Saving, investing and making money with technology

Month: February 2016

Do all the Republican presidential contenders hate Apple?

The major Republican candidates for president have been taking shots at Apple (AAPL) for resisting a court order to help the FBI unlock a terrorist’s iPhone, with Donald Trump going so far as to call for a boycott of Apple.

 

At Thursday night’s debate, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz along with Ben Carson joined in on bashing the most valued U.S. company for opposing the FBI. “Apple doesn’t want to do it because they think it hurts their brand,” Rubio said. “Well, let me tell you, their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States of America.” Cruz and Carson made similar remarks.

But that hasn’t stopped the candidates’ campaigns from relying on Apple products. Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Carson all sent tweets from an iPhone or iPad over their official accounts in the past two days. The social networking service records the software used to send every 140-character burst, often also revealing the type of hardware device the sender used.

Trump’s tweet on Thursday with a picture of him signing his tax return was sent from the Twitter (TWTR) app on the iPhone.

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Donald Trump's tweet about his tax returns was sent from the Twitter app on an iPhone.

Donald Trump’s tweet about his tax returns was sent from the Twitter app on an iPhone.

Most of the tweets on the accounts of Cruz, Rubio and Carson were sent via software such as Tweetdeck, which is commonly used in professional social networking campaigns. But each candidate also sent a tweet from an Apple device.

On Wednesday, Rubio and Cruz both responded to praise from followers with tweets from an iPhone or iPad.

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A tweet sent by Senator Ted Cruz from the Twitter app for the iPad.

A tweet sent by Senator Ted Cruz from the Twitter app for the iPad.

 

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Senator Marco Rubio sends a tweet from the Twitter app on an iPhone.

Senator Marco Rubio sends a tweet from the Twitter app on an iPhone.

And also on Wednesday, Carson’s account tweeted a foreign policy statement from the Twitter iPhone app.

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Ben Carson sent a tweet from the Twitter app for the iPhone.

Ben Carson sent a tweet from the Twitter app for the iPhone.

The candidates’ positions come as Apple made a court filing challenging the FBI’s demand that the company create new software to weaken the security of the iPhone belonging to deceased San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook. Apple’s filing said such a demand goes beyond the scope of current law and violates its First and Fifth Amendment constitutional rights.

Public opinion polls have differed over which side has the most support. A Pew Research poll released on Feb. 22 found 51% of people agreeing that Apple should unlock the San Bernardino iPhone and 38% opposed, with 11% undecided. But a Reuters poll released Feb. 24 found 46% favored Apple, 35% sided with the FBI and 20% said they were unsure.

On the Apple vs. the FBI question at the debate, after Rubio responded, Cruz and Carson made similar statements: “Apple should be forced to comply with this court order,” Cruz said. “Apple doesn’t have a right to defy a valid court order in a terrorism investigation.”

“I would expect Apple to comply with the court order,” Carson said. “If they don’t comply with that, you’re encouraging chaos in our system.”

Yahoo Finance asked the Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Carson campaigns for comment. This story will be updated with any responses.

Only Ohio Gov. John Kasich took a different tack on the Apple question at the debate. Instead of blaming Apple, he took aim at the president, saying the nation’s leader should force the two sides to come to a compromise.

“The problem is not right now between the administration and Apple,” Kasich said. “You know what the problem is? Where’s the president been? You sit down in a back room and you sit down with the parties and you get this worked out.”

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Warren Buffett’s annual letter is out– 7 things that will have everyone talking

(1) Berkshire had a good 2015, despite what the stock did

In a flat 2015 market, Berkshire fell about 12%, its worst decline since 2008. Buffett focused on the company’s 6.4% gain in book value — the financial metric that he’s always used as an indicator of his conglomerate’s progress. Even though this was below the 13% average book value gain since the recession, it outpaced the 1.4% gain in the S&P including dividends.

Buffett reiterated his previous assertion that Berkshire will repurchase stock if the value of Berkshire trades at or below 1.2x book. Currently it is trading at about 1.3x book, which perhaps limits downside of the shares.

Owned businesses

Berkshire now owns 10 ¼ companies outright (including the 27% Kraft Heinz stake) that would be listed on the Fortune 500 were they independent.

Related Quotes

“That leaves just under 98% of America’s business giants that have yet to call us. Operators are standing by.”

Berkshire’s large insurance operations — which earned $4.9 billion in 2015 versus $5.2 billion in 2014 — put some downward pressure on results. However, an increase in “float” to $88 billion in these businesses can allow the company to fund investments. Buffett reminded investors why insurance has been good for Berkshire over the five decades he’s run the company.

In 2015, all of Berkshire’s other businesses — including a railroad, utilities and energy, financial products, manufacturing and retail — were more profitable than the previous year.

Buffett highlighted the turnaround in the company’s biggest non-insurance business, BNSF railroad, which improved its service to customers after $5.8 billion of capital spending.

Together with BNSF, the “Powerhouse Five” — which includes Berkshire’s five most profitable non-insurance businesses — earned $13.1 billion in 2015. The acquisition of aerospace industry supplier Precision Castparts that closed in January will make the group the “Powerhouse Six.”

As for more M&A ahead? This year, Buffett didn’t specifically hint at any elephant-sized deals on the horizon. Instead, he discussed successful “bolt-on acquisitions” and also reiterated that partnership opportuniites–including with 3G capital with whom he teamed up with in the 2013 purchase of Heinz–would continue.  Buffett said that he will only pursue a friendly takeover, even if hostile deals may sometimes be justified for other investors. At Berkshire, “we go only where we are welcome.”

Public investments

Some investors have criticized Buffett’s commitment to major stock holdings, including American Express (AXP) and IBM (IBM). These two, which were down 26% and 14% in 2015, along with Coca-Cola (KO) and Wells Fargo (WFC), make up his “Big Four” investments. But Berkshire was not a seller of those stocks, so no realized losses hit the company’s bottom line. He reiterated his confidence in the investments:

“At Berkshire, we much prefer owning a non-controlling but substantial portion of a wonderful company to owning 100% of a so-so business. It’s better to have a partial interest in the Hope Diamond than to own all of a rhinestone.”

(2) The presidential candidates are “dead wrong” about the economy

Don’t look for any mentions about oil, China, foreign currency excange rates, or monetary policy in the Berkshire letter– you won’t find them.

But Buffett did emphasize that the domestic economy is strong, despite what politicians contend. He is typically upbeat on the long-term prospects of the U.S. economy. And this year is no different, as the ultimate value investor highlighted “generational opportunities.”

“It’s an election year, and candidates can’t stop speaking about our country’s problems (which, of course, only they can solve). As a result of this negative drumbeat, many Americans now believe that their children will not live as well as they themselves to. That view is dead wrong: The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history.”

American GDP per capita is now about $56,000 — six times the amount in 1930 (the year Buffett was born) in real terms. “America’s economic magic remains alive and well.”

(3) Climate change is a risk

Buffett said the insurance business would not be affected by climate change in the near term. However, he believes even a small threat to our environment should be met with action.

“If there is only a 1% chance the planet is heading toward a truly major disaster and delay means passing a point of no return, inaction now is foolhardy. Call this Noah’s Law: If an ark may be essential for survival, begin building it today, no matter how cloudless the skies appear.”

(4) A major attack is a “clear, present and enduring danger”

“There is, however, one clear, present and enduring danger to Berkshire against which Charlie and I are powerless. That threat to Berkshire is also the major threat our citizenry faces: a ‘successful’ (as defined by the aggressor) cyber, biological, nuclear or chemical attack on the United States.”

“’Innovation’ has its dark side. There is no way for American corporations or their investors to shed this risk.”

(5) Productivity is good for society, but it comes at a cost

Buffett spent time in his 2015 letter to highlight a solution to unemployment caused by paradigm shifts in productivity. He believes in the net benefit to society from improved productivity: “The answer in such disruptions is not the restraining or outlawing of actions that increase productivity. Americans would not be living nearly as well as we do if we had mandated that 11 million people should forever be employed in farming.”

However, he said safety nets are paramount: “The solution, rather, is a variety of safety nets aimed at providing a decent life for those who are willing to work but find their specific talents judged of small value because of market forces. (I personally favor a reformed and expanded Earned Income Tax Credit that would try to make sure America works for those willing to work.) The price of achieving ever-increasing prosperity for the great majority of Americans should not be penury for the unfortunate.”

(6) Personal highlight: Buffett celebrates technological progress but isn’t ready for tinder

“I now spend ten hours a week playing bridge online. And, as I write this letter, ‘search’ is invaluable to me. (I’m not ready for Tinder, however.)”

(7) Buffett is pumped to webcast the meeting on Yahoo! Finance

As previously announced, Yahoo Finance will be hosting the first-ever live stream of Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting on April 30. Buffett said in his letter that: “Charlie and I have finally decided to enter the 21st Century. Our annual meeting this year will be webcast worldwide in its entirety.”

The webcast can be found at https://finance.yahoo.com/brklivestream and will begin with a half hour of interviews with managers, directors and shareholders followed by a livestream of the event.

Buffett said the recent limits on capacity in Omaha motivated him to webcast the event. But, in addition, he said that it’s the age of Buffett, 85, and vice-chairman Charlie Munger, 92, that motivated him. All shareholders, Buffett says, should be able to see how the two men look and sound and to make sure they haven’t “drifted off into la-la land.”

Their life-prolonging diet seems to be the secret: “During the meeting, Charlie and I will each consume enough Coke, See’s fudge and See’s peanut brittle to satisfy the weekly caloric needs of an NFL lineman. Long ago we discovered a fundamental truth: There’s nothing like eating carrots and broccoli when you’re really hungry – and want to stay that way.”

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Newsmax TV Signs Centurylink, GCI Cable Carriage Deals

News and Information Channel Gains Distribution & ViewersrW6X2hrI_400x400

Boca Raton, Fla. – February 23, 2016 – Newsmax TV continues to expand its distribution, securing carriage agreements with CenturyLink and GCI. The agreements increase the fast-growing news and information channel’s viewers’ availability across the U.S. Newsmax TV’s success in building its distribution network reaffirms its ability to steadily grow its subscriber base at a time when many other channels are losing viewers.

CenturyLink offers TV, internet and voice services to customers across the U.S.

GCI provides cable service to about 75 percent of Alaska residents, with wireless, broadband, voice and digital TV services. As such, it is Alaska’s biggest cable operator.

Much of the credit for the sustained growth of Newsmax TV’s distribution is the channel’s unique focus as a news, information and lifestyle channel aimed at serving an under-served Baby Boomer audience. Especially notable in this year of presidential politics, Newsmax TV offers reliable, independent political coverage and unique insight that has also featured appearances by virtually every major GOP 2016 presidential contender in-studio.

In addition to its extensive political news coverage, Newsmax TV provides an array of informational programmingoffers TV, internet and voice services to customers across the U.S.

GCI provides cable service to about 75 percent of Alaska residents, with wireless, broadband, voice and digital TV services. As such, it is Alaska’s biggest cable operator.

Much of the credit for the sustained growth of Newsmax TV’s distribution is the channel’s unique focus as a news, information and lifestyle channel aimed at serving an under-served Baby Boomer audience. Especially notable in this year of presidential politics, Newsmax TV offers reliable, independent political coverage and unique insight that has also featured appearances by virtually every major GOP 2016 presidential contender in-studio.

In addition to its extensive political news coverage, Newsmax TV provides an array of informational programming and lifestyle content serving Boomers in the areas of health, finance and personal well-being. Its on-air talent includes John Fund, Alan Dershowitz, Michael Reagan, JD Hayworth and the latest addition, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch.

“We are pleased that CenturyLink and GCI are embracing Newsmax TV’s approach along with our programming and look forward to welcoming new audiences in these key parts of the country,” Newsmax TV CEO Christopher Ruddy said.

Newsmax TV now reaches nearly 45 million U.S. homes via DirecTV, DISH Network, Fios and through several cable partners. Newsmax is the only 24/7 cable news channel available without authentication on OTT devices like Google TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, smart televisions and over 100 million smartphone apps.

With headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., plus additional studios in New York and Washington, DC, Newsmax TV currently offers 7 hours of live programming in prime time, and is expected to expand to 12 hours of live programming in the coming months.

About Newsmax Media, Inc.
Founded in 1998 and based in Boca Raton Florida, Newsmax Media, Inc. is a privately held broadcasting and multi-media organization. InIn addition to being the parent company that is launching Newsmax TV, its media holdings and products include The Newsmax Feed Network, Newsmax.com, NewsmaxFinance.com, Newsmaxhealth.com, Newsmax Magazine and more than a dozen health and financial online and print newsletters. ComScore has confirmed Newsmax’s current “total reach” is in excess of 50 million unique monthly visitors and Newsmax.com is acknowledged as one of the nation’s most trafficked news politics websites.

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Victim of Unpaid Award Speaks Out About Devastating Consequences; Industry-Funded Recovery Pool is Best Option to Address Major Threat to Investor Confidence in Marketplace Fairness.

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SocialPubli, new marketplace open to all, powers influencer marketing collaborations across regions

Influencer marketing hub connects brands and influencers for vibrant and creative campaigns

SocialPubli (www.socialpubli.com) is an influencer marketing platform that enables marketers to connect with influencers via a fully automated marketplace. The startup operates since last year in the United States, Latin America and Europe with 10,000 influencers in over twenty countries.

“Our platform is the Robin Hood of social media because it gives any user of Twitter, Instagram and YouTube the opportunity to earn money with authentic and creative content that reflects the messaging of a marketing campaign,” says Ismael El-Qudsi, CEO

SocialPubli Facts:

of SocialPubli.

The SocialPubli platform operates based on a cloud-based software that allows marketers to connect with targeted influencers, communicate campaign asks, approve influencer content, distribute content across social media platforms and track the analytics in real time.

Users receive daily alerts of new branded campaign offerings and can choose the tasks they wish to complete, as well as the wording and tone of the campaign-related content.

“We are all influencers. We have the power to communicate our opinions and share with our friends, family and followers the brands, products or services that we like. SocialPubli allows social media users to monetize this consumer-to-consumer word of mouth. It’s a two-way collaboration between marketers and real people and the result is a more active, creative and especially more effective marketplace,” says El-Qudsi.

Although the platform allows marketers to segment and target influencers based on their total audience, one of its key aspects is that it’s open for all social media users to sign up. This democratization of the influencer marketing space has led to a richer and deeper reach for campaigns.

“SocialPubli increases the organic reach of marketing campaigns by 50-100% compared to other online marketing platforms,” asserts El-Qudsi.

10,000 influencers in 20+ countries

  • 1,000+ influencers in the U.S., 2,000+ influencers in Mexico and 2,000+ in Colombia
  • Audience reach of 65 million users in Twitter, 10 million users in Instagram and 3 million users in YouTube
  • NEW! Blog campaigns are also available now
  • English and Spanish-language campaigns
  • Brands such as BMW, Ron Brugal, FOMLA, Heineken, Avon, Claro and Yahoo have trusted SocialPubli for their online marketing campaigns

 

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How 1 Man Turned $10,600 into $8,016,867

By: Rex Moore

Retiredcouple

I never thought getting old was fun (I’m over 50).

Over the hill!

Past your prime!

Those were phrases I used to think about all the time.

But suddenly, everything changed. All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. My outlook had completely changed.

You see, I recently heard about one Kansas man who made his fortune later in life.

His name is Stewart Horejsi and he turned a modest $10,600 investment into an $8,016,867 fortune.

Horejsi piggybacked on the success of a man who rewrote the rules of investing.

And on May 2nd of this year, I scored a front-row seat to hear this man speak. His name is Warren Buffett — the billionaire investor.

Like Horejsi, Buffett amassed his wealth later in life too. In fact, as Buffett blew out the candles on his 50th birthday cake, he had 1% of his current fortune.

Think about it: At an age when most Americans give up hope, Buffett was just getting started on the remaining 99% of his fortune!

So, you can imagine how excited I was to find myself in the same room as Warren Buffett himself in early 2015.

Buffett fielded questions from those in the room for nearly 6 hours!

The catch was: I wasn’t allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video.

I tried to write down every single word Buffett uttered. Over 10,000 words! My hand ached.

But boy was I glad I did! Buffett shared many of his master strategies that older Americans can use to build wealth later in life. Even if they need to catch up. And even if Wall Street gets clobbered again.

This was one of the most important things that ever happened to my finances. That’s why I want to share those strategies and tips with you today — so you can learn strategies like the ones Buffett and Horejsi used to amass their fortunes later in life.

I’ve gathered the strategies I learned from Buffett, distilled them down to 11 simple lessons, and put it in the exclusive report you can find below.

Please don’t delay. Click here to access your report now.

Millions of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. Millions more plan on relying on programs like Social Security to fund their golden years. Fortunately, there may be 11 simple steps you can take to find a better way!

All of the details are in this brief report that shows you exactly how you could position your portfolio, just enter your email below.

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Apple’s pro-user, pro-privacy stand gets the issues right

A federal magistrate took the unprecedented step yesterday of issuing a court order for Apple Inc. to create, out of thin air, a mechanism in iPhone firmware that would allow law enforcement the ability to access to an iPhone that allegedly may have been used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif. terrorists.

Apple was quick to argue publicly that it will continue to oppose this order. Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a lengthy public letter explaining the order’s many problems – both technological and as a matter of public policy.  As he wrote:

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

Compliance, Cook argued, would undermine the privacy and integrity of every iPhone user’s data, not just from government surveillance but from hackers as well. “Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk,” he wrote.

Keep in mind that some sectors of law enforcement and intelligence agencies have opposed strong privacy technologies, such as digital encryption, for decades. Fortunately, in recent years, the public’s interest in privacy technologies has grown. When FBI Director James Comey testified at a hearing in July 2015 calling for a “golden key” to enable the government to access encrypted information (and to sidestep other privacy measures), his wish list was met with widespread public criticism.

But law-enforcement and intelligence agencies also know public opinion can change swiftly in response to events like terrorist attacks. Not unexpectedly, the usual government agenciesreasserted long-standing concerns after last fall’s Paris and San Bernardino attacks, arguing that strong privacy technologies should have their limits. Comey may have met a cold reception from legislators last summer, but by this summer – particularly if it’s in the aftermath of another terrorist attack – the call to provide special access to our private data could resurface. (For those who care: there’s no indication yet that encryption technology or any other privacy measure played any particularly important role in recent attacks.)

It’s not that government concerns about encryption are completely irrational; encryption can be used and likely will be used by terrorists and other law-breakers. Terrorists make use of all manner of technology that happen to be essential to our daily lives: cars, phones, planes and, yes, secure digital privacy. Among the areas where encryption makes our lives better are online banking, connecting to your office computer from home and purchasing a product on Amazon. On a larger scale, consider how missionaries who help religious minorities and charitable groups who assist pro-democracy activists in far-off lands are strengthened and empowered by strong privacy technologies.

If we let fear of terrorism drive holes into our digital security, wouldn’t that mean…the terrorists will have won?

Opening a backdoor – in effect, allowing governments to sidestep your privacy protections by creating technological weaknesses – wouldn’t measurably improve how police can investigate crimes that have already occurred. (No government agency has provided numbers to suggest otherwise.) What it would do is expose users to vulnerabilities from hackers and other entities wishing to do harm.

Every right we have under the Constitution is a thing bad guys might use against us. We still hold on to those rights and think they’re worth preserving. Yes, we face crime and terrorism, but if we hold fast to our principles as a free society, we have to conclude that there is no argument for security “backdoors” like the one the FBI is seeking to compel Apple to create. When truly secure encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will have secure communications. That’s a crazy outcome.

As we have previously explained, directives like this eviscerates privacy as we know it. In fact, many in the intelligence community also recognize the problems with undermining the integrity of encryption. During a May 2015 address to the Joint Service Academies Cyber Security Summit at West Point, Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answered a question from “security guru” Bruce Schneider on the balance between security and surveillance:

I think we all win if our networks are more secure. And I think I would rather live on the side of secure networks and a harder problem for [NSA Director Mike Rogers] on the intelligence side than very vulnerable networks and an easy problem for Mike. And part of that — it’s not only the right thing do, but part of that goes to the fact that we are more vulnerable than any other country in the world, on our dependence on cyber.

This defense of encryption was emphasized by Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, at a recent discussion on privacy protections hosted by the R Street Institute. The former CIA agent and current member of Congress explained that “encryption is an essential for national security and essential for our economy.”

This divide in the intelligence community should give policymakers pause as they consider calls to create backdoors for law-enforcement agencies.

R Street is encouraged by Apple’s defense of strong encryption and its leaders’ reluctance to abide by the recent court’s undue burden. Encryption is an essential tool that preserves the integrity of personal data and provides needed security of international banking and online commerce. Any effort to undermine encryption in one case will have irrevocable damage to the Internet.

As Tim Cook concluded in his statement:

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

Cook has this balance right. Let’s hope our law-enforcement establishment comes to understand that balance, as well.

Nathan Leamer is a policy analyst and outreach manager with the R Street Institute.

R Street is a non-profit public policy research organization that supports free markets; limited, effective government; and responsible environmental stewardship. It has headquarters in Washington, D.C. and five regional offices across the country. Its website is www.rstreet.org.

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