Authors Posts by Dave G.

Dave G.

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I'm Dave. A no-frills, high quality cut-to-the-chase news writer that loves breaking news, political brouhaha and all the theatrics that come with living on Earth. I love Chinese food, paranormal activity and random road trips. Einsturzende Neubaten is great music for relaxing the soul.

I'm Dave. A no-frills, high quality cut-to-the-chase news writer that loves breaking news, political brouhaha and all the theatrics that come with living on Earth. I love Chinese food, paranormal activity and random road trips. Einsturzende Neubaten is great music for relaxing the soul.

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0 911
North Korean

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets Trump. Yes, it’s a pretty big deal.

You’d have to go eight years into our storied past – before the 9/11 tragedy – to revisit Bill Clinton’s diplomatic victory that freed two journalists from North Korea’s unkempt prison system. Despite Clinton’s successful mission, nothing was accomplished by way of denuclearization. If you recall just prior to the journalist’s release, six world powers met, with talks ending in a stalemate.

Prior to that, Jimmy Carter attempted to solidify Washington’s unwavering goal of bringing North Korean figureheads back to the bargaining table. Groundwork was laid, “Agreed Framework” was signed to freeze the Hermit Nation’s nuclear program, and Pyongyang seemed to be back in compliance with world powers’ demands to stop tinkering with plutonium.

The Agreed Framework broke down in 2002. U.S. presidents ‘toyed’ with the notion sitting down with North Korean leader Kim Jong il up until his passing in 2011.  Then Il’s fiery little son, Kim Jong Un, took over an already oppressed nation hermitized from humanity, Sweden being U.S.’s only consular point of contact.

So, here we are. Dotard versus Rocket Man.

The meeting itself will be of epic proportions, even if it’s off North Korean soil. That’s because no sitting U.S. leader dared to lock minds, eyes and hands to make something work. The country that controls seemingly every move it’s residents makes thrives off solidarity, or so the last two leaders would have you think.

Trump, already embroiled in scandal, potential corruption and attempting everything possible to appease the Americans he wants to make great again, could use a successful summit. Singaporeans will surely welcome both leaders, but which Trump will actually show up?

Are North Korean futures at stake? Possibly.

This preliminary meeting between Trump and Un likens to that highly anticipated first date, complete with jitters. It’s possible an understanding of Washington’s demands for denuclearization and better treatment of Un’s people is placed before the DPRK leader, although you’d be hard pressed to get an oppressive leader to change his ways with a few handshakes and Singaporean hospitality.

Bear in mind you’re sitting two stubborn leaders down next to each other. One is notorious for mass starvation, incarceration for ridiculous crimes and parading his military downtown out of boredom. The other? He’s a quasi-successful business mogul who became our 45th president against the will of every educated politician in existence, an unfiltered mouth who trolls Twitter more than every teenage girl north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

No sitting POTUS has met a North Korean leader. And this is the leader that’s tasked with it.

Both leaders will be accompanied by droves of media pundits, other lesser relevant individuals, and probably someone who could overpower both should Trump wish to relive his moment of WWE glory. There will be wining, fine dining, and several thousand pages of clickbait headlines emerging from this summit, although nobody will know the outcome until these attention-grabbing leaders bring something tangible back to their constituents.

Regardless the outcome, you can bet one thing: media bias will run amok, and more than likely kill any progress.

0 1055

Swimming in the media’s massive pool of deception is the truth. It’s time to uncover it.

media bias

Tired of rampant media bias? It’s time to disavow slanted media.

Contravening whatever standards remain in today’s journalism, droves of media outlets are looking for their next clickbait headline. The premise for their story barely needs substance; in fact, the entire story could be chock full of Trump tweets and whatever nonsensical banter the ‘journalist’ finds appropriate for their piece.

Don’t believe me? Read most of Slate, Vox and similar anti-Trump content farms vying for their next viral piece. By all accounts, 99% of what you’ll read on their sites is mindless drivel – even the garbage behind their premium content paywalls.

Media bias has never been stronger since Trump took office. And it only takes a second look at Obama’s administration to validate this frequently contested fact, although the media outlets in charge of whitewashing Trump since his campaign began would beg to differ.

The following image is perhaps my favorite line of insidious bullshit I’ve seen yet on any clickbait farm, clipped from a Slate piece ran in 2015:

media bias

An example of media bias, clickbaited for your pleasure.

You’re kidding me, right? Tell me what administration was responsible for the horrible Benghazi incident. Or who was responsible for directly funding the terrorists Trump has now seemingly helped ameliorate. And, if we’re getting technical, which presidency bent our Freedom of Choice rights over the hood by forcing people to insure themselves, or face financial punishment?

Oh wait. You’re probably remembering the same president that snatched up $1 trillion in stimulus money and didn’t create one job with it – all while bitching because his administration lacked the billions needed to improve infrastructure. Which, as you recall, was shunned by Dems when brought up by Trump.

All this, even Operation Fast and Furious which all but handed El Chapo most of the weapons found in his hideout, is virtually buried by the same media asking for your money. (hint: think Common Dreams, Think Progress, Slate, et al).

Yet Trump, with real world experience and no social media filter, is saying the things half these Democratically slanted media outlets are thinking anyway. He’s doing everything which Obama failed to do, including staring Kim Jong-un until he decided to at least entertain denuclearization.

Containing media bias means understanding the truth

Most blogs asking for support for their…uh…’journalism’ employ delusional stringers looking to build traction by any means necessary, even if that means writing ‘vitriol-filled’ op-ed pieces. In many cases, these are trust fund babies with smart mouths and only the bare minimum skills required to get posts past editorial review.

Problems arise when the truth we all deserve to hear becomes slanted to favor one’s personal interests.

I get it. Websites need ad revenue and traffic to assuage their investors.

The problem arises when the truth is distorted to fit an agenda, because it benefits nobody. Putting articles into circulation just to ‘get a rise’ out of readers or those with opposing beliefs gets nothing done. It brings us nowhere near as close as we’ll need to be as society evolves. In fact, purposely penning bullshit divides a nation Trump is trying to bring together.

Another problem with distorting facts is the residual effects it has on our children. This is huge, and takes away the focus of a nation.

Finally, by creating disingenuous content for mass audiences, you’re imposing an alternative reality to those who are comfortable hearing the truth.

Something to consider

If you found this article, it’s probably because you’re curious as to why media outlets slaughter society when things are going well, but back off when we’re in dire straits.

Here’s the answer.

Major news outlets and blog sites aren’t making money when we’re happy, content, and full of life. That’s when the clickbait bullshit hits hardest – as you’re seeing now with Trump. However, when you’re miserable, content farms and PAC’s (which, arguably, sites like Slate could be loosely considered) have backed off because ‘happy, go-lucky’ posts don’t monetize well.

Interested in preserving Trump’s legacy? Disavow the clickbait crap destroying America.

0 40

Choosy debtors choose bankruptcy.

debt consolidation

Consumers struggling to keep afoot financially find themselves with several unwelcoming options: consolidate balances into one monthly payment, head to U.S. Bankruptcy Court or hold on for dear life while creditors seek judgments, garnishments and levies. Since we’re obviously not wanting the latter, I’d like to discuss the two common choices consumers find works best: debt consolidation and bankruptcy.

Both will leave undesirable marks on your credit report. Bankruptcy may cost a couple thousand once, while consolidating may run a couple thousand monthly for several years. In deciding the most favorable route for your situation, it’s best to weight costs and benefits involved with both.

Do you prefer discretion? Debt consolidation hates hiding.

Candidates for consolidation receive the benefit of discretion throughout the life of their financially troubling situation, meaning bills will show as being paid over time yet all accounts are essentially froze by creditors during this period (if accounts are open and mildly late). Bankruptcy offers a clean slate, but tattoos your credit report for 7 years using the biggest lender cussword: bankrupt.

Consumers who find themselves overburdened with multiple types of debt find bankruptcy the quickest route to financial fruition. Since you’re unable to immediately file again, lenders from the auto and credit card industries begin mailing preapproved offers almost immediately when you’ve filed. However, where personal finances are concerned, discretion may be the better part of valor. Take this into consideration, but never look at any one situation as being similar to yours as individual mileage always varies.

Debt consolidation will not hide for long. However, bankruptcy could, even if you aren’t great on refinance timing.

Do you prefer law, or order? Debt consolidation may offer neither.

Unless you’ll file bankruptcy pro se (without the benefit of counsel) and in forma pauperis (as a poor person) which essentially waives your filing fees, legal intervention is suggested since bankruptcy attorneys specialize in navigation the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and may provide the sharpest sword during the creditor meetings. Lawyers can help consumers reaffirm car loans that they’ll faithfully pay beyond discharge while also helping consumers understand the Means Test. So if you’re the type who wants a complete shield from creditors (and could care less about the seven year credit report ding) and the comfort of legal protection, bankruptcy is the logical choice.

Consolidation companies have sprouted up like wild onions during the last decade alone. This is because they’re job is simple: call creditors, discuss payment arrangements, slap consolidation company’s cut onto the backend and then go on to the next consumer. If the company is offering a loan to blanket your debt, consumers get to worry about cross-collateralization of their property should they default on the loan. These companies are (cough) mandated in terms of what they’re able to say and do, and cannot do much for charged off debt being prepared for heavy outside collection activity. Those who would rather keep their financial problems “on the DL” and don’t want the dreaded seven year ding, finding a debt consolidation company may prove fruitful. A thorough side-by-side comparison of today’s bigger players has been compiled here.

The prospect of debt consolidation is an attractive one for cash-strapped consumers who are struggling to make payments on a variety of debt obligations, such as personal debt, credit cards, retail store cards, student loans etc. Debt consolidation works as follows – obtain a loan at a lower interest rate for the total amount of outstanding debt from various sources; pay off all the higher interest-rate debt so that there’s only one (affordable) monthly payment to contend with; and bingo, the promise of a debt-free existence seems within reach. (See Investopedia’s great instructional video on debt consolidation here.)

There are genuine advantages to debt consolidation offered by a legitimate company or financial institution; in fact, individuals can enjoy:

  • a rate of interest that is generally lower than that on credit card and store card debt;
  • the opportunity to prevent further damage to one’s credit;
  • the chance to eliminate debt.

These advantages more than offset the drawbacks of debt consolidation – the risk of falling further into debt unless spending habits are changed; and the risk of losing one’s house if it has been offered up as collateral for a secured line of credit and the consumer is unable to service the consolidated debt. Unfortunately, a number of unscrupulous companies that prey on vulnerable consumers have given the debt consolidation industry a bad name. Such companies typically charge thousands of dollars in hidden fees and charges, leaving the indebted consumer financially worse off than before and faced with the risk of penalties and a deteriorating credit rating.

As a result, consumer protection agencies such as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada have repeatedly warned consumers not to be taken in by deceptive marketing practices and tall claims of companies that promise to reduce debt or offer debt relief through debt consolidation or other means.
While it would be preferable to deal with a bank or financial institution for a debt consolidation loan, the reality is that such loans may only be available to people with relatively high credit scores, an otherwise fairly solid financial position and significant income.

If you do not fulfill these stringent criteria and are in the market for debt consolidation, experts recommend a few basic tips to ensure you deal with the right company.

  • Avoid companies that employ high-pressure sales tactics or make unrealistic claims;
  • If a company claims to be a non-profit entity, ensure that it truly is one;
  • Make sure there are no hidden fees and charges, and avoid companies that ask for substantial fees upfront.
  • Read the fine print.

The Bottom Line

Debt consolidation can be a useful tool for debt management and reduction, but make sure you are dealing with the right company to help you achieve your objectives. Bankruptcy, for those who aren’t candidates for consolidation, can wipe your debts away (minus anything like child support, student loans and federal or state taxes) yet should be filed with attorney assistance to avert disaster.

However, what happens when you cannot afford to go bankrupt? See what the Washington Post says about this.

0 70

Here's the truth about lawyer referral services.

referral services

Referral services are invaluable to attorneys. But they’re really not needed after all.

Dmitry Shubov, founder and once-CEO of LegalMatch.com, found himself charged with having sex with a 14-year old girl he found through a ‘sugar daddy’ website. He’s disbarred in NY, and is awaiting trial. This is the same CEO who, in 2004, pled guilty to illegally accessing LegalMatch’s competitor’s voicemail.

411-Pain.com, as many know, is being sued by Government Employee Insurance Company (Geico) for allegedly concocting an elaborate ‘revolving door’ scheme that billed millions in procedures never performed. Not that they’re new to being slapped with fines, as the Florida AG hit them with sanctions for placing ads that promised lofty settlement amounts. They agreed to donate $550,000 to charity.

These and other lawyer referral services often charge monthly fees in exchange for legitimate client referrals specific to each lawyer’s area of practice. Referrals that, quite often, aren’t demographically correct or get delivered to your inbox without proper vetting.

Let’s look at underlying issues with lawyer referral services, and how your firm actually improves the quality of lead generation when moving past these often-inaccurate paid platforms.

Geo-accuracy misses the mark. Often.

The greatest issue lawyers we’ve discussed referral services with experience is the geographic accuracy of leads received. With greater than 60% of today’s internet searches happening from mobile devices, this section couldn’t be more important to you.

Today’s savvier shopper is familiar with the powerful features built into their mobile device. One of those features, geolocation, combines a smartphone’s ability to ping nearby towers with Google’s ability to display results based off that ping. No longer does somebody need to physically set their location to get accurate search results unless they’re looking for an attorney in an area where cell service isn’t available.

Let’s say somebody from Miami, Florida is looking for an Uber accident attorney from their mobile device. Which are they most likely to concentrate their efforts on – the first ten results in Google, or an advertisement for a matching service located in New York at the top of their results page?

In other words, why would somebody submit their information to a referral service when there are 10 Miami attorneys showing up below the advertisements for LegalMatch.com? Besides, people frequently get frustrated after being forced to use two search engines to get one result.

Your listing could actually outrank these unnecessary matchmakers, saving your firm money. Even the unsavviest Google researcher isn’t looking for just any attorney – they want an ‘x’ attorney in ‘y’ because submitting their information to some service halfway across America doesn’t make sense when child support needs modified locally. And your firm is local to them.

In short, matching services often give ‘x’ lawyers clients living nowhere near ‘y’.

The solution: Work toward bettering your search position. If you’re not being found through natural keyword searching, improve content marketing strategy and reevaluate social engagement goals.

Your leads aren’t vetted properly

Referral services function similarly to your firm’s website contact form. Or, they could. Difference here is you’re paying some faraway tech company to immediately phone prospective clients to verify they actually need premises liability help in Detroit. Then, clients are waiting 2-24 hours for information to get submitted to one or several firms, and yet another 24-48 hours before they’re called.

Once they’re called, your paralegal finds out the premises liability issue was submitted to them by the negligent party, but you only defend the victims. There went five minutes of wasted time, which adds up to lost hours after every improperly categorized form received by your firm gets trashed.

And that’s if the potential client wasn’t just bullshitting the referral service out of sheer boredom.

Your contact form could actually capture more quantifiable leads than your referral service offers. Because your firm is geo-specific, the likelihood someone fills out your form with irrelevant information is much less than some nationalized lead capture form.

The solution: Build your contact forms to capture information helpful to whichever area of practice someone may request. Keep firm’s contact information uniform across all social platforms, and encourage those who aren’t comfortable with online form filling to phone your office directly.

Stop giving someone else your clients

Before throwing another dime toward these referral services, ask yourself why you’re playing roulette with these services. Because, essentially, you’re rolling the dice with every lead received – when you receive leads, that is. If another trial lawyer across town pays slightly more for monthly membership or lead generation than you, guess who’s getting that high-profile product liability case? Not you. And when it comes to mesothelioma litigation and finding leads, that’s dramatic.

Pay-per-lead and monthly membership models are deeply flawed in legal marketing. To put in simplest terms, referral services spend millions to outrank your firm just to turn around and charge your firm for the leads which were captured from you. Make sense?

Every lead these firms collect through their online forms belongs to you. It’s just a matter of improving the myriad of on-page and off-page marketing components which work in syncopation to move your firm up the search rankings. Once your search marketing plan is fully operational, you’ll never again need to pay New York or California-based referral firms for the Nashville premises liability clients wanting to reach out and call you, but can’t.

0 1015

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

sexual harassment

This is part one of a two-part series outlining America’s war on sexual harassment in the workplace.

Growing up a hungry, emotionally abused child who both witnessed and experienced sexual harassment, I thought unwarranted sexual advances were commonplace. When the Illinois State Police came crashing through our door in 1979, Child Services in tow, I thought we’d done something wrong.

When my sister and I arrived at the Glendale Heights, Illinois Police Department, the policeman looked past our undernourished frames to describe everything we’d been through as documented by one Child Services worker I owe my life to.

Thirty six years removed from that harrowing experience, I’m penning this article during a time when sexual harassment has increased in frequency – once every 98 seconds – and has now moved into the major media outlets, and the silver screen.

The #metoo hashtag rings louder than before in the ears of victims as America’s newest weapon of mass destruction touches our workplace: sex.

Sexual Harassment Destroys Any Workforce

You’re reading this after America’s most renowned morning news host – Matt Lauer – was removed from The Today Show for inappropriate workplace behavior. Harvey Weinstein, another alleged perpetrator of rape and sexual harassment, could very well be indicted like Bill Cosby. A Warner Brothers producer. Bill O’Reilly. Charlie Rose. The list, much like the problem, is spiraling out of control.

Not according to President Trump, who spoke nothing of the victim while slipping in yet another dig into ‘fake news’ during this:

 

 

 

 

The View posted a status update on Twitter regarding the Matt Lauer incident. Seemed more sentiment was going around regarding ratings and defending a fallen colleague than praising the victim’s bravery or urging others to immediately come forward.

Even sicker, the absconding founder of Wikileaks turned this heinous event into a contest:

Military. Nursing Homes. Sexual Harassment Won’t Discriminate.

Victims, many times coerced through bribery or too scared to step forward, find themselves indicted by society for stepping forward.

Cat calls. Innuendos. Purposely grazing a victim’s genitals or buttocks in passing. With only 180 days to file charges according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, single parents – even primary family breadwinners – often hide these unwarranted advances to protect their paycheck. Moreover, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act applies to workplaces over 15 people. Where does that leave the small business workers?

More importantly, when did four (or more) years of college debt suddenly become a license to pervert our workplaces?

SAPRO, A DOD commissioned office dealing solely in military sexual harassment, spent $4.4 million studying sexual assault cases between 2016-17. In 2016, 6,172 reports were filed with the office, an increase of 1.5%.  Of those, 778 were civilians, meaning innocent civilians were verbally or physically abused by servicemen and women on base. Overall, SAPRO estimates 14,600 sexual assaults occurred in 2016, down roughly 6,000 from 2014. (Link to full report is here.)

Defenders of freedom aren’t exempt from victimizing, or becoming victims of sexual harassment. Nor are state workers.

According to CBS 12 in West Palm Beach, State employees in Florida have filed 300 cases of various sexual harassment over 30 years, with the government doling out $11 million during that period. That doesn’t include Sen. Jack Latvala, who’s currently being investigated for allegations of sexual abuse.

Let’s not forget nursing homes, either. Recently, an 87-year old nun alleges she was raped where our senior citizens should feel the safest – structured care.

Prisons. Day care facilities. Young, old, disabled or in power – sexual assault will find you.

Question is, will you be ready?

I wasn’t 36 years ago.

Are Workplace Standards Too Lax?

Foretelling potential sexual harassment cases isn’t something job interviewers specialize in. Matt Lauer (et al) could have been a serial pervert in college or high school; NBC was none the wiser when they offered him a handsome payday to structure what is now America’s most popular morning show.

Did you sign sexual harassment papers before starting your job? Were sexual assault video tapes presented to new hires to foster healthier workplaces? In many cases, both answers will be no. This calls to question whether proper measures are put in place to promote workplace safety and healthy coworker relationships.

Men can claim ‘loose standards of dress code send off the wrong signal’. Women can complain men wear too tight of clothing. These and other workplace concerns should force employers to formulate standards that include anonymous methods of reporting sexual harassment, pre-employment education and warnings to those potential perpetrators. More importantly, it should be constantly enforced that no assault – verbal or physical – will be tolerated.

Laws, too, are far too lax in many states. In my opinion, statue of limitations should be eliminated where even the smallest case of sexual wrongdoing is concerned. Business should find more creative ways to promote brands that eliminate the sex sells mantra.

Because if you’re selling products based off the sexiness of the woman, you’re inadvertently assaulting her innocence. We’ll get to that in Part II.

    0 1085

    A 40% drop is possible after it peaks.

    a bitcoin

    The thought of investing in a Bitcoin, toeing the $10,000 line, is creating an investor frenzy reminiscent of Microsoft going public. Over $9,000 above its January valuation of $968, the cryptocurrency essentially mined from thin air into existence is enjoying record-setting days that compliment its excessive press coverage. But before investors delve into the world of cryptofinance, a market crash must happen.

    Not a bitcoin. This medium is different than silver or futures.

    Lauded more than shares of Amazon, a single bitcoin reaching $40,000 or more is possible. Likening this new investment craze to the dot-com bubble (which burst, of course), is more realistic.

    Some call Bitcoin’s value a conflated speculation. Believers, miners and those making thousands each day are holding their breath as new highs – and more ‘hating’ – make their way onto global news sites.

    Since a Bitcoin is considered ‘self-sustained’ value, storing real-world capital is far too risky for seasoned investors. Bridewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, recently stated that Bitcoin met it’s internal ‘bubble’ criterion. And bubbles burst.

    The Anatomy of a Bitcoin Crash

    Markets crash when underlying factors, such as consumer sentiment or unforeseen disasters, contribute to consumers and investors very quickly selling stock and emptying bank accounts. Crashes are often unanticipated events capable of spinning an economy into recession. Regulated instruments – such as dollars and coin – can quickly become worthless.

    Due to market crashes in 1929 and 1987, trading is heavily regulated. Insider trading and other forms of market manipulation have long been outlawed. This means real-world indices are heavily monitored for securities fraud.

    With a Bitcoin, however, such regulations are devoid.

    Nothing is stopping several dozen investors from pumping and dumping. Fire sales are very real possibilities once market value caps. Circuit breakers – which prevent trading during periods of drastic decline – cease to exist in a deregulated trading environment. Banks ponder scenarios where your FDIC insured money is placed in an imaginary medium they agreed to back – only to have its value shorted. I discussed bitcoin security before.

    The sharp price increase in 2017 alone – coupled with predicted worth in Q1 of 2018 – will only position investors for a Bitcoin crash by 2020.

    Crypofinance believers find no historical precedent to compare Bitcoin stability to. In fact, ‘market stability’ is reliant on blockchain security since Bitcoin’s value is gauged by trust rather than tangible goods. Merely thinking about a digital bubble bursting is enough to make any savvy investor sweat since so much is riding on ‘unknowns’.

    Stock holders weren’t exactly trading ‘unknown’ stocks in 1987 when the NYSE bottomed out. Makes you wonder what could happen to something seemingly ‘mythical’.

    Worth It To Mine A Bitcoin in 2017? Depends.

    With nine years of circulation under its belt, mining a bitcoin may seem improbable.

    Difficult, yes, but not impossible.

    The bitcoin network is dissimilar to trading metals, stocks or futures in the sense no participants trust each other but are handsomely incentivized to do their part in maintaining a flawlessly synchronized network. With quintillions of hashes per second, bitcoin miners both provide value through security, and ongoing participation through innovation.

    But unlike during its freshman year, mining blockchains from the comfort of home would take an astronomically powerful rig – the reason many mine in pools. However, if you’re adamant about keeping more of your spoils, opening a cloud mining contract may be suitable. Like any venture, education and due diligence are necessary components of successful cryptocurrency navigation.

    As of 2017, miners were finding 12.5 bitcoin per 10 minute period, roughly 1/4 of the 50 bitcoin per 10 minutes being harvested in 2010.

    This figure is relevant to the over 100,000 Coinbase accounts opened in November.

    Enjoy every hash before it’s crash, Bitcoiners.

    Disclosure: My words should not be construed as financial advice. I write points for readers to research on their own – that’s it.

    1 1731

    Two political firecrackers. One unlit fuse.

    North Korea

    Under threats of sweeping sanctions by virtually every UN country, North Korea has made yet another power play: assist Syria both in rebuilding the civil war-torn region, and further develop outdated missile and chemical weapons technologies.

    This alliance, formed during the 1960’s, could force Washington to scramble for solutions to problems they’ve never faced. Which spells trouble for an already unstable president known for publicizing his disdain toward ‘Rocket Man’ and Bashar Al-Assad.

    To appreciate this budding romance, understand that one leader gasses his own people while the other supplies the arsenal to continue said torture.

    Despite United Nations intercepting shipments from a blacklisted KOMID in August, North Korea has voiced its willingness to aid Damascus in rebuilding efforts. While many believe reasons behind North Korea’s aiding of Syria is strictly monetary, U.S. military heads know that two well-equipped warlords spells trouble.

    Aiding areas in dire need, however, isn’t uncommon to North Korean history.

    During Kim Yong-nam’s tenure, relief and rebuilding efforts in Tanzania along with other African countries was common. In fact, farm and infrastructural aid to many impoverished African nations dates back to Kim Il-sung’s rule, which ended in 1994. But during a November 17 call from Rex Tillerson to 30 other U.S.-aligned African nations, the Secretary of State voiced his concerns regarding Pyongyang, urging the countries to sanction bellicose activities the North Korean capital called ‘humanitarian’.

    North Korea Aiding Genocide

    With Pyongyang exporting weapons and other technologies to aid Al-Assad’s genocidal dominance, Kim Jong-un is learning plenty from Syrian militia to aid his own potential war efforts should U.S. sanctions stick. Munitions including propellants to aid Syrian SCUD’s, and gas protective gear, are just some exports concerning U.S. aligned countries.

    Allegations are surfacing that North Korean military heads are actively assisting inside Syria, although both nations vehemently deny this.

    Apart from U.S. involvement in eradicating the Islamic State, President Trump has little influence on the nation embattled in a civil war that displaced millions while needlessly murdering hundreds of thousands of residents.

    White House heads have increased economic pressure on both nations, to no avail.

    With a recent announcement that United States military will stop arming Kurds, North Korea could use this opportunity to further equip Al-Assad’s run of terror while allowing the Islamic State to maintain, and grow, their presence in the region.

    Bear in mind North Korea built a nuclear reactor in eastern Syria. And both were Cold War customers of the Soviet Union.

    One North Korea. Two Motives?

    The hermitic nation, known for controlled tours and only an intranet to access North Korean shopping and social sites, could twice benefit from their aid to Syria.

    Building a formidable nuclear presence could allow a much closer attack on U.S. targets. Currently, an armed North Korean ICBM can reach San Francisco in a matter of minutes. That time could cut down dramatically should an intercontinental ballistic missile fire from Syrian territory. Moreover, the military knowledge Kim Jong-un lacks could easily be obtained by simply continuing aid in exchange for allowing North Korean military specialists to keenly observe from a distance.

    Whatever North Korean’s motives are regarding Syria, they’ve undoubtedly have an extra weapon simply by allying with the nation at civil unrest.

    0 1089

    Did retail get their sexyback? Cyber Monday may say otherwise.

    Black Friday sales

    Your local Kohls had lines wrapped halfway around its perimeter, patiently awaiting the flood gates to open for 2017’s Black Friday sales balderdash. Videos across social media depict yet another round of MMA-style fighting for Walmart’s last few 4K televisions. Sounds like success for the last few retail chains hopelessly fighting back an imminent online shopping takeover.

    For now, the brick-and-mortar store has beaten back Godzilla, and will survive another few months.

    Stores like Macy’s, JC Penney and were battered by an onslaught of turkey stuffed shopaholics who set out to collect the milieu of door buster gifts being offered. Smartphones were logging on to store wi-fi hotspots to collect even deeper savings. In fact, many retail parking lots were full before NFL’s second Thanksgiving game finished the first quarter.

    A record Black Friday sales event for few. Sustainable numbers for many. Whether any of this madness will be enough to quell talk of apocalyptic conditions remains to be seen.

    According to CNBC, Adobe Insights tracked an upsurge of 17% in sales from 2016, with an incredible $5.03 billion spent by the time Black Friday sales ended. While industry figures will inevitably fluctuate, industry analysts are chalking up this November’s selling frenzy as an easy victory, raising figures to heights unseen since 2011.

    Kohls, for one, is filling more online orders for retail pickup than years past. CEO Kevin Mansell cites the Apple Watch, an Instant Pot and their FitBit activity trackers as biggest movers with Under Armour and Nike rounding out their top five movers.

    Bargain Hunting Shoppers Boost JC Penney, Macy’s

    One of few retailers to open doors at 2 p.m., JC Penney benefitted from offering bargains before Walmart and other giants. The Plano, Texas based department store – 138 stores and thousands of employees lighter than 2016 – saw an increase in Nike apparel purchases, appliances, jewelry and other departments once dominated by the nearly nonexistent Sears Holdings.

    Macy’s boosted their Black Friday sales by disbursing roughly 400 Door Buster specials between three floors, many of those in women’s clothing and accessories. The retailer’s Herald Square location had around 16,000 confirmed shoppers waiting outside; by 7 a.m., the store chain had sold nearly a quarter million coats, a sales pace which could have easily amassed 1 million by noon. Not even a credit card snafu stopped strong sales from increasing for the Cincinnati-based department store.

    While Walmart, Kmart and Target are yet to release sales figures, it stands to reason they’re down from years before. Televisions were the main offering at many locations, with several stores still displaying inventory right where their Black Friday sales begun. Best Buy, notorious for offering tech at ridiculous prices to those faithful shoppers braving elements before doors open, had little interesting to offer.

    Black Friday Sales vs. Cyber Monday

    With retailers flexing their pecuniary muscles again, it would appear fears a retail apocalypse is forthcoming is collective gibberish at best. Department stores could use an incredible finish to an abysmal 2017, one that witnessed the sale of the iconic Craftsman brand among other major retailer moves.

    Lest we forget, folks, that Cyber Monday is tomorrow.

    Target, Kohls and nearly every retailer with Black Friday specials will operate even bigger Cyber Monday deals in an effort to stay competitive with Amazon. Servers will freeze, credit card processing will go haywire somewhere, but more importantly, few will emerge victorious in online sales – because many retailers already know internet shopping is Amazon’s backyard. It will be exciting to hear stories claiming “site not found” or “server busy” when the submit order button is click.

    For now, Black Friday will go down as one small victory for a business model searching for consistency.

    0 950
    domains

    Domains predate the internet as you know it (true story).

    If you are looking to register new domains for your brand or business, there are a few key factors you should take into consideration. A website is your business storefront to the world, a domain is how people find that storefront. When choosing domains, it’s important to understand that a great domain name will help your customers find you and will be what most of your online customers will get to know you as. According to facts from Websitebuilderau, top domain registrar, GoDaddy, alone registered 54.5 million domains last year and they are only 1 of 2952 ICANN accredited registrars that currently register domains.

    Domains & TLD Talks

    A TLD is simply the final extension to a domain address; .com or .net are the most common and used TLD’s, but thousands exist and are available for registration. TLD’s can be broken down into two main categories, the first is government TLDs or TLDs that are country or regionally specific (CCTLD’s). The second is non-country specific TLD’s (NGTLD’s).

    CCTLD’s

    These are TLD’s that are officially used by a specific country or region. The .com and .net TLD mentioned earlier are examples of American CCTLD’s. Other top governmental TLD’s include .cn for China, .uk for the United Kingdom and .de for Germany. By 2016, there were an estimated 142 million domains registered on country specific TLD’s.

    NGTLD’s

    These are TLD’s that are not administered or legislated by a government. In most cases, these NGTLD’s are sector and niece specific and some of the most popular, currently in-demand NGTLD’s are .app, .fan and .web.

    As more and more of the common .com domains are taken, people looking toward domain name registration for new businesses will need to look at other TLD’s to get the name and branding they want. For those looking for more information to help define, choose and purchase that perfect domain name, Websitebuilderau’s 101 facts about domain names that you should know is a great place to start. (see full infographic by clicking here)

    anatomy domains

     

    0 4281
    retail

    Amazon, the new retail giant, holds themselves harmless for disrupting consumer shopping habits. Walmart, likewise. Businesses giants like Sears are shutting down, selling their bread-making brands (think Craftsman) or selling out completely.

    Baby Boomers, acclimated to the ‘a handshake closes a deal’ era of transacting, are confused by this tap-to-pay global phenomenon young entrepreneurs call ‘tech commerce’.  Meanwhile, today’s kids seem to understand the concept of swiping screens by age 3.

    Today’s retailer, fighting to claim their share of consumers expecting convenience to meet or exceed cost, blame multi-billion dollar ecommerce companies for the downfall of brick-and-mortar businesses they’re inadvertently closing – with the help of consumers.

    Come again?

    Let’s establish motive by hopping back to 1931.

    A Fred and a smile

    A then 45-year old businessman named Fred G. Meyer, more than likely tired of driving 15 places to gather items for his family, decided to form an incredible buyer’s extravaganza: the one-stop shop. Based in Portland, Oregon, consumers could come to this megamarket and purchase groceries, pharmaceuticals and even get their Auburn Cabriolet lubed. By the 1950’s, these larger combo stores ballooned to 70,000 square foot ‘hypermarkets’ and were stocked by plants Meyer opened as the demand for other tangible goods increased.

    Mind you, folks, this was during the height of the Great Depression, ultimately ending when Roosevelt stepped up in 1933.

    Was the local dime store shaken by this innovative new means of shopping? Inevitably. Was anything done to slow Fred’s climb to stardom? Apparently not enough, for Fred Meyer’s intelligent approach allowed him to model the 1980’s supercenter dash that would introduce Wal-Mart Supercenter, Kmart and Target. Hendrik Meijer, the Dutch barber who also entered the grocery business during the Great Depression, entered the supermarket world in 1962 via his Michigan-based Thrifty Acres stores until eventually rebranding as simply ‘Meijer’.

    Businesses that failed to grow with consumer demand went quickly into the red.

    Consumers wanted more convenience. Businesses obliged.

    By the 1980’s, consumers were being pampered by size and selection. This meant even fewer stops than before, but it wasn’t enough – even more convenience was sought. So, megastores willingly obliged.

    Having initially failed in his attempt at hyperstores, Sam Walton nailed it in 1987, having four such stores by 1990 known as Hypermart USA. Produce quality slowly improved, variety grew, but eventually his Wal-Mart dime store vaulted into the world’s #1 revenue generator slot by 1990. Citing a misunderstanding of the hyperstore concept, Sam Walton eventually scrapped Hypermart USA as ‘defunct’ by 2000, but it didn’t matter – Walmart began offering everything under one roof.

    Other stores adopted this model of one-stop shopping, slowly branching off into smaller niches. If you needed electronics, you went to Circuit City. Pharmaceuticals, Walgreens. The list was incredible. As the 20th century made its final curtain call, Walmart had grown to epic proportions despite Sam Walton’s 1992 passing, Meijer sustained yet Kmart was unknowingly about to endure rough times, thanks in part to Wal-Mart and the rise of Target.

    As the 21st century began, the internet began replacing the need for cars to complete shopping tasks – leaving businesses scrambling to stay competitive. Mom and dad’s suitcase-sized cell phones were getting thinner, computers were being produced with more powerful features, and 56k dialup was turning into lightning fast broadband.

    Consumers got lazy. Few retail stores properly adjusted.

    With fast internet, point-and-click shopping and ways to get things retail stores failed to carry, consumers stopped caring about Circuit City holiday sales. They stopped shopping the small-town shoe salesman who carried the latest New Balance model. Once thriving dime stores were beaten down by the buying power of Dollar General.

    But wait, it gets better.

    A small online bookstore, incorporated under the name Cadabra, was about to ameliorate an entire generation of physical stores. That’s right, it took 80-some-odd years, but the once ingenious one-stop storefront has been replaced by the new champion of one-stop shopping: Amazon. The pandemonium Amazon has created is forcing ‘old-school’ retail into insolvency – during a nonfinancial crisis, at that.

    They’re not just contributing to a consumer’s desire for one-stop shopping, either. Amazon has driven the price of products down to seemingly nothing for items that should theoretically cost much more. It’s disrupting other medium-sized businesses as it’s costing too much to enter the ‘pay to play’ world of product procurement.

    And it’s not just product availability Amazon is dominating. Value-added services such as installation of purchased products, music, movies, games and a suite of business tools are subduing retail establishments daily.

    But Walmart is surviving. Grocers like Aldi’s are fighting back. How?

    Follow the consumer’s lead. It’s that simple.

    Let’s follow the current story line:

    • Man monetizes consumer need for convenience.
    • Buyer increases demand for more product under one roof
    • A hungrier consumer wants mega stores of all sorts, not just for foodstuffs
    • Consumer wants to sit on duff and shop for goods under one roof from their homes
    • Business increases purchasing power and introduces value-added services to its core

    It’s hard to imagine where the world of retail goes from here. But this is the direction consumers are moving, and following the footprints of today’s consumer may be tricky to the layman.

    But it’s possible if businesses stop complaining about the cannibalization of brick-and-mortar establishments, and embrace the consumer’s narrative instead.

    Specialize in specialties.

    If your goal is establishing sustainability as opposed to fostering widespread growth, continue your current retail model – sustained success is entirely possible even with behemoths like Amazon playing in your backyard.

    However, a good portion of you who’ve skimmed this far want that quintessential ‘chain store’. Let me assuage your fears of failure by recommending the following piece of easily adaptable advice: specialize in convenience-driven products that afford you the right to fully control pricing.

    Let me explain.

    A ‘retail apocalypse’ happens when one giant (we’ll use Amazon) controls substantial product procurement outlets, product volume, and convenience factors. Simply put, smaller guys cannot match millions in daily buying power or offer free two-day shipping perks, forcing them into either narrower product lanes – or out of the retail race completely.

    Much like Starbucks offers an array of coffee and specialty confections, success can be achieved by micro-niching. You won’t find coloring books, crayons, toiletries or Sennheiser headphones at Starbucks – only coffee products, and confections. Period.

    Passion sells, and everyone is buying.

    What’s your passion? Do you know guitars, furniture, clothing? Stop stuffing too many products or disciplines under one roof, because consumers are frankly tired of it. Turn your passion for ‘x’ into something others may appreciate. Source whatever materials needed to fulfill this passion locally, or from locations few know about.

    Rather than invoking such outside-the-box growth strategies, business owners nonsensically bash the efforts of these megacommerce companies who are constantly reinvesting and innovating ahead of consumer demand. Think of Black Friday, and why you’re not selling jack diddly.

    In short, they’re listening. And you’re not.

    Most businesses are formed based off passion or profit (or both). Those who establish a foundation of passionate commerce tend to outlast profiteers trying haplessly to engage supreme corporations in a price war in hopes of someday becoming profitable.

    In a world dominated by Amazons, adapt to consumer demands for ‘rare and special’ innovations, or board up shop. Just don’t whine about apocalyptic conditions or complain about businesses who’re listening to consumers you once catered to.

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