Bagged Salad Mix To Blame For Mysterious Stomach Bug Outbreak?

Bagged salad is usually a healthy and convenient option for people on the go, but according to reports this week, prepackaged greens may be the culprit behind the mysterious stomach bug that has troubled health officials and sickened hundreds in parts of the U.S. since June.


According to NBC News, health officials in Iowa and Nebraska said Tuesday that prepackaged salad mix may be the source of the cyclosporiasis outbreak.


"The evidence points to a salad mix containing iceberg and romaine lettuce, as well as carrots and red cabbage as the source of the outbreak reported in Iowa and Nebraska," Steven Mandernach, chief of the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, told the news outlet.


With more than 140 reported cases of cyclospora infection, Iowa is the state that has been hardest hit by the stomach bug. As of Tuesday, Texas has 101 confirmed cases and Nebraska has 78.


Iowa's Department of Public Health says that at least 80 percent of the state's reported cases were exposed to the same salad mix, CBS News reports. Health officials say the bagged greens (the brand and manufacturer of which have yet to be named) are no longer in Iowa's food supply chain.


While federal health officials warned this week that they are still unsure whether the bagged salad is the sole cause for the stomach bug outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration has assured consumers that an investigation is ongoing.


"FDA will continue to work with its federal, state and local partners in the investigation to determine whether this conclusion applies to the increased number of cases of cyclosporiasis in other states," the agency said in a statement. "The goal will be to combine information collected from other affected states with that provided by the state health authorities in Iowa to identify a specific food item linked to the illnesses."


As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 370 cases of cyclospora infection have been reported in 16 states. At least 21 people have reportedly been hospitalized.


According to CBS News, the cause of this stomach bug is the parasite cyclospora, which can be traced back to contaminated food or drinking water. The symptoms of a cyclospora infection include diarrhea, cramping, bloating, nausea and fatigue. Iowa health officials say the diarrhea can last for an average of 57 days if untreated.


57 days of diarrhea?! Gasp.






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Even Colombia Gets More Federal Aid Than Detroit

Detroit may be bankrupt, but more federal aid dollars are set to go to the country of Colombia than to America's 18th-largest city next year, according to a report from Bloomberg News.


Bloomberg reports that the South American nation will receive almost $323 million through President Barack Obama's new proposal to fight drug trafficking and violence. A State Department memo cited by the report says three-quarters of the money will be used to maintain "peace and security" in Colombia.


Conversely, Detroit, which filed for bankruptcy almost two weeks ago with at least $18 billion in long-term debt, will receive just $108.2 million in funds from the U.S. government in 2014, according to Bloomberg. Some $33 million of that total award is funded by a Community Block Grant distributed each year to urban cities and counties.


Detroit's murder rate is nearly twice as high as Colombia's, increasing 10 percent in 2012 to 53 murders for every 100,000 residents -- second only to New Orleans among U.S. cities. Despite that sobering fact, the Detroit Police Department is currently eligible to receive just $2 million in funds next year from the feds.


Colombia isn't the only country set to receive more aid under Obama's 2014 foreign assistance budget than Detroit, according to ForeignAssistance.gov, a website created by the U.S. Department of State. Leading the way in aid received is Afghanistan, which will get almost $2.2 billion in foreign aid. Other countries receiving more federal assistance than Detroit in 2014 include Egypt ($1.5 billion), South Africa ($445 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo ($235 million), Mexico ($205 million), the Philippines ($187 million) and Indonesia ($182 million).


The Obama Administration has made no moves suggesting a federal bailout of Detroit is a possibility. Left in the hands of a bankruptcy judge, pensions promised to more than 21,000 city government retirees face cuts, along with health care for current and retired workers, active worker pensions and payments owed to bondholders.


Robert Johnson, president of the Institute for New Economic Thinking and a former chief economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, cited the gap between aid for Colombia and Detroit on a call with reporters Wednesday to argue that Washington must change the way it funds and helps urban areas like Detroit.


"Obviously many people are demoralized in the United States now because they see that we don't help our cities, because that's not a systemic risk," he said.


Also on the call Wednesday was Nobel Prize-winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University in New York, who pointed to suburbanization and instability as destroyers of Detroit's finances. He said the lowered quality of services, public safety and education available to Americans in cities creates a fragmentation that wields "a gross effect on our society."


"Our approach has been: let everybody fend for themselves," Stiglitz said of the federal government's unwillingness to fix urban problems. "The consequence of that is just a huge waste of human and fiscal resources that would have been far better [used] to try to preserve the assets that are in Detroit ... better than basically [letting] the city decay as jobs decrease by more than 50 percent."


A federal bailout of Detroit would be unusual, but by no means the first -- New York City was bailed out under President Gerald Ford in 1975 to the tune of $2.3 billion (or $9.9 billion in today's dollars). Of course, more recently, federal bailouts have become more common for corporations than for cities. Domestic automakers General Motors and Chrysler received $80 billion in loans from the federal government beginning in 2008.


"We do help our auto companies -- some of which are headquartered in Detroit -- which have plants in Mexico and China and all around the world," Johnson said. But while some analysts credit the bailout of Chrysler and GM for saving 1 million jobs, many of those benefits didn't trickle down to Detroiters. "What works out to the benefit of General Motors or Chrysler does not work out to the benefit of these communities," Johnson said.


Facing down a recession, the federal government also invested over $700 billion in troubled banks and financial companies through The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), more commonly known as the Wall Street bailout.


Johnson said the sort of financial protection and help that has been extended to Wall Street, foreign nations like Colombia, and other multinational companies should also be available to ordinary Americans.


"The real question is, once again," he said, "who is in and who is out of the kind of guarantees and assurance that our society provides."






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How Many Americans Think Smoking Should Be Illegal?

GOP Austerity Measure Falls Apart

WASHINGTON -- House GOP leaders Wednesday halted debate on an austere measure that's full of cuts to transportation and housing programs and community development grants.


GOP aides said there wasn't enough time in a busy House floor schedule to continue debate but House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said it was apparent there weren't the votes to pass the bill.


Rogers, who is often cautious in his public statements, issued an unusually harsh blast, saying it reflected a failure of Republicans to follow up their promises to cut spending with binding legislation.


"With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very budget it adopted just three months ago," Rogers said. He said the failed transportation and housing measure was the first major attempt by Republicans to pass an appropriations bill at levels consistent with the automatic cuts known as budget sequestration.


"The House, Senate and White House must come together as soon as possible on a comprehensive compromise that repeals sequestration, takes the nation off this lurching path from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis, reduces our deficits and debt, and provides a realistic topline discretionary spending level to fund the government in a responsible – and attainable – way," Roger said.


Some House conservatives vow to oppose every spending measure while the cuts in the bill may be too deep for more moderate Republicans.


The move comes as companion legislation in the Senate may be filibustered to death on Thursday by Republicans because it exceeds budget levels mandated under automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.


"Voting for appropriations legislation that blatantly violates budget reforms already agreed to by both parties moves our country in exactly, exactly the wrong direction," said Minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.






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Mark Steber: Preparing Yourself for the Financial Effects of Severe Weather

Did you know there have been 47 disaster declarations already this year? With hurricane season starting and a devastating wildfire season already underway, now is the time to prepare yourself in case you are impacted by a disaster or other casualty loss. Unknown to many taxpayers, are the very pro-taxpayer rules for your tax return if you suffer from a casualty, theft, or disaster loss and preparing beforehand can help speed up the process if you are impacted by an event. While this is a best practice, let's be real -- not many people prepare for taxes during the tax year, let alone for tax consequences of a disaster event. Having said that--and while advanced preparation is the best, there are also things you can do after an event to still take advantage of the beneficial tax rules


First, let's look at what you can do before a casualty or disaster strikes and secondly what you need to do if you are involved in one.


What is a casualty or disaster for tax return purposes and what should you do to prepare yourself before a casualty or disaster strikes? So glad you asked. A casualty is the damage, destruction or loss of property resulting from an identifiable event that is sudden, unexpected or unusual. It does not include damage from routine wear and tear (such as termite infestation or gradual mold damage). A disaster is a large scale casualty event that has been designated a disaster area by the president. The IRS allows you to claim a casualty, or theft, loss on your tax return. That is correct -- a tax deduction on your tax return for damage or loss you suffer from a catastrophic event.


Of course, there are rules and limitations. You must itemize deductions to claim the loss, you must also deduct $100 from each separate casualty event and deduct ten percent of your adjusted gross income from your total losses. Sounds a bit complicated and it is, but the tax benefits may be worth it. The remaining loss after those computations and limits is then allowed as an itemized deduction reducing your taxable income and therefore your taxes. Most losses are deducted on your tax return for the year the loss occurred, but there are special rules when you suffer a loss due to a federally declared disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012. What can you do to help minimize the confusion that comes with claiming a casualty loss before one occurs? Here are some timely tips to help you prepare:



  • Take a Home Inventory. Walk through each room in the home and record all items in writing, noting a description, cost and fair market value. The Jackson Hewitt Household Inventory List is a helpful guide. If you are not the writing type, consider a short home video, by room and area detailing what you have and particular items of value and risk like jewelry or other highly at risk property.

  • Understand What is Not Covered. Casualty-related expenses that cannot be deducted as losses include the cost of repairing damaged property, restoring landscaping to its original condition or cleaning up after a casualty.

  • Know How to Document Losses. In addition to proving the amount of loss, you are required to prove to the IRS that you owned the property or are responsible for any damage to the property, and that there was an event that directly caused the loss. As a general rule, keep any documentation that validates property ownership, the fair market value of the property, and the cost of any improvements to the property.

  • Keep Important Documentation in a Safe Place. Make copies of all of your important documents such as your insurance policies, birth certificates, and marriage licenses and don't forget to include copies of your home inventory. Store the copies in a secure electronic document storage program or cloud back up, or on a portable drive or CD and in an off-site location like a safe deposit box or with a family member. Finally, secure all your original documents in a waterproof container in either a small safe or other location that is easy to access should you need to evacuate.




But what do you do after the casualty or disaster?



  • Document your loss. Take photographs or videos of the damage to your property, as well as any repairs. It's also important to keep any and all receipts for repairs or clean-up work. While these are not deductible losses, repairs or clean-up expenses may help establish a decline in the fair market value of your property as long as the expenses are incurred to restore the property to its original condition. If the disaster that affected you is not widely known, be sure to save any police reports or newspaper articles to document the event.

  • Know your deadlines. The IRS may postpone certain tax deadlines for taxpayers who are affected by a federally declared disaster. These extensions can push standard deadlines as far back as one year and may include filing income, excise and employment tax returns, paying taxes associated with those returns, and making contributions to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. The IRS typically publishes announcements about postponed tax deadlines on the IRS website disaster page.

  • File a timely insurance claim. If your property is covered by insurance, you should file a timely insurance claim for reimbursement of the loss. Not filing an insurance claim may limit your eligible casualty or theft loss to the amount that is normally not covered by your insurance, such as your insurance deductible amount.

  • Be aware of federally declared disasters. Additional tax relief may be available if an area is declared a federal disaster area. A list of current disasters is available on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website. If you have been affected by a federally declared disaster, you must choose how you will claim the loss -- either as part of your itemized deductions for the year in which it occurred or by amending your prior-year tax return and claiming your deductions in the previous tax year. If you have a loss in a federally declared disaster area since January 1, 2013, you may claim the loss on your 2012 tax return or wait until you file your 2013 tax return next year. If you have already filed your 2012 tax return, you may amend the return to claim the loss now.


Unfortunately, natural disasters, and losses from them, occur each year and cost Americans billions of dollars. The income tax rules may provide a small silver lining if the right circumstances apply. There are potential tax deductions, filing delays, extensions of time and other provisions that may help reduce your taxes, get money back, or get money back faster if you are severely impacted. However, as with all best practices to make the most of your tax situation, you need to plan ahead, understand the rules or get help in doing so, and document all of the facts and circumstances as much as you can and as detailed as you can. First and foremost, be safe and protect yourself and your family, secondly if you have a catastrophic loss start looking at the income tax return implications and make the most of the rules to get more money back. The income tax return benefits of the disaster and casualty loss rules are there for you. These tax rules may not make you whole again and certainly cannot replace precious sentimental items or life lost, but they can lighten your taxes and may even put more money in your pocket -- when you need it most. Prepare ahead if you can, and even if not, understand the rules after the fact or find professional help that does and get all of the tax benefits you deserve.






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Roger Wright: The Secret to Finding Work

What is 'The Secret' to finding work when there are no jobs?


When the blockbuster book, The Secret, was released in 2007, I remember a friend telling her daughter, "The Secret is hard work."


Is that what gets a person working again? Hard work? If it were, it would be news to uncountable numbers of people across the globe. Those who have found searching for work harder than any job they've ever had.


Judgment calls like, 'work harder!' can be seductive. They always sound good. They certainly sell books and expert advice. They give the illusion of an answer. And they are tough to argue. Try finding someone who is against hard work. Like the search for a 'Secret' to finding work, a judgment call can feel good. It requires little thinking, because the thinking has already been done. The judgment has already been made. The answer has already been given. So judgment calls do sell books.


The problem is that judgment calls, like 'work harder' and the search for magic secrets stop short of the really valuable questions, the ones that really could make a difference in finding work. Questions like, 'Work harder at what?' Or perhaps the hardest question of all, 'How do I think differently about finding work?"


The hard work of thinking differently, letting go of a judgment, giving up on an easy answer or following the crowd is the hard work I hear in my correspondence and conversations with readers who have found their own path to work after reading Finding Work When There Are No Jobs.


'Jack' from Seattle writes:


Your 5 main principles all sound easy, but they're not. I really like the first one, 'Tell Your Story.' I get how conversations have to replace resumes. That story about the anorexic kid and doing what mattered. That got me thinking about how I really don't include what matters most about me when I talk about the work I could do. But then, here's what happened. I was answering some questions about how often I've worked with some different groups of people on an application. They wanted me to be brief. Just dates and names. And that's when it came to me -- I was leaving out what mattered! I was leaving out what my working with each of these groups of people could mean to the company offering the job. Now, could the company have figured that out? Yeah. Probably. But why make them do the thinking work. I did it. I added 2 sentences that started out -- 'So what this means to you at XXX Company is ...' And you know what? They actually called me in for an interview! I hadn't had an interview in 6 months. And I got the job. I knew I could if I could just talk to some one. I was ready with my story!

Telling your story is hard work. Because the system of hiring isn't geared to telling a story. It's geared to collecting data. Your story is the round peg trying to be jammed into the square hole of hiring.


'Sarah,' from upstate New York found work using the principle 'Adding Music.' She writes:


At first I thought this adding music thing was just nuts. But the stories were so good, so I kept reading. I wasn't getting help on writing better resumes, but at least it was a break from all that. But then a funny thing happened. I was on an interview, and the guy kept using the phrase, "we need somebody who can light a fire." He kept saying that again and again. It was like his own private little song. So I thought about that adding music thing and I made up a bunch of business cards that looked like a book of matches. I knew the guy would love it. And he did. I used the cards when I went back, gave one to him, and then he asked if I had more so I could give then to the other people I had to interview with. And you know what? I got the job.

What's the 'Secret' here? Hand out business cards that look like books of matches? No! Of course not. That worked one time. For one person. In one situation. And perhaps that gives us our biggest clue yet as to what the real 'Secret' is to finding work.


Maybe there is no secret.


Or, maybe the secret is one that offers up an answer as to why job search is such brutally hard work. Especially when you try and think differently. Because when you do think differently about finding work, you start to come closer and closer to perhaps the most useful 'Secret' of all. A secret you've probably never heard an 'expert' say before. That secret is this:


There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all job search. Every single person's search is different. And finding your own unique path is the hardest work of all.


The 'Secret" isn't just hard work.


The 'Secret' is that everybody's search for work is different.






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Majority Of House Democratic Women Tell Obama To Nominate Janet Yellen For Fed Chair

WASHINGTON -- A majority of the Democratic women serving in the House of Representatives are urging President Barack Obama to nominate Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve, putting additional pressure on the president to reject economist Larry Summers, who is rumored to be the frontrunner.


Thirty-eight of the 62 Democratic women in the House have signed on to a letter circulated by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), saying that Yellen, currently the Fed vice chair, would be the "best choice" to lead the institution. It comes on the same day that Obama met with Democrats on Capitol Hill and heard from many members who were frustrated that Summers is reportedly the president's top choice for the job.


"Doctor Yellen has demonstrated a unique understanding of the impact of the Federal Reserve's policies on the middle class, with a critical focus on the balance of the mandate between stable prices and low unemployment," the letter reads. "During the subprime bubble, at a time when many economists were optimistic about unprecedented growth in the economy, she saw the bubble for what it was and predicted disaster in the banking system."


Long before serving as Obama's chief economic adviser, Summers worked in the Clinton administration as a protege of Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, where he helped lead the effort to deregulate Wall Street. Many Yellen supporters are worried that Summers would follow in the footsteps of his mentor and dial back the Fed's efforts to lower unemployment in order to appease the bond market. Yellen, meanwhile, argues that protecting bondholders is not the Fed's only job.


Summers also served as president of Harvard University, but he resigned in 2006 after he suggested that women may be inherently less talented at math and science than men are.


If chosen, Yellen would be the first female Fed chair.


During the Wednesday meeting with House Democrats, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) walked up to the microphone and simply said, "Larry Summers. Bad Choice." According to a Democratic staffer, he received applause from his colleagues. The president became agitated and rose to Summers' defense.


The feminist group Ultraviolet has called on Obama to choose Yellen, saying Summers is "a man known for his offensive and callous opinions on women." The National Organization for Women also endorsed Yellen last week in a statement criticizing Summers' record on bank regulation.


"Janet Yellen was one of the few in the Fed system to sound the alarm on subprime mortgages in 2007, while Lawrence Summers shut down Brooksley Born’s effort to crack down on derivatives,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill. “It’s not hard to connect the dots: lax regulation contributed to the financial meltdown that ushered in the ‘Great Recession’ -- with devastating impacts on women, who have less savings to fall back on because of an enduring gender wage gap. Lawrence Summers can't be trusted to understand the everyday economic problems women face."


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said it would be "great" if a woman were to be named Fed chair, but she has not explicitly come out and endorsed Yellen.


Roughly a third of Senate Democrats have signed on to a separate letter endorsing Yellen. Obama will need Senate Democrats' support to get his Fed pick confirmed.






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CHARTS: JPMorgan's Penalty Payouts Dwarfed By Monstrous Profits

JPMorgan Chase's $410 million deal to settle charges it manipulated electricity markets in California and Michigan brings the amount the bank has paid in fines and settlements in the past couple of years to nearly $7 billion.


That may sound like a lot, until you consider the metric bronto-tons of money the bank has made during that time (story continues below):




To put JPMorgan's profit in more perspective, consider it would take a little more than three months of work to cover the banks' $7 billion tab in fines and settlements. It would take the bank about 5.5 days to pay off that $410 million FERC settlement.


But still, the sheer number of the bank's regulatory and legal mix-ups is pretty impressive. The Daily Beast recently did the hard legwork of compiling all of these settlements into one helpful post, and I have spent countless seconds taking the Daily Beast's hard work and turning it into an infographic that might help you visualize just how many of these things there have been so far. You're welcome, America. (Story continues after super-helpful infographic.)




As the infographic says, this $7 billion figure doesn't even include JPMorgan's unknown portion of the $8.5 billion "robo-signing" settlement in January 2013. Nor does it include the $6 billion or so the bank lost on its botched "London Whale" derivatives trades. Nor does it include the many other regulatory investigations in which JPMorgan is reportedly involved, including the LIBOR manipulation probe, a look into the bank's role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and more.


You could argue JPMorgan Chase is the biggest bank in the U.S. and therefore has lots going on, increasing the risk that it will run afoul of the authorities and/or customers.


Or you could say the bank is "out of control," as Graham Fisher analyst Joshua Rosner did earlier this year. You could even say it is the Great White Whale, a bigger influence and potential headache for global financial markets than the Vampire Squid of Goldman Sachs, as some HuffPost idjit did last year.


Either way, these problems so far aren't having much impact on the bank's ability to mint money.






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PHOTOS: There's Something Missing In These McDonald's Ads

Stanley Hainsworth: If Brands Were Shoes

Brands are like people.


So, what if? What if the brands we use and wear everyday were shoes? What would they look like? Feel like?


What you put on your feet says a lot about the way you want to portray yourself to others. (Even if it's the lack of care about what you put on your feet says something about yourself.)


And everything a brand says, does, or doesn't do says everything about who they are. Are you willing to sacrifice comfort for fashion? Or are you all about value? Or durability?


Let's step into the ultimate Branded Shoe Store:


2013-07-31-HuffPost_BrandsAsShoes_01.jpg


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2013-07-31-HuffPost_BrandsAsShoes_07.jpg


A Jimmy Choo level of thanks to Marla Moore and Lauren Celenza for the ideas and illustrations.






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Ethan Rome: Both Sides in GOP's Civil War Over Obamacare Want to Put Insurance Companies Back in Charge

The Republicans are calling each other names in a raging internecine battle over how best to blow up Obamacare and put consumers and small businesses at the mercy of the insurance companies. In an unusual week when the Republicans are at each other's throats, they're still on the same side in the fight that matters: They're for the insurance industry, not us.


The Republican debate is about whether it's a bad idea to shut down the government and disrupt the economy unless Democrats agree to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This isn't legitimate legislative dealmaking -- it's extortion.


Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said forcing an entire government to shut down over Obamacare is a "bridge too far." Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls the idea "silly." Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) called it the "dumbest idea" he's ever heard. Burr even conceded that when the fight ends and the government re-opens, "Barack Obama is [still] going to be president." But upstart GOP senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas are slinging insults at these senators and accusing them of being political lightweights and cowards for accepting the world as it is.


"What I can tell you is there are a lot of Republicans in Washington who are scared," Cruz said. "They are scared of being beaten up politically." This tough talk comes from a guy who didn't come to Washington for any other reason than to stoke the tea party wing of the GOP and advance his own political goals.


The whole fuss started when Cruz and extremist senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah persuaded several other Republicans to announce that they will not support continued federal spending after Oct. 1 unless Obamacare is defunded. Fortunately, some senators took some time to think it through and then withdrew their endorsements of the letter.


Obviously, Republican senators like Cruz, Rubio and Lee feel no need to govern responsibly. They seem not to like being outdone by House Republicans, who plan on Friday to vote for the 40th time to repeal the Obamacare. That sets a pretty high bar for pointlessness, and the Senate's Republican hardliners are trying hard to catch up.


The absurd political posturing reflects a pitched battle over GOP tactics, not goals. The Republicans still are unified in their aim to repeal Obamacare and return America to the days when insurance companies could deny our care based on health status, age and gender and jack up our rates at will.


The Republican feud is also partially about presidential politics. You can't win the GOP primary if you're not so far to the right you're essentially against civilization, unless you're a plutocrat like Mitt Romney and can afford to carpet bomb every state with TV commercials. Everyone else is required to be seriously unhinged. To mobilize the GOP faithful in 2016, some conservatives believe, you have to be the real thing -- an extremist politician who's out-of-step with most Americans for the primary and an unabashed "mainstream" conservative for the November election. You certainly can't be a captive of GOP "liberals" like Karl Rove.


The feud certainly is colorful, and it's great fun to be in the audience for the show, but it's just a passing phase. When the Republicans are done calling each other names, they'll work together to enable the insurance industry to inflict the worst consumer abuses on every senior, family and small business.


What the Republicans won't do is devote any energy to collaborating with Democrats on legislation to create jobs and help the economic recovery. After all, what good would it do to make a positive difference in the lives of millions of Americans? That's not why right-wing extremists came to Washington. They've got bigger plans -- for themselves.






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CBS Profit Rises 11% on Pay-TV Fees, Streaming Agreements



CBS Corp. said second-quarter profit rose 11%, spurred by higher fees from new streaming agreements and the kind of pay-TV system currently fighting it in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.


Time Warner Cable briefly pulled CBS's signal earlier this week as the latest deadline passed for a new carriage deal in those markets, arguing that the network's demands were exorbitant. But CBS's financial results today show just how important pay-TV fees have become for the broadcaster.


Net income increased to $472 million from $427 million a year earlier, CBS Corp. said Wednesday in a statement. That was higher than analysts had expected. Second-quarter revenue grew 11% to $3.7 billion, also beating analysts' estimates.


Continue reading at AdAge.com






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Reducing Emergency Response Time - Eli Beer's Emergency Response Keynote Discusses Ambucycles (TrendHunter.com)

(TrendHunter.com) Eli Beer talks about life-saving volunteers and ‘ambucycles' in this emergency response keynote. Beer grew up wanting to help people. He took an EMT course and volunteered with an...

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New Mobile App Helps Consumers Get a Break from Commercials

1 We’re a nation that wants everything for nothing. We fight against Sponsored posts on Facebook. Video ads on YouTube and networks that track us to deliver relevant banners while we surf. But there’s one ad type that has created more controversy than all of those put together — the TV commercial.


I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere in broadcast history, we the people began rallying against these mini-adventures that interrupt our favorite shows. It probably happened when networks started ramping up the number of commercial minutes per hour. Back in 2009, TNS Media estimated that commercial messages take up 36% of a prime-time, hour-long show. Wow.


If you’re one of those people that would rather surf the channels rather than watch another artsy ad for a new car, Aristarchos LTD has an app for you. It’s called Commercial Break and it’s new for iOS (Android coming soon.)


To make it work, you have to choose the show you’re watching from a list on the app. Right now it only works with 10 major networks in New York City and a few extras like TNT and USA up and down the East Coast. Then, when the commercials start, you can you go surfing, go into the kitchen for a snack, go run around the block – whatever you think is a better use of your time.


When the show comes back on, the app sends you a message. Better hope you haven’t strayed too far because you only have seconds to get back to the TV.


Sigh.


Look, I appreciate the effort that went into creating this app and I wish them luck. I also really appreciate that they included me in their press release distribution list – I love TV and apps so it seems like a good fit. But there are two things about this app that bother me.


First is this graphic from the app download page.


commercial break screen


I am very unhappy that they’re using a trash can as a symbol for a TV commercial. And then they emphasis it with two references to “can’t stand this.” So harsh. The people who make TV commercials – writers, directors, actors, crew – work hard to turn out an entertaining and informative product. And some commercials are funnier than your average sitcom.


My second issue is this note on the app page: * Free for a limited time


So, instead of watching the commercials that pay for my favorite TV show, I’m supposed to pay the app developer to help me skip them? What’s wrong with this picture? How about you? Would you pay to skip the ads on your favorite shows? Not me. Not me.








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Obama emphasizes Keystone climate implications



U.S. President Barack Obama pointed to the global climate implications of approving TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline during a wide-ranging Capitol Hill meeting on Wednesday with Democratic lawmakers.






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Maurice Levy Points Finger at Rival WPP Over Client Conflicts



For newly-minted colleagues Maurice Levy and John Wren, it's been a parade of conference calls and question-answering about the merits of their deal to create the biggest ad firm in history.


For journalists and analysts, it went from radio silence last week to a crescendo of communications scheduled haphazardly and at inconvenient times. The first press conference was announced this past Saturday afternoon to take place early on Sunday morning. Another three have taken place since, the latest one being announced at 6:30 pm on Tuesday to take place at 7am on Wednesday.


The flurry of discussion around the Publicis Omnicom Group merger has set the tone for what's shaping up to be a months-long process during which Messrs. Levy and Wren will be pressed repeatedly to justify the reasons for the deal and address just how they plan to integrate the two companies that just a week ago were competitors.


Continue reading at AdAge.com






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'Free Power Saturdays' are being considered by British Gas


In hopes of easing the criticism over the company's rising profits, British Gas is looking to introduce free Saturdays early next year


British Gas is considering the introduction of "Free Power Saturdays" to try to counter widespread anger over surging energy bills and utility company profits.


Centrica, which owns British Gas, on Wednesday reported a 9% increase in group profits, after gas consumption jumped 13% following last winter's record-breaking cold spell. It also refused to rule out a future price increase.


Under Free Power Saturdays, pioneered by British Gas's North American business, customers would be encouraged to use energy-hungry electrical devices such as washing machines and tumble dryers at the weekend. The idea is to raise household usage at a time when industrial and commercial power demand slumps.


Other tariff ideas under consideration include pricing gas on Saturdays and Sundays at half the level of weekdays. But any shift to day-by-day pricing would require households to have smart meters fitted. British Gas has already installed more than one million of the devices.


Centrica's chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, told the Financial Times that free Saturdays could be introduced early next year, in a move the company hopes could ease the heavy criticism it has faced from consumers and politicians over its rising profits.


Last year the prime minister pledged to force power companies to give every customer the cheapest possible deal rather than put them on to standard tariffs, but it later emerged that this could lead to one in five customers actually paying more.


Laidlaw said cheaper weekend tariffs would benefit the environment: "In addition to being good for customers, they [free power days] are good for carbon reduction by reducing peak power generation that is disproportionately higher in carbon dioxide emissions."


Earlier, Centrica's chief financial officer, Nick Luff, had refused to rule out a further price rise, as he warned that British Gas is under pressure from the cost of government energy-saving schemes and volatile prices on the wholesale gas market.


"What I can do is assure you that we will keep our prices as low as we can," he said. "It is in our interests to have competitive prices – we want to attract new customers – and if prices do have to go up we will delay that for as long as possible."


Centrica, which raised prices by 6% last November, reported a 9% increase in profits to £1.58bn for the first six months of the year. for its entire business spanning power generation and supply. He added that while group profits were up 9% to £1.58bn, profits in the residential arm of British Gas rose only 3% to £356m from £345m.


British Gas prompted widespread criticism with last year's price increase, which added £80 a year to the average dual-fuel customer's bill. The company, which serves 10m households, promised in May it would use its profits to keep prices down, but has refused to put a date on the duration of this price pledge.


Consumer groups urged British Gas to freeze energy bills for the rest of the year.


Tom Lyon, at uSwitch.com, said: "The fact that British Gas has absorbed increasing costs so far this year will be of cold comfort to consumers who may be fearing the worst – especially with rumours of price rises. Profits are up from last year, so we would urge British Gas to help quell customers' fears and commit to a price freeze for the rest of the year."







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Tennis Canada: Penalty box



Advertising Agency: Bensimon Byrne, Canada

Creative Director: Joseph Bonnici

Associate Creative Director / Art Director: Dan Strasser

Associate Creative Director/ Copywriter: David Mueller

Account Director: Mark Hewitt

Producers: Christine Pacheco, Michelle Pilling

French Producer: Claudia Theriault

Film Production: OPC

Director: Chris Woods

Executive Producer: Harland Weiss

Editing: Married to Giants

Editor: Graham Chisolm

Audio: Pirate

Director: Vanya Drakul

Transfer: Alter Ego

Online: Alter Edo

Online Editor: Darren Archim







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Tennis Canada: Goaltending



Advertising Agency: Bensimon Byrne, Canada

Creative Director: Joseph Bonnici

Associate Creative Director / Art Director: Dan Strasser

Associate Creative Director/ Copywriter: David Mueller

Account Director: Mark Hewitt

Producers: Christine Pacheco, Michelle Pilling

French Producer: Claudia Theriault

Film Production: OPC

Director: Chris Woods

Executive Producer: Harland Weiss

Editing: Married to Giants

Editor: Graham Chisolm

Audio: Pirate

Director: Vanya Drakul

Transfer: Alter Ego

Online: Alter Edo

Online Editor: Darren Archim







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Student Flights: Condomonomics




Fly to Italy for only 142 packs of condoms.



Advertising Agency: TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, Johannesburg, South Africa

Executive Creative Directors: Adam Livesey, Matthew Brink

Creative Director: Adam Livesey

Copywriters: Vincent Osmond, Matthew Brink

Art Directors: Jade Manning, Adam Livesey

Photographer: Clive Stewart

Art Buyer: Simone Allem

Account Supervisor: Vanessa Maselwa

Production Manager: Craig Walker

Production Company: I/J Models







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Student Flights: Burgeronomics




Fly to America for only 242 cheeseburgers.



Advertising Agency: TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, Johannesburg, South Africa

Executive Creative Directors: Adam Livesey, Matthew Brink

Creative Director: Adam Livesey

Copywriters: Vincent Osmond, Matthew Brink

Art Directors: Jade Manning, Adam Livesey

Photographer: Clive Stewart

Art Buyer: Simone Allem

Account Supervisor: Vanessa Maselwa

Production Manager: Craig Walker

Production Company: I/J Models







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Student Flights: Beeronomics




Fly to Australia for only 372 cans of beer.



Advertising Agency: TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, Johannesburg, South Africa

Executive Creative Directors: Adam Livesey, Matthew Brink

Creative Director: Adam Livesey

Copywriters: Vincent Osmond, Matthew Brink

Art Directors: Jade Manning, Adam Livesey

Photographer: Clive Stewart

Art Buyer: Simone Allem

Account Supervisor: Vanessa Maselwa

Production Manager: Craig Walker

Production Company: I/J Models







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You Can Now Embed [a Few] Facebook Posts on Your Blog. Hooray?

Facebook started the day by introducing us all to Embedded Posts. This nifty bit of code allows you to take someone’s Facebook post and embed it on your blog or website.


In theory, it’s a great idea. But from a practical standpoint. . . . let’s discuss.


Here’s the example from Facebook, an informative post from tennis star Venus Williams:


facebook embed code


To get the code, you click the drop down arrow on the post, then choose Embed and it’s yours. Paste this on your site and it appears with the same format and the ability to Like the post or the poster right from your page. If your reader chooses to comment, they’re redirected back to Facebook. Which makes sense since you have to have a Facebook account to comment on a Facebook post.


Of course, people could comment on the post in your blog comment box but that’s confusing.


Right now, this service is only working on a few media pages; Bleacher Report, CNN, Huffington Post, Mashable and PEOPLE. Not a bad line-up but there’s an issue. Most of the posts on those pages are just teasers that lead you back to the original article on their own site. So why link to the Facebook post when you could just link to the article?


Certainly, there are occasions when someone posts a new and intriguing piece of information on their Facebook page. The post by Venus is a great example. Instead of reporting on what she said, you can bring over her actual words. I do this with Twitter embeds all the time. But for this to be truly useful, it’s going to have to expand to all brand pages.


If they make this option available for personal posts, I foresee a lot of people switching their accounts from public to private.


What do you think? If Facebook rolls this out over all brand pages, would you embed other people’s posts in your company blog? And how would you feel about other people using your posts on their blog. Yes, it’s good publicity, but you’ll have no control over what goes around your post.


Facebook Emedded Posts – a good thing, a bad thing or ain’t no thing at all?








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Is Snoop the Top Dogg of All Pitchmen?



Rap star and actor Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. has reincarnated himself several times over, first as Snoop Doggy Dog, then Snoop Dog and now, Snoop Lion. Along the way, he's also reinvigorated his name with a steady string of brand alliances.


The latest is a bizarre tie-up with shopping site Overstock.com, now home to an online boutique called the Snoopermarket, which pimps favorite products of not just Snoop, but his family too. Among them: Orly's "Grand Dame" French Manicure Natural Look Nail Lacquer, a Hemp Lion of Judah Messenger Bag, a Slick Rick CD, pink heart-shaped diamond earrings and an oversized canvas featuring a photo of a lion's head. Unsurprisingly, he's also included as part of his picks gear from Adidas, another brand Snoop has long been affiliated with.


Given he's not shy about his penchant for marijuana toking, it's surprising how many companies -- even typically conservative packaged goods marketers like Nestle and Wrigley -- are eager to have Snoop represent their brands. Here, a dozen examples showing his diverse marketing spread.


Continue reading at AdAge.com






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Banco de Crédito BCP: Rainy




Your fee changes unexpectedly?

The first Mortgage with a 20 years fixed interest rate.



Advertising Agency: DDB, La Paz, Bolivia

Creative Director: Henry Medina

Art Director: Christian Morales

Copywriter: Henry Medina

Account Director: Emanuelle Medina

Account Executive: Milenka Maldonado

Published: July 2013







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Banco de Crédito BCP: Cloudy




Your fee changes unexpectedly?

The first Mortgage with a 20 years fixed interest rate.



Advertising Agency: DDB, La Paz, Bolivia

Creative Director: Henry Medina

Art Director: Christian Morales

Copywriter: Henry Medina

Account Director: Emanuelle Medina

Account Executive: Milenka Maldonado

Published: July 2013







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Banco de Crédito BCP: Stormy




Your fee changes unexpectedly?

The first Mortgage with a 20 years fixed interest rate.



Advertising Agency: DDB, La Paz, Bolivia

Creative Director: Henry Medina

Art Director: Christian Morales

Copywriter: Henry Medina

Account Director: Emanuelle Medina

Account Executive: Milenka Maldonado

Published: July 2013







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WWF: Dolyphan




Wonder World Fur.

A new species of fur.



Advertising Agency: Marcel, Paris, France

Chief Creative Officer: Erik Vervroegen

Executive Creative Director: Erik Vervroegen

Creative Directors: Erik Vervroegen, Marcelo Vergara, Fabio Mazia, Véronique Sels

Copywriter: Maria Visco

Art Directors: Maria Visco, Bastien Grisolet, Marjorie Vardo

Photographers: Mark Seliger, Ruth Levy

Art Buyers: Jean-Luc Chirio, Lauriane Dula

Account Supervisors: Olivier Sebag, Alice Rinder, Alexis Delwasse

Advertiser's Supervisors: Jacques Olivier Barthes, Aurore Mery

Producers: Elysian Fields, Thomas Geffrier, Elise Gangneux

Photoshop Artist: Asile

Fashion and sustainability consultant: Uscha Pohl







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WWF: Bamboseal




Wonder World Fur.

A new species of fur.



Advertising Agency: Marcel, Paris, France

Chief Creative Officer: Erik Vervroegen

Executive Creative Director: Erik Vervroegen

Creative Directors: Erik Vervroegen, Marcelo Vergara, Fabio Mazia, Véronique Sels

Copywriter: Maria Visco

Art Directors: Maria Visco, Bastien Grisolet, Marjorie Vardo

Photographers: Mark Seliger, Ruth Levy

Art Buyers: Jean-Luc Chirio, Lauriane Dula

Account Supervisors: Olivier Sebag, Alice Rinder, Alexis Delwasse

Advertiser's Supervisors: Jacques Olivier Barthes, Aurore Mery

Producers: Elysian Fields, Thomas Geffrier, Elise Gangneux

Photoshop Artist: Asile

Fashion and sustainability consultant: Uscha Pohl







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WWF: Buffaloon




Wonder World Fur.

A new species of fur.



Advertising Agency: Marcel, Paris, France

Chief Creative Officer: Erik Vervroegen

Executive Creative Director: Erik Vervroegen

Creative Directors: Erik Vervroegen, Marcelo Vergara, Fabio Mazia, Véronique Sels

Copywriter: Maria Visco

Art Directors: Maria Visco, Bastien Grisolet, Marjorie Vardo

Photographers: Mark Seliger, Ruth Levy

Art Buyers: Jean-Luc Chirio, Lauriane Dula

Account Supervisors: Olivier Sebag, Alice Rinder, Alexis Delwasse

Advertiser's Supervisors: Jacques Olivier Barthes, Aurore Mery

Producers: Elysian Fields, Thomas Geffrier, Elise Gangneux

Photoshop Artist: Asile

Fashion and sustainability consultant: Uscha Pohl







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Maltesers: Tornado




Look honey free redecoration.

Life's lighter with Maltesers.



Advertising Agency: Impact BBDO, Dubai, UAE

Executive Creative Director: Fouad Abdel Malak

Creative Director: Carlos Amseyan

Copywriter: Carolyne Nailer

Art Directors: Marie Claire Maalouf, Sebastian Alvarado

Illustrator: Enrico Veneracion / Am I Collective

Art Buyer: Tennyson Torcato

Account Supervisors: Talal Sheikh Elard, Samantha Stuart-Palmer

Advertiser's Supervisors: Charlotte West, Jennifer Paoli

Account Managers: Frances McCabe, Lina Ghulam







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Maltesers: Parachute




Can't wait to meet my knight in shining armour!

Life's lighter with Maltesers.



Advertising Agency: Impact BBDO, Dubai, UAE

Executive Creative Director: Fouad Abdel Malak

Creative Director: Carlos Amseyan

Copywriter: Carolyne Nailer

Art Directors: Marie Claire Maalouf, Sebastian Alvarado

Illustrator: Enrico Veneracion / Am I Collective

Art Buyer: Tennyson Torcato

Account Supervisors: Talal Sheikh Elard, Samantha Stuart-Palmer

Advertiser's Supervisors: Charlotte West, Jennifer Paoli

Account Managers: Frances McCabe, Lina Ghulam







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Maltesers: Earthquake




Some time apart will do us good!

Life's lighter with Maltesers.



Advertising Agency: Impact BBDO, Dubai, UAE

Executive Creative Director: Fouad Abdel Malak

Creative Director: Carlos Amseyan

Copywriter: Carolyne Nailer

Art Directors: Marie Claire Maalouf, Sebastian Alvarado

Illustrator: Enrico Veneracion / Am I Collective

Art Buyer: Tennyson Torcato

Account Supervisors: Talal Sheikh Elard, Samantha Stuart-Palmer

Advertiser's Supervisors: Charlotte West, Jennifer Paoli

Account Managers: Frances McCabe, Lina Ghulam







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Lukafe: Safari



This is an outdoor ad composed by two sides (front and back).


Advertising Agency: Sancho BBDO, Bogotá, Colombia

Chief Creative Officers: Giovanni Martinez, Hugo Corredor

Creative Directors: Andres Norato, Claudia Murillo

Copywriter: Daniel Mosquera

Art Director: Diego Salamanca

Illustrator: Camilo Moreno

Account Supervisors: Monica Nieto, Maria Tovar

Account Manager: Silvia Vega

Retouch Artists: Oscar Romero, Nicanor Valbuena







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Lukafe: River



This is an outdoor ad composed by two sides (front and back).


Advertising Agency: Sancho BBDO, Bogotá, Colombia

Chief Creative Officers: Giovanni Martinez, Hugo Corredor

Creative Directors: Andres Norato, Claudia Murillo

Copywriter: Daniel Mosquera

Art Director: Diego Salamanca

Illustrator: Camilo Moreno

Account Supervisors: Monica Nieto, Maria Tovar

Account Manager: Silvia Vega

Retouch Artists: Oscar Romero, Nicanor Valbuena







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Banana Boat Solar Protection: Frisbee



Advertising Agency: JWT, Hong Kong

Chief Creative Officer: Yang Yeo

Executive Creative Directors: Barbara Fu, Philip Lee

Creative Director: Jam Wu

Copywriter: Pris Luk

Art Director: Rita Shum, Anthony Kwok

Photographer: Kimhoo So

Account Supervisor: Ho Tsz Chung

Account Manager: Samuel Yu

Retoucher: Henry Chan







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