MarTech Interview with Shafiq Rajani, Vice President, Mintel Comperemedia Sudipto GhoshJune 4, 2019, 2:11 pmJune 4, 2019 AcquisitionsDirect MailinterviewsKantarMarTech InterviewmergersMintel ComperemediaSaasShafiq Rajanitransparent marketing Previous ArticleIBM Among Thirteen Companies Identified as the Semiconductor Technology Leaders of Tomorrow in the Industrial Internet Space, Says GlobaldataNext ArticleBox Maintains Aggressive Revenue Growth in Q1; Reveals Loyal Customers Continue to Drive Sales About Mintel Comperemedia About ShafiqAbout Mintel ComperemediaAbout Shafiq MarTech Interview Series Tell us about your journey into Marketing and Sales Technology. How did you arrive at Mintel Comperemedia?My career began at Chase, where I developed a keen sense for understanding how middle market business works, as our group was ensuring that balance sheets were sound ahead of mid-market mergers and acquisitions.After arriving at Mintel in 2008, I was instantly impressed with the data set that we had – as we were able to understand pricing, marketing, and offer strategies through having the largest direct mail panel in the US.However, being the industry standard in direct mail was not enough. By 2011, we were being pushed by our clients and the market to bring not only direct mail but digital data to them in the same capacity.What is Mintel Comperemedia and how do you differentiate it from other technology platforms?Mintel Comperemedia combines the best Marketing Data across our partners into one platform with a singular taxonomy. So within the tool, users can manage their competitive workflow by understanding which offers and channels their competitors are using in the market instantaneously across 13 channels – from owned, paid and earned social, digital advertising, email and direct mail.Our differentiator is combining the sound data – the absolute best data in each channel- with the speed of insight as to the module updates daily. This technology allows our offline analysts to tell our clients the best and most complete story in the market.How different is your role at Mintel Comperemedia compared to the ones you had in the early part of your career?Outside of Chase, my career was groomed from an early age at my family business – which combines custom picture framing with laser engraving. I grew up with this business, so at a young age, I understood how important it was to listen to the customer for success. This early experience also changed my mindset to understand every part of the process to tell the best story. In framing, I understood how to make the frame, cut the mat, the importance of each component and how to create the frame.Similarly, at Mintel, my goal is to understand how we acquire the data, why we deem it the industry standard, the story we can tell with the data, how it will ingest into our workflow and the data quality that goes into each insight. This allows us to speak to our clients with confidence knowing how the machine works.Tell us more about Mintel Comperemedia’s recent investment into Pathmatics?We look for partners that match our speed, our culture, and our curiosity: Pathmatics was the right partner from our first meeting in 2015. After we met with them initially and built a relationship, other firms such as Kantar and Nielsen also deemed their data as best-in-class, which cemented our position and investment.The investment was not only for Mintel but also for our clients. By investing in Pathmatics we ensure we are bringing the best data to market one channel at a time.Most recently, Pathmatics was the first firm to bring their Paid Facebook study to market. Paid Facebook for some companies makes up 80% of their digital spend. Without this metric, our clients were flying blind when measuring their campaign and spend metrics. Pathmatics allowed us to tell this story and now our reporting is more complete as a result of our endorsement and investment of Pathmatics.We will continue as a company to seek out the best data providers for our clients – and not shy away from acquiring or investing when it makes sense.How would it benefit your customers and marketing efforts?We are simply looking to tell our clients the most complete story. Our goal is for them to have one Competitive Intelligence platform instead of the four or five that they currently use to fulfill multiple needs. This is why we spent so much time perfecting the User-Interface and making it scalable.Our clients benefit because we have done the due diligence to deem Pathmatics the industry standard. They enjoy insights quickly and are able to leverage our analyst recommendations within hours of a new campaign or product.With Pathmatics, we are going to the market with joint marketing efforts, constant meetings on how to make our user experience better for mutual clients and prospects. Each one of our clients is aware of the relationship and excited by how we are teaming up with a client-first approach.What are the core strategies you focus on at Mintel Comperemedia for Global business development? How does it impact your revenue channels?Although Mintel has products spanning 50+ countries, we are solely focused on the US and Canadian markets for our Comperemedia solution. We find that these markets are still in need of Transparent Marketing data with thought leaders in an easily digestible experience. We are obsessed with fine-tuning this for years to come.How different is Customer Success for Financial teams compared to other CRMs used by Marketing and Sales?To support a Financial Services client, you must understand how they make money, who their competitors are and how their product provides differentiation to the market. Our Financial Services practice is predicated on understanding the marketplace, white space and also being creative in thinking about what is next.For this practice, we stay diligent on every new offer in the market, trends in volume growth and decline. We obsess over terms and conditions within offers to understand not only the marketing strategy but growth strategy. For this sector, in particular, our customer success is built on not just our database, but knowing the market.How do you differentiate—Customer Success vs. Customer Service at Mintel Comperemedia?Good question. Genuinely it is one and the same. Customer service could be simply providing a client with a user-name and password. But, we never stop the conversation there.Our goal is to understand every users’ objective. So if they need proactive content, we can be ready, and if they are working on a project we can curate the right saved searches and campaigns.It could be an intern at an agency or an SVP at a bank. The first line of service is ensuring they are successful using our database. As a result, we hope they are taking insights into their next meeting for the next big product launch.What role does Customer Success play in retaining these customer groups and the consolidation of revenue opportunities?Customer success spans across support and insights for us. Even if a client were to never log-in to the Mintel Comperemedia database, I truly believe our Customer Success and Insights alone would still retain the relationship.After 20 years, we have understood in our business that a SaaS platform is not the end-all-be-all. It is the service, it is the insight, it is understanding objectives that allow us to retain and grow our client relationships. We are humbled by a retention rate of over 90% for 20 years strong.What is the sales culture that you represent? Why is it important to build a sales-focused culture for any business?Our end goal is for our Account Managers to become trusted advisors to their clients. I may sound like a broken record now, but if we are not tying ourselves to our client objectives then what exactly are we doing?If we gain their trust and deliver on their goals, the sales culture, net new revenue, and retention will take care of itself.Our sales culture is simple: Client Obsession.How do you achieve this culture-balance at Mintel Comperemedia? What percentage of this is driven by the application of technology, reporting tools, and coaching?Like many other firms, we believe in sales metrics, including the number of meetings both on-site and online, the number of users and user growth and the number of on-site presentations.But, the number I really zero in on is less tangible: “How have you moved the needle for your client?”If our Account Managers can pinpoint actual situations where Comperemedia data enhanced a strategy, changed thinking or cemented a new product, I know we have done our work and our legacy will maintain at the firm. Thankfully, our team has also bought into this philosophy so we are always asking our clients the right questions to hit this metric.How do you achieve marketing-sales alignment? How does it impact your targets?We can do better here, we have been lucky in ways as all companies want a ‘Mintel Sub’ or are already clients. But, we need to branch out, we need to focus on new sectors and this will require a closer alignment for Comperemedia.Across Mintel, we have had a lot of success in our conferences. Instead of focusing on cold-selling in these conferences, we center it around exploring, meeting analysts and presentations. We will continue this strategy throughout 2019 as we expand our Comperemedia offering into Omni.Which events and webinars do you most occasionally attend and why?CES. Over the years, CES has become much more market-driven, so for agencies and partners, it has become a must. In the case of CES, for me, it is less about spending time with clients and more about bringing my clients insights throughout the year from these sessions.I will bend the question a bit – as I’m big on Podcasts and there are a few must-listen for me:Each morning after the gym, I listen to The Daily – there is no better way to set up my day than understanding the World from the NYT. I love that it is a deep dive on one particular topic.The GaryVee Audio Experience – full disclosure [VaynerMedia is a client], but even if they were not Gary Vee has been delivering practical words of advice for years now. With Gary, it just takes one or two words to get me motivated and thinking in a unique way – what I love is that he is providing advice on how to use Social Media for sales growth so often that I find myself using his strategies when speaking to clients. It is simple, insightful and impactful.Finally, how can I forget the Professor himself? Galloway. Outside of his Weekly must-read newsletter, Pivot with Kara Swisher is my favorite 30 minutes of the week. Galloway is the best story-teller of our generation – period.Thank you, Shafiq! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon. “Mintel Comperemedia combines the best marketing data across our partners into one platform with a singular taxonomy.” Mintel Comperemedia, the marketing intelligence standard for financial services marketers since 1995, informs your marketing strategy with world-class analytics and expert competitive intelligence. Shafiq Rajani is the Vice President of Mintel Comperemedia. Shafiq has a demonstrated history of working in the market research industry, specializing in customer retention, sales management, market analysis and strategic partnerships. The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.
Aftab Singhdiljit dosanjhNeeti MohanRising Star 3 First Published: June 9, 2019, 8:41 AM IST A 12-year-old singer from Punjab, Aftab Singh, was announced the winner of reality TV show Rising Star 3 on Saturday night. He said he is a big fan of superstar Salman Khan and wants to sing for him one day.”I am on cloud nine. I didn’t even expect to be one of the finalists. It’s like a dream come true. This win means a lot to me,” Aftab told IANS. He said: “It will now motivate me to do more hardwork so that I get a chance to work in films and sing for Salman Khan one day”.Aftab, who was youngest among other three finalists, took home the winning trophy and Rs 10 lakh cash prize.On winning the show, Aftab said he would like to dedicate the triumph to his father.”My father is my inspiration. He has struggled a lot in his life. I don’t belong to a rich family. I have seen my father’s hardwork. He has done a lot to make me reach at this platform. It’s not my win … It’s his win,” Aftab added.Hosted by Aditya Narayan, the third season of Colors TV show Rising Star was judged by Shankar Mahadevan, Neeti Mohan and Diljit Dosanjh.Follow @News18Movies for more
3. You will have to deposit the slip at the third polling official and show your inked finger and then proceed to the polling booth. Record your vote by pressing the ballot button opposite the symbol of the candidate of your choice on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM); you will hear a beep sound5. Check the slip that appears in the transparent window of the VVPAT machine. The slip with the Candidate serial No., Name and Symbol shall be visible for 7 seconds before it drops in the sealed VVPAT box6. You can press NOTA (None of the Above) if you don’t like any candidate; it’s the last button on the EVM7. For more information, please see the Voter Guide on ecisveep.nic.in8. Mobile phones, cameras or any other gadget is not allowed inside a polling booth. EVMEVM-VVPATgoogle doodleLok Sabha elections 2019 First Published: May 19, 2019, 7:45 AM IST Google Doodle Phase 7 | Google has dedicated an inked-finger doodle to mark all seven phases of Lok Sabha Election 2019. When clicked, the doodle takes users to a new page that explains the voting procedure in India besides providing other vital information for first-time voters in the country. Polling is underway in 59 constituencies, including Varanasi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to retain the seat, vote to elect their representatives. Polling will be held in all 13 seats in Punjab and an equal number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight seats each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat Chandigarh. Here is Google’s explainer on the voting process: 1. First polling official will check your name on the voter list and check your ID proof2. Second polling official will ink your finger, give you a slip and take your signature on a register (Form 17A)
New Delhi: Former finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said there are no sector-wise growth projections in the pre-Budget Economic Survey tabled in Parliament and the government itself appears to be pessimistic about the economy.In a statement, the senior Congress leader said the findings of the economic survey 2018-19 were neither positive nor encouraging. “It appears to me that the government, speaking through the economic survey, is pessimistic about the economy,” he said. Chidambaram said the economic survey 2018-19 is the first of the new government under Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “I looked for the Outlook for 2019-20. It is in Volume-2, Chapter 01, but there is only a bland statement that growth of the economy expected to be 7 per cent in 2019-20. There are no growth projections sector wise,” he said.The Congress leader said the closest in terms of describing the outlook for 2019-20 can be found in Volume-2, Chapter 02.“The economic survey flags (1) slowing growth, (2) shortfall in revenue, (3) finding resources without compromising the fiscal deficit target, (4) impact of oil prices on the current account and (5) recommendations of the Fifteenth Finance Commission on central government finances. I am afraid, none of these is positive or encouraging,” he said.According to the economic survey, India’s economic growth, which is expected to rebound from a five-year low to 7 per cent this year, now needs to shift gears to accelerate and sustain a higher growth rate to become a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25. congresseconomic surveyKarti ChidambaramNirmala Sitharaman First Published: July 4, 2019, 3:54 PM IST
lok sabhaLok Sabha debatePrahlad JoshiRailway Ministry First Published: July 12, 2019, 10:11 AM IST New Delhi: The Lok Sabha sat till 11.58 pm on Thursday to conclude discussion on demands for grants for the Railway Ministry, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi saying it is for the first time in nearly 18 years that the Lower House has sat for this long.Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is likely to reply to the debate Friday afternoon, following which the demands for grants will be put to vote. Nearly a 100 members participated in the debate which began Thursday afternoon and concluded at 11.58 pm. “It is a record,” Joshi said.During the debate, the Opposition accused the Modi government of trying to sell off railways’ assets instead of focusing on services, but the BJP asserted that the transport behemoth is breaking new ground everyday especially in areas of infrastructure and safety.The Congress, TMC and other parties tore into the government as they opposed alleged attempts to “privatise” the railways and claimed that the NDA dispensation was “selling dreams” like the ‘bullet train’ to the people, which were “not feasible”.Countering the opposition’s allegations, BJP MP Sunil Kumar Singh said the performance of railways is much better now than under the Congress rule and the national transporter was achieving new milestones.Railway accidents have reduced by 73 per cent in the five-year period of Modi government from 2014 to 2019, he noted.
You’ve taken the most important step and opened an Instagram account. You’ve followed all of your real-life friends and all of your Internet friends, maybe some co-workers and family members. Your photos get some likes, but not as many as you’d like. It’s a story most people can identify with, one that is easily remedied with the right actions. Chief among them? Start using filters that people actually want to see. It takes a bit of skill and artistic inclination to figure out the best filters for your particular photos, and that itself will partly depend on the photo’s lighting. Something with ample shadows probably won’t be improved with a dark filter, and similarly a photo with a bunch of bright spots probably shouldn’t have a fade applied.That said, it has become clear over the years that there are some Instagram filters people like more than others. We know this just by scrolling through our feeds and identifying, over time, which filters show up most often. What is less readily apparent, though, is how the likes are distributed across these photos and, perhaps, these filters. Do certain Instagram filters increase your odds of getting a like.The answer is yes.It goes to reason, then, that using these oft-liked filters will increase your own odds of getting likes, but it’s not quite that simple. As with many things in life, preferences and tastes vary based on culture; some cultures lean toward certain filters while others show preferences for different filters. In addition, studies have found that filter preference changes based on the category the photo falls within.Many studies and surveys have sought to figure out which Instagram filters are most liked, and perhaps the most recent and complete of them all is Canva’s study released last year. The company has broken down favorite filters for the US specifically and for the globe overall. It has also broken down favorite filters for each category of photos.AmericaSpoiler alert: America’s favorite filter is unanimously Clarendon. And just to get it out of the way, this is also the #1 filter among Instagram users all across the world.When looking at #2 filters, though, things aren’t so stable, instead varying based on state. Many states, including Maine, Ohio, Washington, Texas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (among others) prefer Gingham, the top #2. Following is Juno, the favorite in most of New England, as well as California, Colorado, Florida, and Louisiana. Third place is Lark, followed by Mayfair, Sierra, Valencia, and Walden.While the third-favorite again shuffles things around, many of the same filters make their way onto the list. There are only some exceptions, including Lo-Fi, Ludwig, and X-Pro II. Gingham, Juno and Lark remains at the top of the list as far as US-favorites go.Everywhere ElseOf course, the US is only one small part of the world; how do other countries view Instagram filters? We’ve already spoiled the surprise and revealed that Clarendon is also the global favorite, but what about second-favorite? That depends on country. At the top of the list is Juno, which is #2 in a massive 38 countries. Coming in second place is Valencia, which is #2 in 29 countries. And in third place on the #2 list comes Gingham with 20 countries. What about the third-favorite filters? Gingham comes in first place this time around with 22 countries, Valencia is number two with 18 countries, and Lark is number three with 17 countries.CategoriesIt gets more precise from there, though.What about categories? As you may expect, people find some filters better for food versus, let’s say, landscapes. Unlike the location-based favoritism, which is based on use, the category-based data is based on likes. Included among the rankings is consideration for photos tagged with #nofilter to indicate that the photo is raw from the camera. How do filters rank by category?NATUREIf you’re taking a shot of nature — that is, anything outside like a wide landscape, forest, etc — you may see the highest number of likes if you use Valencia, which got the most likes in this study, or if you keep it natural, as the second-most-liked photos didn’t have any filters at all. Third place is Brooklyn, followed by Amaro, Ludwig, Lark, Earlybird, Rise, Mayfair, and Aden.FASHIONIf you’re taking pictures of fashion, whether it is models showing off clothes or clothing itself, you may get the best results using Kelvin, as it was the most popular. Coming in second place is Valencia, followed by (in order) Nashville, Skyline, #nofilter, Slumber, Aden, Ashby, Reyes and Inkwell.FOODOne of the most popular photo categories is food, and you’d be well off using its first place filter, Skyline. Don’t like it? Second place is no filter at all, followed by Helena, Slumber, Aden, Brooklyn, Vesper, Sutro, Willow and Inkwell.SELFIESLast but not least, we have selfies. Perhaps to the surprise of many, the most liked selfies are the ones that don’t have any filters at all. If you insist on adding a filter, though, you may do well with the second-favorite, Slumber. Following from there, the most liked filters are (in order) Skyline, Dogpatch, Aden, Valencia, Ludwig, Gingham, Hudson and Ashby.Wrap-upSome Instagram filters are certainly preferred over others, but don’t let this knowledge stifle your creativity. One could argue that Clarendon is the most-used filter around the world because it is also the first filter presented in the app — perhaps many Instagram users are just lazy. At the end of the day, the best filter for your photo is the one that complements it…and if that happens to be one of the most-liked filters, so much the better.You can view the full study here.
Story TimelineMaster & Dynamic and Leica launch 0.95 headphones seriesHalide promises classic Leica charm from the iPhone cameraLeica M Monochrom ‘Jim Marshall Set’ is limited to 50 units Following weeks of rumors, Leica has officially launched its new TL2, a compact camera based on the Leica TL-System. This time around, Leica has fitted its TL camera model with a new 24-megapixel CMOS APS-C format sensor, as well as the new Maestro II series image processor. The camera is, despite its compact size, intended for serious photographers in need of serious quality. Many of the leaked specs we heard in recent days have been proven correct; joining the aforementioned image processor and CMOS sensor is a beautiful body crafted out of a single block of aluminum. According to the company, its combination of ‘elaborate manufacturing’ and premium materials is ‘unique in the history of camera construction.’The Leica TL2 is capable of recording videos in 3840 x 2160/30fps resolution, as well as lesser resolutions at greater frame rates, such as 1080p/60fps and 720p/120fps. This is joined by improvements to the camera’s auto focus precision and speed, with Leica saying that it only takes about 165 milliseconds for the camera to focus on its subject; this is thrice the speed of the previous model.Other features — and there are many of them — include a shutter speed up to a blistering 1/40,000s, an integrated WiFi module, USB 3.0 and HDMI, and a 3.7-inch LCD touchscreen display. The camera is slight on physical controls, featuring only four control elements, the touchscreen aside, all of which are described as ‘intuitive.’ Users have access to six lens options for the Leica TL-System. It’s a great camera by any measure, but one with a substantial price tag that starts at $1,950 USD.SOURCE: Leica
The 80s called and it wants its input device back. Like the floppy disk, the trackball has seemingly been relegated to be an artifact of computing history/. But unlike the floppy disk, it hasn’t become synonymous with any computing paradigm or action. That said, there are people who indeed prefer this now niche style of moving a cursor across the screen, at least enough for Logitech to bring it back after nearly a decade. It may look like a mouse but in no way is it a mouse. It’s the Logitech MX ERGO wireless trackball and it’s going to give your thumbs a good exercise. The trackball is actually a favorite among a certain class of computer users that do require such precise movements, particularly in computer assisted-design, or CAD, and engineering software. As such, the MX ERGO is almost a fitting complement to the newly announced Logitech CRAFT keyboard that incorporates a mini Surface Dial. Unlike that rotary device, however, the MX ERGO’s ball can go in whatever direction your thumb desire.Logitech is definitely appealing to a niche market here. But those who Logitech claims to have made their wishes known will probably be more than willing to pay the $99.99 price tag attached to the MX ERGO. There hasn’t actually been any conclusive winner in the ergonomics debate between mouse and trackball but history has clearly named the mouse as the winner. There are, however, practical benefits to using a trackball. You get more precise movements with your thumb and the rest of your hand is always at rest.
In 2016, the Xiaomi Mi Mix started something that would become a major design trend to date. 18:9 screens and similar have pushed out almost all unnecessary bezels. Well, almost. A few remain, sometimes in rather odd places like the iPhone X’s world-famous notch. A completely bezel-less phone is still a pipe dream, hindered by many technical and practical considerations. But if Vivo’s new APEX concept phone ever come to market, all of those would disappear, though some in rather comical ways. It seems that Vivo wasn’t satisfied at the short-lived and relatively small publicity it got for shipping the world’s first in-display fingerprint scanner, made by Synaptics, in its Vivo X20 Plus UD. Now it’s aiming for a “Half-Screen In-Display Fingerprint Scanning Technology”, which is a bit of a misnomer. This tech turns nearly, but not exactly, half of the screen’s height into a fingerprint scanning area. This would address one of the many concerns users have with in-display fingerprint scanners being limited to only one small portion of the screen.That is actually just one of the few problems that the Vivo APEX concept phone tries to address. While Vivo does put that front and center, almost literally, too, the phone will perhaps be most interesting for having almost no bezels at all, neither at the sides nor especially top and bottom. And it uses a few interesting solutions to achieve something users, designers, and manufacturers could only dream of.The biggest problem with fully bezel-less screens is that you still need some bezel space for things like sensors, earpiece speaker, and, of course, the front-facing camera. Xiaomi has solved the speaker problem by removing it and relying on a piezoelectric ceramic speaker that vibrated the whole phone. Vivo is employing something similar that it calls Screen SoundCasting Technology that sounds the vibrations right through the display. Indirectly related to the front speaker, Vivo is also using a new System in Package technology to integrated DAC and three amplifiers into one, thereby further reducing the space inside.The biggest problem, however, is the front-facing camera. Short of developing a camera that can see through the display panel, manufactures like Apple and Essential have resorted to cutting out a portion of the screen to make room for it, a.k.a. the notch. Vivo’s solution is genius in its simplicity but also incredibly ridiculous in action. The 8 megapixel front camera is hidden inside and slowly, in one second, slides out from the top when in use. The 1 second delay is hardly ideal, but considering selfies are less time-critical than regular shots, that might be OK. If you thought the OPPO N1’s swiveling camera was weird, it has nothing on the Vivo APEX.Altogether, these mish mash of solutions have resulted in an actually working phone that is almost 98% screen. It is hardly the perfect answer and has still a lot of room for improvement. And Vivo is totally fine with that. It’s in no rush to market the APEX. In fact, it has no plans to bring it to the market at all. At least not yet. Like any other concept products, the APEX is meant more as an experiment to inform future features. So don’t be surprised if future Vivo phones, bezel-less or otherwise, will start sporting noisy slide-out cameras.
Facebook may be getting a lot of long-overdue chastisement over its business practices but guess what? It’s not the the only one. It’s just the latest company that happened to get caught red-handed doing bad things. From Google to Twitter to, yes, even Apple, these companies will always take a piece of your private data, often with your unknowing approval. But while they are both legally and morally obligated to protect your privacy, you cannot wait for them to clean up their act. Nor can you expect them to. At the end of the day, you are your own first line of defense. Here’s how you can put up your privacy wall or at least make sure very little gets out without your knowledge. Assume the worstYou know those scary, paranoid people always yelling that “they” are out to get you? Turns out they’re right. Very few companies offer free services without asking for anything in return. Especially for-profit, publicly traded ones. And whether you pay for the service or not, they will always ask you to give up something in return, usually a piece of your information, often in the guise of improving service.All software and services have terms or licenses you have to agree to before using them. These are presented to users, often during setup, simply because the law requires it. These documents, however, are never meant for the layperson to understand. To put it in another way, they’re like lawyers talking to other lawyers. They’re worded in often convoluted ways to make sure that the owner’s legal bases are covered in case, you know, you discover later on that you actually agreed to send them your address book.That’s why almost no one bothers to read these EULAs and ToS. Which is a legally dangerous habit, of course. They can’t be expected to understand them fully anyway. That is why there are now sites and services that try to distill these legal mazes into their core essences. But how do you expect to find time to read even those?AdChoices广告So here’s a shortcut: already expect that you’re signing away a part of your privacy when you (falsely) claim you’ve read the terms of services. Often, what you’re sharing is pretty obvious from the service you’re signing up for. Gmail will have your contacts and email, Twitter will have your tweets and media, etc. They will all claim to take good care of your data and make sure they’re anonymous. You can never really be sure. But if you’re still willing to go forward, then read on.Permission not grantedThere’s a geeky principle in computer science called the principle of least privilege. It simply means that you give something, like a program or a user, just enough access or privileges to do what it needs to do and nothing more. Alice doesn’t need to have access to Bob’s user account (unless Alice was the system administrator). Your media player has no businesses changing system settings, and your text editor definitely doesn’t need to upload your contacts and calendars to some remote server.Despite being written by those with computer science background, most apps and services are designed to be the opposite. They grant or ask blanket permission for almost anything and everything and then expect users to work backward to revoke those permissions. It used to be harder, admittedly. In the past, especially on Android, you couldn’t even revoke those permissions piecemeal. It’s an all or nothing situation that has fortunately been made obsolete by newer Android versions (unless you’re still on now-ancient Lollipop). So those apps you have installed on your Android or iPhone? you can pretty much cherry pick what you want them to be able to access. A word of caution, though. App developers still haven’t upgraded their mentality to this new system and apps may crash at times. Fortunately, it’s as easy as flicking a switch, though it sure could be easier.This is admittedly harder to do when it comes to web services, many of which don’t have an equivalent feature. Web browsers, on the other hand, do have such permission switches, albeit limited to what they can access on your computer. Sadly, it almost takes a computer scientist to figure out where those settings are or how turn them off.Spring cleaningServices like Facebook and Google have become so big that you use them for things beyond, well, Facebook and Google. You can use them for single sign-on (SSO) or login convenience. Some mobile games will even use them to associate account data so that you can switch to any device and have your in-game data move with you. And, of course, some will gladly post your latest achievements for you, and reward you with in-game shinies for letting the world know you’re playing their game.It is, however, also a point of security and privacy failure. More often than not, users simply allow games and apps access to their social account, which sometimes gives them more than necessary permission to access your data. These games and services could also disappear or change ownership, and the new owners might be less conscientious about respecting their customers’ presumed right to privacy.The latest Facebook scandal has many shouting #DeleteFacebook. For some, that’s nearly impossible. What’s not impossible, however, is to do a sweep of Facebook’s, and Google’s, and Twitter’s, settings and connected apps to ensure no holes are left open. Unfortunately, you can’t expect them to do it for you. Especially not if they can profit from it.Share the work, share the blameNow, this is admittedly a tricky one. The Internet has made the world such a smaller place and connected so many people together that we have, in part, also become somewhat responsible for other’s privacy as well. How? Because that address book, phone number, or email address you give Facebook and friends access to also contains your friends’ contact information. So it’s not really just your information you are sharing with them. You are also sharing your friends’ information and, chances are, they never agreed to that.It’s probably still a legally grey area in many jurisdictions and companies will always say that you gave them the permission. Whether that permission also covers your friends and contacts is something lawyers and judges will have to squabble over, but be sure you are aware of that fact. And make sure your friends are as well.Think before you clickGood user interfaces are designed to guide users towards a specific direction. Some user interfaces are too good at doing that, guiding users to click or tap on an action with little thought about the consequences. There’s a reason why some “Skip” or “Not Now” buttons are hidden in corners or less emphasized.Windows installation wizards have also ruined us forever. We click and tap “Next” with wanton disregard for what was on the screen. Most people would pause and even read paper contracts before signing them. While significantly simplistic, most of the things you agree to in installers and setup wizards are sometimes similar. And are just as legally binding as well.Wrap-up: update our brainsMuch of the above is what some would consider common sense, but history and news have proven how it’s the least common sense. We have also grown so accustomed in our ways that it takes a scandal of Facebook-proportions before we even stop to consider what’s happening. It is almost ironic that we regularly update our phones and, soon, our homes to the latest technologies but our minds and behaviors are still firmly rooted in pre-Facebook days. And even more ironically, Facebook even profited from that as well.
SOURCE: Shelby The 2017 Ford Raptor is already a very cool performance truck with lots of power and style right off the showroom floor. Shelby made its name tweaking Mustangs, but in recent years it has turned its hand to more vehicles than the iconic Pony Car, including the Raptor. Shelby has announced that it will be making the 2018 Shelby Raptor. The truck is based on the standard 2018 Ford Raptor that already makes 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque from it 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine. The engine puts power to all four wheels when needed via a 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford also fits the Raptor with a locking center differential.Once Shelby is done massaging the Raptor, the truck gains 75 hp for over 525 hp and a massive 610 lb-ft of torque. Shelby Raptors also get suspension upgrades with a two stage shock system. The truck also gets bigger wheels and tires along with interior and exterior style upgrades. Shelby says that the 2018 Shelby Raptor will ring in at about $117,460 including the base Raptor. That is assuming your base Raptor is in the $68,165 range the average Raptor stickers for. If you already own a 2017 Raptor, you can send it to Shelby for a conversion for $49,295. Yes, the conversion costs nearly as much as the entire truck.Shelby will only make 500 2018 Shelby Raptor trucks. Each of the trucks will be in the official Shelby Registry as well. I wonder if Shelby has to beef up the transmission at all, 610 lb-ft is a lot of torque.
Opened out in full, you get a glorious 2480 x 2200 pixel resolution. Closed, the rear comes in at 2480 x 892, while the front is slightly denser at 2480 x 1148 pixels. As for the nature of that display, for now all Huawei will say is that it’s using OLED technology. Huawei Mate X Gallery It’s hard to find words to do the Huawei Mate X justice, the company’s first folding smartphone coming so close to resembling a sci-fi movie prop that it’s hard to believe it will soon go on sale. Like the Samsung Galaxy Fold revealed last week, the Mate X transforms from the form-factor of a regular, everyday smartphone to a significantly larger device, similar in scale to a tablet yet arguably more manageable in the hand. What’s fascinating is that, though the two phones may both fold, they do so in such very different ways. Samsung’s design sees the larger display have a single use, only in play when the Galaxy Fold is opened up into its fully-deployed tablet mode. The Huawei Mate X, though, is the exact opposite. In Huawei’s design, the large 8-inch touchscreen is also front and rear display, wrapping around the body of the device when it’s closed. The back is sized slightly smaller, at 6.38-inches, in order to make room for the four cameras and flash, while the front display is larger at 6.6-inches. It’s an astonishingly slender device. In tablet mode, the thinnest section is a mere 5.4 mm thick: in comparison, the iPad Pro comes in at 5.9 mm thick. When it’s folded, the Mate X comes to only 11 mm. I suspect it’ll be more comfortable for right-handed use, given the thicker grip section s positioned on the right side. On the back of that grip is a vertically-aligned triple camera system, along with a flash. Along its edge, meanwhile, is a combination power button and fingerprint scanner, just below the volume rocker.From what I’ve seen so far, I do feel like the Mate X has a far better design than its Samsung rival. When it’s in smartphone form, which is likely to be more often the case than not, the outer displays are each large and vibrant. In contrast, Samsung’s closed Galaxy Fold leaves you with a mere 4.6-inch display. Huawei’s design has another benefit, too: when closed, the rear display can be used for selfies with the Leica-engineered cameras.The magic happens underneath the display on the back, where what Huawei is referring to as its Falcon Wing Hinge design is found. While the name may be reminiscent of something you’d find on a Tesla Model X, the hinge itself reminds me of Lenovo’s elegant watchband hinge, used in the Yoga notebook line. It’s hard to say how well the hinges will hold up over time – or, indeed, the flexible OLED – without putting the device through its paces. However, from my limited time with the Mate X, I’m already liking what I see, particularly how flat and compact it is when folded up.Perhaps surprisingly, Mate X isn’t just going to be Huawei’s first folding phone: it’s also going to be the company’s first 5G device. Unlike others in the industry, Huawei is making its own 5G modem to go with its own processor. “We’re in it, we are 5G,” Peter Gauden, Gobal Senior Product Manager at Huawei, explains, highlighting that the Mate X will pair the Kirin 980 chipset with the company’s new Balong 5000 modem.The antennas are fully integrated into the chassis, and Huawei is promising up to a 4.6 Gbps download speed, carrier-depending of course. That’s potentially ten times the bandwidth you’d find on a current 4G LTE network, and enough to download a 1GB video in just three seconds. Since Huawei also makes 5G network infrastructure, Gauden points out, it could do its own testing of the Mate X on a real 5G network in-house.Even out of 5G coverage, though, the phone should still wow. Where the Mate X isn’t display, Huawei gave it a fresh coat of paint. The striking Interstellar Blue hue can be seen on the top, bottom, and the rear of the device. Huawei has also developed a special case for the Mate X, which supports the flexible screen.Inside the 5.4 mm chassis lives two batteries, yielding a total of 4,500 mAh. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold falls slightly short of that, at 4,380 mAh. It’s massive, and rightly so considering the equally massive display it’s expected to power, not to mention the 5G and Kirin 980 chipset. Arguably even more impressive is the new 55W Supercharge charger. Within 30 minutes, Huawei promises, you can charge the Mate X up to 85-percent – or around 3,825 mAh – from fully discharged. It should honestly raise the bar when it comes to topping up the battery while you’re on the go.Impressive as this all is, there are still plenty of questions to be settled. Gauden didn’t go into detail about the Mate X’s “new Leica camera system,” though given Huawei’s recent handiwork on the Pro series I don’t think it’s unfair to expect big things. Update: The Huawei Mate X will be priced at 2,299 Euro with 512GB of storage. That works out to around $2,600, which is considerably more than the $2,000 Samsung Galaxy Fold.The Mate X and the Galaxy Fold will undoubtedly be niche devices when they launch. All the same, over time and as prices drop, I do expect that the technology they debut will increasingly become the norm. Squeezing both the usability of a phone and a tablet into a single device is just the sort of convergence that the smartphone has epitomized over the past decade. It may be early days for foldables – and for 5G, for that matter – but the future’s looking bright.
Neither Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed in 2018, nor Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed on March 10 of this year, had either the so-called angle of attack indicator or the disagree light, which Boeing sells as upgrades to airlines. The plane-maker does not make price lists for its options publicly available. The causes of the two crashes, which both involved the Boeing 737 Max, are yet to be ascertained. Early attention, though, has been focused on one key difference between the 737 Max and earlier iterations of the aircraft. The Max variant has its engines mounted higher and further forward on the body of the plane, compared to earlier 737 planes, which can cause an upward pitching movement. To deal with that, Boeing installed a new Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. That automatically applies nose-down trim whenever the 737 Max is in a steep turn or in low-speed, flaps-retracted flight, to avoid it stalling. The system is designed to activate without giving notice to the pilot, should the angle of attack reach a certain threshold. AdChoices广告The programing of the MCAS has been questioned by some industry observers, and investigators are looking at whether its software could have been involved in the two crashes. If the data from the two sensors the MCAS relies upon is faulty, such as the sensors failing or other reasons, the system could activate when it’s not actually required. The two optional safety features give pilots greater insight into what those external sensors are saying. The angle of attack indicator, for example, offers the pilot a read-out of the data from each of the two sensors. The disagree light, meanwhile, illuminates should the data from the two sensors diverge. Boeing, an insider tells the New York Times, plans to make the disagree light standard moving forward. The company will also update the MCAS software; the changes will include combining data from both sensors, rather than just one as was originally the case. However the angle of attack indicator will remain optional for airlines to add to their planes.The decision brings into question which safety features are considered necessary by regulators, and which are not. Neither of the two options, for example, were required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In the US, American Airlines’ current 24-strong 737 Max fleet all have both of the features. Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, has 36 of the aircraft. The disagree alert option was added to all of them, the airline says it added an angle of attack indicator itself. The data from that is being moved to a more prominent position. Finally, United Airlines says none of its 14 737 Max aircraft had the angle of attack indicators or the disagree light. The airline says its pilots rely on “other data to fly the plane,” the NYTimes reports. It’s unclear when Boeing might announce the change in standard 737 Max equipment, or indeed when the planes themselves might be put back into service in the US. The FAA was slow to ground the aircraft, with Europe and other regions moving quickly to pull the model from service. Boeing will make a safety feature on the 737 Max standard rather than a paid upgrade, it’s reported, after the technology’s absence in both recent plane crashes prompted concerns that pilots could have been missing potentially vital information. The crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia are still under investigation, but neither plane was equipped with two optional safety features that might have changed the course of the incidents.
Concept cars like the Bentley EXP 100 GT are eye-catching – and extreme – showcases of blue sky thinking at car companies, but according to the British automaker the huge luxury grand tourer also represents a roadmap of sorts for future production vehicles. While that might seem hard to believe, given features like the vast illuminated, animated grille and 6.5 foot long doors, the reality is that Bentley has used its concept to preview several features it intends to bring to market. Electrification runs deep in Bentley’s futureEver since its beginnings a hundred years ago, Bentley has been associated with huge gas engines. That’s all changing, starting from 2019, with the introduction of a comprehensive electrification plan from the automaker. First up is the Bentayga Hybrid, the gas-electric version of the automaker’s luxury SUV. However that’s just the start. Come 2023, Bentley promises, there’ll be electrified versions of all its cars. Now, “electrification” has become something of a catch-all term in recent years, encompassing everything from 48V mild hybrids through to plug-in hybrids and battery-electric cars along the way. So, I was curious to see just how committed to the technology that Bentley actually was. According to a company spokesman, the answer is that the Bentayga Hybrid system is pretty much the minimum Bentley will be considering. Anything less than its all-electric range – which is rated at 16 miles on the EPA cycle, though the automaker expects more than that in practice – wouldn’t be acceptable, I was told. That means no mild hybridization, using an electric starter-generator but with minimal all-electric range. Come 2025, though, and the first all-electric Bentley will arrive. If it’s anything like the EXP 100 GT, that will mean a potent EV drivetrain: the concept car musters 0-60 mph in under 2.5 seconds, a top speed of 186 mph, and over 1,100 lb-ft of torque. Bentley also envisages it having around 435 miles of range on a single charge. The production EV is unlikely to copy the EXP 100 GT exactly. The centenary concept has four electric motors, for example, one for each wheel. I’d expect Bentley to be a little more conservative in practice, probably sticking to a single motor for each axle. Still, plan on lashings of torque and horsepower.Next-generation seat comfortWith buttery-soft leather, plenty of padding, and both multiple electric adjustment and massage, it’s not like Bentley’s current seats are anything to complain about. What’s in the pipeline – and demonstrated first with the EXP 100 GT – are a set of new seats, however, which could be exponentially more comfortable. Each is made up of numerous pads, which can be individually controlled to provide precise support according to how the occupant is sitting. Lean toward the door, for example, and the seat will ramp up support on that side. Slump down, and it can crank up the lumbar support to match. It sounds far-fetched, but according to Brett Boydell, Head of Interior Design at Bentley, it’s one of the aspects of the concept car that could arrive more imminently. “So the technology that we’re showing on the seats, where we have individual cell technology that adapts to all of your form, that’s actually something we’re developing,” he explained to me. “So that’s very much literally on a roadmap we’re working on right now.”The materials of luxury are changingLeather, wood, and metal. The palette of luxury has been fairly stable for the past few decades, and Bentley has certainly invested in artisans and craftspeople capable of doing magical things with veneers, hides, and stitching. The EXP 100 GT, though, upends some of those expectations. Sustainability is increasingly something Bentley customers are asking about, interiors chief Brett Boydell told me, particularly among the automaker’s younger clientele. That has prompted the company to look further afield than normal, as it comes up with a new array of interior trims. The EXP 100 GT, for example, has artificial leather made from a byproduct of the wine industry. In the concept car it sits alongside traditional leather – albeit with a different treatment, that Bentley also expects to offer on production models – but it paves the way for an eventual vegan interior option for those who want it. Then there’s the wood. Bentley’s team sources it from all over the world, but the Copper Infused Riverwood in the EXP 100 GT comes from closer to home. Preserved for 5,000 years in peat bogs, lakes, and rivers, it’s harvested by The Fenland Black Oak Project, and its color and grain will evolve in unique ways over the years for each car. Previously, it would’ve been burned as waste, but Bentley has snapped up pretty much the whole supply to offer as an exclusive Mulliner trim option in its future production cars. A virtual chauffeurIs the car of the future an anodyne box which soullessly shuttles you from A to B? Bentley isn’t convinced, and while the striking design of the EXP 100 GT is its stake in the ground when it comes to keeping style a key focus in the decades to come, the role of the driver is just as important. The goal, the automaker says, is to give occupants the choice: leave the driverless technology to handle the boring sections, and then take over yourself when the roads get interesting. In autonomous mode, the seats can recline into loungers, and indeed the car’s whole cabin can turn into a ridiculously spacious two-seater configuration. Switch to manual mode, and the steering wheel extends from the front bulkhead, along with pedals and other traditional controls. Bentley’s AI is able to make suggestions as to which sections of road you might be interested in driving manually, and which you may want to leave to the car. Fully autonomous driving is, of course, still some way out from production vehicles. However we can expect more driver assistance from Bentley in its cars, as they gain more abilities on the road. There, it can benefit from semi-autonomous technologies developed by VW Group stablemates like Audi, as we close in on the day where you could effectively leave your human chauffeur at home. Bentley EXP 100 GT Gallery
Apple is turning privacy from a marketing thrust to a service it “sells” to its customers. Although it denies taking shots at anyone, its stronger stance on privacy, not to mention the new features it announced at WWDC this week, clearly distances itself from the likes of Facebook and Google. It doesn’t come without a price, though it might not immediately be evident. Like the new “Find My” location tracking that is promised to be better and more secure but will require you to have two Apple devices under your name. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Locating lost or stolen devices can be a tricky thing. Many OEMs and third-party apps offer ways to find such devices but they mostly require users to upload that device’s location to somewhere. In Apple’s case, Find my iPhone and Find Friends, despite promises of privacy, still exposes that Apple to data itself, something the company says it doesn’t want to even know about.That’s why it’s rolling out a new “Find My” feature with stronger privacy protections. At first, it may sound like doing the opposite because it makes Apple devices constantly broadcast a Bluetooth signal even when they’re offline. The purpose is so that, even when the device is hibernating, it will be possible to locate it.AdChoices广告The stronger privacy comes via end-to-end encryption but rather than simply having some key that can be stolen, Find My requires a second Apple device to hold the decryption key. Owners who only have a single Apple device in their possession will have to settle for the older and less secure technologies.Storing keys on local devices also lets Apple wash its hands of legal culpability. Just like with iPhone encryption, authorities won’t be able to force Apple to disclose the location of a device because it doesn’t have the ability to do so. It is definitely a more secure and more private way to recover lost Apple devices but it won’t matter much for people who can’t afford to have more than one Apple device in their possession.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Viewpoints: Medicare Not Exempt From Sequestration’s Impact; Obama’s Plan To Have Board Cut Medicare ‘Has Little Chance Of Success’ Politico Pro: For Medicare, Sequestration Is Not The AnswerFact: Congress must pass and the president must sign legislation by the end of this year that reduces federal spending by $109 billion — or the first year of automatic across-the-board cuts in both domestic and defense programs will go into effect. … One program that is particularly vulnerable under sequestration is Medicare. Despite the fact that Medicare is currently a prime topic of debate for Republicans and Democrats alike, not enough attention has been paid to how sequestration will impact the program. Unlike other major social programs such as Social Security and Medicaid, Medicare is not exempt from sequestration and will face a 2 percent cut in provider payments should Congress fail to reach an agreement this year. A 2 percent cut may seem modest, especially when compared to potential future budget stringency. But the effect of the cuts would be substantial, and the principle behind them is even worse (Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Kenneth Thorpe, 10/19).The Washington Post: The Illusion Of Health-Care ‘Trust Funds’ If we do not reduce the growth rate of health-care costs, they will consume the federal budget. We risk a debt crisis rivaling the 2008-09 crash. Changes that other countries have made soberly, achieving lower costs and better health outcomes, will be imposed on us by our creditors. Their goal will be the return of their money, not the quality of Americans’ health care (Bryan R. Lawrence, 10/18). CNN: Romney’s Economic Plan Has The EdgeRomney and Obama disagree, however, on how to fix Medicare. Obama’s approach consists of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a creation of the Affordable Care Act. The IPAB will have the power to restrict Medicare expenditure, chiefly by controlling health care prices and limiting reimbursement for care deemed unnecessary or not cost-effective. Romney wants to shift most or all future Medicare beneficiaries (those currently 55 and younger) to vouchers. By limiting the rate at which the voucher amount increases over time, this approach can also slow Medicare expenditure. And if competition among insurers makes the health insurance market more efficient, vouchers can reduce spending further. … Of the two, Obama’s has little chance of success, given the failure of similar efforts in the past (Jeffrey Miron, 10/18).Journal of the American Medical Association: How Realistic Is Romney’s Pledge To “Repeal And Replace” The Affordable Care ActGovernor Romney has variously pledged to either “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or not to fully implement the key provisions in the act if he is elected. Republican supporters and funders have insisted that he remain faithful to his pledge. But is it realistic to believe that a President Romney could succeed? Romney’s preferred strategy to repeal and replace the ACA would undoubtedly rely on a parliamentary tactic called the budget reconciliation process, the very method by which the Democratic-controlled Congress enacted the ACA (Lawrence O. Gostin, 10/18).Kansas City Star: The Savage Mantra Of Personal ResponsibilityIt seems like poor form to spit on the graves of dead people, but such are the passions inspired by our health care debate. Last week I wrote that, contrary to what Mitt Romney has said in his campaign, Americans do die for lack of health insurance. Every day, in fact. Oh, the fury. Emails and telephone calls ranged from the generic “you are an idiot” to a reader’s account about a woman who died of leukemia after passing up COBRA insurance because she didn’t want to pay $400 a month. “You may report that she died because of lack of insurance,” my correspondent wrote. “I believe she might have died anyway, but if it’s anyone’s fault it was her own for failing to exercise personal responsibility” (Barbara Shelly, 10/18). Los Angeles Times: U.S. Investigating CVS Prescription Refills The U.S. Justice Department’s civil fraud division is investigating claims that CVS Caremark wrongly refilled prescriptions and billed insurers without the knowledge or the approval of its customers. The probe will focus primarily on allegations of Medicare fraud, said Shana T. Mintz, an assistant U.S. attorney in the division’s Los Angeles office (David Lazarus, 10/19). The New York Times: An HPV Vaccine Myth Debunked One of the most preposterous arguments raised by religious and social conservatives against administering a vaccine to girls to protect them from human papillomavirus, or HPV, has been that it might encourage them to become promiscuous. That notion has now been thoroughly repudiated by a study published on Monday in Pediatrics, a journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (10/18). Houston Chronicle: Medicaid Managed Care Is A Smart Solution For TaxpayersThrough managed care, the state can achieve Medicaid budget certainty and also save tax dollars — the Health and Human Services Commission estimated more than $1.1 billion in savings in the 2012-2013 budget cycle alone directly attributable to managed care. These plans also provide a level of coordinated care that was severely lacking in traditional Medicaid. Managed care providers have incentives to coordinate care and services that reduce the costs of in-patient care, over-utilization of prescription drugs and other expensive categories of health care services (John Colyandro and Tom Aldred, 10/18).Detroit Free Press: Opposing Points Of View, Prop 4: Proposal Assures Higher Standards For Home Caregivers, Greater Safety For PatientsProposal 4 ensures seniors and people with disabilities can direct their own care while remaining independent, safe and healthy in their own homes. It will help our loved ones who receive care in their own homes as an alternative to nursing homes. Importantly, Proposal 4 will ensure that those looking for care have access to a registry of home care workers who have undergone criminal background checks, an important safeguard to prevent neglect and abuse. For these reasons that impact the care and safety of countless Michiganders, I support this proposal (Dohn Hoyle, 10/19).Detroit Free Press: Opposing Points Of View, Prop 4: Family And Loved Ones Providing Home Health Care Shouldn’t Be Forced To Pay Union DuesApproximately 40,000 Michiganders are home help providers — private citizens who provide basic personal care to disabled adults in their own homes. Most of these home help providers are family members. Often, they are parents caring for children or adult children caring for their aging parents. To help with the financial cost of providing this in-home care, these families are eligible for support through Medicaid’s Home Help Program. … In 2005, the Service Employees International Union, which represents many government workers, joined with the Granholm administration to force home help providers in Michigan to join their union. Get a check from the state, even if it’s for caring for your disabled child, and you’re a government worker who belongs in our union — or so they think (Robert and Patricia Haynes, 10/19).
First Edition: February 13, 2012 This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Today’s headlines include reports on how Medicare played into the President’s State Of The Union address. Kaiser Health News: $2 Billion Medicaid Program Helps Mostly Illegal ImmigrantsKaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: “During the debate over the 2010 federal health care overhaul, Democrats promised that illegal immigrants wouldn’t be among the 27 million people who’d gain coverage. President Barack Obama repeated that pledge last month when he outlined his immigration plan” (Galewitz, 2/12). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Higher Hospital Readmissions Aren’t Linked To Fewer Deaths, Study FindsKaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau reports: “Some hospitals with high readmission rates say they’re saving lives by bringing patients back at the first hint of trouble. The evidence for this is that a handful of hospitals with high readmission rates also have extremely low death rates among Medicare patients. But a study published Tuesday finds that there’s no major link between hospitals with high readmissions and those with low mortality rates” (Rau, 2/12). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Health Figures Big In State Of The Union Guest ListNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Phil Galewitz reports: “Five of the 24 people invited to sit near First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight’s State of the Union have strong health care connections. They include a governor, a business owner and a beneficiary of the health law provision that prevents health plans from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions” (Galewitz, 2/12). Check out what else is on the blog.The New York Times’ News Analysis: In An Age Of Spending Cuts, Making The Case For GovernmentIn setting out how government could reach what he considers an acceptable level of fiscal stability through Medicare cuts and tax increases, Mr. Obama was doing more than trying to set the terms for the next, fast-approaching rounds in his fiscal cage match with Congressional Republicans (Stevenson, 2/13).The Wall Street Journal: Obama Urges Action On Expansive AgendaMr. Obama repeated his earlier calls for reducing the budget deficit through a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. He also said he would support “modest reforms” in programs including Medicare, as long as wealthy Americans contribute as well (Nicholas and Nelson, 2/12).The Washington Post: Obama: Limited Cost-Cutting For MedicareWhen it came to Medicare, Obama reiterated his determination to accept only limited cost-cutting proposals. Among the ideas he appeared to reference was requiring pharmaceutical companies to charge Medicare the lower rates they currently receive from Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor (Aizenman, 2/12).The Washington Post: Fact Checker: Medicare ReformUsing Congressional Budget Office estimates of the president’s budget, we see that over 10 years, Obama’s proposals would achieve $337 billion from 2013 to 2022, compared to $483 billion for Bowles-Simpson in the same time period. (Bowles-Simpson, or more accurately the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, is considered by many in Washington to be the model for a bipartisan approach for deficit reduction.) However, in 2022, both would achieve exactly the same amount of savings — $68 billion (Kessler, 2/12).Los Angeles Times: Rubio Responds To President’s Speech with Familiar GOP ThemesRubio, speaking from the Capitol, repeated GOP calls for a constitutional balanced-budget amendment and an overhaul of the Medicare and Social Security programs, though he provided no specifics. “Anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now is in favor of bankrupting it,” Rubio said (Barabak, 2/12).The Wall Street Journal: States Gear Up To Pitch Health PlansSupporters of the 2010 health law are looking to draft sports teams, pharmacies and political ground operations for their biggest marketing campaign yet: persuading millions of uninsured, hard-to-reach and skeptical Americans to sign up for health plans this fall (Radnofsky and Dooren, 2/12).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Brown to Testify On Measure To Expand Medicaid And Create Funding Stream For ExchangeLt. Gov. Anthony Brown will be outlining the latest steps in Maryland to implement federal health care reform. Brown is scheduled to testify Wednesday on legislation before a House panel and a Senate committee (2/13).The New York Times: Dispute Develops Over Discount Drug ProgramThe program, known as 340B, requires most drug companies to provide hefty discounts — typically 20 to 50 percent — to hospitals and clinics that treat low-income and uninsured patients. But despite the seemingly admirable goal, the program is now under siege, the focus of a fierce battle between powerful forces — the pharmaceutical industry, which wants to rein in the discounts, and the hospitals, which say they might have to cut services without them (Pollack, 2/12).The New York Times: Big Insurer Hires A Hospital Executive As ChiefJoseph R. Swedish, the 61-year-old chief executive of a major nonprofit Catholic-owned health system, Trinity Health, will become WellPoint’s chief executive on March 25. He will be responsible for leading the company, which operates profit-making Blue Cross plans in 14 states, into a future in which health insurers will sell insurance through state and federal exchanges and to work in new ways with hospitals and doctors (Abelson, 2/12).The Wall Street Journal: WellPoint Names New Chief ExecutiveWellPoint Inc. WLP 0.00%named Joseph R. Swedish as its new chief executive, unexpectedly turning to a hospital-industry veteran to lead the second-largest U.S. health insurer through the challenging implementation of the health-care overhaul (Mathews and Kamp, 2/12).The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: Health Insurer WellPoint Picks Joseph Swedish As Its New CEOSwedish’s resume includes work with HCA, the nation’s largest hospital chain. He also has served as a director for another insurer, Coventry Health Care. In his new job, Swedish’s tasks will include helping WellPoint prepare for coverage expansions that start next year under the federal healthcare overhaul (2/13).The New York Times: College Health Plans Respond As Transgender Students Gain VisibilityOver the last decade, as activists started pushing colleges to accommodate transgender students, they first raised only basic issues, like recognizing a name change or deciding who could use which bathrooms. But the front lines have shifted fast, particularly at the nation’s elite colleges, and a growing number are now offering students health insurance plans with coverage for gender reassignment surgery (Perez-Pena, 2/12).Politico: Broader Therapies Could Further Strain MedicareA lawsuit may have lit the fuse on a budgetary time bomb in Medicare, even though it simply reaffirms what should be a routine payment policy for services like physical therapy that the massive federal health care program has always had. People on Medicare are entitled to various kinds of rehab and therapeutic services — occupational or speech therapy, for instance. But over the past 30 years or so, the coverage became spotty. Some people were able to get that care only if it could help them get better — not if it was aimed at keeping them stable or slowing a predictable decline. That became known as the “improvement standard.” The care was only for those who would improve (Norman, 2/13).The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Study Questions Kidney Cancer Treatment In ElderlyIn a stunning example of when treatment might be worse than the disease, a large review of Medicare records finds that older people with small kidney tumors were much less likely to die over the next five years if doctors monitored them instead of operating right away (2/12).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.
Politico: Trump Meets With Drug Giant’s CEO As Part Of Price Squeeze The Wall Street Journal: Merck To Limit Drug-Price Increases, Cut Some Prices HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan punctuated the moves on Thursday when he delivered some tough words to drug-company executives who make up the board of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “The blueprint is very real, it’s definitely the president’s blueprint and the sweeping reforms contemplated in it are on the way,” Hargan told the lobby group in a closed-door meeting. “When this president talks about fundamental change to drug markets, he follows through.” (Edney, 7/18) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Merck Is Latest Drugmaker To Lower Some Prices, Earning Political Points As White House Prepares Cost Plan Merck follows Pfizer and Novartis in dropping prices on a few of their drugs. But, like with the other two, beneath the promise is a strategy that makes it uncertain if consumers will benefit. For example, Merck lowered the cost of its hepatitis C drug, Zepatier. But that treatment has not gained traction in the U.S. marketplace anyway, so the drop could actually be an attempt to boost Merck sales for an underperforming drug. Bloomberg: Trump’s Drug Plan Picks Up Momentum As Merck Lowers Some Prices Merck, based in Kenilworth, N.J., said it was cutting prices “to help reduce patient out-of-pocket costs.” The price cuts will go into effect in the fall, a spokeswoman said. Merck and other drugmakers typically pay rebates to pharmacy-benefit managers and insurers that amount to discounts from list prices. But uninsured patients and those with high-deductible health plans can still be on the hook for the full list price. (Loftus, 7/19) The New York Times: Merck To Lower Prices On Some Drugs, But Not Its Blockbusters The pharmaceutical company Merck on Thursday announced it would lower the costs of some drugs in its portfolio. The company will drop the price of Zepatier, a Hepatitis C drug, by 60 percent, and decrease the costs of “several other” drugs by 10 percent. It also said it would not increase the average net price of drugs in its portfolio by more than inflation annually. (Hellmann, 7/19) A trio of court actions provide news for this week’s “What the Health?’” panel. A federal appeals court this week handed hospitals a setback in their effort to stop the Trump administration from cutting funding for a program that provides deep discounts on drugs. Physicians sued health insurer Anthem for its policy of retroactively declaring some emergency department claims not to be an emergency. And the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the city of Philadelphia’s controversial tax on sweetened beverages. (7/19) The move follows recent announcements by Pfizer and Novartis that they would freeze price increases for the rest of the year, as the industry confronts sustained criticism from President Trump, lawmakers and the public over the rising cost of prescriptions. Merck’s action shows just how cautiously the industry is shifting strategies: It did not cut the prices of any blockbusters like the cancer treatment Keytruda or the diabetes drug Januvia. Instead, it said it would reduce by 60 percent the list price of Zepatier, a hepatitis C drug whose recent sales have dipped so low that, after paying after-the-fact rebates to insurers, the company recorded no sales in the United States for the product in the first quarter of this year. (Thomas, 7/19) The CEO of drug giant Pfizer met with President Donald Trump at the White House today as the administration pressures drugmakers to voluntarily rein in prices, according to multiple industry sources. Ian Read’s appearance followed a Trump tweet this morning that thanked Pfizer and the Swiss manufacturer Novartis for pledging not to raise drug prices further this year. Top pharmaceutical industry CEOs are in Washington for an annual planning meeting of the major drug lobby PhRMA. (Karlin-Smith and Restuccia, 7/19) The Hill: Merck To Lower Prices For Some Drugs Kaiser Health News: Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Drug Prices And Unicorns Stat: Merck Joins The List Of Drug Makers Agreeing To Freeze Or Lower Some Prices In a brief statement, the company agreed not to increase the average net prices of its medicines by more than inflation annually, and then also dropped the wholesale — or list — price by 60 percent on its Zepatier hepatitis C treatment and lowered list prices by 10 percent on a half dozen other drugs. However, the extent to which its moves will actually be meaningful are being questioned. (Silverman, 7/19)
Jake Edmiston Reddit March 13, 20199:33 PM EDTLast UpdatedMarch 14, 201912:25 PM EDT Filed under News Retail & Marketing But while Empire boosts the profile of its discount brand on one end of the spectrum, and its fancier Farm Boy brand on the other, some industry observers are asking: What becomes of its massive Sobeys banner in the middle?“That, to me, is the biggest question that grocers face,” said Kevin Grier, an analyst who focuses on the grocery industry. Grier noted that it isn’t a challenge that Sobeys faces alone. Other major chains, like Loblaw and Metro, are also caught in a shrinking middle ground, between the growth luxury brands like Whole Foods and discounters like Walmart.But Medline doesn’t see it that way. First, he said, Farm Boy isn’t part of that luxury category like Whole Foods. “It treats the customer so well, it perhaps it appears like that,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “But it is not that.”What it is, Medline said, is a flexible store format — 25,000 sq-ft on average — that can squeeze into urban markets in a way that traditional, big-box grocers cannot.“It does more sales-per-square-feet than anyone else,” he said.The description of the market — with discount and luxury stores luring customers away from conventional brands — doesn’t fit with reality, Medline said. Shoppers, he said, aren’t exclusively going to a discount store or a luxury store. They’re going to whatever store fits their needs on any given day. Farm Boy, for instance, isn’t where customers go for staples like toilet paper or tooth paste; it’s for produce, meat and prepared food.“Full-service” Sobeys stores, though, are “where you can do your weekly shopping and fill your basket with whatever you want,” Medline said.Empire is expected to add a fourth option in spring 2020, when it starts offering grocery delivery in the Toronto area as part of a partnership with the U.K. grocery delivery company Ocado. Medline expects the e-commerce option to help Empire continue its push into urban and suburban Ontario.On Wednesday, Empire reported $6.24 billion in sales its third quarter, $218 million more than the previous year. Its adjusted earnings per share, however, dipped to $0.27 per share from $0.33 per share, which Empire attributed primarily to a one-time charge of $45 million ($0.12 per share).The charge includes $35 million in expected buyouts offered to long-serving Safeway employees, which were approved by a B.C. labour ruling in January. It also includes $10 million in costs associated with five store upcoming Safeway store closures, which are part of the FreshCo conversions.• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: Twitter Facebook Comment More Empire Co Ltd. CEO Michael Medline said Farm Boy grocery stores are the company’s “weapon” to expand into urban areas like Toronto.Postmedia Network Share this story’We’ve never had a weapon like this’: Farm Boy is key for urban expansion, Sobeys parent says Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn ‘We’ve never had a weapon like this’: Farm Boy is key for urban expansion, Sobeys parent says By combining Farm Boy with Empire’s real estate ‘prowess,’ CEO Michael Medline believes he can eventually ‘blanket’ Toronto and its suburbs with stores Empire Co. Ltd., the expansive network of Canadian grocery brands, believes its recently acquired Farm Boy chain is what it needs to finally take on Ontario’s biggest grocery markets.“We’ve never had a weapon like this to go at an area like the GTA,” chief executive Michael Medline told analysts Wednesday following the release of Empire’s third quarter results.“Ontario,” he said, “has historically been our Achilles heel.”Empire, the parent to Sobeys, acquired Farm Boy, a chain of boutique groceries with a loyal following in eastern Ontario and popular line of private label products, for $800 million last year.At the time, Medline promised Farm Boy fans he wouldn’t “screw this up,” a reference to Empire’s ill-fated acquisition of the western Safeway grocery chain, which alienated many long-time customers. Sobeys parent reports higher net income, but lower adjusted earnings Empire’s Farm Boy acquisition a good move despite previous struggles: experts ‘We will not screw this up’: Sobeys parent to buy beloved Farm Boy in $800M deal While Medline suggested Wednesday that he does not want to expand Farm Boy too quickly, his ambitions for the brand were apparent.By combining Farm Boy with Empire’s real estate “prowess,” Medline believes he can eventually “blanket” Toronto and its suburbs with stores.Farm Boy — now at 28 stores around Ontario — is already in the middle of an expansion in the Toronto area.The growth plans come as Empire enters the late stages of Project Sunrise, Medline’s 2017 plan to cut costs and improve Empire’s fortunes, which had been dragged down by the Safeway deal.One element of the plan involves expanding Empire’s bargain brand, FreshCo, to meet rising demand for discount grocers. Empire is currently working to close 15 Safeway stores in B.C., converting 10 of them to FreshCo locations — part of a broader objective of converting 25 per cent of its network of 255 Safeway and Sobeys stores in Western Canada.Empire Co. Ltd. Michael Medline Email CNW Group/Empire Co. Ltd. Recommended For YouFrom Viet Cong to Team USA: Hanoi garment factory’s Olympic transformationRenault forms China electric vehicle venture with JMCGNissan, Volvo and FCA lead European sales declineAsia shares subdued, dollar supported as sterling suffersFrance says G7 focused on containing risks of Facebook’s Libra 6 Comments Join the conversation →