Rent in Portland is higher than average. But so is income

Image result for Rent in Portland is higher than average. But so is incomeRenters around Portland have been paying about 10 percent more than the national average as Bangor and Lewiston renters have seen costs drop through 2015.

That’s according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that measures purchasing power in metro areas around the country.

While goods and services generally cost less in Maine metro areas, rents varied widely. Bangor was about 10 percent below the national average and Lewiston was about 20 percent below, and dropping.

 

The bureau combines that cost data with income statistics, delivering a better sense of where in the country people stand to get the most bang for their buck.

While the data does compare costs to per capita income, it doesn’t provide a detailed look at housing or rental affordability.

[Here’s where to find the most affordable homes in Maine]

The figures show that while rental costs are dropping, purchasing power per resident around Bangor and Lewiston still hasn’t grown as quickly as in the Portland area since 2008.

The chart below shows short-term changes on the vertical axis and the longer-term change, from 2008 to 2015, on the horizontal axis. Maine’s metro areas are in blue.

Image result for Rent in Portland is higher than average. But so is income

The figures show Portland-area purchasing power has grown more since 2008, at 5.6 percent, but it still lags the national average of 7 percent growth.

As opposed to overall income figures, the per-capita measure controls in some way for differences in population growth across the metro areas.

By that measure, Portland is above-average nationally. Bangor and Lewiston were behind, but showed signs of catching up in 2015 as they grew faster during that period than Portland.

 

As a whole, Maine’s per capita real personal income grew 2.8 percent from 2014 to 2015, lagging the national average of 3.4 percent.

[“Source-widgetsanddigits”]

karacter Is A Colouring Box For Audio

Image result for karacter Is A Colouring Box For AudioPlugin Alliance has announced the availability of karacter,  a new plug-in which they describe as an “exacting emulation, by Brainworx of  elysia‘s discrete class-A stereo saturator namesake, known affectionately as ‘The Coloring Box’ because of the wondrous ways in which it fattens and adds sparkle to tracks.” Here’s a press release with the full details…

karacter is actually a bundle of two plugins — karacter mix and karacter master, the former providing a straightforward set of controls for treating mono and stereo tracks, while the more surgical latter lets users process full mixes, stereo stems, and subgroups, thanks to its independent left and right channel controls or, in MS Mode, mid and side channels. Choose either, and characterful sounds shine forth for sure, separating them from the plugin pack. After all, elysia has a well-deserved reputation for building pioneering products of quality and distinction that really represent a paradigm shift in studio processing; plugins bearing the manufacturer’s notable name capably convey those admirable attributes in digital form.

For both the karacter mix and karacter master plugins provide three different modes with which users can paint project tracks with colorful harmonics — hence that (“Coloring Box”) tagline thrust upon their hardware counterpart. Creatively, the standard saturation mode makes for fattening gently while heightening (odd) harmonics — heavenly when it comes to mastering and also for adding subtle size to pristine-sounding instruments such as acoustic guitars and grand pianos. FET Shred mode mimics the pleasing distortion of a driven tube amp, adding a relative boost to (even) harmonics that transform clinical-sounding electric guitar and bass tracks into bad boys! Turbo Boost mode — only available in FET Shred mode — should surely carry a warning! Why? Waging total harmonic destruction, it hard-clips signal tops like a weed whacker and sounds superb whether used for far- reaching processing of individual tracks or being tasked with severe sound design duties.

Days of yore required racks packed with outboard gear to achieve elusive and highly-desirable styles of tonal saturation. Such serious outlay is not necessarily needed today, thanks to karacter… choose the desired saturation mode, then push it harder or softer using the Drive control to dial in ideal amounts of beautiful-sounding sparkle or meat-grinding grit. For floor-rattling bass tracks, turn up karacter’s Color control counter-clockwise to simultaneously jack up the saturated signal’s bottom end while softening its highs. Conversely, clockwise rotation of the Color control could rough out the smooth edges of clean FM (Frequency Modulation) synth tracks to dirty things up. Up top, try raining musical mayhem down on drum overheads in MS Mode by applying Turbo Boost to the kick and snare in the mid channel while creating crystalline-sounding cymbals on the side channel. Or overdrive the total kit to take things to the extreme! Either way, whether working on full mixes, drum subgroups, or stringed instruments, karacter’s Mix control can blend colorful distortion with pristine input signal to sculpt a perfect balance of girth and sonic detail. Duly transform tracks into beauty or beast with karacter!

Cutting — or boosting! — to the chase: karacter creates a wonderful world of tremendous tones and timbres courtesy of a carefully chosen small set of controls that can completely change the character of a sound, alongside a stereo M/S (Mid-Side) control that opens up several possibilities for creative effects. The choice is in there… and all keeping elysia’s well-deserved reputation alive and kicking (ass) within a convenient, creative plugin workflow without treading on the toes of any other saturator software solution out there.

Pricing and Availability:
karacter is available for purchase — as an AAX Native & DSP-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-supporting plugin for Mac OS X (10.8 through 10.12), Windows (7 through 10), and Pro Tools 10.3.10 (or higher) — exclusively from Plugin Alliance for $199.00 USD.

Note that the proprietary Plugin Alliance Installation Manager means users can select, download, and install only the products and formats needed for their system.

[“Source-ndtv”]

10 Reasons Why Your Blog Is Underperforming

Image result for 10 Reasons Why Your Blog Is Underperforming

It’s true that 47% of consumers read between 3-5 pieces of blog content before making a purchasing decision.

Are you making sure your content is connecting with your audience?

Millions of businesses are writing content every single day (myself included) but you will find that they aren’t achieving the results they are looking for.

Writing content is time consuming, but after understanding what doesn’t work, you will find that the time you are spending writing content, will pay off for you.

After understanding my audience, and thousands of successful pieces of written content over the last nine years, I want to share with you 10 reasons why your blog is underperforming.

1. Un-Engaging Headline

When it comes to creating written content, the first thing someone will see is your headline, and one of the biggest reasons why your blog is underperforming is because your headlines are not engaging with your audience.

Research your industry to see what your audience are most engaging with, and take a look at your past articles to understand the type of content your audience wants to read.

2. Having A Boring Tone Of Voice

Every single company you come across that has a successful marketing strategy will have their own tone of voice that connects with their customers. People will always buy from people, so your brand has to have emotion, and a personality which they can connect with and relate to.

3. Using Short Keywords For Your SEO

Using one word keywords for a focus keyword for your metadata will not drive you traffic. You need to get more niche, and use long-tail keywords to make sure that when people are searching for the type of content you are creating, your blog is showing up in their search results. Think about how your audience searches, and make your long-tail keywords more conversational.

4. There’s No Powerful or Persuasive Hook

When you are writing content, you need to make sure that you are sharing compelling facts and statistics to connect with your audience. Having a powerful hook by writing something that will persuade your audience to read your content will help you when it comes to building trust and helping your prospect make that purchasing decision.

5. Lack Of Variety

You will notice that I have articles which are just written content, and then I will also have other articles that have visuals. It is important that you are always varying the type of content you create, as your audience want information in a variety of different ways.

6. No Call-To-Action

This is something I have been doing more of over the last 12 months. I always make sure to offer a call-to-action at the end of my blogs whether this be to sign up to a webinar, resource or just answer a question. Use a call-to-action as a way to encourage a two-way conversation.

7. Short Content

Just two years ago, optimum content used to be around the 300-word mark, but now, content that is 600 words + is performing better. I make sure that my content is at least 700 words long. If you find it hard to write longer content on a more regular basis, focus on writing less content that is longer, and more in depth.

8. You’re Not Telling A Story

In every piece of content I write, I like to share some sort of anecdote to give what I am saying credibility, and use it as a way to connect with you audience on a more personal level. Think about how you can talk about your story to help your audience.

9. Repurposing All Of Your Content

Only recently I discovered that repurposing every single piece of content, and sharing it on the likes of LinkedIn Pulse and Medium within a week of posting on my website actually decreases the traffic I get to the article. Because LinkedIn Pulse and Medium are considered more “authoritative” websites, content of yours that sits on your website, and on these sites within a month of each other are in essence competing for traffic and you don’t want that.

10. Not Promoting Your Blog

Are you sharing your content across all of your Social Media platforms? To get traffic back to your website, sharing a link to your blog posts on Social Media is important. You should also look at other ways to promote your blog including email marketing, and other forms of digital marketing.

I hope that the above 10 tips will help your blog perform more effectively for your business.

Over the last nine years I have written over 1,000 articles, and have acquired more than ONE MILLION visitors reading my blogging content. How would you like to be able to achieve the same?

In the modern world, every business needs to communicate with their customers through content, and the best way to do this is through blogging.

To understand whether this webinar is for YOU, I have four questions I would like you to ask yourself:

  1. Do you know how to set up a blog?
  2. Are you happy with the blog traffic you are generating?
  3. Are you on the first page of Google for your blog content?
  4. Do you know how to find your target customers online?

If you answered NO to the above questions, this will be one of the best blogging learning opportunities you’ll have this year, and it’s 100% free, certified and live!

Here’s Why You Should Care:

  • Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages
  • 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with the company
  • B2B marketers that use blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not

In my NEW and EXCLUSIVE 1 hour webinar, I will share with you how I have generated thousands of leads through the content I create on a weekly basis.

As a small business, writing content is something that should be a huge focus for you, especially if driving traffic is important to your success.

Join me on the 21st June at 7pm and in just 60 minutes I will take you through my formula to small business blogging success that has helped me generate thousands of leads, and can be attributed to a 6-figure income.

Places limited to 100 people, so be sure to sign up below to secure your place. If you cannot make it live, still register to make sure that you receive a link to the recording post-webinar!

This is one of the best blogging learning opportunities you’ll have this year and it’s 100% free and certified.
[“Source-ndtv”]

Mosul assault: Iraq troops make headway against IS

Members of the Iraqi rapid response forces fire a missile toward Islamic State militants during a battle in south of Mosul, Iraq February 19, 2017

Iraqi government forces have seized several villages as they move towards an assault on the last area held by the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Mosul.

Hundreds of military vehicles, backed by air power, rolled across the desert towards IS positions early on Sunday.

The progress on Sunday in the south of the city, the second biggest in Iraq, takes them within striking distance of Mosul airport.

Fears have been voiced about the safety of many thousands of trapped civilians.

The offensive was formally announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi early on Sunday.

Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah said in a statement that elite Rapid Response units captured the villages of Athbah and Al-Lazzagah – two villages south of Mosul airport.

Attack on west Mosul: Day one in pictures

Government forces retook the eastern side of the city, the last major IS stronghold in Iraq, last month. But military officials say the western side, with its narrow, winding streets, may prove a bigger challenge.

For now, there is no advance from eastern Mosul as all bridges from there to the west of the city, across the Tigris river, have been destroyed.

Map of Mosul city showing areas of control

Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US-led coalition forces, said in a statement on Sunday: “Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world.”

Special forces units safely detonated a number of IS car bombs as they cleared villages south of Mosul, according to the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville, who is embedded with the troops.

As well as primed car bombs, the jihadists left behind SIM cards, clothes, instant coffee and weapons as they retreated.

  • Photos show ‘weaponised drones’ in Iraq
  • Satellite images reveal Mosul damage
  • Iraq gaining momentum against IS
  • Islamic State group: The full story
A hidden and still live car bomb found in a village homeImage copyrightQUENTIN SOMMERVILLE/BBC
Image captionA hidden and still live car bomb found in a village home

The UN has voiced concern about civilians trapped there, amid reports that they could number up to 650,000. Leaflets warning residents of an imminent offensive were earlier dropped over the west of the city.

Charity Save the Children said on Sunday it believed that as many as 350,000 children were trapped.

“This is the grim choice for children in western Mosul right now: bombs, crossfire and hunger if they stay; or execution and snipers if they try to run,” said the charity’s Iraq country director, Maurizio Crivallero.


The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville is embedded with the Emergency Response Division special forces troops near Mosul

The assault began just after dawn, after days of coalition air strikes, with hundreds of armoured vehicles, thousands of men, and support from helicopter gunships.

The men of Iraq’s Emergency Response Division, police special forces are leading the attack. Their targets are three IS held villages to the south of west Mosul. They are trying to gain the high ground from IS, which will give them sight of the city’s airport and its southern edge.

The government forces made quick gains but have been slowed as they begin to take villages. There are no signs of any civilians. Heavy machine gunfire, rockets and artillery fire are constant.

For the first time in nearly three years, the Iraqi flag is again flying over the south of western Mosul.

Soldiers rest during the offensive in southern MosulImage copyrightQUENTIN SOMMERVILLE/BBC
Image captionSoldiers rest during the offensive in southern Mosul
Iraqi troops near MosulImage copyrightQUENTIN SOMMERVILLE/BBC
Image captionA soldier looks out over the desert as the offensive begins

Follow Quentin Sommerville on Twitter


Iraqi forces have now all but surrounded the western part of Mosul, while the US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes on IS targets.

Ahead of the launch of the operation, Mr Abadi said in a televised speech: “We announce the start of a new phase in the operation, we are coming to Nineveh to liberate the western side of Mosul.”

“Our forces are beginning the liberation of the citizens from the terror of Daesh [IS],” he added, quoted by AFP news agency.

Quentin tweet
Quentin Sommerville tweet that reads:
Quentin Sommerville tweet that reads:

The UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, told the BBC on Saturday that “all of the parties to the conflict do absolutely everything they can to ensure that civilians survive the battle, and that they live”.

“Absolutely nothing is more important going into the campaign to retake western Mosul,” she added.

As the advance got under way, the UN commissioner for human rights called on the Iraqi government to investigate videos shared on social media that appeared to show Iraqi troops brutally abusing and executing IS fighters on the streets of east Mosul late last year.

The videos have not been verified at this stage by any government authority or independent group. The Iraqi prime minister’s office said it had launched an investigation.

The offensive on the eastern part of the city was launched on 17 October, more than two years after jihadists overran Mosul before seizing control of much of northern and western Iraq.

Experts warn that western Mosul, although slightly smaller than the east, is more densely populated and includes districts that are seen as pro-IS.

The UN said in late January that almost half of all the casualties in Mosul were civilians. At least 1,096 have been killed and 694 injured across Nineveh province since the start of October.

[Source:-BBC]

Why Quarterback Is Again An Offseason Priority For The Cowboys

The biggest story of 2016 for the Dallas Cowboys was how they wound up with their new franchise quarterback through a combination of good evaluation and just plain luck. Dak Prescott proved to be far more capable than anyone dreamed. Arguably, he represents the greatest first-year return on draft investment ever, not just for Dallas, but for any team.

As good as that is for the Cowboys, it came with the unfortunate downside of ending the career of Tony Romo in Dallas with much more of a whimper than a bang. And it also means that there is a very familiar question facing the Cowboys again this year: Just what do they do about the backup quarterback situation?

In a recent mock draft, SBN draft maven Dan Kadar not only looked at who he projected for teams to take in the first round this year, he also addressed the question of whether each team should draft a quarterback. His answer for Dallas was succinct.

Should they draft a quarterback? Lol

That is funny, as well. It also is pretty much the wrong answer.

With Romo on his way out (and the whole story of where he might end up growing daily), the Cowboys now have exactly zero backup quarterbacks under contract. Kellen Moore and Mark Sanchez are both free agents. Even if the team should re-sign one of them, they still need at least two more camp arms. But camp arms and possible future backups are two different beasts, and the Cowboys have to be looking for the latter. Obviously they are not going to be looking to draft a quarterback early, but on day three, it becomes not just a possibility. It should be something of a priority.

It is certain that the team will want at least one experienced backup going into training camp, and that search would logically begin with Moore and Sanchez. Of the two, Moore would be the more likely option (signing both seems highly improbable). In the first installment of his breakdown of the roster, our own Mark Aggarwal laid out the logic.

Kellen Moore: Second String – As a favorite of Scott Linehan, there is a good possibility the Cowboys will re-sign him to backup Prescott. He knows the Cowboys system, has the trust of the coaches and should come relatively cheap.

That would result in more deja vu all over again, as having Moore as the incumbent backup to the established starter is exactly where the Cowboys were a year ago. Of course, Prescott does not have the injury and age concerns Romo had. But the team was clearly looking to upgrade at the position when they took Prescott in the draft, and that also still applies. The problem with Moore is that his ceiling just looks limited.

What the drafting of Prescott did show was that the staff, especially the coaches, were able to see something that others clearly missed (or at least were unwilling to move on before Dallas got its chance at the end of the fourth round last year). The odds are staggering against finding another Dak this year – but that wasn’t what they thought they had when they took him. They believed at the time they had a developmental quarterback with a lot of upside and good intangibles. This year, they should be combing the available quarterbacks for the same thing. They won’t find a second Dak – but maybe they can find Dak Lite.

The Cowboys have not had a history of taking quarterbacks in the draft in the years before Prescott was selected, but they also had a similar aversion to taking offensive linemen early before a certain Tyron Smith was drafted. His success led to a complete revision of the approach which led to adding Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, and indirectly to La’el Collins as well. Now that they hit the mother lode with Prescott, it would not be surprising to see them go back to that well.

However, this is seen as a relatively weak quarterback class, with no Jared Goff or Carson Wentz creating a sellers’ market for top draft spots to take perceived blue chips. The Cowboys do not want to force things here. They need to stick to their board, which they have been doing fairly well of late. If the value is not there, they will have to go the UDFA route (which, admittedly, they have also had some remarkable success at doing in the not too distant past). They can also consider signing another veteran backup, such as Josh McCown, but that is not a long-term solution. The goal for Dallas is to find a young arm with good football intelligence and processing speed to groom.

The ideal model here is the New England Patriots, who have a long history of drafting quarterbacks, making them look good, flipping them for draft picks, rinse, and repeat. Jimmy Garoppolo is the latest, and we all know about Matt Cassel as well. As much as we love to hate the hoodie, Bill Belichick is a master at this game. And there is nothing wrong with stealing an idea from the best.

What the Cowboys should be hoping for is a QB they have a third- or fourth-round grade on to slip into the sixth or seventh round, the way cornerback Anthony Brown did last year. Brown was the other real draft coup from last year, able to start capably when Morris Claiborne was injured, and now one of the cornerstones for rebuilding the secondary with so many key payers from last year also free agents.

If that happens, the Cowboys need to be ready to pull the trigger. There is no guarantee that they will solve the QB2 issue this time around, but it may take more than one shot at the target. They can’t be shy about making the pick if their scouting backs the move. Like it or not, it is a real need to address this year – as long as everything lines up properly.

[Source:-Blogging The Boys]

Why SEO is more powerful than your CEO when crisis strikes

Many critics and commentators look to the chief executive when crisis hits a brand or organisation. It’s recently become a matter of anecdotal wisdom that those businesses that survive crises best only do so because of the authority, credibility and empathy of their senior leaders.

Certainly those organisations with inept executives or spokespeople are heavily criticised and lambasted during, and even well after, the crisis event. But be clear, chief executive crisis appearances are often about the semiology of sincerity and the appearance of a swift response.

Read more: 11 ways to stop an online issue turning into a PR disaster

An out-dated crisis communication model

Historically, under-fire brands needed a consistent, calm authority figure that became the sole point of company crisis information; someone who could present a personable face for the business while it was under duress.

And there’s our first huge problem; many businesses still use a historic media and crisis communication model, rather than a contemporarily configured one. You see, in the modern media arena, the number of experts, pundits and sources—each replete with their opinions and retrospective ‘shoulda’s and woulda’s’—have multiplied significantly. One (chief executive) person cannot address all those fragmented audiences simultaneously.

In crisis, critics and detractors publish incessantly, inaccurately, and certainly more frequently than the under-the-cosh corporate. Crisis companies lose fair share of voice, almost as soon as the crisis breaks.

Erroneous content can fuel search results first

Online channels pick up much of this early, frequently erroneous, content. Due to the source traffic volumes and search engine rankings, the ‘wrong’ content infiltrates search engine results. And as over 90% of online searchers click on the highest-ranking webpages and sites first, ‘the fix’ is often in! Crisis-hit entities need to use search engine optimisation (SEO) to ensure their pages get priority perusal.

But typically, I still lament what the majority seem to be doing. Many are waiting for the board or legal to approve holding statements, or rehearsing the chief executive with sound bites designed to placate a media ever ready to pounce on mispronunciations or misallocation of accountability or blame. The communications focus has become erroneous; technology makes it so.

Chief executives are outgunned by SEO speculation

In terms of message spread and traction, your chief executive is easily outgunned by speed, by speculation and by volume of overwhelmingly critical search engine optimised content. As a consequence, the effectiveness and impact of the chief executive in a crisis is fast being overtaken by the pre-eminent role of search engines (and SEO) in ‘framing the crisis narrative’.

After all, when a crisis breaks, many people trust search engines first to help them divine which channel they’ll follow for news on the incident information. So the big challenge facing brands-in-disaster is: ”Who are crisis followers listening to?” (And by association, “how do we get them to listen to us?”)

Why do companies still cede narrative relevance?

We could realistically expect a business at the sharp end of any crisis to be best positioned to explain and expose what’s truly happening—with updates, footage and on-the-ground interviews. For this to happen, companies need to move into the proprietary news business rather than just the reactive communications business.

DiscoverOrganizationWeb pageCrisis communication

But too often, businesses don’t just fail to command narrative authority in a crisis. Their message management methodology is pre-programmed to hand over that authority to third party media channels. They quickly cede influence.

In only grooming and training their chief executive to perform for traditional news outlets, the beleaguered ‘body corporate’ cedes influence to a process that sees them lose narrative relevance as soon as the crisis breaks. In so doing, they’re again relinquishing their power, the privilege of their reporting position at the crisis coalface and, ultimately, their reputation.

Move into the news business

Despite the newer digital media offering plentiful opportunities to publish crisis updates straight to stakeholders (and search engines), only a minority of Aussie corporates have restructured their message distribution strategies—and resourced their communications teams—to get into the news business.

Now I’m not saying the role of any chief executive in a crisis is redundant—not at all. But given the changes in our information, news and content sharing environments, the importance and impact of good SEO is an absolute mandatory in determining a fairer share of how the story is created, disseminated and located.

Ideally, you twin your chief executive’s status with all the SEO smarts at your disposal and drive your narrative to best represent your business; in crisis times and in peace times.

The big question is: “Do you really know the drill of modern crisis management?”

[Source:-Smart Company]

MenuBar Stats 2 Is a Mac System Monitor With Support for Plugins

Mac: You have tons of options for different system monitors on the Mac, but if you’re looking for something a little more customizable than the rest, MenuBar Stats 2 is worth a look.Like any system monitor, MenuBar Stats can show CPU details, memory info, disk usage, networking, battery life, and more. More interesting is the plugin support. With plugins, you can add your own modules, like temperature or fan speed. Whether more plugins come around is up to developers, but it’s nice the support is there. If you want to give MenuBar Stats a test run, you can check out the demo on the developer’s site.

[Source:-Lifehacker]

Why is Turkey holding a referendum?

In one brawl, a government MP alleged an opponent bit into his leg. In another, a plant pot was hurled across parliament. A microphone was stolen and used as a weapon. An independent MP handcuffed herself to a lectern, sparking another scuffle. The parliamentary debate on changing Turkey’s constitution wasn’t a mild affair.

On the surface, it might seem a proposal that would enjoy cross-party consensus: modernising Turkey’s constitution that was drawn up at the behest of the once-omnipotent military after the coup of 1980.

But instead it’s arguably the most controversial political change in a generation, becoming in effect a referendum on the country’s powerful but divisive President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The plan would turn Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential republic, more akin to the United States. Among the numerous changes:

  • The role of prime minister would be scrapped. The new post of vice president, possibly two or three, would be created.
  • The president would become the head of the executive, as well as the head of state, and retain ties to a political party.
  • He or she would be given sweeping new powers to appoint ministers, approve the budget, choose the majority of supreme and constitutional court judges and enact certain laws by decree.
  • The president alone would be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
  • Parliament would lose its right to scrutinise ministers or propose an enquiry. However, it would be able to begin impeachment proceedings or investigate the president with a majority vote by MPs. Putting the president on trial would require a two-thirds majority.
  • The number of MPs would increase from 550 to 600.
  • Presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on the same day every five years. The president would be limited to two terms.

The government – and, principally, President Erdogan – argue that the reforms would streamline decision-making and avoid the unwieldy parliamentary coalitions that have hamstrung Turkey in the past.

Since the president is no longer chosen by parliament but now elected directly by the people, goes the argument, he or she should not have to contend with another elected leader (the prime minister) to enact laws.

The current system is, they say, holding back Turkey’s progress. They even argue that the change could somehow end the extremist attacks that have killed more than 500 people in the past 18 months.

A woman lays flowers by a makeshift memorial in front of the Reina nightclub in IstanbulImage copyrightOZAN KOSE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionHundreds of people have been killed in attacks in Turkey in the past 18 months

A presidential system is all very well in a country with proper checks and balances like the United States, retort critics, where an independent judiciary has shown itself willing to stand up to Donald Trump and a rigorous free press calls him out on contentious policies.

But in Turkey, where judicial independence has plummeted and which now ranks 151 of 180 countries in the press freedom index of the watchdog Reporters Without Borders, an all-powerful president would spell the death knell of democracy, they say.

  • Profile: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s dominant president
  • ‘Open, police!’: The day a Turkish writer’s life changed

Mr Erdogan’s opponents already decry his slide to authoritarianism, presiding over the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and a country where some 140,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended since the failed coup last year. Granting him virtually unfettered powers, says the main opposition CHP, would “entrench dictatorship”.

“The jury is out,” says Ahmet Kasim Han, a political scientist from Kadir Has University. “It doesn’t look as bad as the opposition paints it and it’s definitely not as benevolent as the government depicts it. The real weakness is that in its hurry to pass the reform, the government hasn’t really explained the 2,000 laws that would change. So it doesn’t look bright, especially with this government’s track record.”

A boy wearing a Turkish flag in a show of loyalty to the state following the failed coup attempt in July 2015Image copyrightBURAK KARA/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionSince the failed coup 140,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended from their jobs

The governing AK Party had to rely on parliamentary votes from the far-right MHP to lead the country to a referendum. For long, the MHP leader, Devlet Bahceli, opposed the presidential system: “The Turkish nation has never allowed a Hitler,” he once said, “and it will not allow Erdogan to get away with this,” calling it the recipe for “a sultanate without a throne”.

But arm-twisting and rumours that he could be offered one of the vice presidential posts has prompted a spectacular U-turn. The question now is whether he can persuade his party to follow. The party’s deputy chairman and several local MHP officials have already resigned over Mr Bahceli’s stance.

“It seems this is not going Bahceli’s way,” says Dr Kasim Han. “But the naysayers may not feel able to go against the party culture by contradicting the leader.”

Opposition to the reform is led by the centre-left CHP and the pro-Kurdish HDP parties, the latter of which has been portrayed by the government as linked to terrorism. Several of its MPs and the party leaders are now in prison.

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of opposition Nationalist Movement Party, attends the parliamentary session for the debates on a new draft constitution at the Turkish Grand National Assembly
Image copyrightADEM ALTAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionDevlet Bahceli, leader of the far right MHP, now supports the proposed constitutional changes

AKP and MHP voters who oppose the reform may feel pressured into voting in favour, so as not to be tarnished as supporting “terrorists”, especially since the referendum will take place under the state of emergency imposed after the attempted coup.

“Holding the vote under this state of emergency makes it susceptible to allegations that people don’t feel free to say no,” says Dr Kasim Han. “It casts a shadow over the outcome.”

Polling has been contradictory and Turkish opinion pollsters are notoriously politicised. But all signs point to a very tight race.

With the detail of the constitutional reform impenetrable to many, the referendum has become focused around Mr Erdogan himself: a president who elicits utmost reverence from one side of the country and intense hatred from the other.

The decision as to whether to grant him the powers he’s long coveted will determine the political fate of this deeply troubled but hugely important country.

[Source:-BBC]

A Strong Theme in the Market Now Is That There Are No Strong Themes in the Market Now

It was one of those deceptive days where the business media talk about the Nasdaq and the DJIA hitting new all-time highs while traders complain about the poor action in many stocks. While the major indices managed to post gains, breadth was negative with about 2,700 gainers to 4,000 decliners. Small-caps lagged again with the Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) down 0.5% and struggling to hold its 50-day simple moving average.

What saved the market today were the big-cap FANG names plus Apple (AAPL) , Boeing (BA) and a few others. Oil had another poor day and biotechnology struggled to hold up after more comments about drug pricing from the Trump administration.

There are two basic themes in the market now. The first is that there are no strong themes other than some outperformance by big-caps. There isn’t any sector that is showing unusual strength and even those that do well seldom follow through.

The other theme is the lack of momentum. The bulls couldn’t build on breakouts, but the bears can’t build on the lack of progress. We are stuck in a range with limited upside and no real downside volatility in months.

Big-cap strength is keeping the indices in an uptrend, but small-cap weakness is causing structural damage under the surface. Careful stock picking is essential. It is easy to take some sizable hits if you are in the wrong small-caps. This market is not bailing you out if you make mistakes.

Have a good evening. I’ll see you tomorrow.

[Source:-Real Money]

Adobe is forcing people to install a Chrome Plugin with its latest Reader update

This week Adobe pushed out a series of crucial security fixes to its PDF reader. Alongside the updates, the software firm appears to have installed an extra plugin onto the computers of customers.

According to numerous unconnectedindividuals on Twitter, the latest Adobe Reader update prompts people to install a Google Chrome Plugin.

The Adobe Acrobat and Reader updates (15.023.20053) are part of a release designed to fix a flaw that could let hackers take “control of the affected system”. But when you install this security fix, the Adobe Acrobatplugin is automatically added to your browser.

“It auto-installed,” security expert Troy Hunt told WIRED. “I literally walked up to my PC and the prompt was already there.”

When enabling or downloading the Chrome Plugin, people are required to grant it three specific permissions next time they open Chrome: to “read and change all your data on the websites you visit”, “manage your downloads”, and “communicate with cooperating native applications”. The plugin is intended to let users easily convert websites into PDFs. It should be noted that you can choose not to enable the plugin, and you don’t have to hand over permissions to Adobe in order for the bug fixes to take effect.This technique of auto-installing plugins is typically used by hackers to get access to people’s computers. Although this Adobe plugin appears to be from a legitimate source, it’s concerning that a company dogged with security issues should use such a tact.

WIRED has contacted Adobe for comment on the auto-install but the firm had not responded at the point of publication.

Adobe, in support documentation, issued alongside the plugin, says URL data is not collected for the company. “This [permission] is required to allow the extension to convert HTML content to PDF,” Adobe says. “However, the URL information is not sent back to Adobe.”

Hunt added: “I suspect Adobe is attempting to take a slice out of the native in-browser PDF viewers, but this certainly felt a bit too bullish.”

The firm continued that the information collected only includes the browser type and version, Adobe desktop production information, and data on how menu options or buttons are selected. It does not include personal information that could be used to identify a person, for example. Adobe claims that it details how it uses that information in its privacy policy.

The Adobe security updates were introduced to stop potential hackers from accessing computers remotely and installing malware. Across Adobe Reader, Acrobat and Flash Player there were 42 fixes for known problems.

[Source:-Wired]