Report: White House Seeks Direct Talks With Taliban

A report in a leading U.S. newspaper says President Donald Trump has instructed “top diplomats” to pursue “direct talks” with the Taliban in an effort to “jump-start” negotiations with the militant group in the hope of bringing an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

The New York Times said Sunday the move represents a “significant shift in American policy in Afghanistan.”

The move has been confirmed by “several senior American and Afghan officials,” according to the newspaper.

Senior U.S. officials have been in Afghanistan and Pakistan recently, The newspaper says they were “holding talks with major players” in both countries in preparation for direct talks.

The report said there is a growing “consensus” among American and Afghan officials that the only way to “fire up a peace process” and come to an agreement on an exit strategy for the war “is for the United States to take a more direct role in negotiations.”

The Taliban has often insisted that it will only talk with the United States and it’s NATO allies about ending the fighting, calling the Afghan government a puppet of the West.

The Times said no date has been set for the talks and peace efforts could still be derailed, but the shift in U.S. strategy exposes the “sense of urgency” the Trump administration feels “to break the stalemate in Afghanistan.”

Border Measures Part of Trump’s Bigger Immigration Crackdown

The separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border caught the attention of the world and prompted mass outrage, but it’s only a small part of the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

The government is working to harden the system on multiple fronts to curb immigration, carving a path around various court rulings to do so. The administration is seeking to lock up families indefinitely, expand detention space, tighten asylum rules and apply more scrutiny to green card applications.

Many of the initiatives received little attention during the chaos over separated families, but they show how determined President Donald Trump is to stop immigrants from coming — both legally and illegally — even in cases where the administration has been stymied by the courts.

Other administrations may have faced similar problems with illegal immigration and tried similar solutions, but all have been unable to stem the flow of migrants streaming through southern border. No other president, however, has campaigned so vociferously on the topic.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” President Donald Trump declared days before ending the separation of parents from their children. “Not on my watch.”

This week’s headlines were dominated by stories of reunions of immigrant parents and their young children that the Trump administration had to carry out under a court order. The White House said it “worked tirelessly” to complete the reunifications and make sure the children were put back into safe homes.

In the same week, however, the administration made other moves to clamp down on immigrant families, asylum seekers and those seeking green cards.

Sending a message

The administration’s attempts to deter Central American families and children from making the trip north are designed to send the message to immigrants — and Trump’s supporters in an election year — that reaching the United States is going to get harder, and so will getting papers to stay in the country legally.

“All of these things, I think, are part of a bigger ultimate aim, which is to significantly reduce immigration of all kinds to the United States over the longer term, and in the process, the real desire is to change the character of the country,” said Doris Meissner, a former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Clinton administration.

FILE - President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of Congress on immigration in the Cabinet Room of the White House, June 20, 2018, in Washington.

FILE – President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of Congress on immigration in the Cabinet Room of the White House, June 20, 2018, in Washington.

Before departing the White House this week for his European trip, Trump offered his own solution for the government missing a court-mandated deadline to reunite some families: “Don’t come to our country illegally.”

In Europe, the president hasn’t shied away from offering his views on the flow of immigration across the pond. Trump pressed ahead with his complaints that European immigration policies are changing the “fabric of Europe” and destroying European culture. He reiterated a position he articulated in a British tabloid where he said: “I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad.”

The Trump administration announced plans in April to prosecute illegal border crossers with the crime of improper entry, and in doing so, jailed some parents caught on the border and placed their children in government custody. The U.S. government was sued and the public was outraged, prompting Trump to halt the separations.

The chaos over the separations has put the administration in the difficult position of having to release families with ankle-monitoring bracelets into the public — a practice Trump has decried — while at the same time attempting a series of legal maneuvers to argue for tougher enforcement capabilities.

That’s because two court cases in California restrict what the government can do in carrying out hard-line immigration policies. One requires the government to release immigrant children generally after 20 days in detention. The other has banned the separation of families and placed the government under tight deadlines to reunite parents and children.

FILE - Immigration activists rally as part of a march calling for "an end to family detention" and in opposition to the immigration policies of the Trump administration, in Washington, June 28, 2018.

FILE – Immigration activists rally as part of a march calling for “an end to family detention” and in opposition to the immigration policies of the Trump administration, in Washington, June 28, 2018.

Choice for families

In an attempt to comply with both rulings, the White House wants to present families with a choice: Stay together in detention or release the child to a government program for immigrant youth for potential placement with a relative while the parent remains locked up.

It’s unclear whether the administration has enough detention beds to do so, but it’s looking. Homeland Security has formally requested 12,000 beds for family detention, with 2,000 beds to be made available immediately at U.S. military bases. The Defense Department has said it also received a request to house up to 20,000 unaccompanied immigrant children.

Officials are also seeking to send immigrants back to their countries sooner and make it harder for them to seek asylum in a backlogged courts system where it can take years to get a ruling. Trump officials say too many people are claiming they are persecuted when they are not, adding that only 20 percent of asylum claims are granted.

Asylum officers tasked with screening immigrants stopped at the border were told this week to heed a recent opinion by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that gang and domestic violence should not generally be a reason for asylum — reasons cited by many immigrants fleeing bloodshed in Central America.

The result: Fewer immigrants will pass these initial screenings that enable them to seek asylum before an immigration judge, said Megan Brewer, an immigration attorney in Los Angeles and former asylum officer.

“If they don’t comply, all their decisions are going to be sent back to them,” she said. “The average officer will go with the path of least resistance.”

Immigrants in the country legally also face new hurdles under various policies.

Since taking office, the administration has ended protected status for hundreds of thousands of people from countries recovering from war and natural disasters, slashed the number of refugees allowed into the United States and said it would seek to strip the U.S. citizenship of those suspected of cheating to get it. And applicants for green cards and other immigration benefits are facing longer waits and more detailed questions.

FILE - A detained immigrant child watches a cartoon while awaiting the arrival of U.S. first lady Melania Trump with other young detained immigrants at a U.S Customs and Border Patrol immigration detainee processing facility in Tucson, Arizona, June 28, 2018.

FILE – A detained immigrant child watches a cartoon while awaiting the arrival of U.S. first lady Melania Trump with other young detained immigrants at a U.S Customs and Border Patrol immigration detainee processing facility in Tucson, Arizona, June 28, 2018.

Immigration on the Southwest border has changed over the years. Previously there were far more people coming, with more than five times the number of Border Patrol apprehensions in 2000 than during the most recent fiscal year. More immigrants also came from Mexico than Central America — which made it easier for U.S. authorities to send them back. Far fewer were children or families.

Where’s the crisis?

A number of immigration experts contend the arrival of Central American immigrants on the border is not a crisis — except of the administration’s making.

Immigrant advocates said ankle bracelets and community-based programs can be used to ensure immigrants attend court hearings where a judge will determine whether they’re allowed to stay in the country or should be deported. They said it’s much cheaper and more appropriate, since detention isn’t meant to be punitive but to ensure court attendance.

Rather, they said, resources should be devoted to beefing up the overwhelmed immigration court system to help those genuinely fleeing violence get their cases heard quicker and weed out those who aren’t.

“It is doable but there is nothing flashy about it. There is nothing sound-bytey about it, and this administration does not seem to be interested in serious answers. It wants to project that there is a crisis,” said Meissner. “And there is a crisis which they have created.”

They also questioned whether detention would stop migrants from heading north. Jonathan Hiskey, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, said research has shown that efforts to deter immigration might dissuade some job seekers from heading north but not those fleeing violence like gang killings in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Hiskey conducted research during the surge in Central American migration in 2014 and said while many knew it was tougher to make it to the United States, those who were crime victims still planned to try. And the prospect of being detained upon arrival — something the Obama administration tried with family detention centers — wouldn’t stop them.

US Rejects European Requests For Relief On Iranian Sanctions

The United States has reportedly rejected requests from European allies that are seeking exemptions from U.S. sanctions imposed on countries doing business in Iran.

According to diplomats and other officials, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote a letter to Britain, France and Germany saying the U.S. would not provide widespread protection from sanctions to countries doing business in Iran.

Pompeo and Mnuchin said in their letter, first reported by NBC News, that they are seeking “to provide unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime.”

The U.S. did add, however, that it would grant limited exceptions, based on national security or humanitarian grounds. The letter came in response to a request last month from Britain, France and Germany.

The U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year. The deal sought to limit Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.

The U.S. said it plans to reimpose tough sanctions on Iran, beginning in early August, targeting Iran’s automotive sector, trade and gold, and other key metals.

A second set of sanctions are set to begin in early November. Those sanctions will focus on Iran’s energy sector and petroleum related transactions and transactions with the central bank of Iran.

The U.S. has warned other countries that they will also face sanctions if they continue to trade with sanctioned sectors of the Iranian economy.

The Trump administration’s hard stance on Iranian sanctions is part of a growing list of contentious moves that the U.S. has engaged in with its allies. On a recent trip to Europe, Trump complained members of the NATO alliance are not fiscally responsible. The U.S. leader also criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of Brexit. He has also called the European Union a “foe” on trade issues.

Kodak-branded KashMiner Bitcoin mining rig for rent wasn’t — and won’t be

Write off another piece of crypto craziness: A Kodak-branded Bitcoin-mining rig that was on show at CES in January, where it generated much headshaking and skepticism that it could ever deliver the claimed returns, has evaporated into the ideas ether from whence it came.

The BBC reports that the plan to rent access to Kodak-branded KashMiner devices for the chance to earn Bitcoin returns has collapsed.

Spotlite USA, the company that had shown off the rig at CES, was also never officially licensed to use Kodak’s brand for the mining rig, according to the report (although the company does seemingly license Kodak’s brand for use on LED lighting products which nonetheless have nothing at all to do with Bitcoin mining so…).

Nor had it installed multiple KashMiner devices at Kodak’s offices, as it had claimed.

Speaking to the BBC, Spotlite CEO Halston Mikail said the US Securities and Exchange Commission prevented the scheme from going ahead.

Instead of renting Bitcoin mining capacity to consumers the company now plans to run a mining operation privately, with equipment installed in Iceland — apparently without pausing to examine the logic of joining the existing pool of professional Bitcoin miners all chasing diminishing returns.

Iceland has been a popular spot for setting up crypto mining ops for a while, owning to low average annual temperatures which help keep cooling costs down, plus the availability of (relatively) cheap electricity, including generated from clean geothermal energy, which can offset concerns about the environmental impact of crypto mining. Which is presumably why Spotlite has settled on Iceland for the next stage of its crypto adventure.

Meanwhile, Eastman Kodak, the 130-year-old camera company whose brand was not, as it turns out, licensed by Spotlite USA for Bitocin mining, did reveal a bona fide brand licensing plans to get involved with cryptocurrencies and blockchain (also) in January — announcing an imminent ICO for a photo-centric cryptocurrency (called KodakCoin), via a brand licensee (called Wenn Digital), with the mooted blockchain platform set to focus on image rights management.

So at least there’s a less than entirely tenuous connection in that crypto instance.

The ICO news instantly spiked Kodak’s stock price 44 per cent in January’s oh-so-bubbly crypto market. Albeit, weeks later the stock had deflated after delays to the ICO on account of regulatory uncertainty.

Months later Wenn Digital went on to launch a SAFT offering (aka Simple Agreements for Future Tokens), in May, which it’s still promoting on its KodakOne website — with the aim of raising $50M to build the touted image rights management blockchain platform.

It remains to be seen whether this officially Kodak-branded offering will be able to turn a crypto idea into a genuinely useful product either.

OnePlus to trademark “Warp Charge” as possible rebrand of “Dash Charge”

At the launch of the OnePlus 6, OnePlus curiously and cautiously had stayed away from using the word “Dash Charge” to address its unique fast charging implementation. The OxygenOS Open Betas around that time also had replaced the term “Dash Charge” with “charging rapidly”, and online stores in several regions started calling Dash Charge cables as fast charge cables.

It was later found that OnePlus had begun phasing out the term “Dash Charge” because of a rejected trademark application in the EU. OnePlus’s “Dash Charge” was adjudged to be similar to Bragi’s “The Dash Pro” and Amazon’s “Dash Replenishment”, and as a result of these existing trademarks, OnePlus could not own the “Dash Charge” trademark in the EU.

The alternative at that stage for OnePlus was to simply rebrand its fast charging implementation to something more unique. Recent trademark filing in the EU indicates that OnePlus has settled on “Warp Charge” as the probable rebrand.

The application for “Warp Charge” was made at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), and falls in the Nice class of 9. The Nice Classification system gives general information about the type of goods or services intended to be covered under the trademark. Nice Class 9 covers “apparatus, instruments and cables for electricity“; and OnePlus’s application is intended for representation related to “Data cables; power adapters; cell phone battery chargers; electrical adapters; batteries, electric; chargers for electric batteries; wireless chargers“. Curiously, OnePlus does not currently sell any wireless chargers, even though their trademark application makes a provision for its use on them, perhaps in anticipation for a future device.

The application for Warp Charge trademark is marked as “under examination” by the authorities. OnePlus will get brand name protection only when their trademark is accepted, so we can expect an official announcement and subsequent usage when they do get regulatory approval.

Source: EUIPO Story Via: Mobielkopen

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What Problems Does E-Mail Marketing Automation Solve

What Problems Does E-Mail Marketing Automation Solve

What Problems Does E-Mail Marketing Automation Solve?

Actually, it depends! The determinative factor here is your aim. Your aim consists of tasks to be solved.

The aim can’t be just automating your workflow and increasing ROI, that’s why give this a great deal of thought.

Too many marketers today consider marketing automation to be a panacea for their business.
They truly believe it will bring them thousands of dollars in no time when they tip back in an armchair. This won’t do! If you’ve ever tried to grow a flower, you certainly know that you have to set it, water and batten routinely as well as transplant. In case you do all these things at once and the same way with all the flowers – they will die. The same is true for email marketing. It’s a complete failure to treat your customers as your mailing list contacts. To get more revenue and income, one should really spend much time, money and effort for establishing long-termed relationships.

Email marketing automation helps solve the following tasks:

  • Send relevant content to every subscriber

Bulk email sent to the entire mailing list is the ghost from a long-forgotten past. Valuable and relevant content here is out of the question. Your email campaigns are to meet your customers’ needs if you want to build long-lasting relationships with them. Men and women, teens and grown-ups shouldn’t receive the same content. There is a wide choiсe of marketing technics today to discover your clients’ preferences. If you don’t use them, email marketing automation will never help your business. Try smart personalization, segmentation and check out the results!

  • Automate email campaign sending

If you already know your subscribers’ needs and preferences, created the corresponding segments and worked out your strategy, email marketing automation will help you automate the workflow, avoid postponements and save time.

  • Send event-based emails

This is the main advantage of automated email marketing. Subscribers receive an email as a response to their action. Subscribed? A welcome email is sent. Made an order? Order confirmation email is sent. Haven’t opened your emails for a long time? Reactivation campaign is sent. Every next email is predetermined by a user’s action. It ensures personalized approach.
  • Monitor the interaction with every client

You can discover both main email marketing metrics and client’s interaction with your brand. Check out the number of emails opened, clicked, marked as spam, bounced. Discover the most loyal customers who often read from you and buy, and passive users not even reading your emails. This will give you more insights into your work, provide with fresh ideas on how to optimize your email marketing.
Now you’re acquainted with the benefits of marketing automation. If you’ve worked out a strategy, you can look for a service providing you with marketing automation tools.

  • Marketing automation platform

It’s not a big problem to find a service offering this feature as most of them provide with the same tools. We’ve made a research and found a service that allows to use marketing automation for the lowest price ever, and this is SendPulse.

What is SendPulse?

SendPulse is a platform for marketing automation, lead generation and maintaining relationships with them. The thing which makes it stand out from the rest is multi-channel options for communication.

In SendPulse, you can keep in touch with your subscribers via email, web push notifications, SMS, and Viber. Besides, you can use all these channels within one campaign to reach out to more users.

Want more?

Web push notifications in this service are free forever without any limitations. Besides, there is a generous free pricing plan – 15,000 emails to less than 2,500 subscribers monthly. If you have a small business, you can use the service for free.
But we are sure you’ll be tempted by its advanced features that include marketing automation.

Email marketing automation in SendPulse is available on the cheapest pricing plan. If you have 2500 subscribers, the price is $9.85, if up to 3000 – $29.

Картинки по запросу sendpulse price

If compare, in MailChimp you’ll have to pay $25 for 2000 subscribers and $40 for 2600 subscribers.

Automation 360

Automation 360allows to send emails triggered by events, using filters and conditions for better segmentation.

How does Automation 360 work?

The feature works according to the pre-defined events. Add the event you need, for example, a purchase and the service generates a specific URL. Then start creating an automation flow.

Below is the working field. As you see, there are 7 blocks to use. Firstly, you have to choose an event when your flow starts, I chose adding a subscriber to a mailing list.

Then, drag the blocks to your field. You can use email, SMS and web push within one flow. I decided to send a welcome email after a user subscribes. Then I applied Filter in order to segment leads by gender. After that, I sent different offers for men and women. I used Goal block to stop the series if it’s triggered. If users made an order, I sent them confirmation email and SMS with shipping status. When my subscribers hadn’t opened my email for a long time, I sent them a reactivation campaign and set the condition. Those who had followed the link – got a special discount on their purchase. I also used Action block to add passive subscribers to the corresponding mailing list and remove those who hadn’t followed the link from the reactivation email. It helped me manage my mailing lists and keep them updated.

Automation 360 also allows to send web push notifications, for this purpose you need the users’ permission to receive them.

SendPulse has lots of nice and responsive email templates for your campaigns; they will look great at any screen resolution. Monitor conversions after every email sent. There are 2 options: you can either do it with Goal block or select “Stop series by event” when creating an event. This way, if you decide to stop series when a user buys, every purchase will be counted as a conversion.

SendPulse offers 4 predefined events for marketing automation: registration, purchase, abandoned cart and custom event. They allow to plan your work ahead and create advanced automation flows.

Sending automated emails is available on paid plans only, but you can create a flow for free to test the marketing automation tools provided by a service.


iGadgetware iGW

A Social Media and Cyber Security Expert. Love to write about latest technology and Gadgets.

Rock 'n' roll is noise pollution – with ecological implications that can spread through a food web

Despite being one of the best-selling albums of all time, ideology from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” album has gone unchallenged for nearly 40 years. The album’s closing track posited a testable hypothesis, asserting with rock-star confidence that “Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t noise pollution.” Opinions may vary from person to person, but little scientific evidence has been evaluated to determine if rock music is noise pollution … until now.

[embedded content]
AC/DC – ‘Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’

My research group recently tested the “AC/DC hypothesis.” Sadly, we report that, at least in some situations, rock ‘n’ roll in fact is noise pollution.

OK, yes, our experiment may sound silly or frivolous. But our hope is to focus a little more attention on how sounds – whether Angus Young’s guitar licks or the steady drone from a busy highway – can affect ecosystems. Our work demonstrates that the effects of noise pollution are not restricted just to the animals directly affected by the sounds, but can alter their behaviors and interactions with other animals and plants, spreading the effects throughout an ecosystem.

Noise and nature

Noise pollution has been recognized as an increasing threat for wildlife. For instance, scientists have shown that the sounds of mining can affect deer behavior. Noise from ocean drilling affects marine life. And sounds from recreational vehicles are a particular concern in natural places – spawning an industry of quieter electric alternatives.

Most existing studies focus largely on the direct effects of noise – an animal hears the noise in its environment and is affected. But of course, animals don’t live in isolation. They’re embedded within a tangle of food web interactions with other species. So by affecting even one species, noise pollution – or any other environmental change – may generate indirect effects that spread from individual to individual, and eventually may affect entire communities.

Studying noise pollution and its cascading indirect effects is difficult, especially on large free-roaming animals. To test these interactions, my research group will often scale-down our experiments and use smaller model systems.

Specifically, we study lady beetles, including Harmonia axyridis, the multi-colored Asian lady beetle. Unknown to many, lady beetles are among the most important predators of agricultural pests such as soybean aphids. By voraciously consuming aphids in soybean fields, lady beetles provide natural biological control of pests and minimize the amount of pesticides needed on crops. Lady beetles provide an important ecosystem service – anything that disrupts their ability to attack aphids could be perceived as having a negative effect on society.

The plants in their listening setup. Brandon Barton, CC BY-ND

Firing up the hi-fi in the ecology lab

With the help of colleagues – and fellow AC/DC fans – Vince Klink and Marcus Lashley, my team of undergraduate and graduate students sought to determine if noise pollution would decrease lady beetle effectiveness at controlling aphids. Further, we suspected that reducing predation rates on aphids would allow the pest population to explode, which would in turn reduce soybean yield.

First we wanted to figure out what sounds affected lady beetle feeding rates. We placed lady beetle larvae within small enclosures with a known number of aphids to eat, and allowed them to forage either in silence or under loud conditions. We played sounds through computer speakers at maximum volume: 95-100 decibels, approximately equal to a lawn mower or outboard motor.

In addition to AC/DC, we queued up one of our favorite country music albums – “Wanted! The Outlaws” featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others. We DJ’d a mix of rock music, including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Guns ‘n’ Roses, The Supersuckers, the British folk band Warblefly, and a mix of city sounds such as jackhammers, car horns, and so on.

Our results were good news for country and folk fans – lady beetles agreed that those songs were not noise pollution and continued to attack aphids with the same vigor when serenaded by these genres as they did in silence. However, lady beetles were not fans of AC/DC, the rock mix or city noises, even when played at the same volume as the country and folk treatments. In fact, listening to the “Back in Black” album cut the amount of aphids being eaten during a 16 to 18 hour period almost in half.

At least according to lady beetles, it seemed that rock ‘n’ roll was noise pollution and indirectly benefited agricultural pests. But could it have an effect on soybean plants?

Many researchers have investigated how music affects plant growth with mixed results. However, when we blasted soybean plants with two weeks of nonstop “Back in Black,” we didn’t see any effect on growth. Similarly, we found no effect of continuous AC/DC on pest abundance when we grew aphids on plants without their predators.

But we were interested in whether there was an interactive effect of rock music and predators on pest and plants. So for two weeks, we watched lady beetles attack aphids, while aphids reproduced and plants grew.

When the plants were grown without music, the predators reduced aphid density to nearly zero. As a consequence, the plants grew strong and healthy in the absence of their pest. In contrast, when plants were grown with “Back in Black” blaring, the lady beetles did not control aphids and the pests’ population size was more than 40 times larger than in the silent condition – from an average of about 4 aphids per plant to more than 180. As a consequences of high pest abundance, the plants in music treatments were 25 percent smaller.

Without predators to keep pests in check, crops like soybeans would need to be sprayed more. United Soybean Board, CC BY

Cascading effects of noise pollution

While others have shown that noise pollution can have direct effects on organisms and alter their predation rates, our study uniquely demonstrates that these effects can cascade throughout a food web.

We also showed that insects are affected by noise pollution, too. Most previous work in this area focused on large, “sexy” megafauna. But insects provide many ecosystem services that are essential for the healthy functioning of our planet. Disrupting insect behaviors such as pollination or predation can have drastic consequences.

Finally, our work empirically evaluated the AC/DC hypothesis for the first time since its inception in 1980. As fans of AC/DC and rock music, we sadly must disagree with the band and concede that rock ‘n’ roll is noise pollution, at least for lady beetles. Of course, rock music is not really a threat to ecosystems. But because loud music is similar to other real-world instances of noise pollution such as the hum of snowmobiles and the buzz of drones overhead, our results serve as a proof-of-concept that sound pollution can have pervasive effects throughout an ecosystem.

What about AC/DC’s other hypothesis, that “rock n roll ain’t gonna die?” As rock lovers, we’re happy to report there’s no evidence to contradict that one.