Monday, December 28, 2015

Google Pairs With Ford To Build Self-Driving Cars (Yahoo)

Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing, Yahoo Autos has learned.

According to three sources familiar with the plans, the partnership is set to be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. By pairing with Google, Ford gets a massive boost in self-driving software development; while the automaker has been experimenting with its own systems for years, it only revealed plans this month to begin testing on public streets in California. Google has 53 test vehicles on the road in California and Texas, with 1.3 million miles logged in autonomous driving. 

By pairing with Ford, the search-engine giant avoids spending billions of dollars and several years that building its own automotive manufacturing expertise would require. Earlier this year, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the company was looking for manufacturing partners that would use the company’s self-driving system, which it believes could someday eliminate the roughly 33,000 annual deaths on U.S. roads.

Ford CEO Mark Fields showing off the company’s self-driving prototype last week in California.

While exact details of the partnership were unclear, it’s understood the venture would be legally separate from Ford, in part to shield the automaker from liability concerns. Questions of who will be responsible for any crashes involving self-driving cars have been seen as a major hurdle to putting them on the road; earlier this year, Volvo said it would accept responsibility for crashes in autonomous mode, a pledge followed by Google and Mercedes-Benz.

The deal is understood to be non-exclusive; Google has been talking to several other automakers for some time about using its self-driving systems. Most major automakers and several auto parts suppliers are developing their own self-driving controls as well, with a few—Nissan, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz among them—promising advanced vehicles for customer sales by 2020. 

Google declined to comment. Ford spokesman Alan Hall said the automaker works with many companies on its Ford Smart Mobility plan, adding: “We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons, and we do not comment on speculation.”

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Google’s parent firm Alphabet would move the self-driving car business under its own unit, with a goal of eventually launching a taxi or car-sharing services in urban areas that would compete with Uber and others. The company has tested its systems with modified Lexuses and custom-built, low-speed electric cars assembled by Roush Industries, a Ford supplier.

Google already has several links to Ford; the head of the self-driving car project, John Krafcik, worked for 14 years at Ford, including a stint as head of truck engineering, and several other ex-Ford employees work in the unit as well. Former Ford chief executive Alan Mulally joined Google’s board last year. 

And Ford executives have been clear for years that the company was ready to embrace a future where cars were sold as on-demand services. Ford CEO Mark Fields has repeatedly said Ford was thinking of itself “as a mobility company,” and what that would mean for its business. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

China’s Qihoo 360 Moves To Delist From NYSE

Via A $9 Billion Buyout

Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba held the largest IPO in U.S. history last year, but going public isn’t all sweetness and roses for every Chinese tech firm. In fact, a resurgent public market coupled with increased private equity has made the ideal of listing domestically — or, not being public in the U.S. — more appealing.

Those look like the reasons why Qihoo 360, one of the country’s influential tech companies, is moving to delist from the New York Stock Exchange.

The company, which started out providing anti-virus solutions but offers a range of mobile and internet services, this week announced a proposed buyout led by chairman and CEO Zhou Hongyi. At $77 per share, the offer is worth around $9 billion and represents a 17 percent premium on the company’s valuation as of end of day Tuesday. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reports that, if successful, it would be “the largest take-private deal of a U.S.-listed Chinese company”.

Qihoo 360 didn’t say exactly why it is working to delist, but a number of factors are worth considering.

China’s own stock market is booming, and it could be that Qihoo 360 sees more value in being a public company at home rather than overseas. Indeed, related to that, the company and its services aren’t particularly known in the U.S..

Added to that, China is offering attractive sweeteners to lure tech companies into working more closely with the national stock market. Our partner publication Technode reports that China’s State Council has committed significant resources in the form of subsidies and free office space in designated startup and innovation hubs like Shenzhen and Suzhou.

Listening in the U.S. was a popular option for Chinese tech companies last year, so it will interesting to see if Qihoo 360’s move is a canary in the coal mine moment, or a one-off decision from a company that has struggled to manage its image outside of home turf.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

City of Miami: Police Community Dialogues

It's So Bad in Brazil That Olympians Will Have to Pay for Their Own AC (BusinessWeek)

  • Hampered by economic crisis, Rio 2016 will cut $520 million
  • Organizers say no changes to what broadcasters were promised
Image result for Rio Olympics

The Brazilian economic crisis has finally hit the 2016 Olympics. Following a new round of cost-cutting by the Rio 2016 organizers, athletes will be asked to pay for the air conditioning in their dorm rooms. Stadium backdrops will be stripped to their bare essentials. Fancy cars and gourmet food for VIPs are out.
"The goal here is to organize games without public funding and to organize games that make sense from an economic point of view," Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said in an interview.
That economic focus has changed radically in the six years since Rio was awarded the Games – South America’s first. At the time, Brazil’s government pledged $700 million toward any budgetary overrun. Then the economy tanked. Unemployment has soared, and the local currency, the real, has lost one-third of its value against the dollar in the last year.
Now, with costs that ran up to 2 billion reais ($520 million) over budget and the public commitment in doubt, the organizers must stick firmly to the 7.4 billion reais they expect to earn from sponsorships, ticket sales, and a grant from the International Olympic Committee. Final decisions on what to pare back and how much should be finalized by next week, Andrada said.
By the time the Games begin, the committee plans to have 500 fewer paid staff than the 5,000 it originally expected. The deepest cuts will probably come from operational areas like catering, transportation and cleaning services.
Shifting the cost for air conditioning and other amenities from the host city to each nation’s Olympic committee – or to the athletes themselves – is a big deal, said Nick Symmonds, a two-time Olympic runner.
“The world wants to tune in and watch the world’s greatest athletes compete at the absolute highest level," Symmonds said. "If you don’t provide them with good food, a good place to sleep and comfortable temperature, they won’t be able to recover and bring the A-plus product that the world is demanding. To cut the budget on athletes’ hospitality and comfort, that’s just going to cheapen the games.”
Andrada said air conditioning is an “absolute necessity” in some areas, though not bedrooms. The 17-day event, which kicks off on Aug. 5, takes place in Rio’s winter, and the average daytime temperature is in the mid-20s Celsius (mid-70s Farenheit). Some days are much hotter, though, with highs last August creeping into the mid-90s.
Others worry that the cuts will further underscore the chasm between athletes from wealthy countries and those from poorer ones. (Already some top athletes, including the NBA players who join the USA Basketball squad, choose luxury hotels over accommodations in the Olympic Village.) Those who can afford extra for air conditioning or who travel with laptops or iPads (the host committee has scrapped plans to provide TVs in individual bedrooms) will have it; others may not.
“Some people aren’t going to put up with it because they don’t have to, some will have to because perhaps there is no alternative,” said Rick Burton, the former marketing director for the U.S. Olympic Committee. “Is the IOC going to feel obligated to step in and raise the standards so that everyone is treated equally? Or is it going to be a statement, that this is the best this host country can do?”
An IOC spokeswoman called the adjustments in spending part of "a normal process" for Games organizers at this stage. "The IOC is working closely with the Rio team to make sure that it achieves its budgetary objectives while delivering great Games for all participants," she wrote in an e-mail.
For the hundreds of millions of people who watch the Olympics on television or online, all of the cost-cutting should be invisible. Organizers have assured broadcast partners that there will be no changes to what they were promised, and there are also no plans to scale down any of the competition specific infrastructure.
"As long as we don’t compromise the games, the quality of the competitions, the experience of the public; we have to look for efficiencies,” Andrada said. And while the process "hasn’t been painful so far, it will be painful from now on, because we need to finish the process."
Preparing Rio to become the first South American Olympic host has been bumpy. Massive public protests over the country’s spending priorities in 2013, ahead of last year’s soccer World Cup, jolted local politicians and Brazil President Dilma Rousseff’s government. That led to squabbling over who should pay what for the Olympics, which has a total price tag of almost 39 billion reais ($10.2 billion), and criticism from the IOC over delays at key projects.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Who bought the Most Expensive Record Ever Made? (BusinessWeek)

Martin Shkreli
It was one of the greatest sales pitches the music industry has ever heard. In March 2014, Robert Diggs, better known as RZA, the producer and de facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, the iconic rap group, announced that the Clan would create only one copy of its next album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and sell it to the highest bidder. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music,” RZA told Forbes. “We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like someone having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”

Initially, the Clan wanted to forbid the buyer from publicly releasing the album for 88 years, but over time decided to grant the buyer total freedom as long as the album wasn’t sold commercially. That meant the owner could listen to the record in a soundproof room, drive a pickup truck over it, or release it for free on the Internet. If the owner desired, he could be the only one who ever heard it. In an era where people are happy to stream music rather than actually possess it, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin offered a chance to own something truly unique.

The Wu-Tang Clan hired Paddle8, an online auction startup, to sell the album. The 31-track album would come in a hand-carved box, accompanied by a leather-bound book with 174 pages of parchment paper filled with lyrics and background on the songs. The music itself was expected to be spectacular. All the surviving members of the Wu-Tang Clan contributed to Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, along with some special guests. Aside from RZA and his co-producer, Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, nobody had heard the entire record. It was stored in a vault in the Royal Mansour Marrakech hotel in Morocco and any duplicates had been destroyed.

Even before the bidding began, the Wu-Tang Clan claimed, they had received a $5 million offer. Fans speculated that the buyer might turn out to be the director Quentin Tarantino, a Hollywood associate of RZA, or venture capitalist Ben Horowitz, who has written about his love of rap. Some Wu-Tang fans objected to the group’s plan. Two of the group’s disgruntled admirers started a Kickstarter campaign to buy Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and keep it out of plutocratic hands. “Someone who has disposable millions, it’s just another shiny new toy for them,” says Russell Meyer, one of the organizers. “It’s most likely not going to be someone who appreciates the music.” The drive to keep the music out of the hands of the millionaires was spirited but ultimately too small. Fans pledged just $15,406.

Then, on Nov. 24, Paddle8 announced that the Wu-Tang Clan had sold the album for a record figure “in the millions.” The price had been agreed to in May, but according to the press release, the parties “spent months finalizing contracts and devising legal protections for a distinctive work whose value depends on its singularity.” But the group wouldn’t reveal the buyer’s name. RZA said he wanted his privacy. “This was very much a mutual decision,” RZA insisted in an e-mail. There was only one wrinkle: The buyer didn’t care about his privacy; he wanted to go public.

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin

There’s probably only one group of rappers that could pull off such a stunt. The Clan arrived in 1993 with a debut album titled Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The group was comprised of nine guys from Staten Island and Brooklyn with enigmatic stage names such as Masta Killa, U-God, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, GZA, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. They were some of the most inventive wordsmiths that hip-hop audiences had ever encountered, melding street lingo with martial arts allusions and the sayings of the Five Percent Nation, an obscure black movement.

In a rap world that’s become obsessed with fame and money, the Clan holds a special place. Its members have never achieved the popularity of Eminem or Jay Z, but they are venerated by young rappers such as Drake and Kanye West for their originality. “They’ve been dope for over 20 years,” says Andrew DuBois, co-editor of The Anthology of Rap. “That’s half of hip-hop’s tenure. People all around the world care about the Wu-Tang Clan.”

The architect of Wu-Tang’s early success was RZA, whom the members referred to as the abbot. It was RZA who created the group’s weird aural backdrops using rhythm tracks from old Memphis soul songs interspersed with fragments of jazz master Thelonious Monk’s piano and moans of soul singers that he electronically altered to sound like ghostly exultations. RZA was also a master strategist, persuading all the members to give him full control for five years and allowing him to produce every album by the group and any of their solo records. “I said, ‘Give me five years and I will take us to No. 1,’ ” RZA wrote in The Tao of Wu, his 2009 memoir-cum-spiritual guidebook. “It was a long conversation, eye to eye, man to man. I said that no one could question my authority. It had to be a dictatorship.”

RZA turned out to be just as skilled at business. He showed up every evening at 6 p.m. at the offices of Wu-Tang’s label, Loud Records, with a legal pad full of ideas, including which radio stations to target and where to send promotional street teams. Steve Rifkind, the label’s founder and an accomplished rap pitchman himself, says he approved nearly all of them. “He was definitely business-minded,” Rifkind says. “I think you’re born with that.”

The Clan’s first album sold 2.4 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. The follow-up, a double album called Wu-Tang Forever, sold more than 2 million. In between, Raekwon, Ghostface, Method Man, and GZA released RZA-produced solo albums that are considered just as weighty by fans. The group started Wu Wear, one of the first hip-hop artist-branded clothing lines, and opened a Wu Nails shop on Staten Island run by RZA’s sister.

After five years, RZA relinquished his control over the Wu-Tang Clan, and the group was never the same. Subsequent albums and solo projects weren’t as strong and didn’t sell as well. The Clan flooded the market with music under its banner, including albums by artists who weren’t official members but part of a so-called extended Wu-Tang family.

One of those Wu affiliates was Cilvaringz, a Dutch rapper of Moroccan descent who impressed the group in 1997 when he climbed onto the stage at a show in Amsterdam and offered some impromptu verses. Months later he showed up at Wu Nails. Eventually he got a deal to put out a record under the Wu-Tang banner. “Anyone who would go halfway across the world, without a penny, to chase their dream was someone I felt needed to be taken seriously,” RZA says. It was great for Cilvaringz, but fans were overwhelmed. “There was a moment where there was so much Wu product in the world,” says Sasha Frere-Jones, a Los Angeles Times critic-at-large and a former New Yorker writer who has chronicled the group over the years.

As the group’s hits dwindled, the Clan drifted apart. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, whose real name was Russell Jones, died in 2004 of a drug overdose in a New York recording studio. Method Man became an actor, appearing in films such as How High, and briefly co-starring in a Fox sitcom called Method & Red, about two rappers who end up living in a lily-white suburb. RZA also went to Hollywood, providing some music for Tarantino’s martial arts-themed Kill Bill films, and in 2012 he directed and starred with Russell Crowe in The Man With the Iron Fists.

RZA managed to reassemble the Clan’s surviving members for the long-awaited album A Better Tomorrow, released last December. It drew positive reviews but sold only 60,000 copies in the U.S. The Wu-Tang Clan had tried market saturation. Now it went in the opposite direction with Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
Cilvaringz, RZA, and Alexander Gilkes
Cilvaringz, RZA, and Gilkes hold the book, box, and certification that come with the album.
On a chilly evening in March, at the Museum of Modern Art’s PS 1 annex in New York, several dozen potential buyers and writers turned in their cell phones, tablets, laptops, and anything else with recording capability. Joined by 36 giddy fans who had won tickets on Hot 97, a local radio station, they were ushered into a dimly lit domed room for an event billed as the first and only time that a portion of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin would be heard in public. The ornate box that would hold the album was displayed on a pedestal, watched over by dark-suited security guards.

The crowd listened to a 13-minute excerpt played at an eardrum-rattling volume and cheered when it was done. Shaolin sounded like the best Wu-Tang Clan album in years. Afterwards, RZA and Cilvaringz discussed the record with Frere-Jones. Clad in a black jacket, black pants, and a black ball cap, RZA, who is tall and slender, compared the Wu-Tang Clan to Mozart and the album to the Mona Lisa. Cilvaringz, who is shorter and wore a gray puffy jacket over a hoodie, sounded a similar theme when he talked about a trip the two men took a decade ago to Egypt. “RZA and I would ride horses into the desert completely alone and have the pyramids pretty much to ourselves,” Cilvaringz said. “Halfway climbing up the pyramids of Cheops, I said to RZA that one day we would do something special together that would last throughout the ages.”

Music critic Frere-Jones, who loved what he had heard of the album, wanted to know who the bewitching female singer was on one of the tracks.

“That was Cher,” Cilvaringz said.


“Yeah, Cher. The Cher.” (Cher couldn’t be reached for comment.)

Frere-Jones also quizzed the producers about how the rest of the Clan felt about not being as involved in the making of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin as they presumably had been with previous records. “I guess the best way to describe it is with an analogy,” RZA answered. “Everybody got on the boat, but they didn’t know where the boat was going. But look where it landed. You know what I mean? Hey, it’s not on Gilligan’s Island.”

“Well, we don’t know which island it’s going to be on yet, right?” Frere-Jones said.

“We don’t know,” RZA said.

According to RZA, Shaolin attracted many suitors: “Private collectors, trophy hunters, millionaires, billionaires, unknown folks, publicly known folks, businesses, companies with commercial intent, young, old,” he says. “It varied.” Serious bidders got to hear the 13-minute highlights in private listening sessions arranged by Paddle8 in New York.

One of them was a pharmaceutical company executive named Martin Shkreli. He’s 32 years old but seems much younger, with a tendency to fiddle with his hair and squirm in his seat like an adolescent. The son of Albanian immigrants, Shkreli grew up in what he describes as a tough part of Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. He skipped grades in school because he was so bright. Shkreli idolized scientists, but he was also a music fan. Primarily interested in rock as a teenager, he didn’t understand rap, but that changed when he read Shakespeare in high school. “You would get these rhyming couplets and soliloquies and stuff like that, but the couplets would really kind of jar you,” he says. “They would be really these big, soul-crushing moments that Shakespeare intended to stir your spirit. And in many ways, music does that.”

Shkreli was taken by the Wu-Tang song C.R.E.A.M., which stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” It includes the often-repeated phrase “Dolla dolla bill, y’all!” Shkreli turned out to be good at making dollars himself. He founded two hedge funds that shorted pharmaceutical stocks and then started his own drug company, Retrophin, earning a reputation on Wall Street as something of a boy genius. In September 2014, however, he says he was “asked to leave” by the company’s board. Retrophin later alleged after an internal investigation that he’d abused his position and misused assets. Shkreli says that he didn’t do anything without the company’s approval. Retrophin and its former CEO are now facing off in court. “I was pretty pissed,” Shkreli says. “But I realized that it actually would be better for me, maybe not ego-wise, but financially. I could just sell my stock and build my own next company.”

Now that Shkreli had more money, he started collecting music-related items. He once joked on Twitter about trying to buy Katy Perry’s guitar so he could get a date with her. He purchased Kurt Cobain’s Visa card in a Paddle8 auction and occasionally produces it to get a rise out of people when it’s time to pay a check.

Shkreli heard about Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and thought it would be nice to own, too. He attended a private listening session at the Standard Hotel hosted by Paddle8 co-founder Alexander Gilkes. Shkreli, who describes himself as a bit of a recluse, recalls Gilkes telling him that if he bought the record, he would have the opportunity to rub shoulders with celebrities and rappers who would want to hear it. “Then I really became convinced that I should be the buyer,” Shkreli says. (Paddle8 declined to comment, citing their policy of client confidentiality.) He also got to have lunch with RZA. “We didn’t have a ton in common,” Shkreli says. “I can’t say I got to know him that well, but I obviously like him.”

Having participated in bidding wars for companies and drugs, Shkreli says he had a feeling from the start that he’d made the highest offer for Shaolin. As it turned out, he was right. Shkreli won’t say how much he paid. But someone familiar with the deal says that the Wu-Tang Clan sold him the album for $2 million. Before he closed on the acquisition, Shkreli was permitted to listen to a few more snippets to make sure it was all there. Shkreli delegated the task to an employee. The same month, news broke that Shkreli’s new company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, had purchased an anti-parasitic drug called Daraprim and raised its price from $13.50 a pill to $750. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton denounced him. “Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous,” Clinton tweeted. Her Republican opponent Donald Trump also attacked Shkreli. “He looks like a spoiled brat to me,” Trump said. The BBC wrote that Shkreli “may be the most hated man in America.”

Shkreli seems mildly amused by the controversy. He says it’s his duty as Turing CEO to maximize profits for his investors. “What’s escaped the conversation is, hey, how about the fact that this is actually what I’ve been hired to do,” Shkreli says. “It’s like someone criticizing a basketball player for scoring too many points.” He adds that he’s tried to make Daraprim more easily available to hospitals. Meanwhile, he’s been pranking his critics. In October, he donated $2,700 to Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s rival, which the campaign donated to a Washington health-care facility. Shkreli then applied for an internship on the Vermont senator’s campaign. “I enjoy the back and forth,” he says.

Shkreli seems more concerned about how the Wu-Tang Clan would react to the Daraprim dispute. “I was a little worried that they were going to walk out of the deal,” he says. “But by then we’d closed. The whole kind of thing since then has been just kind of ‘Well, do we want to announce it’s him? Do we not want to announce it’s him?’ I think they were trying to cover their butts a little bit.” Paddle8 says it doesn’t disclose client information.

After learning that Bloomberg Businessweek was about to report that Shkreli had purchased the album, RZA e-mailed a statement: “The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”

As for the Wu-Tang fans who are likely to feel queasy when they learn that he’s the owner of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, Shkreli just shrugs. “At the end of the day,” he says, “they didn’t buy the last album or the one before that, and all they had to pay was $10.”

It’s a Friday afternoon at Turing’s Manhattan headquarters, and Shkreli and his employees are preparing for a Christmas party that evening. Three executives play a video game. A woman shows Shkreli the cocktail dress she plans to wear. Shkreli had arranged for the rap star Fetty Wap to perform for his employees. “Typically you would say, ‘As an average fan, I can’t get Fetty Wap to give me a personal concert,’ ” he says. “The reality is, sure you could. You know, at the right price these guys basically will do anything.”

Shkreli wants more artists to make private albums for him. He figures they could use the money, and he will let them do whatever they want. “It’s almost like the instructions to the band are, ‘Do your best work, however much time it takes, and never compromise anything for me,’ ” he says. “ ‘I just want to hear what you’ve got.’ ”

He hasn’t listened to Once Upon a Time in Shaolin yet. He’s saving that for a time when he’s feeling low and needs something to lift his spirits. “I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that,” Shkreli says. “But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day.” 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Count the People Police Kill (BusinessWeek)

Ferguson Police Shooting Grand Jury Probe to Begin Tomorrow
Police officers holding riot shields and wooden batons stand and watch protesters during a night time demonstration in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 19, 2014.

Harvard researchers argue that health agencies can tally deaths without law enforcement cooperation.

Last year 14,249 people were murdered in the U.S., according to federal crime statistics. Those numbers reveal that 51 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, and an additional 45 died accidentally.

What the official reports can’t tell us is how many people were killed by the police.

That question has drawn intense interest following the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police. Since then, a drumbeat of highly publicized deaths at the hands of law enforcement, and furious debate over whether some were justified, has only inflamed the issue. Newspapers including the Guardian and the Washington Post have attempted to track public reports, with one total for this year exceeding 1,000, but no reliable accounting exists. The Department of Justice is considering how to improve national data on the use of force by police, but that's just in the planning stage.

Now public health researchers at Harvard are saying that federal agencies already have the power to make an official tally, with no need for legislation or the cooperation of local police departments. They propose making law enforcement-related deaths a "notifiable" condition to be reported weekly to the Centers for Disease Control, alongside afflictions such as tuberculosis and syphilis.

"Just as epidemic outbreaks can threaten the public's health, so too can police violence and impunity imperil communities' social and economic well-being, especially if civil unrest ensues,” the authors contend in an article published on Tuesday in the online journal PLOS Medicine. The number of Americans killed by police, according to the Guardian tally, exceeded the number of cases “for several diseases of considerable concern,” including measles, mumps, and malaria.

Such a tabulation could serve as a tool without necessarily focusing on whether a death was legally defensible. The reasoning for it is similar to arguments that doctors make to lift a ban on CDC and National Institutes of Health funding for gun violence research—that it's a public health issue.

“In public health, we count dead people,” said Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the article. “We count dead people in order to understand mortality rates” and to monitor changing trends.

The authors propose to track both civilian and officer deaths in law enforcement encounters. The CDC and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists would start by recommending that such deaths be considered reportable, spurring state and local health agencies to collect the data. The cases could be noted by hospital staff or emergency medical technicians, but they could also be reported by anyone aware of the deaths, Krieger said. Whether this would result in comprehensive statistics, or run afoul of Congress's restrictions on gun violence research, is an open question.

In an earlier report published in the Harvard Public Health Review, Krieger and her colleagues used data from national mortality files to examine trends in “deaths due to legal intervention” over several decades. This data, compiled from death certificates and made available only years after the incidents occurred, show "excess risk for black men," she said.

Trends in police killings vary over time and by city.
Trends in police killings vary over time and by city

The data also show that disparities between how often blacks and whites were killed by law enforcement have varied substantially over time and from place to place. From a public health perspective, Krieger said, such a variation means "you know it’s preventable."

The idea of placing reporting responsibility in the hands of health authorities isn't welcomed by James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police. He says state and local health agencies aren't equipped to collect the data.

"The public health system of the U.S. is a shambles," Pasco said. His group favors mandatory reporting, both of violence against police and of deaths in custody, through the Justice Department. He added that violence against police is under-reported because some local departments don't report assaults or deaths of their members.

Society shouldn’t require the cooperation of police to understand the scope of the problem, Krieger said.

“Why are these police data only? Why are these not public health data? These are mortality records,” she said. “It seemed to me this should be a kind of data [collection] we should be able to do in public health, and be able to do it in real time."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The sticky, stretchy and smart 'Band-Aid of the future'

Researchers at MIT have designed what they're referring to as "the Band-Aid of the future" -- a sticky, stretchy hydrogel that includes temperature sensors, LED lights and drug delivery channels.
The dressing can release medicine in response to body temperature changes, and lights up if medicine is running low. Its stretchy form means it can be applied to flexible areas like elbows or knees, moving with the body and keeping electronics intact at the same time.
The team were able to embed various electronics into the dressing -- including conductive wires, semiconductor chips and the aforementioned LED lights and temperature sensors. 
"Electronics are usually hard and dry, but the human body is soft and wet. These two systems have drastically different properties," said Xuanhe Zhao, lead author of the study.
"If you want to put electronics in close contact with the human body for applications such as health care monitoring and drug delivery, it is highly desirable to make the electronic devices soft and stretchable to fit the environment of the human body. That's the motivation for stretchable hydrogel electronics."
Hydrogels were traditionally intended for bonding to hard metals like gold, aluminium and titanium. Typically, they are brittle and unstretchable.
During the course of their research, the team fitted a titanium wire in the hydrogel, forming a transparent conductor that when stretched multiple times was able to produce constant conductivity.
They also embedded several electronic components inside the gel to create a "smart dressing" -- including temperature sensors and drug channels. Even when stretched extremely taut, the dressing was able to consistently monitor temperature and administer drugs.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Why citizens need encryption as a fundamental human right

Some government agencies use terrorist attacks to justify limiting encryption. TechRepublic spoke with two UN reporters who explained why encryption is critically important for all citizens.
Encryption continues to be misunderstood by the public, and assailed by law enforcement agencies, who use events like the recent Paris attacks as a rationalization to reign in encryption technology. While terrorism grabs headlines, encryption has become increasingly important for business and the general public.

Private communication has become so important for the public in particular that the United Nations now enumerates encryption as a fundamental human right. A report released in March declared, "online censorship, mass and targeted surveillance and data collection, digital attacks on civil society and repression resulting from online expression force individuals around the world to seek security to hold opinions without interference and seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds."

If you turn off the ability to communicate privately, you turn off the ability to think.

Salima Yacoubi

The report acknowledges that law enforcement agencies are right to be concerned about the "dark" side of encryption, and that "terrorists and ordinary criminals use encryption and anonymity to hide their activities, making it difficult for Governments to prevent and conduct investigations into terrorism."

The report goes on to state that law enforcement agencies have a number of alternative tactical tools to catch criminals, and that many of these agencies "often use the same [encryption] tools to ensure their own operational security in undercover operations, while members of vulnerable groups may use the tools to ensure their privacy in the face of harassment." Often, said the report, vulnerable groups include victims of harassment, domestic violence, and cyberbullying.

Last week TechRepublic spoke with several business experts about why encryption matters for small and midsize business. This week, we asked two UN-based, technology-savvy journalists why privacy and encryption matters to the public.

Why should the public be concerned with encryption?

Mythili Sampathkumar, reporter: "Encryption helps validate the veracity of information. In the age of Twitter and citizen journalism, the spread of false information is rapid and widespread. In the wake of the Paris attacks, that false information can be dangerous from the perspective that it could, and sometimes does, spread and perpetuate stereotypes and violence. Without private and secure communication, sources would never talk to reporters-out of fear, mostly, but also the cloak of anonymity and the trust needed to speak with a reporter can lead to the most comprehensive information, the real, full story. Without privacy, the truth can be compromised."

Salima Yacoubi, reporter: "Encryption comes down to privacy of thought, I think. You need internal thoughts to develop on their own. If you turn off the ability to communicate privately, you turn off the ability to think."

What should you look for in good, secure communication tools?

Sampathkumar: "I rely on easy-to-use tools like browser plugins. In the rush of getting a story done, easier is better and makes it more likely that I'll use an encryption tool and exercise the necessary caution."

Yacoubi: "A good privacy policy."

What are the warning signs of poorly encrypted apps?

Sampathkumar: "I avoid anything with a lot of flashing ads, or lacks strong password protection. I'm more a reporter than a techie, so I also ask tech experts before jumping into apps I haven't heard of."

Yacoubi: "Good secure communication tools are clearly not happening with the classic webmail providers. We should all consider our communications as semi-public. Should I start encrypting all my communications? Yes. Is it reckless to use the usual webmail providers? Still a grey area."

What is a sensible personal policy for private communication?

Sampathkumar: "Everything I do is 2-factor password protected, stored in secure files, or just plain offline."

Yacoubi: "A sensible personal encryption policy is to get a personal encryption policy. Learn how to use it. There are also a wide range of services that make encryption easier to understand and help strengthen the privacy. Take the time to explore the options."

Friday, December 4, 2015

EN MI OPINION: Por: Ricardo Tribín Acosta

 El orgullo no engorda

Como el orgullo no nos engorda entonces resultaría muy conveniente tragárnoslo de vez en cuando, lo cual es un excelente comienzo para una muy beneficiosa jornada en ruta hacia la humildad, especialmente cuando este se catalogue de falso orgullo.

Tragarme yo el orgullo? dice el arrogante sujetillo, quien equívocamente piensa que, mientras más orgulloso y tirano sea con los demás, a lo mejor ello le generará más respeto y seguimiento por parte de otros. Esto, aunque funcione por un rato, a la larga se convierte en un perturbador nido, alimentado de frustración y resentimiento.

De lo anterior podremos extractar puntos positivos hacia el cambio, derivados de las enseñanzas de Francisco de Asís, cuya conocida oración y ejemplo de vida, es quizás la más perfecta muestra de sencillez y devoción en el salirse de sí mismo, para pensar y servir con convicción y alegría a las demás personas.

Miami, Diciembre 2 de 2015

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Manejo Financiero para Menores en época de Navidad y Actividades Futuras (Edwin Conrado Rivera)

El pasado septiembre escribimos sobre Administración del Dinero para Niños, nos parece naturalmente presentar la segunda parte en esta época tan importante y del cual podemos aprovechar para repasar el manejo financiero de nuestros hijos.

Dada la importancia de las habilidades financieras que son tan importantes para sobrevivir en la vida, es sorprendente que en la mayoría de nuestras escuelas no enseñen a los niños nada sobre el manejo del dinero.

Como padre, sin embargo, usted tiene la responsabilidad de enseñar a sus hijos lo importante que es saber manejas sus finanzas presentes y futuras.

Solo como recordatorio, quiero presentar algunas estadísticas financieras desde el 2008 hasta ahora:

Crisis de las hipotecas y el número de familias que perdieron sus hogares -               
 3,9 millones de ejecuciones hipotecarias.
$ 1,100 mil millones-se lo debemos en deuda de préstamos estudiantiles.
$ 845 mil millones - se lo debemos en deudas de tarjetas de crédito.

Está bastante claro que los adultos no saben mucho sobre el manejo del dinero.   Para ayudar a las próximas generaciones a evitar los errores de sus mayores, y vivir vidas reales basadas en su manejo financiero, necesitan que se les enseñe lo esencial sobre el dinero ", dice Bet Kobliner, autor del best-seller del New York Times  “Get a Financial Life”.

Kobliner dice que los niños de tan sólo tres años de edad pueden comprender los conceptos financieros como el ahorro y el gasto. Un informe realizado por investigadores de la Universidad de Cambridge, encargados para el asesoramiento financiero del servicio del Reino Unido, reveló que los hábitos de dinero de los niños se forman por los primeros 7 años.

Mientras más temprano los padres tomen ventaja para enseñarles a sus hijos el manejo del dinero, (por ejemplo si a un niño de 6 años se le da $2 y se le deja elegir que fruta va a comprar) – {asumiendo que va a comprar algo de valor para su vida y sin entrar en el proceso de enseñarle a que de esos $2 debe ahorrar la primera parte del 10 al 20% mínimo}, mejor será para el futuro de su hijo con relación al manejo del dinero.

Los padres son la principal influencia en los comportamientos financieros de sus hijos, pero nos toca a nosotros levantar una nueva generación de consumidores conscientes, inversores, ahorradores, y dadores.

A continuación se presentan las principales lecciones de dinero que se pueden aprender en cada edad, así como actividades para ilustrar cada punto.

Edad 3-5

La lección: Usted tiene que esperar para comprar algo que quiere.

"Este es un concepto difícil para aprender a todas las personas de todas las edades".    Sin embargo, la capacidad de demorar la gratificación también puede predecir el éxito que tendrá una persona cuando vaya creciendo como adulto.
Los niños de esta edad necesitan aprender que si realmente quieren algo,  deben aprender a esperar y ahorrar para comprarlo.

Las lecciones de dinero a esta edad marcarán la pauta para el futuro.

Por ejemplo: Si usted va a una tienda a comprar un regalo para otro niño u otra persona fuera de su familia, y usted dice: “No tenemos dinero para esto, sus hijos son inteligentes y saben que usted tiene tarjetas de crédito. Así que usted le dirá No estamos aquí para comprarle nada a ustedes, porque no estamos aquí para eso”.   

Desarrollar esta actitud de enseñanza en los padres son la parte más difícil del proceso, por que los padres siempre quieren complacer a sus hijos (sabiendo que sus niños se ponen a llorar para manipular las emociones de los padres), sin pensar el daño futuro que le están haciendo.  Así, que le recomiendo crear una barrera y pensar en el futuro más que en el placer de comprar algo en el presente.

Los niños luego aprenden rápidamente que ir a una tienda no siempre quiere decir que le vamos a comprar algo a ellos.

Actividades para niños de 3 a 5

1. Cuando su hijo está esperando en línea, por ejemplo, para ir a los columpios,  discutir lo importante que es aprender a esperar a lo que él o ella quiere.

2. Compre o cree tres alcancías  - Cada una etiquetada "ahorros", "gastos" o "compartir" Cada vez que su hijo reciba el dinero, ya sea para hacer las tareas o de un cumpleaños, ensénele a dividir el dinero en partes iguales entre las alcancías.

Pídale que use la alcancía de “gastos” para compras pequeñas cosas, como caramelos o juguetes. El dinero de la alcancía  de “compartir” puede ir a alguien que lo necesita o se utiliza para donar a la causa de un amigo. La alcancía de “ahorro” debe ser para los artículos más caros, como patines y bicicletas.

3. Haga que su niño se fije una meta, como para comprar un juguete. Asegúrese de que no sea tan caro que no va a poder comprarlo en meses. Lo realmente importante es que sea consciente de que está ahorrando para una meta. Si el objetivo de su hijo es comprar un articulo caro, cree el concepto de igualar por cada parte que el ahorre. Esto lo estimulará ya que sabe que usted aportará para completar su meta.

Cada vez que su hijo suma dinero al frasco de ahorros, ayúdele a contar lo mucho que tiene, hable con ellos acerca de lo que falta para llegar a su meta, y hable nuevamente cuando lleguen a ella. "Todos esos comportamientos son muy divertidos para los niños". Hacer esto les da un sentido de la importancia de esperar y ser paciente para el proceso del ahorro."

Edad 6-10

La lección: Es necesario tomar decisiones sobre cómo gastar el dinero.

A esta edad, es importante explicar a su hijo, "El dinero se va como agua y es importante tomar decisiones sabias, porque una vez que gasta el dinero que tiene, usted no tiene más dinero para gastar". Aunque a esta edad, también debe mantenerse al día con actividades como el ahorro, el gasto y el intercambio de las alcancías, y la fijación de objetivos, también debe comenzar a involucrar a su hijo en el proceso de cómo los adultos deben de hacer las decisiones financieras.

Actividades entre los 6 y 10

1. Incluir a su hijo en algunas decisiones financieras. Por ejemplo, explica, "La razón por la que elegí el jugo de uva genérico en lugar del nombre de la marca es que cuesta $1.00 dólar menos y sabe lo mismo."  O hablar de ofertas, tales como la compra de alimentos básicos cotidianas como toallas de papel en grandes cantidades para obtener un precio más barato por artículo.

2.  Dele a su hijo un poco de dinero, como $ 2, en un supermercado y pídale que haga una decisión acerca de cuál fruta va a comprar, dentro de los parámetros de lo que necesita, para darles la experiencia de la toma de decisiones con el dinero.

3. Cuando usted está haciendo compras, hablar en voz alta sobre cómo usted está haciendo sus decisiones financieras como un adulto, haciendo preguntas como:         "¿Es esto algo que realmente necesitamos? ¿O podemos omitir esto durante esta semana,  ya que vamos a cenar? "  "¿Puedo pedir prestado?"  "¿Me costará menos en otra parte? Podríamos ir a la tienda de descuento y obtener ofertas de dos artículos por el precio de uno”

Edad 11-13

La lección: Cuanto antes ahorrar, más rápido su dinero puede crecer a partir de los intereses compuestos.

A esta edad, se puede pasar de la idea de ahorrar para metas a corto plazo con las metas a largo plazo. Introducir el concepto de interés compuesto, cuando usted gana interés tanto en sus ahorros, así como en el interés más allá de sus ahorros.

Actividades para las edades de 11 a 13

Describir el interés compuesto usando números específicos, porque la investigación muestra que esto es más eficaz que la describió en abstracto. "Si se establece guardar  $ 100 cada año a partir de los 14 años, usted tendría  $ 23,197.29  a los 65 años, pero si usted comienza a los 35 años, sólo tendrá aproximadamente $ 7000 a los 65 años"

2. Motive que su hijo haga algunos cálculos de interés compuesto en  Aquí, él/ella pueden ver la cantidad de dinero que van a ganar si invierten una cierta cantidad y crece por un determinado tipo de interés.

3. Estimule que su niño se fije una meta a largo plazo de algo más caro que los juguetes que el/ella pudo haber estado comprando hasta ahora. "Ese tipo de intercambios, llamados costos de oportunidad - ¿cuáles son las cosas que usted está permitiendo para ahorrar dinero - es una cosa muy útil que hablar. A esta edad, los niños están tratando de no ahorrar porque quieren comprar cosas, pero pensando en las metas a largo plazo y lo que están teniendo que renunciar hoy, demuestra que es una buena decisión".      Por ejemplo, si su hijo tiene la costumbre de comprar una merienda después de la escuela todos los días, ella puede decidir que prefería poner ese dinero para un iPod.

Edad 14-18

La lección: Al comparar los colegios, asegúrese de considerar la cantidad de cada escuela costaría.

Cuando busque los costos netos por escuela, incluya los otros gastos, además de la matrícula. Pero no deje que la etiqueta de precio desaliente a su hijo. Explique las mejores oportunidades que tienen los graduados universitarios versus los que no tienen título universitario, por lo que siempre será una buena inversión.

Actividades para las edades de 14 a 18

1. Discuta cuánto puede contribuir a la educación universitaria de su hijo cada año. "Todos los padres deben comenzar la conversación de costo de la universidad por el noveno grado". "Abordar el tema temprano y ser honesto acerca de lo que su familia puede pagar ayudará a los niños ser realistas acerca de dónde pueden buscar."

Recuerde que hay muchas formas de financiar la universidad que no sea con su propio dinero. Con su hijo, busque en que escuelas privadas son generosas con la ayuda financiera, cuánto de ello se encuentra en "dinero gratis", como subvenciones y becas,   la cantidad de préstamos que su hijo va a tener que pagar de vuelta, y lo que el gobierno y los programas pueden ayudar devolver los préstamos. Además, echa un vistazo a estos ocho consejos para la obtención de préstamos estudiantiles.

2. Haga que su niño use este sistema de Tarjeta de Puntos (Scoreboard) de cada Colegio, para comparar la cantidad de cada uno de los costos universitarios, las perspectivas de empleo futuras de los graduados, y cuánto de la deuda de préstamos estudiantiles podrían afectar el estilo de vida de su hijo después de la graduación, si él o ella asistiría a esa universidad. Al igual que con cualquier inversión, analizar conjuntamente si el dinero puesto valdrá la pena al final.

3. Estime su ayuda económica con la herramienta FAFSA4 caster en ( ). También investigar préstamos adicionales, becas y subvenciones - y el uso de calculadoras para estimar los pagos mensuales del préstamo - en ( ). Infórmate sobre las opciones de pago de préstamo, tales como “Pay As You Earn”, lo que limita sus pagos mensuales apenas el 10% de sus ingresos discrecionales. Para obtener más información, echa un vistazo a (  o ).

"Los padres deben absolutamente hacer que sus niños, cuando estén en la universidad, consigan un trabajo a tiempo parcial".  La investigación por el Dr. Gary R. Pike de la Universidad de Indiana- “Purdue University Indianapolis” muestra que los estudiantes que trabajan 20 horas a la semana o menos en puestos de trabajo del campus, obtienen mejores calificaciones porque están más comprometidos en la vida estudiantil. Pero, "Trabajar más de 20 horas por semana puede dañar el éxito académico de los niños."

Edades 18+

La lección: Usted debe utilizar una tarjeta de crédito solamente si usted puede pagar el saldo en su totalidad cada mes.

Es muy fácil caer en la deuda de tarjetas de crédito, lo que podría dar a su hijo la carga de pagar la deuda de tarjetas de crédito, al mismo tiempo que los préstamos estudiantiles. Además, podría afectar su historial de crédito, lo que podría hacer que sea difícil, por ejemplo, comprar un coche o una casa, o incluso para conseguir un trabajo.   

"El hogar promedio le debe $ 7,084 en deudas de tarjetas de crédito. Para invertir la tendencia de gastar más allá de nuestros medios y acumulando cientos de dólares al año en intereses, es fundamental que los padres enseñan a sus niños cómo utilizar las tarjetas de crédito de manera responsable (o mejor aún, no en absoluto! -a Menos que puedan pagar la factura total cada mes)".

Actividades para las edades 18+

1. Enseñar a un niño que su padre consigne en una tarjeta de crédito, cualquier retraso en el pago también podría afectar el historial de crédito de los padres.

2. Juntos, buscan una tarjeta de crédito que ofrece una tasa de interés baja y sin cuota anual el uso de sitios like Bankrate,,, or

3. Explique que es importante no cargar objetos de uso cotidiano que de esa manera si usted tiene un gasto de emergencia que no se puede cubrir con ahorros, usted puede cobrar eso. Sin embargo, aún mejor es la construcción de por lo menos tres meses de gastos de vida en ahorros para emergencias, aunque de seis a nueve meses sería el tiempo de ahorro ideal. Aprenda a separar parte del dinero del presupuesto con el fin de acumular ahorros para emergencias.

El autor es contador y auditor de Edwin Conrado Rivera & Associates, LLC. Para más información sobre este tema y sobre sus servicios, favor de comunicarse a:

1ro Diciembre de 2015