people say they don’t use cash and refuse to go to places that accept only physical currency. (The survey was conducted over the last year among 1,046 consumers across the United States.) And other surveys show a similar trend: According to a 2012 study by Javelin Strategy and Research, 27 percent of purchases in 2011 were made with cash. By 2017, the group expects that number to drop to 23 percent.
So, yes, we’re headed toward a cashless society. But what about plastic credit cards, as well? The end of the George Costanza wallet is near. People use cash less. Receipts are redundant with online banking. And products like Coin allow people to pay digitally, instead of with a physical credit card. Could the George Costanza wallet be a thing of the past? Christine Pietryla, the senior vice president of public relations for Walker Sands, said she was immediately drawn to Coin. It’s a product that fits into her firm’s research: People want their consumer experience to be simpler, easier, and more efficient. ”It’s definitely a challenge to find an application or a solution that puts everything all in one place,” she said. “This is unique in that it does do that.” Consumers are starting to prefer digital options in payments: According to the same research from Walker Sands, 28 percent of consumers are more likely to use a digital gift card, rather than a plastic gift card. It only makes sense that services like PayPal, a business that allows people to make payments and money transfers through the Internet, have taken off.
Similarly, Google Wallet, launched in 2011, allows users to store information for their debit cards, credit cards, reward cards, or gift cards on their mobile phone. For participating stores, someone can just tap their phone to a PayPass terminal to pay for a product. Google Wallet users can all send money through Gmail attachments. Additionally, Google announced last week that it was introducing prepaid debt cards that can be used in ATMs. And in the same survey, 95 percent of people say they’ve purchased something from Amazon in the last year. PayPal, in fact, last week just made a deal with another digital start-up, Uber—a car service company that uses a mobile application to hail rides. Other start-ups, like Isis (which allows consumers to pay for items in person through their smartphones) or Dynamics (which created a similar multi-account card like Coin), also have products that offer a different way of paying for goods. It’s not just how you pay, but how businesses get paid. The future of retail goes well beyond Coin or PayPal. It’s also about how stores are processing your payments.
Any person who works in Washington, New York, or Los Angeles can attest to the growing number of gourmet food trucks that have popped up on street corners around lunchtime. It’s noon, so why not go to Farragut Square and eat at Far East Taco? And for payment, many of these food trucks use the Square Reader—an easy attachment that allows anyone with an iPhone or iPad to process a credit card payment. Even some big-box stores have checkouts with iPads. And it’s not just the Square. What about paying for items without actually going to a checkout line? According to the same Walker Sands study, 59 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to shop at stores that offer self-checkout on mobile devices. Store owners are also turning to digital companies to get around traditional credit card companies that charge too much to process payments. Des Moines, Iowa-based Dwolla is a payment network that allows people to transfer money—either to friends or businesses—more efficiently through a mobile application and its website. And it saves merchants money by charging only 25 cents for transactions over $10—and charging nothing if it’s less. Thousands of companies and consumers have already signed up for the service, which started in 2009. Dwolla has even launched a credit feature, which could compete with credit cards. This is all well and good, but…
Many of these start-ups are just that: start-ups—small outfits of techies who had a vision of a product that challenges the industry to think differently and move in radical directions. For one, it costs a lot of money to change the game. That’s why companies like these rely on crowd-funding. Coin is looking to raise $50,000 beyond what some of its investors have put in. It can also cost a lot of money to buy these new products. Coin is $100—not steep, but not cheap. Other modern payment services, like PayPal or Google Wallet, are free. Additionally, with any new product, there are risks for security breaches. Coin notifies consumers when they might have left it at a restaurant, but their information is still just as much at risk as with a plastic credit card. And no product is guaranteed to catch on. Most consumers are looking for three major qualities in any product: increased security, a tremendous amount of customer service, and a consistent visual experience. In other words, consumers want to know that when they walk into a store or log in to the product’s website or mobile application, it’s all going to look the same, be easy to use, and be visually appealing. If these start-ups lack these qualities, consumers won’t buy into the idea. With Coin, consumers will have to replace their card every two years—shorter than with a normal credit card. And lest we forget a simple truth: Credit cards are already easy to use. Coin is new. It’s unfamiliar. It’s dangerous, to some. But every idea from a start-up company is at least a little risky. ”Start-ups are there to disrupt and be innovative,” Pietryla said. “It’s either going to take off or it’s not.” Two years ago, people might have thought paying with an iPad was crazy. As the technology catches up, consumers get more confident in it. Coin might be just that.Nextgov
UK-based Dr. Chris Solomon is an advocate for the technology too. A professor at the University of Kent, Solomon has created an “electronic sketch artist” system that has changed how UK police identify criminals. His method is currently used by 90% of British police and in more than 30 countries. He explains: “The key advantage here is that it allows people to respond to faces they see rather than having to break it down into component parts.” Credited with helping to solve hundreds of crimes, his facial composite software identifies suspected criminals in a new way. The system, EFIT-V, allows victims and witnesses to select the best and worst matches from a group of computer-generated faces. Based on their responses, the computer eventually “learns” what type of face they are after and displays options accordingly. Credited with helping to solve hundreds of crimes, his facial composite software identifies suspected criminals in a new way. The system, EFIT-V, allows victims and witnesses to select the best and worst matches from a group of computer-generated faces. Based on their responses, the computer eventually “learns” what type of face they are after and displays options accordingly. More
The toxin is present in ‘every kernel’ of Bt-corn and survives human digestion, with a 2012 study confirming that it punctures holes in human cells as well. The GMO-related damage was linked to five different areas: Intestinal permeability, imbalanced gut bacteria, immune activation and allergic response, impaired digestion, and damage to the intestinal wall. The IRT release also indicated that glyphosate, a weed killer sold under the brand name ‘Roundup’ was also found to have a negative effect on intestinal bacteria. GMO crops contain high levels of the toxin at harvest. “Even with minimal exposure, glyphosate can significantly reduce the population of beneficial gut bacteria and promote the overgrowth of harmful strains,” the report found. Dr. Tom O’Bryan, internationally recognized expert on gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease, says that “the introduction of GMOs is highly suspect as a candidate to explain the rapid rise in gluten-related disorders over the last 17 years.” Internist, Emily Linder, offered some backup for the report’s findings. She removed GMO from her patients’ diets, finding that recovery from intestinal diseases was faster and more complete. “I believe that GMOs in our diet contribute to the rise in gluten-sensitivity in the US population,” Linder said in the release. RT
However, a careful reading of the agreement, posted on the EU’s website, finds numerous open-ended statements about sanctions relief. If Iran keeps its side of the bargain, the deal allows an increase in European Union “authorisation thresholds for transactions for non-sanctioned trade to an agreed amount.” No amount for the thresholds are provided in the text of the deal. The agreement states the U.S. and EU will “enable the repatriation of an agreed amount of revenue held abroad.” No specific amount is delineated in the deal. The agreement states the U.S. and EU will “enable the repatriation of an agreed amount of revenue held abroad.” No specific amount is delineated in the deal.
In one clause that could potentially free untold billions, the deal establishes a “financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using Iranian oil revenues held abroad.” No cap is provided for the amount of revenue that could be made available. An open-ended footnote states the “humanitarian” trade financial channel “would involve specified foreign banks and non-designated Iranian banks to be defined when establishing the channel.” More sanctions relief spelled out in the text of the deal includes a Western agreement to:
Pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, enabling Iran’s current customers to purchase their current average amounts of crude oil. For such oil sales, it suspends the EU and U.S. sanctions on associated insurance and transportation services.
Suspend U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports, as well as sanctions on associated services, gold and precious metals.
Suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s auto industry, as well as sanctions on associated services.
License the supply and installation in Iran of spare parts for safety of flight for Iranian civil aviation and associated services.
License safety related inspections and repairs in Iran as well as associated services.
Not impose new nuclear-related U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Not impose new EU nuclear-related sanctions.
In the case of the U.S. administration, acting consistently with the respective roles of the president and the Congress, refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions. WND
In the 2012 highest-grossing documentary, “2016: Obama’s America,” political commentator Dinesh D’Souza made some startling predictions about the second term of Barack Obama – and now he has released a fresh, eight-minute addition to the film revealing how the president plans to “take America down a notch.” D’Souza explains, “One of the predictions is that Obama would spend money promiscuously to raise the debt in virtual indifference to the impact of the debt on American citizens. In fact, Obama has been racking up the debt at the rate of $1 trillion a year. The debt has doubled in Obama’s term in office.” Obama’s plot to “drag the economy down” and redistribute American wealth to the rest of the world – and financially cripple the nation – he explains, “is a transfer of hundreds of billions, in fact trillions of dollars, out of the United States and into other countries.” Watch the new addition to the film: In his addition to the film, D’Souza also explains exactly why and how “Obama wants to shrink the influence of American foreign policy” by “undermining our allies and … allowing our adversaries to remain in power.” In an email announcing the film update, D’Souza wrote, “[T]here are those within our country that seek to undermine [America’s] exceptionalism and ‘take us down a notch.’ What’s worse is that one of those people happens to be the president of the United States. “When I directed ’2016: Obama’s America’ over a year ago, I prayed that I would be wrong. The damage that I predicted Obama would do to our country could never be worth an ‘I told you so.’ “Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong. Wielding a weaponized national debt and a disdain for our standing in the world, President Obama draws us nearer and nearer to the dystopia that I warned against in 2016.” WND
That is Brian Yang’s plan. Speaking from his home in China, Yang said he purchased a home in Irvine this year, but he will wait five years, until his daughter turns 10, before moving his family to the U.S. He has several reasons for taking the leap. ”Education in America is very good and world class, so the first one is for education, and I think the second one is for the property appreciation,” explained Yang. While American secondary schools and universities are a big draw for the majority of Chinese buyers in California, Yang, and many of his colleagues, are also concerned about China’s political instability, inflation, even pollution. They are paying all-cash for real estate in California, using it as a safe-haven for their wealth. Yang was reluctant to talk about the money, but he admitted, “I feel the same way to some extent.” For now, Yang is renting out the four-bedroom home, and, he said, getting a 5 percent return on the investment.
While Yang purchased an older home, the new model homes at Great Park are drawing thousands of potential buyers. In fact, more than 20,000 attended the opening weekend, according to developers. The vast majority of lookers were Asian, and that fact is not lost on the builders. Hoping to cash in on this new wave of investors, they are tailoring the homes to the demand. Some are incorporating multigenerational floor plans and even Feng Shui designs. ”The imbalance of supply and demand here is really driving a lot of competition for these homes,” said Haddad. The homes range from the mid-$700,000s to well over $1 million. Cash is king, and there is a seemingly limitless amount. ”The price doesn’t matter, 800,000, 1 million, 1.5. If they like it they will purchase it,” said Helen Zhang of Tarbell Realtors. Zhang was coming out of one of the models with a Chinese couple pushing a toddler in a stroller and carrying an infant. As our CNBC camera crew interviewed Zhang, another group of potential buyers roaming the neighborhood models raised their brochures to hide their faces when they saw the camera. While no one would say specifically why certain families were shying away from the media, some alluded to the fact that many of the buyers don’t want any questions about where the cash is coming from. Some are buying multiple homes as investments, while others are moving their families to the U.S., intending to stay at least until their children graduate from college. CNBC
Those were the four things that Warren said China was now requiring of all aircraft entering the zone, which includes the Senkaku islands over which Beijing has a dispute with Japan. “That was not a requirement last week. American forces could just fly through there without having to do any of those things. We will continue not doing those things,” said the spokesman. The United States said the area was international air space and was prepared to defend its aircraft against a Chinese attack on American military aircraft. U.S. military aircraft that fly in the region are usually part of training exercises and are usually unarmed. Pentagon officials said U.S. forces always maintained an ability to defend themselves, but did not specify what assets the United States was ready to use in the event of any Chinese aggression. Voice of America
“Enrichment, which is one part of our nuclear right, will continue, it is continuing today and it will continue tomorrow and our enrichment will never stop and this is our red line,” he said. He boasted that his administration was able to neutralize a rift of unilateral and multilateral sanctions against Iran and that the deal created cracks in the sanctions regime. As a part of the deal signed on Sunday, Iran has agreed to take measures to curb some of its nuclear activity in return for some sanctions relief and the promise no new sanctions will be imposed on Tehran in the next six months. Jerusalem Post
Afkham and officials said that the White House has “modified” key details of the deal and released their own version of the agreement. Iran’s right to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, is fully recognized under the draft released by Tehran. “This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein,” the agreement reads, according to a copy released to Iranian state-run media. “This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the programme,” the Iranian draft reads. “This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” Iran’s objection to the deal raises new concerns about final stage talks meant to ensure that the deal is implemented in the next few weeks.
The White House confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon on Monday that the final details of the plan have yet to be worked out, meaning that Iran is not yet beholden to a six month freeze its nuclear activities. “Technical details to implement the Joint Plan of Action must be finalized before the terms of the Plan begin,” a senior administration official told the Free Beacon. “The P5+1 and Iran are working on what the timeframe is.” The White House could not provide additional details on the timeframe when approached by the Free Beacon on Tuesday. As the details are finalized, Iran will have the ability to continue its most controversial enrichment program. This drew criticism from proponents of tough nuclear restrictions. “The six month clock should have started early Sunday morning,” said former Ambassador Mark Wallace, the CEO of United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI). “If this is a serious agreement, the P5+1 must ensure that these negotiations do not become a tool for Iran to further increase its enrichment abilities.” Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Executive Director David Brog said he fears that the White House may have been “played by the Iranians.”
“This may prove to be yet another worrisome sign that the Obama Administration was played by the Iranians,” Brog told the Free Beacon in a statement. “Their concessions were either illusory or meaningless, while ours will resuscitate the Iranian economy.” The White House said in its fact sheet on the deal that it could release up to $7 billion dollars to Iran during the first phase of the agreement. The United States additionally agreed to suspend “certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue,” according to the now disputed fact sheet. Iran could earn another $4.2 billion in oil revenue under the deal. Another “$400 million in governmental tuition assistance” could also be “transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students,” according to the White House. While Iranian foreign ministry officials did not specify their precise disagreements with the White House, they insisted that “the Iranian delegation was much rigid and laid much emphasis on the need for this accuracy.” The Washington Free Beacon
Before antibiotics were widely available, any accident, injury, or medical procedure that allowed pathogenic bacteria into the body was potentially deadly. One in nine skin infections was fatal. One in three cases of pneumonia led to death. Invasive surgeries including caesarean sections left the patient open to killer infections. Insect bites, burns, and blood transfusions frequently became a source of infection. So the discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin, by Alexander Fleming in 1928 remains one of the high points in medical history. Antibiotics kill bacteria, which meant wounds were no longer death sentences. Yet when Fleming won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1945, he warned of the dangers of antibiotic resistance: It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them… There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant. [NobelPrize.org]
Fleming’s prediction was right. Penicillin-resistant bacteria arrived while the drug was still being given to only a few patients. Each new class of antibiotics since then has soon been greeted by resistant bacteria. One breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria is in farm animals. Low doses of antibiotics have been used since the 1950s to enhance growth. In the U.S., over 80 percent of all antibiotics are now used on farm animals. But low doses encourage resistance, just as Fleming warned. Recent studies show that antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been found widely in farm animals raised for meat, as well as wild animals, including crows, foxes, and sharks. Scientists are fighting a running evolutionary battle with the bugs. A patient in New Zealand died this year after contracting an infection resistant to all known antibiotics. Doctors declared him the first patient of the “post-antibiotic era.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned that drug-resistant bacteria kill at least 23,000 people annually in the U.S, and cost the health care system $20 billion per year.
Unfortunately for the human race, research into antibiotics remains costly. One estimate suggests that the cost of bringing a new antibiotic to market is over $1 billion, and that new antibiotics lose $50 million on average. There are far more profitable drugs for pharmaceutical companies to throw money at, since antibiotics are usually single-serve drugs for humans, not long-term treatments. Drugs for chronic conditions tend to be more profitable. And with drug resistance quickly evolving, rendering older antibiotics ineffective, pharmaceutical companies have even less incentive to invest in the drugs. The economics are perverse. Taking preventative action today would not be very profitable because there are fewer potential customers. The incentives to produce more and better antibiotics only kick in under the worst circumstances, when millions of people are dying from antibiotic-resistant infections. With investment, there would be plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. New antibiotics today are typically discovered by culturing bacteria in a laboratory, and scientists so far have cultured less than one percent of the bacterial species on the planet, meaning there is still a huge pool of possibilities out there that remains untested.
There are also a large variety of organic compounds — for example, from insects — that may hold promise as antibacterials. Some scientists are even looking into the possibility of using nanotechnology to fight bacteria — tiny machines that can hunt down pathogenic bacteria and destroy them. Sooner or later, one of these approaches may yield an innovation that pathogenic bacteria cannot develop resistance to. In July 2012, President Obama signed the GAIN (Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now) Act, a bipartisan bill to fast-track the creation of new antibiotics. Twelve new antibiotics in development have so far received fast-track status, which should speed up the approval of new drugs for difficult-to-treat conditions. But whether the law will be sufficient to create enough new antibiotics to win the evolutionary arms race remains to be seen. Developing antibiotics is still expensive, and the antibiotics that we do have are still being over-prescribed for humans and doled out in sub-clinical doses to farm animals — both of which gives bacteria opportunities to develop resistance. If the problem continues to grow, the U.S. and other countries will have to invest a whole lot more in antimicrobial technologies, or create incentives for Big Pharma to do so. Like the zombie apocalypse, the post-antibiotic world would not be a pretty place to live in. The Week
In the Agreement, UNESCO maps out its intention to establish “Knowledge Communities,” which it defines as “web-based communities of practice in UNESCO’s fields.” The goal is to create, through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) throughout the globe, communities without borders, in a sense, so that all students around the world are learning similar content and sharing knowledge. As many Americans are aware, Common Core relies heavily upon increased broadband width. In at least some states and local school districts, total reconstruction of Internet capabilities has been necessary. According to Anderson, in this concept of globalism that UNESCO and Microsoft proposed, “a nation is permitted to keep its surface culture, such as language, music, and cuisine. But patriotism, religion, and individualism are anathema, as each competes with the globalist vision of world harmony.” Anderson writes that the most efficient way to urge a nation to abandon its culture and natural resources is to “invest in education to ensure that the coming generation will embrace the principles of globalism as a natural consequence of their formation.”
Despite the continued, overt insistence of the Obama administration–and some prominent Republicans–that Common Core is a state and local endeavor, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has actively promoted the standards in the U.S. Recently, however, he may have dealt a serious blow to the endeavor, with a controversial comment made during a meeting of state schools superintendents. Feeling the heat of increased opposition to Common Core, Duncan said that those who oppose the new standards are “white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought.” In 2010, Duncan addressed UNESCO, and in his remarks said that education would be the “beacon” that would light the way to stem a “global economic crisis.” Offering “two overarching messages” about America’s efforts to “transform” education and achievement, Duncan said:
First, the Obama administration has an ambitious and unified theory of action that propels our agenda. The challenge of transforming education in America cannot be met by quick-fix solutions or isolated reforms. It can only be accomplished with a clear, coherent, and coordinated vision of reform. Second, while America must improve its stagnant educational and economic performance, President Obama and I both reject the protectionist Cold War-era assumption that improving economic competitiveness is somehow a zero-sum game, with one nation’s gain being another country’s loss. Duncan cited Obama in the latter’s speech “to the Muslim world in Cairo” in 2009: “Any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.” “In the United States, we feel an economic and moral imperative to challenge the status quo,” Duncan said. “Closing the achievement gap and closing the opportunity gap is the civil rights issue of our generation.”