ACVs 50 BOGO deal offers sun savings in Mexico Caribbean

first_img Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Tags: ACV&ME, BOGO, Caribbean, Mexico, Promotions ACV’s 50% BOGO deal offers sun savings in Mexico & Caribbeancenter_img Posted by MONTREAL — Air Canada Vacations is reminding agents that its Buy One, Get One at 50% promotion with deals for summer travel expires Feb. 24.Clients can save on departures June through September 2019, to Mexico and the Caribbean.The offer is applicable to new bookings with nonstop flights in Economy Class on select Flight & Hotel packages and departure dates only, and with a minimum seven-night stay.ACV’s travel protection plans, CareFlex and CareFree, can be added to the booking for more flexibility and peace of mind, as well as extra commission.With the ACV&ME loyalty program, travel agents who book hotels and groups will receive 600 points per room for packages of 7+ nights; 400 points per room for packages of 3-6 nights and 300 points per passenger for Group bookings. ACV&ME loyalty points can be redeemed for Aeroplan Miles, travel vouchers or Visa gift cards. Wednesday, February 20, 2019 last_img read more

In This Issue… Euro reverses slide in short squ

first_imgIn This Issue… * Euro reverses slide in short squeeze… * Merkel & Sarkozy meet again… * 200,000 jobs created in December * Chinese renminbi slides… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Another Eurozone “Meeting of the Minds”… Good day… And a Marvelous Monday to you! The first weekend of the NFL playoffs was interesting, with a couple of teams winning that weren’t expected to do so. I think, because I did play football as a youngster, that the league has gone too far the opposite direction, and defensive players no longer know what’s a legal hit and what isn’t, which allows more offense in the game, which casual football fans love… but that’s just me… being me… OK… The Jobs Jamboree on Friday proved to be a real boost for the economy and the dollar, which rallied on a “strong jobs number” for the first time in a month of Sundays. I highlight “strong jobs number” because, this is what this has come to… 200,000 jobs were created, so says the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in December, which is the strongest number of jobs created in another month of Sundays… The jobs reports have been so weak for so long now, that the media, and markets are all lathered up and calling this a “strong jobs number”… It’s stronger than previous ones, yes… The Unemployment rate dropped to 8.5%, the lowest it has been since February 2009, and marks 6 consecutive months of at least 100,000 jobs the first time that has happened since April 2006! OK… is it just me, being me that I smell a rat? Here we are in an election year, and suddenly the BLS says jobs are being created, when the weekly job cuts remain near 400,000 each and every week… 1.6 million jobs were created last year (per the BLS), so at least we’re heading in the right direction, eh? Whether the jobs are there are not. Whether they are full-time, or not. Whether they are min. wage or not. All these things don’t matter right now… the BLS has created a perception that the jobs market is rebounding… and, you are what you are perceived to be, right? Well… like I said the dollar responded favorably to the jobs report, which could be an indication that maybe, just maybe, cause we never know, fundamentals are returning to the markets… Because the dollar should rally when the jobs report is stronger than previous reports. The euro, being the offset to the dollar, was therefore weaker… The single unit is attempting to mount a rally this morning, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President, Sarkozy, are meeting, as I write, to discuss measures to rescue the euro over the next three months. Hmmm… They might want to get European Central Bank President, (ECB) Draghi, in a room, under a bright light, and attempt to get him to say “uncle” with regards to rate cuts! Because, he has cut rates at his first two meetings, and looks dead set on cutting them more! I wrote about this last week, that given rates in the Eurozone are going lower… I say that, because of Draghi… He’s no Trichet, or Duisenberg… He’s more of a Bernanke & Greenspan. So, you can expect to see Eurozone rate dropping below 1% for the first time this year… It’s sad, I know… But I can tell you that Draghi and his fellow-Euroheads, don’t care about the ECB’s credibility… And they don’t believe it will be damaged, as the markets will see the rate cuts as needed to help the Eurozone economy that appears to be heading to recession. Now… When I was a foreign bond trader, I would have looked at this and thought to myself… “this looks like a great time to be long bonds in a country that was getting ready to cut rates by at least 50 Basis Points (1/2%)”… But back then we would be talking about rates dropping from 5% to 4.5%… With rates starting from such a low point, I’m not sure there’s much to get excited about… Speaking of the ECB… the will meet this Thursday, but after all my talking about Draghi cutting rates, I don’t think he’ll cut rates at this meeting, after having cut rates at his first two meetings… To be fair and equal to different ideas… Last week I told you about 3 different analysts that called for the price of Gold to be much stronger in 2012 and beyond… So, to give you the “two-way market”, my friend, and write extraordinaire, Bill Bonner, is calling for the price of Gold to be flat in 2012… Let me explain Bill’s thoughts… He believes that the markets are going to be circling the bowl again in 2012. Bill said, “what we learned in 2011 was that when a Great Correction pinches, the dollar is the salve of choice – not Gold. When investors fear losses they turn to the dollar for protection. They will continue to do so a while longer. We’ll probably see a further correction in the Gold price… perhaps down to $1,200. Or perhaps it will stop at $1,400.” OK… so, now you have two sides to the story, and you can make your decision, balancing the two thoughts on Gold. Me? I’m not selling… And I’ll be happy to buy Gold at cheaper prices! I’ve been pretty tough on the Indian Gov’t and Central Bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and their inability to recognize inflation and act accordingly. This resulted in economic stagnation, and with high inflation, it appeared the economy would take a deep dive into recession… This is the reason the Indian rupee has been one of the worst performing currencies around in the past year. But… I read a good story in the Economist that talks about how the Indian economic miracle is not over… Well, I was all eye and ears for this, since I had written India off… Indian economic growth is thought to grow at 7% this year, and will pick up from there… The savings rate continues to rise, which allows more investment, and that should be enough to keep the capital expenditure above 30% of GDP, which is quite good… Does this mean the rupee will rebound? I think there are a lot of variables here… The Eurozone… The U.S. and China… If all’s well in those three corners of the world, the rupee should be able to mount a rally. Speaking of China… The Chinese renminbi has been sliding weaker in the past week, which is something we don’t see a lot of, but it is happening, right here, right now… I think the Chinese Gov’t is very fearful of a slowdown from the Eurozone, and a no-pick up of demand from the U.S. which would be a shot to both sides of the Chinese bow… So, the Chinese Gov’t is lowing interest rates, increasing money supply, and allowing the renminbi to get weaker, in hopes of all these things helping to offset the problems in the Eurozone and U.S. How much weaker will they allow it get? Good question, Chuck, man you do come up with some good questions, every now and then, how do you do it? Well… I get lucky! HA! Seriously though… that is a good question, and one to not take so lightly, Chuck! Well, I can’t put a number or percentage on it, but it could be significant, and then… it might just be a tempest in a teacup… I’m thinking, that it might be the latter of the two… OK… back to the euro for a minute… the single unit fell to 1.2666 overnight, but it is being reported that the market got too short the euro, and a “short squeeze” was on, thus allowing the euro to rebound to 1.2750, which is where it is right now… Elsewhere… Australian Retail Sales for November were flat, which was a disappointing result, and pushed the Aussie dollar (A$) weaker this morning. Canadian Consumer Confidence rose in the 4th QTR (the index rose to 107.4 from 105.1 the previous quarter) I keep reporting strong data from Canada, and the Bank of Canada (BOC) continues to sit on its hands… Maybe the stronger than expected U.S. jobs report will give the BOC reason to get off their hands… But probably not… Then there was this… Well, the BLS doesn’t give us a breakdown of the jobs created, so there are private companies that do that… And reported one such company. ITG Investment Research … their chief economist, Steve Blitz, said, “The good news is that employment is up. The bad news is that the higher paying jobs have yet to return.” Blitz pointed out that the average hourly earnings were unchanged, and that 20% of the increase in private payrolls was for messengers and couriers. Net hires at restaurants and retailers (Christmas ) and the aforementioned messengers made up 44% of the jobs added in December. Chuck again… Yes, this is exactly what I thought would be the case… As I’ve always told you, and long time readers will have grown tired hearing this… The Jobs Jamboree is just a number… to get the real story… look to the Average hourly earnings and the Average Work week hours… I thought on Friday that something didn’t look right, and there it was right there… 200,000 jobs created, according to the BLS, and no change in the average hourly earnings? Tells you a lot! To recap… sorry, forgot the recap on Friday… The recap today, is that the Jobs Jamboree printed stronger than expected at 200,000, jobs created in December, and the dollar rallied on the data! This was the first time the dollar had rallied on a stronger jobs report in some time, and could indicate that we are returning to assets trading on fundamentals! The Chinese renminbi has taken a ride on the slippery slope of weakness this past week… One has to wonder if the Chinese are willing to absorb the critics of a weaker renminbi… The ECB meets this week, and while rates are going to go lower in the Eurozone in 2012, they won’t at this meeting, or so Chuck thinks… Currencies today 1/9/12… American Style A$ $1.0230, kiwi .7860, C$ .9725, euro 1.2770, sterling 1.5450, Swiss $1.0510, … European Style: rand 8.1415, krone 6.00, SEK 6.9215, forint 245.55, zloty 3.5105, koruna 20.2350, RUB 31.89, yen 76.75, sing 1.2950, HKD 7.7650, INR 52.51, China 6.3144, pesos 13.71, BRL 1.85, Dollar Index 81.09, Oil $101.21, 10-year 1.97%, Silver $28.95, and Gold… $1,620.65… That’s it for today… It will be a short week for yours truly, as I head out of town on Thursday, and return next week. I’ll miss my oldest son, Andrew’s birthday on Thursday, so Happy Birthday, son… Andrew’s lovely bride, Rachel had a surprise birthday party for Andrew Saturday night… I can’t believe he’s 30! Where did the years go? It seems like a year or two ago, that I dropped him off at the University of Missouri! Youngest son, Alex, went 2 & 2 in his wrestling tournament this past weekend. I just saw a story title go across the screen that said, “Sales of Super Yachts Increase”… Hmmm… yes my order for one hasn’t come in yet! HA! I hope you have a Marvelous Monday and a Wonderful Week… Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 read more

In This Issue Flight to safety but was it nec

first_imgIn This Issue. * Flight to safety, but was it necessary??? * STL Fed Head Bullard says we are at a turning point… * China lets the renminbi rise… * Australian officials bypass the US$… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! A questionable flight to safety… Good day… It was a ‘risk-off’ day in the currency markets yesterday as traders continued to digest data suggesting manufacturing in both the Chinese and European economies is slowing. Currency investors moved back into the ‘safe haven’ currencies of the Japanese yen and US$, pushing the yen up over 1% and the dollar index to a weekly high. I mentioned the Chinese report yesterday morning, but failed to give many details. The report was produced by HSBC Holdings PLC and Markit Economics and reported an index of factory output in China dropped to 48.1 in March. As with most of these indexed reports, a number below 50 indicates a contraction. China continues to be the globes economic engine, so any report that shows that engine is slowing causes drama in the markets. Readers of the Pfennig can probably surmise that I think the markets were over-reacting to this report. The Chinese government stated last year that they were looking to ‘tap the brakes’ and wanted to see their economies rapid growth slow. They knew there was a serious risk of inflating bubbles in their markets, and a slowdown was needed. To their credit, they were transparent in their intentions to slow growth from the red hot double digits to a more sustainable 7.5%. But ‘traders’ make money on volatility, and the release of the HSBC/Markit report gave them an opportunity to push the markets around. The commodity based currencies were the worst hit, and the damage continued through most of morning. Numbers released out of Europe only increased currency traders concern regarding the global recovery. A report from the UK yesterday showed retail sales fell more than expected in February and a report from Ireland showed that countries economy slipped back into recession in the fourth quarter. All of this data had investors running for cover yesterday morning, and the yen and US$ were the two currencies they sought out for shelter. But a funny thing happened in late trading yesterday as the dollar reversed its earlier gains and started to move lower. I couldn’t find anything in particular which drove the dollar down, but it may have been sparked by comments made by St. Louis Fed President James Bullard who was in Hong Kong. Bullard suggested US monetary policy may be at a turning point, suggesting our days of ultra easy money may be coming to an end. With policy currently “on pause, it may be a good time to take stock of whether we may be at a turning point,” Bullard said in a speech. “As the US economy continues to rebound and repair,” further action “may create an over commitment to ultra-easy monetary policy.” Bullards comments sent a warning to the markets that the low interest rates which they have become addicted to are not going to last forever. While some would think higher US rates should push the dollar up (interest rate differentials have been one of the main drivers of currency markets in the past), higher rates could also put our recovery in jeopardy which worries investors. Data released in the US seemed to support Bullard’s thoughts that the US is passing through a turning point. Initial jobless claims were a bit lower than expected, at 348k compared to an adjusted 353k new claims last week. Leading indicators were also positive, moving up .7% compared to economist’s expectations of a .6% increase. This morning we will get a report of new home sales for February which are predicted to have increased 1.3% during February after falling .9% last month. A couple of the ‘big boys’ announced changes to their currency opinions yesterday. Goldman Sachs recommended investors should sell the US$ vs. the Japanese yen to take advantage of a possible reversal of the recent movement in these two currencies. “There is a substantial risk that the sharp move in the yen will reverse at least partially in the new fiscal year,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. “Seasonal patterns point in that direction. The surprise improvement in the February trade balance in Japan supports our view and we are now also coming very close to fiscal year end in Japan.” So the folks over at Goldman are going against the grain and believe the yen will appreciate. Perhaps this report was one of the reasons the yen jumped over 1% yesterday (The folks over at Goldman certainly still swing the big stick in the markets). Citigroup adjusted the allocations of the currencies which make up their ‘Model Portfolio’, increasing the percentage allotted to the Swedish krona and decreasing the weighting of the Canadian dollar. Currency analysts at Citi believe the Swedish currency is relatively cheap compared to its European peers. They also feel the Canadian dollar is near enough to the top of its trading range that it is prudent to take some profits. I guess they wish they would have made the call on the loonie a few days ago, as the Canadian dollar fell to parity with the US$ yesterday for the first time in nearly two weeks. A report showed retail sales grew slower than predicted during the month of January and this combined with another drop in the price of crude oil caused the loonie to fall nearly 1% in the past two days to settle in just above parity. The Chinese currency surged higher overnight as the PBOC increased the fixing rate by the largest margin this year. The central bank also cut reserve requirements for its rural banking system in order to boost lending. Officials in China believe the economy will bottom in the first or second quarter and that the country has already passed through the tightest credit conditions in this cycle. And Moody’s Investor Services helped boost confidence in the Chinese banking system saying Premier Wen Jiabao’s policies will limit the increase in bad debt that analysts say will mar profit reports this month. Moody’s said Wen’s efforts to curb property speculation are “having the desired effect”. Chuck has been detailing the efforts of China to gain acceptance of their Chinese Renminbi for use in global trade. One of the ways they have been pushing their currency into the markets has been through the use of ‘swap agreements’ with some of their major trading partners. The countries use these swap agreements to bypass the US$ which is typically used for global trade, and instead use the local currencies. China has entered into these swap agreements with several of their trading partners (20 to be exact) the largest of which was Brazil. But they had not entered into a swap agreement with any of the ‘major’ countries until yesterday when the Reserve Bank of Australia announced they had agreed to a $31 billion currency swap with China. According to a statement from the RBA, “The main purpose of the swap agreements are to support trade and investment between Australia and China, particularly in local currency terms, and to strengthen bilateral financial co-operation.” The amount of $31 billion isn’t dramatic in the big picture of global trade, but it is quite obvious China is looking to decrease their reliance on US$, and therefore decreasing the globe’s dependence on the greenback. The RBA statement went on to say “The agreement reflects the increasing opportunities available to settle trade between the two countries in Chinese renminbi and to make RMB-denominated investments.” The US$ is slowly losing its grip on its ‘reserve currency’ status. And the impact won’t just a hit to our nation’s collective ego. Our status as the globe’s reserve currency has kept our interest rates down and demand for our currency up. Countries across the globe have to have dollars in order to trade as most of the major commodities are traded in dollars (OIL is a prime example). This forces these countries to hold dollars in reserve, as they will need them to trade, and they purchase our treasury instruments in order to ‘park’ these dollars. So having the dollar as the reserve currency has allowed the US to continue to issue bonds at lower rates than we would be able to if we weren’t home to the world’s reserve currency. China doesn’t ‘have it in’ for the dollar, but are obviously looking to give the Renminbi a higher profile in the global economy. Then there was this… Jack Stapleton, my good friend and the new Director of our EverBank Infinity Banking Program here sent me a story yesterday morning which suggests the stronger CAD$ may be having a positive impact on US auto manufacturing. The story which was written by Peter Wadkins over at ThomsonReuters detailed the data on Canadian and US manufacturing numbers and compared them to automobile sales. Canadian auto sales are up, but wholesale sales (most of which are shipped to the US) were down. At the same time, US manufacturing in the Midwest has rebounded higher over the past few months – mostly due to increased auto and auto parts manufacturing. Wadkins theorizes that the strong CAD$ has the big 3 auto manufacturers beginning to shift production back to the US. If this becomes a trend, we could see Canadian leaders start trying to do something about the strength of the Canadian dollar. To recap… The US$ rallied yesterday morning as investors moved into the US$ and yen as safe havens. The reason for the big exodus from ‘risk’ trades was the report I wrote about yesterday which suggested China will be slowing. The US$ reversed course midway through the trading day and continued to fall overnight. Goldman Sachs suggested investors should sell the US$ vs. JPY and Citigroup increased their allocation to Swedish krona while reducing the Canadian dollar. The Chinese currency surged overnight and the RBA and PBOC announced a swap agreement which bypasses the US$. Finally, a story shared by one of my coworkers suggests the big 3 automakers may be moving some of their manufacturing back to the US. Currencies today 3/23/2012. American Style: A$ $1.0402, kiwi .8128, C$ $1.0045, euro 1.3249, sterling 1.5856, Swiss $1.0992. European Style: rand 7.7253, krone 5.7640, SEK 6.74, forint 222.37, zloty 3.1480, koruna 18.6995, RUB 29.3398, yen 82.66, sing 1.2639, HKD 7.7658, INR 51.2175, China 6.3076, pesos 12.8333, BRL 1.8192, Dollar Index 79.453, Oil $105.93, 10-year 2.26%, Silver $31.6725, and Gold $1,650.91. That’s it for today… And the end of a relatively calm week for the currency and metals markets. It was kind of nice not having to deal with any wild market swings, and the Euro debt problem barely made an appearance in this week’s Pfennig. We are marching toward our T24 conversion next weekend, which will mark the successful end of a 4 year project. Looking forward to spending some time with my family this weekend, hopefully the rain which is starting this morning will push through by this evening. Everyone go have a Fantastic Friday, and a wonderful weekend!! Thanks for reading the Pfennig! Chris Gaffney, CFA Vice President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 read more

Digital TV Startup Aereo May Wind Up in the Supreme Court

first_img Brian Patrick Eha Legal arguments against Aereo, a tech startup that makes it possible for consumers to watch unauthorized digital streams of broadcast programming, may reach the U.S. Supreme Court. This move comes after lower courts gave Aereo the green light to continue allowing this type of streaming, even after broadcasters cried foul. Broadcasters plan to petition the nation’s highest court sometime in the next few days, Variety reports.Founded in 2011, New York City-based Aereo launched its service in March of last year, aiming to change the way people access and watch TV programming. Aereo uses internet-connected antennas to capture broadcast signals and make them available to paying users on any type of device.For months now, big broadcasters — including NBC Universal, ABC and Fox — have been trying to shut Aereo down, claiming that it is stealing and reselling their programming. Aereo doesn’t pay broadcasters for their content. It argues its antennas are legally akin to the ones people already use to watch TV in their own homes.To date, it seems that courts are siding with the startup. In July 2012, a New York federal judge refused to grant an injunction to stop Aereo from operating. And the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied broadcasters’ request to reconsider the decision of the lower court.Related: TV Startup Aereo Countersues Big BroadcasterToday, a judge in Boston issued a similar ruling in favor of Aereo. “Today’s decision makes clear that there is no reason that consumers should be limited to 1950s technology to access over-the-air broadcast television,” said Chet Kanojia, Aereo’s founder and chief executive, in a statement.In Washington and Los Angeles, however, district court judges found in favor of broadcasters in cases brought against Film On X, a startup similar to Aereo. Film On X appealed the lower court’s decision, but it remains to be seen how the appellate court for the Ninth Circuit will decide. A finding that conflicts with the Second Circuit might persuade the Supreme Court to settle the matter.On the heels of these legal developments comes the announcement today that Aereo will release its first Android app later this month. Currently the service is not available for Android users, though it is accessible via the web on desktop computers and laptops.”At Aereo, we believe consumers should have more choice and control over how they watch television and a big part of that is expanding the universe of devices that they can use to access Aereo’s technology,” Kanojia said in a news release.Until now, Kanojia said, the company had focused on expanding its geographical reach. So far, Aereo’s service is available in seven U.S. cities, including New York, Miami, Atlanta and Dallas.Related: 3 Tips for Doing Deals With Big Companies 3 min read Add to Queue Next Article –shares October 10, 2013 Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Register Now » Digital TV Startup Aereo May Wind Up in the Supreme Court Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Technology Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.last_img read more

Swiss vote to block foreignbased gambling sites

first_img Citation: Swiss vote to block foreign-based gambling sites (2018, June 10) retrieved 18 July 2019 from © 2018 AFP A full 72.9 percent of voters came out in favour of the new gambling law, final results showed, also indicating that only about a third of eligible voters cast their ballot.The vote spells a crushing defeat for the opponents who gathered the 50,000 signatures needed to put a law change to a referendum, warning the law’s internet restrictions pose a serious threat to liberties online.The Swiss government says the Gambling Act, which has already been passed by both houses of parliament, updates legislation for the digital age, while raising protections against addiction.The law, which is set to take effect next year, will be among the strictest in Europe, allowing only casinos and gaming companies certified in Switzerland to operate in the country, including on the internet.It will enable Swiss companies for the first time to offer online gambling, but will basically block foreign-based companies from the market.This aspect of the law in particular spurred a coalition made up primarily of the youth wings of various political parties to launch the referendum.’Dangerous precedent’Opponents have slammed Bern for employing “methods worthy of an authoritarian state”, with a measure that they claim is “censorship of the internet.””This sets a very dangerous precedent,” Luzian Franzini, co-president of The Greens’ youth wing and head of the campaign against the new law, told AFP before the vote.Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, however, insists that allowing only Swiss-based companies to sell gambling services is “indispensable” to ensure that everyone adheres to strict rules, like blocking known addicts.According to Addiction Switzerland, some 75,000 people in the small Alpine nation of 8.3 million inhabitants suffer from gaming addiction, costing society more than half a billion Swiss francs (half a billion dollars) annually.Bern also wants all of the companies’ proceeds to be taxed in Switzerland, with revenues helping fund anti-addiction measures, as well as social security and sports and culture programmes.According to the government, Swiss gamblers spend around 250 million Swiss francs annually on unregulated betting sites abroad that pay nothing into public coffers.Sommaruga has said that the new gambling law was needed “to stop this hemorrhaging.” According to GREA, an association that studies addiction, Swiss gambling and betting companies pulled in nearly 1.7 billion Swiss francs in 2016, of which more than half went to “the public good”. ‘Jackpot’ for Swiss casinosBut opponents claimed Switzerland could make more money by issuing concessions to foreign companies that agree to be regulated and taxed, and charge the law is basically a windfall for Swiss casinos.”Swiss casinos have won the jackpot” with the new law, Isabelle Chevalley of the Liberal Green Party, told public broadcaster RTS after the vote.Switzerland’s new gambling law was only one of several issues facing popular votes Sunday at the national, regional and local levels as part of the country’s famous direct democratic system.Voters across the country resoundingly rejected an initiative on so-called “sovereign money”, with 75.7 percent of voters opposing it, according to near final results.That initiative would have legally barred any institution besides the central bank from creating new money, in a bid to rein in financial institutions and avert crises like the one the world suffered in 2008.But opponents warned the measure would threaten Switzerland’s financial stability.On Sunday, the Swiss Bankers Association hailed that voters had so clearly rejected “a radical alteration of the monetary system.”In southern Valais canton, nearly 54 percent of voters meanwhile snubbed a bid for the town of Sion to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.Switzerland, home to the International Olympic Committee, has not hosted the Games since 1948. Swiss to place bets on gambling law in high stakes referendum Explore furthercenter_img Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved Sunday blocking foreign-based betting sites in a high-stakes referendum on a new gambling law designed to prevent addiction, but which opponents said amounted to internet censorship. Around three-quarters of those who voted backed the new gambling law but voted down a “sovereign money” initiative, which would legally bar any institution besides the central bank from creating new money This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

How to take better photos with your smartphone thanks to computational photography

first_img Explore further A long exposure made with iPhone’s Live photo mode. Credit: Rob Layton Provided by The Conversation I started in photography more than 30 years ago with film, darkrooms, a bagful of cameras and lens, and later the inevitable switch to DSLRs (with digital single-lens reflex, light travels through the lens to a mirror [the reflex] that sends the image to the viewfinder and flips up when the shutter is fired for the image sensor to capture the image). But my photography now is done exclusively with an iPhone – because it’s cheaper and always with me. I have two accessory lenses, two rigs (one for underwater, the other for land), a tripod and a bunch of photography apps. It’s the apps that often are the powerhouse of computational smartphone photography. Think of it like a hotted-up car. Apps are bespoke add-ons that harness and enhance existing engine performance. And, as with car racing, the best add-ons usually end up in mass production.That certainly seems to be the case with Apple’s iPhone Xs. It has supercharged computational photography through its advances in low-light performance, smart HDR (High Dynamic Range) and artificial depth-of-field: this is arguably the best camera phone on the market right now.A few months ago that title was held by the Huawei P20 Pro. Before the Huawei it was probably Google’s Pixel 2 – until the Pixel 3 came out. This portrait of a young longbow archer was shot with the Halide app, the background blurred in Focos app, and final editing done in Lightroom CC for mobile. Notice the bowstring disappears in low-contrast areas on the depth map, showing limitations in a technology not yet perfected. Credit: Rob Layton The point is, manufacturers are leapfrogging each other in the race to be the best smartphone camera in an image-obsessed society (when was the last time you saw a smartphone marketed as a phone?).Phone producers are pulling the rug from beneath traditional camera manufacturers. It’s a bit like the dynamic between newspapers and digital media: newspapers have the legacy of quality and trust, but digital media are responding better and faster to market demands. So too are smartphone manufacturers.So, right now, the main areas of smartphone computational photography that you may be able to employ for better pictures are: portrait mode; smart HDR; low light and long exposure.Portrait modeConventional cameras use long lenses and large apertures (openings for light) to blur the background to emphasise the subject. Smartphones have small focal lengths and fixed apertures so the solution is computational – if your device has more than one rear camera (some, including the Huawei, have three). Yes, you expect it to do the usual auto-focus/auto-exposure functions that are the hallmark of point-and-shoot photography. But your phone may also capture and stack multiple frames (sometimes before you even press the button), capture the brightest and darkest parts of the scene, average and merge exposures, and render your composition into a three-dimensional map to artificially blur the background.The term for this is computational photography, which basically means that image capture is via a series of digital processes rather than purely optical ones. Image adjustment and manipulation take place in real time, and in the camera, rather than in post-production using any editing software. Computational photography streamlines image production so everything – capture, editing and delivery – can be done in the phone, with much of the heavy lifting done as the picture is taken.A smartphone or a camera?What this means for the everyday user is that your smartphone now rivals, and in many cases surpasses, expensive DSLR cameras. The ability to create professional-looking photos is in the palm of your hand. An image in portrait mode that shows the 3-D depth map generated to control the bokeh (blur). Credit: Rob Layton This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Citation: How to take better photos with your smartphone, thanks to computational photography (2019, January 9) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Light trails, such as the main image (top) of London’s Tower Bridge and these images (below) of downtown San Francisco and a fire-twirler are an additive process to capture emerging highlights. A tripod is essential unless you use Adobe’s free editing app Lightroom (iOS and Android), which has a very good camera with a long exposure feature that adds auto-alignment to its image stacking.Long exposure in iPhone’s native camera app can be made by tapping the Live mode button. The iPhone records before you press the shutter, so you need to keep the camera stable before and after you take the picture. Then, in the Photos app, swipe the image up to reveal four modes: Live, Loop, Bounce and Long Exposure. The key to successful smartphone photography is to understand not just what your phone can do, but also its limitations, such as true optical focal length (although this device by Light is challenging that). However, the advances in computational photography are making this a dynamic and compelling space.It is worth remembering, too, that smartphones are merely a tool, and computational photography the technology that powers the tool. This old adage still rings true: it is the photographer who takes the picture, not the camera. Mind you, the taking is becoming so much easier.Happy snapping. Smart HDRThe human eye can perceive contrast far greater than cameras. To bring more highlight and shadow detail into your photo (the dynamic range), HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a standard feature on most newer smartphones.It draws on a traditional photography technique by which multiple frames are exposed from shadows to highlights and then merged. How well this performs depends on the speed of your phone’s sensor and ISP (image signal processor).A number of HDR apps are also available, some of which will take up to 100 frames of a single scene, but you may need to keep your phone steady to avoid blurring. Try (iOS) Hydra, ProHDRx or (Android) Pro HDR Camera. An underwater housing for iPhone (AxisGo by Aquatech) was used to capture this picture of a father and daughter swimming in the ocean. Credit: Rob Layton Low-light and long exposureSmartphones have small image sensors and pixel depth, so they struggle in low light. The computational trend among developers and manufacturers is to take multiple exposures, stack them on top of each other, and then average the stack to reduce noise (the random pixels that escape the sensors).It’s a traditional (and manual) technique in Photoshop that’s now automatic in smartphones and is an evolution of HDR. This is how the Google Pixel 3 and Huawei P20 see so well in the dark.It also means that long exposures can be shot in daylight (prohibitive with a DSLR or film) without risk of the image overexposing. In an app such as NightCap (Android, try Camera FV-5), long exposures are an averaged process, such as this (image above) three-second exposure of storm clouds travelling past a clock tower.center_img It works by using both cameras to capture two images (one wide angle, the other telephoto) that are merged. Your phone looks at both images and determines a depth map – the distance between objects in the overall image. Objects and entire areas can then be artificially blurred to precise points, depending on where on that depth map they reside.This is how portrait mode works. A number of third-party camera and editing apps allow fine adjustment so you can determine exactly how much and where to put the bokeh (the blurred part of the image, also known as depth-of-field).Other than what’s already in a smartphone, (iOS) apps for this include Focos, Halide, ProCam6, Darkroom.Android apps are harder to recommend, because it’s an uneven playing field at the moment. Many developers choose to stick to Apple because it is a standardised environment. That said, you may try Google Camera or Open Camera A light-trails long exposure of London’s Tower Bridge, shot on iPhone8Plus using the NightCap app. Credit: Rob Layton, Author provided HDR exposes for shadow and highlight details to extend the dynamic range. Credit: Rob Layton Light Trails mode was used to capture this fire twirler at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. Credit: Rob Layton Each time you snap a photo with your smartphone – depending on the make and model – it may perform more than a trillion operations for just that single image. A three-second exposure of passing storm clouds at midday, made possible through computation. Credit: Rob Layton Light Trails mode was used to capture passing traffic in this long exposure of downtown San Francisco. Credit: Rob Layton Stars are discernible in this image which proves astrophotography is possible on smartphone. Credit: Rob Layton Low-light photography shot on iPhone 8 Plus. Credit: Rob Layton Pixel 3: A turn to machine learning for depth estimations Light Trails mode was used to capture passing traffic in this long exposure of downtown San Francisco. Credit: Rob Layton An underwater housing for iPhone (AxisGo by Aquatech) was used to capture this picture of a father and daughter swimming in the ocean. Credit: Rob Layton This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Women entering Sabarimala Supreme Court declines urgent hearing on contempt plea

first_imgPublished on SHARE SHARE EMAIL SHARE January 03, 2019 COMMENTS COMMENT The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to accord urgent hearing on a contempt petition moved by a lawyers’ group against Sabarimala temple authorities for closing the shrine after two women entered it. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul said that the contempt petition will be heard along with the pending review petitions against the apex court verdict which allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple. Advocate P V Dinesh appearing for Indian Young Lawyers Association told the bench that the temple authorities closed the shrine Wednesday for purification purpose after two women had entered the temple which is in violation of apex court verdict. last_img read more

Telangana 52 child labourers rescued from bangle factories in Balapur

first_img India Today Web Desk New DelhiJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 18:59 IST A boy carrying coal at an open cast coal field. (Reuters image used for representation)At least 52 child bonded labourers were on Saturday rescued from a number of bangle factories in Balapur suburb in Ranga Reddy district, Telangana. The children were rescued after Balapur police conducted raids at six locations across the suburb.The child labourers were rescued during a joint operation by Rachakonda ‘Operation Smile’ team and the Balapur police at various factories where bangles were being manufactured.A total of 52 children working as bonded labourers have been rescued.Speaking to news agency ANI, a Balapur police officer said that all the children have been shifted to a rescue home and a case in this regard has been registered. A team has also been deployed to nab the owners of the factories where raids were conducted.The children will be handed over to their parents after the investigation in the case is completed.”The 52 children have been shifted to rescue home and a case is being registered under JJ Act & Child Labour Act in Balapur police station. A team deployed to nab accused. After a complete investigation, the rescued children will be handed over to their parents,” a Balapur police officer said.The 52 child labourers have been rescued just two days after 42 bonded labourers, including 16 children, were rescued from two locations in Tamil Nadu. The labourers were rescued from two wood cutting units in Kancheepuram and Vellore.In June, 26 child labourers were rescued from the plant of popular biscuit brand Parle-G in Raipur.A government task force on child labour had received a tip-off that minors were employed at Parle-G factory in Amasivni area, said Vidhan Sabha Police Station House Officer (SHO) Ashwani Rathore.Also Read | 26 child labourers rescued from Parle-G plant in ChhattisgarhAlso Read | World Day Against Child Labour: 11 child labour laws you need to knowAlso Watch | This man uses art to project the pains of bonded labourFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byChanchal Chauhan Telangana: 52 child labourers rescued from bangle factories in BalapurThe child labourers were rescued during a joint operation by Rachakonda ‘Operation Smile’ team and the Balapur police at various factories where bangles were being manufactured.advertisement Nextlast_img read more

UP roadways plans to deploy device to wake up drowsy bus drivers

first_img Next UP roadways plans to deploy device to wake up drowsy bus driversThe special device is made with Israeli technique and is being manufactured by a Pune-based company. Each device costs about Rs 40,000.advertisement Indo-Asian News Service LucknowJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 19:11 IST Special device is made with Israeli technique and is being manufactured by a Pune-based company | File photo from REUTERSHIGHLIGHTSDevice will produce beep sound and red light warning if driver feels sleepyEach device costs about Rs 40,000A proposal to acquire more of these devices will now be sent to state governmentThe Uttar Pradesh State Roadways Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) is planning to deploy special devices in buses that will prevent drivers from dozing off on long-distance routes.The device, equipped with special sensors, will initially warn the driver with a beep sound and red light in the event of him getting sleepy during driving and later slow down the vehicle and put emergency brakes to stop it altogether.A senior UPSRTC official said that a decision to this effect has been taken after the recent accidents on the Yamuna Expressway where drivers have apparently dozed off while driving.The official said that the special device is made with Israeli technique and is being manufactured by a Pune-based company. Each device costs about Rs 40,000.As a pilot project, the device is being used in two buses on the Lucknow-Nepalganj route and two others on the Lucknow-Gorakhpur route and the feedback has been good.A proposal to acquire more of these devices will now be sent to the state government.The UPSRTC official said that the device will be installed on the dashboard of the vehicle. The device will produce a beep sound and red light warning as soon as the driver’s hold on the steering wheel slackens due to slumber.In case, the driver does not react to the beep sound and the slackness continues, the device will automatically put brakes on the bus. The device will also keep an eye on the road ahead and alert the driver in case of over-speeding and overtaking.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has already warned transport department officials, saying they cannot escape responsibility for road accidents by blaming drivers.He has asked the Yamuna Expressway authority to follow safety measures strictly. He further asked the department officials to deploy two drivers on state-run buses on routes more than 400 km long, so that they can drive the vehicle alternatively.Also Read | Need for speed on Yamuna Expressway remains uncontrolled despite deadly accidentsAlso Read | 29 dead as Delhi-bound bus falls into drain on Yamuna Expressway, several injuredAlso Watch | Bus travelling on Yamuna Expressway falls into drain, 29 dead, several injuredFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byMohak Gupta Tags :Follow UPSRTCFollow TransportFollow Uttar Pradeshlast_img read more

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000 forgivable loans for home down payments. How could it be simultaneously a bit of a heaven, "Any worker can stop the production line at any time.2 percent to $48. read more