Thursday, 14 April 2011

Bench Craft Company on the subject of ebay

"Getting data privacy 'right' is an economic and social imperative. Trust and confidence in the security and privacy of the critical systems of our planet - especially the digital version of its central nervous system, the Internet - is foundational to individuals' continued engagement and reliance on such things as online commerce, e-health and smart grids. If individual consumers don't feel that their privacy and security are protected, they will not support modernization efforts, even though the capabilities of technology advancements are proven and the potential benefits to society are extensive.

"Here's an example of the tensions we face: The ability of smart grids to conserve resources relies on the ability of, and commitment from, consumers to monitor and modify their individual usage. An individual using a smart meter understands the difference in the cost of using electricity at peak versus non-peak hours and could opt to lower their usage during more costly time periods. At the same time, data from the meters can reveal sensitive information such as work habits, shower schedules, use of medical devices such as dialysis, and whether or not a house is occupied."

"I don't worry that the technology will have a negative impact on consumer privacy," wrote Mark Roberti, founder of RFID Journal in a June overview of the state of the RFID market where privacy is concerned. "Instead, I worry that ignorant legislators trying to score points with uninformed voters will pass laws that limit the many benefits RFID can deliver--and that is a much bigger threat to consumers."

Today's agreement in Europe appears not to be the kind of legislation Roberti feared. As a framework focused on self-reporting it may be too little, ultimately, but it's a start.

A 75-year-old woman was recently arrested by the Georgian police after she single-handedly cut off Internet connections in Georgia and neighbouring Armenia.

AFP reports that the pensioner was digging for scrap metal with the intention of stealing it when she stumbled upon a fibre-optic cable which runs through Georgia to Armenia, forcing thousands of Internet users in both countries to lose Internet connection for several hours. Georgian Railway Telecom, the company that owns the cable, said that the latest damage was serious, causing 90 percent of private and corporate Internet users in Armenia to lose access for nearly 12 hours while also hitting Georgian Internet service providers.

“I cannot understand how this lady managed to find and damage the cable. It has robust protection and such incidents are extremely rare,” Giorgi Ionatamishvili, Georgian Railway Telecom’s marketing head, told AFP.

Apparently, this wasn’t the first time it happened. In 2009, another scavenger damaged a fibre-optic cable while hunting for scrap metal in the impoverished ex-Soviet state, forcing many Georgians’ Internet connections to get interrupted.

The woman has been charged with damaging property and could face up to three years in prison if convicted.

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Sources: Phil Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers fined $75,000 each

Lakers coach Phil Jackson has been fined $75,000 for making unauthorized comments about collective bargaining, sources said Thursday.

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Fox <b>News</b> Reports That GWU Student&#39;s Suicide &#39;Tragically Coincides <b>...</b>

UPDATE: As of 4:30 p.m. EST, Fox has apparently pulled the article in question from their site.

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Groundwater radiation level at nuke plant rises: TEPCO | Kyodo <b>News</b>

The concentration levels of radioactive iodine and cesium in groundwater near the troubled Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have increased up to several dozen times in one week, suggesting that toxic ...

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Apple should see a material dip, on top of the one that occurred
after I indicated that I was short the stock on March 16th. Before we
delve into my opinion, let’s peruse the news from 1 a.m. this morning:

WSJ: Apple Crunched in Nasdaq Rebalance- In
a move likely to ripple across the stock market, Nasdaq OMX plans to
announce a rare rebalancing of its Nasdaq-100 index, which will reduce
the big weighting of Apple, which currently makes up more than 20% of
the index.

Bloomberg: Apple’s Weight in Nasdaq-100 to Be Reduced as Microsoft, Cisco Are Raised

So, why do you think Nasdaq decides to reduce Apple’s weighting now?
Well, the competitive pressures that Apple faces are nigh guaranteed to
make it impossible for it to fulfill the pie in the sky expectations
that are being built for it.  That in combination with a 20% weighting
create a recipe for a guaranteed crash in the Nasdaq unless something
was done about it. Signs of heavy reliance on on or two products for 70%
of their profit, while sourcing the most important parts of those
products from their biggest competitors, were starting to show. iPad 2
supplies are tight due to Japan’s woes, and Apple does not have the
mobile computing product diversity to handle it like the 150 or so
Android competitors it is battling. This means much more than just a gap
in profits for the quarter. These companies are in race, and Apple is
being forced to give up some of its lead due to diversification issues –
issues that Android manufacturers (who are more diversified because
there are so many more of them from different places) don’t have, or at
least not to the extent that Apple does. Thus, Samsung, LG, Asus, HTC,
etc. will be rolling out to customers who may have had an Apple iPhone
or iPad.

This is also another (of many) massive triumphs of BoomBustblog
research over that of the most esteemed Godman Sachs who put a $430
price target on Apple just as it was making all time highs and in direct
contravention to BoomBustBlog’s stated logic. See Shorting Apple and Why Software Developers Can Make More Money On Android Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I have finally started dabbling with Apple
shorts and puts. My OTM S&P put positions were profitably stopped
out due to trailings yesterday when the market recovered some of its
losses. I have decided to use Apple in the place of the S&P puts
for the time being. Medium to long term, the trade is more evident and
obvious to anyone who is objective and follows BoomBustBlog. It is
significantly more risky shorter term. Alas, there are marginal gains
already, and once they accrue to the point of indemnifying my trailing
stop, I will add more. After I finish the current leg of my global real
estate research to be disseminated to institutions, I will offer
tidbits of the modeling (I have already offered subscribers significant
info on why I think Apple is a risky long play). From a contrarian
standpoint, it may be safe to go short with tight stops, after all
although Apple Gears Up To Combat The Margin Compression That Apparently Only It, Google & Reggie Middleton Sees Coming, we still have those guys over at West Street… Goldman’s
$430 Target, Screaming Buy On Apple At Its All Time High Is In Direct
Contravention To Reggie Middleton’s Logic – Who’s Right? Well, Who
Has Been More Right In The Past? I have taken The Challenge To Goldman Sach’s Apple Proclamation One Step

Farther, Apple’s Closed System Risks
Failure! Listen, everyone, regardless of what investment positions or
tech products you may have in your stable, needs to ask themselves the
appropriate “What if’s”. I have spurred the conversation with “Will Google Win The Mobile Computing War? Let’s Walk Through Where They Stand Now & How To Value Them”

Remember, I may not always be right, but it does pay to look at the track record…  Did Reggie Middleton, a Blogger at BoomBustBlog, Best Wall Streets Best of the Best? More attention should be paid to the little guy, after all by now it is Now Common Knowledge That Goldman’s Investment Advice Sucks!
Didn’t you get the memo? I’m sure many traders have spurned Apple due
to the Japanese market being cut off right at the launch of the iPad 2,
but the issues go deeper than that. I will cover it in depth at a later
date, though.

Additional thoughts on the Apple short:

  1. Note For The Few Realistic Apple Bears… Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
  2. Buffet on Apple – Common Sense! Monday, March 21st, 2011
  3. Competition Heats Up In The Mobile Computing Space On Many Fronts – Prices Driven Down Once Again By The Big Players Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
  4. How the “I Love Apple, There Is No Other Fever” Adds To The Attractiveness Of An Ever So Unpopular Apple Short Monday, March 21st, 2011

And that Research in Motion short alert
given to subscribers is working like a charm – even more so if it get’s
caught in  NASDAQ storm: Research in Motion Drops 10% After Hours, Precisely As We Warned Two Months Ago – MARGIN COMPRESSION!!! Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Given the current cost of components, a prepaid contract-free iPhone with less internal storage would likely earn Apple only about 16 percent gross margin if it were priced at $300, a new analysis has estimated.

Analyst Charlie Wolf with Needham & Company took a closer look at the prospect of a hypothetical "iPhone lite," to see if it would be in Apple's best interest to build such a product. A cheaper iPhone has been viewed as a strategy that would work to Apple's advantage in emerging markets like China.

In February, both Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is working on a smaller and cheaper iPhone that it could sell contract-free. Soon after, The New York Times chimed in, and claimed that while Apple is not working on a smaller iPhone, it has explored opportunities in developing a cheaper handset.

Wolf largely agrees with the Times, and doesn't see a smaller iPhone with a new form factor as something that would be in Apple's best interest, even though it would be the easiest way to cut costs and created a cheaper handset.

"In our view, the iPhone would not be an iPhone if the display were, say, cut in half," he said. "Such a move would (dramatically) reduce the value of the iPod module for video viewing as well as the size of web sites accessed through the Safari browser. A smaller screen would also degrade the experience in using some applications, not to mention the possibility that some applications would probably have to be rewritten to accommodate a smaller screen."

iSuppli estimated that the 16GB iPhone 4, when it launched last June, carried a bill of materials of $188. The iPhone has an average selling price of $625 with a carrier subsidy, while gross margin is usually around 50 percent, suggesting that additional costs like assembly, software, testing, licenses and warrantees add up to $100 or more.

Ruling out the possibility of a smaller iPhone, Wolf said Apple could reduce internal storage from 16GB to about 4GB, but that would only reduce the bill of materials by $30 to about $157. By his estimation, such a handset would still have a total cost of $270.

"Apple would at best break even if it priced an iPhone Light at $250; and it would earn a modest 16% gross margin if it priced it at $300, which we regard as the high end of the range for a prepaid phone," Wolf wrote.

Gross margins of just 16 percent would be a number uncharacteristically low for Apple. For example, in its last quarterly results for the 2010 holiday buying season, Apple reported margins of 38.5 percent, or more than twice Wolf's estimate for a low-cost, no-contract iPhone.

"We suspect that the iPhone's designers and engineers have thought about this a lot more than we have so that the cost savings would be somewhat greater than we've estimated," Wolf said. "If, for example, the expenses incurred beyond the cost of components could be materially reduced, Apple might be able to earn a gross margin of 20% pricing the phone at $250 and 33% gross margin pricing it at $300."

The possibility of a cheaper iPhone with fewer features was hinted at by Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook earlier this year. Cook, in an interview with Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi, said Apple doesn't want its products to be "just for the rich."

Cook reportedly said that Apple is planning "clever things" to compete in the prepaid handset market. He also stated that Apple is "not ceding any market." He also referenced China, where Apple has found great success of late, and noted that it is a "classic prepaid market."

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The PPIC study Kolko co-authored sheds light on why historically California’s economy has grown on pace with the national economy even though it usually ranks low in surveys of states whose laws are favorable to business.

While the research suggests many factors that determine long-term economic growth lie beyond the reach of policy makers, Kolko cautioned that policy could still someday trump warm, sunny days on the Pacific coast.

“If California loses its ability to incubate and encourage fast growing industries to be here, that would be unfortunate” in the long term, she said.

Kolko identified two policies in particular, a simpler tax structure rather than a lower tax rate, and a lower share of government expenditure on welfare and transfer payments, as means of hastening economic expansion.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Over the years, entrepreneurs and corporate executives have devised any number of clever ways for getting rich off the working poor, but you'd have to look long and hard to find one more diabolically inventive than the RAL. Say you have a $2,000 tax refund due and you don't want to wait a week or two for the IRS to deposit that money in your bank account. Your tax preparer would be delighted to act as the middleman for a very short-term bank loan—the RAL. You get your check that day or the next, minus various fees and interest charges, and in return sign your pending refund over to the bank. Within 15 days, the IRS wires your refund straight to the lender. It's a safe bet for the banks, but that hasn't stopped them from charging astronomical interest rates. Until this tax year, the IRS was even kind enough to let lenders know when potential borrowers were likely to have their refund garnished because they owed back taxes, say, or were behind on child support.

Hewitt didn't invent the refund anticipation loan. That distinction belongs to Ross Longfield, who dreamed up the idea in 1987 and took it to H&R Block CEO Thomas Bloch. "I'm explaining it," Longfield recalls, "but Tom is sitting there going, 'I don't know; I don't know if people are going to want to do that.'"

Tax-prep shops are as common as fast-food joints in many low-income neighborhoods—there are at least half a dozen on one three-block stretch of South Broadway in Yonkers, N.Y., where these photographs were taken. A few offer reasonably priced accounting, while others charge hundreds of dollars for 20 minutes of work. But Longfield knew. He worked for Beneficial Corp., a subprime lender specializing in small, high-interest loans for customers who needed to finance a new refrigerator or dining-room set. His instincts told him the RAL would be a big hit—as did the polling and focus groups he organized. "Everything we did suggested people would love it—love it to death," he says.

He also knew Beneficial would make a killing if he could convince tax preparers—in exchange for a cut of the proceeds—to peddle this new breed of loan on his employer's behalf. Ultimately, Longfield persuaded H&R Block to sign up. But no one was as smitten as John Hewitt—who understood that people earning $15,000 or $20,000 or $25,000 a year live in a perpetual state of financial turmoil. Hewitt began opening outposts in the inner cities, Rust Belt towns, depressed rural areas—anywhere the misery index was high. "That was the low-hanging fruit," he says. "Going into lower-income areas and delivering refunds quicker was where the opportunity was."

Customers wanting a RAL paid Jackson Hewitt a $24 application fee, a $25 processing fee, and a $2 electronic-filing fee, plus 4 percent of the loan amount. On a $2,000 refund, that meant $131 in charges—equivalent to an annual interest rate of about 170 percent—not to mention the few hundred bucks you might spend for tax preparation. "Essentially, they're charging people triple-digit interest rates to borrow their own money," says Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

In 1988, the first year he began offering the loans, Hewitt owned 49 stores in three states. Five years later, he had 878 stores in 37 states. And five years after that, when Cendant Corp.—the conglomerate that owned Avis, Century 21, and Days Inn—bought Jackson Hewitt for $483 million, his earliest backers received a $2 million payout on every $5,000 they'd invested. Today, with 6,000 offices scattered across the country, Jackson Hewitt is more ubiquitous than KFC, and has about as many imitators.


THERE WOULD BE NO refund anticipation loans, of course, without tax refunds. And by extension there would be no RALs without the Earned Income Tax Credit, the federal anti-poverty initiative that served as the mother's milk nourishing the instant-refund boom. Welfare reform was the catalyst for the EITC, which was aimed at putting extra cash in the pockets of low-income parents who worked. What motive does a single mother have to get a job, conservative thinkers asked, if there was scant difference between her monthly take-home pay and a welfare check? It was Richard Nixon who first floated the idea that led to the Earned Income Tax Credit; Ronald Reagan dubbed it "the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress." In 2007, the US Treasury paid out $49 billion to 25 million taxpayers.

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Former ABC <b>News</b> President David Westin Announces Next Move - The <b>...</b>

He's named president and CEO of the News Licensing Group, launching this summer.

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Google <b>News</b> Blog: New Google <b>News</b> for Opera Mini

While the Google News team has been hard at work redesigning our service for smartphones, we've also been thinking about our milllions of users around the world who access the web not from a smartphone, but from a feature phone, ...

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