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Clyde K. Valle

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Clyde is a business graduate interested in writing about latest news in politics and business. He enjoys writing and is about to publish his first book. He’s a pet lover and likes to spend time with family. When the time allows he likes to go fishing waiting for the muse to come.

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In plain dollar for dollar terms, Bitcoin moved more in terms of price in 2021 alone than its entire history before it. The cryptocurrency closed the year in 2020 with a new high over $20,000, but from the start of 2021 to the high of the year, Bitcoin grew another $45,000 per coin.

It has since dropped more than 50% of that all-time high price, leaving crypto market participants wondering why the crash happened, and if the bull run is over. But before that can be understood, we have to first understand what caused the spike in Bitcoin price in the first place.

Getting an in-depth look at all the factors that prompted the uptrend can help shed light on if the rally is over for good and a new bear market here, of it this is merely a pause before another leg up and more all-time highs.

Why People Invest In Bitcoin And Cryptocurrencies

Time and time again, it has been proven that Bitcoin can be a worthwhile investment and a great, uncorrelated addition to a savvy investor’s portfolio. In fact, it is among the best performing investments in history, despite still being considered a dangerous and sometimes risky asset class. The risk is associated with the cryptocurrency’s volatility which is amplified by being a speculative asset. Speculative assets are highly susceptible to changes in sentiment, making the resulting changes in price action that much more powerful.

It has gone from virtually worthless and of interest only to hobbyist cypherpunks to being a highly sought and scarce asset that everyone in the world wants to own a piece of. The ROI is in the hundreds of thousands, if not more, but the cryptocurrency keeps on climbing.

Knowing the asset’s potential is one of the main reasons the price spiked in 2021. Any financial market prices in all available data, including news, and even the expected future results of an asset. In fact, most assets trade at the prices they will be worth in the future, and not at their actual valuation. Crypto is no different, and possibly even more departed from its value – because no one truly knows what the value should be.

Future Price Predictions Fuel Rally

But Bitcoin is one of the few cryptocurrencies with enough price history to predict future outcomes, and almost all analysts who have looked at a Bitcoin price chart see big things in the cryptocurrency’s future.

The cryptocurrency is projected by many ranging from the likes of Max Keiser to Tim Draper and Cathie Wood to reach hundreds of thousands of dollars per coin in the next several years. With expectations like that, crypto investors are hard to break and it took a major 50% correction to get some long term holders to finally capitulate.

The spike was driven in large part by the expectation that the price of Bitcoin would rise in 2020, but the expectation itself was driven by a variety of other factors.

Digital Gold Narrative Floods Crypto Market With Trillions

The digital gold narrative was one of the primary factors in Bitcoin’s parabolic climb in 2020. The cryptocurrency was designed by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto to share many of the same attributes as the precious metal, such as scarcity.

Gold has long been used as a monetary standard, however, Bitcoin is better than gold in every way. The cryptocurrency can be sent across communications channels due to having no physical footprint, and requires no space to store. It is even more scarce than gold, with a fixed supply that can never be increased.

The gold market is worth more than ten trillion dollars, and even just a small amount of it coming out of precious metals and flowing into the ultra scarce, low liquid crypto market sent speculative asset prices soaring. Bitcoin reached more than $1 trillion itself, with the crypto market reaching nearly $3 trillion in total value. But then a crash happened, and the entire crypto market is now less than $2 trillion with Bitcoin included.

The Bitcoin Halving Crushes Supply When Demand Is Highest

The cryptocurrency’s hard-coded halving in May of 2020 was another major factor in causing the spike. Demand for the cryptocurrency had been rising naturally after a long bear market. When demand was at the highest in years, the supply was slashed in half by the cryptocurrency’s underlying protocol.

With less BTC flowing into the market from miners, and no more holders willing to sell, the price per Bitcoin rose exponentially, and it carried the rest of the crypto market up with it. DeFi coins exploded, and Ethereum set a new peak also. The entire market was soaring.

Capital seemed to be flowing into crypto from every angle, and it was. Which leads us to another primary factor in the cryptocurrency’s epic rise to stardom in 2021.

Stimulus Money, The Fail of Fiat, And The Future Of Bitcoin

The rise began with Black Thursday, and the massive stimulus rolled out since to save the economy and keep markets afloat. Central banks and governments have collectively added trillions of dollars to the global money supply, all while the total supply of BTC has stayed the same, and the incoming supply has dropped.

The fall of fiat currencies could soon arrive, and inflation is already running wild and causing consumer prices to skyrocket across the board. If this happens, the true value of cryptocurrency scarcity could show its hand in the coming years.

With the economy still on thin ice and unprecedented money printing failing to hold up the stock market, another big crash is imminent. If and when central banks again try to prop things up, Bitcoin will spike yet again, and the bull market will continue. Buying Bitcoin in many ways, is an insurance policy against any potential outcomes where the US dollar fails, and a new currency prevails.

The rest of the year of 2021 is bound to be an exciting one as bulls and bears collide to decide the future fate of the crypto market.

Image source Flickr

MasterCard has been indefinitely barred from issuing new debit or credit cards to domestic customers in India.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has accused MasterCard of violating data storage laws.

India’s central bank said MasterCard had not complied with rules requiring foreign card networks to store data on Indian payments exclusively in India.

There has been no response from the global payments service provider.

The payments service provider will be prohibited from issuing debit, credit or prepaid cards to customers in India from July 22.

The RBI’s decision will not have any impact on MasterCard’s existing customers. 

The bank said MasterCard had violated a 2018 order directing payments data to be stored in India. This would allow the regulator “unfettered supervisory access” to payment details.

“Notwithstanding (the) lapse of considerable time and adequate opportunities being given, the entity (MasterCard) has been found to be non-compliant with the directions of Storage Payment System Data,” the RBI said in a notification.

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In 2020, MasterCard accounted for 33% of all card payments in India, according to London-based payments start-up PPRO quoted by AFP.

In 2019, MasterCard announced an investment of a billion dollars over the next five years as part of its expansion plans in India.

Earlier this year, American Express and Diners Club were blocked from issuing new cards due to similar violations.

US-based payment service providers have lobbied aggressively against the 2018 directive, saying such a move would increase their costs of doing business in India.

However, India’s central bank has not relented.

Image source; AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

The science behind building construction has come a long way over the years, and today’s buildings tend to be much stronger and sturdier than those that have come before. However, there are still stories of recently-built buildings collapsing unexpectedly, such as the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside, Florida.

In the wake of that collapse, scientists and engineers have suggested that attitudes towards infrastructure and construction may need to evolve drastically in the years to come in order to prevent similar tragedies from occurring. But this is far from a new phenomenon. Throughout history, mankind has consistently sought to find ways to make buildings better and stronger.

Different methods and materials have been used throughout the ages to protect buildings and safeguard their inhabitants, but it’s only recently, with the advent of modern technology, that big breakthroughs have started to be made. Thanks to these exciting advancements in engineering, the future looks bright for buildings worldwide. Here are some of the top technologies that can help to strengthen buildings and reduce the risk of collapse, earthquake damage, and other events.

Levitating Foundations

For many years, base isolation has been targeted by engineers as a key method to make buildings stronger. It’s all about isolating the substructure of a building from the superstructure above. Recently, Japanese engineers have built on this idea to give us the “levitating foundation”, in which the superstructure of the building is actually supported on a thin layer of air, effectively levitating above its base.

The concept is complex in theory, but relatively simple in action: the building’s base is fitted with a powerful air compressor and a series of sensors. If the sensors detect seismic activity, the air compressor activates, forcing air between the building and its base, lifting the mass of the structure to isolate it from the forces in the ground.

Shock Absorbers

Many people are familiar with the idea of shock absorbers. We often associate them with automobiles, where they are used to absorb the energy of impacts in crashes and collisions, thereby reducing the risk of injury to the people inside the car. Well, shock absorbers can also be used in building construction too, designed to absorb energy from seismic waves. They’re designed to essentially transform kinetic energy into heat energy, via a physical process known as damping.

Shock absorbers, or dampers, can be positioned on the different levels of multi-storey buildings, connected to cylinders filled with oil that can absorb the heat energy. If an earthquake or other seismic event occurs, the dampers push into the oil, transforming the energy of the quake into heat energy and thereby protecting the building.

Replaceable Fuses

Many people rely on fuses around the home in various devices and appliances. These little electrical components serve as a form of protection against electrical fires and overheating appliances; if the current in an electrical circuit gets too high, the fuse blows, breaking the flow of electricity to prevent any further damage or risk.

Well, scientists a Stanford University and the University of Illinois have been looking at ways in which fuses can actually be used to prevent buildings from falling down or getting damaged during earthquakes too. The fuses, made of steel, are positioned between the frames of the building or at the bases of columns of a specially designed, flexible structure. Then, if an earthquake occurs, the fuses are effectively able to absorb seismic energy, and even if they “blow”, they can be replaced quite easily and cheaply.

Carbon Fiber Wraps

In many cases, these new technologies are designed to be incorporated in the construction of brand new buildings, but what if there was a way to protect older buildings from future damages by providing them with some kind of shield or reinforcement against seismic waves and other effects? Well, scientists believe they might have the answer in the form of carbon-fiber wrap.

This special kind of wrap, known as FRP or fiber-reinforced plastic wrap, is made with different types of carbon fibers and binding polymers like epoxy and vinyl ester. It’s a very strong yet lightweight material that can be retrofitted around existing support columns of old buildings, giving them a new level of strength and durability.

Final Word

These are just some of the ways in which modern technologies are changing the game for construction engineering, helping to make current and future buildings safer, stronger, and more reliable than ever before, potentially saving lives and averting disasters in the process.

Photo AP

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order aimed at cracking down on Big Tech and promoting competition.

The move points to President Biden’s desire for tougher scrutiny of Big Tech, which the administration has accused of “undermining competition”.

“Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation,” he said at Friday’s signing event.

The order includes 72 actions and recommendations involving ten agencies.

It suggests that problems have arisen because of large tech firms collecting too much personal information, buying up potential competitors and competing unfairly with small businesses.

Several recommendations it sets out include:

  • Greater scrutiny of mergers in the tech sector
  • New rules to be set out by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on data collection
  • Barring unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.

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The Biden administration is also targeting a number of other sectors with the order.

It encourages other government agencies to take action to improve competition across healthcare, travel and agriculture.

Once fully implemented, it would allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, for example, as well as the ban of early exit fees from internet contracts. It also intends to make it easier for consumers to claim refunds from airlines.

President Biden said that the order seeks to limit the use of “non-compete agreements” as a condition of getting a job, which he claimed can make it harder for people to change jobs and therefore limits wages.

The executive order alone, however, does not mean these recommendations will come into force immediately.

The government agencies responsible will need to implement the changes, while some elements could be subject to court challenges.

The US Chamber of Commerce criticized the order, saying it was “built on the flawed belief that our economy is over-concentrated, stagnant and fails to generate private investment needed to spur innovation”.

It comes weeks after the House Judiciary Committee also voted to approve a series anti-trust bills, which could eventually become law and force big tech firms to transform or even break up their businesses.

Morgan Stanley has reported an 87 percent jump in profits to $1.65 billion in Q3 2014

Morgan Stanley’s staff and clients will be barred from entering the investment bank’s New York offices if they are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

According to a person familiar with the matter, unvaccinated employees will need to work remotely.

The policy comes into effect next month, in a move aimed to allow the lifting of other Covid-related rules.

Last week, the Wall Street giant’s chief executive called on workers to return to the office.

An internal memo said: “Starting July 12 all employees, contingent workforce, clients and visitors will be required to attest to being fully vaccinated to access Morgan Stanley buildings in New York City and Westchester.”

The move will allow the company to remove restrictions in offices on face coverings and social distancing.

The policy currently operates on an honor system, but the bank may later decide to require proof of vaccination status.

Morgan Stanley had already implemented so-called “vaccine-only” workspaces in some departments, including institutional securities and wealth management.

Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley chief executive James Gorman said: “If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office.”

Speaking at a conference, James Gorman said he would be “very disappointed” if US-based workers had not returned by September.

It came as a number of banks are taking a tough position on home-working.

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Jamie Dimon, the boss of America’s biggest bank JP Morgan, recently said he wanted US staff back in the office from July.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs bankers were instructed to report their vaccine status ahead of returning to their desks earlier this month.

In December, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, gave the go-ahead for companies to bar unvaccinated staff from workplaces, subject to exceptions for religious and medical reasons.

Barclays’ chief executive Jes Staley, said in February that working from home was “not sustainable”. At a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, he said: “It will increasingly be a challenge to maintain the culture and collaboration that these large financial institutions seek to have and should have.”

China has intensified its clampdown on cryptocurrencies, telling banks and payments platforms to stop supporting digital currency transactions.

That follows an order on June 18 to shut down Bitcoin mining operations in Sichuan province.

The price of Bitcoin slumped by more 10% on June 21 but stabilized in Asian trading on June 22.

The value of the cryptocurrency has fallen by around 50% since hitting a record high above $63,000 in April.

On June 21, China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), said it had recently summoned several major banks and payments companies to call on them to take tougher action over the trading of cryptocurrencies.

In a statement, the PBOC asked banks not provide products or services such as trading, clearing and settlement for cryptocurrency transactions.

China’s third-largest lender by assets, the Agricultural Bank of China, said it was following the PBOC’s guidance and would conduct due diligence on clients to root out illegal activities involving cryptocurrency mining and transactions.

China’s Postal Savings Bank also said it would not facilitate any cryptocurrency transactions.

Mobile and online payments platform Alipay, which is owned by financial technology giant Ant Group, said it would set up a monitoring system to detect illegal cryptocurrency transactions.

The latest measure came after authorities in the southwest province of Sichuan on June 18 ordered Bitcoin mining operations to close down.

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In 2020, China accounted for around 65% of global Bitcoin production, with Sichuan rating as its second largest producer, according to research by the University of Cambridge.

Last month, China’s cabinet, the State Council, said it would crack down on cryptocurrency mining and trading as part of a campaign to control financial risks.

Some analysts have warned of potential further falls in the price of Bitcoin due to a price chart phenomenon known as a “death cross”, which occurs when a short-term average trendline crosses below a long-term average trendline.

Other cryptocurrencies also fell as investors worried about tougher regulation of digital currencies around the world.

Separately, the auction house Sotheby’s said that a rare pear-shaped diamond that is expected to sell for as much as $15 million can be bought at an auction next month using cryptocurrencies.

It is the first time that such a large diamond has been offered in a public sale with cryptocurrency.

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Photo AP

IKEA France has been fined €1 million ($1.2 million) after it was found guilty of spying on staff, a Versailles court has ruled.

Meanwhile, the former CEO of Ikea France, Jean-Louis Baillot, was given a two-year suspended jail term and €50,000 fine.

The French subsidiary of the Swedish furniture chain was found to have used private detectives and police officers to collect private data on staff. Evidence came to light in 2012.

Stung by the affair, Ikea fired four managers and got a new code of conduct.

The 15 people in the dock at the Versailles court included top executives and former store managers.

Four police officers were also on trial for handing over confidential information.

The mass surveillance system was used by store managers to vet job applicants, as well as checking up on their staff.

Ikea’s annual bill for private investigators ran to as much as €600,000, AFP reports, citing court documents.

In one case, AFP reports, Ikea’s former head of risk wanted to know how an employee could afford a new BMW convertible; he also inquired why a staff member in Bordeaux had “suddenly become a protester”.

That executive, Jean-François Paris, was given an 18-month suspended sentence and a €10,000 fine.

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The prosecution had called for a €2 million fine for Ikea and for Baillot to spend a year in prison, along with a further two years suspended.

The case centered on Ikea France’s surveillance of staff from 2009 to 2012. The scandal was exposed by journalists, then trade unions took legal action.

The illegal surveillance covered about 400 people, state prosecutor Pamela Tabardel said.

“What’s at stake is the protection of our private lives against the threat of mass surveillance,” she said when the trial opened in March.

Managers were found to have used a private security firm, Eirpace, which in turn collected personal data from the police. It included information about lifestyles and any previous criminal convictions.

The Eirpace boss, Jean-Pierre Fourès, was given a two-year suspended sentence and a €20,000 fine.

When the trial opened, Ikea France issued a statement saying it “strongly condemned” the privacy violations and it apologized for “this situation which does serious harm to the company’s values and ethical standards”.

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To fill vacancies, hiring managers generally have two options, hiring someone externally or promoting from within. While there are pros and cons of each, there are many benefits to filling that role with a current employee, including these.

Save Time and Money

The Society for Human Resource Management reports that the time to hire has been increasing significantly over the past decade or so. By promoting from within, you’ll get someone in the role much quicker and at a much lower price tag. The cost of filling a vacant position is tied to time – it increases every day it goes unfilled, not to mention there may be existing employees who have to cover the duties of that position, sacrificing their time and productivity too. The time it takes to onboard and train a brand new employee also adds to the overall cost.

While having an applicant tracking system (ATS) will help streamline the process, when you look within your organization to hire, you’ll save significantly on both time and money.

It Provides Motivation

When you promote from within, your employees will know that there are opportunities for career development which helps keep them motivated to work harder, encouraging them to do their best. It creates an atmosphere of optimism that tends to have a positive effect on the entire team, and, ultimately, the entire company. Hiring externally when there may be someone already there who is perfect for the role can have the opposite effect, sapping motivation.

Employee Retention

Not only does promoting from within help to create a more positive environment with employees motivated to work harder, but it can also improve employee retention. People will see that there are opportunities for career growth and will be less likely to look elsewhere. In fact, surveys have found that the most commonly cited reason for leaving a job other than pay is a lack of career growth.

You Already Know the Employee is a Good Cultural Fit

While skills and experience are important, a good cultural fit is also a key piece of the puzzle. When hiring a brand-new employee, their resume may be perfect, but it’s difficult to know whether or not they’ll fit in with the company’s culture. Perhaps they won’t be able to keep up with the fast pace, or worse, have anger issues that make them a loose cannon, creating tension that harms the work environment. When promoting from within, you’ll avoid the friction that comes with having to ramp up someone from the outside instead of bringing in an employee who already embodies the organization’s DNA.

You’ll Bolster Your Company’s Reputation

A great company image will attract the very best talent as the best applicants will do their research on companies before making any commitment. If your organization is known for rewarding employees for their long-term dedication, it not only improves morale, but it will bolster your reputation to keep you competitive in the job market when you’re truly in need of a new hire from the outside.

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Hashim Hasabelrasoul Hashim & Jimmy Nguyen (Image source: Bitcoin Association)

Bitcoin Association, a Switzerland-based non-profit organization that advances the adoption of the Bitcoin SV blockchain is leading the Blockchain for Government Initiative by successfully finishing a week-long official visit to the Republic of the Sudan last April. Bitcoin Association was invited and hosted by the country’s Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Transformation to explore how blockchain technology can aid the African nation advance into the digital world. The highlight of the visit was a two-day event that was Sudan’s first-ever Blockchain Summit & Workshop.

“In Sudan, we are in a transition period after thirty years of sanctions and thirty years of a bad regime. Now we are in a transition period in which we want to reform our country and reform the government. Digital transformation is a key pillar in this reformation. We are working on building a national strategy for digital transformation that aims to change the government from manual to digital, to make sure that the government will be more efficient, more smart, more in control and more transparent,” Hashim Hasabelrasoul Hashim, Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Transformation for the Republic of the Sudan, said in an interview.

Civil wars, armed conflicts against neighboring countries and an authoritarian president who ruled the country for three decades have hindered the country’s growth. As Sudan transitions into a democracy, its government is doing its best to propel the nation forward into the digital age in order to uplift its people and economy. And the Bitcoin SV (BSV) blockchain is certainly the most innovative and effective way to do it.

“I can clearly see a role for blockchain throughout different verticals within the government; digital identification is one of many, financial inclusion, digital certifications and many more to come, where we can benefit from blockchain. We want to be the first and lead on this technology in the country because it will enable us to really depend on real data that is secure,” Hashim added.

The delegation, headed by Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen, was composed of CEOs and founders of businesses from various industries that have successfully built platforms on the BSV blockchain. Aside from the two-day workshop, the BSV delegation, who are all experts in their fields, also conducted separate meetings with the Central Bank of Sudan, the Ministry of Telecommunication & Digital Transformation, the Ministry of Interior Affairs, leading telecommunications company SudaTel, and the 249 Startups hub for Sudanese entrepreneurs.

“Blockchain can help us to build a better world and our trip to Sudan left us feeling even more inspired to make that vision a reality… As we explore opportunities for initial blockchain projects in Sudan, we know that BSV’s massive scaling and focus on data network capabilities can provide the blockchain power needed to advance digital transformation for Sudan and greater Africa,” Nguyen said.

BSV’s Blockchain for Government Initiative is geared towards providing accurate Bitcoin education and the global adoption of blockchain technology by national governments, NGOs and the public sector with the ultimate goal of advancing digital transformation and inducing economic growth. Because Bitcoin SV has restored the original Bitcoin protocol and unleashed the unlimited scaling potential of its blockchain through the release of the Genesis Upgrade last year, it is more than capable of handling the big data being generated by governments on a daily basis. Instant microtransactions allow it to be cost-efficient; and data is secure, transparent and clean.

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You likely know what it means to complain about something. You can complain if Wendy’s screws up your drive-through order or if the government fails to deliver your stimulus check. But if you use the term “complaint” in a legal setting, it means something very specific.

In this article, we’ll talk about what a legal complaint is and what happens when you make one. We’ll also speak about amended complaints, another legal term about which it’s good for you to know.

What is a Complaint?

In legal terms, a complaint occurs when you start an action against someone, either an individual or a company, that has harmed you. The complaint to the court gets your case started. By the time you register a complaint, you have probably already hired a lawyer to help you with the various legal hurdles with which you’ll have to contend.

A complaint amendment spreads out the legal blame. In other words, you’re amending the original complaint because you’ve realized that not just one person or company harmed you.

You can add as many defendants to a complaint as you want, assuming you’re not including them baselessly. You and your lawyer must prove your assertion that all of these entities harmed you, so you can’t frivolously add people or businesses just because you feel like it. Doing so will probably hurt your case and make victory less likely.

When Can You Amend a Complaint?

If you want to amend your original legal complaint, there are two likely reasons why you would do that. The first is because the original defendant’s lawyer might file a motion to dismiss. You can block that by claiming that more individuals or entities than you first named caused your injuries or hardship.

The second reason is that you find out additional information after you file the first complaint. For example, maybe a pharmaceutical company harmed you. You ingested one of their drugs over the years and contracted cancer because of it.

You can sue the manufacturing company because they failed to test the drug for side effects. However, you might later find that there was an independent body that did some testing, but it wasn’t sufficient. You can name the testing company in the amended complaint.

Can You Do That at Any Time?

It would be nice if, as the injured party, you could add to the complaint at any time. You can’t, though. There are certain protections in place to prevent you from amending the complaint with impunity.

You can only add to the complaint for a certain designated period. That period usually changes depending on what state you’re in when you file the complaint. You typically have a few weeks to do it.

If the allotted time has elapsed, and you still want to amend the original complaint, you need to ask the court for permission to do that. It’s up to the court to decide whether to allow you to do so.

If the court feels like you’re not treating the defendants fairly, then it could deny that request. If so, you’ll have to move forward with the original complaint as it stands.  

Are There Additional Fees or Summons When You Amend a Complaint?

You have to pay a modest fee when you file a complaint as part of the legal process. If you amend the complaint, then generally, you don’t have to pay the court any additional money. You don’t need to issue the defendant another summons, either, unless the new complaint names a completely new individual or entity who must now appear to defend themselves.

All you have to do is file a new complaint. In this new one, you’ll name any additional people or entities who you feel harmed you.

How Long Do the Defendants Have to Respond?

The defendants have to respond to the complaint as part of the legal process that could lead to a courtroom showdown between the defendant’s lawyer and your own. That’s assuming you couldn’t settle out of court.

How long the defendants have to respond depends on what state you’re in and whether the court accepted a newly amended complaint version. Generally, the court will not give the defendant longer than a few weeks to answer. In their response, they will indicate whether they plan to try to settle with you or continue on to a courtroom appearance.

Now, you know a little bit about complaints and amended versions if you ever elect to sue someone.  

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It will be remembered as a flash in the pan, but the recently proposed European Super League rocked soccer and, indeed, world sports to its foundations. It was an attempted power grab by the money men involved in the once beautiful game but one that was crushed by fans across the world.

With the teams confirmed, announcing their plans to break away and create a European Super League it looked like a done deal. It seemed so certain experts working on sports betting in Las Vegas were even making moves to accept bets on the competition’s first winners.

Cue a vicious backlash from supporters who said it went against everything the sport stood for. They rolled up their sleeves and, strengthened by the teams not invited to join the ESL; football supporters made their feelings clear. The competition wasn’t wanted, they would never support it, and it was a non-starter.

European Super League explained

What exactly is all the fuss about, and what is the European Super League? It was a football competition proposed to replace the UEFA Champions League. It was to consist of two leagues of teams with a round-robin format. The three highest finishing sides would progress to the knockout stages with a selection of others involved in a playoff to join them. The play would then start to whittle down the teams until left with two who met in the final.

Sounds exciting. What was the problem? The main problem for most football fans was the Super League was a closed shop, reserved for the wealthiest sides to get even richer. The 18 to 20 teams would rake in a massive income for their involvement, leaving everyone else on the outside looking in. No relegation sits well with the business heads behind the idea, but it wasn’t something that appealed to the average fan who viewed it as a robbery of all they held dear in sport.

Protests in England made government act

Six English Premier League clubs – Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Man City – were involved in the ESL, making the shock announcement last week. It was a plan that must’ve been going on behind the scenes for quite some time, but the news seemed to catch most sports lovers off-guard. Added to the heightened tensions of the coronavirus lockdown that has seen supporters locked out of stadiums for more than a year in some parts of Europe, it was a recipe for disaster. This became obvious very quickly.

Hundreds of English football followers broke covid laws to gather in protest. They took their opposition to the streets, their team’s home arena, and even the training field. They acted swiftly, making worldwide news and causing panic. Police and club security were drafted in to help control the protests, which caught the eye of the UK government in London. British prime minister Boris Johnson became one of the most high profile names to break cover and condemn the English sides for their involvement in the Super League.

Clubs back down with some even apologising

Manchester City was the first club to announce their withdrawal, quickly followed by fellow English team Chelsea who informed the media of their sudden change of heart. Later that evening, the remaining Premier League teams pulled out.

The co-owner of Manchester United, Joel Glazer, penned an open letter to fans of the Red Devils in which he apologized for the club’s involvement in the European Super League and said they aimed to rebuild trust with fans. Across the city and Manchester City’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, wrote to fans and apologized for the mistake made and for the anguish it has caused during the fallout.

Liverpool John Henry was forced into a climb-down after he withdrew the Reds from the competition just 48 hours after signing up for it. An embarrassing episode for all concerned but not one a simple apology will fix. Fans and pundits are out for blood, and we could see heads roll. In the coming weeks, it’s possible those involved in the process of signing clubs up to the ESL scheme could lose their job or be shamed into selling up and moving on. The Super League is dead in the water, but we’ve not heard the last of this.

Bernard Madoff has been returned to jail after being hospitalized for a heart attack last month

Disgraced Wall Street financier Bernie Madoff has died in prison at age 82.

Bernie Madoff admitted to one of the biggest frauds in US financial history.

His death was announced by the Bureau of Prisons.

Bernie Madoff had been serving a 150-year sentence after he pleaded guilty in 2009 to running a Ponzi scheme, which paid investors with money from new clients rather than actual profits.

It collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis.

Bernie Madoff,the son of European immigrants who grew up in New York, set up his eponymous firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities in 1960.

The company became one of the largest market-makers – matching buyers and sellers of stocks – and Bernie Madoff served as chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange.

His company was investigated eight times by the Securities and Exchange Commission because it made exceptional returns.

But it was the global recession which effectively prompted Bernie Madoff’s demise as investors, hit by the downturn, tried to withdraw about $7 billion from his funds and he could not find the money to cover it.

He confessed the problem to his sons, who went to the authorities.

The list of those scammed included actor Kevin Bacon, Hall of Fame baseball player Sandy Koufax and film director Steven Spielberg’s charitable foundation, Wunderkinder.

UK banks were also among those who lost money, with HSBC Holdings saying it had exposure of around $1 billion. Other corporate victims were Royal Bank of Scotland and Man Group and Japan’s Nomura Holdings.

But it was not just the elite and large firms who were victims of the fraud.

School teachers, farmers, mechanics and many others also lost money.

“We thought he was God. We trusted everything in his hands,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, whose foundation lost $15.2 million, said in 2009.

Bernard Madoff hospitalized after suffering heart attack in prison

JPMorgan Chase agrees to pay $1.7 billion to victims of Bernard Madoff fraud

Andrew Madoff was under investigation until he died

In court, Bernie Madoff said that when he started the scheme in the 1990s, he hoped it would only be for a limited time.

The scam involved an estimated $65 billion, a figure that included gains Bernie Madoff’s clients believed they had made due to fake account statements.

Of the more than $17 billion in cash losses, more than $14 billion has been recovered.

In 2020, Bernie Madoff requested early release from prison citing health problems, including kidney disease. In an interview with The Washington Post he said he had “made a terrible mistake.”

“I’m terminally ill,” he said.

“There’s no cure for my type of disease. So, you know, I’ve served. I’ve served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it.”

Judge Denny Chin denied Bernie Madoff’s request, noting many victims were still suffering due to their financial losses.

“I also believe that Mr. Madoff was never truly remorseful, and that he was only sorry that his life as he knew it was collapsing around him,” the judge wrote.

At least two investors with Bernie Madoff committed suicide after their losses. His son Mark also killed himself on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest. His other son, Andrew, died of cancer in 2014.

Bernie Madoff is survived by his wife, Ruth Madoff, who maintained she was unaware of the scheme and was never charged. Prosecutors let her keep $2.5 milllion from the $825 million fortune the couple once possessed.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

North Korea has announced it will skip the Tokyo Olympics this year, saying the decision is to protect its athletes from Covid-19.

Pyongyang’s decision puts an end to South Korea’s hopes of using the Games to engage with the North amid stalled cross-border talks.

In 2018, North and South Korea entered a joint team at the Winter Olympics which led to a series of historic summits.

North Korea says it has no cases of the virus but experts say this is unlikely.

The announcement makes North Korea the first major country to skip the delayed 2020 Games because of the pandemic. The event is due to begin on 23 July.

Tokyo Olympics to Start on July 23, 2021

Coronavirus: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postponed Until 2021

This will be the first time North Korea has missed a Summer Olympics since 1988, when it boycotted the Seoul Games during the Cold War.

According to a report by the state-run site Sports in the DPRK, the decision was made at an Olympic committee meeting on March 25.

North Korea has taken stringent measures against the coronavirus since it broke out last year.

It shut its borders in late January and later quarantined hundreds of foreigners in its capital.

Since early 2020, trains and wagons have been forbidden to enter or leave North Korea, with most international passenger flights stopped as well.

There were hopes from South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in that the Games could be a catalyst for progress between both Koreas.

That had been the case in 2018, when North Korea sent 22 athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, along with government officials, journalists and a 230-member cheering group.

Among the contingent was North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong – a move which helped it initiate diplomacy with South Korea and the US.

The talks that followed led to a series of historic, high-profile meetings between Kim Jong-un and former President Donald Trump.

There were hopes for improved relations after the meetings, but nothing materialized and the atmosphere has since deteriorated.

Meanwhile, in Japan, an Olympic preparatory event was canceled after Covid infections broke out at a training camp for the Japanese water polo team – with seven people testing positive for the virus.

It follows the announcement that the Osaka leg of the Olympic torch relay will be canceled after infections in the city hit record highs.

There have been growing concerns in Japan that more infectious strains of the virus could be driving a potential fourth Covid-19 wave in the country.

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Image by PaolaF from Pixabay

Golf is a popular sport that offers many benefits to its players. It gets you active and outdoors and it is a social sport that can be enjoyed with friends and family of all ages and abilities. There are psychological benefits too, such as improved mood, increased confidence, and reduced anxiety. If you enjoy playing golf, then you need to make sure that you have the right equipment that matches your personal preferences and your skillset. To help you make the right decisions during your search, here are 6 things to keep in mind when choosing golf equipment.

Confidence in Your Driver

The head of a driver will determine the length of your shot. It is important to find your optimal head shape to enhance your performance. You need to use a driver the promotes your self-confidence and playability. Every player will have their own preference when it comes to shape and size, but whatever your preference may be, feeling confident during a game is the main thing you need to look out for.

Choosing Your Shaft Wisely

If you want to become a consistent player, then you must choose your shaft wisely. The shaft selection is an item that is often overlooked in golf. However, the shaft choice will have an impact on your shot dispersion and distance. Your swing speed is important when selecting a driver shaft, but you should also keep the tempo of each swing, ball speed, the weight of the shaft, and the launch point in mind.

Selecting the Right Ball

When selecting your golf equipment, it can be easy to focus on the clubs, but you can’t actually play the game without a golf ball. There are some steps you should follow when selecting a golf ball. This includes understanding the core and other parts of the ball, then studying and testing it when possible.  It is common for golf balls to get lost, so you should avoid spending too much on the right golf balls.

Second Hand Golf Carts

Walking around a golf course carrying your golf clubs can be tiring. If you have the money and storage space, you could invest in your very own golf cart to make things more comfortable and enjoyable. You must know what you’re looking for if you buy a used cart. Whatever the age of your cart, if it needs repairs or maintenance, then you should check out the popular EZGO brand for essential items. 

The Price of Equipment

Many young golfers worry about the price of their golf equipment, especially when they have other responsibilities to pay for. Doing your research, searching for good deals, and making smart choices can tackle the issue of expenses. When you select irons, a driver, or any other pieces of equipment, the price should not dictate your decision. A big price tag does not mean that the equipment is better.

Storage Space at Home

Before you purchase any golf equipment, you need to make sure that you can store it all properly at home. Whether it cost a ton or it was second hand, well-kept equipment will last longer and improve your performance on the golf course. It will maintain its appearance too. For example, your clubs must be cleaned regularly and they must be fully dry before you store them in a good bag in a safe and arid environment.

There are a lot of brands and makes out there, which can make choosing the right golf equipment feel overwhelming at times. However, with the right research and knowledge, it will be easier for you to make the right choice and improve your performance without breaking your budget.

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Image source Pexels

Internal communications within your SME are often difficult to navigate and manage. With so much going on and various teams to handle, it’s all too easy for communications between employees and departments to become lost. Communication between employee and upper management is also essential, and when these lines of interaction are insufficient it can lead to all kinds of issues within your business.

By streamlining the lines of communication within your SME, you, your employees and your business will begin to thrive. And when your business is thriving, your clients will certainly benefit from your new approach. Here we’ll explore some amazing ways to streamline communications within your SME, read on to find out more.

Update your procurement process

The procurement of electronic components, like this Ddr dram module memory ICs, can be incredibly time consuming and difficult to manage. When you have several departments in need of electronic parts and components for various applications, it’s important that duplicate orders and order errors are kept to a minimum. By moving your procurement process online to Sourcengine.com, you can upload your BOM, source the parts you need and share your activity with others across your business. Keeping everyone in the loop and keeping them informed of incoming deliveries and the components that are on their way. 

This simple change won’t just streamline the communications within your business but your entire supply chain and production line.

Be as transparent as possible with employees

Creating a transparent and open working environment with your employees, not only keeps them in the loop of any business changes or company progress, but also sets a precedent for clarity and inclusiveness throughout your organization. If employees can see how happy you are to share information about every aspect of your business, the more comfortable they’ll feel sharing their opinions and their ideas. All of which have great value.

Keep your company vision clear and consistent

In order to strengthen the bonds of communication within your business and to help employees reach their goals collectively, employers should regularly explain their company’s vision and work on keeping it clear and consistent. Whether they’re new employees and this is part of the onboarding process or they’re seasoned employees with experience, when everyone is one the same page, communications within your business will certainly improve.

Work on your “open door” policy

Not everyone has the courage to speak up, especially to their superiors. This is why curating an open-door policy is crucial for internal communications. Actively encourage employees to approach you and to speak up when they see something that isn’t right, or they believe they’ve found a way to improve the daily practices of your business. Employees should feel comfortable and be happy to approach you or management for all kinds of issues. An open door policy creates better relationships within your business and can even improve productivity in the workplace.

Final thoughts…

Improving the lines of communication within your business will benefit you, your employees and your clients. Start by following the tips above and remember that good communication is a work in progress.

Image source: AP

President Joe Biden has called for trillions in spending aimed at re-igniting America’s economic growth by upgrading its crumbling infrastructure and tackling climate change.

The $2.3 trillion proposal would direct billions to initiatives such as charging stations for electric vehicles and eliminating lead water pipes.

The spending would be partially offset by raising taxes on businesses.

Those plans have already roused fierce opposition.

Republicans have called the rises “a recipe for stagnation and decline”, while powerful business lobby groups including the Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce said they supported investments but would oppose tax increases.

The pushback is a sign of the tough fight ahead for the plan, which needs approval from Congress.

The White House has promoted its proposal as the most ambitious public spending in decades, saying the investments are necessary to keep the US economy growing and competitive with other countries, especially China.

In a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 31, President Biden said: “This is not a plan that tinkers around the edges.

“It’s a once in a generation investment in America.”

The plan calls for investing more than $600 billion in infrastructure, including modernizing roads, replacing rail cars and buses and repairing crumbling bridges.

American Rescue Plan: Senate Passes President Biden’s $1.9TN Covid Relief Bill

American Rescue Plan: President Biden’s $1.9Tn Covid Relief Bill Passes House Vote

Billions more would be devoted to initiatives like improving veterans hospitals, upgrading affordable housing, expanding high-speed broadband, and providing incentives for manufacturing and technology research.

It calls for money to be directed to rural communities and communities of color, including establishing a national climate-focused laboratory affiliated with an historically black university.

The spending, which would have to be approved by Congress, would roll out over eight years.

The White House said tax increases would offset the cost over 15 years.

President Biden called for raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, a move that would partially undo cuts the US passed in 2017. He also proposed raising the minimum rate charged for overseas profits.

In his speech, in an acknowledgment such plans are likely to face, the president said he was also “open to other ideas” when it came to paying for the spending.

“Failing to make these investments adds to our debt and effectively puts our children at a disadvantage relative to our competitors,” he said.

“The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future.”

President Biden’s proposal – which closely resembles promises he made during last year’s election campaign – comes just weeks after Democrats muscled through $1.9 trillion more in aid to address the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic, approving that package without Republican support.

It’s not clear yet how much of President Biden’s latest plan will make it through Congress – or how much of another spending package focused on areas such as childcare and education that he plans to unveil in coming weeks.

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Landscapers need a varied skill set. As well as understanding the environment they work in and the plants which thrive there, they must also be able to communicate well with clients and garden designers to achieve the required results. It’s also a very manual role that calls for the laying of new paving, pruning trees and carefully maintaining finished areas. The work is challenging, but with the right planning, a landscaping business can encompass both private and commercial clients to become very lucrative. Here are some ideas for growing your company and increasing your turnover.

Produce a new business plan

The decision to expand is often made as a result of a business doing well. To maximize on your success, it’s important to create a plan that takes into account your new goals. Think strategically to establish a set of clear targets. These could include the number of new customers you hope to take on, the additional hours you plan to work and the percentage increase you would like to see in your revenue. As some aspects of your plan, such as marketing, are likely to be costly, a budget is also required. Next, add a timeline to manage your overall plan. A set of weekly or monthly deadlines will provide information on your progress, so you can adjust your initiatives as and when required.

Show off your insurance certification

Primarily, the right insurance policy will safeguard your business from accidents and claims, but it can also prove your reliability to new and existing clients. Even if you are currently working as a smaller company and it’s just you at the helm, arranging cover from trusted insurance provider Next Insurance, gives you protection from unexpected losses. They work to deliver policies that are aimed at individual businesses, providing cover that’s right for you at an affordable price.

Remember that first impressions count

How you present yourself to potential clients is of key importance. Of course, you will need to be a friendly, polite and approachable person with plenty of innovative gardening ideas, but you should also be responsive to their queries. Provide a phone number and an email address, as well as a website where they can read reviews from past customers and see examples of your work. Your appearance can also have an impact on how your service is perceived. If you don’t have a van logo, then consider getting one made up to give your vehicle a professional look. This lets the neighborhood know you are running an established business and provides you with free advertising. Similarly, you could wear a uniform or even a t-shirt featuring your company logo. As you take on new staff, be sure to get them the same type of shirt, so customers know they are on your team.

Understand who your customers are

One of the most important factors in business success and expansion is knowing your target audience. You can’t create a service that people require if you aren’t entirely sure of who they are and what they want. Under the landscaping umbrella, there are services aimed at the owners of residential properties and services which are more suited to commercial spaces. You may be keen to offer premium outdoor projects or prefer working on general lawn maintenance, either way you’ll need to identify your customers in order to create worthwhile promotions and marketing.

Improve your digital marketing

Digital marketing is a sophisticated and popular tool that can help your business reach its full potential quickly. Building and maintaining a website is important, but it’s no longer enough. Your customers spend lots of time browsing for new products or services online and this means their tastes are more refined than ever. A modern website with uniform branding and design features will impress them, as will responsiveness and mobile compatibility. Having a portfolio of your previous work is a bonus and can certainly be used to your advantage, but the images will need to be high-quality. Pick out a varied selection which demonstrates your strongest skills. Then add explanations and curate them together in several labelled albums. An ordered approach allows visitors to quickly find pictures and content that relates to a project they have in mind.

Ultimately, some strategies will be more effective than others and you’ll soon learn which to concentrate on as your landscape business grows. You’ll need to be patient, but with hard work and a consistent approach, your goals will soon be within reach.

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Image by kmarius from Pixabay

Despite expectations that, as a result of the Covid pandemic, Portuguese house prices would fall during 2020, there has been an average 1.1% increase across the country. In January 2020, the average house price in Portugal stood at 344,417 euros by December that price had risen to 348,223 euros. There has, however, been considerable regional variation in the sale price of property: Portalegre and Guada saw falls of 16.9% and 14% respectively, whilst Evora and Beja saw property prices rise by 16.9% and 7.7%.

Across Europe there has been a trend pandemic trend for increased sales outside of urban areas and in particular a move away from property purchases in capital cities. This trend does not seem to have made an impact on property prices in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, where average prices increased from 551,607 euros in December 2019 to 557,595 euros in December 2020. Lisbon has experienced a property boom in recent years but 2019 saw a slowdown in the number properties being bought by foreigners. Estate agents report that purchasers have been choosing cheaper properties but also that there has been an increase in enquiries and clients from America.

One of the key factors driving Portugal’s property boom in recent years has been the ‘Golden Visa’ scheme, by which foreign purchasers of property valued in excess of 350,000 euros are entitled to residency rights and unhindered travel within the Schengen territories. The scheduled ending of this scheme in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve may well create a last-minute surge of foreign purchases before the deadline.

The Portuguese government was widely commended for its handling of the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic and the comparative low impact of the virus during most of 2020 may well have helped sustain the country’s buoyant property market. Unfortunately, the second and third waves of the virus which hit the country at the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 have proved much more serious and currently, Portugal is in a state of emergency until at least March 11th.

The Portuguese economy, so dependent on tourism, has been devastated by the pandemic. During the first nine months of 2020, the overall turnover in terms of taxable income, declined by 14.8%. Over 37,000 businesses in the hospitality sector face bankruptcy. The extent to which this catastrophic economic situation will impact on property prices which largely depend on whether Portugal is able to quash the virus in time for the resumption of a tourist summer season in 2021.

Even without the incentive of a ‘Golden Visa’ Portugal remains a very attractive location for foreign property purchasers. Year-round sunshine, some of the best beaches in Europe, outstanding cuisine, a rich cultural and architectural heritage, one of the lowest costs of living in Europe and an impressively low crime rate are all powerful incentives for foreign investors. The coming year is undoubtedly going to be one of extreme challenge, but it seems likely that demand for Portuguese real estate will continue to increase.

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Image by Peter H from Pixabay

If you own a truck, you know that it has different maintenance needs than a regular car. Not only are trucks designed differently than, say, a minivan, but they’re driven differently, too. You might drive a minivan around your neighborhood or city, but you could easily drive a truck through the countryside or take it on an off-roading adventure! As a result, you may need certain upgrades and features on your truck that can help you get the most out of your vehicle. So, let’s take a closer look at 4 upgrades every truck owner should know about!

Interior and Exterior Light Kits

Even if you don’t travel at night very often, you should always be prepared. Oftentimes, the standard lights that come with vehicles can be subpar. To rectify this problem, you can easily purchase an interior or exterior light kit. This will allow you to see everything inside and outside of your vehicle — regardless of the time of day or night.

There are dozens of high-quality light kits on the market. For better or worse, most people focus on exterior lights and largely forget about the inside of their truck. Fortunately, LED lights for Ford F150 interior setups are a great solution.

Suspension

Your truck’s suspension helps your vehicle absorb the impact of bumps in the road and generally ensures a smooth ride. This is why you can almost always tell when there’s an issue with your suspension system. If your truck’s suspension is not working properly, each and every bump will feel amplified, making it uncomfortable and even dangerous to drive.

Unless you’ve got superior mechanic skills, you’ll probably need an expert to install a new suspension system. This means that you’ll need to factor the cost of labor and the price of the new system into your budget. Thankfully, you can easily find aftermarket suspension systems through various online retailers.

Lift Kit

It’s important to note that lift kits are not the best choice for every truck owner. Some drivers don’t want the hassle of climbing in and out of their truck every time they need to go somewhere. However, if you frequently drive on rough terrain, a lift kit will help you avoid obstacles that would otherwise cause damage to your truck’s undercarriage.

A lift kit does exactly what the name implies; it lifts the frame of your truck higher off the ground. Some people make this upgrade purely for aesthetics, while others do it for more practical reasons (namely avoiding short barriers). In any case, it’s a necessity for truck owners who frequently drive off-road.

Bull Guard

The bull guard is another upgrade that is geared toward off-roaders. That said, it can offer enhanced front-end protection for regular drivers as well. For example, if you accidentally hit a deer while driving, a bull guard could end up protecting the front of your truck from costly damage.

One great thing about bull guards is their low price point. Bull guards are relatively inexpensive and can even be installed without professional help. However, the price and complexity of your bull guard will depend on both the design and materials.

YouTube may lift Donald Trump’s suspension, if the threat of “real-world violence” decreases, Susan Wojcicki, the platform’s CEO, has said.

She said the company will look at government warnings and violent rhetoric to determine when it’s safe to lift the suspension.

Following the Capitol Hill riot on January 6 that left five dead, Donald Trump’s account was suspended.

YouTube said the former president had violated their incitement of violence policy.

President Trump Permanently Suspended from Twitter

Pro-Trump Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Susan Wojcicki said during an interview with the Atlantic Council on March 4: “It’s pretty clear that right now where we stand, that there still is that elevated risk of violence.”

She clarified that Donald Trump’s conduct had not led to a full ban on the platform.

YouTube operates under a three strike system and an account must receive all three strikes within 90 days to be permanently removed.

The suspension in January was Donald Trump’s first strike.

Rudy Giuliani, the former personal attorney to Donald Tump, received his second strike earlier this week for claiming the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Typically, a first strike results in a seven day suspension of an account, but Donald Trump’s has been prolonged due to a continued risk of violence.

After a large group of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building on January 6, the former president was banned across many social media outlets.

Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and suspended from Facebook.

Facebook’s Oversight Committee is currently looking at whether that suspension should be made permanent – however it’s not yet clear when they will rule.

Criminal charges have been filed for a reported 221 people involved in the Capitol riot.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan to help Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic has been approved in the House of Representatives.

The vote was along partisan lines. Two Democrats joined Republicans – who see it as too expensive – in opposing it.

The relief bill must now go to the evenly-divided Senate, which has already blocked a key element – doubling the US minimum wage to $15/hour.

The Covid-19 relief package seeks to boost vaccinations and testing, and stabilize the economy.

The cash would be extended as emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state governments. Unemployment is close to 10%, with some 10 million jobs lost in the pandemic.

The vote comes in the same week the United States passed 500,000 coronavirus-related deaths – the largest figure of any nation in the world.

In brief remarks at the White House on February 26, President Biden hailed the House’s approval of the plan, saying he hoped it would receive “quick action” at the Senate.

He said: “We have no time to waste.

“If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly we can finally get ahead of this virus, we can finally get our economy moving again. And the people in this country have suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering.”

Joe Biden had appealed for bipartisan unity when he took office last month.

He has championed what he calls the American Rescue Plan as a way to help struggling Americans through Covid-19.

However, Republicans say the plan is unnecessarily large and stuffed with Democratic priorities unrelated to the pandemic.

The divisions were reflected by the representatives.

The bill is the third major spending package of the pandemic, and actually not quite as big as President Donald Trump’s $2trillion last March.

President Trump Fails to Sign Covid-19 Relief Bill into Law

President Trump Threatens to Block Covid-19 Relief Bill

The key elements include:

  • A $1,400 cheque per person, although payments phase out for higher incomes
  • Extending jobless benefits until the end of August to help the more than 11 million long-term unemployed
  • Parents of children under the age of 18 to get a year of monthly benefits
  • $70 billion to boost Covid-19 testing and vaccinations
  • Financial support for schools and universities to help them reopen
  • Grants for small businesses and other targeted industries
  • Funds for local government

One of the other major elements is the increase of the minimum wage from $7.25/hour – where it has been since 2009 – to $15.

On February 25, Elizabeth MacDonough, the non-partisan Senate parliamentarian – who interprets its rules – said that raising the minimum wage would violate the budgetary limits allowed in this kind of measure.

The bill that passed in the House does still include the increase and it remains unclear how the issue can be resolved.

The minimum wage rise remains a key Democrat goal, particularly for the party’s progressive wing, and some top Democrats are considering a measure to penalize employers who pay less than $15/hour.

Republicans argue the minimum wage increase would be too heavy a toll on firms struggling to rebuild following the Covid-19 outbreak.

The package goes to the Senate – spilt evenly between Democrats and Republicans 50-50 – probably next week. The rules of the Senate do allow a reconciliation bill like this to be passed on a simple majority, rather than 60-40.

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Tiger Woods has been hospitalized after suffering “multiple leg injuries” in a car crash in Los Angeles, California.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department said that it “responded to a single-vehicle rollover” accident in which the “vehicle sustained major damage”.

Tiger Woods, 45, had to be “extricated from the wreck” by firefighters and paramedics.

Tiger Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg said: “He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”

Mark Steinberg confirmed the detail about the American having sustained “multiple leg injuries”.

The 15-time golf major champion was at the Riviera Country Club in LA at the weekend as host of the Genesis Invitational tournament.

A statement from the LA County Sheriff’s Department said it responded to the crash “on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes” on Tuesday morning local time.

The statement added: “Mr. Woods was extricated from the wreck with the ‘jaws of life’ by Los Angeles County firefighters and paramedics, then transported to a local hospital by ambulance for his injuries.”

“Units dispatched at 07:22 and found a single-vehicle rollover. One adult male was assisted out of the vehicle and transported to a local area hospital in serious condition.”

Tiger Woods Loses Sleep After Breakup with Lindsey Vonn

Tiger Woods loses front tooth in video camera crash while watching Lindsey Vonn compete in Italy

A statement from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said: “We are awaiting further information when he comes out of surgery.

“On behalf of the PGA Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”

Tiger Woods was involved in a car crash in November 2009 which eventually led to admissions of infidelity and the breakdown of his marriage. He then took a break from golf but returned shortly afterwards.

Following five wins in 2013, Tiger Woods started just 24 events in the next four years because of chronic back pain and multiple surgeries.

In 2017, Tiger Woods was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence when he was found asleep at the wheel of his car. He later pleaded guilty to reckless driving.

He had five prescription drugs in his system as he recovered from the spinal fusion surgery that ultimately gave him a second golfing career.

Tiger Woods ended an 11-year wait for a major title when he won the Masters at Augusta in 2019.

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Image source: robinhood.com

The family of Alex Kearns, who killed himself last year, have filed a lawsuit against trading app Robinhood over his death.

The lawsuit, first reported by CBS News, said the 20-year-old mistakenly believed he owed $730,000 when he took his own life.

Alex’s parents, Dan and Dorothy Kearns, say their son was unable to get help or support from customer services before he died.

Robinhood, which allows anyone to buy and trade stocks, says on its website that it is “on a mission to democratize finance” and is currently running an advertising campaign under the slogan of “We are all investors”.

The app recently made headlines for limiting sales of some shares to users after US retailer GameStop saw its stock surge.

GameStop Stocks Fall 60 Percent After Restrictions

GameStop: Elon Musk Questions Robinhood Founder Vladimir Tenev on Clubhouse

Speaking to CBS, the parents of Alex Kearns say he began using Robinhood just before he graduated high school.

Dan and Dorothy Kearns say they did not know the app had also approved him to buy and sell options – a risky financial instrument – despite a lack of financial experience.

They say their son realized on June 11, 2020, that his account had been restricted by Robinhood amid what appeared to be a negative balance of more than $700,000 on his account.

CBS reports Alex Kearns received an automated email at 03:26 early the next morning asking him to take “immediate action” to pay more than $170,000 within days.

The family say the student emailed customer service several times asking for support and help understanding the figures on his trading account, but only received stock response messages saying they would get back to him.

“They provide no mechanism through a telephone call, through live email service, to get live answers to questions,” a lawyer for the family told CBS.

Alex’s parents were told by police later that day, on June 12, that their son had died.

“He thought he blew up his life. He thought he screwed up beyond repair,” Dan Kearns said in the interview, in which he said his son had “just needed a little help”.

Dan and Dorothy Kearns say an email from Robinhood, received the day after his death, clarified that trading restrictions had been lifted and the trade resolved.

The lawsuit, filed in California state court, said the loss had been covered by other options in Alex’s account and accuses Robinhood’s “misleading communications” of leading to “panic and confusion”.

According to media reports, the wrongful death lawsuit accuses Robinhood of unfair business practices and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

If you’re in an emergency, please call 911. You can contact the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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Dogecoin has jumped in value by 50% after inventor Elon Musk dubbed it “the people’s crypto”.

Cryptocurrencies such as Dogecoin and Bitcoin are generated by computers. Their supposed value comes from the finite number that can be computed.

Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency which started off as a joke, uses a Shiba Inu dog as its mascot and is based on a meme featuring the animal.

The currency has risen more than 800% in the year so far.

After reaching a high of $0.058, each dogecoin is currently changing hands for about $0.046, suggesting a total value for all 128 billion coins of about $5.89 billion.

According to an interview with Vice, dogecoin was created in 2013 by a pair of software workers after one of them made a joke about the next big cryptocurrency.

However, with no intrinsic value like gold or land, and no ability to generate an income like a company or bond, cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and can crash as fast as they rise.

This makes them hard to value and makes their prices susceptible to tips from backers or sudden panics.

Critics point out that while any given cryptocurrency may have a finite supply of units, the number of cryptocurrencies is ever-growing and potentially limitless.

People have lost large amounts of money in steep drops in the value of cryptocurrencies and in hacks and corrupted or lost hard drives.

Petro: Venezuela Launches Ethereum-Based Cryptocurrency

Bitwalking Dollar: New Crypto-Currency Generated by Human Movement

Bitcoin’s value dropped by $5,000 on January4 to about $29,000 before recovering the lost ground. On January 11, it dropped $9,000 to $32,000.

Because the cryptocurrencies can pass international borders quickly and are not regulated like cash or regular investments, investigating thefts is hard.

Last month, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a stark warning to investors in so-called cryptoassets.

The financial watchdog said investors should be “prepared to lose all their money” should their investment’s value collapse.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Jeff Bezos is to step down as chief executive of Amazon, the e-commerce giant that he founded in his garage nearly 30 years ago.

The Amazon founder will become executive chairman, a move he said would give him “time and energy” to focus on his other ventures.

Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, will be replaced by Andy Jassy, who currently leads Amazon’s cloud computing business.

The change will take place in the second half of 2021, the company said.

In a letter to Amazon staff on February 2, Jeff Bezos said: “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else.”

“As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions.”

“I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have,” he added.

Jeff Bezos, 57, has led Amazon since its start as an online bookshop in 1994. The firm now employs 1.3 million people globally, and saw its already explosive growth skyrocket last year, as the pandemic prompted a surge in online shopping.

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Amazon reported $386 billion in sales in 2020, up 38% from 2019. Profits almost doubled, rising to $21.3 billion.

In announcing the plans, Jeff Bezos said he would continue to focus on new products and early initiatives.

“When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention,” he said.

“Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”

The move comes as Jeff Bezos has taken on an increasingly public profile.

He has endured a public divorce, become a target for labor and inequality activists, and got involved in other businesses, such as space exploration firm Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper.

Amazon also faces increasing scrutiny from regulators, who have questioned its monopoly power. And its dominance in cloud computing is being increasingly challenged by other tech firms, such as Microsoft and Alphabet, parent company of Google and YouTube.

Jeff Bezos’s decision to hand over the day-to-day operation of the company came as a surprise. But investors appeared unfazed, with little change in the company’s share price in after-hours trade.

Andy Jassy, a Harvard graduate, has been with Amazon since 1997 and helped develop Amazon Web Services, which has long been seen as the profit engine of the company.