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  • Geebo 10:06 am on March 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , at will states, daycare, family,   

    Is anybody really looking out for employees? 

    Is anybody really looking out for employees?

    It wasn’t too long ago in our country’s history when employers would take advantage of their employees to the point where it was just a step above slavery conditions. This resulted in the rise of labor unions where workers could collectively fight for better wages and working conditions. Thanks to the unions we now have provisions that are considered standard in many workforces such as 40 hour work weeks and weekends off. However, over the years, many unions became corrupt and bloated rife with nepotism and cronyism where the unions in question would make outrageous demands from management. This corruption resulted in some states passing legislation that made it illegal for anyone to be forced to join a union if they didn’t want to. These states are now called ‘at will’ states which is intended to mean that employees could work at will but along with that choice employers were given the power to fire employees at will. Now, most of the country’s workforce are stuck in situations where they are forced to sacrifice much of their personal lives in order to keep working.

    For example, mothers who work at Amazon are asking the company to provide backup daycare services for their kids. While not many employers offer this kind of service it shows how little some employers value their staff. Some reports even state that some female Amazon employees will hide the fact that they have children from their coworkers as not to be seen as ‘distracted’. It’s to the point where mothers at Amazon allegedly feel like they have little to no recourse if they are admonished for wanting to take care of their family. This is just one company’s example of how the workforce is being treated in our country. In other company’s employees don’t even have the benefits of an Amazon job. Healthcare benefits have eroded immensely over the past few decades as has paid time off.

    Labor laws and regulations need to be reexamined for today’s workforce. There has to be a happy medium somewhere between a labor union that could keep you out of work for weeks on strikes or keep you low on the union totem pole since you don’t know the right people and the at-will states where workers constantly worry if today is the day where they’ll be released for no apparent reason other than as a cost-cutting measure or they didn’t kowtow to the corporate culture at the price of their family. For our country’s workforce to thrive there needs to be equal give and take between employer and employee but right now it seems that the workers are the only ones doing any giving.

     
  • Geebo 9:33 am on March 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: auto loans, , ,   

    Misleading Media: Machinations of Malice or Misguiding for Money? 

    Misleading Media: Machinations of Malice or Misguiding for Money?

    There’s an old adage attributed to Edgar Allan Poe that says “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” In an era where the term ‘fake news’ has become so prevalent in our culture that saying couldn’t be any more apropos. Misleading headlines, known as clickbait, dominate social media. They’re used to try to elicit an immediate and emotional response from readers to garner as many clicks and shares as possible. In return higher clicks, likes, and shares lead to increased advertising revenues which keep the lights on for one more day at whatever media outlet is posting the purported content.

    For example, there was a recent media kerfuffle in the economy sections of most news outlets stating that the auto loan industry was in freefall due to the number of delinquent loans. However, as the National Automobile Dealers Association points out, when the numbers are viewed in a proper context and given the right perspective, the industry is actually healthier than it has been. But by saying an industry is doing well doesn’t generate any clicks or views. So the facts get a little twisted in order to fit a narrative that the media would rather tell.

    So, why is the media doing this? Is it some grand conspiracy to try to hide the truth from an unsuspecting public? No, the truth is a lot less bombastic as that. Traditional media such as print and TV have been on a steady decline for years and were slow to adopt an online strategy and by the time they did, there was already a generation of new media outlets that were taking advertising dollars from them. In order to compete, old media had to adopt new tactics to try to draw readers and viewers back, and if old media is engaging in questionable tactics that gives newer media license to do the same and the cycle continues. However, that’s no excuse for the media’s actions.

    So how should you, the consumer, react to inflammatory headlines and stories? When you come across one of these stories you should always take them with a grain of salt. It never hurts to be a little skeptical. If you find a story that particularly grabs your emotional attention try to find other legitimate sources that corroborate or disprove what you’ve just read. And if at all possible, try to keep your political biases at bay as political opinion can often prejudice us against the truth and many misleading media outlets are counting on that.

    The media has every right to stay in business short of libel and slander. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be more savvy consumers of content. If the media won’t do it for us it’s up to us to discern the facts from the falsities.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on March 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Andrew Cuomo, , Jeff Bezos, ,   

    New York tries to lure Amazon back with full-page ad 

    New York tries to lure Amazon back with full page ad

    Long Island City, the proposed spot for HQ2

    Just like a lover who was spurned on Valentine’s Day, New York is trying to win back Amazon on both the state and city level. As you’ll recall, Amazon had originally picked Long Island City in the Borough of Queens to be the location where Amazon would construct its new corporate headquarters dubbed HQ2. Then after a groundswell of opposition by a number of politicians representing the community, Amazon announced on Valentine’s Day of this year that they would not be going forward with the project in Queens. Since the announcement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has vociferously voiced his displeasure in those who opposed the Amazon deal citing Amazon would bring much-needed jobs and revenue to the state. Governor Cuomo is even reportedly working behind the scenes to try to bring Amazon back to New York City.

    To that end, not only has Cuomo been in communication with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos but in today’s New York Times, a full-page ad has been taken out asking Amazon publicly to come back to New York. The open letter has been signed by such luminaries as the AFL-CIO labor union and former New York mayor David Dinkins.

    This past week, Governor Cuomo has insisted that 70% of New Yorkers were in favor of Amazon building HQ2 in New York, which may, in fact, be true. However, when it comes to picking a final location anywhere in the five boroughs will the local residents be in favor of Amazon coming to their part of town. I’m sure someone living in Brooklyn or Manhattan wouldn’t mind if Amazon chose to build a massive complex on Staten Island but the Staten Island residents may have an issue with them. Amazon can have both good and bad effects on any community it lands in. If New York really wanted to have a smooth process of bringing Amazon back it needs to find a community that would welcome Amazon in with open arms first.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on February 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brushing scam, housing scam, jury duty scam, ,   

    Brushing, jury duty, and a housing scam that could cost you a lot 

    Brushing, jury duty, and a housing scam that could cost you a lot

    Once again, it’s time to bring you three scams from across the country that could potentially affect you in your area.

    One scam that is being reported out of Raleigh, North Carolina is called a brushing scam. The scam may seem innocuous at first but has the potential to be costly. In the brushing scam, online retailers will send you a product of their’s unsolicited and at no charge to you. It’s all part of an international scheme to try to get favorable reviews online so the company can boast of getting higher star ratings. While getting free stuff sounds like a great deal, the products are often shoddy or something you have absolutely no use for. The potential for abuse comes from the fact that someone may have opened an account in your name to have the products delivered which could lead to fraudulent charges.

    In northwestern Iowa a phone scam is proliferating that threatens to send you to jail if you don’t pay a fee. In this scam, someone calls you posing as a county authority accusing you of skipping out on jury duty then demands a fine from you in the form of a gift card or PayPal payment in order for you to avoid arrest. If a government body has any kind of issue like this more often than not they will send you something in the mail rather than calling you, and as always you should never make payments over the phone using gift cards as they are virtually untraceable once the serial number is given out to someone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up and contact your local law enforcement.

    The last scam for today is not only pretty scary but could end up costing you your life savings. A man in Massachusetts was getting ready to close on a new house. He was waiting for an email on how to make the final payment. He first received one email with the proper instructions then almost immediately received an identical email stating that the previous email was wrong and for him to wire the money under these new instructions. It turns out the man wired $300,000 to a scammer who had gained access to his email account. According to the FBI in Boston, this scam has cost potential homebuyers $53,000,000 just across Massachusetts. If you receive emails like this contact the financial institution or realtor you’ve been dealing with immediately to determine which of the instructions is the correct one.

     
  • Geebo 10:29 am on February 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Beth Mose, Dave Mackay, Michael Masucci, , , Virgin Galactic   

    Virgin Galactic launches 2nd manned commercial space flight 

    Virgin Galactic launches 2nd manned commercial space flight

    The VSS Unity

    The recent boom in the commercial space industry seems to have recaptured America’s interest in space travel again. Between Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin space program and Elon Musk’s SpaceX our fascination with leaving the planet has become rejuvenated. However, some people may not be aware of another commercial space program that some people may not be aware of and that’s Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. While Blue Origin and SpaceX are focused on developing rockets and space capsules that can be deployed and reused in order to drastically reduce the cost of space flight, Virgin Galactic is more focused on space tourism. That’s not to say that space tourism is nothing but folly.

    This past Friday, Virgin Galactic launched its second manned space flight aboard the VSS Unity. Virgin Galactic launched its first manned space flight back in July of 2018. The Unity was released from a cargo plane in flight before propelling into space under its own power. The crew consisted of chief pilot Dave Mackay, copilot Michael “Sooch” Masucci, and Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses who became the first commercial space flight passenger. Moses’ mission was to inspect the cabin interior along with evaluating the safety of weightlessness for future passengers. There were also a number of NASA related projects aboard the flight making the Unity’s voyage a profitable one.

    While it does take a certain amount of ego to try to enter the new space race, Virgin Galactic seems to be less about publicity and more about innovation. While Sir Richard does want to be a space passenger by the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this July he seems to have largely eschewed the attention of mainstream media. Which is refreshing from those who would launch a car into space for no other reasons besides publicity and stroking their own ego.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Sammy Musovic   

    Were NY Amazon protesters paid to be there? 

    Were pro-Amazon protesters paid to be there?

    While Amazon’s decision to not put their 2nd headquarters in New York remains a contentious issue in the Big Apple at least one positive outcome came out of the controversy. At least one Queens landlord was expecting to hike rents on his properties once Amazon moved in putting currently skyrocketing housing costs even more out of reach. Long Island City landlord Sammy Musovic reportedly put $1 million into renovating his properties in hopes of an influx of new Amazon employees needing housing in the area. When Amazon pulled out, Musovic organized a protest designed to get people to boycott the online retailer. The problem was with how the protest was allegedly organized.

    Patch.com is reporting that at least two protesters were paid to attend the event after responding to a craigslist ad looking for sign holders. Now two people being paid $30/hr. to be there doesn’t sound that bad but when you take into account only 10 protesters showed up to the Musovic-led protest it may be safe to assume that others were paid as well. In their report, Patch also included a text message between one of the protesters to one of the organizers and a video of protesters receiving cash for their services.

    While there is no law against paying people to carry signs for you, it does certainly damage the credibility of your objection. However, since Musovic took out a million dollar loan to make the renovations there is a distinct possibility that he may raise rents anyway to try to recoup his loss which in turn may the local housing market even more volatile as I’m sure there are people living in his properties already struggling to make their rent. It seems that once New York, both the state and the city, decided to engage in the Amazon HQ lottery it was doomed to have a negative impact on the city no matter what Amazon’s decision would have been.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Robert Kraft   

    Why the charges against Patriots owner Robert Kraft matter 

    Why the charges against Patriots owner Robert Kraft matter

    New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft

    It was made public this past Friday that the owner of the New England Patriots, 77-year-old Robert Kraft, had been charged with two counts of allegedly soliciting prostitution in Florida. These charges stemmed from a much larger human trafficking investigation that targeted massage parlors in Orlando, Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. Investigators claim that they have video evidence of Kraft in the act. Kraft has not yet been arrested but a warrant may be issued shortly. While Kraft is the biggest name among those arrested for solicitation, other prominent figures have been arrested during the same investigation.

    The investigation itself is said to have revealed that women were being held against their will inside the massage parlors after being brought over from overseas. In many similar cases, the victims of sex trafficking are brought into the country and are forced to work off their ‘debt’ to the traffickers by being forced to work inside the massage parlors. The victims are also often shuffled from location to location among other massage parlors not only to try to law enforcement off the tracks of the traffickers but to also prevent the victims from knowing where they are or where they can get help.

    While it’s refreshing to see that high-profile johns are being charged in this investigation, the fact that a man like Robert Kraft may be engaging in the solicitation of prostitution almost normalizes trafficking in the eyes of some. Add to that many of these massage parlors are not just in seedy urban areas but many of them are ensconced in strip malls all throughout suburbia. Comments surrounding the Robert Kraft story have already been of the ‘I don’t see what’s so wrong about it’ variety, and then the cycle of trafficking continues. If people refuse to see that holding women hostage in multiple locations and coercing them into performing these acts is wrong than what hope do we have for fighting this crisis.

    In the long run, Kraft could not only have the charges against him reduced or dropped but the NFL will probably not sanction Kraft in any real damaging way and that’s where the problem is. If johns are only going to receive slaps on the wrist for encouraging human trafficking then fighting the problem is only going to continue to be like trying to hold the ocean back with a broom.

     
  • Geebo 10:28 am on February 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Judge rules Federal Prosecutors broke law by hiding plea deal from millionaire sex offender’s victims 

    Judge rules Federal Prosecutors broke law by hiding plea deal from millionaire sex offender's victims

    Jeffery Epstein and Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta

    If you’re unfamiliar with the story of wealthy financier Jeffery Epstein, it’s one that goes back 14 years. Starting in 2005, the now 66-year-old Epstein was accused of molesting underage girls in his Palm Beach, Florida mansion by offering them money in exchange for massages. An investigation carried out by Palm Beach police state there is probable cause to charge Epstein with multiple counts of unlawful sex acts with a minor. Along the way, it’s discovered that Epstein may have had as many as 40 victims and may have allowed some of his wealthy and powerful friends to use the girls as well.

    To cut to the heart of matters, Epstein eventually reached what’s called a non-prosecution agreement where Epstein would plead guilty to minor state charges and would only serve 13 months in Palm Beach County jail. As you may imagine, this wasn’t the harshest prison treatment as Epstein was allowed to move about the area freely while conducting business only having to report back to the jail at night. Meanwhile, his victims were never informed of the plea deal and were told that the FBI was still investigating Epstein. The man who brokered the deal was then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta who is now the current Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. Epstein and Trump were at one time, close friends. As was Bill Clinton but President Clinton was in no position at the time to name people to presidential cabinets.

    Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that federal prosecutors broke the law by not revealing the non-prosecution agreement to victims and by telling the victims the investigation was still ongoing. This violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. Unfortunately, as of right now there’s no sure way on how to move forward with any further criminal action against Epstein since he served his ‘sentence’ and the Crime Victims’ Rights Act does not specifically state how violators should be punished.

    It’s obvious that if Epstein was any other run of the mill child trafficker, he would have been facing a probable life sentence in prison. However, since he is a wealthy and connected man he basically served his sentence in a dormitory and only at night. It’s difficult to have faith in a system that has allowed this to happen and offers little to recompense for his victims.

    If you want to read an in-depth analysis of the Epstein case we highly recommend the Miami Herald’s Perversion of Justice investigation.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Virgin Group, Virgin Voyages   

    Does Richard Branson still have the gift for business? 

    Does Richard Branson still have the gift for business?

    Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson

    Sir Richard Branson is what’s known in today’s business world as a disrupter. That means he goes into business fields with new and innovative ideas that can be felt through the entire industry. However, Sir Richard has been doing this since 1968, long before the term disrupter was ever coined. That’s not to say that the self-made billionaire hasn’t had his share of stumbles in the business world. For every Virgin Records, Virgin Galactic, and Virgin Atlantic there’s been Virgin Cola, Virgin Cars and even Virgin Brides. More recently, Sir Richard has announced the inaugural plans for his vacation cruise line. Has he tapped into today’s cultural zeitgeist or will this venture be a flight of fancy?

    On Valentine’s Day of this year, Sir Richard announced that Virgin Voyages is now open for bookings and divulged how his cruise line will work. The aim of Virgin Voyages is said to be competing with such popular party hotspots as Ibiza, Spain or Saint-Tropez in France. With the way it’s been described in the media, Virgin Voyages almost seems like it’s going to be a Coachella or Burning Man on the high seas with stops in Havana and Virgin’s own private beach club in the Bahamas. While most cruise lines focus on families and older couples, Virgin Voyages will cater more to the ‘Millennial’ generation who supposedly enjoy experiences more than material goods.

    While that may sound good in theory the Millennial generation is also said to be woefully underpaid in today’s job market compared to previous generations and are burdened with record financial debt. While Sir Richard may be socially conscious when it comes to most of his ventures, social consciousness comes at a price that can only be passed on to the customer. While the experience on Virgin Voyages may be an amazing one, the experience may be priced out of range for most of his target demographic. If Virgin Voyages fails to catch on it won’t be the end of Virgin Group or anything like that but it could make investors less likely to engage in Branson’s future ventures if it does not succeed.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on February 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dyslexia, entrepreneur, Michael Cammarata, Schmidt's Naturals, success   

    How a barrier can be your building block to success 

    How a barrier can be your building block to success

    Schmidt’s Naturals CEO Michael Cammarata

    A lot of people tend to make a little joke that they must be dyslexic because they made a typo on an email. However, for people who have been legitimately diagnosed with the disorder can struggle for their entire lives due to having difficulty learning in traditional environments. For example, take Michael Cammarata. After he was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age Michael’s mother was literally told that her son would never be independent on his own. By Micahel’s own admission, he was repeatedly told that he would never amount to anything. The looks on those people’s faces must have been priceless when Michael made his first million by the time he was 13-years-old.

    He started off by starting his own webhosting company before getting into the online advertisement business. He eventually entered into the entertainment business where he managed a boy band which led him to get into the business of natural personal care products. This, in turn, led him to heavily invest in Schmidt’s Naturals where he is now the CEO and continues to cultivate the Schmidt’s brand with his unconventional way of thinking. Schmidt’s succeeds by not only listening to their customers’ feedback but making micro-changes in their business platform because of customer requests.

    The phrase ‘thinking outside of the box’ has become a worn-out business trope over the past several decades but its core moral still applies today. For Michael Cammarata, he had no choice but to think outside the box because the box wasn’t designed for him. Due to his perseverance, he overcame what many others saw as a handicap and used it as his strength. You may have a hindrance barring you from success whether it’s physical or something less tangible. Instead of using that hindrance as a pretext for a lack of success, use it as your catalyst to get yourself on the road to accomplishment.

     
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