Virtual reality has suffered from “unrealistic growth expectations” but the market is still expanding at a “reasonable rate”, according to research firm IDC.The company’s latest ‘Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker’ estimates that the the combined virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headset market will reach 13.7 million units in 2017.The market is then expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 56.1% to reach 81.2 million units by 2021 – with VR to account for the bulk of unit sales over the forecast period.VR headsets will account for more than 90% of the combined AR and VR market until 2019, according to IDC. However, between 2020 and 2021 it expects AR headsets to experience “exponential growth” and to capture a quarter of the market by the end of the forecast.VR headsets will drive a “near-term shift” in computing while AR headsets are poised for long-term growth and will have a “profound impact” on the way that businesses and consumers compute, according to the report.“Virtual reality has suffered from some unrealistic growth expectations in 2017, but overall the market is still growing at a reasonable rate and new products from Microsoft and its partners should help drive additional interest in the final quarter of this year,” said Tom Mainelli, vice president, devices and AR/VR at IDC.“As we head into 2018 we’ll see additional new products appearing, including standalone headsets from major players, and we expect to see a growing number of companies embracing the technology to enable new business processes and training opportunities.”Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC mobile device trackers, said: “AR headset shipments today are a fraction of where we expect them to be in the next five years, both in terms of volume and functionality.”“AR headsets are also on track to account for over $30 billion in revenue by 2021, almost twice that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices with earlier adopters being the commercial segment.”
Stanger ThingsNetflix’s Stranger Things was far and away the most ‘in-demand’ digital original in Denmark in the week to December 5, according to Parrot Analytics’ latest data on the market.Parrot Analytics analyses the demand for recent popular digital titles across international markets, based on the application of artificial intelligence to expressions of demand across social media, fan sites, peer-to-peer protocols and file-sharing platform.Stranger Things, which has topped the list in markets including the UAE, South Africa and Hungary in recent months, garnered close to 696,000 in-demand expressions in the small Danish market, placing it far ahead of second-placed Star Trek: Discovery with 291,000. The sci-fi original is distributed by CBS All Access in the US but by Netflix internationally.The number three slot on the Danish list was taken by Amazon’s The Grand Tour. Other titles on the list include, at number four, Marvel’s Runaways – aired on Hulu in the US – and Netflix titles Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Marvel’s The Punisher, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, The Crown, season two of which launches this week, and Black Mirror.
ShareTweet ACCLAIMED actor and director Benjamin Gould and the Commedia of Errors Theatre Company will bring their unique take on Shakespeare’s classic Macbeth to the Alley Theatre for one night only on Friday February 2nd.The mock adaptation ‘Macbeth – That Scottish Play’ aims to seamlessly fuse modern comedy and drama with classical verse to bring new life, energy and insight to the classic play.It promises local audiences ‘Macbeth’ like they have never seen it before – physical, guttural and intelligent – full of energy, comedy and all of the darkness and death that keeps audiences coming back to the classic.The play is a brand-new show adapted, directed and performed by Benjamin Gould and features Rosie McClelland (Lyric, Rawlife, Replay) and Conor Hinds (National/Headlong, Lyric, Dundee Rep), with the three performers playing all the characters of the original. ALLEY THEATRE TO HOST HILARIOUS MOCK ADAPTATION OF MACBETHBENJAMIN GOLDMACBETH – THE SCOTTISH PLAY Macbeth has been given a complete Commedia dell’arte makeover; keeping all of its truth and tragedy and combining it with physical theatre, slapstick comedy and stunning mask play.It represents a perfect introduction to both Shakespeare and Commedia dell’Arte and is ideal for people new to the genre, whilst offering new insights to old hands.Benjamin Gould is the Artistic Director of Commedia of Errors Theatre Company. He trained as an actor in the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, London and with Fraternal Compagnia (Bologna).He has worked with some of the best in the industry, including Carlo Boso (AIDAS, Paris), Marco Rota (Bergamo) and (Didi Hopkins (National Theatre, London) before setting up Commedia of Errors in 2013. Gould has directed ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (London), ‘The Tain’ (NI Tour, Italy and Ireland), ‘The Very Special Letter’ (Stendhal Festival of Art), Women Troubles (CQAF&NI Tour) and ‘Shakespeare’s Women’ (Lyric Theatre and NI Tour).Tickets, available from the Alley Theatre Box Office on 028 71 384444 or online www.alley-theatre.com are priced at £12, £10 (con) and £8 each for schools.ALLEY THEATRE TO HOST HILARIOUS MOCK ADAPTATION OF MACBETH was last modified: January 16th, 2018 by John2John2 Tags:
The Home Office has appealed.The Taoiseach said the Good Friday Agreement allows people to be British, Irish or both.Ms De Souza’s case has thrown a spotlight on how Brexit could have consequences on identity and the rights of British and Irish citizens in the North of Ireland.The UK had been due to leave the EU on 29 March, but the deadline was pushed back to 31 October after Parliament was unable to agree a way forward. Emma De Souza with her American born husband Jake in citizenship row with British Home OfficeTHE British government has got it wrong in its legal battle with a Co Derry woman over post-Brexit issues of identity and nationality, Leo Varadkar has said.Emma De Souza won a case against the Home Office after it deemed she was British when her US-born husband applied for a residence card. DerryEmma DeSouzaHome Officehusband JakeLEO VARADKARLeo Varadkar says UK government ‘wrong’ on Co Derry woman’s citizen caseThe Taoiseach Anyone born in Northern Ireland has the right to identify as Irish or British or both, thanks to the Good Friday Agreement, signed in April 1998 by the British and Irish governments and Northern Ireland’s political parties.But people born in the Republic who live in the North of Ireland can’t become British citizens under the Good Friday Agreement.In Ms De Souza’s case, the Home Office rejected the residence card application in December 2015, as it deemed Ms De Souza was British, despite the fact she has never had a British passport.She challenged the decision and won, but the Home Office is appealing and the hearing is pending.Ms de Souza has said previously she fears Brexit could make the outcome even more uncertain.Mr Varadkar told the Dail on Tuesday that he would be meeting UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Paris on Wednesday and that he expected next week’s UK elections to the European Parliament to be very interesting.He said he believed the third seat in Northern Ireland was “very much up for grabs”.Mr Varadkar added that EU leaders would assess the results in the following week.Leo Varadkar says UK government ‘wrong’ on Co Derry woman’s citizen case was last modified: May 15th, 2019 by John2John2 Tags: ShareTweet
ShareTweet Sinn Fein Education spokesperson Karen MullanA Children’s Commissioner review into special educational needs (SEN) is an opportunity to shape provision to meet the needs of children, Sinn Féin education spokesperson Karen Mullan has said.The Foyle MLA was speaking after meeting the commissioner to discuss the upcoming review. “The Commissioner’s upcoming review into special educational needs provision in mainstream education will be an important contribution to the debate on improving these supports and Sinn Féin look forward to considering the findings and recommendations from that review once published.”Sinn Fein meet Children’s Commissioner on SEN provision was last modified: June 27th, 2019 by John2John2 Tags: She commented: “Yesterday Caoimhe Archibald and I led a Sinn Féin delegation to meet with the Children’s Commissioner. “It was a useful meeting where we discussed the difficulties faced by children with special educational needs and the work we have been doing on the issue.“As elected representatives we have an important role in helping improve pathways and journeys for children by ensuring they are given the additional support they need as early on in life as possible.“The current system needs to be improved with a focus on better communication and the need for the Education Authority to work positively with parents and children. CAOIMHE ARCHIBALDEDUCATION SPOKESPERSONFOYLE MLAKAREN MULLANSinn FeinSinn Fein meet Children’s Commissioner on SEN provision
In This Issue… * Retail sales rise * ESM gives it to Cyprus * Loonie hitches a ride * Brazil by itself And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! April sales number took control… Good day…and welcome to Tuesday morning. It looks like spring is finally here to stay in the Midwest, or should I say hopefully, after a fairly chilly start of the season. I overheard someone talking on the desk that it has been the third coldest spring on record so far, but I’ll take that any day of the week instead of oppressive heat. The US dollar’s grip on the currency market remained firm, but most currencies were in a tight range for a majority of the day. The string of dollar strength continued as one of the heavy weight data prints from this week, which was retail sales, came in better than expected. That’s right, the April headline retail sales figure rose 0.1% and that was after the March number had been revised down to -0.5% from the original printing of -0.4%. This month’s figure was expected to come in at -0.3%, so it’s well above the initial forecast but I would call it a wash since the downward revision would offset the gain. Regardless, the financial markets liked the news but the impact was more muted than what I would have thought as stocks finished the day flat. Digging a little deeper into the results, the retail sales control group rose 0.5% from the upward revised March number of 0.1%. This report doesn’t include items such as gasoline and automobiles, but it does get used to calculate GDP so this will be the figure most economists focus on. In fact, 9 of the 13 sales categories yielded positive results, so it was a fairly broad scale increase. One of the few soft spots came from gas station receipts as lower fuel prices in April kept total sales grounded. According to AAA, regular gasoline in April averaged $3.55 as opposed to $3.69 in March. The one component in negative territory was the ex-auto report as it yielded a -0.1% result. With the better than expected April, economists are starting to increase their second quarter consumer spending calls, but they still remain on the tempered side. The continued effects of the higher payroll tax was one of the biggest reasons why initial estimates were lower. We also saw the measure of March business inventories remain static, but this report gets overlooked anyway unless there is any significant movement. The data cupboard is pretty bare today as we only see a gauge of small business optimism and the April import price index. The April business sentiment is expected to recoup most of last month’s decline after small business had indicated they had no plans of expansion or new job growth in the coming months. Most economists are thinking the higher April jobs number will sway small business into feeling more confident, but if you recall, the BLS added a ton of jobs to the report. Either way, small business is a huge part of the economy so we’ll see if there is any follow through. The cost of imported goods into the US are expected to match the March monthly number and show a decline on an annual basis. The average price of oil in March was $92.96 and the average in April was $92.07, so it would seem reasonable for import prices to remain subdued. The import price index is one of three monthly price or inflation reports that are released. We’ll see producer prices and consumer prices tomorrow and Thursday respectively. At the end of the day, we won’t see any market moving data out of the US today, so unless we get significant news elsewhere, I would expect things to continue floating in the same direction. I saw a report by the San Francisco Fed that studied the US labor participation rate and came to the conclusion it may take a few years before cyclical components apply upward pressure since payroll employment remains well below its pre-recession peak. The ratio was 63.6% in April and was the lowest level since May 1979. This figure has been one of the key reasons why the unemployment rate has dropped while employment gains have remained below levels that would justify such moves. The report went on to say that in the recoveries from the ’81-’82 and ’90-’91 recessions, the positive relationship didn’t emerge until the economy had passed the previous employment peak by a substantial margin. Anyway, I found that bit of info interesting. Moving over to currencies, the USD remained in the driver’s seat for another day as only one currency, the Brazilian real, finished the day firmly in positive territory. There were quite a few currencies within a fraction of a percent from gains, but as I mentioned up top, most currencies traded in a narrow window. The recent trading trend has been rewarding the dollar with positive US economic data as many feel it would force the Fed’s hand in reducing stimulus measures. I’m not sure it’s that easy, but that’s the current trend. The euro ended the day just barely in the red, but what I found more profound was its extremely tight range. In fact, the difference between the high and low of the day was less than 0.50% as it topped out at 1.30 and bottomed at 1.2942. I don’t recall seeing such non-eventful data for the euro in a while, so it was all about the US story. Some of the peripheral bond yields, such as Italian and Spanish debt, ticked a little higher as indications arise that austerity measures might get scaled back in order to support higher growth. In other words, interest rate cuts and other measures are limited so go for the low hanging fruit. The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) said that Cyprus received its first bailout payment yesterday. They said the small island nation received 2 billion euros and they could get as much as 1 billion more in June. The ESM also announced the go ahead for additional aid to Greece. The official approval should come within the next few days, but Greece should get 4.2 billion euros very soon and then another 3.3 billion in June would hinge on certain requirements. A deeper recession is staring European leaders right in the face, so things could change at any point and bailouts could be easier to come by. Speaking of Europe, the pound sterling lost just under 0.5% on the day. The currency was actually trading in positive territory prior to the release of the US sales number as the Confederation of British Industry maintained its growth outlook for the next couple of years. They are calling for economic growth to come in at 1% this year and increase to 2% in 2014, while the eurozone is expected to wallow in a negative growth pattern for the time being. The Australian dollar had another rough day as it turned in the worst score yesterday with nearly a 0.75% loss. This time, it was a negative printing of April business confidence that pushed it over the edge. Obviously the bout of dollar strength is pushing it in the wrong direction anyway, but the report’s lowest reading since November did the rest. In the end, the Aussie finished the day below parity and traders continue pricing in another rate cut by gov’t officials. I’m still of the opinion they will take a wait and see approach with any increase and Chinese activity going a long way to ease some of the pain. The Canadian dollar finished the day in second place and oh so close to a positive number solely on the coattails of the US retail sales result. Since most of Canadian commerce is with the US, we definitely saw the spillover effect at play, in spite of another down day for commodities. You would have thought the Mexican peso to be caught up in the same wave, but that speculation of an impending rate cut by the central bank kept it in the cellar. Speaking of rate cuts, I saw an interesting stat where we have seen 511 interest rate cuts globally since June 2007. That’s a lot of cutting. And finally, the Brazilian real did turn in the best performance of the day with just over a 0.5% gain as speculation mounts that the central bank may intervene in the currency market to induce currency appreciation. Inflation has been on the rise so an appreciating currency goes a long way in keeping it under wraps. I guess comments last week from the central bank has fueled the fire as policy makers said they will do whatever is needed to slow inflation. They did hike interest rates last month, but more action may be needed in order to increase their comfort level, hence the currency. Trying to keep up with this central bank will make your head spin. As I came in this morning, things are pretty close to where I left them last night and most currencies aren’t starting the day in a deep hole. As I mentioned, it’s shaping up to be a quiet day unless feathers get ruffled abroad so the focus will soon shift over the to the data reports tomorrow. The dollar has slightly gained some traction since I’ve been writing, but nothing significant so far. Then there was this…According to an article in CNN Money, a poll finds that government spending cuts have public support in Europe. It said that despite the pain brought by austerity policies, the people of Europe said that bringing down government spending is the proper solution to the region’s economic problems. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 6 of the 8 countries surveyed had overwhelmingly expressed that government debt is a big problem. To recap…The US dollar had yet another day in the sun as April retail sales came in higher than expected. The report used in calculating GDP came in positive and much higher than expected, so some economists are updating their consumer spending numbers. We won’t see much in the way of US data today but the San Fran Fed talked about the participation rate in the labor market. The currency market traded in a tight range and the ESM authorizes payment to Cyprus. The Aussie had yet another rough day but the Brazilian real was the only currency firmly in positive territory on the day. Currencies today 5/14/13. American Style: A$ $.9929, kiwi .8244, C$ .9876, euro 1.2966, sterling 1.5276, Swiss $1.0445, . European Style: rand 9.2070, krone 5.8207, SEK 6.6690, forint 227.74, zloty 3.2122, koruna 19.9451, RUB 31.3423, yen 101.67, sing 1.2403, HKD 7.7618, INR 54.7725, China 6.2035, pesos 12.1758, BRL 2.0080, Dollar Index 83.28, Oil $94.85, 10-year 1.90%, Silver $23.43, and Gold. $1,429.00 That’s it for today…I was looking at the box score of the Cards-Mets game last night and I was surprised to see former pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel in the lineup. He had one heck of a curveball back in the day but lost it and could never find his stuff. After needing a jacket yesterday morning, it looks like we’ll need to kick on the A/C here in STL as its supposed to be close to 90 degrees today. It feels like I’m missing something by not getting ready for a Blues game, but that will have to wait for next season. Anyway, that does it for me today, so until tomorrow, Have a Great Day! Mike Meyer Assistant Vice President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837
The dollar index closed late on Monday afternoon at 97.43—and began to slide almost immediately when Far East trading began on their Tuesday morning. It bounced off the 97.00 low just once—and the next time it rolled over a couple of hours after that, the ‘gentle hands’ I spoke of yesterday were nowhere to be seen. The 95.68 low tick came moments after 1 p.m. in New York—and it rallied a bit into the close, finishing the day at 95.95—down an eye-watering 147 basis points. And not a thing out of the precious metals. After the out-of-left-field-for-no-reason rallies on Monday, the precious metals had a bona fide reason to rally yesterday, but did nothing. The CME Daily Delivery Report for the Tuesday session showed that 74 gold and zero silver contracts were posted for delivery within the COMEX-approved depositories on Thursday. The only stand-out number, which is barely worth mentioning, was that HSBC USA stopped 49 contracts in its client account. The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here. The CME Preliminary Report for the Tuesday trading session showed that June’s open interest in gold declined a very chunky 3,026 contracts, but most of that was the 2,500-odd that are being delivery today that were posted yesterday. There are 2,062 gold contracts still open. Silver’s June o.i. was unchanged at 33 contracts. Another day—and another withdrawal from GLD. This time it was 134,254 troy ounces, which is a pretty decent amount considering the fact that the gold price hasn’t been allowed to go anywhere from a price perspective for the last five trading days in a row. Then to add to that mystery, there was a deposit into SLV yesterday, as as authorized participant added 1,104,807 troy ounces. Go figure! There was another sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday. They sold 2,000 troy ounces of gold eagles—500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes—and another 375,000 silver eagles. In the last three business days the mint has sold 1,152,000 silver eagles—and only a small portion of that was buying by the retail public. Could Ted Butler’s big buyer—JPMorgan—still be around? He has his mid-week column today—and I’m expecting he’ll have something to say about it. It was a decent in/out day for gold over at the COMEX-approved depositories on Monday, as 32,001 troy ounces were reported received—and 16,075 troy ounces were shipped out the door. The link to that activity is here. It was pretty quiet in silver, as only 22,054 troy ounces were received—and 145,748 troy ounces shipped out. The link to that action is here. There was a decent amount of activity at the gold kilobar COMEX-approved depositories in Hong Kong on their Monday, as 3,132 kilobars were received—and 5,262 kilobars were sent out the door. The link to that activity, in troy ounces, is here. I don’t have all that many stories today, so I hope you can find a couple you like from the limited selection below. The single biggest key to the silver manipulation has always been if the concentrated short position increases on any price rally and that is exactly what occurred on the latest (snuffed out) rally. The concentrated short position of the 8 largest traders in COMEX silver is now 75,529 contracts, or 377,645,000 million oz, the most in six years. Eight traders, not one of them a miner or representing miners is short almost 50% of what the CPM Group claims is world annual silver mine production (790 million oz). No other commodity has such a concentrated short position and this is why silver miners everywhere should be complaining and screaming with the loudest voices possible. I haven’t done so in a while, but let me point out something I used to bring up in the past that is more relevant today. As crazy as it is that COMEX silver has the largest concentrated short position of any commodity traded in terms of actual world production, it’s even crazier than that. Not only is the concentrated short position in COMEX silver so large as to be impossible to justify economically, the concentrated short position is almost double the size of the concentrated long position, a situation not witnessed in any other metal and few other commodities in general. — Silver analyst Ted Butler: 30 May 2015 As I mentioned further up, I was very surprised that the precious metals prices didn’t do better in the face of the U.S. dollar index face plant yesterday. The precious metals blasted off [and got squashed] for no good reason on Monday, but the moment there was a reason to blast skyward, they didn’t. Volumes in gold and silver weren’t particularly heavy yesterday, so the lack of a rally can’t be blamed on “all the usual suspects” this time. Ted was surprised as well. Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals as of the close of trading yesterday—and it certainly appears that gold and silver are being held in a trading range. However, for Commitment of Trader reasons, I’m afraid that they’re going to follow the current price trends of both platinum and palladium at some point. The lack of a rally can’t be blamed on all the usual suspects The gold price didn’t do much in Far East or early London trading on their Tuesday. The low came at, or close to, the 10:30 a.m. BST London a.m. gold fix—and it rallied quietly and unsteadily until the 1:30 p.m. COMEX close. From that point, it sold off a hair into the close of electronic trading at 5:15 p.m. EDT. The low and high ticks are barely worth looking up, but the CME Group recorded them as $1,185.80 and $1,196.40 in the August contract. Gold finished the trading day in New York yesterday at $1,192.70 spot, up only $3.90, which was a disappointment, because the dollar got taken out to the woodshed and had the hell beat out of it. I’ll have more on that later. Net gold volume wasn’t overly heavy at 106,000 contracts. Arena Minerals has adopted a project generator model which will greatly reduce potential dilution and allow the company to deploy budget and expertise of exploration that it could not have achieved on its own. Recently, the Company has partnered with B2Gold for a commitment of $20M in exploration and is working on other joint ventures for other parts of the property, which is located in Chile in the hearth of the world’s most prolific mineral belt. The land has been in the hands of an industrial mineral conglomerate for a century and hasn’t been explored for metallics. Several high potential targets have already been identified. Please follow us for continual updates on drilling activity. The first photo is of your standard utility grade magpie. It’s difficult to photograph these things, as they fly away long before you get within decent range. But, like every other bird, if you just sit quietly for long enough… This Canada goose has a very interesting colour variation from the normal—and that’s the only reason I took the shot. Here’s the 6-month U.S. dollar index chart so you can see how yesterday’s trading action fits into the grand scheme of things—and as you can tell, it took out its 50-day moving average to the downside with some authority. I’m careful not to read too much into this for moment, as I’m always cognizant of Chris Powell’s infamous quote—“There are no market anymore, only interventions.” So we’ll see how this shakes out in the days ahead, but I’d guess there are still ‘gentle hands’ out there that will show up at some point if things really start to get out of hand—and they may have put in a brief appearance minutes after 1 p.m. EDT yesterday. And as I write this paragraph, the London open is less than five minutes away. Gold has been trading, or forced to trade, in a very narrow range through all of Far East trading on their Wednesday—and has a negative bias at the moment, and is currently down two bucks from Tuesday’s close in New York. Ditto for silver, which is down a nickel. Nothing to see here, at least for the moment. Platinum and palladium have been chopping around unchanged as well. Gold volume is around 12,200 contracts, with 99.9 percent of that amount trading in the August contract, so it’s certainly of the HFT variety—and has zero to do with supply and demand. Silver’s net volume is only 2,500 contracts, with only a handful of contracts due to roll-over activity out of June. The dollar index, which peaked at 96.06 at 8:30 a.m. Hong Kong time, has been heading lower since then—and is currently down 21 basis points. As I mentioned in yesterday’s column, the cut-off for Friday’s COT Report was at the end of COMEX trading yesterday—and based on the price action, it’s a reasonably safe bet that this week’s report should contain all the pertinent data. As to what that report might show, both gold and silver have been forced to trade in a very tight price range during the reporting period—and as Ted Butler pointed out, the shenanigans on Monday will most likely determine the overall content of the report. But all eyes should be on silver, as the short position of the Big 8 traders sits at 6-months of world silver production according to Nick Laird’s chart—and Ted’s comments in today’s quote. And as I send today’s effort off to Stowe at 5:25 a.m. EDT, I see that both silver and gold are continuing their downwards price decent. Gold is now down 5 bucks—and silver is down 15 cents. Platinum is unchanged—and palladium is trading 6 dollars lower. Gold’s net volume is a hair under 20,000 contracts—and all of the HFT variety in the current front month. Exactly the same can be said about silver, whose net volume is now up to 4,700 contracts. The dollar index is back in rally mode—and is now up 32 basis points vs. down 21 basis points about two and a half hours ago. As for today’s expected price action, I haven’t a clue. But the COT structure, especially in silver, is still as ugly as sin—so there’s still lots of pain left to go the downside. It’s just a matter of ‘when’ before JPMorgan et al pull the trigger on it. See you tomorrow. The silver equities had a similar shape to their rallies on Tuesday as the gold shares—and Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed up 1.61 percent. The gold stocks opened up a bit—and rallied fairly strongly until shortly before 10:30 a.m. EDT. They didn’t do much of anything after that, as the HUI closed up 1.57 percent. The silver price action was pretty much the same as gold’s, with the only real difference being that silver’s low came either around 11 a.m. in London, or shortly before 9 a.m. in New York. You can decide for yourself from the Kitco chart below, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. Silver traded in a 20 cent range all day Tuesday—and the highs and lows definitely aren’t worth my effort to look up. Silver closed yesterday at $16.745 spot, up 4 cents from Monday—and Monday’s gain was only 0.5 cents after “da boyz” were through with it. In the face of a crashing dollar index, I’m underwhelmed. Net silver volume was 33,000 contracts. The platinum price traded flat until shortly after 1 p.m. Hong Kong time—and then began to chop unsteadily higher from there. Like gold and silver, the rally—such as it was—came to an end at the 1:30 p.m. EDT COMEX close. Platinum finished the Tuesday session at $1,110 spot, up 9 bucks on the day—gaining back everything it ‘lost’ on Monday. After trading down about four bucks by the noon Hong Kong time, the palladium price also began to chop unsteadily higher. It’s high tick came shortly after 1 p.m. in Zurich—and the New York traders stepped in shortly before 11 a.m. EDT—and took the price down to its $764 low. It rallied a few dollars higher before trading flat into the close. The metal closed at $766 spot, down 8 dollars from Monday’s close.
— Fits in Your Pocket, Deadly as a Gun, Allowed on a Plane… An ex-CIA officer just revealed the ONLY self-defense tool he carries with him wherever he goes. It fits in his pocket, it’s deadly as a gun… and he’s been taking it on airplanes for years. Moreover, it’s only one of over 101 spy secrets he’s revealing to the public in one FREE book. Click here to claim your FREE copy today. • Now corporate profits are falling too… Earnings-per-share for companies in the S&P 500 fell 16% during the second quarter, according to Standard & Poor’s. It was the biggest drop since 2009. Last month, Reuters said investors should prepare for another ugly earnings season. Forecasts for third-quarter S&P 500 earnings now call for a 3.9 percent decline from a year ago, based on Thomson Reuters data, with half of the S&P sectors estimated to post lower profits… Expectations for future quarters are falling as well. A rolling 12-month forward earnings-per-share forecast now stands near negative 2 percent, the lowest since late 2009… But even as earnings fall, large U.S. companies are still paying out record amounts of cash to shareholders, according to Bloomberg Business. In the second quarter, the most creditworthy companies posted declining earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Yet they returned 35 percent of those earnings to shareholders, according to JPMorgan. That’s kept their cash-payout ratio — how much money they give to shareholders relative to Ebitda — steady at a 15-year high. • Falling profits are making it hard for companies to pay off debt… In June, Fortune wrote: According to credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s, 52 companies have defaulted on their debt in the first six months of this year. That’s more than double the number of companies that missed interest payments in the first half of 2014, and it’s close to eclipsing the 60 companies that defaulted in all of 2014. It is also the highest pace of defaults since 2009. For many companies today, almost every dollar of earnings goes towards paying off debt. For example, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that onshore oil producers use 83 cents of every dollar they generate to pay debt. This has created a very fragile situation. The stocks of companies with big debts often fall the hardest during an economic slowdown. This has created a very fragile situation. The stocks of companies with big debts often fall the hardest during an economic slowdown. • In today’s mailbag, Van D. asks… What would the government debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio look like if you factored in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security? Justin Spittler comments: Unless we note otherwise, we use the “headline” government debt figure whenever we talk about the government’s debt-to-GDP ratio. The headline figure does not include Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. The St. Louis Federal Reserve puts current U.S. federal government debt at just over $18 trillion. Using the latest GDP figures, that translates into a debt-to-GDP ratio of 101%. That’s the highest level since just after World War II. But it would be much higher if it included Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other liabilities the government doesn’t recognize in its “headline” figure. This March, libertarian think tank The Cato Institute said the country’s actual debt is $90.6 trillion, including these liabilities. Others think the figure is even higher. Doug Casey says the nation’s total debt is closer to $200 trillion. Stan Druckenmiller, one of the ten best traders of all-time, also says the government’s total debt is around $200 trillion. Based on this figure, the U.S.’ total debt-to-GDP ratio would be over 1,000%. There’s zero chance the government will ever come up with this money. It will break its promises to pay Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security at some point. The only question is when. Chart of the Day Sugar is breaking out… As we mentioned earlier, commodities are in a bear market. The selloff in commodities has hit everything from oil to lumber to copper. Even “soft commodities” like sugar have sold off. From September 2014 through August of 2015, the price of sugar fell 32%. Then, in late August, sugar began to rally. Sugar has jumped 37% in the last eight weeks. It’s now at an eight-month high. Over the weekend, Doug Casey told Casey Research Summit attendees that he recently made a bullish bet on sugar. So far, that bet is paying off. – Regards, Justin Spittler Delray Beach, Florida October 20, 2015 We want to hear from you. If you have a question or comment, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We read every email that comes in, and we’ll publish comments, questions, and answers that we think other readers will find useful. The bond market just flashed another warning sign… Many professional investors watch the bond market, which is about 50% bigger than the stock market, for clues about the rest of the economy. The bond market is where companies and countries borrow money. If a country or an industry is cracking, it usually shows up in the bond market first. Last month, we told you about a key “spread” that was widening in the bond market. We explained why this pointed to trouble ahead. Now the bond market is giving us another reason to think the U.S. economy is weakening… • Downgrades to corporate credit ratings are at a six-year high… A credit rating measures a borrower’s financial health. A company with a low credit rating will often struggle to repay debt. Credit rating agencies lower a company’s rating when they think the company’s financial health is getting worse. So far this year, there have been more downgrades than in any year since the Great Recession. The Wall Street Journal explains: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded U.S. companies 297 times in the first nine months of the year, the most downgrades since 2009…with just 172 upgrades. Energy and commodity companies make up a large slice of these downgrades. Last week, Business Wire said that energy and commodity companies accounted for 40% of the downgrades during the third quarter. Casey readers know the Bloomberg Commodity Index, which tracks 22 different commodities (including oil and natural gas), recently hit its lowest point since 1999. The recent crash in energy prices is a big reason why. Oil is currently down 55% from its 2014 high. And natural gas is down 61%. Weak commodity prices are translating into dramatically lower profits for many energy and commodity companies. This is a big reason for the recent credit-rating downgrades in the sector. Ratings agencies have also downgraded several big companies outside of the energy sector… Standard & Poor’s cut Mattel’s (MAT) credit rating in January. S&P is concerned the toymaker is losing market share. And in March, Moody’s downgraded McDonald’s (MCD) after the fast food giant announced plans to borrow a lot of money to pay shareholders. • U.S. companies have been on a seven-year borrowing binge… Casey readers know the Federal Reserve dropped its key interest rate to effectively zero in 2008…and left it there. The past seven years of incredibly low interest rates have allowed for all kinds of reckless borrowing. U.S. companies have issued $9.3 trillion in new debt since the financial crisis. That includes $1.4 trillion in bonds last year, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. This was an all-time high, but the record probably won’t hold for long… Through September of this year, U.S. corporations had already issued $1.2 trillion in bonds. That’s an 8.4% increase over the same period last year. This excessive amount of debt is hurting U.S. companies. Last week, The Wall Street Journal said the balance sheets of big U.S. companies are weaker than they were before the 2007-8 financial crisis. According to one metric, the ratio of debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization [Ebitda] for companies that carry investment-grade ratings, meaning triple-B-minus or above, was 2.29 times in the second quarter. That’s higher than the 1.91 times in June 2007, just before the crisis, according to figures from Morgan Stanley. • U.S. companies are also paying out more than they earn… Last year, companies in the S&P 500 spent 95% of their profits on share buybacks and dividends. That figure hit 104% in the first quarter of 2015, according to Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg Business also says the last time this happened was just months before the 2008 financial crisis hit. Shareholder payouts previously rose above 100 percent of operating earnings in the second quarter of 2007. Two quarters later, the figure peaked at 156.5 percent of profit — and the bull market ended. This means companies are giving cash to shareholders instead of using the cash to grow their businesses. Every dollar a company spends on dividends and share buybacks is a dollar it doesn’t spend on research and development, new factories, equipment, etc. Two Amazing Conference for the Price of One Casey Research has put together a package never before seen… an incredible value… and it’s only available for the next 8 days. When you purchase the audio collection from the just completed 2015 Casey Research Summit, you get free access to Stansberry Research’s October 2015 Conference Series video stream. You’ll hear from Ron Paul * Gerald Celente * Richard Maybury * Doug Casey * Marc Faber * Porter Stansberry * Bud Conrad * Scott Taylor * E.B. Tucker * Louis James * Nick Giambruno * Mark Spitznagel * Rudi Fronk * Erez Kalir *… and more. But it’s only available until October 28, so click here now. Recommended Links
By WVUA 23 Reporter Kate SteinerThe Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy is helping students all over the Tuscaloosa City Schools System learn things they may not get in your average classroom.One of those opportunities has students learning all about aquaculture, biology and chemistry through breeding and raising koi. The specially colored carp species is known for their elegant coloring, patterns and potential size.The class has been experimenting with fresh and saltwater in the lab, learning about different fish species using unique and fun lessons. And there’s no better way of learning than doing.Aquaculture may seem like your standard run-of-the-mill science class, but teacher Carl Hughes said his curriculum is challenging and has students putting in a lot of effort.“They get to apply what they learned in class to real-world applications,” he said. “The things they are learning here will be the exact same things that they’re doing out in the field as they go into the aquaculture industry.”The koi fish are being sold next week to make room for the transition from fresh to saltwater studies. Their next project? Raising shrimp.If you’re interested in purchasing a koi, they range from $10 to $20 depending on fish size and will be available May 14 through 19 at the Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy at 2800 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
A group of Collins-Riverside Middle School parents took their complaints over their school to the Northport City Council after saying they feel the Tuscaloosa County School System isn’t taking them seriously.During a special noon session Sept. 13, parents repeated their frustrations with the Tuscaloosa County School Board. They claim the board is ignoring their school and the building is in dire need of maintenance and upgrades.Some parents said they’re calling for the city to create its own school system, but Northport City Council members said before that happens, residents should speak up.“We need to have more citizen engagement,” said Rodney Sullivan, the councilman for District 3. “What changes do they want to see? We need to hear from them and that’s the way this needs to work. It needs to be a community effort, a joint effort, between the elected body and the citizens to see what the best path for Northport going forward is.”Northport Mayor Donna Aaron said Northport has always been the red-headed stepchild of the county school system, and calls for splitting off and forming their own school system are certainly being discussed.
CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Greece and Nigeria played a scoreless draw in a pre-World Cup friendly the night of June 3 at the home of the MLS Philadelphia Union.There were few scoring chances in one of the final tuneups for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which begins June 12. The best opportunity came for Greece in the 83rd minute when Giorgios Samaras had a shot blocked from 10 yards and Dimitris Salpingidis followed with a header that missed.Nigeria countered in the 87th minute when Ogenyi Onazi fired a shot from 25 yards that was saved by goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino.Greece midfielder Giorgos Karagounis, its 37-year-old captain, played the entire first half, much to the delight of the large contingent of Greek fans in the stadium donning his No. 10 jersey.“I think we managed to give the Greek people pleasure to see the Greek national team prepare for Brazil,” Greece coach Fernando Santos said. “It’s why we made these tests. It was difficult for us because we had a very long trip from Portugal. We were jet-lagged. It was a little bit difficult for us today.”For Greece, it was the second of three exhibition games over a six-day span, so a number of starters were given extra rest. The series of games started with a scoreless draw against Portugal on Saturday, and will end Friday against Bolivia at Harrison, New Jersey.“I think we played better today,” Santos said, referring to the last two games. “This is part of the progression we want to see from all the players.”Nigeria played a 2-2 draw against Scotland last week and traveled here for this final World Cup friendly.“We were not able to keep our ball possession like we did for the last 12 to 15 minutes,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said. “We’ll see how it goes in the next game.”The next friendly for Nigeria will come against the United States on Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida.“It’s going to be a really good test,” Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo said. “It will be an exciting game and hopefully, we can raise our performance.”Greece will be in Group C at the World Cup along with Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan.Nigeria will be headed to Group F with Iran, Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.TweetPinShare0 Shares
Kostas Fortounis has signed a contract extension with Olympiacos which will keep him with the Erythrolefki until 2020. The new deal has a high release clause and it will increase Fortounis’ yearly earnings. Additionally, Dominguez’s contract was extended for one more year while Andreas Bouchalakis will remain with the club until 2020.Fortounis new contract extends his stay in Piraeus to 2020 (previously 2019). With the new deal, Fortounis will now earn roughly €1 million a year, doubling his previous agreement with the club (€400,000). In the scenario of a transfer, before 2020, his new contract has a release clause of €20 – €25 million. Fortounis had a tremendous season with Olympiacos and has caught the eyes of many European clubs. With the new deal, anyone interested in Fortounis will need to pay a hefty amount to Olympiacos to acquire the rising Greek star. Similar to Fortounis, Bouchalakis also extended his contract with the club until 2020.Olympiacos decided to activate the expansion clause in Chori Dominguez’s current contract and the Argentinian playmaker will remain with the club for one more season. There were rumors that the Greek Champions would not progress with the expansion clause, but according to Live Sport, Dominguez will wear the Erythrolefka for another year.Source: www.agonasport.comTweetPinShare0 Shares
Two second-half penalties condemned Apoel to their first defeat of their Europa League campaign as they went down to 3-1 away at Young Boys on Thursday night.The result, combined with Olympiacos’ 4-1 win over Astana in Group B’s other game, leaves Apoel joint-top with the Greek side on six points apiece but with the Swiss now within just two points of them.Apoel drew first blood on 14 minutes when a fine long pass from Vinicius dissected the Young Boys defence and found Efrem all alone who brought the ball down and then expertly lobbed the keeper for a surprise lead.The joy was short-lived, however, as Hoarau levelled the game two minutes later. The 32-year-old failed to connect with the initial cross but was on hand when Schick regained possession and picked him out for a close range tap in.Efrem looked like Apoel’s more dangerous attacking threat and a fine individual run followed by a shot that went just wide proved that on 31 minutes. Despite Young Boys having the majority of possession Apoel looked threatening whenever they strode forward in the first half.Centre-back Carlao picked up an injury early in the second half and Merkis, his replacement, had an instant impact, though not the type he or his manager would have wanted.Within seconds of him coming on, he was adjudged to have pulled his man to the ground, though it looked a very harsh call.Waterman, who was named in the Europa League team of Matchday 2 for his heroics in Piraeus, saved Hoarau’s spot kick only for the ball to fall perfectly back into the path of the striker to make it 2-1.Apoel, unlike in the first period, never managed to show any signs of getting back in the game, and it looked a matter of time before Young Boys sealed the win.And on 82 minutes, that moment came when another soft penalty was awarded with Nuno Morais the guilty party. Hoarau stepped up and, this time, made no mistake to put the game beyond reach.Apoel will not have to wait long to attempt to exact revenge, as their next European game comes against the same side on 3 November in Nicosia.Results from the other Europa League matches on Thursday:Inter Milan 1 – Southampton 0Manchester United 4 – Fenerbahce 1Feyenoord 1 – Zorya Luhansk 0Olympiacos 4 – Astana 1Mainz 1 – Anderlecht 1St Etienne 1 – FK Qabala 0AZ Alkmaar 1 – Maccabi Tel Aviv 2Dundalk 1 – Zenit Petersburg 2Roma 3 – Austria Vienna 3Viktoria Plzen 1 – Astra Giurgiu 2KRC Genk 2 – Athletic Bilbao 0Rapid Vienna 1 – Sassuolo 1Celta Vigo 2 – Ajax 2Standard Liege 2 – Panathinaikos 2Konyaspor 1 – Sporting Braga 1Shakhtar Donetsk 5 – KAA Gent 0Red Bull Salzburg 0 – Nice 1FK Krasnodar 0 – Schalke 1FK Qarabag 2 – Paok Salonika 0Slovan Liberec 1 – Fiorentina 3Hapoel Be’er Sheva 0 – Sparta Prague 1Osmanlispor 2 – Villarreal 2Steaua Bucharest 1 – FC Zurich 1Source: cyprus-mail.comTweetPinShare0 Shares
LONDON (AP) — Of the three teams chasing the final two Champions League spots, City was the quickest off the mark. Captain Vincent Kompany netted after five minutes and City went on to beat Watford 5-0, with Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus also contributing to the rout.Arsenal made a flying start, with Hector Bellerin netting the opener in the eighth minute. But Laurent Koscielny also went flying into a reckless challenge on Enner Valencia and the Arsenal captain saw red in the 14th minute.Rather than imploding as Arsenal sides have been prone to do with 10 men, Alexis Sanchez doubled Arsenal’s advantage in the 27th minute.With Liverpool being held at home by Middlesbrough, Arsenal displaced Juergen Klopp’s side from fourth place in the live standings. But only until first-half stoppage time at Anfield. Once Georginio Wijnaldum scored for Liverpool in first-half stoppage time, Arsenal was back in fifth place. That’s the way it stayed, with Philippe Coutinho’s free kick followed by Adam Lallana’s strike in 56th minute to secure Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough.With City and Liverpool comfortably winning, there was nothing Arsenal could do to muscle into the top four. The Gunners still held on to win, with Romelu Lukaku pulling one back from the penalty spot for Everton but Aaron Ramsey completing the 3-1 victory in stoppage time.Having missed out on the top four for the first time in Wenger’s 21-year reign, there was little for Arsenal players to celebrate with fans as they embarked on a lap of appreciation after the Premier League finale. Wenger didn’t even join in, remaining on the touchline with his arms folded.Liverpool beats Middlesbrough 3-0, finishes 4th in EPLWith halftime approaching and the atmosphere inside Anfield getting increasingly tense, a chant drifted across from the away supporters: “Champions League, you’re having a laugh.”Liverpool was being held 0-0 by already relegated Middlesbrough on the final day of the Premier League and was in real danger of throwing away a top-four spot that the team had held for most of the season.Georginio Wijnaldum proved to be the man for the big occasion once again.The Netherlands midfielder pierced Middlesbrough’s packed defense and drove a rising shot into the net in first-half injury time, before Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana added further goals in a 3-0 win.It sealed a fourth-placed finish for Liverpool and a place in the qualifying stages of next season’s Champions League.The prestigious competition is in touching distance for one of the continent’s most storied clubs, a five-time European champion.Arsene Wenger’s proud record is overArsenal has failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.Arsenal’s hope of squeezing into the Premier League top four relied on Liverpool or Manchester City slipping up, but they both won easily on Sunday to join Chelsea and Tottenham in entering the Champions League.So even though Arsenal beat Everton 3-1 to complete the league campaign with five successive wins, the resurgence came too late and Wenger had to settle for fifth — the lowest finish since taking charge of the team in 1996.Whether Wenger is back in charge at the Emirates Stadium next season is yet to be resolved. The 67-year-old Frenchman won’t discuss his future until after Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea.Chelsea is chasing a double. Antonio Conte’s side received the Premier League trophy after routing bottom-place Sunderland 5-1 on Sunday, two weeks after securing a second title in three seasons.Chelsea finished seven points in front of Tottenham, which completed its best league campaign in 54 years in style by beating relegated Hull 7-1.___TERRY FAREWELLJohn Terry collected the Premier League trophy for the fifth time in the final act of his 22-year association with Chelsea.The captain had his own personal opportunity to thank the Stamford Bridge faithful earlier in the day. Sunderland manager David Moyes revealed that his team collaborated with Chelsea to ensure the ball would go out around the 26th minute — matching the shirt number Terry has worn throughout his career — to enable the defender to leave the pitch to a guard of honor.Chelsea was already leading through Willian’s eighth-minute strike when the 36-year-old departing Terry was honored. Chelsea’s 30th win of the campaign was sealed by Eden Hazard, Pedro Rodriguez and a double from Michy Batshuayi.___KANE TOP SCORERTottenham missed out on the top team prize, but Harry Kane retained the golden boot by finishing as the league’s top scorer for the second consecutive season.Kane finished with 29 goals despite missing eight of the 38 games through injury, with his tally augmented by a second hat trick inside three days. After netting four in Tottenham’s 6-1 win at Leicester on Thursday, Kane claimed a treble at Hull. Dele Alli, Victor Wanyama, Ben Davies and Toby Alderweireld also netted for Tottenham.___MAN UNITED’S MISSIONJose Mourinho entered the final day of the league campaign knowing United was finishing sixth and prioritizing winning the Europa League in Wednesday’s final against Ajax to qualify for the Champions League.Despite United’s lowest finish since Alex Ferguson retired after collecting the Premier League trophy in 2013, the League Cup has already been collected and Sunday’s game offered hope for the future.Four players were given their first league starts by Mourinho and his youthful side beat Crystal Palace 2-0. One of the debutants — Josh Harrop — scored the opener and the other goal came from Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive player.___SURVIVORSLeicester was in danger of relegation during its woeful defense of the title it won so unexpectedly a year ago. Craig Shakespeare is now waiting to discover if he’ll keep the manager’s job after a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth secured a 12th place finish.Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth has done more than just secure a third successive season in the Premier League but finished ninth — the team’s highest placing since being founded in the 19th century.Sean Dyche has also impressed by leading Burnley to its highest league position since 1975. The northwest side lost 2-1 to West Ham but finished 16th, six points clear of danger.Swansea went through three managers this season but the decision to hire Paul Clement has been justified by the south Wales team avoiding the drop. Swansea closed out the campaign with a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion, taking Clement’s points haul to 29 from 19 games and finishing in 15th.___SOUTHAMPTON SLUMPSouthampton failed to score in a fifth successive home game in a 1-0 loss to Stoke. Even though the south-coast club finished eighth, there’s uncertainty over the future of manager Claude Puel.There were boos at the final whistle at St. Mary’s Stadium which could play into the club’s review over post-season review of Puel’s position.ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer WriterTweetPinShare0 Shares
LONDON — America’s national pastime made a positive impression on British fans the first time they got to see the game up close and personal on British soil.That may have been helped by a warm, picture-perfect day in often overcast London — baseball weather at its best, played on a midsummer’s eve with sunlight that seemed to never fade — and by a slugfest that, to say the least, emphasized power over precision pitching.Things American fans take for granted, like standing for the national anthem, or joshing rival fans without getting overly crude, struck many Brits in London Stadium as a refreshing change.“It’s brilliant, it’s amazing, it’s so American as well,” said Jack Lockwood, a 23-year-old who pitches and plays catcher in an amateur baseball league in the city of Sheffield. “I’ve been to hundreds of football (soccer) games and it’s just such a different atmosphere. I just like the American positivity.”Lockwood spent about six hours on a train to get to and from London for the game, but he considered the trip well worth it, even though his favorite team — the Los Angeles Dodgers — wasn’t playing.He said it would be impossible to have fans from two rival English soccer teams sit in the same stands — intermingled as New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans were at Saturday’s game — without violent scenes.“You put two rival football teams’ fans in the same stands, you’ll get a fight,” he said. “In baseball, you can put the fans together and you can have a laugh with anyone.”Characters including from left, King Henry VIII, the Loch Ness monster and Winston Churchill participate in a mascot race during a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Saturday, June 29, 2019, in London. Major League Baseball made its European debut game Saturday at London Stadium. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)There were some British touches at the game, like the roaming vendors selling Pimm’s cocktails and gin and tonics, but the focus was generally on typical American ballpark fare: hot dogs, nachos, burgers and beer. There were even supersized hot dogs, checking in at 2 feet long.“It’s the way the Americans do sports,” said pleased British fan Stuart Graham, 45. “The way they have the spectator in mind. You know you’re sitting there and the man comes around with your beer and your hot dogs and you can relax and enjoy the game. It’s really very different to what we’re used to.”He and Ian Muggridge bought the tickets months ago, spurred in part by the storied Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, which promised to bring top talent to the British capital.“Two big heavyweights of U.S. baseball, sort of like Manchester United playing Liverpool in the UK,” he said, referring to British soccer rivals. “Great spectacle to come and see.”He did find one disappointment to baseball in Britain: The hot dogs weren’t as good as the ones he’d enjoyed at an American park.Muggridge appreciated the mood in the park, with the playing of the U.S. and British national anthems before the game.“I like the fact that it’s got quite a patriotic feel about it,” he said. “You don’t often get that in British sports. We tend to avoid that, whereas in America you just put it out there.”While many British fans only had to jump a Tube train to get to the park, thousands of American fans flew across the Atlantic at considerable expenses to catch the historic games.This bunch included Yankees fan Danielle McCauley of Clifton, New Jersey, who built a weeklong British holiday around Saturday’s game.“It’s been fun, the whole thing has been really cool,” she said, although she found the crowd far less raucous than those she had been part of in Yankees Stadium and Fenway Park. Call it British reserve.“It’s quiet,” she said. “It’s the quietest sporting event I’ve ever been to.”By: Gregory Katz, Associated PressTweetPinShare0 Shares
A man in the U.K. has contracted a strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to the two main drugs used to treat it, according to British health officials.This is the latest in a long history of gonorrhea developing resistance to antibiotics – in fact, the World Health Organization has warned that doctors are running out of ways to treat it.It’s the first report of a gonorrhea case worldwide that is resistant to both ceftriaxone and azithromycin, the pair of drugs typically effective in treating the disease, according to Public Health England, a U.K. government agency. The strain showed high-level resistance to azithromycin and resistance to ceftriaxone. The patient in the U.K. was diagnosed in early 2018, and health officials believe he contracted the disease through “female sexual contact in south-east Asia a month prior to symptom onset.” The man also had one “regular female partner in the UK,” and she has not contracted the resistant gonorrhea, according to preliminary test results.After being treated, a throat swab testing for gonorrhea still came back positive. The patient is currently being treated through an IV with a different drug, ertapenem, which is related to ceftriaxone. He’s showing signs of responding to the drug, though doctors are still waiting to say whether it is definitely effective. “We are following up this case to ensure that the infection was effectively treated with other options and the risk of any onward transmission is minimized,” Gwenda Hughes from Public Health England tells the BBC. Gonorrhea has grown resistant to multiple kinds of drugs, as scientists struggle to come up with other effective, clear options that are well-studied. And as NPR has reported, “experience has shown that once a resistant strain of gonorrhea appears, it steadily displaces those that can be killed with antibiotics.”In the 1970s and 80s, the bacterium that causes gonorrhea developed resistance to penicillin and tetracycline. More recently it also thwarted fluoroquinolones, a class of drugs that includes Cipro.Then, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just one family of drugs – cephalosporins — still worked to treat it on its own. Ceftriaxone, used in the U.K. patient, is an injectable type of cephalosporin. But then strains that showed resistance to this family of drugs emerged. In 2010, the CDC started recommending that a cephalosporin be used in a dual treatment, accompanied by either doxycycline or azithromycin. “Little now stands between us and untreatable gonhorrea,” the CDC has warned, identifying it as an urgent public health threat. That was before this latest news. The CDC says that “thirty percent of new gonorrhea infections each year are resistant to at least one drug.” But this appears to be the first case where it is resistant to both of them. The bacterium is able to mutate quickly to defend itself, as Jonathan Zenilman, who studies infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins, told NPR’s Rob Stein about another recent mutation. “If this was a person, this person would be incredibly creative,” Zenilman said. “The bug has an incredible ability to adapt and just develop new mechanisms of resisting the impact of these drugs.” For women, gonorrhea increases the risk of a “life-threatening ectopic pregnancy,” the CDC says, and for both men and women, it can lead to infertility and increase the chances of getting HIV. There are some 78 million gonorrhea infections annually, according to the World Health Organization. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
A pipe was the only sign of drug use found near Chris Bennett’s body in November. But it looked like the 32-year-old Taunton, Mass., native had stopped breathing and died of an opioid overdose. Bennett’s mother, Liisa, couldn’t understand what happened. Then she saw the toxicology report.”I’m convinced he was smoking cocaine that was laced,” she says. “That’s what he had in his system, [it] was cocaine and fentanyl.”Liisa Bennett was shocked. Chris had developed an addiction to pain pills and then heroin in his late teens but had not used opioids for at least 10 years, as far as she knew. Bennett had warned her son that if he ever used opioids again, he’d be in greater danger of an overdose because fentanyl, an opioid drug more powerful than heroin, was mixed into much of the supply.”My focus was making sure that he wasn’t going to do the heroin that was laced,” Bennett says. She never suspected the crack cocaine Chris smoked occasionally would kill him. “Absolutely not.”The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl, which is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, was found in more than half of overdose deaths last year in 10 states including Massachusetts. Now, there’s concern as it creeps into cocaine.Bennett’s story echoes those heard on college campuses, where students are snorting cocaine to stay awake or during a campus party, and unknowingly overdosing on fentanyl. Thirty-, 40- and 50-year-olds are celebrating their big birthday with a line of cocaine and keeling over. And regular cocaine users report feeling the expected rush and then falling asleep. If these men and women use cocaine and do not have the opioid reversal drug naloxone handy, sometimes, they don’t wake up.Fentanyl-laced cocaine deaths are a growing concernIt’s not clear how many of the nearly 2,000 estimated deaths listed as opioid overdoses last year in Massachusetts represent people who thought they were doing cocaine. The state doesn’t register drug combinations found in most bodies after an overdose.Connecticut does. There, the number of deaths involving cocaine and fentanyl together has increased 420 percent in the past three years. Heroin laced with fentanyl claimed even more lives in Connecticut during that same period.In Massachusetts, an increasing amount of cocaine laced with fentanyl is changing hands on the streets. State police recorded 199 such samples last year, a nearly threefold increase from 2016 — but still a small percentage of total cocaine seizures.The Drug Enforcement Administration says 7 percent of cocaine seized in New England in 2017 included fentanyl, up from 4 percent in 2016. A similar comparison for the U.S. as a whole was not readily available.Who’s adding fentanyl to cocaine, and why?The DEA’s latest National Drug Threat Assessment says adding fentanyl to cocaine is typically for the purpose of “speedballing,” which combines the rush of a stimulant, often cocaine, with a drug that depresses the nervous system, such as heroin. It’s a dangerous combination in any form — more so with fentanyl.But there’s speculation that something else is happening in the current surge of cocaine/fentanyl overdoses and deaths.A dozen EMTs, police officers, physicians and outreach workers contacted for this story describe men and women who were revived after an opioid overdose and claimed they had only used cocaine. So when was fentanyl added and why? There are a few theories.Some researchers say fentanyl showing up in cocaine looks to be accidental, a product of messy packaging rather than malicious intent. Boston Medical Center epidemiologist Traci Green says the rise in cocaine/fentanyl deaths she’s tracking out of Rhode Island is commensurate with the increase in fentanyl deaths overall.”It’s more of a contamination model rather than one that is malicious or purposeful,” says Green, who is also an associate professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at the Brown University School of Medicine.But a growing number of law enforcement agents, doctors, recovery providers, and drug users argue for malicious intent. They speculate that cartel leaders are using cocaine to expand the market of people addicted to opioids.”People who were just using cocaine occasionally, now they’re using cocaine every day,” says Rafael, who buys cocaine and other illegal drugs, often several times a day, on the streets of Boston. (We’ve agreed to use just his first name.)Rafael says dealers, high up, are intentionally adding fentanyl to cocaine because fentanyl is a more addictive drug.”It’s all about making them [drug users] need the product,” Rafael says.There’s at least one flaw in that market expansion theory, says Albie Park, who co-founded a drug use harm reduction program out of Northampton, Mass., called HRH413.”If you’re opioid naive [with no tolerance for opioids] and you take fentanyl, there’s a good chance you’ll die,” Park says. “So adding fentanyl to cocaine may just scare people away. “Still, Park says the amount of fentanyl in cocaine he’s hearing about suggests intent. He can’t understand why.”I’m baffled,” Park says. “I don’t understand the logic.”A call for warningsAcross Massachusetts, there have been scattered alerts about overdoses that appear to be caused by fentanyl in cocaine.In Arlington, a suburb of Boston, Police Chief Fred Ryan says he has seen four since December.”Law enforcement tells us that that’s the next wave of the addiction crisis — is fentanyl-laced cocaine,” Ryan says.There have been a few public warnings, in Rhode Island, New York City and Tennessee.”Here’s why we’re so concerned,” said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director T.J. Jordan during a news conference last October. “To be blunt, what you might buy and use, thinking it’s a good time, could cost you your life.”Some in the overdose prevention community say it’s time to raise broader alarms. Jess Tilley, who also co-founded HRH413, offers naloxone and other harm reduction training to agencies that serve drug users and sex workers in western Massachusetts.”We don’t want to cause widespread panic, but with how deadly fentanyl is, we really need to get the word out there that it could potentially be in every batch of cocaine, just like we tell everyone to approach heroin like it could potentially have fentanyl,” Tilley says.That means teaching cocaine users to test the drug before they use it, then start with a small dose, to use in pairs, and carry naloxone — things that are becoming more common for heroin users.”The tools that are going to be most effective are the ones we already have,” says Green at Boston Medical Center. “There’s hope. We have quite a lot that we can work with here.”But Green is concerned. If a growing number of regular and recreational cocaine users will be ingesting fentanyl, there are a lot of questions researchers need to ask and answer fast about how cocaine and fentanyl interact in the body, whether this shift will lead to more intravenous drug use, and which fentanyl analogs are in the cocaine mixtures.”At the drug trafficking level, there’s shifting happening in the markets,” Green says. “We may want to think about the whole market transitioning in front of our very eyes.”A specific warning for African-AmericansIf fentanyl becomes more prevalent in cocaine, there are signs that African-Americans will be hit harder than other groups.A recent study found about the same rate of cocaine-related overdose deaths among blacks between 2012 and 2015 as opioid overdose deaths among whites.”That really reinforces the fact that we have to worry about cocaine use among African-Americans,” says study co-author David Thomas, a program officer at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.Thomas and his colleagues could not tell whether fentanyl played a role in the rise of these cocaine overdoses. But Dr. Tom Gilson says he can. Gilson is the medical examiner in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes Cleveland.”Over the space of three years we have almost a 14-fold increase in fentanyl deaths among African-Americans,” says Gilson, most of which he says were “mixtures of fentanyl with cocaine.”The growing presence of fentanyl in cocaine may be merging two drug communities and decades of tragedy.”The opioid epidemic started in white suburbia but with the infiltration of fentanyl into the cocaine market we are definitely now seeing many more African-Americans dying of this problem,” Gilson says. Copyright 2018 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.
Paige Thesing has struggled with insomnia since high school. “It takes me a really long time to fall asleep — about four hours,” she says. For years, her mornings were groggy and involved a “lot of coffee.”After a year of trying sleep medication prescribed by her doctor, she turned to the internet for alternate solutions. About four months ago, she settled on a mobile phone meditation app called INSCAPE.”It’s about a 30-minute soundtrack, and it starts with a woman kind of telling you to relax and instructing your breathing,” explains Thesing. “Then it goes into sounds — relaxing noises. There’s wind chimes, some atmospheric music playing…”She uses the app every night and falls asleep within 15 or 20 minutes. “So, definitely a big improvement from four hours,” she says.Thesing is not alone. Chronic insomnia affects an estimated 10-15 percent of adults, and another 25-35 percent struggle with sleep issues occasionally. And like Thesing, a growing number of insomniacs are turning to mobile phone apps to lull them to sleep.On Twitter and Facebook, NPR asked its audience if they have used a mobile phone app to help manage insomnia. Nearly 100 people wrote back suggesting a range of apps, including podcasts created to put a listener to sleep.”These are usually relaxation strategies, white noise, meditation,” Jason Ong, an associate professor of neurology specializing in sleep at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He studies non-pharmacological treatments for various sleep disorders and treats patients at the university’s Sleep Medicine clinic. “It’s not that there’s something wrong with those apps. It’s a reasonable first thing to try.”But, he adds, these kinds of apps aren’t based on scientifically-proven solutions, and they don’t really fix the problem of why someone is not sleeping.Ong wanted to do something about that, so a few years ago, he consulted for a team that developed an app that uses a science-based approach to address insomnia called Sleepio. (However, he doesn’t have any ongoing financial interest in the product, he says.)Sleepio and a few other apps like SHUT-i and a free one developed by the Veterans Administration use the most sustainable and evidence-based solution for insomnia. It’s a kind of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia — CBT-I for short, he says. It helps the patient understand the biology of sleep and gives them a bag of tools and tricks to change their own thought patterns and behaviors to treat their underlying sleep issues.”CBT for insomnia is a specific package … [that] includes different techniques like spending less time in bed [and] what to do if you are in bed and can’t sleep,” says Ong. “It’s teaching you how to change your behavior to better work with your brain to give you confidence that you’re going to be able to sleep on a regular basis.”It may be surprising to us, but our own thought patterns and sleep habits affect our biology, in this case how our brains regulate sleep. “If you modify some of your behaviors, you can work better with how your brain regulates sleep and wake,” he says.The American College of Physicians first recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia as the first-line treatment for insomnia in 2016. “The evidence is quite strong to support the effectiveness of CBT-I treatment and there really aren’t a lot of side effects,” says Ong. And, because it changes behavior, “in the long run CBT-I tends to perform quite well in maintaining the benefits.”In the past the only way for people to get Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia was to see a therapist, now they can access the therapy on their mobile phones.”In Sleepio, it’s like an avatar of a real therapist that’s walking the patient through that process,” explains Ong. Sleepio also allows users to keep a sleep diary so the app can use its algorithm to suggest a better bedtime schedule. It also reminds people to get up when they’ve spent too much time in bed trying to fall asleep, for example.Like a real therapist, the apps that use Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia also provide practical tools to help the user worry less about their sleep and over time, be less anxious and more confident about their ability get a good night’s rest. “It’s very similar to what we do face-to-face with patients,” adds Ong.Studies show that CBT-I delivered digitally through mobile phone apps is effective in treating insomnia. And a recent study of Sleepio by Ong and the team that developed the product found that participants who used the product reported an improvement in insomnia symptoms and overall wellbeing.”It’s an impressive study in size and scope,” says John Torous, the director of digital psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “But like any study, we have to interpret it within reason.”The participants in the study were mostly white and female, he notes, and so it’s hard to generalize the findings to the larger population. And, he adds that the study was designed and funded by Big Health, the company that created the app and is now marketing it.Also, Sleepio is only available on a limited basis. You can get it through employers, health insurance and national health systems at the moment, says Mike Radocchia, the marketing and business development lead at Big Health. Although the company does give it to researchers and charities for free.And while apps that use Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia cost less than in-person therapy, they can be pricey. A 26-week subscription of SHUTi costs $149.That’s why Torous often directs his patients with insomnia to a free app developed by the Veterans Administration called CBT-I Coach.”Anyone can access it. You don’t have to be a veteran,” Torous says.Jake Hanks, a mental health counselor based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, agrees. “CBT-I Coach would be my absolute favorite,” he says. “It includes a lot of the cognitive restructuring, the true things about sleep that we want patients to keep in mind.” And so, he too, recommends the free app to his patients.However, Torous notes that these apps don’t work for everyone. The recent study by Ong and his colleagues hints at why.”Even in this clinical study, less than 50 percent [of people who were assigned to use the app in a randomized controlled trial] are able to make it through the entire course of CBT delivered through digital platforms,” he notes. “For some people it may be hard to make it through all the sessions of CBT.”This is true of most health and wellness apps, he says. Torous has studied this and found that of the 10,000 mental health apps out there, very few are actually being used. “I don’t think we really understand how people are using technology towards their health and recovery,” he notes.But in some ways, he says, people with insomnia may be ahead of scientists in figuring out what works well for them.”If you find something that works [for you], I think that’s always a good first step,” he says. “Quick fixes or simple solutions may get you feeling better right away.”But, he notes, insomnia is a complex disorder with many underlying causes. Sometimes it can be caused by a medical condition that’s easily treatable, like a thyroid problem, he adds.So, no matter what app you are considering, always talk to your doctor about your sleep issues, he advises. “Until you know the diagnosis or what you’re working with, you don’t want to start treating something that’s not what you think it is.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Bernie Sanders is back, but one of his signature policies never left.In 2015, he introduced Medicare-for-all to many Democrats for the first time. Since Sanders’ first run for president, that type of single-payer health care system has become a mainstream Democratic proposal.Last week, Sanders launched his second presidential campaign, amid a field of presidential candidates who are trying to figure out how to position themselves around the policy. Trying to stand out from the pack, though — especially on health care — poses a problem: Differentiating yourself means getting into the details, and getting into the details can turn voters off.Over the last few weeks, candidates have been working to show voters the daylight between their respective health care proposals.New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has stressed that he supports Medicare-for-all, and that he wants private insurers to have a role in that system. “Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care,” he told reporters this month.Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she wants a public option, in the form of letting people buy into Medicaid. As for single-payer health care, she says it’s a possibility in the long-term.Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who says he’s still debating a run, also wants a sort of public option, but only for people above age 50, whom he would allow to buy in to Medicare. “I think Medicare-for-all will take a while, and it’s difficult,” he told CNN’s State of the Union.Long story short: In a huge Democratic presidential field, health care is the first issue where candidates are really differentiating themselves.Bumper sticker politics”Health reform is always more popular as a bumper sticker than as a piece of legislation,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.He points to both the Obamacare and the Obamacare repeal efforts as examples — some ideas behind Obamacare, like insuring pre-existing conditions, were popular. But other aspects that proponents said were necessary to make it work, like the individual mandate, infuriated some voters, helping propel Republicans to big wins in 2010.Likewise, the Obamacare repeal effort fired up many Republican voters, but the implications of the various repeal plans — fewer people with insurance, lack of protections for pre-existing conditions — ultimately helped doom the effort.Medicare-for-all may prove to be yet another example of this trend, according to Levitt.”There’s a huge political benefit for candidates to be in favor of the idea of Medicare-for-all in a primary,” he said. “But the more the details get filled in, the less popular that idea will be.”California Sen. Kamala Harris may be the first to face a big lesson in this. At a recent CNN town hall, host Jake Tapper asked her about her support of Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill, which he said would “totally eliminate private insurance.”(A quick note here: Sanders’ plan does not totally eliminate private insurance, but it would vastly diminish its role.)Harris said that she would eliminate private insurance — but after a quick backlash, the next day clarified, with a campaign spokesman saying she also supports more incremental health care overhauls.Polling also shows how tricky selling Medicare-for-all could be once the details come into play. A January poll from Kaiser shows that nearly 7 in 10 Americans like Medicare-for-all if they hear it will eliminate premiums and out-of-pocket costs. But that support drops to around 4 in 10 if people hear it will mean higher taxes.Both of those things could be true of a Medicare-for-all system. But trying to sell even this basic trade-off on the campaign trail — especially this early — is tough.At the other, more moderate end of the spectrum, Klobuchar said she’s for the broad goal of “universal health care,” and did get specific on her support of a public option. But when it comes to Medicare-for-all, she remained vague, saying it could be a possibility. Voters will almost certainly try to pin her down more on that in coming months, but for now her answer may help keep her from alienating some more liberal voters.For many candidates, keeping health care rhetoric broad might be a smart move for now, says Nadeam Elshami, former chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”It’s okay for a candidate to say, ‘Look: This is generally what I believe in. But I’m willing to hear first and then get into specifics later, after I have a deeper discussion of this issue,'” he said.The “socialist” threatProgressive health care overhauls will also likely feed into one of President Trump’s main attack lines: labeling Democrats as “socialists” as a way of painting them as extreme.”It’s a surprising development that 10 years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act and after a massive political backlash against it, and a huge effort to defend it, Democrats are in there immediately swerving so hard to an even greater government role for health care,” said Michael Steel, a Republican strategist who worked for former House Speaker John Boehner and Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign.Republicans know political backlash well — the backlash to their repeal efforts culminated in the GOP losing the House in 2018. Whatever criticism Trump throws Democrats’ way on health care for 2020, they will likely counter by asking him if he has his own alternative to Obamacare, having failed to fully repeal it.Until then, Democrats will be doing similar calculations on both health care and a variety of other issues: weighing sweeping, progressive ideas that the president could try to label as “socialist” against incremental policies that might not excite liberal voters — and deciding which choice is most likely to get a Democrat into office.Voters want sweeping health care changes …maybeA basic tension underlies Democratic plans to overhauls the health care system: Only 1 in 3 Americans rate health care in the U.S. as “excellent” or “good,” according to Gallup. But at the same time, a large majority — 7 in 10 — view their own personal health care as “excellent” or “good.”Which is to say, it’s easy to see how voters might want the system massively reformed. In addition, incremental changes that don’t go as far as Medicare-for-all might particularly infuriate progressive voters.But at the same time, voters will likely bristle if that reform threatens to change their own health coverage, as some major health care overhauls, like Medicare-for-all, might do.”There is a reason that President Obama’s signature promise on Obamacare was ‘If you like your plan, you can keep it,'” Steel said.That promise proved untrue — some Americans saw their health care plans canceled under the new Obamacare rules, and Politifact named Obama’s statement the “lie of the year” in 2013.Should a Democratic candidate’s health care proposal similarly threaten people’s current health plans, it’s a safe bet that it will become a major Republican line of attack. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
North End Halloween Parade 1 of 34 Halloween Costume Runway 1 of 81 The Madonna Della Cava Society hosted North End families at its 66th Annual Outdoor Halloween Party on Saturday, October 28, 2017. The highlight was the parade through the North End streets. Leading the parade were members from the Saint Alfio’s Band with music selections ranging from Ghostbusters, Mickey Mouse, When Saints Come Marching In and, of course, the Italian feast procession favorites. Goodie bags and tickets for prizes were given to every child. Entertainment included music by D.J. Justin Amoroso, games, inflatable bounce houses and face painting. The day was organized by the Madonna Della Cava Society and the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events.Above are photos from the Halloween Parade and below are photos from the Costume Runway!