Monday, April 23, 2012

Sprint discontinues HTC EVO 3D online, limited quantities remain at retail stores

Sprint discontinues HTC EVO 3D online, limited quantities remain at retail stores

It's not like we're gonna argue with Sprint's rationale, but the EVO 3D has met its end at the Now Network. Visitors to the carrier's online store will notice that the gee-whiz smartphone is no longer available for sale, and Sprint reps have confirmed to us that it's not coming back. Those who insist on owning an EVO 3D will be glad to know that the handset is still available at Sprint's retail outlets, but according to the carrier, quantities are rather limited. Given a phone that debuted less than a year ago, its abrupt and unceremonious demise comes as a bit of a shock, but with the mighty EVO 4G LTE on the horizon, we can't blame the carrier one bit.

Sprint discontinues HTC EVO 3D online, limited quantities remain at retail stores originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 21 Apr 2012 11:53:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Commonsense & Wonder: Economic reasoning

THE AMERICAN?s editor-in-chief Nick Schulz recently sat down with Robert D. Cooter, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the leading lights in the academic field of law and economics. Professor Cooter is the co-author of an important new book, Solomon?s Knot: How Law Can End the Poverty of Nations, an excerpt of which follows the interview below.

Nick Schulz: Your book offers a framework for thinking about how it is that some nations are rich, some are poor, and others are in between. You stress the importance of changes in laws and legal structure as the catalyst for growth. Why are legal institutions so important?

Robert Cooter: Ineffective law inhibits growth by forcing too much dealing with relatives. Effective law gives unrelated people enough trust to launch innovative business ventures. The law of property, contracts, and business organizations is most fundamental for business dealings among strangers. State authorities cannot create these laws merely by declaring them. Instead, the law must evolve into institutions that keep hands off venture profits.

NS: You discuss something called ?the double trust dilemma of development.? What is it and why is it so crucial to understanding economic growth?

RC: Combining new ideas and capital causes sustained growth. This is true of technical innovations in Silicon Valley, and it is true for adaptations of technology and organizations in developing countries. To develop an innovation, the innovator must trust the financier with his idea and the financier must trust the innovator with her capital. When the double trust dilemma is solved, an innovator and financier can launch a business venture. ?Solomon?s Knot? joins two rings on a ship securely, like a business venture joins a new idea and capital.

NS: What role does culture play in enabling or prohibiting necessary legal reforms?

RC: Innovative business ventures are the proximate cause of sustained growth. To launch an innovative business venture in Canada or Sri Lanka, the innovator and financier must solve the double trust dilemma. Furthermore, the legal reforms that facilitate business ventures are most likely to occur when everyone believes correctly that they will share in the gains.

Such economic reasoning invokes universal principles, not cultural differences. Japanese and Californian innovators face universal problems, even though the Japanese industrialist has a different relationship with his main bank than a Silicon Valley entrepreneur has with venture capitalists. Our book is like economics textbooks that easily cross international boundaries by omitting cultural particularities.

NS: You write: ?Redistribution often increases growth and it should be pursued, especially redistribution that increases the education and health of workers and poor people. Redistribution that slows growth should be abandoned.? How can we determine if and in what ways redistribution slows growth?

RC: People launch risky ventures to pursue wealth. Redistribution that reduces the profitability of innovating causes fewer ventures to launch. Excessive redistribution stifled growth in China during the Cultural Revolution.

However, developing new ideas presupposes having them. New ideas with economic value come mostly from people who are educated and healthy. Unhealthy, uneducated sheep herders are unlikely to drive innovation and growth. The state and nonprofit organizations should fund education and healthcare, especially for poorer people, by collecting taxes and soliciting gifts from relatively rich people.

NS: You have an interesting discussion in the book about how to think about inequality. You argue that it?s useful to think about inequality the way we think about the role played by patents in an economy. Explain.

RC: Monopoly mostly benefits the monopolist and harms everyone else. Patents are an exception. The social justification of patents is that temporary monopoly for innovators causes more innovation, and more innovation benefits everyone. Similarly, the social justification for permitting innovators to keep much of what they make is that it causes more innovation that benefits everyone. In a well-organized economy, the richest people are the most successful innovators and the wealth of innovators is socially justifiable for the same reason as patents for inventions.

NS: You conclude by saying that we need to ?legalize freedom.? What exactly do you mean?

RC: Freedom is the presence of good law, not the absence of all law. Innovative business ventures need effective laws of property, contracts, and business organizations. Legalizing business freedom allows innovation to carry us on an unpredictable journey to a richer world.

Excerpt from Solomon?s Knot: How Law Can End the Poverty of Nations:

The Double Trust Dilemma of Development

Economies grow when business ventures develop innovations, which requires combining new ideas and capital. Combining them confronts a dilemma illustrated by this letter sent to a Boston investment bank: ?I know how your bank can make $10 million. If you give me $1 million, I will tell you.? The bank does not want to pay for information without first determining its worth, and the innovator fears to disclose information to the bank without first getting paid. The obstacle to financ- ing innovation is that an investor cannot evaluate an idea until after he knows what it is, and after its disclosure he has little reason to pay for it. To give another example, a Berkeley mathematician named Richard Niles invented bibliographic software called endNote that many profes- sors use on their computers. In the early stage of development, he hoped and feared receiving a call from Microsoft. Microsoft would ask for an explanation of endNote. Once Microsoft understood endNote, it might buy the company and make him rich, or it might develop its own version of his program and bankrupt him. Niles eventually got a call from Micro- soft, which he answered with trembling, but Microsoft was merely trying to sell him its office software. Niles did get his reward later when a large publisher, Thompson, bought endNote.

To develop an innovation, the innovator must trust the investor not to steal his idea, and the investor must trust the innovator not to steal his capital. This is the double trust dilemma of innovation?a new name for an underdeveloped idea that draws from a rich economics literature.

Distrust obstructs innovation regardless of whether it involves a new market such as insurance in Swaziland, a new organization such as an assembly line in Sichuan, or a new technology such as a faster computer chip in Silicon Valley. Like courting lovers, an innovator and an investor approach each other warily because the stakes are high.

The double trust dilemma has some workable solutions for binding the two parties together, as depicted by Solomon?s knot. To secure peace in the past between two rival kings, each one gave a valuable hostage to the other. Thus in the fifth century, King Geiserich of the Vandals gave his son as hostage to King Theoderich of the Visigoths, who reciprocated by giving his daughter as hostage. Hostage exchange works best when each side values cooperation more than its hostage. For example, King Geiserich presumably valued getting his own son back alive more than he valued killing the daughter of King Theoderich, and vice versa for King Theoderich.

Establishing trust between parties in a modern business transaction sometimes resembles exchanging hostages. When a buyer in Argentina contracts to purchase machine tools from a seller in Germany, the buyer fears that the seller will keep the money without delivering the machines, and the seller fears that the buyer will keep the machines without paying the money. Contract law and banking institutions offer a solution to this problem: the buyer deposits the purchase price at an international bank (?letter of credit?), and the bank releases the money to the seller on presentation of documents proving that the seller delivered the goods to the designated place. The system works because the Argentine buyer values the machine tools more than their purchase price, the German seller values the purchase price more than the machine tools, and each one can get what he wants only by doing what the contract says.

Like the exchange of hostages between King Theoderich and King Geiserich, or international trade between the German seller and the Argentine buyer, developing an innovation involves reciprocal risks between innovator and financier. In effect, the financier?s money and the innovator?s ideas are a double bond to guarantee their cooperation. The double bond is effective as long as each side believes that collaborating to develop the innovation is more profitable than any alternative use of the secrets and the money. This is true regardless of whether the innovation concerns a new market, organization, or technology.

Three stages in an innovation?s life cycle illustrate three ways that the innovator and financier can establish trust. First, someone has a new idea and obtains capital to develop it. The innovator may form a new firm or work inside an established firm. In the first stage, only a few people in the innovator?s inner circle understand the innovation. At this point, the innovation?s economic value has not been established. The innovator often has to persuade the investor of its value. Second, the innovator develops the innovation sufficiently to prove its value in the market. When the innovation succeeds economically, the innovator?s organization enjoys exceptional profits, and it expands faster than its competitors. Third, competitors observe the innovator?s success and try to learn what the innovator knows. As competitors emulate the innovator, the innovator?s profits fall and its growth slows. (Economic evolution emulates the most fit through profit detection, whereas biological evolution eliminates the least fit through natural selection.)
The three stages in an innovation?s life cycle correspond to three phases of finance in Silicon Valley. Each stage secures trust between innovator and financier in a different way. According to a popular quip, initial funding for start-up firms comes from ?the 3 Fs?: family, friends, and fools. Family and friends have confidence in the innovator, not the innovation. This confidence inspires family and friends to invest without understanding the innovation?s market value. The first stage is relational finance?investment motivated by personal relationships. In addition, a few fools may invest who think that they can evaluate an innovation with- out understanding it.

Most innovators have too few personal relationships with wealthy people to finance an innovation?s full development, so they must eventually turn to strangers. The second stage of funding comes from ?venture capitalists? who are not family, friends, or fools. Unlike relational finance, venture capital is a form of private finance. Finance is private because it comes from a small group of investors with expertise in evaluating undeveloped innovations.

The creative people who found a company often manage it badly. When the founders prove to be bad managers, the venture capitalists must replace them with good managers. In these circumstances, the venture capitalists seize the firm to increase its profitability. Alternatively, where the founders prove to be competent managers, venture capitalists may seize the firm to avoid sharing profits with the founders. Venture capitalists sometimes want to remove good managers who have large claims to the firm?s future profits. Founders and venture capitalists have good reasons for distrusting each other. The initials ?v.c.? stand for ?venture capitalists? and also ?vulture capitalists.?

Conversely, Silicon Valley innovators sometimes expropriate the investments of their financiers. Thus John P. Rogers convinced some prominent California investors to give him $340 million for a high-tech start-up named Pay By Touch that would ?transform how America pays its bills? by using ?biometric authentication technology? (e.g., finger- prints). In 2008 the company went bankrupt, and investors contend in lawsuits that Rogers burned through $8 million per month without producing anything of value.

Innovators and venture capitalists use various legal devices to overcome their mutual distrust. The founders often commit to performance goals in exchange for financing from venture capitalists. If the founders fail to meet the stated goals, they lose their investment and their jobs. Specifically, the venture capitalists hold preferred shares of stock and the founders hold common shares. The financing contract may say that preferred shareholders can demand repayment of their investment after three years. Such a contract reassures the venture capitalists that the founders will do their utmost to perform as promised. The contract also reassures the founders that the venture capitalists will keep the firm?s secrets.

Corporate governance provides another device to solve the double trust problem in Silicon Valley. The firm?s bylaws may stipulate that common shareholders (founders) and preferred shareholders (venture capitalists) appoint an equal number of directors to the company?s board, plus an independent director accepted by both sides. If the founders and venture capitalists disagree, the independent director holds the decisive vote. Thus the independent director will decide whether or not the venture capitalists can replace the founders with new management.

In the third stage, a successful start-up sells itself to the public. The start-up may sell directly to the public through an initial public offering of its stock, or it may sell indirectly when a publicly traded company acquires it. In order to sell stock to the public in the United States, a firm must comply with disclosure rules of the Securities Exchange Commission. Brokers disseminate the firm?s disclosed information to potential investors. Many people understand the innovation sufficiently to decide whether or not to invest in its further development. Because investors in stock markets are a large group of people, we describe the third stage as public finance.

When finance becomes public, the innovator has fewer secrets and less scope to appropriate the investor?s money, so the double trust dilemma ameliorates. As the double trust dilemma disappears, public finance approaches the economist?s ideal of a ?competitive equilibrium.? In a competitive equilibrium, no one has valuable private information and everyone earns the same profit rate (?ordinary rate of return?). Like pure contentment, a perfectly competitive equilibrium is approached and never quite reached.

Each stage of finance?relational, private, public?requires different bodies of law to solve the double trust dilemma. Any business venture requires the protection of the firm?s property from predators. Without effective property protection, people fear the theft of their wealth, so they hoard instead of investing. Resources flow from makers of wealth to its protectors. Hoodlums, mafias, cheating accountants, Ponzi artists, conniving state regulators, and thieving politicians steal wealth. Families, clans, and gangs can protect property, but an effective state is much more reliable. State protection of property is the legal foundation for investment in the future.

All forms of business ventures require protection of the firm?s property from outside predators, but relational finance can get by without much more legal support from the state. When law makes their property secure against outsiders, the firm?s members can work together by relying on relationships, not formal contracts. In the first stage, many new firms rely heavily on personal relationships for finance. Effective property protection and strong relationships make participants in a start-up firm believe that they will enjoy future rewards from current investments of money and time.

As development proceeds, the start-up firm enters its second stage where further development requires finance by strangers, not relatives or close friends. Relationships among strangers are too thin for informal mechanisms to carry the burden of enforcing promises. To cooperate in high-stakes ventures, strangers need formal contracts with effective enforcement. As with property rights, the state can enforce contracts much more reliably than clans or gangs. In the second stage, the business venture relies mostly on formal contracts with state enforcement. Enforceable contracts enable investors to retain substantial control over how firms use their money. Contract law underpins markets for loans, bonds, and direct foreign investment.

Some firms in all countries, and all firms in some countries, never go beyond private finance. (We say more about this in our book.) In Silicon Valley, however, many firms go to the third stage, in which the business venture raises capital from public markets. The business venture may raise money directly by selling its own stock to the public (?initial public offering?), or the company may proceed indirectly by selling itself to a larger firm that sells stock and bonds to the public (?acquisition by a public company?).

Members of the general public who buy stocks or bonds have no control over how the firm uses their money. Instead, their money comes under the control of the firm?s managers and board of directors. These insiders have many opportunities to appropriate outsiders? investments. For example, insiders use accounting tricks to convert profits into sala- ries, thus depriving stockholders of their dividends. If public investors don?t like the firm?s policies, their recourse is to sell their securities (?exit?). Protecting outsiders from insiders in public companies requires more than securing property and enforcing contracts. For public finance, the additional protection comes from the law of securities, corporations, and bankruptcy, which we call ?business law.?

In sum, establishing trust between innovators and investors requires law, especially the law of property, contracts, and business organizations.

Relational finance requires property protection, private finance requires contract enforcement, and public finance requires business law to protect outside investors, as depicted above. The progression requires more intensive use of law. The law?s effectiveness determines the firm?s ability to expand from relational to private to public finance. (Figure 3.1 is a useful simplification, although it does not show how bodies of law complement each other, which we discuss in our book.)

Biologists sometimes say, ?ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,? which means that the development of a single organism from birth to maturity somehow resembles the evolution of the entire species. Similarly, the three stages of finance for a start-up in Silicon Valley resemble three stages of historical evolution in capital markets for countries. The industrial revolution in England, which was the world?s first, went through these stages. In the early 18th century, inventors mostly relied on their personal assets and loans from family and friends (relational finance). As industrialization proceeded, loans from wealthy investors and banks became available more readily to new industries. Finance of industrial companies by sales of stocks and bonds to the general public came later. Public financing of industrial companies originally concerned infrastructure like canals, docks, and railways, where private business and the state intertwine. As the law became more reliable, public finance spread to manufacturing firms. Figure 3.2 depicts the evolution of finance in these three stages.

Today, the poorest countries have weak capital markets, so businessmen mostly borrow from family and friends. Starting from a condition of lawlessness, imposition of secure property rights can cause a spurt of growth based mostly on relational finance, as in China?s new industries after the 1980s. Some peoples, notably the Chinese and the Jews, have family networks that extend business relationships beyond the usual boundaries. However, the conditions of trust among relatives do not reach the scale of modern businesses. Relational finance keeps business small and local. No modern country became wealthy by relying exclusively on relational finance.

To increase the scale of business, an economy must augment relational finance with private finance, especially bank loans. In countries where banks dominate, an elite of wealthy insiders often lend to business ventures based on private information. Thus bank finance in some developing countries performs a similar role to venture finance in Silicon Valley.

As countries become affluent, they increasingly augment private finance with public finance, which means selling stocks and bonds to the general public. Stocks and bonds compete with banks and wealthy individuals to finance economic growth.

The expansion of finance supplements earlier forms without replacing them. All three forms of finance?relational, private, and public? remain important in the richest countries. The extent of public finance varies significantly among countries, including rich countries. Japan and northern Italy have achieved affluence mostly through relational and private finance, with relatively little public finance, whereas the United States and Great Britain rely mostly on public finance for mature industries. Germany appears to be shifting from the former to the latter.

Expanding the basis of finance requires effective law that controls behavior, not aspirational law that expresses lofty ideals. What makes a law effective? Not just writing it down. Written law in a poor country often resembles written law in a rich country. Property and contract law- on-the-books in India and Nigeria resemble English common law, and property and contract law-on-the-books in Peru resemble the Spanish civil code. Writing down a law, however, does not make it effective. The written laws are less effective in India, Nigeria, and Peru than in England or Spain.

A law?s effectiveness comes from society and the state. Many laws are obligations backed by sanctions. These obligations are as effective as the sanctions that support them. When potential injurers foresee a legal sanction, they usually obey the law. The sanction can come from society, as when people threaten to shun their relatives or damage reputations, or it can come from the state, as when one person threatens to sue the other for breach of contract.

Are social sanctions sufficient to make laws effective without state enforcement? Instead of speculating about the ?state of nature? from his room in London, Bronislaw Malinowski traveled to the Trobriand islands in 1914 and observed how people resolve their disputes. He found that when one person harmed another, Trobriand islanders used social pressure to force the injurer?s family to compensate the victim?s family. Facts like these persuaded anthropologists that law is much older than the state.

As in the Trobriand Islands in 1914, social sanctions remain important in modern societies. Social sanctions are flexible and cheap, so the victims of wrongdoing in business rely on them first. When a businessman breaches a contract, for example, the victim may stop trading with the injurer (refusal to deal), break promises owed to the injurer (retaliatory breach), sully the injurer?s reputation (reputational sanctions), and ask others not to deal with the injurer (boycott).

Non-state organizations can improve the efficiency of social sanctions. Thus, most uncut diamonds are traded without written contracts in a small number of exchanges in cities like Manhattan and Antwerp. The diamond exchanges have merchant courts to resolve disputes without relying on state sanctions. Banishment from the exchange, which ruins a diamond dealer?s livelihood, is the ultimate punishment. By making information easier to obtain, the internet has increased the effectiveness of reputational sanctions, especially by posting buyers? evaluations of sellers? goods. Reputational sanctions on the internet are so efficient that strangers buy antiques online without examining them. The Internet suggests that, instead of decreasing over time, people may rely more on social sanctions in the future.

The effectiveness of social sanctions depends on the stakes. Social sanctions suffice to prevent wrongdoing in repeated transactions with low stakes, but not in one-time transactions with high stakes. For big deals, social sanctions are insufficient to secure trust, except within tight families. In big deals, people need the state behind contracts, much like diplomats need an army behind foreign policy. When buying a car or selling a house, ordinarily moral people can be ruthless, and professional car dealers and real estate agents are notoriously sleazy. Business ventures often resemble buying a house?a big deal with high stakes. Without judges or bureaucrats to threaten wrongdoers, many business ventures never launch.

The victim of a broken contract may file a civil complaint against the injurer and threaten to sue for compensatory damages. Like the head lion?s roar, a credible threat of litigation usually resolves conflict. To be credible, the plaintiff must stand to gain more in damages from the court than his costs of litigating. Keeping litigation costs down thus increases the credibility of threats to litigate. When courts resolve routine business disputes efficiently, the parties usually settle out of court on terms favoring the party who would win in court. In contrast, inefficient or corrupt courts decrease the credibility of threats to sue and prevent the party who should win in court from extracting a favorable settlement out of court.

Besides social and court sanctions, civil servants in the state bureaucracy apply administrative sanctions, such as revoking permits, applying regulations, investigating violations, or imposing fines. Autocratic states especially rely on administrative sanctions to protect citizens. Thus the state bureaucracy in contemporary China, and the Communist Party that stands behind it, protect the sources of economic growth by guaranteeing most property rights and enforcing many contracts. Imagine a land dispute involving an industrial enterprise in Guangzhou that wants to expand by taking land from a farm. To mediate the dispute, the parties first appeal to powerful private persons. If private mediation fails, they might turn next to a local official in the city government. If one of them rejects the local official?s decision, the next appeal might go to a Communist Party official in Beijing. Many observers believe that the threat of social and state sanctions in such a chain of events deters much wrongdoing. Protection of property rights and enforcement of contracts in China is much better than in the past. However, most observers believe that China?s bureaucracy performs these tasks far worse than courts in its richer neighbors like Japan or Singapore.

In developed and developing countries, new business ventures begin with secrecy, risk, and high profit expectations, and all three decrease as the venture matures. Sea routes from Europe to Asia were eventually mapped and secured, trade between them became commonplace, and middle-class Europeans could buy spices. In Silicon Valley, competitors work around patents and ferret out secrets, thus converting today?s technological breakthroughs into tomorrow?s commodities. However, an innovative economy never settles into a permanent condition without secrecy, risk, or extraordinary profits. Combining new ideas with capital is the immediate cause of economic innovation,
not remote causes like demography, geography, education, factor mobilization, health, culture, religion, world prices, interest rates, inflation, regulations, and tariffs. Uniting ideas and capital in a business venture requires the law of property, contracts, and business. To prosper where law is weak, businesses must deal through relationships and self-enforcing private contracts. When laws, courts, and state bureaucracies improve, finance expands from relational to private, and from private to public, so more ideas combine with more capital to grow the economy faster.

Robert D. Cooter is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Real Estate Toledo Foreclosures Sylvania Homes & Property

Real Estate Toledo Foreclosures Sylvania Homes & Property
How To Buy Metro Toledo Foreclosures
by Rick Turner

Northwestern Ohio is undoubtedly one of the hardest hit areas in regard to the recession of the past few years. In spite of all the available help that has been offered to the homeowner, Toledo foreclosures are soaring along with the surrounding suburbs of Sylvania, Maumee, Perrysburg, & Holland. Despite the many programs that have been instituted to educate homeowners in ways to keep their home, more and more for sale signs are being seen every day. Some Ohio homeowners feel forced to abandon their homes, while others hang on as long as they can and take advantage of the twelve month period in which they have to leave their home.

As an investor you can take advantage of these difficult financial times and purchase a Toledo or Sylvania foreclosure for the purpose of renting, reselling, or even personal occupancy. A few investors have even bought Toledo homes from owners in financial default prior to the property being placed in foreclosure and given the homeowner the option of renting their own home. Whatever your reason behind purchasing a home in or near foreclosure, be sure you know what you are doing.

One would think that middle class homes would be the primary home on the market, but within the Toledo area Perrysburg foreclosures, Maumee foreclosures, and other homes of substantial value are the ones being lost to the lenders. The loss of a job can render a homeowner incapable of operating these large homes in regard to taxes, mortgage payments, or upkeep. Be sure that you?re prepared to make some minor repairs to a property like this.

The Perrysburg or Maumee foreclosure investor needs to always be prepared as well as persistent in his search for viable properties. Home owners who are in default for a year or more have most likely fallen behind in payment of their taxes and lack of upkeep on the home may have caused it to fall into disrepair.

A Toledo foreclosure home in an affluent neighborhood will most often bring the investor the largest resale profit. Some Perrysburg or Maumee homes may have been left in a state of total disarray but if the main components of the home such as electrical, plumbing and foundation, are all in good working order, a bit of work may make for a great investment. Lenders do not wish to get involved in home clean-up and are more willing to sell the property as is at a lower price.

Lenders who have made the decision to foreclose on a Toledo property will issue a notice of default. Being a matter of public record an interested buyer or investor, uses this public notice to learn of Toledo or Holland foreclosures. If you find a home that you have interest in, that is when you must begin doing your research. Look closely for any lien that may be on the property that will drive the price up, such as land taxes that are in default. In a Toledo foreclosure one should also look around the neighborhood and see what homes in the immediate area have been selling for. Otherwise, you could end up paying more for a property that you could ever hope to recoup in a sale.

If the territory of investing is all new to you when it comes to Toledo foreclosures, your best decision would be to work closely with your trusted realtor while you are learning the ropes. The realtor will know every aspect of the Toledo property and work with the lender to have all the work done for you. Lenders do not want these homes. They are eager to unload them to any investor and they often will sweeten the pot by offering low interest and down payments. This is the safest way for the new ?guy on the block? to proceed.

Gaining all the knowledge that you possibly can in Toledo or Sylvania foreclosures will work to bring you success in this field. Not having learned the ropes of investing in foreclosures could be the biggest mistake you can make. There is a lot of money to be made, but the uneducated investor has as much to lose.

Sylvania Homes For Sale | Call Rick Turner at 419-386-2062 for free tours of Sylvania foreclosures & new homes. Are you looking for a house for sale in Sylvania? I have 17 years of experience in NW Ohio ?Putting People In Their Places? & I?m waiting for your call. Call now!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hobson & Holtz Report ? Podcast #646: April 9, 2012 | Linked in ...

Content summary: FIR Interview with Sprint?s Sara Folkerts is up; Shel and Neville will be in Amsterdam this week at the 2012 International Social Media and PR Summit; FIR Tweetup in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening #firtweetup; News That Fits: Pinmania - ten ideas for businesses using Pinterest, Pinterest is the third most popular social networking site in the US, Kotex earns praise for first full-blown Pinterest campaign, white paper on what works best on Pinterest, Pinterest is driving sales, magazines racing to capitalize on Pinterest, VentureBeat list of Pinterest clones; Ragan promo; Dan York reports on a Wall Street Journal report on privacy and Facebook apps, and more; the rise of e-reading; the Media Monitoring Minute with CustomScoop; Michael Netzley reports from Singapore on the going rates for buying positive news coverage in China, and more; listener comments; TemboSocial promo; Canadian managers still skeptical of remote work; music from 3Kisses; and more.

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For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report for April 9, 2012: A 72-minute podcast recorded live from Wokingham, Berkshire, England, and Concord, California, USA.

Links to websites, blog posts and other content we discuss in the show are posted as Delicious bookmarks to facilitate your connection with the discussions and sharing of that content.

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Names of blogs, individuals, companies and organizations we discussed or mentioned in the show are posted to the FIR Show Notes pages at The New PR Wiki. You can contribute time stamps ? see the show notes home page for info.

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So, until Monday April 16?

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Neville?s and my podcast blog.

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SAP Acquires Enterprise Mobile App Platform And Development Partner Syclo

SycloSAP is furthering its mobile presence today by acquiring Syclo, a company that provides an enterprise mobile app platform. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Syclo helps companies build and deploy secure mobile apps on a number of devices with confidence. Specifically, Syclo focuses on helping companies in the in the field service and mobile professional sectors extend their applications to mobile phones. The company supports integrations with IBM, Oracle, TRIRIGA, and SAP.

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Morning markets: crop futures overcome Chinese, US setbacks

Investors were caught short by the last key US Department of Agriculture data.

They were reluctant to be in the same position for the next lot, due on Tuesday.

That helped agricultural commodities return from a long weekend in strong form, on what was not the most promising day for risk assets.

Macro downers

There were two reasons to think that crops might fall. (And, indeed many risk assets did decline, with shares down 1.5% in Tokyo, 1.6% in Seoul and 0.9% in Shanghai.)

The first was US non-farm payrolls data on Friday, when many markets in the US and other Western countries were closed for Easter, which showed the world's biggest economy added 120,000 jobs in March, below economists' expectations of a 205,000 increase.

The second was Chinese inflation data on Monday, which rose to 3.6% last month, up from 3.2% in February.

Sure, the figure was well below the 4.5% recorded in January, but it appeared to indicate reduced elbow room for Chinese policymakers in easing monetary policy, and keeping up the pace of the world's second-ranked economy.

Chinese prices rise

But, besides a background of waning correlations between risk assets, with the CRB commodities index for instance moving a little out of time with the S&P500 index of US stocks, crop investors had at least two reasons to be cautious about selling.

The first was the reaction of China's own crop markets to the inflation data. While Shanghai stocks fell, Dalian and Zhengzhou farm commodity futures broadly rose, the exception being best-traded September Dalian corn, which fell by 1 yuan to 2,454 yuan a tonne.

The less traded spot May corn contract added 2 yuan to 2,467 yuan a tonne.

And soyoil for September gained 0.5% to 9,996 yuan a tonne, (cross 10,000 yuan a tonne earlier for the first time in six months), while soybeans themselves for September closed up 0.1% at a 4,642 yuan a tonne, a fresh high since autumn 2008.

On the Zhengzhou, sugar for September soared 2.0% to 6,816 yuan a tonne, while cotton added 0.3% to 21,240 yuan a tonne.

'The next market-moving event'

A second reason for Chicago investors to tread carefully about selling out was the prospect of the USDA's latest monthly Wasde report on world crop supply and demand, on Tuesday.

That "will be the next market-moving event", Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said, noting that "traders will watch to see how much the South American crop will be cut", with many other analysts already having expanded ideas of damage to soybean crops from drought.

And, having been caught out by USDA data on US sowings and grain inventories on March 30 which turned out broadly bullish, investors appeared less willing to go short this time.

Volatile weather

Furthermore, weather conditions in the US are no longer as benign as they were, with northern states receiving snow over the weekend, including more than eight inches in parts of Montana.

And there is more cold to come if only temporarily, according to

"On the morning of April 12 temperatures across most the Midwest will be below freezing," the weather service said.

"A heart of the cold high will be right over the Midwest.

"Three days later, by April 15, temperatures over all of the central and the lower Plains as well as the entire Deep South and most of the Midwest will be near 80 degrees Fahrenheit."

'Best performance since December'

So in Chicago, investors gave crops the bullish side of the doubt early on Monday, taking May wheat 0.3% higher to $6.40 a bushel, and May soybeans up 0.2% at $14.37 a bushel as of 09:15 UK time (03:15 Chicago time).

May corn added 0.5% to $6.61 a bushel, extending its premium over wheat.

And in New York, cotton gained 0.7% to 89.18 cents a pound.

However, in Kuala Lumpur, palm oil hit a fresh one-year high of 3,623 ringgit a tonne, only to fall back to 3,590 ringgit a tonne, down 0.4% on the day.

But then a little profit-taking was tempting, given the vegetable oil's performance last week (which included trading on Friday).

"Palm oil recorded its best weekly performance since December with an almost 5.0% gain in response to a damaging South American drought and US data showing farmers will plant less soy,? shifting demand for the tropical oil," Ker Chung Yan at Phillip Futures said.

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LePage signs insurance relief bill for agritourism businesses ...

AUGUSTA, Maine ? Gov. Paul LePage on Monday signed a new law that protects farmers, beekeepers and others in Maine?s agritourism industry from liability.

LD 1605 provides limited protection for landowners as long as they post signs stating that visitors accept the ?inherent risks? of any activity associated with their business.

This doesn?t mean landowners do not have to buy insurance to protect visitors, it just means anyone who files a lawsuit claiming injury must demonstrate more than just an inherent risk.

Maine already has similar statutes for activities such as skiing and horseback riding.

?This new law will help reduce the burden of insurance on local farmers,? said the bill?s sponsor, Rep. Aaron Libby, R-Waterboro. ?In the short term, the farmer will be provided with assurance that they have some protection from a major lawsuit due to a farm-related accident. In the long term, with fewer claims filed, premiums should decrease, there will be less chance of a policy denial and more options will be made available.?

Some common examples of agritourism in Maine include choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms, maple syrup sugarhouse tours, pick-your-own fruit and vegetable farms, animal parks, corn mazes and cider-making operations.

Libby?s family runs a pick-your-own fruit farm and he said at least 23 states have enacted laws to address agritourism businesses. He said data suggest that agritourism is much more significant for small farms, accounting for 50 percent of farm income for farms whose total income is in the $50,000-$249,000 range.

Since agritourism has become popular so quickly, few insurers are familiar with or are willing to underwrite the operations.

?Farmers may not know they need additional insurance,? Libby said. ?Most farm and ranch insurance policies are intended to cover risks associated with everyday farming exposure.?

LD 1605 had bipartisan support and many members of the Legislature?s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee were on hand Monday for the bill signing, as was Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb.

?This legislation expands opportunities in Maine agriculture, especially for young farmers,? Whitcomb said. ?Clearly stated liability and assumption of risks gives this emerging sector of Maine agriculture the green light.?

Follow BDN reporter Eric Russell on Twitter @BDNPolitics.

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Home Improvement Tips For Making The Most Of Your Investment ...

Deciding to make home improvements is wise for many reasons. It can be overwhelming to do some home improvement projects. Whether you are interested in increasing property values in a home you plan to sell or simply making your home your own, you will find many helpful tips and tricks in this article.

Are you tired of your bedroom furniture? You can make it look brand new by refinishing it. It is a great way to get a new look in your home and save a ton of money. There are many different colors you can stain your furniture.

An excellent home improvement project which will save you money on potential damage and utility bills is re-caulking your windows. This prevents moisture from seeping in and causing mold growth, and it keeps drafts out, which can lower your heating bills. If there are cracks in the existing caulk, use a chisel to remove it, and then apply the new caulk.

TIP! When planning a landscaping project for your house, be sure to go beyond the home-improvement stores and check out online resources. You might just find deals and products that are not carried locally.

Regular cleaning of carpets helps you feel that your home is cleaner. Regularly have carpets deep cleaned and shampooed, especially areas that get high traffic. Your home will suddenly feel like new.

Be aware, if you need to hire a contractor for your home improvement work, that getting a good contractor is more important than getting the lowest price. Any contractor who vastly underbids a job and has a bad reputation is not the best choice. When the work is done, you will soon see flaws on the work that need repairs. Along with added repair costs, when projects are done carelessly, it could create an unsafe environment inside your house. Always select a contractor that is honest and reputable.

Consider painting as the first step of a project. This will save you the trouble of worrying about where the paint ends up. Even with tarps and drop cloths, you are sure to find a way to get some paint on your beautiful new flooring.

TIP! Create a budget for your landscaping efforts. It?s easy to get carried away and buy tools or materials that you can?t really afford.

Have a handy organizer where you keep different types of fasteners. This way, when you encounter a home improvement project that requires screws, anchors or nails, you will have them on hand and won?t have to run out to the store.

Safety is key when starting a new home project. Take sensible precautions so you don?t sustain an injury and so your house is not damaged. Read the instruction manuals for your tools, and take advantage of any tutorials before starting any home improvement project.

Real estate agents know the best additions to give a home added value. They know the housing market well and what people look for in a home.

Keep your ceiling fans in balance. Get rid of the annoying noise unbalanced fan blades make. A noisy ceiling fan often needs balance help. Check the fan blade screws, the screws on the blade arms, the motor frame screws, and the ceiling mounts. Give your fan blades a thorough cleaning while you adjust the fan?s balance.Try switching out all of the light bulbs in your house for energy efficient ones. They will save you a lot of money in bills and also are better for the Earth. They will last longer. So swap out those incandescent light bulbs for ones that are more energy efficient.

This article has shown you that there are ways to make home improvements manageable and easy to complete. Having your mind open is important when making these types of repairs. The article was written in order to provide you with the advice you need to make successful alterations to your home. By using these tips, you can update your home quickly!

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Two arrested in Oklahoma shootings that killed 3, wounded 2

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Memory declines faster in years closest to death; mental activity best protection

ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2012) ? New research finds that a person's memory declines at a faster rate in the two- and-a-half years before death than at any other time after memory problems first begin. A second study shows that keeping mentally fit through board games or reading may be the best way to preserve memory during late life. Both studies are published in the April 4, 2012, online issue of Neurology?, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, 174 Catholic priests, nuns and monks without memory problems had their memory tested yearly for six to 15 years before death. After death, scientists examined their brains for hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease called plaques and tangles.

"In our first study, we used the end of life as a reference point for research on memory decline rather than birth or the start of the study," said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The study found that at an average of about two-and-a-half years before death, different memory and thinking abilities tended to decline together at rates that were 8 to 17 times faster than before this terminal period.

Higher levels of plaques and tangles were linked to an earlier onset of this terminal period but not to rate of memory decline during it.

In an accompanying editorial, author Hiroko H. Dodge, PhD, with Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, noted, "The findings suggest that the changes in mental abilities during the two to three years before death are not driven directly by processes related to Alzheimer's disease, but instead that the memory and other cognitive decline may involve some biological changes in the brain specific to the end of life. The study by Wilson and his co-authors deepens our understanding of terminal cognitive decline."

The second study, also conducted by Wilson, focused on mental activities and involved 1,076 people with an average age of 80 who were free of dementia. Participants underwent yearly memory exams for about five years. They reported how often they read the newspaper, wrote letters, visited a library and played board games such as chess or checkers. Frequency of these mental activities was rated on a scale of one to five, one meaning once a year or less and five representing every day or almost every day.

The results showed that people's participation in mentally stimulating activities and their mental functioning declined at similar rates over the years. The researchers also found that they could predict participants' level of cognitive functioning by looking at their level of mental activity the year before but that level of cognitive functioning did not predict later mental activity.

"The results suggest a cause and effect relationship: that being mentally active leads to better cognitive health in old age," said Wilson.

The studies were supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Illinois Department of Health.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by American Academy of Neurology (AAN), via Newswise.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Robert S. Wilson, Eisuke Segawa, Patricia A. Boyle and David A. Bennett. Influence of late-life cognitive activity on cognitive health. Neurology, April 4, 2012 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31824f8c03

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

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SolarCity Moves Into Home Energy Efficiency Loans | Solar Energy ...

Here?s the bad news: , around $40 out of every $100 you?re spending to heat and cool your home is lost to duct and air leakage alone. The good news is that the company has launched a new loan program designed to make energy efficient home improvement affordable to one and all.

Having seen success with a similar financing program for home solar power systemswhich actually allows homeowners the ability to pay less for solar electricity than they pay for utility power aims to reduce or eliminate the upfront costs of energy efficiency upgrades with this new loan program. SolarCity offers, as you might imagine, a comprehensive onsite home energy evaluation designed to diagnose where energy is being wasted in your home, as well as a range of upgrades designed to lower your energy costs while improving your indoor air quality and general comfort.

By making energy-saving measures more accessible and affordable, were doing for energy efficiency what weve done for solar power,said Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, in a statement.

SolarCity and currently has 5,000 efficiency projects completed or underway in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Texas. The company is now extending its energy efficiency services to its East Coast service areas in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C. (The company also works with a range of local energy efficiency loan programssuch as to help them take advantage of available rebates.)

Financing for SolarCity?s new program comes courtesy of , a federal savings bank headquartered in Boston, with a history of home improvement lending. More information on the program is available via SolarCity?s .

Read More: SolarCity Moves Into Home Energy Efficiency Loans via

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With or Without Apple: Sparrow for iPhone Will Soon Get Push Notifications

Sparrow_logoThere are a fair amount of third-party iPhone email clients out there, but few ever received the kind of reception that Sparrow for iPhone got a few weeks ago. Sadly, though, unless you have a jailbroken iPhone or use a third-party service like Boxcar, you won't be able to get push notifications for new emails from Sparrow - but this could soon change.

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Students angry over pricey courses pepper-sprayed

In this photo provided by David Steinman, Nnaemeka Alozie, campaign manager for Steinman, reacts with milk on his face after being sprayed with pepper spray during a protest on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif. Campus police pepper-sprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after Santa Monica College students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting Tuesday evening, authorities said. (AP Photo/Courtesy David Steinman)

In this photo provided by David Steinman, Nnaemeka Alozie, campaign manager for Steinman, reacts with milk on his face after being sprayed with pepper spray during a protest on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif. Campus police pepper-sprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after Santa Monica College students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting Tuesday evening, authorities said. (AP Photo/Courtesy David Steinman)

In this photo provided by David Steinman, 33rd district congressional candidate David Steinman wipes his face after being sprayed with pepper spray during a protest on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif. Campus police pepper-sprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after Santa Monica College students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting Tuesday evening, authorities said. (AP Photo/Courtesy David Steinman)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) ? Campus police pepper-sprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after Santa Monica College students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting, authorities said.

Raw video posted on the Internet Tuesday evening showed students chanting "Let us in, let us in" and "No cuts, no fees, education should be free."

Students were angry because only a handful were allowed into the meeting room, and when their request to move the meeting to a larger venue was denied, they began to enter the room, said David Steinman, an environmental advocate who is running for Congress as a Green Party candidate.

Two officers were apparently backed up against a wall, and began using force to keep the students out of the room. Steinman said both officers used pepper spray.

"People were gasping and choking," Steinman said.

Marioly Gomez, 21, said she was standing in a hallway outside the meeting with several hundred other students who wanted to get into the meeting.

"I got pepper-sprayed without warning," she said.

Santa Monica College spokesman Bruce Smith said he believed it was the first time pepper spray had been used to subdue students on campus.

"It was the judgment of police that the crowd was getting out of hand and it was a safety issue," he said.

Firefighters were called to the campus at about 7:20 p.m. Five people were evaluated at the scene and two were taken to a hospital, Santa Monica Fire Department Capt. Judah Mitchell said. Their conditions were not known, but the injuries were not believed to be serious, Mitchell said.

Students have been upset over a new plan that involves the formation of a nonprofit foundation which would offer core courses for about $600 each, or about $200 per unit ? about four times the current price. The program is designed to cope with rising student demand as state funds dwindle.

The move has raised questions about whether it would create two tiers of students in a system designed to make education accessible to everyone and whether it's even legal under state education law.

Community colleges statewide have lost $809 million in state funding over the past three years, causing schools to turn away about 200,000 students and drastically cut the number of classes offered.


Associated Press writer Whitney Phillips contributed to this report.

Associated Press

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