In This Together

Features

San Diego
By Steven Turner


Ann Romney, wife of ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS)

at the age of 49. With the help of an aggressive physician,

Dr. Weiner, Mrs. Romney has been able to coexist with MS while raising hope and

awareness to other individuals afflicted with not only MS but associated diseases

such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and brain tumors.
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Posted by editor on Wednesday, June 21 @ 12:14:11 MST (59 reads)


WannaCry Virus Makes China Weep

Cover StoryBy Steven A. Turner
June 1, 2017

When the criminal Shadows Brokers group stole hacking tools from the NSA and subsequently posted them on the internet no one could predict the world-wide havoc that ensued in both the public and corporate sectors.

The WannaCry virus is a ransomware tool that gains access to an individual's computer or server and encrypts files using an AES-128 bit cipher.
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Posted by editor on Tuesday, June 13 @ 20:23:46 MST (84 reads)


Cover Story: PACE Funding Opens New Doors

Features

2/1/2016

When builders fund a project for commercial development they often have to scramble to find quick financing at a reasonable rate. Most construction loans are not like typical mortgages that can have fixed-rate repayment terms up to 30 years.

Commercial lenders want to loan money on a short term basis (less than eight or so years) with a clear exit plan where they can exit a project with minimal risk to their investment dollars.

Lenders also want guarantees that they will recoup their money if a project goes sour; they do not want to stand in line with other lenders that have priority on the capital lender stack (that may leave them recouping only pennies on the dollar). Often, these lenders insist on personal recourse loans on commercial projects where the property owner is personally liable for repayment of a project in the event the commercial project does not produce the anticipated cash flows.

Typical commercial loans also have much shorter loan lengths: typically 2 years for a bridge loan and again 8 years on a commercial loan with a balloon payment and the end.

There is an alternative source of funding that bypasses these hindrances.

It is called PACE financing and can prove to be an elegant solution to builders and commercial property owners who are constructing energy efficient buildings or upgrading existing properties.

PACE was originally known as a "Special Energy Financing District" or "on-tax bill solar and efficiency financing." It was used to replace “Solar Bonds” which were used in 2001in the California Bay Region to help with the significant up-front costs of solar panels on residential as well as commercial buildings.

Since then, PACE financing has morphed into its present form that has significant advantages over conventional commercial lending.

PACE is a long term, non-recourse loan (no personal guarantees), that allows for 100% financing- as opposed to 65%-&75% LTV on commercial loans.

PACE can also fund the costs of installing energy efficient cost-savings technologies that a project would typically be left out in order to lower costs. PACE transfers as an assessment on the property, when the property is sold.

Most importantly, PACE is structured so that its costs of both interest and principle are amortized over the length of the loan as a tax assessment so the owner gets a full tax deduction without any further effort such as itemization, depreciation of assets, etc.

(Special thanks to Tamalyn Martens of Techsmart Energy for providing material for this article.)

By Steven Turner

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Posted by editor on Saturday, February 06 @ 13:42:15 MST (276 reads)


Cover Story: Ebola: Is the U.S. Ready?

by Steven A. Turner

June 14, 2015

When Ebola swept across West Africa last August, it ultimately caused over 11,100 deaths in the short time-span of two months.

It took eight months after the first Ebola case for the WHO to declare an international public health emergency (in August of last year)--delaying much needed resources for the critically ill.

Jerome Mouton, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) country head for Guinea, described a state of "semi-denial" about the virus similar to a year ago, adding that another major flare-up of the disease was possible. (Ref. Emma Farge Reuters)

"A month ago I thought we would see the end shortly but I am much less optimistic now," Mouton said. (Ibid)

The virus has rapidly spread to new districts in Guinea that were previously freed of the virus.
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Posted by editor on Sunday, June 14 @ 13:14:16 MST (407 reads)


Medtronic's Buyout Is All About the Money

By Steven A. Turner

June 18, 2014

Medtronic Inc., the Minneapolis- based medical device maker is buying out Covidien Plc. for $42.9 billion, a 30% premium to Covidien's market capitalization just prior to the merger. Due to its global sales by offshore subsidiaries, Medtronic has amassed $20.5 billion in foreign bank accounts that have avoided a 35% tax haircut by not being repatriated to the United States.

The United States is one of the few countries in the world that taxes foreign earnings of companies that have the misfortune of being domiciled in the U.S.

Currently, the only way of avoiding this taxation is by deferring bringing the money back in the United States or merging the American company with a foreign company and moving to a tax-friendly nation such as Ireland (where Covidien is legally domiciled).

In addition, foreign taxes are typically half of the U.S. corporate rate of 35%. Ireland's corporate tax rate is even lower:a third or 12.5% of the U.S. corporate tax rate. Taxes can be lowered even further in companies such as biotechnology companies with strong intellectual assets such as patents by transferring those patent portfolios to foreign countries that have low or no taxes on patent-generated revenue.

When Tyco moved to Bermuda in 1997, (a country with no corporate taxes), it started a migration of companies fleeing the onerous tax policies of the IRS. Congress stopped the initial wave of corporate inversions by taking away the tax benefits unless the surviving company had at least 20% of its ownership retained by the takeover target 's shareholders. In Covidien's case, its shareholders will retain over 30% of the merged company.

Unless Congress legislates new rules that Democatic Senator Carl Levin has submitted that raises the 20% threshold to 50%, a level that is so farcical that none of the 20 or so recent inversions carried out in the past ten years would have been eligible, it looks like Medtronic's inversion will be successful.
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Posted by editor on Friday, June 20 @ 22:43:07 MST (419 reads)


Cover Story: The New China Flu is Coming

By Steven A. Turner

April 19,2013

Virologists are stumped.

Normally, avian flu victims are infected by direct contact with birds such as chickens. But over half of the people infected have had no contact with any poultry.

Scientist surmise that the virus has mutated.

Last week, scientific study published showed the H7N9 strain was a so-called "triple reassortant" virus with a mixture of genes from three other flu strains found in birds in Asia. .

According to avian experts, the geographical distribution of cases follows the migration habits of wild birds.

This is worrisome.

Instead of being confined to a limited geographic locale such as poultry farms where the threat of the virus to humans can be contained by culling millions of chickens, there is no opportunity of containment

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese government officials will visit hospitals and poultry farms over the next several days to assess the threat.

The manner in which the virus is spread is of paramount importance. If the vector turns out to be wild migratory birds, then the entire planet could be infected by this rapidly mutating virus.

Why worry?

If the virus infects a person who concurrently has a readily-transmissible flu strain, the virus can adapt itself to be readily-transmissible .

That would be a disaster.

Instead of the 1.6 billion dollars the Chinese poultry industry has lost due the culling and other preventive measures, the effect of a world-wide pandemic would be Biblical in proportion.

Sounds like nightmare doesn’t it?

It is.

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Posted by editor on Saturday, April 20 @ 00:00:00 MST (1291 reads)


Jack Ma: Alibaba and Its Conniving Thief

Cover Story

By Steven A. Turner

May 15, 2011

On the last day of March this year, AlibabaGroup's C.E.O. Jack Ma casually informed Yahoo and Softbank-the majority (over 70%) owners of Alibaba Group- that he had transferred ownership of Alibaba’s payment company, Alipay to a private company owned by himself and a friend.

Yahoo was stunned.

Alipay is the Chinese equivalent of PayPal, only it is more than twenty times larger. It is the largest third- party payment center in China, with over 550 million registered users in China and partners with more than 65 financial institutions such as Visa and MasterCard.

Greenlight capital, which made a substantial investment in Yahoo shares in May 2011, stated that Yahoo’s stake in Alipay could be ultimately worth more than Yahoo’s current (in May) market value of 25 billion dollars.

The transfer was ostensibly done at the behest of the Chinese Government which implied that it frowned upon foreign ownership of Chinese financial institutions. However, the manner in which Jack Ma transferred the ownership of Alipay looks to me like outright theft.

According to Yahoo, any transaction of 10 million dollars by Alibaba has to be approved by its corporate board.

This was not done.

Instead, Jack Ma states that the subject of Chinese ownership of Alipay was brought up in an earlier meeting sometime in 2009.

Both Yahoo and Softbank deny that any permission was given for Mr. Ma to transfer Alipay’s ownership to any entity, let alone himself.

The manner in which Mr. Ma did the transfer is also telling. He did it without any notification to Alibaba’s board and incorporated Alipay in the Cayman Islands.

Why the Cayman Islands?

The Cayman Islands are the epicenter of fraudulently acquired funds. Its banking secrecy laws are stricter than that of the Swiss and as far as corporate fraud locations: it is the place to park any ill-gotten gains. Remember Bre-X? The Cayman Islands is where assets of the gold stock fraud were stored and never recovered for its victims.

Jack Ma states it was the transfer was done in a “lawful” and “transparent” manner. But why did Mr. Ma wait for the better part of a year before he informed Yahoo and Softbank that they no longer had any stake in Alipay?

Jack Ma may insist he is not a thief. After all, he paid Alibaba a whopping 300 million yuan for Alipay.

Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?

300 million yuan does sound like a lot of cash- that is until you do the math and convert it into American dollars: 46 million dollars.

What a steal.

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Posted by editor on Friday, June 24 @ 02:55:29 MST (3712 reads)


ATEN Launches A New Series of Multi-console 32-port Matrix KVM Switches

New ProductsAnonymous writes "reviewed by Steven Turner

ATEN International, a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of advanced communication solutions, introduces the latest Matrix KVM switches that have been added to its ALTUSEN Enterprise KVM Solutions line. These new Matrix KVM switches provide excellent video quality and secure control in real time over all equipment in the server room or data center.

The KM0532 and KM0932 allow 5 and 9 consoles to independently and simultaneously manage up to 32 directly connected servers. The switches can be daisy chained, cascaded, or both, providing flexible expansion configurations that allow up to 9 consoles to control thousands of servers. Daisy chaining KM0032 switches offers an additional cost-saving configuration, since the use of dedicated chain ports allow all of the switch’s KVM ports to be utilized for server connections.

An advanced Dual Root feature makes it possible to link two KM0932 switches to achieve an 18 console configuration that allows administrators to flexibly increase the number of consoles they deploy to match their growth requirements, and offers an ideal solution for applications that utilize multiple video displays. With non-blocked access, all consoles connected to a master switch have simultaneous access to any server on their own level, as well as having independent access to any server on any level of the installation.

The KM0532 and KM0932 are the first Matrix KVM switches to offer both audio and virtual media features. Being audio enabled, the sound output and beeps from the servers allow administrators to identify and troubleshoot system problems easily. The sound capability is also ideal for presentation facilities, or studio applications. The Virtual Media function allows USB storage devices to be shared among all the servers. Operators can perform file transfers or install applications and OS patches across the installation from a single console, thereby reducing down-time and saving maintenance costs.

With automatic skew compensation and Auto Signal Compensation (ASC), Matrix KVM switches ensure better video quality via Cat 5e/6 cabling - 1280x1024 @60Hz over distances of up to 300 meters. In addition, the industry’s first full-screen GUI offers a tree view list of installed devices, providing smooth navigation, in addition to convenient access and control.

“The Matrix KVM switch is designed with a dual power supply to minimize downtime and offer 24/7 reliability to ensure the highest level of availability for server rooms or data centers. With high availability, high reliability, high integration, and high security, an ATEN Matrix KVM Switch is the best solution for large sever rooms and data centers.” said Kevin Chen, President of ATEN International.

Servers can be power controlled remotely when the Matrix KVM Switch is used in conjunction with ALTUSEN Power Over the NET power management device. The switch's power Association function enables its KVM ports to be associated with the PN0108’s power outlets for remote power management of the servers from the switch’s interface.

The Matrix KVM switch’s console modules and KVM adapter cables provide an extremely high degree of platform and interface integration. Equipment using PS/2 and USB interfaces, and Win, Linux, Mac and Sun platforms, can all work together smoothly on the same installation. The use of RJ-45 connectors and Cat 5e/6 cabling eliminates bulky traditional cables, and makes for more reliable throughput and a neat, efficient, uncluttered work environment.

About ATEN
ATEN International Co., Ltd. is specializes in information technology connectivity solutions. Established in 1979, ATEN is now considered the leading manufacturer of KVM Switches worldwide. This prominent position was reached through continuous high investment in research and development, resulting in numerous patents such as a sophisticated ASIC, developed in the ATEN labs, manufactured by ATEN, and used to differentiate our products from the competition. Our current product range comprises hundreds of connectivity solutions, providing complete KVM solutions from entry level to the enterprise market. ATEN's customers are made up of the entire range of the IT spectrum – from large corporations conducting global operations, to small and midrange businesses, to individual users. For further information, please visit http://www.aten.com.

"
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Posted by editor on Wednesday, April 28 @ 11:24:37 MST (4024 reads)


How I Beat a Photo- Enforced Red Light Ticket

Cover Storyby Steven A. Turner

This past winter, I made a right turn on Manchester (a fairly busy thoroughfare in downtown Saint Louis) while the light was turning yellow. I stopped for a fraction of a second while calculating whether the oncoming traffic posed a threat. While underway again, I noted a flash in my rear-view mirror, and I immediately realized I might have been captured on some kind of photo-enforcement camera.

Several weeks later, my suspicions were confirmed by a mailed summons stating that my car had been videotaped making a turn on red without stopping. I logged on to the web address to view my violation multiple times using my net book computer. Since its screen was only 11 inches wide, I displayed my transgression on a forty-inch TV screen while proclaiming my innocence to my entire family.

My son rolled his eyes and said, “Right, dad” and pointed out the video displayed a smooth progression of my car making a right turn on a red light with nary a hint of a stop. Dismayed, I viewed and reviewed the video obsessively, gradually causing me to question the very memory of my momentary stop. Had my mind confabulated the stop while my car went through that right turn during a red light- albeit at a glacial pace?

After the fifteenth viewing of the 11 second clip, I noticed jaywalker transversing 4 lanes of traffic about 150 feet from my car. What caught my eye was not the fact that he was a fellow lawbreaker caught at the same moment of time; it was the manner in which he was walking.

The jaywalker seemed to move in magical irregular spurts, his body time- shifting several inches in front of him, materializing and disappearing, as if he was a victim of some malfunctioning transport machine in a low budget Star Trek episode. At that point, I knew my one-hundred dollar fine was as good as gone.

I videotaped that jaywalker, enlarged five hundred percent on my 40- inch screen. Then I researched the company that provided the photo cameras. As demonstrated by the staccato gate of the jaywalker, the video had used a proprietary video compression algorithm to save space. In other words, several frames were dropped during the eleven-second run of the video and other frames were altered by the compression software just to save space in the memory of the camera.

Not only did I find a description of the video compression software that the company produced and used with its photo enforcement cameras, I found that there were only 5 frames recorded per second of video. In contrast, a film in a movie theater uses 24 frames per second. The company used a low-tech way of compressing data- the cameras just recorded less data by capturing less real time. The compression software further compounded the loss of data by using an algorithm called (surprise, surprise) lossy compression.

Lossy compression is an algorithm that eliminates redundant information so when a file is uncompressed that redundant information is lost. However, to smooth things out, another software program called vector quantization looks at an array of data and then generalize what it sees, compressing redundant data (such as a stopped car), and while at the same time retaining the desired object- in this case, my car (which was the main object in the foreground). Then a fractal algorithm program was used to generate the sections that were lost by the compression by using similar video bit data that had been recorded.

This why the car seemed to move smoothly in the foreground, while the pedestrian in the background (not a desired object subject to a fractal algorithm reconstruction), had a disjointed time-shifting gait.

I presented this evidence in court, complete with incriminating facts from the company’s website as well as the video tape of my car and the jaywalker proving that video compression was utilized. The judge was convinced that the altered video had, in effect, lost data that could have proved my braking. The judge complemented me on my unique defense and persuasive evidence.

I was found not guilty.

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Posted by editor on Tuesday, April 27 @ 20:05:26 MST (5285 reads)


Swine Flu: The Next Pandemic?

By Steven A. Turner MD

Swine Flu, a seasonal respiratory virus infection in pigs, rarely affects humans. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported only twelve cases of human Swine Flu infections during a four-year period from 2005 to 2009 in the United States.

The CDC reports that there are 40 current (laboratory-verified) cases of Human Swine Flu in the United States.

The virus, technically a H1N1 influenza type A virus, is constantly mutating. The virus contains genetic material from Asian Swine Flu, American Swine Flu, avian flu and human flu. And the latest transformation of this virus is keeping the CDC working furiously to identify the scope and magnitude of an infection that is rapidly spreading across the globe.

The symptoms of being infected with Swine Flu are similar to any influenza infection: sore throat, body aches, fever, runny nose, and diarrhea.

Human to human infection spreads by coughing and sneezing. Touching an inanimate object such as a doorknob, which can harbor a virus for days, also transmits the virus.

The CDC states within two days of symptoms, the virus can be treated with antiviral medications such as Tamiflu or Relenza.

The epicenter of this plague is Mexico City, where 149 people have died so far and 1,995 people have been hospitalized with serious cases of pneumonia. There is no vaccine available.

In city that has a population of 20 million, there are only one million doses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu. And if things weren’t bad enough already, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico today.

Mexico City is a virtual ghost town. All schools, museums, zoos and public meeting places have been closed. Even churches have been affected: all masses, baptisms and confirmations were canceled until further notice.

The CDC confirmed yesterday that the virus samples from Mexico deceased victims were essentially genetically the same as the samples from the United States cases.

The difference is that in the United States, no one has died. In fact, only one infected American needed hospitalization.

There may be an age variance in the susceptibility for the swine flu virus.

In Mexico, most of the deaths centered on a population age range from 20 to 45 years old. In the U.S., the infections were found initially in children, all of whom recovered without permanent medical injuries. However, Mexico City has the worst air pollution in North American and its resulting lung damage prior to an influenza infection might contribute to the higher mortality rate.

Or, it may simply be a cultural difference in hand washing frequency. Hand washing with soap removes potentially pathogenic organisms including influenza viruses. Americans may be more diligent about washing their hands throughout the day than their southern counterparts. This may explain the higher prevalence of the virus in Mexico, although no firm conclusions can be made until more information is known about swine flu's incubation period.

Nonetheless, it is the ease of transmission that is worrisome. It is estimated that at any given moment, there are over 75,000 airborne passengers in commercial airline flights. These passengers have already been implicated in the international spread of this virus.

In response to this threat, the European Union's health commissioner today urged Europeans to avoid all non-essential travel to both Mexico and the United States.

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Posted by editor on Tuesday, April 28 @ 00:09:31 MST (4503 reads)