Monday, December 17, 2012

Egypt rights groups say constitution vote marred

CAIRO (AP) ? Key Egyptian rights groups called Sunday for a repeat of the first round of the constitutional referendum, alleging the vote was marred by widespread violations. Islamists who back the disputed charter claimed they were in the lead with a majority of "yes" votes.

Representatives of the seven groups charged that there was insufficient supervision by judges in Saturday's vote in 10 of Egypt's 27 provinces and independent monitors were prevented from witnessing vote counts.

The representatives told a news conference that they had reports of individuals falsely identifying themselves as judges, of women prevented from voting and that members of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood were allowed inside polling stations. They also complained that some polling centers closed earlier than scheduled and that Christians were denied entry to polling stations.

"We call on the election commission to avoid these violations in the second round and repeat the first round," said a statement by the seven groups. "The vote counting took place took place in darkness," said Negad Borai, the head of one of the groups. He alleged the election commission did not investigate thousands of complaints on alleged violations and irregularities.

The second and final round of voting on the charter is planned for Saturday Dec. 22.

The vote capped a near two-year struggle over Egypt's identity since the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. The latest crisis over the charter evolved into a fight ? deadly at times ? over whether Egypt should move toward a religious state under Morsi's Brotherhood and their ultraconservative Salafi allies, or one that retains secular traditions and an Islamic character.

Underlining the tension, some 120,000 army troops were deployed to help the police protect polling stations and state institutions after clashes between Morsi's supporters and opponents over the past three weeks left at least 10 people dead and about 1,000 wounded.

Some voters on Saturday said the presumed supervising judge at their polling centers refused to show them official documents to certify that they were indeed a judge. Others said some polling centers closed hours ahead of the 11 p.m. cutoff.

Others complained of suspected members of the Brotherhood whispering to voters inside polling stations to vote "yes." And some voters alleged some of the supervising judges were influencing voters to choose "yes."

A group of women in Alexandria claimed the judge in their polling center was stalling to stop them from voting.

The violations reported by monitors included polling centers collecting votes without judges to oversee the process, civil employees illegally replacing the judges, ballot papers not officially stamped as per regulations, campaigning inside polling stations and Christian voters being turned away.

The allegations of widespread violations came only hours after the Brotherhood claimed a majority of Egyptians who voted on the proposed Islamist-backed constitution have approved the document with a majority of about 57 percent. Turnout was unofficially estimated at around 32 percent ? which if confirmed would be far lower than the presidential or parliamentary elections following Mubarak's fall.

Official results are not expected until after the second round.

The Brotherhood, which has in the past accurately predicted election results, relied on vote tallies collected by its activists at the individual polling stations across the country.

If the constitution is approved by a simple majority of voters, the Islamists empowered after the overthrow of Mubarak would gain more clout. The upper house of parliament, dominated by Islamists, would be given the authority to legislate until a new lower house is elected.

If the draft proposal is rejected, elections would be held within three months for a new panel to write a new constitution. In the meantime, legislative powers would remain with Morsi, who won the presidency in June.

The official website of Egypt's state television reported that 68 and 72 percent of voters cast "no" ballots in Cairo and Alexandria respectively, Egypt's two largest cities. The only other two provinces where the "no" vote won the majority were Gharbiyah and Daqahliya in the Nile Delta, north of Cairo.

The Brotherhood and other Islamists enjoy wide support in most of the 17 provinces voting on Dec. 22, something that could work in favor of the "yes" vote.

But the Islamists led by the Brotherhood are widely thought to have lost some of their popularity because of the perception that Morsi and the Islamist-backed government of Prime Minister Hesham Kandil have failed to resolve any of the country's major problems such as high unemployment, rising prices and security.

Egyptians are bracing for a wide range of steep price hikes as part of the government's program to boost revenues and restructure the economy to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Last week, Egypt delayed the request for the loan after Morsi rescinded tax hikes a day after he imposed them, fearing this would only add to political turmoil.

There were no serious incidents of violence during Saturday's vote. And although there was no evidence of mass fraud, monitors from the opposition and rights groups said the boycott of the referendum by most judges was reflected in the chaos prevailing in some polling centers.


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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Moments of silence around NFL for shooting victims

Members of the Minnesota Vikings hold hands during a moment of silence in honor of those killed Friday in shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., before the start of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in St. Louis. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Friday and opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Members of the Minnesota Vikings hold hands during a moment of silence in honor of those killed Friday in shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., before the start of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in St. Louis. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Friday and opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

New York Giants helmets with a decal honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting rest on the turf before the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Atlanta. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Rich Addicks)

Makayla Ferfecki, of Kentucky, holds a sign honoring the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., before the first half of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Atlanta. A gunman walked into the school Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) bows his head during a moment of silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Indianapolis Colts guard Mike McGlynn (75) bows his head during a moment of silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Houston. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Two players who wear No. 26 joined hands with the coaches of the St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings in tribute to the victims of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., and New York Giants' players wore decals with the initials of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

There were moments of silence before all NFL games Sunday. The ceremony in St. Louis included Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, along with Rams running back Daryl Richardson and Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield.

The players were selected because their number represents the total slain at the elementary school on Friday.

Dozens of children wearing uniform jerseys held hands with players in a circle extending from the 30-yard lines at the Edward Jones Dome, centered on the Rams logo at midfield. Richardson, Winfield and the coaches formed an inner circle.

In Atlanta, Giants' players wore decals with the acronym "SHES" on the backs of their helmets.

"As a parent you drop your kids off at school many times. It's hard to put into words what that community and those families must feel like. We obviously kept them in our prayers," Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said after his team's home game against Jacksonville. Philbin's 21-year-old son Michael fell into a Wisconsin river and drowned in January.

Flags were at half-staff at M&T Bank Stadium when the Baltimore Ravens hosted the Denver Broncos in one of the eight early games.

With the Maryland National Guard standing on the opposite end of the field from the flag bearers, the scoreboards went black as the public address announcer asked the crowd to observe "silent reflection" in the wake of Friday's "horrific tragedy."

Just before the national anthem was sung by Gatlin Brothers at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, there was a moment of silence, which included the huge video screen hanging over the field going black. Also, the ribbon boards and other electronic signs were turned off.

In New Orleans, the Superdome fell silent for nearly 30 seconds before the Saints hosted Tampa Bay. People around the stadium removed their hats, bowed their heads and remained still until the public address announcer introduced the national anthem singer, "American Idol" contestant Skylar Laine.

In Houston, video screens went black as the moment was observed before the Texas hosted the Indianapolis Colts.

In Chicago, Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver retweeted the names of the victims.

A moment of silence was held in Toronto before Buffalo's game against Seattle at the Rogers Centre. Players stood quietly with their heads down on their sideline while fans stood.

The Bills did continue their pregame habit of playing U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which they've played before every home game this season. The song is in reference to British troops shooting and killing unarmed protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland in January 1972.


Online: and

Associated Press


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Premier Property Management Memphis | November Rental Numbers

Premier Property Management Memphis | November Rental Numbers

Posted by Chris Clothier on Sat, Dec 15, 2012

Premier Property Management Memphis Performance

Another month has come and gone and it feels like the Memphis real estate market continues to heat up on multiple fronts.? Their are definitely conflicting numbers being released by different groups all wanting to paint the real estate picture in Memphis a certain way.? Home sales are up and sale prices are up.? But, foreclosures and short sales are also up and while it appears homes are selling for slightly higher prices, the pace is still way off from what a normal housing market looks like.

As far as investment real estate goes though, the rental property picture at Premier Property Management continues to soar.? Nate Gray and his team at Premier Property Management have done an excellent job and they had another incredible month.? Here are the charts and numbers which we find most relevant and I will share one more number not found in the charts.? As we continue to grow and add management services for investors from all over the country and even the world, we are challenged with a tremendous responsibility.? We are managing close to $150 million in investment property value for investors and process millions of dollars in payments to investors every month.?

We are preparing to invite a very prestigious? and no-nonsense accounting firm to audit our process and help us improve and secure our methods for collecting, tracking, transferring and accounting for every investor and their rental payments.? One thing that our company has excelled at as we have grown is improving how we conduct our business.? We have improved processes in every department of our company and will be sharing many of those improvements here on our blog in the very near future.? In the meantime, be on the look out for an announcement on the accounting firm!?

Total Properties

Premier property management continues to grow at a very steady pace and the team is growing as well.? Premier Property Management hired two new employees in the past 30 days to assist with the growth and Premier Property Management of Texas hired one new employee as well.? These numbers reflect Memphis properties only and beginning in January we will be releasing numbers for both Memphis and Dallas.? As of today, Dallas has eclipsed 54 properties and when combined with Memphis, the two companies are managing over 1500 properties.? After November, the total number of investors we are currently working with is 565.

Nov 2012 Premier Performance

Our Happy Meter!

Last month I reported on a number that we will beginning releasing a chart for in January of 2013.? That number is, how many sales go to existing clients each month?? For us, this is our signal to how well we are performing both in service and in return.? gauging happiness is a tricky thing for a company and many companies can convince themselves they are making clients happy in lots of ways.? For us, we call every client - every month and the tone of those conversations always keeps us in the know if there are problems or concerns.? On the other hand, we can track purchases from existing clients and use it to gauge their satisfaction with our company.? As long as existing investors continue to ASK for the opportunity to purchase additional properties, then I would say we are providing exactly what our clients want.? In November, 59% of the investors purchasing rental properties were existing clients.? 20 of the 34 investors who purchased in November were existing clients.? All 34 clients combined to purchase 40 homes in November. ? I would say we are hitting the Happiness goal!

2-Year Leases & Rent Increases

This next graph shows how many properties were rented each month this year.? It also shows how many of those properties were leased for 2 years and how many of those properties were leased above our internal zip-code rental average.? Our data comes straight from the actual rental contracts in our portfolio, so we pay very close attention to our trends and not so much to what a .com website says about trends.? This graph shows incredibly positive trends and those trends have as much to do with the quality of property renovations as it does the actual management company.??

Be on the lookout for a new chart in January showing the number of permits pulled by property renovations each month.? It seems some bystanders with no knowledge of our company have been questioning our renovations.? To date in 2012, we have had over 400 permits pulled on work that requires permits in our properties.? Those permits have been for everything from electrical to mechanical to plumbing and general construction.? In November, we went over 400 permits pulled on the properties we have renovated in 2012 and will begin to show those numbers monthly.? The higher level of work and the higher level of detail on each rental property definitely contribute to our ability to rent properties above zip code averages and fro 2-year contracts.

Nov rented above zip code

This last chart shows our vacancy rate as measured on the first Tuesday of each month.? ON the first Tuesday in December, our vacancy rate measured 6.33% which is reflected in the report.? However, I am extremely excited to see how the month ends.? There has been an abundance of activity here before Christmas and the vacancy rate on Thursday was measured at 5.85% with only 86 vacancies out of 1470 properties.? That 86 properties includes every new property that was renovated in November.? Curently there were only 8 properties that had been vacant for longer than 30 days which is our red line. ? That lower vacancy rate entering into the new year should make for an improved performance for the entire portfolio under management as we start 2013.? We'll keep our eye on it!

Premier Property

Simply being aware of these numbers and constantly working to improve and measure improvement, are essential actions that have to take place at a quality company.? Here at Memphis Invest, we consider ourselves much more than just a property management company or a neighborhood redevelopment company.? We have a really, really good staff that works hard to be whatever our clients need us to be.? I'll leave it at that for now!?

If you would like more information on our company or would like to speak with someone about how to get started building a real estate investment portfolio, please click below:


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Hillary Clinton recovering after sustaining concussion: spokesman (reuters)

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'The Hobbit' To Stand Tall At Box Office

First entry in Peter Jackson's trilogy is expected to make around $100 million during its opening weekend.
By Ryan J. Downey

"The Hobbit"
Photo: Warner Bros./ New Line Cinema


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Stock Sites Need Photos of Active Baby Boomers

With over 3,200 sales on a stock site, what do you think makes this photo so successful?

While there are a lot of things about this photo that make it saleable, one of the main reasons it?s selling is because it?s a photo of active, happy seniors.

Photos of active seniors are in high demand right now. If you?re a baby boomer -- or you have family or friends who are -- look for opportunities to take photos out-and-about. As I mentioned on Tuesday, stock agencies are looking for photos of ?real? people, so you don?t need to look like a model to be a great stock photo subject.

Here are a few tips for photographing baby boomers for stock:

  1. Make sure the people in the photo are engaging with each other or the camera...
  2. Be sure their faces are in sharp focus...
  3. Scan the scene and be sure there are no visible logos. (Notice in the photo above, the two people are dressed in a simple, smart-casual style, with solid colors -- no Polo emblems on their shirt pockets and no Nike swooshes on their shoes.)

You will also need model releases to sell photos that have recognizable people in them. If you have a good shot of people you know, ask if they?re willing to sign releases for you.

Right now is a great time to take photos of family and friends while you?re getting together over the holidays. I?ll give you a few tips for turning people photos into stock shots tomorrow.

Stay tuned! And remember -- it?s not necessarily a matter of talent or training when it comes to selling your pictures for spare income. Stock agencies require technically perfect photos but not all markets require the same precision. And even if you?re not 100% sure how to work your camera, how to create good photos, or where to sell them, there are tricks you can use to ?fake it till you make it.?

Meet me in Miami, here, and I?ll show you how.

[Editor's Note: Get $819 worth of Breakfast Stock Club Premium ?Roadmaps,? including over a year?s worth of stock-worthy themes and easy-to-follow steps on how to shoot them, for just $5 this week only, here.

And if you?re one of those people who learns best by doing -- meet me in Miami. There are all kinds of tricks you can learn to make your photos irresistible to buyers. Everything from how to override your camera to get the creative effects you want to simple elements you should always include (or exclude) in your images. You?ll find more details, examples of photos that are selling today, and a big $600 discount on your seat when you register today, here.]


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Intestinal immune cells play an unexpected role in immune surveillance of the bloodstream

Dec. 13, 2012 ? A type of immune cell found in the small intestine plays a previously unsuspected role in monitoring antigens circulating in the bloodstream. The findings from a team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers clarify how dendritic cells in the intestinal lining collect antigens from both intestinal contents and the circulation, leading to the generation of T cells that suppress inflammation. Disruption of that regulatory system may lead to the development of autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease or food allergies.

"In the circuitry we uncovered, mucosal dendritic cells interact with specialized capillaries that allow antigens to move from the blood into intestinal tissues," explains Hans-Christian Reinecker, MD, of the Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the MGH Gastrointestinal Unit, corresponding author of the report released online in the journal Immunity. "Within these dendritic cells, antigens from the blood mix with food and microbial antigens absorbed by the intestine. We were suprised to find that, even before the antigens are carried to the lymph nodes, some are directly processed by intestinal dendritic cells to induce production of a type of T cell that controls intestinal inflammation."

It had been believed that dendritic cells found in the mucosal lining of the small intestine primarily monitored intestinal contents, both to suppress inflammatory reactions against food and to protect against invading pathogens. Nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream through small pores in intestinal capillaries, but whether those pores allowed dendritic cells in adjacent intestinal tissue to recognize antigens in the blood was not known. Noting that the position within the intestinal lining of a subset of dendritic cells brings them into contact with both the bloodstream and with compounds absorbed from the intestine, Reinecker's team investigated whether those cells collected antigens from both sources.

Experiments in mice confirmed that these dendritic cells, which carry a receptor called CX3CR1, collect and process both circulating and intestinal antigens, inducing production of a type of CD8 T cell that can help induce tolerance to antigens in food. Previously, the source of those intestinal T cells -- which differ from the cytotoxic CD8 T cells that kill virally-infected and other damaged cells -- and their function were unknown. Further experiments by the MGH team showed that these intestinal CD8 T cells secreted proteins that suppressed the activation of CD4 T cells, preventing intestinal inflammation.

Based on these results, the researchers propose that CX3CR1 dendritic cells in the intestinal lining are a central immune system component for surveillance of both foreign antigens consumed in food and circulating "self" antigens. Since CX3CR1 dendritic cells set off a process leading to suppression of inflammation, disturbance of their function could generate the inappropriate immune response to "self" cells or tissues that characterizes chronic inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

"When dendritic cells process information about microbes within the intestine, they induce production of both T cells that specifically target those pathogens and regulatory T cells that control the immune response," he adds. "Disruption of the balance between those two types of T cells could lead to inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Failure to control T cell activation in the intestine also could lead to food allergies and celiac disease; so this regulatory circuit that we have uncovered establishes the small intestinal immune system as a site that could have a major impact on the immune response throughout the body."

Reinecker is an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His team is now looking at genetic variants that may regulate the function of this newly discovered system and investigating whether the microbial population of the intestines -- both beneficial bacteria and pathogenic organisms -- can alter the outcome of the process.

Co-lead authors of the Immunity paper are Sun Young Chang and Joo-Hye Song, MGH Gastrointestinal Unit. Additional co-authors are Bayasi Guleng, Carmen Alonso Cotoner, Seiji Arihiro, Yun Zhao, and Hao-Sen Chiang, MGH Gastrointestinal Unit; Atul Bhan, MGH Pathology; Michael O'Keeffe and Gongxian Liao, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Christopher L. Karp and Cox Terhorst, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; Mi-Na Kweon, International Vaccine Institute, Korea; and Arlene Sharpe, Harvard Medical School. The study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants DK-068181, DK-033506, AI093588, DK-043351, AI-057992, and DK-52510.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Sun-Young Chang, Joo-Hye Song, Bayasi Guleng, Carmen?Alonso Cotoner, Seiji Arihiro, Yun Zhao, Hao-Sen Chiang, Michael O?Keeffe, Gongxian Liao, Christopher?L. Karp, Mi-Na Kweon, Arlene?H. Sharpe, Atul Bhan, Cox Terhorst, Hans-Christian Reinecker. Circulatory Antigen Processing by Mucosal Dendritic Cells Controls CD8+ T Cell Activation. Immunity, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2012.09.018

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Obama spokesman: ?Today?s not the day? for gun control talk

In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, Connecticut State Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary??A White House spokesman said Friday that the shooting rampage at a Connecticut school saddened President Barack Obama as a father, but that "today's not the day" for a discussion about possible gun control measures to be taken in response to the massacre.

"Today's not ... a day to engage in the usual Washington policy debates," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. "That day will come, but today's not that day."

Carney's admonition came as news organizations reported that as many as 27 people, including 18 children, were killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

"As a father, incidents like these weigh heavily on him?and, I think, on everyone who has children," Carney said, highlighting "the enormous suffering" of parents of those killed.

Obama got word of the tragedy at 10:30 a.m. from Homeland Security adviser John Brennan. He later discussed the situation with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and shared his "condolences and concern," Carney said.

At an afternoon press briefing, Carney said renewing a federal assault weapons ban "does remain a commitment" of the president. The ban expired in 2004, and Obama has taken no serious steps to renew it on Capitol Hill.

Carney declined to answer repeated questions on when would be an appropriate time for lawmakers in Washington to discuss possible actions to prevent future tragedies.

"Our minds and our focus need to be on what's happening there and providing assistance where we can to those who need it," he said, urging "enormous sympathy for the families that are affected."

One reporter pointed to Obama's remarks in July just days after a shooting spree that left 12 dead and about 60 injured at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

"I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country," Obama said at the time.

Obama has made similar comments before, including at a January 2011 memorial for the victims of a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, in which then-Rep. Gabby Giffords was grievously wounded.

"We have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy.?We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence.?We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future," Obama said.?"But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do."


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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fiscal cliff talks appear to be stalled

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Despite an intensifying pace, little progress is being reported in talks on averting automatic spending cuts and tax increases that have been dubbed the "fiscal cliff."

House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama spoke on the phone Tuesday, a day after the president offered to reduce his initial demand for $1.6 trillion in higher tax revenue over a decade to $1.4 trillion. But Obama continues to insist that much of the revenue come from raising top tax rates on the wealthy.

Boehner countered Tuesday with another offer that aides to the Ohio Republican said stuck close to a document delivered to the White House a week ago. A top White House aide, Rob Nabors, came to the Capitol to respond.

Leading lawmakers expressed pessimism that a deal was close.

Associated Press


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Sunday, December 9, 2012

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Reliable Horse Racing Tips ? Recreation and Sports ...

Horse race betting is enjoyable particularly when you are taking home lots of money. The sad truth is, you can also shed your money instantly. This type of game will make you earn or even lose. The key element is that you simply understand the right manner you are going to place your bet. In order for you to be knowledgeable of the game, you are required to do the research and get trusted horse racing tips to broaden your know how and eventually learn, have fun with, and become a long term punting winner.

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The popularity of horse race betting motivates pros to share their knowledge and analysis to help punters and wagers in selecting the winning horse. There are a lot of tips you could study on the net but you must find the most effective as well as credible one. Since it involves funds, you just can?t put your wager by following your instinct. There are different aspects that the wager and punter should think about.

When you need to learn these methods as well as suggestions to an excellent bet, you can depend with a expert. They even advise you if how much cash you will bet. Definitely, it is possible to discover that kind of expertise on the internet. When you are decided to win and want to profit not only for a day but for long term, browse through the World Wide Web and you are able to get hold of them.

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As an initial service to you, a few specialists would give out free horse racing tips. Once you find it worth your investment then don???t hesitate to subscribe to their updates and be part of their winning team by registering as their members.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

El Dorado Christmas Parade

It was another successful run for El Dorado's Annual Christmas Parade.

Hundreds of spectators gathered for this year's parade featuring the theme from a book titled "Tales from the North Pole."

The parade started at the intersection of 18th Street and North West Avenue and made its way downtown.

Dozens of floats from different organizations like the Salvation Army, Girl Scouts and local businesses participated in the parade as well as customized cars.

Officials say that every year this parade brings the community together to enjoy the holiday season.

"This is something that the entire community has a lot of pride in and every year it's one of the few annual events to where literally thousands of people come out all throughout El Dorado and the community."??

Cash prizes were awarded to organizations with the best entries in the parade.


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NHL owners, players meet late into the night again

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, center, arrives to speak with reporters after an NHL Board of Governors meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in New York. The NHL and NHL Players' Association have cleared their schedules with progress being made in collective bargaining talks. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, center, arrives to speak with reporters after an NHL Board of Governors meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in New York. The NHL and NHL Players' Association have cleared their schedules with progress being made in collective bargaining talks. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman leaves the room after speaking to reporters after an NHL Board of Governors meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in New York. The league and the NHL Players' Association have cleared their schedules with progress being made in collective bargaining talks. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to reporters after an NHL Board of Governors meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in New York. The league and the players' association have cleared their schedules with progress being made in collective bargaining talks. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(AP) ? It isn't known what progress ? if any ? has been made in the second day of marathon talks in the NHL labor dispute, but owners and players surely sense that time is working against them.

Negotiations resumed Wednesday and stretched deep into the night again, this time in fits and starts, as the league and the players' association searched for a deal to save the hockey season.

It wasn't until midnight Tuesday that talks wrapped up, and all signs indicated Wednesday's discussions could go as late or later. Very little information leaked out of the meeting room, but it is believed that each side submitted proposals to the other and spent lots of time apart discussing what was offered.

Owners often retreated to their own room one floor above the location of the bargaining session and then took the elevator back down to get talks going again. Some of the together sessions lasted as short as 15 minutes.

Cautious optimism emerged Tuesday in the first round of talks that kept NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the outside along with union executive director Donald Fehr, while six owners and about 18 players talked inside. The good feeling carried over into Wednesday morning when various team executives said they heard good reports during an NHL board of governors meeting.

Bettman spoke briefly after that, just before negotiations started again, and the sides remained silent the rest of the talks while talks were ongoing. The reemergence of a podium with a lectern featuring the NHL shield in a media workroom, sparked some hope that some sort of announcement would soon be coming. It remained unoccupied for quite some time, however it gained instant popularity on Twitter.

Bettman declined to take any questions earlier Wednesday when he stood at that podium in a Manhattan hotel. A ray of hope that a season-saving deal could be made emerged late Tuesday night after about eight hours of bargaining.

"We are pleased with the process that is ongoing, and out of respect for that process I don't have anything else to say," Bettman said.

Executives scurried on New York streets and hopped into cars after the two-hour board of governors meeting, some offering an opinion on the procedings.

"We feel good about the information we got," new Columbus Blue Jackets President John Davidson said.

Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the six owners participating in these negotiations, also painted an optimistic picture as he walked the few blocks back to the hotel hosting the meetings.

"We're going to continue to talk up until we get a deal," said Tanenbaum, who added there is more clarity on both sides where each group stands. "All I can say is as long as we're talking we're hopeful."

If a breakthrough can be made soon, the delayed and shortened hockey season could get going quickly.

"I've always been hopeful there would be a season," said Lou Lamoriello, the New Jersey Devils president and general manager. "Right now we just have to leave it in the hands of the people that are talking."

The same negotiators participated in talks Wednesday, with minor tweaks to the large contingent of players.

Bargaining stretched on Tuesday night until about midnight, and it was clear progress was made when deputy commissioner Bill Daly stood side by side with union special counsel Steve Fehr and issued a rare joint status report. Negotiations took place in a pair of sessions that included various sized groups.

The sides are trying to avoid another lost season. The NHL became the first North American professional sports league to cancel a full year because of a labor dispute back in 2005. The deal reached then was in place until this September, and the lockout was enacted on Sept. 16 after that agreement expired.

The lockout reached its 81st day Wednesday. The main issues are how to split revenue and issues surrounding how player contracts are set up. The league had more than $3 billion in the 2011-12 season but an analysis by Forbes magazine recently showed a major gap between profitable teams those that operate in the red.

"We had a long day," Steve Fehr said Tuesday. "We thought it was a constructive day. We had a good dialogue. In some ways I'd say it might be the best day we've had, which isn't too overly optimistic of a picture. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done."

Daly echoed Fehr's comments, and spoke well of the talks.

"I appreciate the efforts of the players," Daly said. "Everybody is working hard. I think everybody wants to get a deal done, so that's encouraging. We look forward to hopefully making more progress."

That was the extent of the details revealed by the two sides, which could be another good sign that neither group wanted to say anything that could throw the discussions off the rails.

All games through Dec. 14, along with the New Year's Day Winter Classic and the All-Star game, have been wiped off the schedule.

Originally the thought was no one other than owners and players would be in attendance for Tuesday's meeting, but each side had staff present, as well. The six selected owners were Tanenbaum, Ron Burkle (Pittsburgh Penguins), Mark Chipman (Winnipeg Jets), Murray Edwards (Calgary Flames), Jeremy Jacobs (Boston Bruins), and Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning).

Jacobs, considered one of the hard-line owners, and Edwards are the only members of the group of six to have taken part in previous negotiations.

The NHL had no objection for more than six players to take part, so Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Shane Doan, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Miller, Craig Adams, David Backes, Michael Cammalleri, B.J. Crombeen, Mathieu Darche, Ron Hainsey, Shawn Horcoff, Jamal Mayers, Manny Malhotra, Andy McDonald, George Parros and Kevin Westgarth joined the union's negotiating team Tuesday.

Associated Press


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shameless CEO Campaign Sends Debt-Laden Caesar?s CEO to Lecture the 99% on Fixing Debt

Gary Loveman, Chairman, President and CEO, Harrah's Entertainment Inc.

Written by Eileen Appelbaum

If there is one thing the recent presidential election made clear, it is that the 1% have no shame. So it?s no surprise that CEOs are drumming up ?fiscal cliff? hysteria to protect their wealth. Their campaign to ?Fix the Debt? wants to retain the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and expand tax breaks for corporations while fixing the debt through a Medicare/Medicaid system that ?spends considerably less.?? But choosing Caesar?s Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman to deliver their message on NPR?s ?All Things Considered? demonstrates once again how shameless the very rich are in their contempt for the 99% who depend on Medicare and Medicaid ? and for the ?elites? who get their news from NPR. As for NPR, let?s give folks there the benefit of the doubt and just say they are clueless.

The CEO campaign sent Loveman to impress upon the rest of us the importance of fixing the debt so CEOs wouldn?t be forced to lay off millions of us and to make sure we understood the necessity of preserving tax breaks for the ?job creators.? You might think they would have chosen a CEO who leads a company that has created value for the U.S. economy and jobs for American workers. But you would be wrong.? Gary Loveman is the CEO of a company loaded up with debt by private equity that has ripped off its creditors, disappointed its shareholders, and laid off workers.

Loveman was CEO and President of Harrah?s Entertainment (now known as Caesar?s Entertainment Corporation), the world?s largest casino company with 30,440 unionized employees when it was acquired by private equity firms, the Apollo Group and the Texas Pacific Group (TPG) in 2006. The PE firms paid $90 a share to take the company private. By June 2007, the casino company?s long-term debt had more than doubled to $23.9 billion, resulting in an interest bill of $2.1 billion. Piling up debt magnifies private equity?s returns in good economic times, but it raises the risks of default and downsizing for the acquired companies when times are tough. Caesar?s Entertainment struggled under its debt burden when the recession hit. The company cut staff, reduced hours, outsourced jobs and scaled back operations.

Caesars? creditors were hurt as badly as its workers. According to Caesar Entertainment?s website, ?Loveman has led Caesars? successful debt reduction and liquidity improvement strategies.? In plain English, Caesars stiffed its creditors. Caesars? high debt burden put the company in grave danger of defaulting, so the company was able to buy back its own debt at pennies on the dollar. In November 2008 its bonds were trading for 20 cents on the dollar. In December 2008, the company exchanged bonds with a face value of $2.2 billion for new ones worth $1.06 billion, meaning that bond holders got a little less than 50 cents on the dollar. Then in April 2009, the company exchanged $5.5 billion of additional bonds for new bonds worth $3.6 billion. So Caesar?s reduced its debt and increased its liquidity under Loveman?s leadership, but at the expense of its creditors who lost a total of $3 billion. The real winners in these deals were Apollo?s investors and its CEO Leon Black, whose returns were boosted by these swaps. As for the casino company, the swaps merely postponed the day of reckoning on its remaining high debt load.

Still in trouble and needing more cash, Caesars? PE owners decided to sell the company back to the public market. A planned IPO announced In November 2010 that offered shares at $15-$17 per share had to be scrapped due to low investor interest in the money losing, debt-burdened company. In February 2012 the company returned to the public markets, selling shares at the ?comical? price of $9 to raise much needed funds. Investors willing to take a chance on Caesars at the bargain basement price of $9 a share have been sorely disappointed ? the stock (CZR) closed yesterday (November 14) at $4.54 a share. Far from creating value for the U.S. economy during his tenure as Caesars? CEO and President, Loveman took a company worth $90 a share down to one worth just $4.54 a share.

Caesars still has $20.8 billion in debt, and some observers think it is quickly approaching a ?fiscal cliff? of its own.

It is hard to fathom why Loveman would step forward as the public face of the CEO campaign to ?fix? the debt or why that campaign would want him as its spokesperson. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Apollo Global Management remains Caesars largest shareholder. Apollo?s CEO, Leon Black, has the distinction of being the CEO among CEOs of publicly traded companies who benefited most in 2011 from the Bush tax cuts. He saved $9.9 million dollars that year.

Eileen Appelbaum?is Senior Economist for the Center for Economy and Policy Research. She also writes a regular blog, CEPR Blog,?where this post originally appeared.

Photo by PhoCusWright under Creative Commons license.


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Friday, November 16, 2012

Amazing 'Holy Motors' a shapeshifting film - San Francisco Examiner

?Holy Motors? is only the fifth feature film in 28 years by Leos Carax, who is perhaps the most mesmerizing, poetic and baffling filmmaker in France.

His best film, ?Les Amants du Pont-Neuf? ? released here in 1999 as ?The Lovers on the Bridge? ? reached the glorious, grandiose heights of passion that ?Gone with the Wind? and ?Titanic? were praised for.

On the other hand, the amazing ?Holy Motors? is more about the remnants of passion.

  • Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue
  • Written and directed by: Leos Carax
  • Rating: Not rated (contains nudity, violence and sexual content)
  • Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Denis Lavant, the gravel-faced star of four of Carax's features, stars as Monsieur Oscar, a mysterious figure with a strange job. Over the course of a day, he rides around in the back of a limo, donning different costumes and applications of makeup for various ?appointments.? He becomes an old lady beggar, a gangster and a dying old man. He puts on a motion-capture suit ? a Cirque du Soleil-esque bodysuit with lights ? and performs some sexualized acrobatics with a female co-star.

He also becomes a vile thing known as ?merde? ? last seen in Carax's segment of the 2009 anthology film ?Tokyo!? ? a bizarre, violent sewer dweller with fire-red hair and a milky-white eye. This creature kidnaps a beautiful model (Eva Mendes) during a photo shoot in a cemetery.

Later, Oscar runs into a woman (Kylie Minogue) who may have been a former love, and who seems to be doing the same kind of job. They share a tender song.

Like many of his fellow French filmmakers, Carax was once a film critic, and his films ponder the nature of films and storytelling as much as they tell stories. He pays tribute to King Vidor?s ?The Crowd? and Georges Franju?s ?Eyes Without a Face.? Edith Scob, who plays Monsieur Oscar's compassionate limo driver, was the star of the latter.

The various segments clearly represent different film genres: the musical, the horror film, the weepie, etc. The movie is, by turns, haunting, moving and shocking.

But Carax also asks questions about the nature of performance. Is Monsieur Oscar performing for anyone in particular, or maybe everyone in general? Does he ever get to be ?himself,? even behind the scenes? In the movie?s most human moments, we see Oscar growing weary, perhaps not even remembering why he?s doing this kind of work.

The movie?s final moments are among its most bizarre, raising more questions than they answer. We all have masks we wear, the movie seems to say, and none of us know truly who we are ? not even talking cars.


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Rockport business owner admits to decades of sales tax theft ...

ROCKLAND, Maine ? A 63-year-old businessman admitted Thursday that he had collected but failed to turn over to the state sales taxes paid by customers for decades.

Ronald Pinkham entered guilty pleas in Knox County Superior Court to felony theft and a misdemeanor count of failure to turn over sales tax receipts. The prosecutor and judge, however, both acknowledged that Pinkham had been extremely cooperative since state revenue service officials accidentally discovered his business on the Web.

In exchange for his cooperation, the felony charge could be lowered to a misdemeanor when he is back in court in a year for sentencing. Under terms of the deferred disposition agreed to by the attorney general?s office and defense, Pinkham could serve less than 180 days in jail.

Assistant Attorney General Gregg Bernstein said that a Maine State Revenue agent came upon Pinkham?s business ? Woodsound Studio in Rockport ? by accident online. Bernstein said the agency then found that Woodsound was not on a list of businesses that collect and pay sales taxes to the state.

Pinkham, who lives in Lincolnville, has operated the music instrument making store in the Rockport village of Glen Cove since the 1970s. Bernstein said that since at least the 1980s Pinkham has collected sales taxes from customers but deposited that money in his own accounts for his personal use rather than submitting the funds to the state. The amount of uncollected taxes and interest totaled more than $139,000, the prosecutor said. A statute of limitations restricts criminal prosecution in tax cases that go beyond six years but does not prevent the state from seeking repayment in civil suits.

Bernstein said that about $38,000 is considered money owed under the criminal cases while another nearly $102,000 is considered owed under civil laws from previous years.

If Pinkham repays the $38,000 within 12 months, the state will ask for no more than 180 days in jail, under the deferred disposition agreement. The defense will be able argue for less jail time.

Pinkham paid $19,000 on Thursday, but if the remainder of the $38,000 is not repaid within a year, the agreement calls for a 364 day jail term with all but 270 days suspended.

Defense attorney Eric ?Rick? Morse said Pinkham took immediate and full responsibility when he was first contacted by the revenue service. He has cooperated fully and wants to repay the full amount ? including the civil part of the case.

?He wants to make it right,? Morse said.

Bernstein said Pinkham had told revenue service officials that he had been reluctant to advertise on the Web because he had not been paying the sales taxes.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm said he was struck by Pinkham?s extraordinary cooperation with the state.

The Pinkham hearing was immediately followed in court by guilty pleas by a 37-year-old commercial fisherman from Rockland for not paying his income taxes for three years.

Steven W. Ward Jr. pleaded guilty to failure to pay state income taxes and failure to file state income tax returns in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Bernstein, who also prosecuted this case, said Ward also did not file tax returns in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Those cases are not criminal matters because the statute of limitations has passed.

The plea agreement reached with the defense calls for 180 days in jail with all but 30 days suspended. The 30 days is a cap and the defense can argue for less jail time.

The sentencing has been put off until late March. Defense attorney Peter Rodway said the postponement of sentencing will allow Ward to go out scallop fishing when the season begins March 1 so that he can pay off the $11,887 in state income taxes owed for the three years cited in the criminal complaint.


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After Israel kills Hamas chief, ground operation is possibility

Published: 11/15/12 @ 12:00

Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

Israel carried out a blistering offensive of more than 50 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, assassinating Hamas? military commander and targeting the armed group?s training facilities and rocket launchers in Israel?s most intense attack on the territory in nearly four years.

Israel said the airstrikes, launched in response to days of rocket fire out of Hamas-ruled Gaza, were the beginning of a broader operation against the Islamic militants code-named ?Pillar of Defense.? Israeli defense officials said a ground operation was a strong possibility in the coming days though they stressed no decisions had been made and much would depend on Hamas? reaction.

The attack came at a time when Israel seems to be under fire from all directions. Relations have been deteriorating with Egypt?s new Islamist government, Egypt?s lawless Sinai desert has become a staging ground for militant attacks on Israel, and the Syrian civil war has begun to spill over Israel?s northern border.

With at least 10 Palestinians dead, including two young children, Wednesday?s offensive was certain to set off a new round of fighting with Gaza militants, who have built up an arsenal of rockets and missiles.

It also threatened to upset Israel?s relations with neighboring Egypt and shake up the campaign for Israeli elections in January. In a preliminary response, Egypt recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest.

In a nationwide address, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel could no longer stand repeated attacks on its southern towns. Days of rocket fire have heavily disrupted life for some 1 million people in the region, canceling school and forcing residents to remain indoors.

The Israeli military said it was ready, if necessary, to send ground troops into Gaza. The defense officials who said a ground operation was likely in the coming days spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing sensitive military plans.

?We are at the beginning of the event, and not the end,? Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, in a joint appearance with the prime minister. ?In the long run, I believe the operation will help strengthen the power of deterrence and to return quiet to the south.? In a sign that the operation was expected to broaden, the military was cleared to call up reserve units.

Residents in both Israel and Gaza braced for prolonged violence.

Israel declared a state of emergency in its south and canceled school across that area for today. Calling it a ?special situation,? Barak sought permission to call up special reserve units for the operations. Israeli police stepped up patrols around the country, fearing that Hamas could retaliate with bombing attacks far from the reaches of Gaza.

More than 65 rockets landed in southern Israel late Wednesday.

The deadly attack on Hamas mastermind Ahmed Jabari marked the resumption of Israel?s policy of ?targeted killings,? or assassinations of senior Hamas men.

Israel has refrained from such attacks, which have drawn international condemnations, since a fierce three-week offensive in Gaza that ended in January 2009.

Jabari was the most senior Hamas official to be killed since that war. Israeli defense officials warned earlier this week that they were considering resuming the assassination policy.

The Jabari killing, carried out in broad daylight, was shocking. Hamas officials had brushed off the Israeli threats, illustrated by Jabari?s decision to drive in public.

Hamas? prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, eulogized Jabari and vowed revenge.

On Wednesday night, the U.N. Security Council met behind closed doors to consider an Egyptian request for an emergency meeting on Israel?s military action in Gaza.


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Supercomputer uses Twitter to tell how you're feeling

1 hr.

Global Twitter Heartbeat isn?t the first project to offer a nifty map illustrating what we're doing in the Twitterverse at a given point in time.

A?Twitter map developed by Vertalab, for example, pinpointed where the??friendliest? and ?rudest? Americans live?by scanning tweets containing the phrases ?"Good morning," and "F--- you." Another color-coded map, noted in an issue of Cartographic Perspectives, analyzed tweets to reveal where in the U.S. Twitter profanity is worst (or best).

This latest heat map, however, offers a real-time analysis of random data?via supercomputer???the SGI UV 2000 Big Brain supercomputer at the University of Illinois???to process an impressive amount of raw information very quickly. ?(You can see how everybody's feeling on Twitter?right now?by going here.) The result is a?

According to the description on?Global Twitter Heartbeat project?s Facebook page, it works like this:

The Global Twitter Heartbeat project performs real-time stream processing of ten percent of Twitter?s 400M daily tweets as they are posted. The project analyses every tweet to assign location (not just GPS-tagged tweets, but processing the text of the tweet itself), and tone values and then visualizes the conversation in a heat map infographic that combines and displays tweet location, intensity and tone. With SGI UV, the entire process from data analysis to heat map was produced once per second.

As you can see in this video of real-time Twitter tracking during last week?s election (below), the result is a pretty accurate picture of what?s going on in the United States at any point in time. When you hear the technorati go blah blah blah about ?Big Data,? this is pretty much?what they?re talking about.

In the video above, blue represents pro-Barack Obama tweets, and red is for pro-Mitt Romney tweets. Note how blue blows up big at the time President Obama gives his victory speech.

The Global Heartbeat Project, a partnership between supercomputer supplier SGI Kalev H. Leetaru of the University of Illinois and Dr. Shaowen Wang of the CyberInfrastructure and Geospatial Information (CIGI) Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also analyzed tweets during superstorm Sandy. Using red for negative tweets and blue for positive tweets regarding Sandy, the map reveals the mood in various areas of the U.S. as Sandy progressed up the East Coast. ?

Of course, these maps aren?t telling us anything we didn?t know???Obama won the election, people were very freaked out about Sandy. So what?s the point of using what SGI calls ?the world's largest data-mining machine? which could ?ingest the entire contents of the U.S. Library of Congress print collection in less than three seconds? to make videos to show us a bunch of pretty colors?

"This real-time data analysis approach is like having a new telescope in our hands,? project co-founder?Leetaru said in a press statement. ??We are just seeing the Twittersphere in this way for the first time and we're still not entirely sure how to make sense of it all and what it tells us, but it is allowing us for the first time to peer in the messy chaotic world that is the heartbeat of our society."

Which means it'll eventually be used for advertising.?

Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah abut the Internet. Tell her to get a real job on?Twitter?and/or?Facebook. Also,?Google+.


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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pinterest Launches Business Pages to Get Cozy ... - Advertising Age

Pinterest is sending a signal to the multitude of brands and retailers already active on its platform that it's getting ready to open for business itself by unveiling accounts designated for marketers today.

Pinterest's new-business accounts -- which are free of charge -- aren't brand pages in the tradition of what Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have previously rolled out, since they don't currently look any different from other pages. They also don't possess any enhanced functionality, apart from making the new feature of authenticating a website a streamlined part of the sign-up process and directing account owners to a Pinterest how-to for businesses. Another easy-to-grasp difference is that business pages allow brands and merchants to simply enter the name of their businesses when registering instead of having to work around the first name, last name sign-up format on user pages.

But while Pinterest won't look any different to users, the cues being sent about its intention of becoming a mature business in short order will be apparent to brands. Its readiness to work more closely with them comes as no surprise to those who have tracked the company's high-profile hires over the past year since consumer adoption started going through the roof. It's hired numerous Facebook alumni, including head of operations Don Faul and head of product management and partnerships Tim Kendall, who once directed Facebook's monetization strategy.

Well aware of the connection between Pinterest browsing and purchasing, retailers were among the early-adopter brands on the platform, as well as media brands like Real Simple that started seeing immense referral traffic from it last winter. However, while brands have continued to settle the platform, some may have wondered on what terms their presence was really palatable. Until today, Pinterest's terms of service read that usage of the platform was licensed on the condition of "your personal, non-commercial use."

"There's always been this lingering question in businesses' mind of whether Pinterest is OK with [them]," said Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate, an analytics platform that mines Pinterest for actionable data for brands.

As part of the unveiling of business accounts, Pinterest also developed a new terms of service for businesses, making explicit that use of the platform for commercial purposes is accepted without mentioning retail or advertising. The material difference from a revised version of the terms of service for users is a section entitled "Tools for Site Owners," which notes that usage of Pinterest features like the "Pin It" and "Follow" buttons on third-party sites must comply with company policy and branding guidelines. It also outlines Pinterest's prerogative to collect data: "By incorporating Site Features into your site or service, you agree that Pinterest may collect and use information from you and your users as described in our Privacy Policy."

Pinterest's goal is to get the thousands of businesses already on the platform to migrate their accounts over to the business type, according to Product Manager Cat Lee, another Facebook alumna. Pinterest also has an incentive for them to make the switch.

"We hope to add more tools and features that are geared toward this audience," she said.

The company also today announced two new widgets to enable account owners -- businesses and individuals alike -- to embed pins and boards on third-party sites. In practice, Ms. Lee thinks they'll mostly be used by businesses to help build up their following. "It helps attract more followers to your board and also to your profile," she said.

While business accounts are now largely symbolic in terms of what they portend for brands, it's possible to imagine them as a precursor for a much more robust back-end where brands could pay to promote a pin, according to Mr. Gupta. Or perhaps, he said, they could facilitate another feature that's high on both brands' and users' wish lists: the ability to rearrange pins and boards.

"It does point in the direction of Pinterest becoming incredibly business-friendly," he said.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Production Artist and Web Developer ? The Maximus Group

This is a syndicated post from [Read the original article...]

Marketing/Advertising, FT Employee
The Maximus Group (Woodstock, GA)

We?re seeking a team-oriented, innovative graphic and web designer to raise our brand presence to the next level. This is an amazing opportunity to contribute to the brand, image, and market dominance of a fast-growing public relations and marketing agency.

Our primary goal is to find a skilled web designer who can consistently develop high-impact new branding parameters as well as design within predetermined formats and guidelines. Candidates must also bring a strong work ethic and efficiency to production art work and possess proficiency in industry standard graphic design software.

The candidate must also be willing to train where software deficiencies are identified. The individual will be required to possess enough technical skills to be comfortable overseeing and maintaining multiple corporate and client websites built on a variety of platforms.


? Demonstrate a strong ability to execute designs, prepare files for output, and see projects through to completion.
? Knowledge of best-practices for web as well as across a variety of print collateral
? Design and maintain corporate websites and other creative projects that effectively support the positioning of Agency and clients in the marketplace.
? Create print and web advertisements that demand users take action. Familiar with A/B and some multivariate testing, working with your marketing counterparts to constantly refine and optimize landing pages to move the needle in the right direction
? Formal design skills and knowledge of design-related software, particularly Adobe Creative Suite products
? Demonstrated knowledge of web technologies, particularly HTML, CSS and Content Management systems
? Solid understanding of critical UX concerns and how to effectively incorporate them into page designs
? Must be able to handle multiple projects simultaneously
? Act as ?webmaster? for Agency and clients; contribute to building a content-rich destination portal for prospects and customers alike to have optimum user-experiences.
? Create landing pages, demos and other online marketing assets
? Prior experience designing and evolving WordPress sites

Experience Required:

? An expert visual/graphic designer with hands-on experience building web sites-preferably familiar with B2B high-tech as well as experience translating technical concepts into visually appealing, user-friendly pages
? The Ideal candidate should have their own style but be willing to work within (and help define and evolve) an existing corporate identity ? striving for designs that are both simple and engaging
? The ideal candidate should be creative enough to bring big ideas to the table, but possess the ability to see projects through to completion
? Comfortable with a fast-moving, high-pressure startup environment
? Minimum 3 years related experience
? Bachelor?s degree (9)


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