Trump’s Dangerous Views on Asbestos

Donald Trump will easily go down as one of the most polarizing Presidents in the history of U.S. politics. In the eight months since he has held the Oval Office his administration has been plagued with accusations of corruption and disorganization, and the ‘talk first, facts later’ attitude he had on the campaign trail has morphed into a reckless style of legislative governance that is both unpredictable and often, misinformed.

Amongst the many outrageous claims Donald Trump has made over the years, are a number of dangerously ignorant comments about asbestos.

Donald Trump’s pro-asbestos sentiment can be traced all the way back to 1997 and his The Art of the Comeback book, in which he claimed he believed the anti-asbestos movement was rigged by the mob.
Within the pages he also calls an anti-asbestos law “stupid” and inaccurately claims asbestos is “…100 percent safe, once applied.”

Trump also supported the 9/11 asbestos conspiracy theory. The conspiracy theory suggests that the Twin Towers would never have collapsed if asbestos had been used for the entire structure, rather than just the first forty floors. As recently as 2012, Trump was lending the conspiracy theory credence, tweeting “If we didn’t remove incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that doesn’t work, the World Trade Center would never have burned down.”

Considering many 9/11 first responders have suffered respiratory complications due to the clouds of toxic asbestos dust which lingered over downtown New York City, these comments seem crass and insensitive. But many experts believe it is not just first responders who were at risk while the city was engulfed in the hazardous fumes, 90,000 everyday citizens showed up to assist with the search for survivors amongst the burning rubble of the twin towers. These people also inhaled the noxious fumes. Some experts have estimated that the death toll from 9/11 will rise into the millions over the next few decades, as symptoms related to the effects of exposure to asbestos and other poisonous chemicals begin to manifest in the population.

Trump has also been a proponent of “safe asbestos” or the chrysotile-defense. Which argues that it is the amphibole-containing products which are dangerous. This claim is widely disputed by health and medical professionals, as 95% of the products used in the United States historically were mostly chrysotile.

Countless scientific studies have linked the substance with various forms of cancer, a 2005 study from Yale University’s School of Medicine even linked asbestos with colon cancer. The World Health Organization has recognized the risks of asbestos for decades, stating “all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).” The carcinogen has been banned in over 50 countries.

Asbestos can be both inhaled and ingested, and the material has been used for everything over the years, resulting in citizens gulping down microscopic fibers in their water, as it ran through asbestos cement pipes. Or breathing it while they slept thanks to asbestos based ceiling insulation.

Court evidence has revealed that multiple companies contributed to a cover-up of the dangers of asbestos as early as 1929. A chilling example includes the largest manufacturer of asbestos based products in the USA, Johns Manville and company president Lewis H. Brown. Brown was made aware of the chilling effects of asbestos on his workers, by local physicians as early as 1949. However, Johns Manville continued to produce products containing asbestos up until the early 1980’s. The EPA did not classify asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant until 1971.

Donald Trump’s ill-informed views are a slap in the face for those sufferers of mesothelioma and other cancers caused by asbestos, who are now facing renewed concern about the toxic substance and the ban on its use in the USA. Thanks to a combination of Trump’s pick for the role of director of the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt and the proposed budget cuts to the Agency’s funding.

Pruitt has been accused of a non-committal stance toward the banning of the product. When pressed for answers he’s cited the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act as a reason to spend three years reinvestigating the risks that asbestos may pose. In response to senators’ questions regarding his position, Pruitt suggested that “prejudging the outcome of that risk evaluation process would not be appropriate.” He’s also been accused of approving other toxic products with little regulation by several environmental groups, and members of the democratic party referring to his appointment as a disaster.

In the United States, asbestos litigation is the longest and most expensive mass tort in all of US legal history, involving over 8000 defendants and costing millions in legal fees. Analysts expect costs in the USA alone to reach over $200 billion. The lengthy proceedings and costs involved with Asbestos proceedings in the USA several firms dedicated to providing legal support to those affected like The Ledger Law Firm who provide legal advice to claimants and offer fee-free representation to those whose hearings are unsuccessful.

Today about 125 million people worldwide are still exposed to asbestos in the workplace, and occupational exposure to the carcinogen has been responsible for over 107,000 deaths. New cases of mesothelioma are constantly diagnosed each year, with over a thousand cases diagnosed in 2015 across America, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Safe asbestos may be an ‘alternative’ fact that Trump supports. But the risks and the science behind the dangers are clear, and to grave to be ignored in the name of profit, or convenience.

What’s Next For Malaysia’s Najib Razak?

 

The arrest of Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, on Tuesday represents a clean break from the past for all of Malaysia. The end of one-party rule has opened up the possibility of a new era of good governance in the country.

The arrest of Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, on Tuesday was widely expected. In fact, many Malaysians were hoping he would be arrested immediately after the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), was defeated in the May 9 election.

Najib was the main reason why UMNO lost – he was widely seen as corrupt and the main person behind the scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment fund.

US prosecutors have accused Najib of diverting US$731 million from 1MDB into his personal bank account. Many people assume Najib’s arrest is connected to this fund, but legally speaking, he faces charges relating to a company called SRC international, a one-time subsidiary of 1MDB.

SRC took a loan of about US$1 billion from a state-run retirement fund and Najib is alleged to have siphoned off about US$10.5 million from the top. The money allegedly ended up in his bank account, the same account that was implicated in the 1MDB affair.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing, and on Weddnesday pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Why was Najib not charged in the 1MDB probe?

The simple answer is that the 1MDB investigation covers multiple jurisdictions. At the last count, money involved in the 1MDB affair is believed to have passed through the following financial systems: the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, among others.

It is simply not possible to put such a complex case together in such a short amount of time following the election of opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad two months ago.

The good news is that, under the new Mahathir administration, foreign governments will now have access to Malaysian documents related to the 1MDB probe. The US, Singapore and Switzerland are among the countries investigating the scandal. When Najib was in power, all financial institutions in Malaysia refused to cooperate with these foreign probes.

Why is SRC International different?

The key factor here is a star witness, a former director of SRC International who decided to come forward to testify for the prosecution. This individual was too afraid to come forward when Najib was prime minister. That is no longer the case.

There are several key witnesses in the 1MDB scandal who may be thinking along the same lines as the former SRC director. With Najib no longer in control, some of these witnesses may now turn against him, as well.

Top of the list is Jho Low, the accused mastermind of the 1MDB scam. He is believed to be dividing his time between Macau and Taiwan, both places where extradition to Malaysia is not possible.

Another important witness under tremendous pressure to come forward is Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia chairman for Goldman Sachs, the bank that handled most of the 1MDB bond sales. He was pushed to resign from Goldman Sachs in February 2016, and both Singapore and US securities regulators have banned him from working again in the financial industry.

An interesting side note is that he is better known in the US as the husband of Kimora Lee Simmons, an American model and fashion designer and the former wife of hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.

What’s next in the Najib case?

By charging Najib, the Mahathir administration is keeping an electoral promise to take action against the former leader. But more importantly, the new government is also sending a strong message to Malaysians and the international community that it is serious about cleaning up the mess left by Najib’s government, especially when it comes to corruption.

For Najib, this will likely be the first of many trials he will face, as more charges are expected in the 1MDB case. It’s also likely that Najib’s family members, including his wife, stepson and son-in-law will face charges, as they are alleged to be direct beneficiaries of the stolen funds.

And this will likely bring an end to the Razak political dynasty in Malaysia for the time being. Najib’s father was Malaysia’s second prime minister and many of his immediate relations used to hold political office. Until the election in May, Najib’s cousin, Hishammuddin Hussein, had been Malaysia’s defence minister.

UMNO will also need to shed its associations with Najib in order to rehabilitate its image among the Malaysian people. Last weekend, the party elected a new president, former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

All in all, Najib’s arrest represents a clean break from the past for all of Malaysia. The end of one-party rule has opened up the possibility of a new era of good governance in the country, which was unthinkable just three months ago. In today’s “new” Malaysia, anything is possible – even calling to account a former prime minister who was just defeated.

More importantly, going forward, the Malaysian public will demand full accountability from their leaders, both past and present.

Authored by Professor James Chin

This article was originally published as “What’s next for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s disgraced former prime minister?” in The Conversation on 5 July 2018, and is republished with permission.

Baby Products Market Still Buoyant as First-Time Parents Purchase Necessities

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The baby product market is one that has been actively and consistently performing quite well over the years. We have seen an incredibly strong interest and investment in this market because, at the end of the day, there is always going to be a significant need for the baby product market.

In light of the recent Covid pandemic, the baby toys market has been significantly impacted in 2020. However, key baby products have experienced continued interest. Where there are copious last-mile delivery services that have remained operational during the pandemic, necessities like nappies, strollers, changing tables and more have been able to be purchased and delivered. From the perspective of parents, such products are essential.

Anyone who has ever experienced the lead up to becoming a parent or guardian, or who has prepared to bring their new bundle of joy home, knows that there are a thousand and one points to prepare for. It can be overwhelming (to say the least). This is especially true for first-time parents. It can be challenging to figure out exactly what you need and what you can realistically go without. Preparing for a new addition to the family is often (if not always) an expensive process, so it never hurts to get all the assistance you can to figure it all out. There are so many baby products out there. Most of them are marketed exceptionally well. So, how do you know which baby products to invest in?

Over the years, there have been many great innovations in baby products, all of which have added value to the ever-growing baby product market that spans the globe. In saying this, not every baby product that makes it onto the market is a necessity. Telling the difference between the baby products that you absolutely need and the ones that, realistically, you and your baby can go without, can be a work in progress that takes time to figure out. This is an international market that continues to go from strength to strength, however it is by no means a market that is without its flaws. Every baby product out there will be marketed within an inch of its life. This is generally the case for any product in any market, to be fair, however because of the competitive nature of the baby product market, it can feel like this is a market that is operating to the max capacity all the time.

The baby products that every first-time parent needs start with the obvious necessities. These include (but are not limited to) a crib, a car seat, a stroller (you can now get multi-purpose strollers that include a car seat function), baby clothes, nappies, soft toys, bottles (these are handy to have whether you choose to or can breastfeed or not), and a baby monitor. Then, there are the additional baby products that are life savers for parents. From amber teething necklaces and rolling play mats to the Easywalker, and every genuinely useful baby product in between and beyond, having these baby products will make your life as a new parent – and, more importantly, the life if your little one – easier and more efficient on the day to day. Once you start doing your research, you can usually figure out which baby products are more hype than they are worth. Understand and accept that it is a learning curve – it is okay to not get it absolutely right every single time. This is especially true in the beginning.

At the end of the day, navigating the baby product market might feel like an overwhelming experience, to say the least, however it does not have to be. This is one of the most exciting and life changing experiences that you are ever going to go through, so take the time to enjoy the process. Acknowledge and forgive yourself when it gets tiring (and it will, especially if you are the parent carrying the child up until the due date). Navigating the baby product market has never been as easy and effortless as it is right now. Ask your family and friends who have kids, read online reviews, read books, and watch documentaries. All of it does a world of good in assisting you to navigate the process with relative ease (for the most part, of course there will always be challenges). 

When it comes to preparing for the arrival of a new little family member, it is more than fair to say that there are a lot of moving pieces, each of which is worth its weight in gold and which comes hand in hand with its own advantages and merits. However, even having said this, it can be a challenging process to figure out which products you need and which you can get away with. Ultimately, what it all comes down to is research. Ideally, this means a combination of online research, advice from family and friends, and personal attention to detail that will all hopefully help you figure out the right approach – and the best baby products – for you and your precious baby. Navigating the baby product market as a first-time parent can be a whirlwind, however it does not have to be. Make the time to commit to the process (and you best believe that it is indeed a process) and you cannot go wrong.

Understanding the Growing Trend of Bitcoin Currency Exchange

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The digital era has well and truly come to life around us. Modern marvels like digitalisation and technological advancement have become more and more pronounced all the time. So much so, in fact, that today these modern marvels are thought to be more instrumental and prominent than they have ever been. We see the evidence of these modern marvels all around us, all the time, today. More than ever, digitalisation and technological advancement are not only present but are becoming more and more ingrained in the way of the modern world. Practically every aspect of life as we know it and every corresponding industry has found itself having to adapt and embrace these modern marvels in order to realign with the way that the modern world is moving. Think of the innovations in the finance industry that spans the globe, for instance. The finance industry has always been one of the most important industries in the world. Now, that is a point that has arguably never been truer. Within the finance industry, there have been many great innovations over the years (and especially in recent years). 

Cryptocurrency – and namely the globally leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin – is one of the most revolutionary innovations in the industry to date. In fact, in many ways Bitcoin is considered the “founding father” of the cryptocurrency wave. The first cryptocurrency to make it out of the gate and into the market, the Bitcoin network that came hand in hand with Bitcoin itself has been steadily growing ever since. While other cryptocurrencies have since come onto the scene and attempted to take the top spot in the cryptocurrency landscape, the simple fact is that Bitcoin remains the leading digital currency around the globe. Now, the rising trend of Bitcoin currency exchange is taking the financial landscape by storm, with increasingly more options available for buyers and sellers to exchange bitcoin via digital platforms. For example, several apps like the bitcoin up app allow users to track, trade and monitor the bitcoin exchange much like day traders. 

So, what is Bitcoin currency exchange and why does it matter? Essentially, Bitcoin currency exchange refers to the ability for Bitcoin holders to buy, sell, and trade their Bitcoins specifically through the Bitcoin blockchain network.

From Bitcoin Euro to Bitcoin Yen, and every Bitcoin in between and beyond, this is an emerging trend that is quickly gaining momentum among Bitcoin holders around the globe. Exchange-built blockchain platforms form the basis for blockchain currency exchange (and cryptocurrency currency exchange in general, for that matter) and they work their magic by essentially allowing Bitcoin holders to take control of their Bitcoin value not just individually but on a global currency exchanging platform. Bitcoin currency exchange essentially allows Bitcoin holders to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin for traditional currencies around the globe. For a long time, the lack of transition between Bitcoin and traditional global currencies was a big gap in Bitcoin’s framework. Now, the solution is seemingly finally here. This allows Bitcoin holders to take back control of their digital currency holdings. These types of digital asset exchanges are all about attracting the attention of as many Bitcoin traders as possible so that the user base is given a boost.

Anyone who has experience with Bitcoin knows that the user base functions as a core driver of Bitcoin profits both per holder and around the globe. When it comes to addressing the question of why Bitcoin currency exchange matters, what it essentially comes down to is the fact that Bitcoin currency exchange allows Bitcoin holders the freedom and flexibility to invest in Bitcoin how, when, and where they want to while simultaneously giving them the opportunity to trade their Bitcoin for traditional currency. It is a whole new world and it is one that is steadily gaining more momentum all the time. This is the future of Bitcoin and of currency exchange and it is a future that is becoming more and more profoundly appreciated and interesting as time goes on. We are seeing a growth in Bitcoin currency exchange right now, however this current growth is likely going to prove to be just a glimpse of what is going to be possible going forward into the future and beyond.

As the digital era has come to fruition, steadily rising up and up, it has also come with many modern marvels, all of which have had their own impact on the way of the world. Digitalisation and technological advancement, for instance, have found themselves revolutionising practically every aspect of life as we know it – and every corresponding industry in the process. The finance industry is without a doubt one of the most heavily impacted and revolutionised industries in the world when it comes to these innovations and their ongoing impact. Of all the great innovations to be felt in the finance industry, the rise of Bitcoin is without a doubt one of the most innovative and momentous to date. Today, Bitcoin currency exchange and the general utilisation of Bitcoin is at an all-time high and it is only expected to get bigger and better as time goes on. This is likely just the start for Bitcoin currency exchange and that is exciting.

Utilisation of IP Location API and Its Value for Online Businesses

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We have become more and more invested in and inclined towards the rise of the digital era in recent years. The evidence is all around us and it has been felt in practically every aspect of life as we know it and every corresponding industry. We are living in unprecedented times and while these current circumstances have no doubt come hand in hand with their challenges, they have also proven to be exponentially rewarding. Take the ever-evolving market landscape, for instance. The rise of ecommerce has meant that there has never been a better time to be a business that is able to or already does operate online. Today, online businesses are more prominent than they have ever been, and they are always finding new ways to align themselves with their consumers and to gain more momentum and perspective not only of their own position within their industry, but of the way the industry in question is moving at any given time.

The ever-expanding ecommerce landscape is one that is always evolving from one strength into another. There is a lot to be said about the immense power and hopeful potential of a market landscape that allows individuals and businesses alike to connect and communicate in ways that are more or less triumphant and not too invasive. Different businesses across different industries obviously have their own ways of handling their operations and their relationship with their consumers, however there are some key innovations that seem to hold true across the board and around the globe. Today, ecommerce is a landscape that becomes more and more impressive all the time. Going forward, it is only going to prove to be more of the same (and then some). The innovations that more and more online businesses are gravitating towards today are ones that have proven to be exceptional in their design and intent, not just now but always.

There is one specific innovation that has been gaining massive momentum in recent months among online businesses across the board and around the globe. An IP location API gives online businesses the power by giving them the ability to discover user locations, timezones, IP-addresses, and so much more. All that businesses need to do to implement this innovation is enter a single (simple) line of Javascript code. While it might sound a little controversial (and it has proven to be in some cases in the past), the reality is that the utilisation of IP location API means that businesses are better able to cater their website and app to their consumers, wherever those consumers happen to be in the world. Having access to user locations means that localised deals and products and services of interest are able to be discreetly implemented into the web page with ease. The same is said for timezones and IP-addresses. IP location APIs are all about giving online businesses their best chance to put their best foot forward, every time. To this end, they are tremendously successful.

Because one of the biggest privacy and security issues among businesses and consumers is the immoral and unethical utilisation of personal and otherwise sensitive data, this is a sensitive topic. Now, however, as more online businesses are taking it upon themselves to incorporate IP location API into their business model, there is a stronger and more realistic understanding of what the genuine design, creation, intent, and utilisation of IP location API is actually all about – and that is bridging the gaps between businesses and consumers is genuinely helpful ways that make the overall experience from either side far more enjoyable and seamless. Online businesses are loving IP location API and there are no signs of the utilisation of it slowing down any time soon (if ever). This is the way that the ecommerce world is moving, and online businesses are all about anything that makes their business operate bolder, better, faster, and stronger.

The world as we know it has been in a near-constant state of evolution for years now, with the most drastic changes taking place in recent months. It goes without saying that we are currently navigating our way through decidedly challenging times. Practically every aspect of life as we know it and every corresponding industry has been impacted in some way. This of course includes the commerce market industry. Today, the rise of ecommerce is gaining more and more traction all the time. Businesses that operate online are finding new ways to get the most out of their position in their respective industry, including the decision of some online businesses to utilise IP location APIs. While of course privacy and security have been a controversial point of topic surrounding IP location APIs, they have actually been used largely to better communicate with consumers in ways that feel less invasive and more on point with expectations. This is just the start for the utilisation of IP location APIs.

SAT Exam: A Tool for an Objective and Standardized Method in College Admissions

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The SAT has been a staple of the college application process ever since it was introduced at Harvard almost a hundred years ago. It’s no wonder then, that with more students attending college than ever before, more high school students are taking the SAT than ever before as well. The importance of a college degree has continued to increase, and with it, the meteoric rise of the SAT as a tool used in college admissions. The SAT exam provides colleges with a (supposedly) objective and standardized method of measuring students’ potential and fit for each particular institution, after all.

Many factors contribute to the rise of the SAT besides the rise of the college degree. In fact, now that many states require students to sit for the exam and the College Board provides free testing in school, students almost have no excuse not to take the SAT. While many colleges and universities have switched to being “test optional,” this hasn’t deterred students from taking the exam in the slightest. Why? Well, how many times does optional really mean optional?

In 2019, more than 2.2 million students took the SAT.  In 2020, this number is expected to increase, especially given that the SAT will most likely have to be administered online due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that will prevent traditional testing to take place. While the College Board has come under fire  many times before because of its discriminatory and class-biased approach to the exam, unintentional or not, the number of students taking the test has continued to rise. Of course, the number of students taking the ACT has continued to rise as well.

Testing is simply a cemented part of the college admissions process by now, one that does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. With the College Board’s partnerships with state governments in Idaho, Delaware, Maine, and the District of Columbia, students are sure to be taking the exam in these states at the very least, despite any bad press that the College Board might face. Even if it is flawed, the exam still presents a levelheaded way for colleges to evaluate students, especially given all of the different components that go into the admissions decision.

Beyond that, the College Board has made efforts to support low-income and first-generation students with more access to fee waivers, free preparatory modules online through Khan Academy, and the addition of “Landscape” which provides colleges with context about the applicant’s neighborhood, socioeconomic status, and school, in order to promote fairer admissions. The College Board’s sincere efforts have paid off, with more students now taking the test than ever. But the narrative of higher education being accessible to the rich and white has not been dispelled. Even so, students all over are rallying to take, and achieve high, on the SAT.

In Queens, New York, three brothers are helping these students achieve their desired SAT scores. With branches in both Jackson Heights and Jamaica, the brothers running Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center are ensuring that their students make it to the finish line. Additionally, Bobby-Tariq now provides live-online SAT Prep so students can prep from wherever they want.

With a comprehensive BEAST curriculum, also known as Bobby’s Beast, that was cherry picked by founder and CEO Kukhon Uddin Bobby and his brothers President Tariq Hussain and Vice President Sakib Hussain, students at Bobby-Tariq are given the most up to date, realistic materials to base their studying on. Bobby, Tariq, and Sakib know that the SAT is not an exam that measures intelligence. It’s an exam that measures motivation, grit, and dedication.

In fact, it was famous psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth who coined the term “grit” which means sticking with something until you master it. This is the type of attitude that Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center aims to instill within its students. Not only do tutors provide top quality material and explanations to their students, they also provide motivational speeches and insight that contribute greatly to their exams scores.

“We know the SAT is not an easy test. More than 900,000 students score below national average, so we are here to help students all around the nation. As a matter of fact, we are officially launching live-online SAT Prep in 2020 to provide access to affordable and quality SAT prep to those in need,” said CEO Bobby.

More students are taking the SAT now than ever, and this means that students should aim to score higher in order to set themselves apart. “We train our students with the shortcut strategies to hack hard math, the grammar rules that show up without fail, and other nifty ticks and trips that make their lives so much easier,” said Vice President Sakib.

“You might not think so, but the insight that we provide our students with goes a long way,” said President Tariq. “So much of what they’re doing is new and foreign to them. So much of it is challenging and at times, they want to give up. We acknowledge that and push them to go above and beyond. And it works.”

Students at Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center know the SAT is not an easy test and worry they may not find success. But without fail, these students have scored within the top 5% of all test takers for the last ten years. If there’s a secret to the SAT, these three brothers have mastered it. 

Trends in Payment Technology in 2020

 

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In 2020, the payment technology landscape is set to become increasingly digitised, more focused on the customer experience than ever before, and progressively cross-border efficient, as the digital-first generation hits its prime spending years and the vast majority morph into cashless consumers. Cash is quickly losing ground to plastic and electronic payment methods: in the UK, only 34 percent of payments were made in cash in 2018, according to UK Finance, with debit cards overtaking cash as the most popular payment method the year prior. But as the payments universe expands and as governments grow their support for financial inclusion by promoting non-cash payments, the payments technology world is moving closer towards becoming a unified, centralised, open ecosystem – one that puts user convenience and the customer experience first.

Be it through enhanced security for card users, more efficient ways to pay for products or services or the shift towards an invisible, frictionless payment experience, customer experience (CX) will be without doubt the prime competitive differentiator in 2020. Banks, card firms, BigTechs, FinTechs, and other players are constantly developing new technology to make the CX seamless, and in many instances customers won’t even have to input their information to pay over the coming 12 months. Uber is the first to implement this ‘invisible’ payment transaction, by keeping customers’ information on file and simply charging them automatically at the end of every ride or delivery, not even using the word “buy” to initiate the transaction. This ‘eWallet’ experience will define the future of cashless payments, starting now, while biometrics could also possibly take centre stage in payment technologies over the coming decade. In 2019, we saw the first ever biometric fingerprint credit card issued by a British bank, and as payment providers look to increase security measures in response to the increasing sophistication of fraud tactics, biometrics data is going to become even more integral to the payments process. Already, smartphone providers and app developers have embraced facial recognition and fingerprint technology, and 2020 will see more and more solutions that offer multi-biometric identification payment technologies among them.

While we’re on the topic of security, the increasing abilities of fraudsters and hackers will be a hot-button topic in 2020, forcing non-traditional payment providers to take innovative and extensive measures to protect consumer data. The simple truth is, fraudsters are getting smarter, and balancing CX with data security is going to be a critical challenge for payment providers this year. Thankfully, they too are becoming smarter: payment solution providers have begun to experiment with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in fraud prevention.

As experts will attest to, financial fraud is becoming increasingly complex and fraudsters are now relying on machine learning to bypass security solutions and execute cybercrime. Outdated fraud detection systems are no longer cutting it, but by contrast AI-driven approaches can detect fraud by uncovering anomalies, while satisfying businesses needs at the same time – something that cutting edge, fast growing fintech payments issuer, processor and programme manager EML is prepared for. Over the next 12 months, it’s thought AI will become absolutely integral to fraud risk management for business.

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EML Payments, a market leader in global payment solutions, has garnered a reputation in compliance and anti-fraud technology and manages more than 1,400 programs across 23 countries in North America, Europe and Australia. Among the Brisbane-based company’s payouts, gifts, incentives and rewards and supplier payment solutions are its highly secure mobile and virtual cards – proven to be more effective in terms of fraud protection since each card is only good for a specific payment, and they are sent directly to the email address confirmed in the enrolment process.

While CX and fraud prevention will become much more important in 2020, companies will have to respond to increasingly complex regulations on data protection and payment usage at the same time. The GDPR in the EU and the CCPA in California have paved a path that will very shortly be followed by other jurisdictions – and the implications on data usage and consumer protection will be enormous. It won’t just be the financial services industry that will feel the impact: a huge number of industries will need to think very seriously about how they interact with data, and the ramifications of not doing so will be extreme.

Perhaps the most significant change we will see in the payment technology space in the year ahead is that the digital-first generation will comprise the majority of spenders, in the U.S. at least. Marketers have been targeting the younger generations for a few years now, but in 2020, millennials and Gen Z will truly hit their stride in terms of spending power. What this means is that more money will be transacted via non-traditional payment methods than ever before, and to keep up with the demands of this massive group of consumers, businesses will need to innovate and become fully digital so as to appeal to these big-spenders – or risk falling very far behind.

Merits and Value of Different Treatments for Chronic Pain Management

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It is a natural part of life that as we get older, our bodies begin to behave differently. Aches and pains sometimes begin to take effect, changing the way that we go about our lives. For some individuals, the disruptions of experienced pain to daily life are relatively mild (if they experience disruptions at all, that is), however for others what starts out as mild to moderate aches and pains eventually become more sinister, negatively impacting an affected individual’s life in undesirable ways. Over time, if not properly dealt with in due time, these progressing pains can become chronic, festering into debilitating pains that make life incredibly uncomfortable (to say the least) for the affected individual. Dealing with chronic pain is never a fun experience (to say the least). As one gets older, it is a natural part of life that pain begins to come into life sometimes, however it is also important that everyone acknowledges that there are ways to address chronic pain, each of which have merits.

There are multiple different treatments for chronic pain out there, each of which have their own merits and value. More than ever, it is important to not only pay attention to this fact but to work wholeheartedly towards a healthier future in regards to not only chronic pain management, but practically every other aspect of health, wellbeing, and overall quality of life. As individuals struggle with managing their own experiences with chronic pain, it helps to have even a basic understanding of how others handled chronic pain and if their approaches could possibly work. However, first and foremost, anyone experiencing chronic pain should always see their doctor so that they approach chronic pain from a professionally accredited and prescribed approach. Failure to do so can in fact make the chronic pain even worse. However, it never hurts to have an idea of your chronic pain management options.

Prescribed medicines and treatments are obviously one approach to handling chronic pain. For decades, this has been the primary approach that westerners have taken to addressing not only chronic pain but practically all other examples of health and wellbeing ailments and struggles. Whether it is a prescribed medication, a physio consultation, or even an acupuncture appointment, the underlying point is that these are all treatments and solutions for chronic pain management that are well practiced and strikingly familiar to the majority of individuals – especially westerners. While these traditionally recommended and prescribed methods and models of chronic pain management are highly effective for many individuals suffering with chronic pain, the simple fact is that they are not always entirely effective. This is why other treatments and solutions for chronic pain management are necessary. What does not work for one individual will be the perfect solution for another, and so the necessity for options is more predominant than ever.

This is where the relatively fresh (at least, by western standards) controversial treatments for chronic pain come into play. Said controversial treatments and solutions for chronic pain are not any less effective or genuine than the western medicines that we are so familiar with. The only difference is that there is a distinct gap in the level of understanding that we have surrounding alternative medicines and treatments. Over time, this gap will steadily close. These days, more and more individuals suffering with chronic pain are opting towards more natural treatments. From investing in the best CBD oil on the market and opting for ancient Chinese herbal medicines to investing in reiki healing sessions, the point is always the same. That point is that alternative approaches to adequately and appropriately treating and even healing chronic pain are becoming more popular over time. For so many individuals, these more alternative approaches are working their magic. At the end of the day, it essentially comes down to a case by case basis. 

As the human body ages, it inevitably begins to go through the motions of ageing, one of which is the aches and pains that sometimes begin to work their way through an individual’s body. While some individuals are fortunate enough to make it through their lives without experiencing little more than some mild aches and pains, for other individuals aches and pains can gradually become worse and worse over time, becoming chronically painful. This is exactly how, when, and where treatments and solutions become so important for affected individuals. And more and more these days, alternative medicines like CBD oil and other herbal medicines are quickly becoming more and more popular while traditional approaches to treatment for chronic pain are getting better and better all the time. Regardless of the approach that one takes to addressing their chronic pain, appropriately addressing chronic pain is necessary to both work through the pain and work towards a painless future.

Smart IoT Technology Is Changing the Hotel Industry for the Better

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Now that we live in the digital era, it goes without saying that we are immersed in and surrounded by modern marvels like digitalization and technological advancement. This is an entirely new frontier in life in which we are more interconnected than ever before. Quite literally every aspect of life as we know it and every thriving industry has found itself in the position of realigning with the way that the world is moving. We have driven ourselves to this point, and we are now beyond the point of return. We have become so digitally and technologically inclined that we are not only more inclined towards these ideals, but also more reliant on them. Even (and especially) the hotel industry has been significantly impacted – and continues to be so – by technological advancement and enhancement. As one of the most important industries in the world, this ought to come as no surprise. Take the advancements of IoT (i.e. Internet of Things) and their impact on the hotel industry, for example.

Today, smart IoT technology is revolutionizing the hotel industry from the ground up. It has only been in recent years that smart IoT technology has really kicked into high gear, positively revolutionizing the global hotel industry from the ground up in the process. Whether it is the smart thermostats and energy management system found in hotels’ operational systems, or the wireless control of hotel rooms via IoT itself, the point is always the same: smart IoT technology is changing the game in all the best ways. It is easy to state this, but it is quite another point to back it up with evidence as to why this is the case. There are several reasons that smart IoT technology is changing the hotel industry for the better. Each of these reasons are worth their weight in gold and are important in their own right, but at the end of the day, the most important underlying reasons are the ones that make the most impact on the hotel industry – and the general world around it, for that matter.

As far as technological advancements go, IoT is well and truly one of the most significant and highly efficient of them all. While it has yet to do so, it is not at all unlikely that IoT will one day shift into place as the replacing operational technology for the worldwide web. A byproduct of the internet in many ways, smart IoT technology works its magic by effectively nurturing the hotel industry operational processes and systems to function and thrive at their highest objective notion. Take the cost-efficiency of smart IoT technology, for instance. The cost-effectiveness of introducing smart IoT technology into a hotel’s landscape cannot be and should never be underestimated. This is a branch of smart technology that is designed and intended to function and thrive on the basis of limiting energy consumption while maximizing efficiency across the board and around the hotel’s property. When up to 60% of a hotel’s cost of running comes down to basic operations, the introduction and ongoing advancement of a technology like smart IoT technology can and does make all the difference in the world.

And then there is the resale value that incorporating IoT into a hotel’s operational landscape has. Successfully incorporating smart IoT technology into a hotel’s internal and external processes and systems is all about investing in the hotel not just in the immediate sense, but in a long-lasting sense. This of course comes into effect in many ways, but also in the event that the hotel in question is sold later down the road. Resale value goes up significantly when smart IoT technology is introduced into the framework of a hotel’s infrastructure. The digital era is well and truly here, and it is going from strength to strength all the time. Every aspect of life as we know it and every thriving industry that exists today has been fundamentally impacted from modern marvels like digitalization and technological advancement. 

In the hotel industry specifically, technologies like smart IoT technology have been working their magic by essentially revolutionizing the hotel industry from the ground up tenfold. It has been a work in progress – and continues to be so today – however it continues to flourish and thrive more and more all the time. Smart IoT technology in the hotel industry is specifically geared towards drastically improving operational cost efficiency, sustainability, and resale value. At the end of the day, there is no getting around the fact: smart IoT technology is changing the hotel industry for the better. There is a lot more where all this advancement and innovation came from. The future of convenience, efficiency, security, and sustainability in the hotel industry is here.

Are ‘Smart’ Portable Air Conditioners The Next Big Thing?

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For just over 100 years, air conditioning has been hailed as a revolutionary, life changing technology embraced by people living in subtropical conditions or in warmer countries. In the United States and Japan, more than 90% of households have air conditioning, and by 2050 it is anticipated that globally, the number of air conditioning units in use is expected to quadruple, increasing from 3.6 billion today to 14 billion in 2050, according to a new report published by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. People can’t deal with the heat the old fashioned way, it seems, and air conditioning is just too simple a solution.

But now there is a competitor to challenge the traditional AC unit: that of the ‘smart’ portable air conditioner. Controllable via phone or remote, these quiet portable air conditioner models are small, compact and highly efficient, and can be integrated with intelligent home systems with the click of a button. To enable smart features such as remote control via WiFi and voice control with Google Assistant and Alexa, all that is required is the download of a smart compatibility app like SmartThinQ, and upon setup it is possible to control your air conditioner from afar. This means that on your way home from work in the evening, you can switch on your AC via voice control from your car, and by the time you return home your kitchen, office or bedroom will be cooled to a comfortable temperature.

In terms of energy efficiency, this is serious progress. We all know the environmental ramifications of excessive air conditioning use, particularly if your house is fitted with central air conditioning or a unit that isn’t energy efficient. The chemical compounds known as HFCs or hydrofluorocarbons that are responsible for keeping air conditioners and fridges running on hot days – or any days – represent a significant contribution to our planet’s global warming. In America alone, more than 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are released every year because of inefficient air conditioning units. To be able to control a unit remotely, and switch it on only when needed rather than leaving it on all day and guzzling up unnecessary energy is a wonderful thing. Game changing, from an environmental perspective.

But newer models and devices aren’t only being designed with remote control in mind – they also offer features including a “follow-me” function, that can measure the temperature of both the unit and the remote control to get a more accurate estimate of the room’s temperature before setting the unit to the right temperature. Some also come with a ‘Sleep Mode’ feature, meaning that you can set it to turn off automatically after one to seven hours – making it ideal to use in your bedroom overnight. Others come with built-in air purifiers, or the ability to send you mobile alerts when it’s time to to clean the filter.

No longer is an old-school, energy guzzling air conditioner going to make the cut, it seems. People want new, they want efficient, they want affordable and they want smarter air conditioning, something that syncs with the rest of today’s smart home device offering and voice enabled assistants.

Science has even brought us to the point where retrofitted air conditioners could potentially convert carbon dioxide into renewable hydrocarbon fuel. The idea was pitched in a comprehensive piece published by the journal Nature Communications by Roland Dittmeyer of the Karlesruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, and has excited developers and researchers worldwide. Imagine if a seriously smart AC machine could – rather than perpetuate the problem – solve the problem of global warming instead?

The future of home living is smart. There is no doubt about it. With health sensors embedded in bathrooms to detect signs of illness, electric cars recharging in the driveway, automated smart-enabled shower heating systems adjusting shower temperatures according to the outside temperature, voice-controlled smart air conditioning and alarm clocks synced to users’ Google calendars, our homes will soon become highly evolved, highly intelligent technology hubs.

Swedish research firm Berg Insight predicts that 63 million American homes will qualify as “smart” by 2022, and, according to advisory firm ABI Research consumers will spend $123 billion on Internet of Things (IoT) products by 2021.  As consumers adopt more and more devices, most of which are compatible with the two most popular smartphone devices in the world (Samsung and Apple), and as global availability of products and services increases, homes will only continue to get smarter. It is as though we as humans can’t regress: once we have become used to a certain level of comfort and technological prowess, we can’t go backwards. Once we truly begin nailing artificial intelligence and robotics, there’ll certainly be no going back. We are truly addicted to ‘superior’ technology, and in future experts predict that homes will be built ‘smart’ from the outset, just like plumbing and electricity are today the first considerations in building a home or building.

Distribution Channels: Types and Examples

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A distribution channel is the route a product takes until it reaches the consumer. Definitely a key ingredient when thinking about what is a business model. It’s important for startup businesses to get their distribution channels right so that their products can be sold. Also known as the downstream process, distribution is critical as it puts your products in the hands of customers.

In this article, I’m going to explain the different types of distribution channels available to you, focusing on their advantages and disadvantages. You will then be better placed deciding on the right distribution channels for your business.

Distribution Channels: Overview

Before choosing your distribution channels, there are some important concepts you need to learn:

  • Two Way Process: Your distribution channels don’t just carry goods to customers, they also allow the flow of cash back to you the seller. A distribution channel that is only one way is usually useless and will only siphon finances and stock from your business.
  • Varying Length: The length of a distribution channel will vary depending on the number of steps through which a product must pass before reaching customers. For example, you may supply your product to a retailer instead of selling directly to consumers.
  • Complexity: The more complex a distribution channel is, the more oversight is required to ensure it runs smoothly. This is especially true when products change hands many times before reaching the public.
  • Multiple Channels: Depending on your business strategy, the number of distribution channels at your disposal will vary. Most of the time, the more ways you have to get your products to customers, the more you will sell. However, sometimes multiple distribution can become so overwhelming that errors creep into each channel.
  • Dilution: A rule of thumb is that the more steps there are to a distribution channel, the lower the profit margin. Each person or business that handles your product along the way will require a slice of the profits.

Two Categories of Distribution Channel

Although you’ll find many different distribution channels, all of them fall into one of two discrete categories. These are “direct” distribution and “indirect” distribution.

A direct distribution channel (also known as zero level channel) is when your business sells directly to the customer. For example, opening your own physical store, selling directly via your own website, door-to-door sales, or mail order. All of these require no third party intermediary.

Indirect distribution includes channels like selling your product through a wholesaler or retailer. There needs to be at least one third party intermediary for it to be considered indirect distribution. If your company is selling to a wholesaler who then sells to a retailer before your product reaches customers, this would involve two third party intermediaries.

As you can see, direct distribution gives you more control over how your products are sold and to whom. However, indirect distribution opens up your product to many more customers, which is why it’s better suited when you are hoping to ship large amounts of product.

Advantages of Direct Distribution Channels

Using a direct distribution channel for your product/service carries with it a number of advantages. These Include:

  • Cutting out the cost of using third party distribution.
  • Allows direct canvassing of customer buying habits which can be used to improve your product/service and sales pitch.
  • Distinguishes you from the competition by having personable and impactful interactions with customers. As Inc.com puts it: You can “make the customer the hero”.
  • Potentially gets products to customers a lot faster than other distribution channels.
  • Helps to build relationships with customers that will last, especially when interacting with them face to face.
  • Can make a customer feel that they are buying something that is rarer than mass produced items; something with cache, charm, or the feel of a hero product.
  • Can also make customers feel that they are supporting a smaller business which makes them feel good about the purchase.

Disadvantages of Direct Distribution Channels

Despite the large number of advantages associated with a direct distribution channel, there are also disadvantages as well. These include:

  • Paying for direct distribution can be costly in some instances if you have to pay for your own delivery trucks and storage space. Some third party indirect distribution channels like Amazon for example, will charge a minimum commission to sell products through their marketplace which may be preferential. Wholesalers will store the product for you as they sell to retailers.
  • Direct distribution can be ineffective when dealing with large shipping numbers, especially when you’re delivering physical items. The man hours required to carry out shipping can be exorbitant.
  • Direct distribution can also limit the amount of product you can deliver depending on the size of your business.

Advantages of Indirect Distribution Channels

Indirect distribution channels are a great fit for many businesses. They include a number of distinct advantages:

  • Smaller shipping costs as these are shared across the distribution channel with third parties.
  • If you are using a digital marketplace or physical retailer, then your products will be much easier to find, resulting in more sales and larger brand impact.
  • Reduces the need to manage distribution, meaning you can focus more on your product and business strategy.
  • Benefit from third party experience. They will know how to sell your product.
  • You’ll also benefit from the infrastructure your distribution partners have in place, saving you the startup costs of setting up your own infrastructure.
  • Many third parties will have a larger sales force which will improve your chances of selling units.

Disadvantages of Indirect Distribution Channels

Just like direct distribution, indirect distribution has its own disadvantages. These include:

  • Putting distance between you and your customers.
  • Customers may forge a positive bond with a third party distributor rather than with your brand, creating loyalty for the distributor and not for you.
  • It’s easy to get lost in the background noise of other businesses using the same third party marketplace. Even at a wholesalers, a product can very easily be swallowed up by what’s on offer around it.
  • Not being able to give customers a bespoke, high-quality and personal purchasing experience.

Learn More About Distribution Channels

If you would like to learn more about distribution channels and all aspects of making a successful business, check out The DealMakers Podcast. It’s a free resource exploring entrepreneurial successes and useful blueprints for both new and experienced business people

Current Trends in Educational Technology – Ready to Disrupt the Educational Field

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Technology often disrupts established fields, but there’s a common misunderstanding as to how that happens. People often think that the technologies that are transforming our world today were created recently, but the nature of technological development makes that proposition unlikely.

In most cases, new technologies are clunky, expensive, and hard to implement — which is why they start with a small user base and remain in that state for a while until the required leaps are made. Only then does a new technology gain mass appeal and start being adopted on a large scale. In other words, it’s only at this stage that a technology becomes capable of truly disrupting a field.

Take your phone’s screen as an example. It may feel like touch screen technology was invented and made popular by the 2009 iPhone, or maybe you think it was created for and popularized by the PDAs that were around in the 90s and early 2000s. But in truth, touch screen technology was invented in the 1960s. The HP-150 computer had touch-screen support — it was launched in 1983.

The reasons why those early renditions of the touch screen failed to realize the technology’s potential were due in large part to technical problems. The HP-150, for example, relied on a grid of infrared beams to detect touches on its screen. But the infrared sensors would collect dust, and required constant cleaning as a result.

Why bring all of this up? Well, it’s simple. For the past few years, a lot of interesting applications of education technology have been in the “collecting dust in the sensors” stage. They were clunky, expensive, and hard to implement; they looked bad and frustrated users. However, many of those new educational tools and ideas are now ready to be mass implemented and disrupt the educational field.

The Jill Watson case

Let’s consider a simple example: chatbots. You have likely already dealt with one of those. A lot of companies have started implementing chatbots as part of their customer experience efforts, and chatbots can now do everything from helping customers browse catalogs to setting appointments and even holding conversations.

Colleges have also started making use of chatbots. Back in 2016, Georgia Tech professor Ashok Goel used IBM’s Watson AI to build Jill Watson — a chatbot teacher assistant. The bot was trained using data from the course’s forum, and for one semester, Jill helped students with their routine questions and requests on the course forum. The best part was that the students didn’t even realize Jill was a bot, and she was helping computer science majors.

Jill is still active today. According to the Georgia Tech website, “Soon Jill will be able to answer about 40 percent of the 10,000 questions students ask each semester. And she doesn’t even need coffee breaks.”

Georgia Tech calls Jill an “artificially intelligent teacher assistant.” Other sources call her a chatbot. The truth is the line between the two is blurry in cases like this, especially when you throw machine learning into the mix. Regardless of what you call it, the result is that we are ever closer to creating an automated general learning assistance solution—one that can be customized and adapts to individual students’ needs.

This will result in software like Jill being present in every student’s phone and forum, helping people learn faster, more effectively, and in a more self-sufficient manner. It will be a personal digital tutor serving students content, grading essays—yes, bots can already do that—and overall, making students’ and teachers’ lives easier.

The rise of massive education

Before the printing press, each book had to be copied by hand. The cost in time and materials, combined with the technical knowledge needed to copy books, meant that books were expensive luxury goods for most of human history. But then came the printing press, and we went from awkwardly copying books page by page to mass-producing books by the truckload in a matter of weeks. Technology made the written word more accessible than it had ever been before.

College lectures are already undergoing the same type of revolution. Earlier, the only way to see a lecture was to be physically present in the room and witness the lecture being executed in front of you.

As cameras became cheaper and video storage tools more reliable, the rise of long-distance and correspondence courses gave us an inkling of what a future with mass-produced education could look like. However, mail was clunky, slow, and often unreliable. Those were still the early days of massive long-distance education.

In the present, those initial problems have been solved thanks to cloud storage, cloud computing, and streaming technologies. This is what made EdX possible.

EdX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider launched in 2012. The platform is the result of a partnership between Harvard and MIT. Their approach is simple: every single course is open and free, and the curriculums are organized around weekly video lessons that are followed up with activities to help students review and deepen their understanding of the lecture. If you complete a free course, you can pay a fee to get a certified EdX accreditation.

As of 2018, EdX has served 18 million students through two thousand university-level online courses. In the same year, an estimated 20 million students were attending university in the US.

Right now, this form of education is an alternative to traditional learning. But when will it become a partial replacement? With the rise of video technology, making professors deliver the same lectures every semester is no longer necessary. It makes a lot more sense to simply record the semester’s lectures, edit them together, and then let students watch those lectures on their own time, at their own pace — which is what EdX allows.

Professors will then be responsible for updating the videos when needed. They will be able to dedicate the rest of their time to answering questions and helping students.

The personal benefits

The rise of mass video tools and AI teacher assistants will mean a surge in students’ ability to learn independently. This freedom will benefit college students while at university and post-graduation. After all, careers today require almost constant learning of new technologies, and the independent study skills students learn at EdX will help them as they continue their real-world studying. In addition to career benefits, constant study has also been linked to longevity and increased mental health.

Right now, we have to search and find information. The next step is having information come to us when we need it and at a manageable pace. While we wait for such tools to gain mass appeal, you can get young students’ attention using more traditional methods, such as math worksheets.