Monday, 20 November 2017

Tips For Marketing Success

The market is becoming more globally-competitive than ever. With the rise of the Internet came an open avenue where everyone with enough computer know-how and capital can take advantage of the benefits offered by the web and market their product or services to reach a wider audience. Marketing isn’t for everyone, though, and not all the time your strategies may work because the market is constantly changing. Hence, you should educate yourself about effective sales marketing because while not everyone is born a great salesperson, you can learn the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in marketing your business.

Conventional sales marketing and strategy is no longer effective in making your mark in a market as competitive like what we have now. You need to consider that technology is a big factor in today’s world for any business to stay relevant and successful regardless of your niche. There are various mediums you can use to promote and market your business that does not always involve face-to-face contact with consumers. But it does not mean that it is any easier because tackling a totally new digital environment can be overwhelming to someone who has little or no background about it at all.


There’s no need to spend copious amounts of time drudging up case studies. Instead, ‘research’ refers to time spent understanding the company and its goals, understanding the industry, and understanding the customers. This is where business owners focus on attracting customers rather than seeking leads and customers.

Clarify what the business is and ask:

What does it mean to ‘grow the business?’

How will someone know if they’re successful?

What are the long and short-term goals?

What is the sales process?

Check out the industry

Whether a person has been in the industry for two, ten, or twenty years, chances are pretty high that the industry will keep on changing. As innovations come up or new expectations are established, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. This is where industry research comes in.

How do other businesses fare against meeting (or exceeding) the goals?

What marketing strategies are other businesses in that industry doing to attract clients or customers?

What current events and news is impacting that industry?

Is there a business to business marketplace a business owner can access?

Are there any leaders that a business owner can speak to within the industry?


Make an effort to learn new marketing practices that actually work right now and don’t just stick to traditional norms that are no longer applicable or effective in modern business or when dealing with people. Consumers don’t want to see the same thing over and over again especially if they already have a bad experience with it. They want fresh ideas that they can immediately relate to and products or services they actually need and will use right now.


One side effect of increased leads is, of course, business growth. By embracing marketing, small businesses can ‘future-proof’ themselves within the changing market. Customers demand change, and marketing plays a huge role in ensuring that you, as a business, are providing solutions to those needs.

Online helps offline

Offline activity is still an important part of doing business, but by embracing online marketing tools, you could find yourself with an enhanced offline strategy. There is still huge value in putting yourself forward for industry talks and attending events, but tools like social media help to expand your reach even further and give you better and more efficient ways to keep in touch with people you meet through non-invasive marketing activity – reminding them of your business and its value to the world.


It does not take a genius to understand the ins and outs of marketing a business or brand. Most tips are actually timely and practical application of current technologies that are widely used by people today - no rocket science, really. Some of these techniques aren’t even expensive nor take too much effort to do. By learning to prioritize what’s important and multitask, you’d be able to hit your goal without risking your company’s success or future. And as always, the best time to make these changes to your business is today rather than years from now when it will be much harder for you to compete with competitors who have become well-versed with the language of business today.

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Why Male Authors Use Generic Nom De Plumes

Books are something else, right? They give us a glimpse of various stories and situations that make our imagination run wild. Authors also have their mark and we can easily tell what the novel will be like by simply knowing who the author is. And just like any celebrity, there are certain authors that we follow and idolize and collect all his/her books. Most of the time we don’t really care that much as to the author’s gender because it is the book’s contents we are really interested in.

Today, there is news making its round on the web about male authors using gender-neutral names to hide their gender from their readers. But just what is all the fuss? And why are these male authors even doing this? What triggered them to hide their gender from the public? Is it really necessary in order for them to sell books? This are age-old questions because apparently, they've been doing it for centuries already and for good reason.

Riley Sager is a debut author whose book, Final Girls, has received the ultimate endorsement. “If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love this,” Stephen King has said. But unlike Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, The Girls, Luckiest Girl Alive and others, Final Girls is written by a man – Todd Ritter. This detail is missing from Riley Sager’s website which, as the Wall Street Journal has pointed out, refers to the author only by name and without any gender-disclosing pronouns or photographs. (His Twitter avatar is Jamie Lee Curtis.)

Ritter is not the first man to deploy a gender-neutral pen name. JP Delaney (real name Tony Strong) is author of The Girl Before, SK Tremayne (Sean Thomas) wrote The Ice Twins and next year, The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn (AKA Daniel Mallory) is published. Before all of these was SJ (AKA Steve) Watson, the author of 2011’s Before I Go to Sleep.


It seems more of a marketing strategy why these male authors are hiding their identity especially if they are writing about romance. It is easier to sell a concept or a story in this case if the readers aren’t prejudiced about the author’s gender. And in a way, this strategy actually works in attracting attention and readers alike. The public is often curious as to the real identity of the author and it keeps them glued to whatever story the author is up his sleeves.

Anonymity can be liberating. The pen names Currer and Ellis Bell, respectively, allowed Charlotte and Emily Bronte to use influences from their local neighbourhood to craft Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. George Elliott, the famed writer of Middlemarch, was actually Mary Anne Evans. The aliases allowed these women to break into a literary market that was rigidly male-dominated at the time, giving us some of the seminal works of 19th-century western literature. In the decade that followed, Charles Dodgson disrobed the identity of a mathematician to write Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as Lewis Carroll. The gender-neutral initials of EL James allowed the writer of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy to engage with a particularly notorious topic. And closer to home, Rabindranath Tagore composed poetry in the literary language of Brajabuli as Bhanusimha, a name he found in the torn leaves of an old library book.

The removal of a name tag brings on the freedom to shift genres, write from the perspective of a different gender, or tackle topics that are particularly sensitive or experimental. This makes the pseudonym itself a powerful and useful tool. But it's troubling to think of how we, as readers, often make writers feel like they can't use their own identity for their work.


Perhaps male authors feel more independence when shifting genres when they believe their readers aren’t prejudiced about their work. They feel at ease exploring or talking about more sensitive matters in their novels or stories when they aren’t bounded by certain expectations or prejudices from third-parties and the general public. And there are actually lots of readers out there that choose the type of books to read just by seeing the name of the author. It’s why you can’t blame authors why they are using generic nom de plumes. Even female authors are actually doing it too. That way, they aren’t limited to express their creativity without compromising potential book sales.

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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Ignoring Children’s Mental Health

Parents are often fussy about their child especially new parents. They often take their kids to the doctor when they have the fever or the flu but rarely do they wonder about their children’s state of mental health. The term mental health in itself is a vague one and most parents and carers have no idea what it encompasses and what the dangers are. Children’s mental health actually includes emotional and developmental milestones and developing positive social skills that children will need as they grow old and are crucial in solving the many problems life throws at them.

In order to become a normal, healthy, and sociable adult, parents should not ignore their child’s social health to help them develop to their full potential. Unfortunately, there are various factors that can affect a child mental state and not all the time they will be showered with love and affection and guided properly as they grow. There are countless children out there that grow up in an environment of hate, violence, and abuse. There are even those poor kids that are born with mental ailments that they totally have no control over. It is the reason why now more than ever, everyone should give mental health the attention it needs especially among young children who still can’t make decisions for themselves and need the support of adults to help them overcome these problems.

Children with serious mental health problems are becoming trapped in NHS psychiatric units, unable to leave because care is unavailable outside hospitals, a thinktank has said.

NHS figures show that between October 2015 and September 2016 children and young people in England spent almost 9,000 days in hospital after being declared fit to be discharged. Some end up stuck in units for several months.

NHS England did not tell the Education Policy Institute how many patients were involved in the 9,000 days, despite being asked this in a freedom of information request. But the thinktank said data showed the problem was growing.

The total number of what the EPI termed “wasted days” was 42% higher between December 2016 and February 2017 than in the same period in 2015-16. In January alone this year, under-18s spent 804 delayed days in mental health inpatient units, compared to 553 the previous January.


Young children are often stuck in hospitals because they can’t receive the same care and attention they need at home and they end up not only becoming an extra burden to their family and the immediate community but a threat as well. While it isn’t always the best experience for young kids to get confined in mental institutions because of a mental condition, at least they’d be able to get treated for their condition and not let it worsen than it already is. However, they eventually say goodbye to the normal life they used to have as total confinement deprives them of education, among other things, and the list can grow as their stay lengthens.

Mental health needs to be integrated into the school curriculum, which will help increase understanding and reduce stigma around issues. Without this, pupils may not be aware their mental health is deteriorating and feel silenced or shamed when seeking help.

If both pupils and teachers have more open discussions about mental health, issues will also be easier to identify early on, and this will help to build students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Ideally, mental health needs to be talked about in the same way physical education or healthy eating is, because research has found that when schools adopt a comprehensive approach to discussing mental health it supports all pupils—including those who are experiencing mental health difficulties already.


As the world becomes more globally-interconnected, the dangers affecting children’s mental health also grows especially that kids have greater access to social media and the Internet without their parent’s supervision. Imagine the dangers that lurk in these platforms that bring about increased feelings of insecurity and cases of cyber bullying and suicide that can severely impact a child mentally and emotionally. Children often lose sight of what’s right because of the things they see online and their mental state can get severely shattered without their parents knowing.

Education is a powerful tool that parents and other adults can use to protect and uphold the mental health of children. Their mental health deserves our attention too before we are faced with problems we know nothing about or so little and lack the facilities to get these issues addressed especially among the juveniles.

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Why Nobody Talks About Child Sex Abuse

As a society, we look after the needs of young children and protect them from harm. In a normal world, it wouldn’t be a problem at all. However, we don’t live in a normal one and today are dangerous times too. The majority acknowledges that you are not safe on the streets anymore and even in your home too as technology creeps further into our safe haven. The first ones to get harassed are the vulnerable groups and that include children.

The issue of child abuse is ever growing as violence become common among people especially that they see it on the news day in and day out. And even if it eludes your understanding, there are certain individuals that are just jerks or perverts that takes delight in the pain and suffering of others. It’s even worse if the subject of their fantasies is young kids that shouldn’t be dragged into nasty stuff like these. Child sex abuse happens and you’d be surprised to find out how prevalent it is in today’s society. Most of the time, the child knows the predator and it hits close to home. If not, it can be someone they met online, which is not surprising as most kids nowadays are quite tech-savvy.

Indian scenario of child sex abuse
A study was conducted in 2012 by Ministry of Women and Child Development in
India covering 13 states. The study reported that about 21 per cent of the participants were exposed to extreme forms of sexual abuse. Among the participants who reported being abused, 57.3 per cent were boys and 42.7 per cent were girls, about 40 per cent were 5-12 years of age. About half of the participants were exposed to other forms of sexual abuse. The data was reported by the study on prevalence of various forms of sexual abuse.
Lack of parent child communication. Lack of proper mental and criminal verification of staff of schools and public institutes. Easy access to sexually exploitive materials. Lack of stronger social movements. Lack of awareness-to-action plan. Lack of initiatives by schools and authorities.


Nobody wants to talk about child sexual abuse. Period. That’s because it is absolutely ugly and disgusting. How can people do those things to innocent kids? How can they corrupt their young minds? Children don’t understand most sexual activities that adults engage in. Why not look for a grown-up and consenting partner instead? But then they’d say, where’s the fun in that? It’s totally sickening. When kids go through sexual abuse at their young age, they are scarred for life. They are left to deal with a sexual trauma that no amount of counseling may ever be able to erase or lessen over the years. Most of the times, cases happen inside the home, which makes it even doubly nauseating. But with the advanced technology we have these days, children can also fall prey to child predators on the web without them or their parents knowing.

When we forgive or make excuses for the behavior of perpetrators, we are contributing to the unravelling of society. The WHO has found a commonality between sexual violence and sleep difficulties, depression, tobacco and alcohol consumption, and even with trauma counseling, up to 50 percent of victims retain symptoms of stress. Children who have been victims of sexual violence do not go quietly into the night. They grow up. And they carry with them the cruel hand they have been dealt. Should we not be alarmed? Should we not say: “Not one more child”?


As increasing cases of sexual abuse against children are reported all over the world, the authorities are becoming more vigilant in catching perpetrators and making sure they pay for their crimes and not one more child has to go through the same ordeal ever again. Children are meant to be loved and cared for, not become the object of some person’s perverted imagination. It’s bad enough that the child has to go through such a traumatic experience but having to go through it again or not getting the justice they deserve is a bigger injustice that society subjects them to. These cases have been going on for years and it is high time we step up and protect the rights of the child, if not just for their future but for the future of our nation.

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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Windows 10 Data Recovery Tips

Our data means so much to us. We will move the heavens and the earth in an effort to retrieve it once it is lost. That’s how much valuable they are especially when pertaining to important documents or files you have no copy anywhere else. Once you lose them, you often don’t have a way to get them back unless you are savvy with data recovery or can afford to pay an expert to do it for you. However, data recovery changes depending on the unit or gadget you are using and the circumstances on how these data were lost.

As of now, Windows 10 is the latest OS from Microsoft and the most widely used by computer users all over the world. Even if it runs on current technology, Windows 10 is still vulnerable to crashing like any other tech device you have at home or at work and you can easily lose sentimental stuff like family photos, videos, movies, or songs you have downloaded from the web that can leave you feeling devastated. Despite the apparent difficulty of recovering deleted files, there are various tools you can now use to get deleted data back and you don’t always have to hire a pro to get it done (although individuals who don’t have any computer know-how are always advised to seek the help of the experts or regret not doing so after wiping out their hard drive clean).

In Windows 10 PC, The data is most often salvaged from storage media such as internal or external hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), USB flash drives, magnetic tapes, CDs, DVDs, RAID subsystems, and other electronic devices. Recovery may be required due to physical damage to the storage device or logical damage to the file system that prevents it from being mounted by the host operating system (OS).

Windows 10 PC users may forget to back up the important data and you may remind of it just after format. If so, do not hesitate to get reliable data recovery software to recover your files after format. Once your formatted partition is overwritten by new content, you will lose the chance to restore your important files and will never get them back.

Concerns were raised that due to these changes, users would be unable to skip the automatic installation of updates that are faulty or cause issues with certain system configurations, although build upgrades will also be subject to public beta testing via Windows Insider program. There were also concerns that the forced installation of driver updates through Windows Update, where they were previously designated as "optional", could cause conflicts with drivers that were installed independently of Windows Update.


It is easier to recover files using Windows 10 than older operating system models because there are a lot of tools and support you can utilize to help you get your lost data back. Windows 10 in itself showcases more powerful features but it does not mean it is totally invincible and safe from data corruption, loss, or resistant to online threats like viruses or malwares. The simple act of updating your software is an excellent measure in itself to protect your data because these updates already address common bugs and system issues for a better user experience and higher data security from both internal and external factors.

IT pros may want extra security measures when it comes to ensuring user privacy, enforcing encryption and protecting against malware in Windows 10. Microsoft is responsive to some of these issues, delivering security updates that directly combat privacy concerns, for example, but many IT pros want the company to do more. As a result, data safety is in IT pros' hands, and they have to decide where to go next.

A great option is to implement third-party Windows 10 security software. Third-party tools allow IT to achieve more advanced security in the areas it needs it the most. For example, a company may want more vulnerability testing and analysis or system monitoring and alerting.


There are pros and cons to updating to newer operating systems especially in older devices. It is a reality that both old and new computer users face each day no matter how careful they are in using their gadgets. Just be wary that whatever computer issue you may have may inadvertently lead to some sort of data loss that can usually be fixed by reformatting it. Unfortunately, restoring your device to its factory settings basically wipes it clean.

However, do not despair because of user-friendly Windows 10 recovery software that you can avail for free. When recovering files especially the ones caused by a virus, you actually have an option of checking the file first to find out if it is corrupted or not before eventually restoring it. And best of all, these are often step-by-step tools you can follow for a smooth and efficient data recovery solution that Windows 10 users can take advantage of.

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Achieving Beautiful And Flawless Celebrity Skin

Not only vain individuals spend money on skincare. Even the average Joe understands that taking good care of their skin is a must in a world as polluted as ours today. Whenever you step out of the house, you literally brave all the elements that have become synonymous with modern living. It’s even worse if you commute daily because the struggle is definitely real of your daily grind. Now, we all know the skin is the largest organ in the body. It is also our first line of defense against germs and keeps the integrity of our body intact. We get sick when there are breaks and bruises as bacteria and other micro-organisms now have a portal of entry.

For celebrities, keeping their skin clean and healthy isn’t just enough. Their skin has to look fresh and flawless too because it is their ticket to fame and fortune. People won’t spend money watching their movies or seeing them in concerts or events if they just look ordinary. Most celebrities have that star quality and charisma that only people who are self-assured and confident in their body and the way they look exudes. Fans and ordinary people don’t just admire celebrities, they try to imitate them too by taking care of their skin and staying young looking as they age aside from patronizing the brands they endorse.

"Your skin is a window into your habits and lifestyle," says Joanna Vargas, a celebrity facialist with two eponymous salons in L.A. and New York City. Her clients include such famous faces as Sofia Coppola, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Debra Messing. But the good news is that you don't have to step into a salon to get an A-list glow.

To achieve a luminous complexion, start by giving yourself an at-home facial by cleansing skin with a foaming wash, which Vargas says does the best job at getting rid of every bit of dirt, makeup, and residue. Then, follow up with these steps for dewy, glowing skin that's red carpet-ready. Stick with this regimen on a weekly basis and you'll see a noticeable difference in your skin in as little as two weeks.

Exfoliate the right way

After you've cleansed skin, the next step is exfoliation. "There are many benefits," says Vargas. "Improved texture and tone, better product absorption, and so on—but make sure the formula is gentle."


Caring for your skin is actually more complex than just simply washing it with soap and water, which isn’t exactly a great way to clean your skin as it can be drying. Celebrities follow a certain skin care regimen or a step-by-step process that often starts with exfoliation. You have to start with a clean base. Wipe off every traces of makeup and exfoliate your face to get rid of old skin cells. That in itself will usually give you clear and fresh-looking face.

Along with good nutrition and proper hydration for healthy, luminous skin, an essential skincare routine is vital. "It's super simple," Phillips says, "always wash your face before bed and always apply your skincare routine, morning and night." And "if you have super crazy irritated skin," Phillips urges you to "run, don't walk, to a dermatologist."

After washing your face, the makeup artist explains that you should, "start with the thinnest thing first and work upwards. Go: oil, then serum, then eye cream, then moisturizer." And once you've gotten your routine down pat, the most important thing to prep skin before a big event is time." Give yourself about two hours, starting in the shower. Do a good scrub and use products that won't strip moisture from your skin. Allow for much more face massage time and always incorporate masks, (liquid or sheet) for face and eyes. Also while you're in the shower, do a body mask. It feels and looks luxurious!"


While generally time-consuming, a celebrity-inspired skincare regimen isn’t entirely impossible. You might use up several more products than you are used to but that is a small price to pay to get glowing skin like that of a celebrity. And besides, skincare isn’t just for vanity. I guess there is no reason to reiterate further the importance of caring for your skin since it is the first barrier against certain diseases. And I am sure you also want to age gracefully too. You can defy aging just like your fave stars without necessarily undergoing expensive procedures like they do but still spare yourself from the usual horrors that old people face like skin tags, fine lines, wrinkles, and many others.

The post Achieving Beautiful And Flawless Celebrity Skin was initially published to UP


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Google’s Dream Of Speeding Up The Internet

Technology defines today’s world. Wherever you look, you can see all sorts of technological knick-knacks and gadgets that dominate our daily lives. It is almost impossible to live without relying on these futuristic objects that make our lives comfortable and convenient but at the same time more complex and high-maintenance too. Almost all our transaction has gone digital as well. More and more aspects of human life have become computerized and we all start to wonder what is in store in the years to come.

The Internet is instrumental in making all these things happen and it virtually runs our life (inconspicuously) day in and day out. The lines separating the virtual world and real life often times blur and perhaps it will become more interconnected than it already is in the coming years. With the numerous innovations and tech gadgets that have been launched to keep us entertained and assist us in almost everything we do, it seems that the Internet itself can’t keep up with all these innovations and Google is quite well aware of it for quite some time now.

As technology continues to advance at unprecedented speed, it sometimes seems as though the internet can’t seem to keep up. If we could improve internet speeds, however, it could allow emerging technology to flourish, as well as speed up research that’s already ongoing. Engineers at Google well understand the desire for faster internet, and have taken it upon themselves to ramp it up. The company plans to achieve this by creating a new congestion control algorithm, BBR (Bottleneck Bandwidth and Round-trip propagation time). 

BBR, an algorithm that was standardized back in the 1980s, detects when a network is overwhelmed and responds by slowing down data transfers. The algorithm might not seem all that significant, but it actually plays a huge role in internet speed. BBR is currently allowing companies and individuals that use Google’s Cloud Platform to access it andthe speed that comes with it. But Google wants to take this algorithm one step further by publicly publishing it, and incorporating it into the TCP transmission standard. That move would have a ripple effect across the entire internet.


We all scream for faster Internet. It’s actually a bigger problem in developing countries where the Internet speed is as fast as that of a tortoise. It’s no joke. For more developments to take place, the Internet should be on par with what we need although it isn’t always easy considering how crowded the web has become. Hence, Google’s answer is to decongest the Internet in order to speed it up.

For example, after Google in March started using a congestion control algorithm of its own design with YouTube, it saw an speed increase of 4% worldwide — and a 14% gain in some countries, according to a blog entry.

That kind of a gain may seem small, but it represents the average boost and takes into account every single site visit. From that perspective, the boost translates into a meaningful difference.

The new congestion control algorithm, which Google calls BBR, for Bottleneck Bandwidth and Round-trip propagation time, is just another example of the search giant's push to improve network speeds, said Neal Cardwell, a senior staff software engineer at the company. Google is trying to light a fire under the tech industry and spur it to follow suit, he said.

"Google wants to help the internet get as fast as it can," Cardwell said. 


Google has always shown a keen interest in improving the web and it shouldn’t come out as a surprise to everyone knowing that Google is primarily a web-based business. Aside from developing this congestion control algorithm, they’ve also dabbled with other anti-congestion measures in the past that ultimately aims to boost Internet speed over time. The company then plans to publish this algorithm so that web developers can access it anytime they need it. They are encouraging other companies to use the BBR because by improving the web can we only come up with more daring and mind-blowing innovations the world needs today.

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Friday, 15 September 2017

How Is President Trump As A Leader

Politics is a dirty game. How many times have we heard it over the years? Politicians are a breed of their own. Not everyone is meant to spend their lives in public service. However, not all politicians are all born leaders too. Some win by sheer charm alone or because they are good talkers but that does not mean they are meant to be a leader. It can also be that they can lead others but in a different way, in the world of business perhaps but not necessarily as a public leader holding an official function in the government.

We can’t deny that President Donald Trump won the election fair and square. And for several months now, he has been leading all Americans into the future – what kind that is, we don’t know yet. Despite his undeniable success in the poll, people are now complaining as to the type of leader he has become. Many are even doubtful that he’ll be able to realize his promise of making America great again when he has done nothing really of immense value so far aside from issuing lots of travel bans, trying to abolish the Affordable Care Act, and holding lavish meetings with world leaders in his exclusive clubs, etc.

He threatened. He tweeted. He lost.

President Donald Trump might be forgiven for thinking he could bully U.S. senators to vote for a measure even GOP lawmakers said they did not actually want to become law. They needed a win, the president needed a win and the bare-knuckled tactics had worked before, helping him to win the presidential election.

Instead, Trump was hit with a major loss in the wee hours of Friday morning, when three tough-as-nails Republican senators joined a united Democratic caucus to defeat a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans promised that the so-called "skinny repeal," which would have eliminated the health insurance mandate of Obamacare, was just a vehicle to force a negotiating session with the House on a more comprehensive package.


Despite winning the presidency, he still hasn’t let go of his fascination with Twitter. His tweets were always mostly controversial and Trump’s actions continue to divide the country instead of uniting everyone in rebuilding the greatness of America. It’s quite confusing now what his intentions really are and how he sees the presidency and his role as president of the country. Even the ones who voted for him during the last election isn't exactly quite happy with the way he is leading the US so far.

In the end, nothing was more damaging to the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare than President Donald Trump himself. His performance in handling the first major legislative initiative of his administration was a complete failure of leadership. Had this been an episode of "The Apprentice," someone would be sitting around the boardroom table telling the commander in chief, "You're fired!"

Yes, it is difficult to dismantle any major piece of social policy. Once Americans become used to a program, no matter how controversial, taking away those benefits often fails. History is filled with examples, such as Social Security, where battles to retrench the social safety net go down in flames. But the Senate Republicans fell only one vote short of the number needed to keep the repeal effort alive.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is blaming the Democrats for the defeat that makes him look like much less than a master of the Senate.

Yet in this case the President must bear a huge part of the burden. This was an epic fail. With united government, a stunned Democratic Party and a promise to repeal that had been the rallying cry for the GOP since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Republicans faced pretty good odds that they could get some kind of bill to the President's desk. 


Since the campaign, Trump was adamant in abolishing Obamacare – former President Obama’s legacy to the US. While flawed in itself, it does not mean that Obamacare isn’t serving its purpose. And besides, even the new healthcare bill being cooked up by the Republicans isn’t as great either with many Americans on the verge of losing access to basic health care services and insurance coverage if passed. But despite his immense power as the US President, even the simple act of updating the nation’s healthcare system is a total failure so far as he failed to gain the necessary votes from legislators. President Trump always took to social media to air his sentiments and perhaps the people are finally seeing his real color and capacity as a leader that’s where all this chaos and conflict is coming from.

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Friday, 8 September 2017

The Dangers Of Mega Farms

The world’s population is on the rise, especially in big cities. Many skyscrapers are filled to the brim and space is more expensive than ever. With more mouths to feed and our resources already dwindling, the simple act of getting everyone fed, clothed, and taken cared of becomes a big challenge. Then, there is the problem with global warming that is affecting food production and reducing food supply aside from worsening natural calamities and disasters that make it harder for us to survive. The demand for food is ever increasing. If you rely on nature to simply provide for us, millions will probably die.

While the majority of us see problems, entrepreneurs see opportunities. The answer to this global dilemma perhaps lies in the concept of mega farms. In essence, a mega farm is simply an extremely large, factory-style farm. While mega farms solve a big chunk of the world’s problem, it has totally transformed the farming industry and ordinary farmers are suffering in the process especially that big corporations are involved in mega farming.

Nearly every county in England has at least one industrial-scale livestock farm, with close to 800 US-style mega farms operating across the UK, new research reveals.

The increase in mega farms – which critics describe as “cruel and unnecessary” – is part of a 26% rise in intensive factory farming in six years, a shift that is transforming the British countryside. 

Only 12 counties in the UK now host no pig or poultry farms classified as intensive by the Environment Agency. To be classed as intensive, a farm must have warehouses with more than 40,000 birds, 2,000 pigs or 750 breeding sows.

Herefordshire has more than 16 million factory-farmed animals, mainly poultry – which means the county has 88 times more factory-farmed animals than it does humans. Shropshire and Norfolk follow closely, with more than 15 million and 12 million animals respectively. Nearly every county in England and Northern Ireland has at least one mega farm, and they are also scattered across Scotland and Wales.


In the UK alone, over 800 mega farms exist to feed the Brits. They are mainly there to boost food production and generate work for many locals not just to farmers alone but they make it harder for the average farmer to survive and make both ends meet and not to mention the many cases of animal abuse, environmental destruction, and pollution issues that accompany mega farming. Even animal rights advocates aren’t too thrilled at the thought of factory farming but they exist and they’d probably be here for the long haul.

The “unnoticed” expansion of mega-farms raises serious concerns about farm animal welfare and our food system (Mega-farms transforming UK countryside, 18 July). Even less visible is the air pollution generated by intensively housed animals and the devastating impact it is having on nearby wildlife.

At high concentrations, such as from these mega-farms, ammonia and other nitrogen emissions cause direct damage to lichens, mosses and other plants, including bleaching and discolouration.

In polluted, nitrogen-rich “fertile” conditions more vigorous, “thuggish” species thrive, making it near impossible for more sensitive wildflowers to survive. Plants known to be particularly at risk from air pollution include harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), which was recently classified as near-threatened in England, and bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), which supports more invertebrates than any other herb. Soil fungi and their dependents, including many cherished orchids, are also especially vulnerable. Species richness depletion from air pollution has knock-on effects for bees, birds and all the other wildlife which depend on healthy plantlife.


We don’t ignore the benefits offered by these mega farms as food production should definitely be increased to keep up with the demands of the times. However, the planet is suffering mainly because of negligent and harmful human activities like factory farming. This type of intensive farming aims to boost productivity but at a cost and the environment may be on the losing end here. There are pros and cons to mega farming and we can’t deny it does serve its purpose. The best we can do is get ourselves educated on concepts like this one and enrich our knowledge about other environmental conservation efforts we can try to protect Mother Earth from more harm.

The Dangers Of Mega Farms was first published to The UP Blog


Friday, 1 September 2017

The Growing Popularity Of Online Shopping

Technology rules the world today. You use various tech gadgets in your every move and that is simply how society works now. Along with its progress is the rise of online shopping. Why exert more effort into going to malls and spending hours of your precious time trying on clothes or shoes when you can simply purchase one with the click of a button. You no longer also have to make do with whatever options there are in the store when you can hop from one online shop to another regardless of the store’s physical location and have more options. You can even have your items shipped to your home even free of shipping and handling fees for a minimum purchase.

By shopping online, you save from the extra expense of gas or transportation and all the consequential expenses a trip to the mall includes like food or snacks, impulse spending, etc. All these are made possible with the rise of the Internet. It’s probably the sheer convenience of online shopping that makes it such a hit with virtually everyone who has access to the web. Also, you don’t always even have to own a credit card to be able to make online purchases as some can be paid cash on delivery.

In fact, not only is Amazon's search engine considered to be a "powerful rival" to Google, the online shopping site is beating Google to become the first stop for online shoppers, Statista noted.

Statista, citing a UPS survey of more than 5,000 people who shop online, noted that Amazon is the first choice of destination by a notable margin: 29 percent. Search engines, including Google's, ranks second at 15 percent, followed by a retail store at 13 percent and the retailer's website at 12 percent.

Other online marketplaces rank at 9 percent and perhaps surprisingly, a retailer's app ranks last at just 4 percent.

"In their quest for efficiency, serious shoppers want to find the most information on the greatest number of products in the least amount of time," the UPS report stated. "Marketplaces in general have positioned themselves as the first stop for heavy shoppers, who are doing more shopping online."


Online shopping often offers the best prices on various commodities since the products are often sold directly by its manufacturers or the brands itself. You can also take advantage of rebates and discount coupons that can reduce the price significantly. And did I mention choices already? The choices are almost endless since you can choose from various brands all in one place like Amazon, for instance.

Amazon has launched a new online store aimed at providing shoppers with everything they didn’t even know they wanted yet.

The retail giant's new Shop The Future store brings together advanced analytics and future-gazing predictions to bring together the next must-have products in one handy online portal.

Covering areas from home electronics to beauty and soft furnishings, the new store will offer an easy way to browse and get your hands on the next big thing. 

“At, we already offer over 250 million products that our customers want now and which they might want in the future, from household goods and fashion to technology, the latest music and entertainment and food and drink," said Jamie Heywood, director, electronics, 


Tools like these ones offered by Amazon enable consumers to make price comparisons even more easily. It is likewise even more appealing for individuals who hate crowds and don’t want to rush through when making purchases not to mention the traffic you have to deal with when leaving the house alongside parking issues.

And to top it off, one of the best reasons you got to love online shopping is for when you are making a discreet purchase like that of a sex toy or sexy lingerie. Imagine the comfort and convenience of shopping for one without constantly avoiding the questioning gaze of shop assistants or feeling embarrassed to be caught red-handed in buying such taboo items. I am sure by now you yourself prefer to shop online too although you can’t still completely do away with conventional shopping.

The Growing Popularity Of Online Shopping Find more on: Unabashedly Prep Blog


Saturday, 26 August 2017

VR Audio Updates

Technology is ever evolving. Nothing stays the same as it is because the technology we use today progress and newer techniques and materials are now readily available at our disposal. And these tech gadgets often mark certain eras and we can tell for sure what time period it is just by identifying the gadgets commonly used by people at that time. The 20th century is characterized by mind-blowing technologies you only dreamed about in your youth. Just the very existence of smartphones has significantly changed the landscape. Can you remember what it was like living without your handy and ever reliable personal gadget that does almost everything you can ever think of?

Then came virtual reality technology. It forever changed the way gaming works. Listening to sounds has changed a lot since its introduction. You no longer hear sound uniformly from one ear to another through conventional earphones. With the advent of VR audio, mankind has been gifted with binaural sounds – sounds that are highly similar to the sounds you hear in your surroundings in real life. You’ll notice that sounds have their own orientation and position and have an immersive nature.

While more and more VR content is being made in the full VR format, the audio industry is barely catching up with Ambisonics signals for 360 videos. Second order Ambisonics already requires a minimum of 9 channels, and higher order Ambisonics are not feasible in many cases because the network bandwidth is limited in mobile, not to mention the restrained processing power allocated for audio.

Some might argue personalized audio is the most important challenge going forward. Until capturing the exact anthropometric information requires quite a bit less resources than now, customization for each person’s ear shape and head size will remain as the last step to perfection. Luckily, four out of five people can already feel immersed in the VR scene with general binaural rendering process. What needs to be figured out in the foreseeable future is how to deliver interactive 3D audio without compromising the content quality, from creators to consumers and across multiple platforms. Once best practices are determined and a recommended workflow is set, standardizing those practices should follow to improve interoperability.


Current innovative VR audio gadgets today reflect a truly interactive environment. It helps that the sounds are equally convincing as if they are elicited in real life. Immersing yourself in an alternate reality that is similar to your natural listening experience is totally possible with these sound illusions.

In the meantime, others in the VR, music, film and gaming industries are also attempting to drive 3D audio forward. For example, Microsoft’s new Xbox One X supports 3D audio content – and the headphone manufacturer Plantronics has developed 3D audio gaming headsets. And San Diego-based Comhear Inc., has recently developed a sound projection system that can deliver 3D audio without the use of headphones.

In less than five years, 3D spatial audio is expected to revolutionize our standard for multimedia listening.  Similar to how high-definition television has enhanced the everyday viewing experience, binaural 3D sound is expected to reshape our listening experience and redefine the production of music, movies, radio, and television programming – and yes, VR, AR and mixed reality content as well.

There’s currently no blueprint for piecing together the storytelling that’s best suited for this new type of virtual medium.  As far as content goes, there is consensus about only one thing: in a virtual world, it’s all about “storydoing”, not storytelling.


The rise of virtual reality demanded audio quality that produces the same realistic-sounding sounds to complement them and deliver a truly immersive experience. In its essence, virtual reality sounds imitate the way your head hears these sounds. Many times these sounds are used to ease and soothe your senses and you can use it however you see fit now with the latest virtual reality gadgets sold in the market today. You can now enjoy a very realistic experience especially when gaming because of these VR audio gadgets that reshapes your entire virtual experience.

VR Audio Updates is courtesy of The UP Blog


Monday, 21 August 2017

Avoid Fake Meds At All Cost

We always hear the saying, “health is wealth”. We try to shrug it off while we are still young because we feel powerful and invincible but as we age, we realize our sense of mortality and that we can easily lose our life any time of the day. It is even more challenging to stay fit and healthy right now as our modern and often sedentary lifestyle aren’t exactly good for our health. We eat all the wrong foods and we barely work out. We are basically too lazy even for our own good and we end up sick with all sorts of ailments that we could have avoided if we only led a healthy and active life. And as such, we rely heavily on medicines to cure us and make us healthy again.

Another major problem is that a lot of these diseases have grown resistant to drugs and it is making treatment even more challenging. Then, there is the prevalence of fake medicines. There are just so many people with twisted minds in this world and they will do anything just to make money even at our expense. And because it is difficult at times to determine which one is genuine and which one isn’t, many people end up buying fake meds that make them even sicker instead of curing them.

In January 2012, at least 100 people died after receiving substandard medication while being treated at Lahore’s Punjab Institute of Cardiology. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. In 2008, more than half of antibiotics sampled in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were found to be substandard. Similarly, poor-quality antimalarial medication is estimated to have cost the lives of 122,350 children under 5 years old in 39 sub-Saharan countries in 2013 alone. Falsified and substandard medicines have become a threat to public health, and risk undermining many of the gains of the last 20 years.

Governments — such as the United States, Nigeria, Myanmar and Liberia — and donors are responding to this threat by working in partnership with others to develop national capacity and ensure falsified and substandard medicines are removed from the supply chain.        

Though no reliable figures exist on the actual scale of the problem, Interpol suggests that falsified medical products, which include medicines and medical devices and equipment, could account for as much as 30 percent of the market in some countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Anti-infectives such as antimalarial medicines and antibiotics are particularly prone to falsification, given the weak regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in countries where these diseases are present. 


Fake medicines are real and it is rampant everywhere, even in progressive nations like America. It contains ingredients that are dangerous for human health such as rat poison, lead paint, floor wax, and boric acid. Can you imagine taking these items on their own if you see them under your kitchen sink? Of course not, right? But you unknowingly take them into your body when disguised as a counterfeit medicine. Unfortunately, it is so hard to distinguish what’s real and not because they almost look the same and packaged similarly.

Throughout Africa and southeast Asia, counterfeit medicine is leaving millions of sick and desperate patients in its wake. Whereas the problem is by no means confined to these two regions, they often bear the brunt of the vast majority of counterfeit medicines being circulated in the world.

These markets are flooded with fake and poor quality drugs, so much that the global counterfeit drug trade is regarded as a billion-dollar industry that thrives, mostly, in Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines counterfeit medicine as “one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to identity or source”. These include both branded and generic products, which can be faked. Medicines in this category have been found to either contain the wrong dose of active ingredients or none at all, or to have a completely different ingredient.

The global health entity estimates that about 100,000 deaths a year in Africa are linked to the counterfeit drug trade. And the International Policy Network (IPN), a British think-tank, estimates that, globally, 700,000 deaths a year are caused by fake malaria and tuberculosis drugs. 


The world has become a real scary place as the years go by. Scrupulous individuals will do anything to make money even at the point of selling counterfeit drugs that they know is harmful to the health of those who end up taking it but still, they do. From branded drugs to generic ones, there are fake versions that you may accidentally buy. So, everyone should always be wary or risk endangering your health, even your life, by taking drugs that contain deadly ingredients and chemicals that ideally shouldn’t be taken by humans.

Although the government is trying to crack down these fake drugs and their manufacturers/vendors, we must still be vigilant and look out for these fake medicines that are all over the market now. Fortunately, the risk is lower in anti-snoring mouthpieces as compared to oral medicines, so sleep apnea sufferers can rest knowing they are safer in using these health tools that can give them a good night’s sleep.

The blog article Avoid Fake Meds At All Cost is available on UP


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Sports Direct’s Dream Of Becoming “The Selfridges Of Sport”

Many changes are taking place in the world today. Society is changing, so are the needs and wants of the public. People are now obsessed with all things tech-related and you can’t blame them when the market is full of technological innovations. At times, though, not everyone can keep up with all these changes and they end up becoming irrelevant in our global world. In the world of sports, even long-time staples are having a hard time coping with many of these changes because the usual tricks of the trade no longer apply.

A big sports retailer like Sports Direct is not exempted from these challenges and they even introduce novel concepts like incorporating gym facilities in their stores to attract consumers. The company is embracing the many changes in the world of sports today and is undergoing a major transformation to stay competitive and relevant in a globally-competitive market. No longer will they be for the masses but more of a store that offers a wide-array of premium products that also focuses on trendy athletic fashion aside from sporting equipment.

"It's clear we have smashed the ball out of the park with our 'Selfridges' of sport concept," boasted Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley to financial analysts, following the release of the company's latest results.

He was talking about the retailer's efforts to drive its stores upmarket and "elevate its retail proposition".

The idea is to give more space over to branded goods and showcase their "very best products", even opening gyms in some of the flagship stores.

And on Thursday it announced a "strategic partnership" with upmarket Japanese sportswear brand Asics, whose products will be stocked in Asics-managed areas of flagship stores from next year.

Sports Direct described this as "an important step in Sports Direct's journey to being recognised as the Selfridges of sport.'"


Sport is a tight niche. Competition is tough as the public often goes after more popular brands like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour among others. Today, Sports Direct is giving ample space in their stores for these premium sports brands alongside other equally great labels so that consumers will even consider going inside the store.

Sports Direct had to issue a profit warning last October after a bet designed to protect itself against a slump in sterling went wrong, causing it to lose £15m in the currency markets during an overnight “flash crash” in the value of sterling in the east Asia.

Ashley told City analysts that he was now expecting a better UK performance at Sports Directs partly because the company had “smashed the ball out of the park” with its investment in more up-market flagship stores. The latest development is a new strategic partnership with Japanese footwear brand Asics, which will take space in Sports Direct’s flagship stores.

The company is also beginning to take action after being hit by a scandal over its treatment of workers after a Guardian investigation. MPs described conditions at the group’s Shirebrook warehouse as like a “Victorian workhouse”.


The market has been especially tough for sports empire, Sports Direct, as the company lost roughly 60% of its profits as of April. Not only is the fall because of the retailer’s poor performance but as well as the current state of the market these days where most global markets have also crashed or barely surviving and the pound is weaker than ever. However, these dire conditions aren’t stopping Sports Direct from opening new stores to help them realize their goals of becoming a premium shopping destination for sports apparel and equipment. Perhaps reinventing itself is a great way for the company to survive these difficult times and change the perception of the public about the brand selling cheap or bargain stuff for the longest time.

The following blog article Sports Direct’s Dream Of Becoming “The Selfridges Of Sport” was first seen on The UP Blog


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Justin Bieber Cancels Purpose World Tour

Fans often look forward to the day when they can see their idols perform live. They save up money for concert tickets and all the many other preparations die-hard fans are known for. It is their happiness to see these performers sing and dance right before their very eyes even just once in their lives. But we’ve got some really bad news to fans of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber as he recently relayed the news that he is not going to finish his Purpose World Tour but those who already bought tickets will get a full refund.

While Bieber has not specified the reason for the tour’s cancellation, we bet there are lots of disgruntled and disappointed fans who were looking forward to seeing him perform in person in their respective countries. It is not new, though, that tours get canceled as unforeseen events and personal emergencies happen that can prevent these artists from going on tour. For Bieber, it has been an exceptionally long tour and his mental state and behavior weren’t exactly in great shape either during the past few months (er, years).

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has scrapped the remainder of his Purpose world tour, including two dates in Toronto.

A statement on Bieber's website said the cancellation stems from "unforeseen circumstances."

"Justin loves his fans and hates to disappoint them," the statement reads.

"However, after careful consideration he has decided he will not be performing any further dates." It is unclear why Bieber decided to cancel the rest of the shows.

The singer had been set to play back-to-back nights at Toronto's Rogers Centre on Sept. 5 and 6. Other planned stops had included arenas around the United States, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The statement said tickets will be refunded, but Ticketmaster was still selling them as of Monday afternoon.


If it was just another artist or a random tour, the public would have probably understood and somehow try to shrug it off. Adele also recently canceled a tour as problems with her vocal cords might prevent her from going on tours ever again. However, it is Bieber we are talking about. Issues about depression and various dramas in other tours are common and his critics are growing as he largely becomes unprofessional on various occasions.

Justin Bieber has apologised to his fans after cancelling the remaining dates of his Purpose World Tour because of "unforeseen circumstances".

The move affects 14 dates in Asia and North America which were coming up over the next three months.

Bieber told celebrity news website "I'm sorry for anybody who feels disappointed or betrayed."

The singer has performed more than 150 shows on the tour, promoting his 2015 album Purpose, since March 2016.

The tour grossed $93.2m (£71.5m) in the first half of 2017, with an average of almost 40,000 ticket sales per date.

Bieber added: "I have been on tour for two years. I'm looking forward to just resting, getting some relaxation and we're going to ride some bikes."


Perhaps, Bieber really needs some time away from the spotlight for a much-needed rest and relaxation and a chance for him to reflect on the life he has lived so far. Fans can’t do anything about it as only these stars can decide for themselves and it seems like he desperately needs it now with all the drama going on in his life. It is understandable for artists to get overwhelmed by a lot of things and unless they address it the soonest time possible, their career will likely suffer and they’d lose more adoring fans in the process. Biliebers are still hoping Justin can recover from what he is going through right now because it is such a shame to lose his good looks and talent.

The following blog post Justin Bieber Cancels Purpose World Tour is available on Unabashedly Prep Blog


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Merger Of Sports And Health

We all know that to stay fit and healthy, humans should give importance to health and sports in their lives. In that way, you can be assured your health does not deteriorate as you age because your active body can cope with all the demands and challenges of daily living and your advancing age. And in business, it pays to focus on health and sports as well as the public become increasingly aware of the value of their health above all other things. Now, with the acquisition of Town Sports International Holdings Inc. of Lucille Roberts Health Club Business is a step in the right direction.

It spells more convenience for individuals and club members frequenting these fitness clubs especially among women patrons who now have Lucille Roberts’ facilities at their disposal. It really is crucial that we give time and effort in maintaining our good health when temptations to an unhealthy lifestyle are all around us. These facilities are meant to help us stay fit and healthy (and sometimes train participants for special events) without sacrificing comfort and convenience (and not to mention class too). With this merger, members of either company now have a wider set of options as to where to go when they want to burn some calories alongside a wider set of fitness arsenal to use.

Town Sports International Holdings Inc., ("TSI' or the "Company") (Nasdaq: CLUB), the owner and operator of New York Sports Clubs (NYSC), announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Lucille Roberts Health Clubs businesses. The Closing of the transaction is subject to certain conditions. The parties expect the transaction to be closed within the next month. The acquisition will add 16 clubs to TSI's portfolio in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

The 16 locations will continue to operate under the Lucille Roberts brand.  The newly acquired locations are all in the New York City metropolitan area — including ManhattanBrooklynQueensBronxLong Island and New Jersey — where TSI already has a substantial presence. The acquisition will both enhance and expand the offerings for Lucille Roberts'members. The Company also plans to retain virtually all club employees.


It is not uncommon for big companies to merge because of business opportunities or crisis that requires the resources of more than one corporation. And if the merger proves to be successful, it is definitely the public that will benefit as in the case of club members for both Town Sports International and Lucille Roberts. Imagine diversifying what you have to offer to the people, everyone who has an interest in sports and fitness would surely be delighted.

"For more than 4 decades, Lucille Roberts has been providing women with an affordable first-rate fitness experience in a comfortable environment that they can call their own," Lucille Roberts co-founder Bob Roberts said in the release. "TSI's industry knowledge and strategic expertise make them the ideal company to preserve and foster the Lucille Roberts vision."

Earlier this year in TSI's first quarter financial report, Walsh hinted that TSI was aiming to acquire more clubs. TSI reported a 2.2. percent decrease in first quarter revenue to $99.1 million, which Walsh attributed to club closures and declines in miscellaneous fees. TSI also reported its fifth-straight year of revenue decline in 2016.

As of March 31, TSI operated 149 clubs with 551,000 members. More than 120 of those facilities are New York Sports Clubs and Boston Sports Clubs.


The good thing about the merger of these companies is that no employee will lose his/her job as virtually all club employees will be retained. It means club members will be seeing the same familiar faces they have been seeing during the entire length of their membership, a big plus to help with the continuity of their fitness program so they can realize their fitness goals. Getting fit takes a lot of hard work and with two heads working together, club members of both companies are set to enjoy even bigger and better perks than what they used to receive from each of them.

The Merger Of Sports And Health was originally seen on Blog


Friday, 4 August 2017

Environmental Issues In Latin America

Environmental issues are fast becoming a global issue in all corners of the globe if it isn’t already a reality you are already facing right now. We all experience the negative effects of global warming and climate change and how they have worsened existing weather phenomena that consequently make living doubly more challenging for the majority of us. From storms to earthquakes to drought and famine, these environmental issues surround us and affect the way we all live our lives. It is especially harder among those living in poorer and struggling nations whose government is not always well-funded, and if it is, is left at the disposal of corrupt officials who are only interested in uplifting their own lives (and pockets) at the expense of the people who put them into office.

Latin America used to be a powerful region. And in a way, it still is now. But it has more of a stigma rather than glory. From corruption to drugs to natural calamities, Latin America experiences its fair share of suffering mostly in the hands of Mother Nature. But if you look at it closely, the hastening of these environmental changes is actually our own doing. Changes in our surroundings that took centuries to take place in the past now only take several years at most to happen. It says a lot about the state of the natural world at this point in time.

While the outlook for mining in Latin America remains positive over the coming years, research firm BMI has outlined certain obstacles that will hinder its development, with water use and contamination among the most significant challenges.

BMI warned that companies and governments in Latin America would experience increasing pressure to respond to water scarcity and contamination issues, as freshwater shortages and droughts fuel tension between local communities and miners.

In January, Chile’s State-owned miner, Codelco, announced plans to seek partners to develop a desalination plant in Antofagasta.

In April, Argentina's government announced plans to invest $44-billion in water infrastructure, including a sewage system and treatment plant.

Meanwhile, in March, El Salvador passed a law banning all metal mining in the country to protect water sources.


While the devastation is widespread in the region, at least the government is doing something about it somehow. However, it might take a long time before the people can benefit from these changes as achieving the delicate balance in nature has long been broken and we’ll have a hard time making things right again especially that not everyone cooperates in this battle.

Last year was the deadliest on record for environmental activists, according to new figures released by the UK NGO Global Witness.

The organisation’s latest report documents a “crisis” spreading globally as the number of countries in which killings were recorded countries shot up from 16 to 24. 60% of deaths occurred in Latin America, which means that the region remains the most dangerous one in the world in which to oppose environmental degradation.

Yet again, Brazil, which has witnessed particularly bloody land conflicts in recent months, ranks first with 49 murders. Nicaragua has the highest rate of killings per capita: 11. And in Colombia, figures hit an all-time high: 37.

“This report tells a very grim story. The battle to protect the planet is rapidly intensifying and the cost can be counted in human lives”, says Ben Leather, a campaigner at Global Witness.  


With big corporations involved in activities that aren’t exactly environment-friendly, the fight in preserving the environment isn’t just a walk in the park. Many times have there been bloodshed and people lost their lives because of their opinions and what they stand for. Violence is common in many countries in the region. Ensuring that Mother Nature remains unscathed from further human abuse is a difficult feat to achieve as the big companies won’t easily give up without a fight especially if it is their profits in the line. But we can’t just continue ignoring these things as the threat of global warming and climate change is now our reality and no longer just looming on the horizon.

The following blog article Environmental Issues In Latin America Find more on: The UP Blog


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Amazon Is Overtaking Home Improvement

We all put a high value on our home because we see it as our haven, not only from all the elements but as our refuge where we feel loved and safe together with the people we love. We spend a great deal of our time within the four corners of our home especially when the elements are raging and when night time falls, it is why most homeowners don’t stop improving their homes once they are built. Maintenance services will be necessary as well.

From the moment the house is up, there are various ways it can still be improved. Various home accessories and fixtures are added and even the lawn can be beautified to make it more appealing to the eyes of the public. Aside from that, home improvement also increases your home’s value for when the time comes you decide to sell it. Homeowners all over the country often tap on contractors to do the job for them but they can also do certain additions or minor home renovations on their own if they have prior knowledge or perhaps are skilled enough to do the job.

On Thursday, shares of Home Depot Inc (HD) and Lowe's Companies, Inc. (LOW) were hit on news of Sears Corporation (SHLD) moving its Kenmore brand, Inc. (AMZN) . On Friday, that weakness continued for Home Depot, with shares falling about 0.3%. The stock is down about 4.5% over the past two days.

Home Depot is becoming reminiscent of Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST) when Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market (WFM) for $13.2 billion. At least, that's according to TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer, who also manages the Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust portfolio.

Speaking on CNBC's "Stop Trading" segment Friday, Cramer said analysts were quick to defend Costco despite the Amazon news with Whole Foods. Analysts are now doing the same thing by defending Home Depot.

The real concern may go beyond Amazon and Sears. Cramer cited comments from Sherwin-Williams (SHW) management that said there seems to be some softness in do-it-yourself work.


For many years, homeowners and contractors alike have relied on big home improvement stores like Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s even Sears for their home improvement needs but we all know how things have changed over the past years. Technology has overtaken the marker and certain mega-companies are eliminating the competition by buying them off. This is certainly the case with Amazon’s rumored takeover of certain home improvement stores. Over the years, Amazon has grown to considerable heights from its humble beginnings as an online bookstore. It’s the reason why smaller retailers are quite shaken by this news.

But as Amazon extends into industries from social networks to grocery delivery, the deal with Sears is raising questions about the extent to which home-improvement stores can withstand competition from the ecommerce giant.

Home Depot, the largest home-improvement store in the US, is down by more than 4% at 11:09 a.m. ET, while Lowe's is down 5%. Whirlpool and Best Buy also fell.

Home-improvement stores have largely weathered the downturn that has hit department stores which traditionally staked sales on store visits. They've also benefitted from strong demand for housing and rising prices, which can be lifted even more when renovations are done before listing.

That's not to say that Home Depot is suddenly vulnerable; Oppenheimer described the share-price reaction as "overblown," according to Bloomberg. Home Depot's online sales rose 23% year-on-year in the first quarter. By fulfilling online orders from local stores, Home Depot is able to quicken its delivery times for web orders.

Home Depot and similar stores hold another key advantage over Amazon: some shoppers still prefer to physically inspect renovation supplies like paint, bathroom fixtures, and flooring instead of buying online.


It is true that the threat is there and one should not underestimate the clout of this major e-commerce giant but it is not the end yet for other major home improvement stores like Home Depot. While there are certain products that people feel confidently ordering online, most homeowners prefer to see and personally purchase home fixtures and accessories rather than buying them online unlike gadgets and home appliances. It is not totally a hopeless case despite the drop in shares. There is still a market and they will remain for a while although it should be a warning to major home improvement retailers with physical stores that competition is tighter than ever and they should find ways to ensure their survival even if the Amazon take-over really pushes through.

Amazon Is Overtaking Home Improvement See more on:


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Traveling On A Budget

Not all of us are privileged enough to be able to travel near or far. Traveling takes money, a lot of it actually. You can’t just expect to go from one place to another, or even better, to a festival, without spending a buck or two. And if you are traveling thousands of miles, it can easily rack up to several hundred or thousands of dollars. It is also the reason why many people haven’t been to other places aside from their hometown or the nearby state. While the concept of backpacking is quite trendy nowadays with people being able to travel on a limited budget with all their belonging inside the backpack they are carrying on their back, many nations have been raising an eyebrow on begpackers who aren’t ashamed to beg for money to fund their travels that are all over the world now.

If you want to explore the world, learn more about traveling on a budget. You don’t always have to stay in the poshest of hotels or fly first-class. Making do with your meager accommodations is one step closer to helping you afford that dream vacation and go to places you never thought you could go to before. It all starts with planning. Learn as much as you can about the place where you are going to and prepare sufficient money that will be enough to cover plane fares, food, accommodation, transportation, and some extra money for life’s little surprises.

No matter your holiday of choice, the last thing you want to do is count your pennies while you’re enjoying some well-deserved time away. On the other hand, you also don’t want to overindulge and come back home to staggering credit card bills. 

We chatted to South African travel professionals for some of their tips on how you can make the most of your budget: 

Off-Peak or High-Season? 

It seems a no-brainer. Off-peak will always be more affordable than high season travel, right? Well, not always according to Theresa Szejwallo, md The Travel Corporation.

She explains that everything depends on your chosen location. For South Africans, anytime between November and February is high season. However, when travelling to Europe, this time is considered low season and therefore more affordable and less crowded.


Check out travel blogs to get travel inspiration or travel tips that only a real jet-setting traveler knows about. After all, you can’t always know everything there is to know about the world at large, so learn from other people’s experiences and plan from there. From work leave credits to your travel fund to your travel itinerary, you have to cover all bases to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed by all the preparations especially when things don’t seem to go your way.

In-private browsing

It might not seem like much, but going incognito when you’re booking flights can save you money on your next trip.

As your history isn’t being recorded, airlines can’t keep track of your previous searches. It’s a little-known secret that some sites will use your searches to bump up the price of that Caribbean getaway you’ve been eyeing up, even if it was just idle browsing. 

Not sure how to do it?

If you’re using Google Chrome, simply open your flight browsing tab ‘incognito’;

In Firefox, use the menu button and select ‘new private window’ or ‘open link in new private window’ from the menu;

Microsoft Edge users should click the ‘more’ icon and then the new ‘InPrivate window’;

Safari users should select ‘new private window’ by right-clicking on the existing screen or by opening a window that’s already using private browsing.   


You’d be able to save a lot of money by doing that simple measure. We aren’t quite sure yet about the consequences of our online activity, so better be careful and follow these tips in order to save a few bucks without compromising your comfort and security when traveling. You don’t always have the cash to burn on travels, so all these tips can help you realize your #travelgoals despite your limited budget.

Traveling need not be expensive. Prices and fees become more costly the longer you put off your planning and the closer you are to your travel date. Also, take advantage of free attractions you can visit. You can only find out which landmarks these are if you plan your trip in advance. Become a smart traveler and traveling becomes a breeze you can always indulge in from time to time.

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