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.

Awakened but so Very Asleep (the Tragedy of Today)

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Through the internet and through social media, you could say that we are now at a time of unparalleled connectivity. We are aware of global as well as national issues and a click away from friends and family members. 

With technology and social media on the rise, the possibilities seem endless. However, could too much connectivity be (ironically) fostering more disconnection instead? When does social media become more of a detriment to society than a benefit?

For some of us, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is like coffee in the morning and we are now beginning to think about things like social media as an addiction, something that distracts from reality instead of heightening it. 

We are beginning to have to talk seriously about our kids, glued to their phone screens for most of their waking days (and nights). We are beginning to think about digital dependency and the effects of this type of addictive, compulsive behavior on mental health. 

A study found that the average Brit checks their phone as much as 28 times a day. Although smartphones can be a great help to people with busy lifestyles, the issue arises when this sort of compulsive behavior does nothing to add value to life and instead takes something away from your life. We now have to ask ourselves whether we are really just wasting our time when we could be doing so much more with ourselves.

Is this what we’ve become?

Though there is a lack of research in the field of social media and mental health, there are many studies showing that an overindulgence in social media can create feelings of unhappiness and isolation. You may have been there before. Scrolling through your Instagram feed and seeing those perfectly filtered photos. An age of narcissists that (again ironically) indulge in voyeurism to possibly drown out deep self-esteem issues, all while bringing down the self-esteem of others in a dark, depressing loop. 

You pay your dues to how other people see you in life, comparing, coveting…

It’s all deeply unsettling and tragically unhealthy, to say the least. 

Our lives become the stage show of others, reality TV replaced by a sick pseudo-fantasy reality (if that’s even a word). 

We scroll through our tweets, watching the numbers go up, craving acceptance while sinners and keyboard warriors and trolls lurk in the shadows.

Blue light (emitted from your smartphone) before bedtime contributes to poor quality sleep. Feelings of loathing and self-doubt creep in as you start comparing yourself and the crappiness of your life, your blotchy skin, your moles with the picture-perfect, statuesque beings beamed at you from your screen.

A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen found that there are many Facebook users who are suffering from “Facebook envy”, making them particularly depressed. When the users were made to take a break from Facebook, they were found to be more satisfied with their lives. 

By limiting the amount of time that you spend scrolling through social media, you can let real life seep in in all its imperfect and beautiful glory. 

Spend more time with your loved ones and on loving yourself. Being connected to people in the virtual world may actually be making you lonelier

Envy is not the only thing wrong with social media. This engine of connection may actually be causing us to drift apart and to not be truly present, lost in the moment (you must have seen those pictures of a table full of people all staring at their phones). Those people around you are real, they’re living, breathing, they’re there…

Social media marketing can also be a big contributor to a toxic culture of insane consumerism. Can you blame us for becoming compulsive buyers when we’re being attacked by products through so many different channels? From CBD stores to streetwear fashion, ecommerce has permeated the platform. 

It doesn’t just stop at buying things that you don’t need or the financial difficulties that can come with that. Some people have actually reportedly improved the quality of their lives after a digital detox and global research consultancy, Kantar TNS through a study found that millennials spend about 3.8 hours a day, a day in a week and about 49 days a year on their phones, with their priorities on social media rather than on other forms of media. There are also some people who are far worse off, with two days in a week and about a hundred days in a year spent on their smartphones, playing mobile games, scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… 

Becoming conscious is a much-needed priority and (again ironically) after the great distance that human civilization appears to have crossed in our development as a species, our amazing abilities have only really gotten us so far. 

Look at the studies. They show us that social media may be contributing to a large number of the cases of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses among the youth. 

The battle may be for acceptance or it may be for nothing at all. Whatever the case, it could just be that the battle is in our own minds and with ourselves…

A Weapon of Mass Communication – Current Trends Driving Telecom Higher

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The telecommunications industry has seen and been through its fair share of revolutionary advancements and further developments. If you think about it, the telecommunications industry is one of the most global, consistently sought after industries in the world. Most people upgrade their phone to a newer version every two to three years, if not sooner. With 7.7 billion people on the planet, and most of them owning a phone, that is a significantly large turnover for cellular devices. Couple this with the fact that telecommunications technology is in a literally-constant state of evolution, and you get an industry and a consumer base that are always expecting and adapting to the most recent developments in the industry. There are various trends in the telecommunications sector, and all of them can work in alignment with one another to create what is essentially a seamless consumer experience, and ultimately a seamless global connectivity network.

The first trend currently making waves in the industry is also the one that has proven to be more than a trend – it has proven to be a constant feature in the sector. Today’s telecommunication companies have an innate focus on the customer experience, and it is that focus that is driving them to continuously higher peaks. The largest demographic that forms the telecommunications industry consumer base is now the millennial generation, as they are not only the demographic with the largest percentage of the global population, but they are the first generation to head future generations of tech-savvy, reliant consumers. As such, their opinions on the industry’s current running are more important than they have ever been before, and the telecommunications industry is more than willing to listen to them. This shift in consumer presence means that the industry has had to take note of how the world’s first digitally-impressed generation expect their communication (and their world) to operate. Customer service has always been an innate focus of many industries, the telecommunications industry included, but consumers have never been as focused on having the best of the best as they are now. They know what is the best mobile app for laundry payments, they know what food is being offered on various food delivery platforms, they know which VPN will help them stay secure. They basically they know what they can get and they want to make sure they get the best value for money. 

5G connectivity is just the first evolution of what is sure to be a constant strive for seamless technological connection and customer-experience success, and even that has sent waves of promise barrelling through the planet – and it is not even available for mainstream public consumption yet. Artificial intelligence (AI) is another trend that is currently set to significantly disrupt the telecommunications sector. 5G has many benefits, but one of its most exciting is the additional ability to take on another tech like AI. In short, AI can be used as a tool to improve how networks plan and manage themselves and their input and output. The idea is that operators will soon be able to predict customer demand ahead of time, which would ease off the use of tariffs. Additionally, it appears as if we are on the verge of augmented reality (AR) being a widespread integration into new phone models on the market. Essentially, the concept is that AR-enabled smartphones will be able to give users brand new experiences while enabling stronger, more acute personalisation in the process.

One of the biggest – and most ongoing – trends in the telecommunications industry is consumer loyalty. With so many innovations happening in the industry all the time, it can be hard for consumers to keep up with the latest and greatest that the telecommunications industry has to offer. It would be easy to assume that all telecom companies have the exact same services, products, and ideas to offer their customers, but the reality is that they do not. It is for this reason that telecom companies are in a constant battle to win consumers from their competitors, to reign in more consumers in the hope of effectively creating a stronger sense of consumer loyalty. The nature of telecommunication ensures that there will be continuous innovation and improvement, and telecom companies are the middle men, the ones charged with bridging the gap between industry know-how and consumer understanding. The companies that can give consumers the best deals, the best service, and the best access are the ones that will continue to reign as titans of industry.

Telecommunications is an industry that literally always finds itself in a constant state of evolution. As one upgrade in the system rolls through and becomes mainstream, another is right up the alley ready to wow consumers all over again. The current trends that are driving the telecommunications industry forward and to higher peaks are fine examples of the industry’s shift towards impressive and awe-inspiring levels of connectivity. From 5G bringing faster loading times and internet speed, to AI and AR turning the smartphone into a weapon of mass communication, the telecommunications industry continues to prove its unwavering value as the world’s most inter-connected industry.

Technology update in the stock market

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The internet has dramatically revolutionised a number of fields, not least of all that of the financial markets. From robo-advisors to bitcoin to online banking to big data and analytics, the possibilities are endless thanks to the advent of new technologies such as AI, automation and the IoT. Simply consider that 10 years ago we were walking into a bank to deposit money while today we can wire a sum of money to an international account with the press of a button. 

Fintech’  or financial technologies is the most rapidly growing field of technology in the world today, and encompasses the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services.The world of finance, including investment, has been completely and unarguably upended by fintech. And the trading of stocks and shares is no different. 

Many still associate share trading with in-person transactions on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), with all the hustle, bustle and excitement that it entails. But unfortunately for those who prefer a taste of the dramatic, share trading can now be as simple and as inhumane and un-interactive as the tapping of a button on a personal phone. 

While the NYSE still ensures that kind of visual is maintained in the eye of the stockholder, most trading today takes place privately, over computer systems owned by individuals. The trades are transacted via underground fibre-optic networks that carry messages between computer systems at banks and trading firms, into data centres that host a particular exchange’s trading engine. Apps and platforms are, it seems, the new NYSE, and there are several which are proving popular among modern traders.

Why is this, you wonder? Simply because there are typically lower costs associated with online traders, as trade commissions tend to be larger when it comes to in-person investing. For example, if you seek the help of an actual stockbroker, you can expect to pay roughly $30.99 per trade in commission. To make the same investment online, you might spend an average of $8.90. Online brokers are, in general, cheaper, mostly because they don’t have the cover the same overheads as stockbrokers who work in the more physical sense.

When it comes to finding a broker online, E-Trade is perhaps one of the best known online brokerage providers, with three different trade platforms available for users in addition to its market data, quotes, data analysis and other useful information and resources. Best of all., E-Trade offers plenty of commission-free funds. There are also broker platforms Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and Vanguard, which has an average expense ratio of just 0.10%. Interactive Brokers is another that is recognised for its low cost but comprehensive service platform. 

Next, there are platforms dedicated entirely to stock market research. From Tradespoon (which offers a 7 day free trial) to StockFetcher.com, Yewno|Edge, TradingView and The Motley Fool Stock Advisor, there is no shortage of online tools and resources for analysing the stock market; assessing a company’s annual report performance, for example, and its annual return on investment (ROI). It’s now possible to access a wide range of stock market analysis tools online, such as stock screeners – which scan the entire market to give you information on average trading volume, price, chart patterns and so forth – charting software, and stock simulators. 

Now onto the platforms and websites that actually allow individuals to sidestep the broker and directly buy shares themselves. Apps like Robinhood Trading have made it easier than ever to access stock market trading, making it accessible to new types of traders with lower amounts of wealth than previous traders. That being said, RobinHood Trading doesn’t give traders access to a full range of investments like mutual funds, but it certainly works great for stocks and ETFs, and it recently added support for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

Acorns, however, is the app that is best for complete beginners with no idea how to go about the trading of shares. It describes itself as a site for ‘investing your spare change’, implying that there is no such thing as too small a trade. It’s so easy that once your bank account is linked, Acorns will track your regular spending and “round up” purchases to the nearest dollar, which is then used to make small investments via Acorns. It also automatically builds users a portfolio of stock and bond investments based on a brief questionnaire, helping build users a diverse, broad portfolio in line with their investment goals.

Between the countless apps, websites and downloadable digital tools that help traders invest in shares with more efficiency than ever before possible, it’s no wonder that a growing percentage of the approximate $US5,100,000,000,000 traded daily is traded online. 

How Trade Is Affected by Recent Foreign Policies

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Despite the fact that it hasn’t yet actually happened, ‘Brexit’ is doing all that its supporters hoped it would: it is seriously shaking things up in Europe. Already the economy has slowed right down, people all over Europe are scrambling to gain residency for fear of being kicked out of their country of residence without the correct passport, and the political chaos that has ensued needs no mention. 

Following the 23 June 2016 referendum that asked the British populice the question “should the United Kingdom (UK) remain a member of the European Union (EU), or leave the European Union?”, a mere margin of 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent voted that the UK should leave the EU. And so it was decided that the country would extrapolate itself from the clutches of the club that links some of the world’s strongest nations to one another. 

Everyone – from the IMO, to the Bank of England, to the Confederation of British Industry to Barack Obama – said the change in foreign policy would have major implications on the UK’s economy and on global trade, warning there would be major financial shocks in the near term as well as long-term economic decline. But the nation forged ahead, committing itself to establishing a new trade relationship with EU27 by the end of the two-year window, and as a result hopefully boosting the British economy for the first time in many years. 

The irony of all this, is that the UK decided on Brexit in a bid to fix itself and drag itself out of the stagnant economic situation the rest of Eruope had found itself in – but in reality, uncertainty over the Brexit outcome has simply damaged the UK’s economic growth, seeing it drop from 2.4% in 2015 to 1.5% in 2018. Businesses are shutting up shop and moving their headquarters from the UK to other parts of the EU, and the British pound fell from $1.48 on the day of the referendum to $1.36 the very next day, according to the GBP index and dollar index. But perhaps the most consequential impact of Brexit has been on global trade.

Beyond that the mere exiting of the UK from the EU set a global precedent for countries leaving trade agreements (TAs), meaning that in future the exit process may become more difficult, Brexit might even have had such an impact that it will discourage the future creation of TAs. This is because they will likely become more costly to negotiate and perhaps less valuable once established due to reduced flexibility or insufficient integration. 

On the ground though, moving to an EU free trade deal and establishing new free trade agreements with the US, Australia and New Zealand following Brexit has an estimated negative impact on the UK economy of 1.4% – equivalent to £28 billion or £1,000 per household. By eliminating Britain’s tariff-free trade status with the other EU members, it will raise the cost of exports, in turn hurting UK exporters as their prices would therefore jump up in price, making them less affordable to EU buyers. The weaker pound, however, will negate some of the impact. Despite knowing all this the British government has nonetheless forged ahead, claiming free trade is the best way to increase exports, investment and support local businesses. 

Some other sad and potentially difficult outcomes of Brexit for the British people are that tariffs will also increase the cost of imports into the UK – one third of which come from the EU – creating inflation and lower standards for UK residents. Many UK companies could also lose the opportunity to bid on public contracts in EU countries, an ill-considered aspect of Brexit by the UK government and one that could cost the UK workforce billions in the long run. Banking is another area which will be hit hard by the change in foriegn policy, which is significant when one considers that British banks lend nearly $1.4 trillion annually to EU companies and governments, and most financial activities taking place in Europe are either directly or indirectly performed out of London.

It’s not all negative, though. In the long-term,the UK could certainly benefit from greater non-EU specific trade, by reducing barriers bilaterally with countries like Australia and New Zealand. New trade and investment agreements with these non-EU partners have the power to open the UK market to enhanced overseas competition, while simultaneously allowing the UK to focus more on areas of strength, such as services. There is no argument that Australia is well positioned to redefine its trade and investment relationship with its motherland, so it is therefore likely Australia as well as the UK will benefit from Brexit in the area of trade.

The thing is, countries that are open to international trade tend to grow faster, innovate, are more productive and enjoy higher incomes than those that do not. Open trade also benefits lower-income households by giving consumers access to more affordable goods, and services. Has the UK shot itself in the foot by voting yes for Brexit? The answer – for the time being – is yes, it has hurt the UK economy. But hopefully in the long-run, having a future relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation will save the UK.

Navigating high speed internet providers’ spectrum of services

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In the United States, there are approximately 2675 internet service providers (ISPs) providing various types of internet services categorized based on the means through which data is transferred.  The state of New York currently has 41 internet providers, and it is the 4th most connected state amongst the others. In most states, consumers are able to access to a variety of types of internet services, including DSL, cable, fiber and satellite-based internet services, each of those has its own defining features. Hence, confusion often arises when it comes to choosing one from these internet services, the process of which can be made simpler by understanding how the Internet works and how these services differ from one to another. Spectrum is the second largest internet provider in the United States. Spectrum is accessible to approximately 102.7 million people and provides both cable and fibre internet services. Its tiered pricing system is easy to understand, and it is what makes them stand out from the other competitors. They utilize a hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network to deliver wired broadband services. 

The Internet is a massive network of interconnected devices for data transmission purposes by means of the use of various types of wires, cables and antennas, alongside other types of devices forming part of the overall network infrastructure. Most computers come with built-in TCP/IP network capability. TCP/IP, which is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol in full, is the language of the Internet. Comprising of four distinct layers, it is a set of standardized rules that enable TCP/IP-enabled computers on a network to communicate. Software programs interact with the application layer, the first layer, on which one can find numerous application protocols, including SMTP, FTP, HTTP and so forth. Different programs communicate with different application protocols, depending on the purposes of the programs. 

On the second layer, known as the transport layer, data sent from the first layer is divided into packets and these packets are delivered to the third layer, called the Internet Layer. On this layer, the assigned Internet Protocol (IP) gets the packets from the second layer and adds virtual address information, which is the IP addresses of the sender and receiver. The packets are then sent to the fourth layer. The fourth layer is the network interface layer that gets the packets, called datagrams on this layer, and deliver them over the network. Between two computers, the speed of datagram sending and receiving is affected by two factors, bandwidth and latency. Bandwidth is the maximum number of bits that can be transferred per unit time. Whereas, latency is the amount of time it requires for a datagram to travel from the source to the destination. Theoretically, the size of a TCP datagram is approximately 64 bytes. 

Currently, consumers in the U.S. are able to choose from a number of kinds of internet services, ranging from DSL to satellite-based services, with each of these available types having its own pros and cons. DSL stands for digital subscriber line and is a type of connection that transfers data through a telephone network via a telephone cable consisting of twisted-pair copper wires. It is the most famous connection globally. However, it has a low bandwidth with a high latency, offering download speeds in the range of 5 to 35 Mbps, with the upload speeds being in the 1 to 10 Mbps range. The main advantage of this connection type is that it is often the cheapest internet service in comparison with the others. 

Another type of connection is known as a cable connection. It transmits data through a cable television network via a coaxial copper cable. This connection is faster than DSL and highly reliable, with a higher bandwidth and lower latency. However, it sometimes slows down during peak hours due to the arrangement of its network infrastructure and is generally more expensive than a DSL connection. In terms of a wired internet connection, a fiber optic connection is the fastest and a relatively new type of internet connection. Having the highest bandwidth and lowest latency, it transfers data through a fiber optic network, offering download and upload speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. However, it is comparatively the most expensive alternative. 

In areas where wired connections are unavailable, connecting to the Internet is possible through a satellite connection. Data is transferred from one computer wirelessly through the connected satellite dish to the provider’s satellite spacecraft, and the signal then bounces back from the satellite spacecraft to the provider’s satellite dish. However, with the lowest bandwidth and highest latency, it is considered as the slowest and most unreliable internet connection, and the maximum bandwidth that it can achieve is only around 25 Mbps. 

The fiber optic internet is currently the fastest internet service available. However, cable connections are still widely used by Americans due to their affordability and performance. When choosing an internet service provider, it is necessary to ascertain your budget constraints, speed requirements and connection reliability expectations. Considering these factors during the selection process will help you opt for one that you will not regret in future. 

Can restaurants survive the era of delivery services?

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The food and beverage industry that spans the globe is one that has quite an impact in so many different ways. This is an industry that has been important from the very beginning, and it is an industry that will continue to be important going into the future. The latest evolution of the food and beverage industry, however, is arguably one of the most important to date. This is an evolution that has been around for a few years now, but is still effectively kicking into high gear.

Even (and especially) today, the food and beverage industry is in a current state of transition. Now that we live in the beginnings of the digital era, where modern marvels like the Internet and ecommerce reign supreme, it is inevitable that these modern marvels start making their impact in the world around us and the industries that make up the global society. With the Internet and ecommerce comes the influence in industries like the food and beverage industry that are geared towards transforming to realign with the way the world is moving.

For the food and beverage industry specifically, the rise of the delivery service has been the overarching answer to establishing and successfully achieving that realignment. So, the question remains: can restaurants and other establishments within the food and beverage industry survive the era of delivery services? This is a question that no matter which way you approach it, can literally have an answer that is split in half. And that is essentially exactly what has happened in this instance. The appeal of sharing an experience is the heart and soul of the food and beverage industry. So much so, in fact, that through every evolution in the industry, this has always remained the core contributing factor. Now, that core is remaining true but is beginning to be forced into a kind of collaboration where sharing the experience is more about convenience than it is about the experience itself.

That is why delivery services like Uber and Deliveroo has grown so fast; they provide a solution that allows diners to have the optimal convenience and efficiency of enjoying the meal they want, without having to have the commitment of going out of their way to get dressed up and travel to a selected destination to have that experience.

From the change in consumer habits to delivery apps, there is a digital transformation going on in the food and beverage industry that is certainly powered forward by consumers’ growing demand for convenience and efficiency above the experience of going to a venue. This is the new norm in the food and beverage industry. It is an intriguing paradox, because while restaurants and cafes and the like are indeed getting more business through these delivery services, they are also missing the opportunity to provide their customers the full experience of the venue ambience, atmosphere, great customer service and interaction with others.

To properly understand one side of the argument, it is important to understand both sides. On the one hand, there are those who firmly believe that the rise of the delivery service field in the food and beverage industry means that restaurants and the like will inevitably begin to fade away. With convenience comes the realisation that this is easier, and this is the power of the delivery service field. So the point of this argument is: adapt or die. On the other hand, however, are individuals who believe that a mix service (delivery and on-site) and collaborative efforts that are more fairly sectioned out are the answer to the survival of restaurants and other food and beverage institutions. In this argument, brick and mortar and online delivery will co-exist.

It is interesting, because the delivery service field has not necessarily taken work away from restaurants and the like, but it has definitely taken a significant cut of their margins on the argument that is has brought new business. Realistically, no side of the argument is entirely right and no side of the argument is entirely wrong. In addition, this whole argument support itself of the fact that the app delivery businesses are running on a loss in the attempt to capture market share. Whether these businesses will be able to sustain itself with the revenue it produces, and where all parties are winning, is yet to be seen.

Regardless of what side of the argument one stand, the recommendation is always to embrace change and make the best of it. If people are going online to order food, why not setup a catering software with your own online ordering website? If most people are ordering online why not operate a catering kitchen (also known as Dark Kitchen) and save on expensive retail rent? In other words, with the current changes in the food industry new opportunities will arise. So why not use this momentum to re-evaluate, adapt and take advantage of the digital era?

The food and beverage industry is one of the most enduring and inspiring industries. Throughout the decades, this is an industry that has proven time and again exactly how necessary and special it is. There have been many great evolutions in food and beverages, and each of them have come hand in hand with their own unique impacts. The current evolution sweeping throughout the global food and beverage industry is one of the most powerful ones. The digital era has brought with it innovations like the Internet and ecommerce. In the food and beverage industry, this newly emerging era has also introduced the delivery service and ability for food businesses without a physical establishment to sell online. At this point in time, it is difficult to accurately determine if restaurants and the like will adapt and survive or even grown through the opportunities generated by the current digital transformation. Time will tell.

Netflix’s New Release Sheds Light on Family Lawyers

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According to reviewers, “Marriage”, Netflix’s new release is one of the most authentic movies about divorce ever made. The characters are compelling, complex and layered. Their interactions feel real, the story is relatable, but above all, the movie shows the general audience a glimpse into family law and what it means for the entire family when a couple, especially one with kids – or in this case, a child – decides to get a divorce. What begins as a right for their belongings will ultimately turn into a fight for their child and the movie shows the various methods or sly tactics that one might employ in order to get the judge to be in favour of one or the other.

Family law practitioners are no doubt all too familiar with the setting: a couple who still has feelings for one another but has built up years of resentment or developed a lack of gratitude, leading one or both parties to feel underappreciated and are no longer invested in the marriage. The problem with having attorneys representing one another is that, while many couples still hope for an amicable divorce and a great friendship, too many attorneys will attempt to get their clients on board with their strategies because they aren’t marriage or relationship counsellors who want the two of you to have a peaceful parting – they are in the business of winning and therefore there are certain litigation tactics that deepen the gulf between the couple and make irreparable damages to their relationship, as was with the case of the two main characters, played by Adam Driver (Charlie) and Scarlett Johanssan (Nicole).

The premise is easy enough to understand, Charlie is a director and Nicole is an actress who gave up many opportunities to further her career in order to support Charlie’s. This sacrifice ultimately led her to feeling lost and lacking a life of her own, forever living in Charlie’s shadow, despite the fact that she is also interested in being a director. Even as their relationship falls apart, we can see how Scarlett’s character cares for Charlie and persuades him to give her his criticism of her as an actress before heading to bed as she knows that he wouldn’t be able to sleep otherwise. Despite having such deep concern for one another, they are unable to focus on their objectives during litigation meetings, and often go off track, with the attorneys picking up on details that one or the other had missed.

For instance, the fact that the couple stayed in New York initially, where Charlie has a theatre, but the legal battle took place in Los Angeles, much to the chagrin of Charlie’s attorney. The attorney claims that his wife has played against him by moving to Los Angeles with his son and serving him the divorce papers in Los Angeles. In the eyes of the court, they would be highly unwilling to relocate a child and would therefore hand custodial rights to the wife, unless Charlie is able to prove that they are New York based. However, according to true professionals in the industry, this part of the movie is factually incorrect. Charlie letting his wife and son move to California was not the biggest mistake he could make because they have not lived there for more than six months and therefore New York, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, would have had the superior claim and Charlie did not have to surrender his work to move to Los Angeles for his child.

Much of the battle between the attorneys is perpetuated by the couple’s own emotional grief and baggage. Unable to be objective, they often resort to low blows and use personal information against one another, such as how much one drinks (and therefore an ineffectual parent) or the like. According to the show, “you know what they say, criminal attorneys see bad people at their best and divorce lawyers see good people at their worst”, a principle that is shared by family attorneys all over the world. It is unfortunately, a practice of many attorneys is to get the best deal for their clients, whether their clients want it or not. We can see this when Nicole’s attorney got the custody breakdown to be 55/45, not because it was what Nicole wanted but because “I just didn’t want him to be able to say he got 50/50, bragging to his friends.”

Divorce litigation is an ugly scenario that people don’t want others to witness. That’s probably why prenuptials are gaining popularity, in an attempt to avoid the whole legality issue. The couple in the movie originally wanted to skip having legal proceedings but due to the advice of friends, Nicole decided to hire one which ended up burning through the money that they had initially saved for their son’s college fund and this is the reality of divorce. While many will say they want to part amicably or do what’s best for their children, at the end of the day, they will be using up the assets meant for their children and end up with an even more broken relationship.

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Agriculture and Human Civilization

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Technology is a blessing to humanity, without which, society would crumble and communities lost to starvation. Agriculture has been a part of human civilization since the beginning of time. Being able to cultivate crops and having enough yield to sustain the population was instrumental to how we populated the world. In the beginning, domestication was the most crucial step in creating successful and effective agriculture. Plant domestication included how to sow and harvest crops in order to maximize the yield. 

Farmers and scientists worked together in figuring out how best to domesticate wild plants to suit us best. While scientists are able to work out the optimum requirements such as environment, water, climate, farmers go about it in the most basic manner: keeping the seeds of plants that provided the best fruit or yield. For instance, the seeds from the sweetest mangoes will be kept and perhaps even sold, which propagates the plant further and longer for more generations to come. Conversely, a plant that does badly is often cut down and discarded, removing its opportunity to further propagate. Through artificial selection, undesirable traits are extinguished over time, while the opposite is that plants with promising traits are kept, well cared for and flourish. These are the evolutions that agriculture had to go through, from domestication to coevolution, with science always hot on the industry’s tail in order to further improve the system. 

With the world now at 7.9 billion people, agriculture has to undergo yet another upheaval in order to continue providing for hungry mouths all over the world, making agriculture an uphill battle as the numbers continue to increase. Farmers are also forced to adapt to emerging technology as best they can in order to keep up. 

Vertical farming and grow lights are two of the more popular buzzwords of 2019 as sustainability came into the picture. According to statistics, the world is only able to sustain a maximum population of 10 billion people, but only if everyone became vegan as cattle and livestock takes up more than 33% of agricultural land worldwide. Therefore, in an attempt to capitalize on the remaining land, vertical farming was introduced, a method that is much more sustainable as it uses less land, less water and less fertilizer – plus with the help of grow lights, you can potentially grow crops all year round, even in the dead of winter because you will be growing the crops in a controlled environment. Farmers in South Africa have used this technique to great success, and the practice should see a spike of interest well into 2020 as it is converted into full scale, commercial farming, replacing the traditional farms of yesteryears. 

Another reason why vertical farming is becoming popular is because anyone can start a vertical farm. Regardless of whether you’re living on landed property or in an apartment, which is great for apartment dwellers. They don’t need to sacrifice having a bit of greenery in their lives by moving into apartment buildings. Walls are the new real estate to those with green thumbs. While it is not a new invention, having been introduced as early as 1988, vertical farming has only recently been picked up by the masses purely due to the fact that urban dwellers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the concrete jungle that surrounds them and the rate of disappearing jungles due to logging and the agricultural industry. 

Aside from that, vertical farming has the potential to shorten the supply chain. Instead of flying in product from another part of the country, you could have a farm right next to your grocer. Why not? It’s not as though it takes up a lot of space. Quite the contrary, consumers would be happy to purchase produce fresh from the garden, without having to drive for miles out of the city to a proper, conventional working farm. 

While vertical farming might be the solution to the fact that the world is becoming increasingly smaller and that we have less and less land every day, there is still the question of how technology can further aid agriculture and researchers and inventors come up with new solutions every day: drones to monitor growth, big data analysis, drip irrigation and even mobile applications that can monitor their crops, help with plant identification or troubleshooting on farm devices and technology. Farmers can also ask for advice on forums that are able to help give professional help on how to save their crops or maximize yield. The internet has a wreath of information that everyone should take it upon themselves to study and understand their industry better, especially in a field much like farming where technology is being produced at an unprecedented rate and where there are no one-size-fits-all system, due to land, climate and other factors that can affect one’s farm. 

The Thrilling Evolution of Educational Toys

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Education is one of the most forward and revolutionary industries in the world. This has always been the way for this intellectually inclined industry. Throughout the decades, education has adapted with the shifting tides of a changing world, evolving time and time again to realign with the next phase of the human experience. Throughout all these years, the key fundamentals in education that have never wavered have been that education is powerful, and educational tools and toys make or break student experiences. The evolution of educational toys has been an evolution that has been challenging and inspiring, depending on which perspective you looked at any given moment in time from, and how long you stayed rooted to that perspective, taking it all in. In recent years, the educational toys available began to modernise again, this time becoming more capable and reliable through the introduction of technological advancement and enhancement. Even now, the toys utilised in education are becoming more heavily focused on modern marvels like digitalization and technological advancement than ever.

Of course, this is a direct mirroring response to the way that the entire modern education industry is slowly but surely transforming, being revolutionised in the face of technological advancement. The world around us has been slowly but surely shifting into high gear as a response to the climbing efforts in technological advancement that have had a phenomenal impact on the way the education industry – and the world itself, for that matter – have changed over the years. Today, the educational toys that students and educators alike utilise are more technologically sound than ever. So much so, in fact, that they are now almost entirely driven, or at the very least cultivated in collaboration with, technological innovation. Why, you ask? It all starts with the students. The students that go through the global education industry at any given time largely (if not entirely) control what aspects of education – yes, including educational toys – are working and which are not.

Modern students have grown up positively immersed in and surrounded by great feats of digitalisation and technological advancement. So, when the educational toys available to them began to incorporate and even mirror those same tech-driven innovations they had grown up surrounded by for their entire lives, they responded to them. It is a known fact that we respond best to what we are familiar with – at least in the beginning. Tech-driven educational toys like the digitalisation of learning materials (think textbooks, test papers, etc), iPads for homework, and Kindles for reading (among many other examples of tech-driven educational tools, of course) are just some examples of the educational toys that have evolved to become some of the most well-known and highly utilised of all of those available. This has all been through the ongoing assistance of the students who, one way or the other, make it known how the educational toys in circulation are being received and how useful they actually are to the students.

From educational toys in Australia, to the educational toys in Europe, and everywhere in between and beyond, the one constant is that the evolution of educational toys has been one that is rife with excitement, innovation, growth, and trial and error. Over the years, all those teachable moments and reigning triumphs built up to become what the educational toys available to learners and educators alike today, are. Never have educational tools and toys been this incredible, this profound. And never again will they be this simple, this old-school. The fundamentals that go into evolving educational toys from one era effectively into the next are the very same fundamentals that play a core role in ensuring that education remains fresh and relevant. This is an important distinction to make because if we lose sight of that fact, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of everything else.

Throughout the decades that education has thrived in its colourful existence, it has been a recurring theme that this is an industry that has adapted with the shifting tides of a world that refuses to stop evolving. Of course, this is a good thing. Education is a key fundamental contributor to the way of the world around us, and without it we would surely crumble. So, having an academic industry like education that not only meets expectations but far exceeds them, is a gift. The educational tools and toys that have assisted students and educators alike in their pursuit of more capable and reliable ways to learn and to teach, have become more and more technologically advanced and enhanced over the years. Today, these educational toys are more tech-savvy than ever. Going forward, these innovations in educational toys will only continue to become more and more advanced and enhanced – and technological innovation is largely, if not entirely, to thank for this ongoing evolution.

Personalisation Advancements Seek to Revolutionise Health and Fitness Industry

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It is no secret that the health and fitness industry is always evolving. Like the rest of the modern world, there is an undeniable sense of continuous evolution that has propelled the health and fitness industry to unprecedented heights (in mostly positive ways, of course). The modern health and fitness era is all about giving the power back to the people and essentially putting them in charge of their own trajectory towards their healthier selves. To some people, it sounds kind of strange. To others, it makes perfect sense – and then some. The movement to introduce a more personalised approach to health and fitness has been spinning on its axis in the peripheral vision of the health and fitness industry for quite some time now, but it was not until recently that it has truly kicked into active gear. Now, the personalisation advancements that are rippling through the health and fitness industry are not only changing the game, but are revolutionising the way that we approach health and fitness from the onset.  

The current advancements in personalisation are changing the health and fitness game tenfold. Whether it is the latest wearables or the technologies that are enhancing the individual’s experience with their diet and exercise, the point is always the same: personalisation is the core of the modern era in health and fitness advancement – and for good reason. The more information that we get about health and fitness, the more aware and knowledgeable we become about the ways that we should be stepping up to ensure that our personal levels of health and fitness are at their best. Inevitably, that means walking the line between inclusive information and personalised approaches that not only showcase the elements of health and fitness that apply to everyone, but the intricate specifics that assist that select individual in not only meeting their goals, but smashing them out of the park. 

That is where the magic starts, and personalisation is the driving force behind propelling that magic onward and upward. For every individual, their approach to their own health and fitness differs from those on either side of the. Sometimes, the differences are minute, and in other instances the differences are more significant. Some individuals buy clenbuterol while others exclusively eat a plant-based diet. Some individuals thrive in the structured environment of the gym, while others bloom in the natural environment around them out in the great outdoors. Regardless of who you are or what your specific approach to health and fitness is, however, the core underlying concept is that personalisation technology is here and it is advancing at exceedingly rapid rates, spelling the beginning of the next era in health and fitness. It is a beginning that is full of hope and promise, and one that is more than a little exciting to boot.

Personalisation advancement seeks to revolutionise the health and fitness industry, and to this end the movements thus far (think wearable technologies, apps, etc) are certainly positive. At the end of the day, personalisation advancements are worth their weight in gold. This is a fact that this fresh newfound approach to health and fitness is effectively proving time and again. The introduction and ongoing advancement of personalisation in the global health and fitness industry is a testament to the fact that consumers want solutions that work for them specifically and are not just broadly catered to the many people. Personalisation is the aim of the game these days, and it is certainly off to a flying start in the health and fitness industry. Best of all, is the fact that what we are currently seeing now is just the beginning of what is sure to be a very exciting, even life changing era in health and fitness.

The health and fitness industry is one of the most enduring and impressive industries in the world. This is an industry that is renowned for being instrumentally aware and responsive to the shifting priorities and needs of its consumers. And lately, the advancements rippling through the health and fitness industry have been primarily geared towards personalisation. This is an incredible movement, and it is one that is gaining considerable traction even now, several months into the global shift in the health and fitness industry. At the core of it all, personalisation advancements in health and fitness are all about giving the power back to the people and letting them run with it in ways that are truly relevant to them individually, not just as a collective group. It has taken some time to get to this point, but finally we are seeing incredibly healthy and supported movements in health and fitness towards a more globally personalised approach to all things health and fitness. The best is yet to come, so buckle up.