Thursday, August 18, 2016


I don't know which way this blog is going....

"Zagster, a bike-share from Cambridge, offers another take on the sharing economy" by Michael Bodley Globe Correspondent  August 10, 2016

Zagster, a Cambridge-based bike-share company that wants to become the Zipcar for cyclists, is carving out a niche outside large cities.

Unlike city-sponsored programs like Boston’s Hubway, with thousands of bikes, Zagster makes its money by leasing smaller numbers of bikes to companies and colleges, as well as towns and smaller cities.

Early next week, the company will announce its latest innovation. Billed as a first in North America, Zagster will soon start outfitting its fleet of 2,714 bikes in 130 locations nationwide with Bluetooth-enabled locks that can be operated with the tap of a smartphone.

Well, now that the NSA's hacking tools are available to everyone (always knew it was them and not Russia, China, et al) that might not be such a great idea, but then again, who is going to steal a bike these days?

“What we are seeing around the country, and we hope to replicate here in Boston, as well, is really creating this network that surrounds the city because our solution makes sense for the Maldens, the Arlingtons, and other towns surrounding the major metro areas,” said Timothy Ericson, Zagster’s chief executive.

Solution to what?

Investors are buying in, with $8 million in venture-capital dollars raised so far. Though Ericson declined to release exact figures, he said revenue increased 300 percent this year.

Here’s how it works: Zagster leases the bikes, provides software, and contracts with local mechanics to patch up flat tires and pop on off-track chains. In return, customers pay a set amount, usually around $135 per month per bike. Many corporate clients then offer use of the bikes free of charge to riders.

They going to make you ride a bike?

The traditional bedrock of the bike-share business, municipal programs such as Boston’s Hubway and New York’s Citi Bike, require thousands of consistent riders. And unlike Zagster, the bikes must be purchased upfront.

How are those working out anyway?

Catering to individual companies does come with its own set of challenges, said Ryan Rzepecki, chief executive of Social Bicycles, a bike-share company based in New York that has more than 5,000 bikes in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

“It’s much harder to do 20 50-bike projects than one 1,000-bike project,” Rzepecki said. “The bigger the project you can get, the better.”

It doesn’t make much sense for Zagster to go after a slice of the big city market because it’s already claimed. In Boston, Hubway has 1,600 bikes, and Citi Bike has 8,000 bikes throughout New York’s boroughs.

Instead, Zagster has a municipal program in Carmel, Ind., and another in Albuquerque, among others. In May, it began supplying 125 bikes to the University of Maryland.

Zagster has inked deals with a number of big-name corporate clients, including Needham-based TripAdvisor and General Motor Co.’s 19,000 employees at Warren Technical Center in Michigan.


The AUTO WORKERS are being told to RIDE BIKES to work?

The bikes have reduced traffic congestion on the 1-square-mile campus in Warren, according to Peter Kosak, GM’s executive director of urban mobility.

“We knew that if we could provide a way, in better-weather months, for people to get around campus and not have to go out to their vehicle and hunt for a parking spot, then we could provide a better option to get around,” Kosak said.

Are you f***ing kidding? 

The car companies are in China and want to get in Cuba as they are getting off their bikes, and here they are saying to their employees start pedaling!

You know, Henry Ford, no champion of unions, ruffled some feathers years ago when he raised the wages of his workers so they could buy his cars. In the 21st-century, GM is moving in reverse

For landlords, bike-sharing as an amenity was merely “something we were thinking about” as recently as five years ago, said Tina Snyder, marketing director for Bulfinch Cos.

“[Now], it’s what people are demanding versus finding interesting,” Snyder said. “If you don’t have these kind of things, you might not be able to compete.”


Yeah, a lack of a bike sharing program is going to be the killer of the deal for the prospective employee in this era of declining opportunity, yup.


RelatedGM tests self-driving cars

I hope to hell the ignition works:

"GM recalled millions of vehicles in 2014 over the switch defect, which has been linked to at least 124 deaths. “GM knew the defective switches were defective before they even placed them in the cars,” Ray told jurors Tuesday. Yet they put them in 2.6 million American vehicles, she said. “GM knowingly sold the Stevens family a car they knew had a defect.” “Anything that makes the key jiggle” can trigger stalls in the affected cars, Ray said, disabling safety features including power steering, power brakes, and even seat belts that don’t work as designed."

That, to me, looks like murder!

Call in a complaint!

"Local software maker garners $56 million for expansion" by Curt Woodward Globe Staff  August 10, 2016

Anyone who’s been stuck on hold with the cable company knows there has to be a better way to handle customer-service calls. Investors are putting more cash behind a Boston-area company that thinks it has a solution.

Interactions LLC, which counts Hyatt Hotels Corp. and health insurer Humana Inc. among its clients, is set Wednesday to announce it has raised $56 million to help expand its operations. The company, headquartered in Franklin, employs about 320 people and plans to grow its existing 15,000-square-foot offices by a third this fall.

The company’s software runs automated call-center systems for other businesses that let you speak rather than punch buttons to get connected with an agent.

Interactions’ systems also use human workers to make a decision when background noise, an unfamiliar accent, or some other complication makes it hard for the software to decipher a spoken command.

So not only did they offshore and outsource all the call center jobs, now they are looking to eliminate them.

Those people, who primarily work for third-party staffing firms, don’t get on the phone and talk to the caller. Instead, they sit at a computer monitor, where they’re served up snippets of audio and asked to make a ruling about what the caller is seeking.


Data analysts can then pore over the questions that tripped up the software and attempt to tweak the system to handle similar problems the next time around.

Interactions, a private company, wouldn’t disclose specific sales figures, but said revenue doubled last year. The new investment was led by Revolution Growth, NewSpring Capital, and Comcast Ventures. The company raised a $40 million round of investment in 2013.

There is a $ea of ca$h out there, and it is all sloshing around at the top in one form or another.

Art Schoeller, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc., said making call centers cheaper and faster is a tantalizing idea for any business with a sizable customer-service operation. “To talk to a call-center agent is going to cost eight or nine bucks. To talk to an automated system is going to cost 10 cents. You do the math,” he said.

Oh, I have, and it took a while for me to come around. 


That is why we have slow-motion genocides across the planet, and the signals seem to be something REAL BAD is COMING SOON!

But companies like Interactions must work to convince potential customers that it’s a good idea to hand over their critical customer relationships to an outside vendor. Many companies will try to build their own systems, even though letting a specialist handle the job is likely a better move for lots of businesses, Schoeller said.

“You probably turn your website over to an agency anyway,” he said. “The same thing applies here, in speech systems. You should have people who do this all the time. And I think, for a broad swath of the market, you’ll see more and more companies finally get some religion and say, ‘Why am I doing this?’ ”

Tech companies and investors are putting more money behind “virtual assistants” and other artificial-intelligence systems, betting that software is going to get much better at answering complex questions. 


Apple Inc.’s Siri and Inc.’s Alexa systems, for example, are becoming household names for many consumers, while Facebook Inc. is allowing companies to build “bots” that automatically answer customer questions online.

But even the biggest names in tech are known to farm out some of their customer-service work, Schoeller said. “They won’t tell you that they have Apple as a customer, but Apple’s customer-service line actually utilizes Interactions,” he said. Interactions declined to comment on its relationship with Apple.

Interactions chief executive Mike Iacobucci said the company didn’t spend a lot of time talking up its artificial intelligence and machine-learning chops in years past. But it’s hoping to take advantage of the spotlight.

“We worked all that magic in the background,” he said. “Here it is, 10 years later, and we’ve done this at scale.”


I'm still on hold. 

Might as well check out:

"Self-service checkouts may encourage shoplifting" by Christopher Mele New York Times  August 11, 2016

NEW YORK — Self-service checkout technology may offer convenience and speed, but it also helps turn law-abiding shoppers into petty thieves by giving them “ready-made excuses” to take merchandise without paying, two criminologists say.

So what is the bankers' and government's excuse? 

I have already had it with this insulting slander of the public from the stinking New York Times.

In a study of retailers in the United States, Britain, and other European countries, professor Adrian Beck and Matt Hopkins of the University of Leicester in England said the use of self-service lanes and smartphone apps to make purchases generated a loss rate of nearly 4 percent, more than double the average. 

I thought it was a dumb idea when I saw it, but then I realized the increased thefts are off$et by the lower costs of labor. 

Given that the profit margin among European grocers is 3 percent, the technology is practically a nonprofit venture, according to the study, which was released this month.

The scanning technology, which grew in popularity about 10 years ago, relies largely on the honor system. Instead of having a cashier ring up and bag a purchase, the shopper is solely responsible for completing the transaction. That lack of human intervention, however, reduces the perception of risk and could make shoplifting more common, the report said.

It's also a couple of lives. Even if the job sucks, it's still a unique individual existence at stake. That never seems to make the bottom line!

Studies have been inconclusive about whether the systems actually promote more pilfering, but researchers believe they are a gateway for shoppers to act in ways they ordinarily would not. 

Sort of like a bank bailout.

“Retailers could find themselves accused of making theft so easy that some customers who would normally — and happily — pay are tempted to commit crime, especially when they feel ‘justified’ in doing it,” the researchers said in a statement. 

You know what direction you can shove your goddamn insulting study.

The study examined nearly 12 million shopping trips from four retailers in Britain, two in the United States, and one each in Belgium and the Netherlands between December 2013 and February 2015.

One million shopping trips were audited in detail, amounting to 6 million items checked. Nearly 850,000 were found not to have been scanned, the report said, making up 4 percent of the total value of the purchases. Proving intent — determining whether it was deliberate or an oversight — and deciding whether to press charges can be “a legal and customer relations minefield,” the report noted.

They can study all this but they don't know where are the hackers, uh-huh.

The National Retail Security Survey by the National Retail Federation last year reported losses of $44 billion due to shoplifting, employee theft, fraud, and errors. About $17 billion of that was connected to shoplifting.

Retailers wrestle with the question of whether the potential losses outweigh the benefits, which include reduced personnel expenses. Lisa LaBruno, the senior vice president for retail operations at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in an e-mail that retailers “continue to test and identify effective methods for mitigating the risks.”

In the statement, Beck said: “Both loved and loathed by consumers, with the phrase ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ striking dread into many a shopper, self-scan technologies are growing in use and likely to become even more prominent.”

Store employees assigned to self-service lanes are often monitoring too many at once to be effective, said Read Hayes, a research scientist at the University of Florida and the director of the Loss Prevention Research Council.

Hayes said the council works with 40 US retailers, including department and big-box stores and supermarkets, and two have discontinued the self-service systems, citing a lack of use or high rate of theft.

“Public view monitors” perched either above or at eye level at the self-service machines can help combat theft, Hayes said. Shoppers appear on the screen, with a sign noting they are being watched. Random controlled trials have found increased sales in lanes with the monitors, meaning there were fewer deliberate or careless losses, Hayes said.

In a behavior known as “neutralizing your guilt,” shoppers may tell themselves that the store is overpriced, so taking an item without scanning is acceptable; or they might blame faulty technology, problems with product bar codes, or claim a lack of technical know-how, the report said.

Try looking in the mirror, you lying, war-promoting bastards!

The study quoted one respondent as saying that people who do not normally steal may come to realize that “when I buy 20, I can get five for free.”

“Maybe I’ll continue to do that,” the person said.

Next thing to do is apply for a job at the bank.


What were they thinking?

"In living color: New technique sees gene activity in human brains" by Sharon Begley, August 10, 2016

Don’t let the pretty tangerine and lemon-yellow glow in the brain pictures fool you. If its inventors are right, an elegant new neuroimaging tool provides more than fetching pictures: It shows for the first time where genes are being turned on or off in living brains, scientists reported on Wednesday.

Until now, gene activation in human brains could be detected only in dead ones. By revealing DNA’s on-off choreography in brains that are still thinking, feeling, and remembering, the new technique promises to reveal genetic underpinnings of mental health and, perhaps one day, detect the earliest hints of a brain being gripped by Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, or other diseases.

Greed in there?

“This is really exciting, pioneering work,” said John Satterlee of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who coordinated the NIH’s program to study patterns of gene silencing and gene activation, and who was not involved in this study. “They took us to a place we didn’t know anything about” — patterns of gene expression in living human brains — “and showed us the lay of the land.”

Brain epigenetics — which genes are turned on or off in different structures — has become a hot topic, as neuroscientists realized that the sequences of inherited DNA explain very little about psychiatric illnesses. In contrast, which genes are turned on and off might be important in a wide range of brain disorders, including addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, Rett syndrome, depression, and schizophrenia, as well as age-related changes. And because life events can alter genes’ on-off state, epigenetic changes might be how tragedy, trauma, and other experiences cause long-term changes in the brain.

Gene activity “is so responsive to the environment, we simply can’t study it outside of its natural context,” said chemist Jacob Hooker of Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the research, published in Science Translational Medicine. “[Dead] brains and living brains will look very different.”

You know what is making me brain dead?

The new technique is a cousin of PET. Traditional PET detects the emission of subatomic particles called positrons from radioactively tagged glucose, the brain’s energy source, and thus reveals which brain regions are active. This version of PET detects positrons coming from radioactively-tagged “Martinostat,” a small molecule Hooker and his colleagues created in 2012.

Given intravenously, the molecule slips through the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, it binds to enzymes called HDACs that turn off genes — including genes important in forming synapses and therefore learning and memory. PET detects the positrons, and presto: a brain map showing where genes are being turned off.

More magic tricks! They have taken everything else; now they are literally coming to take your mind.

Hooker’s team administered Martinostat to eight healthy volunteers. The scientists were trying to show that the technique could work in living brains, but beyond that proof of principle, they also made some tentative discoveries.

The molecules that silence genes were most abundant in the cerebellum, in the back of the brain, which regulates movements, and the putamen, which does that plus coordinate some forms of learning.

More striking than the differences among brain regions was the unexpected similarity between people. Regions with lots of gene silencing in one person’s brain were also regions with lots of silencing in others’ brains, while regions without much gene silencing were also mostly the same.

OMG, we are all the same underneath the racial, gender, age, and sex division constantly pushed by the pre$$.

The uniformity suggests there might be a baseline pattern of gene activation in healthy, living brains. If so, then deviations from that pattern might be used to diagnose illnesses before symptoms appear.

“I’m hoping these colorful maps let us compare healthy brains with the brains of people with schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases,” pinpointing regions with aberrant patterns of gene expression, Hooker said.... 

I've got an aberrant expression for you.


Here is something else that is crazy up-and-down:

"US stocks close at another record high" Associated Press  August 16, 2016

NEW YORK — US stocks closed at a record high Monday behind gains for chemical and machinery companies. Energy companies rose as the price of oil continued its recent recovery.

Makers of chemicals and mining companies made the biggest gains, and machinery companies and banks followed. Investors sold government bonds and utility and phone companies. Those stocks climbed earlier in the year as investors sought safety. Stocks have seesawed between small gains and losses for more than a week as investors consider mixed reports on the health of the economy and a decline in corporate earnings. That hasn’t stopped them from setting records, but it has kept investors wary.

‘‘The market has run up in anticipation of better earnings ahead,’’ said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist for TIAA Investments. ‘‘If those earnings don’t come, we have the Wile E. Coyote moment where we’re off the cliff . . . and we’re gonna fall.’’

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.3 percent to 18,636.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 2,190.15. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.6 percent to 5,262.02.

Second-quarter earnings are nearly all in, with this week’s releases from Home Depot, Walmart, and Target among the last. Corporate earnings are down again this quarter, and investors don’t expect much growth in the third quarter, but they are starting to expect improvement after that....

More importantly, so is revenue.


"Fed continues to wrangle about next interest rate shift" by Neil Irwin New York Times  August 17, 2016

NEW YORK — The quandary facing the Federal Reserve this summer is the same as it was back in the spring, and winter, and last fall: By traditional guideposts like the unemployment rate, it looks as if it is time for the Fed to be raising interest rates. Yet the global economy seems to be locked in a low-growth, low-inflation world in which raising interest rates is at best unnecessary and at worst dangerous.

That tension was on display Wednesday in the minutes of the Fed’s last policy meeting, which raised the possibility of rate increases as early as September.

As is the Fed’s standard practice, the description of the meeting was stripped of names and summarized in bloodless language. But reading between the lines, it is clear there was a rich debate over what factors the Fed should be weighing, and how, in making its next move.

The result of all the debate at the July 26-27 meeting was affirming the status quo.

They are stuck in neutral, so to speak.

The Fed faces a profound question: Is the basic framework they have used over the last generation to set monetary policy the correct one in this moment, or has something fundamental shifted in how the global economy works that calls for a new one?

So nice to know they are trying to figure out the looting system they devised on the fly. 

Why is anyone even bothering to listen to these frauds anymore?

If this is just a standard economic expansion that has been slowed by some bad luck, then the central bank’s usual rules apply. That rule book involves examining how close the economy is to functioning at its full potential, and trying to move up and down to keep on that steady path so as not to let inflation get out of control.

By that standard, it is past time to be raising interest rates. The unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, around the level the Fed believes is sustainable in the longer term, and job growth is strong. Inflation was 1.4 percent over the last year, according to the index the Fed watches most closely, not too far below the 2 percent the Fed aims for. And mainstream economic models project it should rise in the years ahead given the relatively tight job market.

But there is plenty of evidence — and a vocal contingent of officials inside the central bank — that the usual way of thinking is not quite working.

Finally, they are seeing the light!

For one thing, the rest of the world is growing so slowly that it is creating a steady downdraft on inflation and growth that may mean the usual worries about inflation do not apply. Rising wages for American workers during the last year or so have been counteracted by other forces preventing inflation from taking off, including falling energy prices and slack demand for goods and services from overseas.

Moreover, any step the Fed takes toward tightening the US money supply seems to be offset by an opposite reaction elsewhere. With other countries easing monetary policy with ultralow interest rates and quantitative easing, small moves to tighten American policies have created outsize rallies in the dollar, which disadvantages US exporters and creates ripple effects through the global credit system.

That has led Fed officials to steadily mark down both their expectations for how quickly to raise short-term interest rate and where those rates will settle in the longer run — meaning they think that low rates may be more a new normal than a short-term aberration.


Fed Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen will have a prime opportunity to elaborate on her own views in this debate next week, in a scheduled speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo..... 

Oh, I'm on the edge of my seat.



"US stocks closed barely higher Wednesday as big gains for utilities balanced out losses for retailers like Lowe’s, Target, and Staples. Investors scrutinized the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s late July meeting and found no suggestion the central bank’s in any hurry to raise interest rates. Utility companies made the biggest gains, as low interest rates and bond yields make their big dividend payments more appealing. Consumer companies slumped after weak results and forecasts for some major retailers. Urban Outfitters jumped after it disclosed solid second-quarter results. The company said sales at older stores improved, surprising analysts who expected a decline. The stock gained $4.71, or 15.4 percent, to $36.05. It’s up 58 percent this year, wiping out a steep loss from 2015. Barnes & Noble tumbled after the book seller said CEO Ronald Boire is leaving after less than a year in the job. The company said its board determined that Boire was not a good fit. Chairman and former CEO Leonard Riggio, who was scheduled to retire next month, will stay with the company as it seeks a new CEO."

Phone call for you:

"AT&T to roll out new data plans" by Brian Fung Washington Post  August 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — One of the nation’s biggest wireless carriers is rolling out a series of new data plans that change what’s been a key part of the company’s business for years.

Starting Sunday, AT&T will begin offering what it calls the Mobile Share Advantage plan, which eliminates the pricey fees that consumers currently face if they go over their monthly data allotment. Instead of a financial penalty, customers who blow past their data caps under the new plans will be subject to much slower download speeds — 128 Kbps, or a fraction of what users have grown accustomed to in an era of ultrafast data.

Standard looting practice. Provide less service at a higher cost.

It’s an approach that’s been taken previously by the likes of T-Mobile and could help ease the anxiety many people feel about using too much data.

In addition, AT&T said Wednesday that it will be changing what it charges for data. It’s adding more options for people who use a moderate amount of data, adding price points for buckets of 3 GB, 6 GB, and 10 GB. Compare that with today, where midrange consumers can choose only among 2 GB, 5 GB, and 15 GB plans.

But the added choice comes with a tradeoff: With some of the new data buckets, you’ll be paying more compared with AT&T’s current options. For example, whereas $30 will get you 2 GB of data today, it’ll only buy you 1 GB under Mobile Share Advantage. AT&T is clearly trying to push people to buy bigger data plans, where the cost-per-gigabyte comes down the higher you go.

But it's a better plan!


I hope you won't need directory assistance.

"Staples plunges after forecast renews concerns about turnaround" by Nick Turner Bloomberg News  August 18, 2016

NEW YORK — Staples Inc. declined the most in three months after its profit forecast fell short of some estimates, renewing concerns about the struggling chain’s comeback plan.

I don't think they are.

Staples has a difficult road ahead as it tries to rebound from its failed $6.3 billion merger with Office Depot Inc. Chief executive Ron Sargent had staked the company’s future on the deal, and after it was blocked by regulators he agreed to step down.

You can thank Obama for that. These merger denials are an attempt to forestall the death throes of AmeriKan capitali$m for a few more months.

The task of carrying out a “Plan B” strategy was entrusted to lieutenant Shira Goodman, who currently serves as interim CEO.

The Framingham-based company is now working to find growth outside of office supplies, and it is closing poor-performing stores.

Which is strange because that was one of their selling points.

“We are dramatically changing our mindset and operating model,” Goodman said in Wednesday’s statement.

The stock fell more than 7 percent to close at $8.67.....


"Target cuts outlook as it sees fewer customers in stores" by Anne D’Innocenzio Associated Press  August 18, 2016

NEW YORK — Target Corp. cut its profit forecast and a key sales outlook Wednesday as it saw fewer customers visit its stores and acknowledged it didn’t push the second part of its ‘‘Expect More, Pay Less’’ slogan.

The Minneapolis-based discounter’s second-quarter net income fell nearly 10 percent, though that was better than what most had expected. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.1 percent, reversing seven straight quarters of gains. Shares fell.

Customer traffic fell for the first time in a year and a half as Target struggled to get its grocery offerings right and shoppers looking for deals on essentials like detergent were turned off.


That's the lame-a$$ excu$e they are offering?

Other issues, both company-specific and industrywide, ranged from a lack of new electronics for sale and lingering disruptions caused by the sale last year of its pharmacy business to CVS.

Even if they had them we would't be buying them.

Sales by markets also varied, with weakness on the East Coast but pockets of strength in California.

Target joins retailers such as department store chain Macy’s that are struggling with fewer customers coming in as shoppers buy more online.

Macy's is closing 100 stores, and I was just told brick-and-mortar plays to Staples' advantage.


The bright spots in retail have been T.J. Maxx’s parent company TJX Cos. and Home Depot as consumers look for clothing bargains and focus more on their homes.

Target has been trying to restore its cheap-chic status after a series of headline-grabbing setbacks such as a 2013 data breach. It’s focusing on categories like fashion, home furnishings, and wellness products, creating vignettes featuring home products and launching the children’s line Cat & Jack.

But striking the right balance between stylish clothing and bedspreads while offering toothpaste and detergent at good prices has been tricky.

Especially with the bathroom policy! 

Might that have something to do with less customers?



"Paint Nite, a Somerville company that hosts group painting events at local bars, was the second-fastest-growing private company in the nation, according to the Inc. 5000. Taking the top spot was Loot Crate, a monthly “geek” apparel box subscription service out of Los Angeles, the magazine said Wednesday. At number six was Globalization Partners, a Boston-based platform that helps companies navigate the process of hiring employees around the globe. The company, which moved its headquarters from Cambridge to Boston on Aug. 1, ranked first nationally among women-owned private businesses."

Yeah, that's something you can build an economy around.

"Waltham biotech company Chiasma Inc. said Tuesday that it will cut its workforce by another 44 percent to conserve cash and lower its operating expenses in the aftermath of a setback to its clinical development program. It was the company’s second announced cutback in the past three months. Chiasma in June pared a third of its 70 employees after the Food and Drug Administration rejected its experimental drug Mycapssa to treat a pituitary gland growth disorder. FDA regulators called on the company to perform another, broader clinical trial of the drug. The new cuts will affect Chiasma’s research and development, which is centered in Israel, as well as general administrative functions, the company said. The earlier round of cuts primarily affected its commercial workforce. In a statement, Chiasma chief executive Mark Leuchtenberger said the company plans to continue its development of Mycapssa in consultation with the FDA."

What chutzpah.

"Billionaire hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen, who was earlier accused of failing to prevent insider trading at his firm, has agreed in a settlement with the government not to engage in any activities overseen by federal commodities regulators until at least Dec. 31, 2017. The settlement announced Tuesday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission follows on the action brought against Cohen by the Securities and Exchange Commission over insider trading at his firm, formerly called SAC Capital Advisors. In an agreement with the SEC in January, Cohen was barred for two years from managing other people’s money. He wasn’t fined under the agreement, and neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s allegations."

Related: SEC Cuts Cohen a Deal 

Think he learned anything?

"T.J. Maxx’s parent company reported a second-quarter profit and sales results Tuesday that beat Wall Street expectations as shoppers keep flocking to its stores to grab name brands at deep discounts. Framingham-based TJX Cos., which also operates HomeGoods and Marshalls among other stores, raised its profit guidance for the year but offered a third-quarter outlook that fell short of expectations. It cited wage increases for its workers and negative currency effects as factors depressing quarterly profits. Its shares fell more than 5 percent Tuesday. Despite the underwhelming outlook, TJX has been one of the bright spots in retailing since the Great Recession. It continues to draw shoppers away from mall-based stores as it rapidly expands its footprint. It now has more than 3,600 stores, compared to more than 2,800 five years ago. The chain is also improving — offering increasingly current merchandise at big discounts. Now department stores like Macy’s are testing the off-price concept."

"Shares of Urban Outfitters and Children’s Place rose Wednesday after the companies gave an optimistic view of the beleaguered US apparel industry. Urban Outfitters topped analysts’ estimates for second-quarter sales and profit, while Children’s Place raised its earnings forecast for the year. The results helped brighten the outlook of a sector suffering from sluggish mall traffic and a shift of young shoppers online. Aeropostale, American Apparel, Quiksilver, and Pacific Sunwear of California have all filed for bankruptcy over the past year." 

I'm done trying on Globe outfits.

"Waiting for a green light is perhaps the worst of all driving frustrations. You’re sitting there idling behind some station wagon, there’s nothing but commercials on the radio, and you’re wondering when the red traffic light will turn to green. Now, your car will tell you. Audi will debut software in select 2017 models that communicates with municipal traffic light systems to predict when lights will go from red to green." 

Looks to me like it is the pre$$ that is impatient. 

"Cisco Systems says it will lay off 5,500 employees as the Internet gear maker scrambles to adapt to technology changes that have reduced demand for its main products. The shake-up announced Wednesday means about 7 percent of Cisco’s roughly 74,000 workers will lose their jobs beginning this summer. The purge is the latest fallout by a relentless march of innovation that has forced some of the world’s biggest and oldest technology companies to head in new directions in search of revenue growth. In Cisco’s case, its business has been hurt as more of its corporate customers rely on remote data centers for their computing needs instead of online networks maintained on their own premises."

That's the call center they were talking about above!

"Claire’s Stores Inc. is turning to its creditors to help it avoid becoming the latest mall chain to succumb to a mountain of debt. The tween jewelry chain that’s bounced along the bottom of the junk-debt market since its 2007 buyout by Apollo Global Management, is asking bondholders to swap almost $800 million of securities for a smaller amount of new loans. The deal would chip away at the retailer’s almost $2.5 billion debt load and give it more time to boost earnings after it lost more than $500 million in three years as mall traffic declined and competition intensified from online and specialty stores. Claire’s joins a number of national retailers confronting a wall of debt, including Sports Authority Inc., Aeropostale Inc., and the Fairway Group Holdings Corp. supermarket chain, all three of which filed for bankruptcy this year amid sluggish sales and a shift to e-commerce." 

They didn't do it for Puerto Rico; why would they do it for you? 

And remember, this is all at a time when the economy is supposedly healthy!

"Home Depot Inc., the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, posted second-quarter profit that rose 9.3 percent and boosted its earnings forecast for the year as Americans continued spending on their houses. Net income increased to $1.97 a share in the fiscal second quarter, which ended July 31, the Atlanta-based company said Tuesday in a statement. That matched analysts’ average estimate. The results reinforced that consumers are still willing to splurge on fixing up their dwellings, spurred along by rising home values." 

The values are rising because the market is limited. It's being rigged and controlled because if property values collapse so does the whole house of cards. Those valuations are the undergirding of it all.

"Lowe’s Cos. is losing ground to Home Depot in its bid to capitalize on the US home-renovation boom. The company reported disappointing second-quarter sales growth and earnings that fell well below analysts’ estimates, a sign Lowe’s isn’t containing expenses as well as its larger rival. Profit was $1.37 a share, excluding some items, in the quarter ended July 29. Analysts had estimated $1.42 on average. The results contrasted with those of Home Depot, which met analysts’ expectations and boosted its annual profit forecast on Tuesday. Home Depot said it remained confident that rising home values would keep pushing people to spend on their properties."

Redstone granddaughter said pursuing trial even if others settle

See: Globe's Penny Stocks

Time to close the books.

"Ford and the Chinese search engine company Baidu will each invest $75 million in Velodyne, a company that makes laser sensors that help guide self-driving cars. Velodyne, based in Morgan Hill, Calif., says it will use the $150 million investment to expand design and production and reduce the cost of its sensors. The laser sensors are called Lidar, which stands for light, detection, and ranging. They can also be used in conventional vehicles as part of driver assist systems such as automatic emergency braking."

Back to that again, huh?

Tesla said ‘Autopilot’ mistakenly removed from Chinese website

VW owners in Europe get little for diesel deception

Study says 87% of our vehicles could be electric

"The Obama administration on Tuesday issued aggressive new emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks — rules that are expected to achieve better fuel efficiency and a bigger cut in pollution." 

I just cut some myself.

At last, Hubway arrives in some underserved communities

Maybe you can zig-zag through the gunfire.

Globe train makes two stops -- at the same location -- and yet they are all running on time!

Time to ca$h in:

"Your Mass. paychecks aren’t just big, they stretch" by Evan Horowitz Globe Staff  August 17, 2016

Paychecks are bigger in Massachusetts. Then again, rent checks and mortgage payments are too.

So the question is: Are we really better off, or does the high cost of living erode all the benefit of our nation-leading wages?

The short answer is that in Massachusetts, wages trump housing costs.


Bay Staters are still better off than most everyone else, even after you adjust for the cost of living.

How would we know other than the Globe claiming it?

In Massachusetts, good wages beat high costs

When it comes to wages, Massachusetts is the envy of the nation. Up and down the income ladder, workers here out-earn their peers in every other state. It’s not even close: The median hourly wage in Massachusetts is $21.19, a full dollar higher than you find in Connecticut and Maryland, our nearest rivals.

This state is a laughingstock!


Boston’s income divide largest in US

What did he say?

Trouble is, Massachusetts is also a fairly expensive place to live, the seventh-most-expensive in the country, according to the latest government estimates. And there’s no mystery as to why: It’s all about the high cost of housing.

The good news is that while rents and mortgage payments certainly take a big chunk out of family budgets, wages more than compensate.

That doesn’t mean that Massachusetts rents are easily affordable for struggling, low-wage workers, but it does mean that despite our high housing costs, balancing a family budget is still easier here than just about anywhere else in the United States.

I'm not believing that!

In other states, the cost of living is unaffordable

New York and New Jersey turn out to be two of the worst places to earn a decent living. Better to pick up your paycheck in a low-cost state such as Arkansas or Kentucky.

No Bo$ton bias there?

In fact, there are a number of inexpensive states where cost-adjusted wages look surprisingly robust. In Missouri, for instance, paychecks may be small but they stretch extremely far. And that same pattern seems to hold across much of the Midwest.

Maybe I should be thinking about relocating.

It’s all about housing

By far, the biggest factor in all this is the cost of housing. The price of goods just doesn’t vary that much across states.

That's a LIE.

Americans don’t care about good wages

That's an insult!

OK, maybe that’s an overstatement. People probably do want good paychecks and affordable housing — just not enough to pick up and move.

Americans simply aren’t resettling to areas with a low cost of living or far-stretching paychecks. Not around the country and not here in Massachusetts, which has good wages but few new entrants.

And while there may be fine reasons for staying put — a desire to be closer to family, a taste for the pleasures of a bustling metropolis — there are also real economic costs.

In a world of greater mobility, a 50-state map of cost-adjusted wages could serve as a kind of life-planner — an aid to figuring out where to build the most cost-effective life.

He just zigged.

Instead, it is a map of economic dysfunction, a picture of the overpriced pockets where people (choose to) get stuck and the more affordable landscape where Americans aren’t pursuing new opportunities....

Yeah, your mi$ery is all your own fault, Americans.


Time to zag out of here for the night.


Redstone reportedly wins battle over control of empire

It's the day's top story!

"US stocks again ticked higher Thursday as the continuing rebound in oil prices gave energy companies a lift. The gains were modest, however, as investors have been avoiding big moves. The dollar weakened further, and compared to the yen it’s at its lowest in almost three years. Stocks wobbled in the early part of the day, but energy companies were a standout as the price of US oil reached its highest level since the beginning of July. The weakening dollar aided exporters including technology and chemical companies. The market turned higher in the afternoon. Phone company stocks continued to slump, as did financial firms. Stocks haven’t moved much this week and haven’t made many big moves over the last month. Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial, said the US market tends to be calm in August and trading volume is usually low. Lower trading volume means surprising events can cause big swings for stocks, but so far, it’s made this month the opposite of January and early February, when stocks tumbled and the markets were rattled."

T-Mobile, Sprint escalate price war with new unlimited plans

It's a threat to Verizon and AT&T.  

Twitter cracking down on extremist users

Univision’s $135 million bid wins auction for bankrupt Gawker to shut down next week

Nothing to look at there.

Amid changes, Walmart reports strong sales

Cerulean to cut its staff

Maker of Spam, Dinty Moore beef stew sees sales rise

Penny-stock fraudster sentenced to more than 6 years in prison

"In early 2014, The New York Times introduced an app called NYT Now that would provide a curated list of stories — for a lower price than a full digital subscription — to what it hoped would be a younger, mobile-savvy audience. On Thursday, The Times announced it was officially shelving NYT Now. The app will no longer be available to download starting the week of Aug. 29. NYT Now was among the first attempts by The Times to enhance its appeal to mobile users as it looked for new revenue sources that would offset drops in print advertising and circulation. By giving readers a curated subset of daily articles in a mobile-friendly, lower-priced package, The Times hoped to attract a broader audience that might otherwise not subscribe. The subscription price for NYT Now, $8 a month, was roughly half the price of the least expensive digital subscription. But the app never quite took off as The Times had hoped, and last year, it transitioned from subscription to free in the hopes that the new model might give The Times more of an opportunity to expand its audience." 

The younger generation isn't interested in what spew is coming from the NYT? 

You're kidding?

Time to get going.... 

You know, if they take that gig away what jobs will be left?

Fight over Redstone’s billions apparently settled
Dauman’s last act at Viacom is pitching sale of Paramount stake
Judge to consider request for mental exam of Sumner Redstone
Despite settlement, Redstone drama will continue

Not here!