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.

New Pew Study Reports Student Debt Repayments Needs to Be Easier

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Eighty percent of Americans want the federal government to make it easier to repay student loans.  

This statistic is from a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It conducted a telephone poll this past August, interviewing more than 1,000 people about their opinions on student loans.

It’s important to note, the study only referred to federal student loans and not any additional personal loan or line of credit students may take out.

Many students searching out the answer to what is a personal line of credit know they may have to supplement student loans when their financing falls short. But Pew turns its spotlight away from these personal products to shine a light on the student debt crisis.

Now a record $1.6 trillion, the debt crises has gotten its fair share of ink at the nation’s biggest online news outlets — from the New York Times and the Washington Post to CBS News and CNN. It even hogs much of talking points in the 2020 Democratic debates unfolding this fall. 

And now, thanks to Pew, the average American can share their opinion, too. As it turns out, the country has a complicated relationship with student debt.

Repaying Loans is a Challenge

Although it’s possible to strike debt clean from your record, most people recognize it’s not the easiest thing to do. 

A whopping 89 percent of respondents said they agree borrowers have a hard time paying back their student loans. 

The average graduate owes roughly $30,000, which puts the average monthly payment of a standard repayment plan somewhere between $304 and $333

Picking away at debt in these sized installments means it will take you roughly 10 years to pay off what you owe. 

Of course, this $300 is on top of any personal line of credit payment, rent, and utilities you may have. 

A decade of balancing your books this way may be a hardship. And for some 7 million borrowers in default, it’s impossible. 

Student Loans Are a Drain on the Economy.

Pew reports 69 percent of respondents agree that borrowers who struggle to repay their debt have a greater impact on the economy. 

And they have good reason to believe this. 

More than 45 million people shoulder a collective $1.6 trillion debt load. This means nearly a little over 13 percent of the population share a significant financial burden. 

If they aren’t in default, they’re funneling a lot of each paycheck into their monthly repayments, along with other bills that keep their household running. 

Basic things like covering rent, a line of credit balance, and utilities become the priority

Less dire spending, like unnecessary yet fun services and products that help boost the economy, are put on the backburner. 

They’re also postponing major milestones that may have a greater impact on the economy later on. Unlike generations before them, millennials are waiting to start a family, putting off homeownership, and failing to save up for retirement. 

Federal Government Needs to Step Up

It may come as no surprise then that many of the those surveyed — or 58 percent — strongly agree the federal government needs to take action. They believe the government should make it easier to pay off student debt.

What Does Federal Action Look Like?

What the poll fails to make clear is how these survey participants expect the government to address this problem. 

Is it something like Bernie Sander’s plan to cancel all $1.6 trillion of debt by taxing the top 0.1 percent of Americans? 

Or is it something closer to Elizabeth Warren’s sliding scale of relief, which promises to forgive up to $50,000 of debt for those households earning less than $100,000?

Or perhaps, it involves much less progressive proposals, like Joe Biden’s bid for income-driven repayment plans or Julio Castro’s time-based forgiveness.

The answer to this question may have to wait until July 2020, when the Democratic Presidential Nominee takes the stage at the National Convention. 

And of course, let’s not forget the results of the November election, when the country chooses between another Trump government and a fresh start. 

While the Democrats debate canceling the debt, the GOP has moved in the other direction. During Trump’s presidency, his administration has loosened restrictions on loans, put sharp limits on repayment options, and ended loan subsidies and forgiveness programs. 

Next year proves a momentous year for the future of student loans and the economy. Time will tell how and if American concerns over the debt crisis will impact how they mark their ballots. 

However they vote, Pew proves that student loan debt and the repayment system weighs heavily on the minds of most Americans. If it does the same to yours, vote carefully. Find where the nearest polling station is to campus, and make sure you’re registered.

How Weddings Became The Ultimate Event

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As far as special life events go, weddings are about as special as it gets. In fact, for so many people, their wedding day is the day that they dream about for years and years. This is, after all, the day that you ultimately come together with your favourite person in the world and bring your lives together in one big party that lasts the rest of your lives. The lead up to the big day comes and goes like a flash, and before you know it you are married and you are enjoying the party of a lifetime, with all the glittering bells and whistles to match. And then, before you know it again, the day has come to an end, and suddenly you are living the next big chapter of your life. When all is said and done, your wedding day is without a doubt, one of the most special – if not the most special – days of your life.

Celebrating the love and respect between you and your favourite person, with all the people and animals that mean the most to you in the world, is just about the most magical event you can ever hope for. There are many moving pieces that go into planning and then even enjoying a wedding. First and foremost, weddings demand months and months of planning, and there are hundreds – if not thousands – of decisions that must be made within that time frame, ahead of the wedding day itself. Quite often (if not always) these are the tangible ticks off the list that make the whole special day come together as seamlessly as possible. You can get a lot of elements organised in the lead up to the big day, but it is also important to enjoy the process and this will not happen if you are stressed beyond belief the entire time.

So, get through the planning process but take the time to genuinely enjoy yourself too. After all, this is the biggest party of your life. People are often so focused on making every element of this most special event perfect, that they do not stop to smell the roses nearly enough along the journey to the day. Then, there are the little personal moments and touches that play out on the wedding day that ultimately make the wedding day truly unique. From the speeches, to the first dances, to the playlists and the special moments between the bride, the groom, and their family members or other guests, these are all personal little moments and touches that make the wedding day so memorable. Some couples even go the extra mile, even planning ahead of time to organise to have the flowers from their wedding reception organised into bunches of thank you flowers that are keepsakes for the individuals who helped bring the day together from start to finish.

These are all the little personal touches that make this special event such an incredible time all around, for everyone involved. There is more of a focus on these personal gems than ever with modern couples, and this is the ultimate testament to the importance of enjoying the whole process and the day itself. At the end of the day, your wedding is the ultimate special event that celebrates you and the person you love. That’s it. It really, honestly is that simple. So often, people overcomplicate the entire process and sadly do not end up enjoying it in the moment. So, when it comes your time to plan your wedding, take a deep breath, take a step back, and enjoy the process. Even amid all the chaos, it all comes back to that one simple thing: your relationship. Special events happen all the time in people’s lives, but there is no special event quite like your wedding day. For millions of people, their wedding day is the event that they have been thinking about for years and years.

So, when that day finally arrives, it can be easy to go into overdrive and not allow yourself to truly be in the moment throughout the day. This is one of the saddest yet most common realities of a wedding day, and it happens all too often. When all is said and done, all that should really matter at the end of the day is that you and your partner had a magical day surrounded by the people and animals that matter the most to you. Everything else can be falling apart around you, but if you have the right company on this special event, nothing else really matters. And when you look back on your wedding day, what you will remember the most is the atmosphere and the individuals who made that atmosphere come to vibrant, exhilarating life. Everything else is relative.

The Rise of Ghost Restaurants and Kitchens

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Ghost restaurants, sounding intriguing, is a new foodservice concept that has been trending in the US.  With the number of Americans who have chosen to order food by means of delivery services instead of dining in increasing rapidly to an extent that the current restaurants sometimes have trouble filling the demand, more and more family-operated restaurants are being re-modelled to benefit from this growing popularity of ordering out. Concurrently, more restaurants chains are turning to ghost kitchens, virtual kitchens, ghost restaurants or virtual restaurants in response to such highly-sought services. Restaurants failing under these never-seen-before categories are tailored to offer take-out only mostly without storefronts and dining areas. Customers often order dishes from these types of restaurants via food delivery applications offering a variety of foods by different restaurants and have the food delivered to their specified locations.

Typically, a virtual or ghost restaurant operates just like the traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant in the sense that foods are prepared once customers order them. A famous family-owned pizzeria in the US looks like a typical conventional restaurant with red chairs in the dining area and a black-and-white checkered floor. However, in the kitchen, the cooking crew prepares food for four later-established restaurants owned by the same business owner. These four restaurants do not have their own separate, physical spaces, and all the dishes that these restaurants offer are prepared in the same old kitchen and delivered via a third-party application while the pizzeria continues to serve their gourmet pizza to patrons that walk through the door. The owner set up the four restaurants, in a matter of weeks, earlier this year to make sure his business was ahead of this increasing trend. In addition to this operational remodeling by a family-owned business, a variety of major fast-food chains have also started to operate towards this growing trend on varying business models.  

Wendy’s has become the latest fast-food chain to bring up establishing their own ghost kitchens in the US by the end of this year in high food-delivery-demand areas without dining areas or storefronts as well as in areas in which the chain has yet to emerge due to high real-estate costs or other constraints. However, Wendy’s is not the only fast-food chain that is turning to setting up ghost kitchens to increase delivery sales by capitalizing on the increasing demand without having to fork out a large sum of money. 

Other major chains, such as the Halal Guys, Chick-fil-A and Sweetgreen have also started venturing into this trending market. However, instead of establishing their own ghost kitchens, they have partnered with a shared-ghost-kitchen provider, Kitchen United, to offer delivery from shared commercial kitchens. United Kitchen is a start-up that offers kitchen commissaries for restaurants that are planning to enter into the well-performing market by means of delivery or take-out only. This newly-established company has been backed by $50 million in funding from Google and other investors and currently has two locations in Chicago, Pasadena and California respectively. The company has formulated an expansion plan to set up 40 more shared commercial kitchens across the US. 

In addition to United Kitchen, Reef, which is a rebranded company that focuses on providing ghost kitchens, is operating on a different business model.  In lieu of only offering shared commercial kitchens like Kitchen United does to restaurants, Reef operates similar to a restaurant group, leasing ghost kitchens, in the form of trailers, to small restaurant owners while also offering cooks and workers on a fee basis to restaurateurs seeking for additional manpower. Reef places its shared commercial kitchens on the parking lots that the company owns. Currently, one of its parking areas is being occupied by three kitchen trailers leased to eleven different ghost restaurants. 

According to a food industry advisor, this online food ordering market is worth $26.8 billion, which is the fastest-growing source in relation to restaurant sales in the US. Digital orders are increasing approximately 20% each year despite only accounting for 5% of all restaurant orders. Setting up traditional restaurants generally involve high upfront investments and substantial overhead and operating costs. During their operation, these restaurants are also exposed to a higher level of competition. Approximately 26% of independent restaurants fail to survive in their first year. However, ghost restaurants or kitchens do not requirement substantial upfront investments and overhead costs, which in turn results in affordability for consumers. However, the only downside for consumers is that detailed reviews for ghost kitchen or restaurants are limited as most food delivery services only allow their users to rate restaurants with respect to their food quality by means of using a star-rating system. 

Taking into consideration these benefits and the growing demand for food delivery services, ghost restaurants and kitchens have become increasingly popular. Americans are getting more and more choices as the food delivery market undergoes rapid expansion, the extent of which is yet to be known. As the market evolves, these services are expected to become increasingly affordable and convenient for consumers. Given that most food delivery applications have yet to allow their users to upload reviews, consumers wanting to include wine as part of their food orders can check out the wine ratings by Sokolin before proceeding with the purchase.

Blurred Lines: When HIPAA, HITECH, FinReg and Medical Financing Collide

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In the Internet Age, the medical lending industry has changed greatly due to the proliferation of financial technology, which increased safety and security of both transactions and patient information. Companies are disrupting a multibillion-dollar industry by allowing patients to obtain funding for their care providers and treatments of choice, including cosmetic surgery financing, which is one of the top requests from prospective patients. They also work to educate patients on their rights and responsibilities under the law, and ensure patients have access to all the legal and financial information they need to make suitable decisions about their healthcare. 

However, the ever-changing nature of technology and the often-precarious regulatory landscape means patient-facing providers often occupy a treacherous middle ground between patient privacy, effective healthcare and oversight regulation. The lines are often confusing or contradictory, forcing these companies to think six moves ahead of current regulation to help ensure they stay current on the regulations impacting their niche market without sacrificing patient care. 

In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was created to meet the challenges of maintaining patients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality concerning their healthcare in the burgeoning Internet age. One of the key exemptions in HIPAA affected the financial sector in Section 1179, which reads:

To the extent that an entity is engaged in the activities of a financial institution, or is engaged in authorizing, processing, clearing, settling, billing, transferring or collecting payments for a financial institution, then the HIPAA statute and the accompanying rules do not apply.

In 2012, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, was passed, tightening restrictions and regulations for companies dealing partially or wholly in patient healthcare, as well as enhancing the obligation of these companies to ensure the protection of the individual consumer information generated by same to the maximum possible extent. Under HITECH, the exemptions in HIPAA for financial-side companies providing payment or funding to healthcare-side entities for individual patient treatments were tightened almost into nonexistence. This meant finance companies which had previously relied on the Section 1179 exemption no longer had that cushion between HIPAA requirements and their daily operations, and incurred the same obligations toward private medical information as healthcare providers, medical staff and support personnel.  

However, government officials and advisory panels have often noted technology is far outstripping the ability to regulate it. Legislation intended to safeguard consumers from the unknown consequences of updated technology is frequently obsolete before it’s ever deployed due to the rapid pace of innovation. Because regulation tends to lag years behind emerging tech, regulators find themselves in a binary position of either being forced to embrace reckless action which risks stifling competition and innovation without having adequate access to the information required to make informed policy decisions, or a paralytic scheme in which nothing is regulated to the detriment of the consumer. These issues are only magnified by conflicting or competing legislation which spans multiple disciplines, such as the healthcare credit industry.

The educational sector has produced a blizzard of white papers, policy analyses and speculatory pieces concerning this paradox between the rapid pace of innovation and the relative crawl at which regulation can consider new technology and privacy paradigms. Scholars in the fields of law, medicine, public policy and technology have all considered how their fields are intertwined and what may come next, and the inescapable consensus is that regardless of what it will be or what it will look like, policymakers will almost certainly not be ready.

Healthcare lending companies and brokerages live in the battleground between these disciplines. They also exist in a state of constant government and civilian watchdog scrutiny as they navigate a spaghetti bowl of regulations and statutes which contradict, negate and enhance each other, often in unexpected ways. As a result, they have adopted ongoing patient confidentiality and protection protocols which meet or exceed the existing regulatory requirements and often go far beyond them, in a bid to ensure they are and remain compliant with evolving regulation for years to come. For patients, this means they can shop with confidence, knowing whatever regulatory hurdles may come in the future, their information will be protected.

The importance of seeking the right talent for a job

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Companies understand that a great vision is useless without the necessary skills to achieve it

Employers, whether they like it or not, understand that the degree of success of their companies revolve around the quality of employees they have. Co-founder and former CEO of Apple Computers, Steve Jobs, once said, “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”

In that sense, the job market is a candidate-driven one, which 90% of recruiters believe. However, over 50% of employers and candidates believe the current labor market is employer-driven. This is because according to statistics, one job ad receives, on average 250 applications. Employers believe they “still have the opportunity to pick from a pool of potential employees,” and are, therefore, in the driver’s seat. However, recruiters and hiring managers see that “Candidates are in higher demand. There are more open positions than qualified, interested and motivated candidates to fill them.”

In particular, sifting through hundreds of resumes, recruiters and hiring managers are despondent, unable to find suitable candidates with required qualifications to fill open positions. This factor as well as a frustratingly lengthy hiring process prevents netting in good candidates.

Even as recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes, they are confounded by the negatives that make it difficult for them to consider the job-seekers as potentially viable candidates. For instance, according to the recruiting website CareerBuilder, 34% of hiring managers seek quantifiable results on a resume. According to a recent survey by a recruiting website, there are specific significant reasons for recruiters to dismiss applicants as unviable. 84% of them find as unacceptable,  impersonal applications, which do not mention the hiring manager’s name, while 57% believe a Thank You note after the interview is essential. 54% of hiring managers want to see customized resumes and 45% disapprove if there is no cover letter.

Above all, social media is having a significant impact on how hiring managers and recruiters view job applicants. In the U.S. alone, there are 30,000 job search websites. Even as job applicants are able to apply for any and every job they see online, company hiring managers are equally able to gauge online if the applicants are indeed suitable, and have the skills they say they do. Social media presence, therefore, has become increasingly important in the hiring process. Recent surveys show that  3 in 10 employers have someone dedicated to solely getting the scoop on applicants’ online persona. Surveys aimed at job applicants indicate that the applicants are aware recruiters and hiring managers look up their social media profiles, specifically on LinkedIn. As global organizational consulting firm, Korn Ferry found, about 40% of U.S. companies have outsourced most of the hiring process  in their organizations to Recruitment Process Outsourcers (RPOs) or outside recruiting companies, who, in turn, often use subcontractors, generally in India and the Philippines.

When companies try to find their own candidates without the help of recruiters, they find they are almost immediately overwhelmed. With only 35% of applicants being actually qualified for the jobs they apply to, one job advertisement may attract hundreds of applicants, many of them unsuitable. However, the volume of resumes makes it hard if not impossible for hiring managers to consider each application in detail. In fact, the average time spent by recruiters looking at a resume is 5 to 7 seconds. This is actually unfair to all because, with this cursory method of weeding out the unsuitable, the really worthwhile candidates may get weeded out as well.

This is where the importance of recruiters can be seen, for they are able to devote time for in-depth  reading and analysis of resumes, for that is their job.And so, they are able to zero in on essential skills through skills matrix templates.

Thus, it is critical to identify the candidates with the skills needed for the position without too much delay, for, companies can easily miss out on the best candidates by not giving the necessary time to skills each one brings. Furthermore, if the volume of resumes delay hiring managers in reaching out to qualified candidates, they may lose them altogether to competition.

Complicating the hiring process is the contemporary way of drawing talent to a company.  Human Resources Departments of organizations post-World War II, were heavily into analyzing jobs, and determining the tasks for those jobs, then conducting a job evaluation to determine how a particular job fitted into the company’s organizational chart, then determining remuneration for the position in relation to other jobs in the organization. When the job was posted and applicants applied, they sorted out applications through skills tests, reference tests and personality and  IQ tests. It is significant that most non-entry level positions in those earlier times, were filled by promoting from within, and training the employees accordingly.

However, in the current job market, most non-entry level positions are also filled from the outside, with the hired employees already possessing the necessary skills and experience to hit the road running. As census data shows, many people who accept new jobs today, are not even seeking one. Someone simply approaches them and lure them into a new position. Also, many employers today advertise positions they are not looking to fill, which probably don’t even exist. Through this strategy, they hope to find possible candidates for future needs, or to find candidates for hiring in a different context.

The focus is finding extraordinary talent. As American author and business management consultant put it astutely, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

Kubernetes: An IT Revolution

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Kubernetes is becoming the golden standard for companies looking for container orchestration. Developers can rely on Kubernetes to deliver and manage container software across clouds and environments. In a sense, Kubernetes is contributing to an IT revolution. This article covers an overview of Kubernetes, its benefits and why it constitutes a disruptive technology. 

What Is Kubernetes?

It is an open-source platform used to automate containerized applications. Kubernetes manages, deploys and operates application containers. A container is a software package containing all the components an application needs to run, minus an OS. Containers make applications and microservices portable across computing environments. 

When you only have a few containers to manage, manual orchestration is often sufficient.  However, when it comes to managing large numbers of containers, a container orchestration tool comes handy. Some of the key features of Kubernetes include:

  • Automates manual processes—for example, the platform chooses the best location for containers, which server will host them and how they will be launched.
  • Self-monitoring—Kubernetes constantly monitors the health status of nodes and containers. 
  • Horizontal scaling—you can scale resources out, meaning you can add more containers to your resources. 
  • Multiple environments support—supports cloud, on-premises and hybrid  environments.
  • Load balancing—Kubernetes prevents network overload by distributing traffic across resources.
  • Storage orchestration—Kubernetes can add storage, determining, for example, how much memory is allocated to each container. 

Benefits of Kubernetes

Before we cover the benefits of Kubernetes, we should start explaining some benefits of containers.

Containerization reduces resource costs. Containers are self-contained packages that share host operating systems and networks. They allow you to save in hardware and data storage costs as containers are lightweight by design. Containers are portable, which means that you can run your application across environments without consistency issues. Developers can copy containers and send them to the relevant departments for testing, integration or deployment. This results in a faster time to market.

There are several open-source and commercial options for container management. Kubernetes is leading the market for the past several years. Some of the benefits Kubernetes has to offer include:

  • Solid architecture—Kubernetes has a mature underlying architecture built by Google engineers. 
  • Large supporting community—the project has a large and active community, which means that new features are released frequently. Several leading tech companies also support the platform such as the major cloud providers. 
  • Flexibility—the platform supports a wide range of programming languages, databases, and workloads. It enables both stateless and stateful data, making it ideal for large databases.
  • Open-source—this means that you can move workloads anywhere you want, including on-premises, hybrid or public clouds. This avoids vendor lock-in, as you can easily switch providers. 
  • High Availability—Kubernetes achieves high availability by constantly monitoring the health of nodes and containers. One of the key features of Kubernetes is that it automatically replaces failed containers or pods. 

The Evolution of Kubernetes

Kubernetes was originally created by Google engineers in 2014. Since its release as an open-source project, the solution experienced a growing trend with no signs of waning, according to the latest Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) survey.

While Kubernetes adoption has seemly reached maturity it is far from universal. Since 2017,   adoption of managed Kubernetes services have become popular among organizations. The breakthrough came in 2018 when Microsoft and Amazon launched their own managed kubernetes services, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) and Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS). With the top three cloud providers offering Kubernetes support, more companies are choosing container orchestration from the start of their cloud journey.

Kubernetes is a disrupting technology that made it possible for containers to revolutionize the software development industry. Nowadays, developers need to build applications that can be deployed in different environments and operating systems. Modern projects require scalability and flexibility. Kubernetes’ modular approach helps developers deliver projects faster while meeting availability and security demands.

How Kubernetes Is Contributing to the Open Source Revolution?

Containers are one of the biggest disruptors in open source technology. In what is called the “container revolution”, virtual machines might become obsolete. The open-source nature of Kubernetes is perhaps one of the reasons container technology is here to stay. That, and a community of over 2000 contributors that work together to innovate and improve the platform.

Containers’ portability makes Kubernetes the right fit to help to increase the efficiency of a DevOps pipeline. DevOps is a software development approach that uses the agile methodology to integrate development and operations. This approach has become the standard for software development in recent years. The resulting synergy of DevOps and Kubernetes is one of the causes of the exponential growth in cloud-native applications. 

What’s Next?

Recent research predicts the container market will reach the $2.7 billion mark by 2020. Vendors are competing to provide organizations with solutions for application container use beyond management and orchestration. One of the factors behind the container adoption is the growing number of hybrid cloud deployments. As more companies are migrating to the cloud, container technology is helping to address IT infrastructures consisting of multiple environments. Undoubtedly, we are just seeing the start of a shift towards more usage of Kubernetes in software development and deployment.

Technological Impact Revolutionises Modern Home Design

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In the last decade or so, the world as we know it has gone through quite a revolution. This revolution has been driven forward, onward, and upward by digitalisation and technological advancement. Today, we live in a world that has been profoundly impacted by all this modernisation, to the point that practically every aspect of life as we know it is different to the way it once was. Even life at home has been given quite the digitally inclined revitalisation. In the past, homes have always been places of comfort and relaxation, and while this has not changed, the ways in which our most private spaces are set out has changed drastically. Like it or not, technological influence is well and truly here to stay, and the modern home is perhaps the most significantly impacted aspect of modern life to face this realisation. Home design has always been important, but now as technological influence comes into the mix, it has become more pronounced and more advanced than ever. Home design is about creating spaces that feel the best and that radiate comfort and efficiency.

Throughout the history of home design, that has been the underlying constant that no matter how much the home design trends atop it have changed and shifted, has remained steadfast. In a modern world where technology rules and the entire world is becoming more and more dependent on technological influence all the time, it has never been as important as it is right now for home design to incorporate technology into the mix in exciting and fresh ways. Today, home design incorporates home technologies like property-wide smart security systems and virtual assistants into the framework of the homes themselves, and that says a lot about where are currently and where we are heading in terms of home design. We crave the convenience and efficiency that home technology offers, and so it has essentially moved into place as our leading home design trend. More to the point, it is a home design “trend” that appears to be outliving all others, proving that it is more of a staple in home design today.

Technological impact has profoundly revolutionised modern home design by essentially taking all the core home design traits that people love, and somehow perfectly encapsulating them into the perfect approach to creating the perfect living spaces at home. Today, home technology is a coveted staple in home design, to the point that buyers and even renters are prioritising their options when looking at potential properties, by looking into the home tech capabilities or scope for potential in the home. If that does not say a whole lot about where we are in terms of expectations for modern home design, then what does? The sheer convenience and overall efficiency of home technology makes it the perfect modern candidate for leading home design staple not only now, but as we move forward into the next era in home design. While some home design trends come and go, it is safe to say that home technology is here to stay.

There is something thrillingly convenient about being able to ask your virtual home assistant to learn more about crawl space encapsulation in your home so you can consider it for further home improvement at your property. Home design is supposed to be perfectly simple, yet charmingly intricate. Home technology somehow manages to walk the line between the two ideals beautifully. Of all the home design trends that have shifted into the position of home design staples out there, home technology is arguably the most effective and the most prominent of all. Welcome to the next era in home design, where you can do it all with the help of the home technologies that are designed and personalised to assist you in making the most out of life at home, in every aspect. More than anything else, this is exciting and thrilling. Home design has never been smarter or more exciting.

The modern world that we are currently living in and navigating our way through has come to fruition largely on the tail of ongoing digitalisation and technological advancement. This is the reality, the truth of the matter. As advancements in technology continued to become more and more pronounced, every aspect of life as we know it has become more and more steadily focused on technological horizons. By incorporating home technology into the home design of modern properties, people are realising the practically limitless scope of potential that home design offers when it is strengthened through home technologies. Today, modern home design is more focused on home technology than ever. Going forward into tomorrow and beyond, there are no signs of this case slowing down any time soon. Home technology is the core of modern home design, and the best is yet to come.

Engagement Rings Are More Personal Than Ever

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As far as jewellery goes, you are never likely to own a piece of jewellery that is as important or sentimental as your engagement ring. This is the piece of jewellery that you wear for the rest of your life, and it is a piece of jewellery that symbolises so much, in such a tiny ring. There are so many different engagement (and wedding) ring styles out there, and they all have their own flare and appeal to the right people. Because your engagement ring is the bling you will likely (if not definitively) wear for the rest of your life, there is even more of an emphasis to have a style that you adore – after all, nobody wants to wear an engagement ring that they do not even really like. The industry that sells these precious rings has been going from strength to strength, having enjoyed a phenomenally successful history. It is a history that shows no signs of slowing down its trajectory of ongoing longevity, success, and quality, either. In fact, today, brides and their partners are more involved in the selection and personal design of their ring, than ever.

The bridal jewellery industry is one of the most profitable in the world. In 2017, Tiffany & Co alone sold more than $500 million worth of engagement rings. This is a phenomenal number, and it is one that continues to hold strong, even steadily climbing, with each new year. Jewellery is all about personal taste, style, and design, and nowhere else is this truer than it is in the case of engagement rings. People often spend weeks, even months, searching for the perfect engagement ring, or scouring for ideas to design one from scratch. There is just something unique about engagement rings…the awareness that not only is this a piece of jewellery, but it is a piece of jewellery that people will associate not only your initial engagement, but your status as a married couple, forever (at least aesthetically). In an industry where perfection is prized, but uniqueness is more so, getting the perfect engagement ring can be a time-consuming process.

Have you ever been blinded by the glare of the sparkle coming off someone’s engagement ring? There is something undeniably special about the cushion cut engagement rings, or custom designed bands that feature twisting vines crusted with diamonds. For anyone who has ever dreamed of what their wedding will one day look like, of what their engagement and wedding bands will look like, that first moment after seeing the ring for the first time can be overwhelming in all the best ways. Knowing that the person you love has gone to the effort of finding an engagement ring that they knew you would love, that reminded them of you, that they wanted you to wear for the rest of your lives, is a very special thing. Engagement rings are the most thoughtful piece of jewellery a person can have – nobody buys an engagement ring without seriously thinking about what type of ring they want to invest in.

Today, engagement rings are more personal than ever. Getting engaged is all about the couple specifically, and the ring is the marker of that transitory time between being in a relationship and becoming engaged. Modern brides-to-be are more focused on the thought behind everything than the physical aesthetic of the entire process – and that includes their rings. While every bride loves to have a ring that she adores to look at, there is more and more of an emphasis on rings that are not only beautiful to behold, but also remarkable in their meaning, the symbolism that was behind the choice in the first place. There is an undeniable sense of absolute joy when you find that perfect ring, or when you see it for the first time as your partner is proposing. It is a feeling that is difficult, if not impossible, to mirror in any other circumstances.

Your engagement ring is the most personal and sentimental piece of jewellery you will ever own. The engagement ring that you wear symbolises the promise of a life together that will (hopefully) make you both better and happier people. An engagement ring is special. An engagement ring is sentimental. And these days, an engagement ring is often (if not always) more personal than ever. The industry that sells engagement rings is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the world. There is something exciting about the sparkle of jewellery, something special about the way it shines in the light. That is never truer than it is in the case of engagement rings. Modern couples are more invested in the selection and design process than ever, and it shows in the incredible and unique ring designs coming out of the woodwork every day. Of all the facets of the jewellery industry, engagement rings make up not only the majority of sales, but the peak of creativity. Engagement rings are more personal – and beautiful – than ever.

Carbohydrate Macronutrients And Their Impact On The Body

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Health is something that, like it or not, is not so easily tracked some of the time. It is a known fact of life that despite the best of intentions, sometimes things just do not go according to plan. As life gets busier, it becomes more of a challenge to stay on top of everything. Even though this is very much the case, it is fundamentally important that people try their absolute best to prioritise their health – even if they feel like they are too busy to put the necessary emphasis on doing so. An individual’s quality of life is very much (at least partially) dependent on their overall health. So, how can we best care for our health? What are the fundamental building blocks that form the basic foundations of positive overall health? While of course exercise is important, it rings undeniably true that diet is the ultimate core contributor to overall positive health. How you fuel your body says a lot about your commitment to your health not only in the moment, but long-term.

What you eat has more of an impact on your quality of life than you might realise. Nutrients, for example, play a pivotal role in the body. Take macronutrients (or macros) for instance. One of two types of nutrients the human body needs (the other being micronutrients), macronutrients are essential for not only the perseverance and maintenance of physical health, but also mental health. Within macronutrients lie the three main food groups (carbs, fats, and proteins). Understanding the role that macronutrients play in the overall health of our bodies starts with breaking down their foundational uses. More and more often as of late, people are realising the incredible impact that nutrients like micronutrients and the like have on our bodies, and a lot of that is thanks to the steadily growing body of research and studies on the topic. 

It seems that, no matter where you look these days, there are more articles and case studies surrounding the importance of nutritional intake and its impact on our bodies. While calorie intake is more or less responsible for weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance, macronutrients play a greater role in overall body composition because of their internal properties. Carbohydrate macronutrients, for example, provide the body with four calories per gram and are the primary energy source for the body. Carbohydrate macronutrients not only fuel the muscles throughout the body but also the brain, digestive system, and other important bodily functions as well. When you fuel your body with the right carbohydrates, your body is designed to metabolise them quite quickly, meaning that they are the body’s preferred energy source. Carbs are broken down into glucose that then provides your body with precious energy.

The best types of carbs to choose from are beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition to providing the body with energy, carbohydrate macronutrients also provide the body with fibre. This improves heart and digestive health. So, carbohydrate macronutrients can genuinely have a positive effect on the human body, so long as you are smart about portion control and which carbs you eat in your general diet, and which ones you allow as treats. The body digests and processes carbs differently than it does fats and proteins, but that does not make it any less important for individuals to stay firmly on top of their calorie intake. At the end of the day, carbohydrate macronutrients are all about fuelling the body so that it can go and go and go, without much (if any) lag. More than anything else, understanding the crucial role that carb macros play in an individual’s overall physical and mental health can (and often does) work wonders for an individual’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Health is an aspect of our existence that, at the end of the day, has a significant impact on overall wellbeing and quality of life. The way that we treat our bodies is important because you literally get out what you put in when it comes to overall health. There is a lot to be said about practicing healthy habits to help bring about a sense of utmost health and happiness. One of those healthy habits is maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Giving our bodies the nutrients and nourishment that they need to function and perform at their best is all about treating our bodies with the respect and love they deserve, and ultimately reaping the rewards for that consistent and ongoing chain of actions. At the core of healthy eating lies nutrients. Macronutrients like carbohydrate nutrients are the framework that help the body to get everything it needs from dietary intake. Without carb macros, the entire system can fall into a state of chaos, which is why they are such a fundamental building block for overall health.

Will Technology Really Help Stave Off Climate Change?

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This week saw the world’s leaders deliberate on climate change and the speed at which we are hurtling towards a future tainted by its clearly unavoidable impacts. It was the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York in an effort to advance global climate action for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

At the Summit, which attracted negative feedback from the media, environmentalists and advocacy groups around the world since day one of proceedings: U.S. and Brazil didn’t bother to show up, China and India largely re-stated existing goals, and commitments from other big emitters fell short of that necessary to hit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s target of limiting global warming from rising by more than 1.5 degrees above pre industrial levels. 

At the conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a chord with the audience, urging people to maintain faith that future technology will be able to help stave off climate change. Her view was shared by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who gave a speech in which he argued that “new advances (in technology) are making renewable energy ever cheaper, aiding our common struggle against climate change.”

Are any of these life-and-climate-changing technologies already in existence? If so, why haven’t they saved us yet? Perhaps more importantly, exactly what kinds of technologies are Merkel and Johnson anticipating will help dig us out of the colossal hole in which we have found ourselves?

Perhaps they refer to artificial intelligence (AI) – a tool that is not only playing a growing role in our everyday lives, but could also become a critical factor in helping to save the planet. Microsoft’s five-year, $50 million AI for Earth program awards grants to researchers and innovators trying to solve the world’s greatest environmental challenges using AI to maximize their potential. Researchers supported by dedicated development teams around the world are using the technology to explore untapped parts of the earth, places otherwise too dangerous or difficult to explore. Polar scientist Joseph Cook, for example, is using Al to analyze satellite data for mapping changing ice surfaces over the cryosphere over time, to determine their melting rate.

GPS technology has similarly been hailed a potential game-changer for global greenhouse gas emissions. By using data gained from GPS mapping systems, vehicle fleet operators can make their operations more efficient, reduce unnecessary idling and streamline their journeys and business practises. This is significant, because the transportation sector is responsible for roughly 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, the most important contributor of climate change. 

Solar technology has also been developed for use for many years now, but it is only now that people – and business – are truly harnessing the technology for its value and potential. 

While solar power plants are capital-intensive ventures, with the equipment guaranteed to serve only a relatively short lifespan of perhaps several decades, maintenance costs are relatively marginal and the fuel is free, so this appears to be one of the most straightforward paths to minimising greenhouse gas emissions through offering an alternative to the burning of more traditional fuel – fossil fuels. Solar technology has come a long way in recent years, with improved efficiencies in the manufacturing process one factor for the reduced costs of solar technology of late. 

And then there are far-fetched technologies which have only been developed as pilot projects, since they are still too risky to produce en masse. Take, for example, the ‘drone that pollinates’, which has been developed by researchers in Japan, and which is currently undergoing testing as a ‘bee alternative’. Or, the plane that emits only water. Unfortunately, said plane seats only four people, including the pilot. Regardless, it runs purely off an electrical current from a supply of hydrogen and oxygen, aided only by a battery.

The UN itself is perhaps one of the most significant supporters of technology as a means of addressing climate change. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has publicly been an advocator of “bioenergy with carbon capture  and storage” for some time now. This process depends on growing plants purely for energy production, otherwise known as “energy crops” that absorb CO2 as they grow – and capturing the CO2 released when power is generated from them. The biggest hurdle at this stage? Crops grown for biofuel would be competing for land needed to grow food crops to support our ever-growing global population.

Preventing climate change is simple. All you have to do is stop using fossil fuels and plant a huge number of trees. Every business, start-up and non-profit organisation to date that has attempted to undertake the overwhelming task of solving our environmental woes and putting an end to climate change through the use of technology has utterly failed. Why is this? Well, because the task is now simply too big, too demanding, too arduous for one company, or entity, or country, technology  or person to take on. 

Technology won’t save us now, but continued advocacy for sustainable choices, a global community of more empowered individuals, a reduced emphasis on profit, better global leadership and more scientific research, all supported by technology might just help us make a tiny bit of difference at this stage. That’s the best we can hope for.