20 CFR § 639.3 - Definitions. | CFR | US Law | LII / Legal

Singapore's Message to Crypto Derivative Traders +Crypto News

Singapore's Message to Crypto Derivative Traders +Crypto News

Regulation news

  • Singapore’s financial regulator has proposed green-lighting crypto-token derivatives to list and trade on approved domestic exchanges, Bloomberg reported. Under the proposal, trading of derivatives on common cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether will be subject to the Securities and Futures Act, it added.
  • Fidelity Digital Assets has won a New York trading license from the state’s financial regulator, reports Reuters (via the New York Times). The company has targeted the traditional investment sector with a range of cryptocurrency-related products since its inception last year. Fidelity said, per the same news agency, “We are seeing strong demand and greater diversity of client types. There are more traditional investors. When we started it was crypto funds and hedge funds.”
  • Grayscale, the operator of the public Grayscale Bitcoin Trust fund, has filed with the American Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). If Grayscale is successful, it will become the first cryptocurrency fund ever to report to the financial regulator. Per a blog post, the company says that filing could help Grayscale reach new investors – with many wary of putting their money into unregulated trusts.
  • The Spanish financial regulator the National Securities Market Commission (known locally as CNMV) has added four cryptocurrency-related companies to its blacklist, per Criptonoticias. The CNMV says that the companies, Alycoin, FXTV, Terra Finance and Aurum Pro have failed to register with the authorities and are thus “operating illegally.” The regulator has warned investors “not to conduct transactions” with the companies, which, it says, fail to meet its requirements.
https://preview.redd.it/oh0mip6y4uz31.jpg?width=3500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5e7f008fbc187b340a3d74607cf20fd47eac1503

Adoption news

  • The Venezuelan government says its Petro token’s coverage currently comprises 2,700 “affiliated businesses.” Per Criptopassion, Nicolás Maduro, the president of the country, recently announced that he expected that figure to “double in the coming months,” as the country continues its “crypto-economy” drive.
  • Edith Yeung of Proof of Capital told CNBC that the Chinese government has been "really thoughtful" about the digital currency electronic payment framework and its rollout. She says it will "definitely" be deployed within the next six to 12 months.
  • Storj Labs, which operates a beta storage service for developers, businesses and consumers, announced its Beta 2 release and pricing, taking aim at Amazon's AWS S3 cloud service with what it says is a more cost-effective and resilient approach.
  • Salesforce, a major provider of CRM (customer relationship management) solutions, said that Italian super car manufacturer Automobili Lamborghini is using Salesforce Blockchain to authenticate heritage Lamborghini cars.
  • The South Korean government health agency, the National Health Insurance Service, wants to launch a blockchain-powered medical insurance ID platform. The service’s recently appointed head says he wants to launch a mobile health insurance card that will do away with current paper-based solutions. The service says it “envisions a system” that makes use of blockchain technology, although it has not yet devised a “specific plan of action,” reports KMedInfo.
  • Dong-gu, a large neighborhood in the east of Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, has expanded the reach of its new stablecoin, reports CJ Hello. The neighborhood has signed a deal with Medifun, a blockchain-powered healthcare provider that is headquartered in the city. The agreement will allow residents to pay medical bills and other expenses using Dong-gu’s e-BaguPay tokens – and says that foreign tourists will also be able to make use of the stablecoin.
  • South African commercial bank FirstRand Bank (FNB) has closed the bank accounts of a number of “major crypto exchanges,” according to media outlet MyBroadband. The media outlet says it has seen a letter from the bank stating that it has “risk appetite” concerns about cryptocurrencies, and will refuse to work with the exchanges in question, including VALR, Luno and ICE3X. However, the letter reportedly states that FNB will reconsider its position if the government provides regulatory clarity on crypto-related matters.

Investment news

  • Member of the Libra Association, Bison Trails, an infrastructure platform for a number of protocols and blockchains, said that they partnered with Blockchain Capital leading a USD 25.5 million Series A investment in Bison Trails, with participation of other investors also. This funding will enable Bison Trails to continue to scale their team and technology platform, the company said.
  • iSTOX, a security token platform, said it has secured USD 5 million in funding from Japan-based Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings (Tokai) via Singapore subsidiary, Tokai Tokyo Global Investments.
submitted by dwoinik to u/dwoinik [link] [comments]

[OC][Megacorporations and Mages] Ch. 6

A TBM mid-disassembly
Dramatis PersonaeFirstPrevNext
*spends several hours debating rank structure: police or military?*
⇜-o-⟕⧱⟖-o-⇝

Ch. 6: Market Research

Byron wasn’t a child any more. He hadn’t been one before Decklin had attacked Fort Yorric, and he definitely wasn’t one after. He was the only one to take care of Jasper, who sometimes went days sulking and doing nothing even though he was older than Byron. Not to mention little Arabella, who hadn’t spoken since their little band had found her still holding her dead mother’s hand. Byron was the only responsible one aside from Grammy, who didn’t count, not really, since all she’d done was pour through her stupid Book of Legends that had somehow survived all the destruction.
Every time he came back from scavenging with a handful of crushed, dusty bread, Grammy would thank the Goddess of Luck for the miracle of food. The Goddess of Luck had nothing to do with it! Byron was the one who had crawled through the collapsed Baker’s Guild and gotten stuck for an hour when a piece of wood had shifted and trapped his leg. He was pretty sure he would’ve died, alone, all that bread useless - except for a mangled piece of iron that he’d used as a crowbar. His hands had gotten all cut up and Jasper went on another rant about how it wasn’t right that Byron was doing all the scavenging since Jasper was older and stronger and smarter. Grammy had thanked the Goddess of Luck for that piece of iron, too, even though Byron had been the one who had to find it, and it was Byron, not the Goddess, who had been the one to have to wrench it free in the first place.
Every night, Grammy would read them another Legend, which was okay because it was the only time Arabella ever smiled; or, at least, Byron thought he saw her smile once, but it could have just been a shadow from the fire. Arabella would lean against Grammy’s shoulder, and Byron would sit across from them on the ground while Jasper took up the other cushion. Grammy would read about Merlin or the God of Security and Comfort, and sometimes they all fell asleep like that, in the living room - or at least, what was left of it.
One day the iron birds came. At first there were just a few big ones, but then there were lots of little ones. It was the first time he ever heard Arabella do something other than cry softly at night. She went around with her arms outstretched making the iron bird song - that strange buzzing noise. Grammy was happy that Arabella was playing, but she still had a worried look on her face and kept muttering about Black Magic. Byron figured that the town was already ruined, and anyway, the iron birds never did anything but buzz around. He hadn’t even seen one land. The little ones would sometimes stay still in the air, hovering there like a needlenose before darting off back to the center of town to do whatever they did.
Byron was pretty sure they had a nest there, but he kept hearing weird noises and growling, so he stayed away. There wasn’t anything but rubble there, anyway - most of the streets that lead there were blocked off by one building’s guts or another, and Byron didn’t want to get stuck again.
Most iron birds were too high up for him to get a good look at, but one time a little one stopped above him when he was going back to the Baker’s Guild. It had been a few days since he’d found anything besides a tiny mouse, most of which had gone to Arabella by unspoken agreement. There wasn’t anything back at the Baker’s Guild, and he knew it, but Grammy kept insisting that Luck came to him once there, and maybe he’d missed something, anyway. A flock of the little creatures had flown slowly East far above him, but one stayed behind. The little creature buzzed its song, slowly descending. It stopped right around eye level. The little ones were more like insects than birds, really - it had four spindly limbs stretching from the center in a cross, and there was a single unblinking eye. Now that it was closer, Byron could see that the buzzing came from its wings, which were whirling around faster than his eye could keep track of at the ends of each limb. The whole thing glinted in the sunlight.
“Um. Hello, bird,” he said. Byron backed up slowly, trying not to startle it, and planned on climbing around through the red house on the left. As soon as he moved, though, the iron bird floated toward him. It was tiny - about the size of his hand - and so skinny that he didn’t think it even had any meat. “Excuse me, bird,” he said, and tried to go around again, but it tilted to the right in that weird way the iron birds flew, matching his movements.
They stared at each other - Elf and iron bird - and Byron started idly wondering if he might have to chuck a rock at it or something, because maybe Grammy was right and they were Heralds of the Return of Black Mage Decklin. But then the iron bird turned around and flew off toward an alley for a second. It stopped, though, and turned around, staring at him again. Byron blinked and started to walk away, but the iron bird flew in front of him again. He stopped, looking around for a rock. Then it moved back in the same direction, toward an alley, before hovering, staring at him with its unblinking glassy eye. It was like it was waiting for something.
...for him. It was waiting for him.
“You… you want me to follow you?” Byron asked. It waggled from side to side. “Wait, you can understand me?” It waggled again before zipping down the alley and disappearing behind a corner.
Byron thought maybe he was just dreaming the whole thing, except he was still hungry. The iron bird peeked out from around the corner. Byron shrugged and started following it. He felt like he was in one of the Legends, and maybe there’d be a wise wizard and a caring patriarch and a hard-working lady at the end of it.
If nothing else, maybe he could get some food on the way.
The humans had been in what used to be the Laborer’s Hall. It had been three stories high, but most of two floors had collapsed, leaving a wide open pit of rubble surrounded by walls. The lobby was still intact - another of Grammy’s miracles, Byron had thought. They had food - it was strange and came in brightly colored packages made of some crinkly cloth he hadn’t seen before, but it was food. They wouldn’t give it to him though, not unless he told them things. They wanted to know about simple, obvious stuff, like his name and what he did and what the town was called, and they’d give him their strange food in return.
It didn’t feel right, but he didn’t know where else to go for food, since all the Guilds were gone and nobody could get to the Baron’s Center for their daily allowances. So, he kept going back to them. He felt a little guilty after Grammy asked where he’d gotten them. He didn’t tell her at first, but she kept asking and eventually gave that undefeatable Grammy glare, like she’d gotten in a staring contest with an iron bird and won. She gave him a long lecture on how bartering was fit only for ungrateful Elves, and how did he know that they weren’t Demons Heralding the Dark Mage Decklin’s Return? He didn’t go back to the humans for a few days, but they were the only steady source of food he could find. It was worth Grammy’s lectures, anyway, because the food was some of the richest any of them had ever tasted.
Their questions slowly got more involved - how big was the town, what was the Empire, who was Decklin, things like that. Finally, he went to the Laborer’s Hall and there was a new human, wearing a black uniform with a gold badge on his chest, and he’d offered Byron little coins made of some kind of perfectly smooth wood for information on the town.
Byron didn’t really need firewood, and the little coins looked like they wouldn’t burn all that well, anyway. But Lieutenant Dickerson had laughed at that and said that the strange little pattern on the front was a code that their Distributors could read. Byron still didn’t understand until Dickerson led him down to a place called a “Base Exchange”, where there was a bewildering array of humans “shopping” from dozens and dozens of Distributors. It was like the Baron’s Center, sort-of, except each store of goods was operated by a Distributor representing a different Baron from a different Duke.
Lt. Dickerson had shown him how he could hand over some of the coins for an allowance of food. It was no different than the Baron’s Distributors, really, except instead of his name and family profession in some ledger next to how much his daily allowance was, the coins kept track of it all. He settled into a routine: giving information, get his allowance of coins, go to the Duke of McDonald’s Distributor, and retrieve his allowance of food.
Except he still hadn’t understood what coins were - what money was, not really, not until one day when Dickerson pulled him aside after another information session.
“Hey, Byron,” Dickerson said. “Every day, you give us intel, we pay you, and then you go spend it all at McDonald’s.” “Yeah, of course! My allowances from Duke McDonald have been very generous.” “But there’s more than just McDonald’s. Vary it up some, live a little!” “My allowance was given by Duke McDonald why else would he give me food? I would need to earn allowances from the other Dukes.” Byron frowned. Even babies knew how allowances worked. Unless Lt. Dickerson meant that it wasn’t Duke McDonald who had been giving them allowances, and Byron had been committing sins by claiming allowances from the wrong Duke. “Wait. We do owe fealty to Duke McDonald, right?” “To Mc- what?” “Hey, L.T., I didn’t know we were working for Maccas!” one of the other soldiers piped up. “Yeah, how come the big clown needs all these heavy-ass shield emitters, anyway?” “Speaking of which, once your done moving those ‘heavy-ass’ emitters, why don’t you fine soldiers go sort through those distributor caps?” “Aye, Lieutenant,” the two replied. “Byron,” Dickerson said, turning back to the elf, “You don’t have to spend all your money at McDonald’s. You can buy from anywhere at Base Ex.” At Byron’s confusion, Dickerson continued, “Look, you need some shoes, right? Why don’t we go to Famous Footwear?”
That was when money suddenly clicked with Byron. His allowance from Duke McDonald could get anything, even items from other Dukes’ Distributors! One coin didn’t, for instance, give as many shoes as it would give you “french fries”, but there was no reason to stick to one Distributor. When he and Lt. Dickerson left Duke Famousfootwear’s Distributor, Byron was wearing the nicest pair of soft leather shoes he’d ever seen. He stared in open wonder down the aisle of the gaudy, colorfully lit Base Exchange. There were stores selling food, books, clothes, bizzare decorations, strange devices and contraptions, pencils, tiny baubles that did nothing, enchanted devices that lit when you pressed their side, and so much more. His handful of coins could buy him any of it.
Their family slept well that night, inside of impossibly warm, soft sacks called “sleeping bags”. Arabella laughed with delight at his gift of a “flashlight”, flicking it on and off for an hour. Jasper was actually helpful for once, offering to read them a Legend when Grammy prayed in the bedroom, muttering about how it all was a heresy and the Emperor would punish them if he found them. There weren’t even any guards left in Fort Yorric, though, so Byron didn’t know how they’d possibly get punished. Eventually Grammy came back, guilted into it by Jasper taking over the nightly reading. Byron wasn’t paying attention, though.
He was trying to think of everything he knew about the forest around Fort Yorric. A store was selling these perfectly-sealed containers that he knew no mouse could get into, and if he gave the humans enough information, maybe he could afford to buy some.
⇜-o-⟕⧱⟖-o-⇝
TO: V.P. WESTIN, W-M CENTCOMM FROM: LT. DICKERSON, CMMDR, PROJECT MERCURY MEMO: PROJECT MERCURY STATUS REPORT
Evaluation of new market: untapped, ripe. Recommend advance to stage two.
TO: LT. DICKERSON, CMMDR, PROJECT MERCURY FROM: V.P. WESTIN, W-M CENTCOMM RE: PROJECT MERCURY STATUS REPORT
Proceed to stage two. Accelerate.
⇜-o-⟕⧱⟖-o-⇝

W-M COVERS UP First Contact!

hal3 @ freeinfofront.org to me▾
Welch-Merryweather has COVERED UP humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence! The first clue came to several million people who received a video of an exploration team encountering a mysterious figure. W-M claimed that this was merely a viral campaign for an upcoming film in an official statement. DO NOT BELIEVE THEIR LIES.
Careful searching has revealed three W-M Exploratory Division team members who all conveniently took a “leave of absence” at the same time as the Route 2370 bud into Metaspace.
Speaking of the bud into Metaspace, whatever happened to it? All we have is an official W-M affiliate’s coverage right up to the moment the bud opened. Suddenly, the network starts playing B-Roll of the control room. The original broadcast, now only available via torrent, reveals that the test was successful. W-M 23’s official website’s archives only have a recording that claims the test results are “pending”. Pending what?
Route 2370 leads to planet Pancake - a barren, lifeless rock with only a single research outpost, one which is unmanned half the time. Why, then, is W-M investing in majorly upgrading the Route infrastructure? There are even traces of corporate allies investing heavily in black funds allocated toward Route 2370 - activity normally indicative of a base exchange (read: corporate mall for corpSec goons) on the other end of a portal.
Let’s not forget that traffic along Route 2370 is 5000% of normal. ”Officially”, traffic is nominal, but captured drone footage reveals bumper-to-bumper traffic. If Pancake is a dead world, where are all the unlabelled trucks going? Where are all the workers going?
No megacorp has so heavily invested in a Route unless they plan to create extraordinary amounts of infrastructure on the other end. So, we know that W-M has found something worth investing in, but First Contact?
After careful comparison of internal employee schedules, it has become obvious that well over 50% of W-M’s top Foreign Relations, Novel Markets, and Research and Development staff have all conveniently gone on leave at the same time. If you analyze the credit expenses of some of the key players in the xenobiology branch, you find travel expenses that end at Winnie City (known to 2370 locals as Hub City) - the last stop before Route 2370.
Even if W-M discovered a new habitable world, why would they need diplomatic staff? There’s only one possible answer: W-M has found intelligent extraterrestrial life and is covering it up!
Demand answers from your local representative!
-hal3
⇜-o-⟕⧱⟖-o-⇝
“Stars be damned,” Mr. Westin muttered. He waved the email out of his vision. It was inevitable that Metaspace would leak, sooner or later. It had been inevitable the moment that reporter had broadcast that tape’s final transmission to the net, despite Westin’s attempts at damage control. He’d hoped it would be later - Project Mercury had only just begun to demonstrate returns on their investment. While they had a substantial lead on their competition, he had no doubt the other Big Seven would weasel their way into his discovery. The most likely play would be an appeal to the United Nations - while the Big Seven were basically nations in and of themselves, they still nominally reported to the U.N. - thus you had the STNA “regulating” the STN. Of course, the entire STNA was bought and paid for through nonaffiliated lobbyist organizations, and megacorps could even wield influence over the U.N.
If, however, one of the other Big Seven could generate enough public outrage, the optics would outweigh profits, and W-M might have to open up Metaspace to the other megacorps. Undoubtedly one of them was ultimately responsible for the shotgun email the public at large had just received.
He would need to move faster - they needed to generate a reasonable profit base in Metaspace, and they needed to do it quickly.
⇜-o-⟕⧱⟖-o-⇝
Weyland paused over the next artefact.
“Lord Decklin, after careful examination, I have determined that all of these artefacts are enchanted. When broken apart, all have cores containing thousands of strange runes,” he said. Weyland held up a thin blue board with long, delicate lines inlaid in gold. They led to what had to be small runestones and crystals, strange black lumps and oddly-placed toruses. Weyland continued, “Examining the runestones at the ends of the runic sprues - already a fascinating idea, to pair runestones in series with runes! - I have found that they are not runestones at all. For instance,” here Weyland laid down a small blue cylinder - “this runestone has some sort of nonrunic writing on it, and when we take it apart, I have found nothing but two ribbons of thin metal foil! Alchemic testing reveals nothing, either! Most artefacts we have tested merely dissolve like so much common rock, as if there was not a whit of magic contained in them.” “So, after a month of study into how the demonic artefacts work, then, you have found that you don’t know how they work at all,” Decklin said. “Erm. Aye, lord. A Wizard I am not.” “Yet, the demons clearly know how to use the artefacts.” “Aye, lord.” “And they maintain that we cannot use them due to a ‘bio-locks’ or a lack of ‘A.R.’” “Aye, lord.” Decklin stared at the map in the center of the tent. The last of his banners had arrived this morning. Once the men had a night’s rest, the entire army would move forward tomorrow morning. They would advance past the remains of Fort Yorric and then through Ziu’s Pass, whereupon they would be poised to strike at anywhere in the Empire’s heartland.
Provided, of course, that they got to the other end of Ziu’s Pass before the Empire’s troops did.
“There is a time for research, and a time to make use of the tools available. We are Mages, Weyland - we don’t need to know how their enchantments work, only that they do, and those demons which wield them are loyal to Decksleif,” Decklin said, raising the dagger in his fist. “We shall march in the morn - the demons are to march with us.”
⇜-o-⟕⧱⟖-o-⇝
“He thinks we’re loyal because of that dagger, so we might as well keep playing along,” James said. “Some freedom of movement is better than none.” “What about the drone?” Gary asked. “We knew W-M was looking for us. Now they probably know where to look for us. It’s good news.” “It’s good news that they magically shot down a drone!?” “Technically they didn’t shoot it down. It ran into the electricity barrier and-” Morgan started. “But shouldn’t a corpSec drone be shielded against lightning?” “It ran into the electricity barrier and probably lost connection due to EM interference,” Morgan finished. “Those mini drones are meant to operate in a swarm, anyway. They’re disposable,” James added. “I don’t like that the medieval elf mages shot down a modern corpSec drone,” Gary said. “Doesn’t change our plan. They can’t do the Lightning Shield Ritual on the move, and this army is about to move. All we have to do is signal out with the makeshift antenna, and wait for the several-million credit cavalry to ride in,” James said. “You’re not the one that has to plug salvaged wire into their arm,” Gary muttered.
⇜-o-⟕⧱⟖-o-⇝
Lt. Dickerson circled the holo tank. It was displaying the sensor swarm surrounding Caloris Base. More than 300 mini drones - none larger than a hand - were scouring the surrounding terrain. Without access to sats in the orbital layer, W-M Corporate Security was forced to rely on drones for their situational awareness. Caloris was a mile east of a narrow, winding crack through a massive mountain range. The pass was a canyon so tall that it experienced a mid-day night as the local star dipped northward over the mountains.
The town Caloris was situated in - Yorric - was surrounded by dense forest. A few paths led to outlying farmlands before continuing, presumably, to neighboring towns.
To the far Southeast, just on the edge of currently-explored drone coverage, the holotank displayed a red bubble. Comms had detected it first as an intermittent background static in the 3-30kHz band. It was duly marked as one of several restricted bands - each planet had its own unique ionosphere and space weather, and one of the first things exploration teams did was to establish which frequencies were clear for comms.
One of the minidrones had flown into the bubble and they had immediately lost contact. Many minidrones had been lost at this point, so this wasn’t too unusual, but Lt. Dickerson had learned to listen to his gut. His gut was saying that something weird was happening to the Southeast. Weird things raised his hackles. Lt. Dickerson didn’t like his hackles getting raised.
He looked around the command tent. 300 personnel were relying on him so they could make it home safely. The poor pointy-eared locals hadn’t presented a threat yet - most were grateful for any sort of assistance, if somewhat naive to the idea of payment. They outnumbered the humans by, at least, 20-to-1. If the area to the Southeast posed any kind of threat to Caloris, he had to know long before it became active.
An advanced recon team was waiting for the go signal. They needed intel, and drones might not cut it. This wasn’t a hard decision.
“Romeo niner, Caloris actual,” Dickerson said into comms, “Irene. I say again, Irene.” ”Romeo niner, copy Irene,” the recon team replied.
Four men in forest camo left Caloris Base, heading for an army of Elves.
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The Unsolved Disappearance of Natalee Holloway

What happened to Natalee Holloway?
Natalee Holloway was just beginning her life; successful high school graduate, soon to be undergraduate on a full ride scholarship to University of Alabama and most devastating of all; innocent, trusting, and cherished by so many. The disappearance of Natalee Holloway still remains unsolved.
“Woo-hoo! I’m in Aruba!” Natalee’s roomates recall her excitement as she rides off into the warm, aruban sea air with three young local men that would be the last to see her alive. One must wonder: Did Natalee have the best night of her life dancing, visiting the local casino and enjoying her recent high school graduation with friends?
Natalee Holloway, born on October 21, 1986 was a recent graduate from Mountain Brook High School in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Natalee was everything you would expect in a well rounded, responsible, and determined young woman. Through hard work and dedication Natalee earned a full ride scholarship to University of Alabama. To celebrate her newfound successes, Natalee went on a trip with more than 100 other students to Aruba in the Caribbean islands. The trip was a success: all of the students who attended had a wonderful time celebrating their coming into adulthood. However, on May 30, 2005 Natalee failed to appear for her flight home.
When Natalee Holloway was determined to be missing, Aruban police questioned the three men that were last to see Natalee alive: a dutch man, Joran van der Sloot and local aruban brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. Leading up to Natalee’s disappearance, it was concluded that she began the night of her disappearance in the Holiday Inn casino that her and her friends purchased all inclusive stays.
While at the tables, Natalee spots a man who catches her eye; Joran Van Der Sloot and he is accompanied by the Kalpoe brothers, Satish and Deepak. After Natalee approaches Joran, she proceeds to invite him out to eat and dancing at a local club called Carlos’n Charlie’s. It has not been concluded whether or not Natalee was drinking that night, but her family claims that she was never a partier and always had her head on right.
Once Ms. Holloway and the three men arrive at the club they remain there until the bar closes. The men decide that they want to go for a cruise around in their car and Natalee asks if she can come along. Joran, Deepak, Satish and Natalee drive away from the club and Natalee is never seen again.
When Joran is interviewed by the police, he initially claims the he took Natalee to the beach and left her by a local fishermen’s shack. However, when police interview the fishermen it is determined that the men were at the shack the time Joran claimed her took Natalee there. The men were at the shack from midnight to 4:30 a.m. and claim they would have to be “blind and deaf” in order to have missed Natalee and Joran being by the shack that night. Once police confront Joran about the inconsistencies in his story, it changes: he then states that he brought Natalee back to his house and wanted to have sexual relations with her, then called her a cab to bring her back to her hotel. Once Natalee left Carlos’n Charlie’s on May 29, 2005 her whereabouts leading up to her disappearance are completely unknown.
There are four major theories that have been concluded by authorities. The first theory is that Joran was involved with a local porn king, Mr. Pink. Findings from chats involving Joran claiming to purchase hotel rooms for the sole act of recording vulnerable young women having sec with him makes the possibility of him being affiliated with the local business owneporn king, Mr. Pink is very likely. However, Mr. Pink was never fully investigated. After an initial interview with him it was never proven that the two were associated.
Theory number two involves a local Aruban Dj: Deejay Diablo or ‘Steve’. Steve worked on a party boat called “The Tattoo.” Steve approached authorities as a voluntary witness claiming he saw Natalee being dropped off by Joran and the Kalpoe brothers but security footage shows no sign of Natalee anywhere in the hotel that night. Why would an innocent man come forward as a witness just to lie about where and when she was last seen? When asked for his alibi, Steve claimed that he picked his friend Terry up around 11:30 p.m. on May 29, 2005 and went to a club called ‘Choose a Name’ and does not recall ever going to Carlos’n Charlie’s. However, staff from Carlos’n Charlie’s claim Steve was definitely there, and much earlier than he claims- around 10:00 p.m. Steve claims he partied until about 4:30 a.m. Bars close at 2:00 a.m. so where was Steve in between the hours of 2:00 and 4:30?
Authorities claim it is possible that due to him having access to a boat in the time period Natalee went missing, he could have been assisting Joran and the Kalpoe brothers dispose of Natalee’s body in the ocean.
Theory number three comes from a woman who was assaulted at the very same fishermen’s shack nine days prior to where Joran claims to have dropped Natalee off on May 29, 2005. Tracey Allen was walking past the fishermen’s shack on May 20, 2005 when a nude man pulls up his vehicle, blocks her path to her hotel and tried to kidnap and sexually assault her. A composite sketch was made and Allen was able to identify her perpetrator from a line up. He was arrested and because of a prior conviction being appealed and miscommunication with the justice department, he was released. By the time authorities realize the mistake, he had already fled the country and has not been seen since.
The final theory is that Aruban authorities are trying to cover up for a shoddy investigation. Hotel records recorded that Natalee’s room key was used several times between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., about two hours after Natalee’s trail went cold. Police never questioned the four other roommates to see if they happened to switch room keys with Natalee and maybe caused it to register to her using the key.
Due to authorities waiting until weeks after Natalee disappeared to pull the security footage, all of it was erased and there was no way to validate Joran van der Sloot’s claims of dropping her off at the beach. Joran was later convicted in 2010 for the murder of a peruvian business student. To this day, no one has been charged in the disappearance of Natalie.
The disappearance of Natalee Holloway still remains unsolved.
ColdcasebloggeTrue Crime and Coffee: Morbid Curiosities
submitted by TrueCrimeandCoffee to UnsolvedMurders [link] [comments]

1/18/19 Under $5 News

Disclaimer: Do your OWN DD, Trade at your OWN Risk. I was reading some of the comments this morning on the other post make note, I’m NOT telling you what to buy. Make your OWN moves, and be smart about what you do. Patience and don’t yolo your entire portfolio into one stock.

MNGA 0.19
(Everyone should remember this company from u/MonnYachtCaptian and all the DD he's done)
A Leading clean technology company in the renewable resources and environmental solutions industries, announced today the completion of an acquisition of one of the largest remaining independent industrial gas and welding supply distributors in East Texas. This transaction, priced at $2.5 million, paid in cash at closing, expands the Company’s geographic footprint in the East Texas market, which is home to a large number of industrial and shipping companies, as well as strong exposure to the oil and gas production and refining markets.
“With this acquisition, we are reaching significant economies of scale and market dominance in East Texas,” commented Scott Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of MagneGas. “Together with our prior four acquisitions in the region in 2018, we now operate one of the largest independent industrial gas distributors in the region, and have access to thousands of consistent consumers of industrial gas products.”

WTER 3.71

A leading producer of premium bottled alkaline drinking water sold under the brand name Alkaline88®, today announced it has entered into a Management and Services Agreement with Austin, Texas-based Water Source One (“WSO”) to expand its production and distribution capabilities. Under the agreement, Water Source One will assist the Company in managing the production and distribution of its flagship Alkaline88® premium bottled alkaline drinking water across the United States, including providing customer service and regulatory support, quality assurance management, and raw materials and logistical support.

TYME 1.80

An emerging biotechnology company developing metabolic-based cancer therapies announces that an open label phase II clinical trial evaluating SM-88 as a monotherapy in end-stage patients with advanced pancreatic cancer demonstrated substantially improved survival benefit compared to expected median overall survival outcomes.
The 88-Panc open label phase II trial investigation involved 38 heavily pretreated patients with actively progressing metastatic pancreatic cancer who had received a median of two prior systemic therapies, and had significant disease related mortality. Researchers found that 68% of patients treated with SM-88, (19 of 28) remained alive after a median of 4.3 months of follow-up (median 5.8 months since completing prior treatment). Median survival has not been concluded for either evaluable or intent-to-treat (ITT) subjects with 60% of ITT subjects still alive.

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I'm also "watching":

EDAP 2.57

Today announced that Brooklyn, New York's Maimonides Medical Center has become the second hospital in the United States, and the first on the East Coast, to acquire the groundbreaking Focal One high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) technology, the world's most advanced non-invasive prostate ablation device. Maimonides Medical Center urologists were recently trained on the use of Focal One and will begin to schedule the outpatient treatments for eligible patients with localized prostate cancer in February 2019.

UPL 1.21

Announces that earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit delivered a favorable opinion in the appeal proceedings by Ultra Petroleum about the make-whole claims that had been asserted against the Company. This is a victory for Ultra Petroleum, reversing a bankruptcy court decision that had required the Company to pay approximately $400 million to various creditors following the Company’s emergence from Chapter 11 proceedings.

ATAI 0.99

A company focused on providing students with quality educational experiences and services in China and abroad, today announced that the Company entered into an extension agreement (the “Extension Agreement”) with respect to the previously announced definitive acquisition agreements (the “Acquisition Agreements”) entered into between ATA and its affiliates, Beijing Biztour International Travel Service Co., Ltd. and its affiliates (“Beijing Biztour”), the shareholders of Beijing Biztour (the “Sellers”) and certain other relevant parties. According to the Extension Agreement, the parties agreed to extend the closing deadline under the Acquisition Agreements from December 31, 2018 to February 28, 2019, provided that all the closing conditions under the Acquisition Agreements and the Extension Agreement shall be satisfied by Beijing Biztour and the Sellers by then. The Extension Agreement will be available as an exhibit to a Form 6-K that will be furnished on the SEC EDGAR filing system on the same date as the issuance of this release. ATA cautions investors that there are no assurances that the Acquisition will finally close or will close by the newly extended deadline as planned. The Company is also exploring other potential mergers and acquisitions targets in the international education sector.

Also, I've received alot of great messages, and people telling me how good it feels to be making gains from these posts! That's awesome to hear! I try responding to everyone's messages, so i'll get around! If anyone has any questions leave a message down below or if you want send me a private message.



4:15 PM EST I’ll post the review

Disclaimer: I'm NOT responsible for your actions, Trade at your OWN Risk.
submitted by Tradeeeee to RobinHoodPennyStocks [link] [comments]

YamaChannel OND Episode 47 English Translation

Hi all! My name is LaToya and I'm an Artist and youtuber who loves Terrace House! I decided to start translating the YamaChannel episodes and post them online where a lot of other Terrace House fans are so we could discuss and enjoy them together for fun! I can't guarantee everything is perfect, but I did my best translating quickly. :D
Just a note, but please don't steal, repost, reproduce, or otherwise reference or distribute my translations for any publication or purpose! Thank you for respecting that, as I did this by myself and it took my effort! My translations are just for fun and educational and commentary purposes, and help me practice translation, not for monetary or any other purposes. I do not own the original video content nor do I claim to have any affiliation with Netflix or Yamachannel or it’s affiliates.
I hope you enjoy reading and commenting, and if you did, make sure to stop by my Youtube Channel here: LaToya is an Artist and subscribe to see what I’m up to! I draw and paint, do tutorials, talk, and make videos in Japanese! I'm also on Instagram as LaToyaisanArtist and Twitter as artistLaToya. I just started, too, so I could really use the support! Thanks and enjoy!
Original Source Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnyAqa6l0mU
My commentary follows the translation.
Yama Channel Episode 47 "A quiz so interesting it'll make you jealous"
It turns out it’s Aio!
What is Kaito even doing?
What's the point of showing us this scene now?
Hello everyone, Ryota Yamasato from Terrace House here for episode 47 of Yamachannel!
Terrace House has been able to come this far thanks to the effort of all the folks here and the support of all of you watching. Sincerely, thank you.
It's just so fun I can't help myself!
It's really so fun. Actually we’re filming this on a later date today. I watched episode 47 very carefully… I'm a little embarrassed to tell you all this, but actually, I’ve watched it three whole times!
I'm sure some of you are watching this video after having seen the episode, and some of you aren’t.
This episode blasted off like a rocket! From the opening moments big drama unfolds. Don’t even think about blinking while you watch! I definitely hope you watch it if you haven’t.
Do you remember what happened last episode?
Risako and Aio, that charismaless Dennis Rodman, were scheming behind the scenes for her to reject him on the date and what not. So they were planning to do the most taboo thing on this show, right? And Risako got told, “When we heard that, we lost faith in you. We’re living upfront here at Terrace House and putting everything out in the air – “ HAHAHA, sorry guys, that part… I can’t help but laugh!
Sorry about that. “We can’t believe you’d do that. If you don’t show everything how it truly is on Terrace House, if you don’t show your true self… That’s right, I’m ‘never held hands with a guy before, never kissed the person I like’ dreaming young maiden Yui Tanaka. For someone like me who puts everything on the table, I am simply outraged by your actions. I guess Risako, you really are the kind of person who would do something like that behind closed doors after all…”
So that’s what they were saying last week, but if that wasn’t enough, at the very end of the episode, Aio told Risako, “Me and Yui did it”!
When Risako took that baton from Aio she gave it one good lick. As if she was saying, “thanks for the meal”!
So what do you think she did when she got the baton? She took it straight upstairs.
She went right up to the girls’ room even though it was night and Yui was sleeping and made sure to wake her up.
“Can I talk to you for a sec?” she said. “How far have you and Aio gone?” That question was so good!
Now, Yui is still keeping up the farce at this point because she doesn’t realize she’s been found out. “Oh, we’ve only held hands so far.”
But by this point Risako is already holding the secret weapon, so she’s thinking, “I already know you did it!”
You can see on Risako’s face she starts to laugh a little. The corner of her mouth starts to lift up.
Then she smiles and says, “I heard everything from Aio.”
Yui’s eyes the moment right after she said that were fantastic! Like she was thinking, “What’s this? Now I’m gonna have to kill off another one of you?”
Then it starts from there, Yui and Risako step into the ring together. I haven’t been so nervous about would happen in a situation like this since the US-North Korea summit.
It was amazing, I kept wondering what was going to happen.
So Yui couldn’t run anymore and acknowledged everything, but after she did, her rebuttal was simply amazing!
“Why did I end up kissing him anyway…??” An incomprehensible self-evaluation quiz. For this episode, her self-questioning actually becomes a major point. After this a really amazing answer ends up surfacing.
It’s in the second half for those who haven’t seen already. I actually come up with a lot of quizzes at work myself, but this quiz was so good it made me jealous!
So, right after that, Risako starts to shed some tears. What did you all make of that?
She starts saying about how she was scared, and then a little tear just drops on down. What did you think that was for? You all are probably thinking, well, was crying because of how stressed and upset she was.
You’re wrong! Those were tears of joy! You can tell from the speed at which they fell. Happy tears fall fast like ‘plop’!
When I looked at that, it was amazing, I could tell in an instant that those were tears of joy. See, if she had been crying because she was upset, they would have been slow and halting and wouldn’t have fallen so easily. When they just went ‘plop’ like that I knew she was happy. I guess I’m pretty amazing.
And then here, this was a great scene.
Yui says, “I guess I did the same thing.”
Risako just gives up there. She is so angry all she can do is just go back to her bed.
You can clearly see there that she is beside herself with anger. Make sure not to skip over this part everyone. Like I said, I watched this three times.
On the third time I noticed, she banged her left foot up on the corner there.
She doesn’t even say “ow”! She had to have been really furious to not even let out an “ouch” when she hurt herself. As expected of Terrace House to capture a moment like that.
And then back to Yui. It’s already too late for her. What is she gonna do?
How is she going to protect her “pure girl who hasn’t even had a first kiss yet” image? That’s already impossible at this point. No one’s smart enough to get out of that.
Then, The Great Yui gives a response here that just breaks past all logic with a “BAAM!”
“There’s a misunderstanding here. I know everyone’s thinking we made it to 3rd base, but that’s not what happened.”
Let me announce the correct answer everyone.
The answer is: “Aio finished himself.”
The shocking quiz solution!
And after that was just wonderful. I was honestly surprised. I wrote here, “Ahhh, how amusing!”
Yui tried to play the “well at least I’m not as bad as you are” card here. “Risako was laying out plans behind the scenes, but I am motivated by love. Since it’s because of love, I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.”
That’s some pretty unsound logic right there.
I wrote this real small here: “Go Masao! Now’s your chance!”
Moving along, so then they become an official couple. Then comes the scene where Aio brings Yui some flowers. It was like a monster coming across a human woman for the first time.
I wrote here, “Aio and Yui’s relationship is akin to a non-compelling version of ‘Wreck it Ralph’.”*
Risako’s face while everyone was congratulating Aio and saying how nice for him was just the best.
So we’ve finally reached the climax! It’s so utterly chaotic now, what do you think will happen next?
What percentage of everyone watching is even interested in the result of Masao’s confession? I’m excited to see your answer. That’s all for today. Until next time.

\Translator’s Note:* He says “Sugar Rush” which is the Japanese release name for the movie Wreck it Ralph. I actually haven’t seen the movie haha, but I’m assuming he’s comparing them to the characters Ralph and Vanellope, rather than talking about an actual sugar rush.
Commentary:
It’s really interesting watching Yamachannel every week as he uses a lot of phrases and jokes that are unfamiliar to me! For instance, he often says “脳みそ” which translates as “brain matter” or “brain” but literally reads as “brain miso”. Always fun to figure out how to localize that in a way that makes sense in English. Couldn’t help but think, brain soup??? Haha.
Also, the part where he did said ‘dreaming girl Yui Tanaka’ was hilarious! It sounds like he is doing an impersonation there since he kind of pushes out his lips and sounds like he’s imitating the way she talks. Might be my favorite part of this episode.
Also, Yamasato and some users on this forum have come to similar conclusions! I read somewhere someone said that Yui went after girls who were interested in guys she liked. The line about her having to “kill another one off” reminded me of that! Interesting, I guess many people might see it that way! It would be great if there were a forum where both Japanese and English speaking fans of the show could come together and share their musings! But alas, language certainly creates a barrier in that regard.
submitted by LaToyaisanArtist to terracehouse [link] [comments]

50 Easy Ecommerce Growth Hacks

Hey Reddit! I've been compiling some quick hacks anyone can do to growth their business (or even just to make their first sale). I've used most of these tactics for my own store and found a range of success. I thought I'd share this with everyone! I hope it helps!
Edit - Wow I had no idea how much support and supportive comments this post would get! For those who are interested in checking it out with some URL shortcuts, I'm attaching it here, https://www.connectwithscout.com/50-ecommerce-growth-hacks/
A lot of these are specific to Ecommerce businesses, but most can also be applied to any business really. These are all the tips I have for now, but I'm always working on more. If you like these tips and want more, let me know - I'll make sure to keep adding to them and sharing with the community.
1) The ‘About’ page is the 2nd most visited page on your site Your customers want to know who you are and what you stand for. So make sure your About page is high quality. It should say who you are, why you do what you do, what your brand's mission is, how long you've been in business, and how you approach customer service. Consumer these days are hyper informed, and transparency is very important these days. They want to do business with a brand that aligns with their own principles.
2) Subscribe on your competitors’ email lists for daily inspiration We all have competitors in our spaces. If not direct, definitely indirect. Go onto their sites and subscribe to their newsletters (with a personal email address) and keep tabs on what they are up to. This way you'll be aware when they do flash sales, launch new products, or run promotions. If your competitor is a big store, you better believe they know what they are doing with their email lists. Every email they send is sent with a goal and objective in mind. It's then your job to study this and apply it to your own store.
3) Order a pizza for your best customer Feel like doing something nice for a great customer? I've tried this before for a customer who netted me about $400 in profit. I called up Dominos and ordered an extra large cheese pizza (cost like $15) to his house. I knew he was home because he had called up my customer service number asking some questions and I asked him if he was home. After he got the pizza he called me back and thanked me for the "best customer service he has ever had". A couple months later I found out he told several of his friends and they all ended up buying my product too, which came out to be another $580 in profit. And all it took was ordering a $15 pizza for someone when they called me for support. The potential word of mouth referrals you can get from this is amazing. Especially considering we're now always online and documenting our day through social channels. A good deed has way more potential to get shared. Protip: Ordering cheese is the best way to go because no one has an issue with it. I turned this into a free Shopify app called Scout that will alert you about your best customers daily, weekly and monthly https://apps.shopify.com/scout-cart-recovery
4) People only wait 3 secs for a page load. Decrease your image sizes Amazon found that they lose $1.6 billion per year if their website is 1 second slower. The average consumer only waits 3 seconds for a page to load on desktop and 5 seconds on mobile. Imagine if your store took longer than 5 seconds to load, you've just lost a potential buyer. Large images are the largest factor in slow load times. Most people don't know there is a way to save images to be web friendly or you can convert them online using free tools. It maintains quality and keeps picture sizes low.
5) Start a Twitter chat with someone who is using one of your keywords Start a twitter chat with someone who mentioned needing or wanting a product you sell. Easy. Do this at least once a day and listen to your potential customers problems. This is called research and customer development. You can use https://twitter.com/search-advanced to search for your keywords, and Twitter will show you a list of all the relevant posts. Even if it doesn't lead to a sale, you've done customer research and learned what's important.
6) Make an Infographic – they get shared more People love reading infographics because they pack a lot of interesting facts in one engaging post. It's hard to make one, just google "how to make an infographic". Canva is a good tool for this.
7) Calling customers leads to 32% increase in repurchases When someone buys from you, call them to say thank you. And then call them a few weeks later to see how they're liking your product. This will significantly increase repurchases. People want to do business with those they trust, and calling builds that trust.
8) Calling abandoned cart buyers can result in 60% carts recovered If someone has filled out all their personal info but instead of clicking "buy" they close the window - they were intent to buy at one point. 68% of carts get abandoned so this is a huge problem for any store store. Just pick up the phone and call that person (make phone number fields at least optional if not mandatory). When you call them you build trust and a relationship - answer their questions, it's a hot lead! Recovery rates also depend on what type of product you sell, the most expensive, or the more niche, the better this tactic works. If you're using a platform like Shopify, they give you information about this, especially if you're using an app like Scout on Shopify. https://apps.shopify.com/scout-cart-recovery
9) 70% of buyers consult reviews before purchasing you know you do this too. This is why getting reviews on your online store is crucial. Without reviews your store doesn't look trustworthy. When you're getting started and calling each and every customer of yours, simply ask them to leave a review - this is going to pay off bigger than you think.
10) Create videos and publish them to your website Google indexes videos around the internet. So if you have videos and name them properly for keywords people are searching for, your site will have an advantage in search results. Also, YouTube is the 2nd most popular search engine and the fastest growing, so having relevant videos there would be a good idea.
11) Build Slideshares of your content Slideshare is like the YouTube for slideshows and powerpoints. So putting your content in a presentation type format could help your audience discover your content and the be fits of your products. The more places your content can live online, the more likely a buyer is going to stumble on it during their search.
12) 63% of your visitors are more likely to buy if you have reviews Reviews provide the social proof your audience is looking for before trusting you with their cash. Business is built on trust. Now that retail is moving online, the trust that was there with physical store is no longer is there. Now, we have to build trust through other means, and product and company reviews are key for that. There are tones o Shopify apps that will help you do this.
13) Spread Value on Reddit Reddit is a massive traffic source. The caveat is you need to be a true redditor and not a promoter. If other redditors sense a promoter they will downvote you and you will lose credibility. Spend some time posting truly helpful links to the community and then politely and naturally post helpful links in comments when people ask for it. Other redditors will check your history to see what other posts you've made so as long as you have a history of non-promotion and helpfulness your post will be welcome.
14) Create and publish memes Memes have the potential to go viral. A clever meme is going to make it very easy for your audience to tag their friends in it. Posting memes on social media is probably the best way to do this. There are several free sites where you can generate memes really quickly using popular meme images.
15) Use Egobait. Write something amazing about an influencer in the hopes of developing a favorable business relationship Everyone loves being told they make great content and they are helpful. Find relevant influencers in your industry and send them a friendly and "ego stroking" email (handwritten letter if possible). Naturally bring up the product you sell and without asking for anything in return tell them you would like to gift them your product. More often then not they will make a post about your letter and product because. Why? Because influencers are always under pressure to post new original content and your letter will be exactly that opportunity for them.
16) Make contributions to Wikipedia and build credibility This tip is an incredible way to build massive authority for your site so Google ranks it higher in search results. It takes some time but it can be worth massive traffic. Create a Wikipedia account and start fixing errors on pages. Could be grammar or spelling mistakes. Even more importantly, start contributing to existing articles in topics you're familiar with - add value to Wikipedia's knowledge base. When you've contributed enough times you will have built up credit which will allow you to edit reference sources on posts that are within your industry. Start writing blog posts that support Wikipedia articles and source your store's blog as the reference. Google's algorithms are going to think "wow this site must know what it's talking about if Wikipedia is linking to it, let me raise its ranking"
17) Post for sale on Craigslist and Kijiji Posting on Kijiji and Craigslist is a great way to hack showing up first on search results. How it works: when someone searches for your product Kijiji and Craigslist have enough authority with Google to show up first. When they click on the link on the marketplace site, your product should show up on the first page on their site. The key to making sales online is to be everywhere you customers are. So that means being discoverable everywhere possible, all channels. Protip: of you buy sponsored posts on these classified sites it shows you first - definitely do this if you know there is a market for your product and if your audience is cost sensitive and looks for deals.
18) Record tutorials on Youtube YouTube is the fastest growing search engine. It's also the second most popular search engine. If you don't have one, create a YouTube channel and post tutorial videos of your product. Do an "unpacking" video, show a tutorial of how to use it properly, answer FAQs in video format as well! Anything you can think of in video form, do it, post it on YouTube and embed them where you can in your store. This will help your SEO and help make your store look more trustworthy.
19) Push your customers to leave reviews Positive reviews do your store many favors. 1. The social proof goes a long way to push a considering buyer to make their purchase. 70% of customers consult reviews before making a final purchase. 2. The content on your site helps your search engine optimization and leads to Google ranking you higher. 3. It builds trust and credibility for your business.
20) Change the names of your images to keyword phrases Change the name of your image files to the keyword phrases your customers are using to search for your product or service. Leaving the image named "IMG07382" and only changing the alt tag is not enough. This will boost your SEO and will rank your images higher in image search results. Again, what makes Google so powerful is that it does a really good job at showing searchers what they are searching for, so the more you help Google find the right thing for its users the higher it will rank you.
21) Answer people’s questions on Quora Quora has built up some great web authority. A lot of people looking for answers to their problems or questions go to Quora Answer questions people have specific to your niche and you'll drive a few visits every so often to your site. It's very easy to do and has great reach. When you find an appropriate question related to your product or service link a blog to the answer rather than just the product link. It's also a great place to do research on what questions people have so you can get ideas for new unique blog posts for our own blog (then link them back as answers to the Quota questions).
22) Product images should have white backgrounds This is a tip less about traffic and more focused on converting buyers to purchase. White background images look more professional and keep the look of your product pages consistent. There are too many online stores out there with inconsistent looking photos with different angle and even different settings. I would not trust these amateur looking product pages. You need to feature the product only. The white background images will make your store look much more professional and trustworthy. Pixc is good for this.
23) Use the same dimensions for your product images Another important product photo tip is about dimensions. Please make sure our photos are the same dimension or aspect ratio (height:width). This makes your product pages look a lot more professional - square photos are even better (white backgrounds obviously). Professionalism is very important and the consistency of our photos speaks volumes to your audience when they are decided whether to trust you with their money or not. You can use Pixc for resizing your images, Pixc is also a Shopify app that's very easy to use.
24) Popups can massively increase your email list – Experiment with them to see what works for your store I know one blog run my a close friend who gets 90% of his email subscribers from the popup. They're annoying, but they're effective. Pop ups or "lightboxes" show up on a customers screen after a little while of their scrolling. If somebody has already spent a minute on your website they're probably engaged with your content. Show them a pop up asking for their email address to send them a discount code. Email subscribers are important because you can push out new offers and even use those emails for retargeting in ads. Once you have enough you can even host webinars and live Q&A tutorials. Build a following, it gives you a lot more free marketing options!
25) Create a shipping and returns page If you call up a customer who abandoned their cart and ask them if they have any questions, I'll bet you the most frequent question they will ask is about shipping. People who are buying online want instant gratification (it's why same day shipping is so attractive). If you can't guarantee same day shipping it's important to be upfront about how long shipping will take so that at least there is a tangible number and expectation you can set. Your customer just wants to know when they can expect their package. Make it clear! Many customers who are shopping online will sometimes look for a reason NOT to buy, and not having a clear shipping timeline is enough for them to abandon. It's hard getting people to open their wallets and pull out their credit cards. Don't give them a reason not to.
26) Skype with your best customers and record the video I've said it before and I'll say it again. Reviews are crucial to building trust and developing a relationship with potential buyers. Reviews are a must for online sales. No one will trust you with their money without social proof these days. Videos are also another important content medium. Google appreciates websites with videos so it's also good for your search ranking. Put those together and you have video reviews. It's not hard, call your best customer each month (or each week if you have enough sales) and ask their permission to screen record an interview. Add it to your YouTube channel and also embed them onto a dedicated website page.
27) Put shipping details directly on the product pages But if it's actually pretty fast, you need to tell them. In addition to having a page just on Shipping on your site, add the shipping expectations on the product page itself. It's going to be on your customers mind so answer their question before they either need to ask you about it, or assume it's slow and go elsewhere.
28) Check for typos on your website. Looking unprofessional is the worst If I'm on an online store and I find a website with typos, I immediately discredit the site as amateurish. One of the most important things when you're running your online store is trust. Looking trustworthy, building trust, growing trust, maintaining trust! Typos are the fastest and easiest way to lose that trust. Zero typos and grammar mistakes mean you have zero visitors in your site questioning your credibility. People want to buy from professionals, not amateurs.
29) Create unboxing videos and link them on your product pages Unboxing videos are clips of you opening the box or package with your product. It helps your customer understand exactly what they're getting. This tip helps you two fold. 1. Search engine optimization. By creating new content that is original and unique to your site, you help Google rank you higher. Create your YouTube channel and make videos - even add the unboxing video to your video FAQ page. 2. It makes clear what your customer will be getting in the mail. When they see your package on screen it will help them visualize themselves receiving your package in the mail. Show the process of opening the shipping box, an inner package box if you have it, take out any individual pieces. If you have access to a good microphone go ahead and talk about the process, otherwise you could just overlay some brand friendly music over the video. I use the OverheadPro phone stand to make my videos. You don't need expensive equipment to do this.
30) Write a personal email to each customer If you're doing less than 20 orders per day this shouldn't be hard. Call if you can! What should you say? Personally thank them for their order, ask them if there is anything they need help with, and leave it open for them to reach out at anytime. It's important that you thank them for supporting a small business. Reaching out to customers personally is also a great way to build a relationship and get feedback about your product. If you get a good response make sure you ask for a review (remember how we talked about its importance?) or a referral to their friends.
31) Create video FAQs for your most common questions Customers buying online have almost unlimited questions. Because they can't touch the product, don't have a live person in front of them and have to consciously pay for something and put trust in a store they've never physically seen. They want their questions answered. Questions about shipping times, returns, who pays for returns, warranty, how to clean/install/assemble/fix etc etc etc. Long story short, you must have an FAQ page. And in-line with our ongoing emphasis of having video content, record your answers to questions in video form on YouTube and also embed them into your FAQ page. This will help with SEO and also help your customers put a face to your business.
32) Buy misspells of your domain This is an overlooked strategy but buying misspellings of your domain name can lead to significant new visits. If you get 10 visits per month from a misspelled domain, having 10 equals 100 new visits per month. Now if you know your conversion rate 100 extra visits can mean an extra couples sales.
33) Run a promo on a deals site You can offer sites like Groupon or other deals sites a promotion for their customers. These sites are always looking for merchants to work with. Additionally, a better idea for you if you want to stay more targeted is to reach out to blogs or other service websites that would share the same audience as you. Offer a deal exclusively for their audience and they will be happy to share it with. It's a perk for their audience for being a subscriber of their site and it makes them look good too.
34) Translate your store content to more languages I can't understate the value of this tip. You already know that English is not the first language for the majority of the worlds population. So check out some of these stats: 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their native language 72.4% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a site with info in their language 56.2% consumers said the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. Here are the top 10 languages ordered by online sales: 1. English 2. Chinese 3. Japanese 4. German 5. Russian 6. Portuguese 7. French 8. Italian 9. Spanish 10. Arabic You can use a free tool like Google Translator to get started and then hire a real translator to polish it up.
35) List on price comparison engines for more traffic List your products on price comparison websites. Many of them are free to list, out your product up there for two reasons: 1. SEO. Your product and links back to your store will help Google rank your results higher because now Google will think other popular sites like your product. 2. Because your competitors are probably already also doing it. If you don't even show up for the fight, you've lost by default. Your audience is checking out price comparison sites and you aren't even listed it's like you don't even exist. If someone is on a price comparison site looking for the product you sell, they are highly interested buyers and they will pay attention to you when making their purchasing decision.
36) Add sharing buttons to your pages and encourage visitors to share The second most weighted metric for google ranking is supposedly Facebook shares. Make your product pages easy to share. There are tones of page sharing plugins you can put in your blog and in your product pages. These plugins allow your audience to share on their social channels with one click and makes it easier for you to gain viral traffic to those pages. You probably won't get tones of shares, but even a few shares will mean potentially hundreds more impressions on your sharer's friends.
37) Subscribe to ‘HARO’ for daily free PR leads Everyone do this right now. HARO stands for "Help A Reporter Out" There are tens of thousands of journalists on HARO looking for quotes, sources and experts for their content. When you sign up and select which industry, niche, or general area you know enough about, you will get an email when a reporter is looking for your expertise. For example. Let's say you run a cake decorating supply online store. If a journalist is looking for quotes for a piece they are writing about the rise in wedding cake prices, you would be alerted to reach out and give a statement. If they select you, you and your store will be featured in the article. This is a great tip because it's free and can potentially drive tones of traffic. If the articles are for online posting (which they probably will be) it will be great for your SEO if you can get them to backlink back to your store URL.
38) Send free samples to Instagram influencers Find social media influencers in your niche and send them free samples of your product. Make sure you thank them for the content they continue to put out and offer to help them with their goals before you ask for something in return! It's not just about customer relationship development, but also developing relationships with leaders in your industry.
39) Use someone’s product and let them tell your story If you're using any apps to help you run your store (like cart abandon recovery apps, product review apps, translation apps, retargeting apps, themes, shipping apps, the list could go on forever) reach out to them for a feature. Simply write a blog post for them already with yourself as a case study. Talk about why you started your store, what your store is and what it's about, how you met challenges, and how their app resolved those challenges for you. App marketers are always looking for new original content, so serve it up for them on a silver platter. They will probably post it on their blog or newsletter and now some of their audience will be directed to your store.
40) Sponsor a ‘Thank You’ page on another site This may not be the cheapest traffic source but it could work for the right type of store. If there is a well aligned complimentary or supplementary store or service to your own niche site, consider sponsoring their "thank you" page. This page is the confirmation page customers see when they make a purchase. If they make a purchase on the store you've sponsored, your information with a link to your site would show and potentially link them to you. Another way to get a similar outcome would be to batch your product offering on the other site and recruit the site to be your affiliate and sell your goods through their store.
41) Automate the sharing of your social media posts Consistency of sharing relevant and brand friendly content is 80% of a good social media strategy. Invest some time upfront to find a few dozen articles, infographics, memes, videos, etc that fit your brand messaging and your marketing strategy.
42) When you’re starting, promote the fact you’re local Write which city you're from on your Instagram bio, Twitter bio and Facebook Page. When you're starting out it's easier to start building traction and sales in your locale because your city is more likely to support you. It will be easier for you to get customers to care if they think you're around the block. Once you start growing you can take the city off, but having it early makes your brand more relatable.
43) List your products on Etsy, be more discoverable The more places your brand and products show up online the better. These days customers don't just search one place for something. They might find your product on your store but then search for similar stuff on Etsy or Amazon too. The more places you show up the more the customer will develop a relationship and recognition of your brand and buy from you. Shopify is just one channels, but be on all channels, event Facebook Marfketplace, Ebay, Amazon, etc.
44) There’s no marketing strategy without keyword research You absolutely need to know how your audience is using search to find solutions to problems. You need to find the patterns of search keywords so that you can build your content strategy around this.
45) Add Alt tags to your images so Google knows what it’s of It's crazy how many people don't do this. Google "how and why you should use Alt Tags".
46) Meta tags tell search engines what your site is about. Optimize it. Same as above, Google "how to use Meta Tags" and you'll see why this is so important for Google to index you.
47) Edit titles and descriptions of your store and product pages Again, you need to help Google index you better. The more you help Google rank you, the better Google will actually rank you :) Funny how that works, eh?
48) Treat customers like assets, not like transactions Can't stress this enough. If the only think you do today is call a customer and say "thank you" - you're doing a good job. You will learn what your customer wants. It's 7x cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a new one.
49) Use Snip.ly to drive traffic back to your store when you share someone else’s content With Snip.ly you share that link through your social media accounts, Snip.ly will add a Call To Action to your own page. A big button at the bottom left of the page pushing your audience back to your own store. If you've done the previous tip and are posting links regularly, this is a great hack to get some traffic back to your site through one of your shares.
50) Don't be afraid to try new hacks The name of the game is experimentation. Something might work for me, but not for you. Something might work for you and not for me. The idea is as long as you keep trying new things and figuring things out, you're loving the process. And loving the process is 80% to success. I know it's super cliche, but it's SO true. It was experiments like this that drove me to achieving 10k per month for my online store. I know it's not a HUGE number like some of these "gurus" will promise you, but I'm happy with it because my margins are like 50% and so I can maintain myself because of it. And I only work like 2 hours per day.
submitted by ahmadiqbal to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

When it’s dark out...

I always wanted to live a “normal” life. You know the one. It has been fed to us for as long as I can remember; Go to school, get good grades, graduate, make money, meet life partner, marry, have a litter of kids (however you choose to obtain them), grow old, and finally die. That seems like the ideal life footprint for me. I did what I needed to, graduated, made money, met my partner, and as we were planning the next stage of our lives, things went awry.
Jesse and I met in college. Mutual interest in journalism brought us together. We were both in the same study group. We started studying together more and more, making excuses to necessitate a session at one of our apartments, until we stopped going to the group study altogether. Between all the studying, we managed to fall head over heels for each other.
After graduation, we got jobs with different online papers and were well on our way to our first Pulitzers, or so we thought. Jesse was a great political writer who could hold her own as a sports writer as well. I focused on features, which tended to focus on uncovering crimes or corruption. We were on our way.
Jesse and I lived in an apartment that was comfortable, and as the real estate agent put it, cute. It was small, but it was ours. Two tiny bedrooms, a living room that flowed straight into the kitchen. It was really perfect for our needs. We had a small television, two iMacs in the “office”, and a brand new, state of the art microwave. The kitchen had a fridge, a gas stove, and a sink. We installed a small island so we had actual counter space. Cozy would be a great way to describe our apartment.
Things seemed pretty perfect in our world. We spent most of our free time hanging out in the neighborhood bar with our friends and neighbors, drinking, eating great food, having a great time. It was there, Friday afternoon, when everything was about to change dramatically.
It was raining outside, so we were inside, missing the patio, but thankful enough to be dry. Sal hadn’t put up the umbrellas yet. He owned, managed, bartended, and occasionally cooked at the bar. We were all in love with Sal. He was late thirties, early forties, graying hair, in perfect shape (and knew it), and always overfilled our whiskeys. He was busy behind the bar that day, as the crowd was a bit larger than normal for a Friday afternoon.
There were two tvs in the bar, one always tuned to local news, the other to some obscure sports station. The sports station carried the first alert at 4:27 pm. The local news placed their alert at 4:29 pm. Jesse had been glancing at the sports station every few minutes as a lacrosse match played out, so she was the first to see the alert.
“Hey Sal, could you turn up sport? There’s something happening.” Everyone referred to the tvs by their purpose instead of placement. Since this particular tv was by the dart board, it was the sport tv, so that’s all that ever played on it.
“Uh, yeah, sure thing. Just a sec.” Sal fumbled around searching for the remote. Another patron walked to the tv and manually turned it up.
“…there and…yes, now confirming the third case. Emergency services are on the scene, we will have a crew on site shortly. “
“Again, if you’re just joining us, a state of emergency has been declared with explicit instruction to shelter in place. There appear to have been several chemical or biological attacks coordinated throughout the northern portions of the county at roughly the same time, 4:04 pm. Reports are coming in from across the area, the details still seem hazy, though one thing is consistent with them all. The affected are becoming enraged and physically attacking anything near them. It looks like the aggressor then shambles a few feet and collapses, dead.”
Jesse and I stared at the screen, mouths agape. Sal had located the remote by this time and muted the tv.
“Okay, everyone keep your cool. There may or may not be something happening outside right now, but we are indoors. We need to keep everything closed up and make sure nothing gets in here to contaminate us.”
A few of our friends started toward the bar, asking what they can do to help barricade us in, when another group of patrons went straight for the door. They threw it open and headed out, telling us it would be safer to go home. We watched them get to the end of the sidewalk and turn down my street. Then they were gone beyond the hedges.
The local affiliate was playing footage of a riot. It was in the parking lot of a big box store, looked like a target, and at least twenty people were violently attacking anything in their path. One young man, maybe around fifteen years old, was stomping on the front of a car. He managed to break a large piece free, which he then used to club a terrified little girl,(possibly his sister) in the head until she was no longer moving. This chaos was playing out all across the parking lot. Once the young man finished with her, he turned his fury on one of the deranged attackers and was soon lost in the scrum.
The anchor cut in.
“We are in as much disbelief as you concerning the situation unfolding in our city. It has been spreading fast, so please stay indoors. Shelter in place and do not attempt to drive home from wherever you are. Stay safe.”
Sal clicked the power off.
“We have some options here. I know Jesse and Mikkel live just down the street, as does Julia. If you’re within one block of here, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just run home, if you want. Any farther than that and I would recommend staying here.”
“I think we’ll just sit tight for a few minutes. Got no reason to tempt fate.” Julia and I both nodded our agreements with Jesse. We were neighbors, along with her girlfriend Eliot.
“Good call” Sal said as he walked over to the front glass.
“We need to build some sort of a barricade over the windows and block up the doors.”
Thats when everything went wrong. We sat at the bar and looked out at the street while a few people started barricading us in. I felt a little guilty for not helping, but at the same time, I knew that if I were to yield a hammer, I would cause far more harm than good.
I heard a shout, followed by the sound of shattering glass. Pieces of front door window rained down on Jesse and I. We both turned toward the sound and were met with the sight of a man strangling Eliot while trying to chew her ear off. The man attacking Eliot was no more than a hundred and twenty pounds, but Eliot was no match for his rage. I was in such a deep shock that I couldn’t move. Jesse sprang from her seat and brought a bottle of beer down on the attackers head. A shriek escaped Eliots lips, then she went down in a heap while the man on top of her kept biting and choking her. A golf club suddenly ended the mans attack.
“I’ve been waiting for these fuckers to show up.” Sal said matter of factly while holding a five iron in his hands.
Eliot was choking on blood. Her throat had been chewed and clawed apart, causing her artery to pump jets of blood onto the floor. I pressed a bar towel against the wounds and tried to slow the blood flow, but wasn’t able to stop it. She died staring up at Julia and I with a look of terror in her eyes.
The man that Sal had hit wasn’t moving. Sal swung his club once more and the mans head caved in slightly. He was dead.
Some of the other patrons were working to board the front door shut.
I didn’t see the next attack, but I definitely heard it. A fellow customer had slipped into the storage and had apparently attempted to escape through the back door. There was a sudden scream from the back and what could only be explained as a wolf or dog growling and biting into flesh. It was a completely feral sound, standing my hair on end. Now there was some sort of wild animal loose in the back of the bar.
I glanced out between the newly constructed slats on the door and saw the sunset. It was beautiful. I wanted to keep that picture in my mind and block out the last memory of a terrible day.
Sal switched the tv on and the local news was showing a new live shot of some deceased bodies in front of their studio. As we watched, the bodies started to grow course hair and their skin began to stretch into a distinctly canine shape.
They were turning into werewolves.
I’ll update as soon as I can, but I’ve been writing this on my phone while locked in a public restroom. Jesse looks like she’s almost ready to break, so I think I should focus on her for a while. She has always been so much stronger than me.
submitted by Massivepothole to nosleep [link] [comments]

World Financial Group - Be Careful of this MLM! - *Reposting with mod approval*

Background
World Financial Group is an MLM company dealing in financial instruments. The sect I came in contact with typically recruit from the Asian community. There seems to be an interest in recruiting college students and those who have recently become unemployed. After a personal investigation, I feel it appropriate to share my experience with this group. The conclusion being that members may engage in deceptive tactics to sell high-cost financial instruments with evidence that they may suppress information which attempts to expose them.
The group has gone through various name changes (WMA - World Marketing Alliance, WFG - World Financial Group, WLG - World Leadership Group). I recently dated a girl who was involved and what I discovered was a bit scary to say the least. Something was always sort of off about her (why repeatedly attempt to sell me an insurance policy when I work for a fortune 50 company???). She had been in the group for around 5 months, and became more and more obsessed with "the business" as time went on. I knew something was up and did a bit of investigation.
Regarding Income Claims
The group has been described to leverage deception and employ a cult-like environment, very similar to criticisms of Amway. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I discovered the branch manager did not own the house he claimed he paid for at a recruiting event / house party via public property and mortgage records. This may be a tactic used to draw members. If one makes themselves seem more well off than they really are by renting expensive cars and homes and they can potentially pass them off as having been earned through "the business". I have received PM's in response to this very post describing situations where the upline leases an expensive car to a new recruit. The recruit is now paying for the upline's vehicle while using the car as a symbol of proof that the business works. These types of incidents are corroborated by reports given in the xwma archives. This is often referred to as "Fake it till you make it" and has been cited as being a motto used within WFG in this thread.
The event was a bit odd for an outsider, e.g. guy evangelizing that he came from nothing and became rich and you could have a house like him if you joined the group. People taking pictures of the house and sending it to recruits, and an all round eerie vibe. One of the members mentioned he had stopped talking to his parents and dropped out of medical school in order to pursue a life in "business". If you go to another area or city with a different branch manager, you will see the same event and similar storytelling played out before you. There are many reports claiming that these "successful brokers" are actually broke (see: xwma.org reports).
Concerning false income claims, you can take a look at the FINRA disclosure for WMA (The precursor to WFG) by visiting this link and typing in 32625 for the FIRM CRD#. Next, click to view the detailed report. There are plenty of interesting allegations in there including reports of agents selling unregistered securities. The very first disclosure states a violation for "The use of ASL omitting material facts, and the use of ASL containing exaggerations, unwarranted and misleading statements". A screencap of this disclosure is available here.
If you are curious in learning more about complaints regarding WMA (the precursor to WFG) this RIPOFF report contains a vast amount of information. This is important because many of the leaders in WFG were previously aligned with WMA.
It appears to be common for recruits to produce unverifiable claims about making substantial amounts of money in WFG. For example, this individual who makes 250k and retired both of her parents and this guy who makes a million dollars.
Past Infractions with the SEC
There are many, but this one is particularly interesting: The SEC alleges that the five registered representatives, who worked for World Group Securities Inc., paid themselves high commissions on both the subprime mortgages and the securities purchases. The customers generally were of modest means, had little prior investment experience, and had little or no formal education beyond high school. Some of the investors did not speak English fluently or at all.
One of those charged, Guillermo Haro, now has his wife on the WFG stage in 2013 promoting the business opportunity.
Response
When I brought this up to my ex, I got told I was crazy and the person ceased contact. Possibly as an order from the upline and told the entire office was laughing at me. Literal solid proof that this was going on and I am untrusted then discredited to the local office. Okay, sound unbelievable still? You will notice online that negative commentary concerning members of this group are censored. Seriously, note that Google gives you omitted results when inquiring about some of these things.
Investigation of Product
I would not believe it if I hadn't experienced it myself. The company sells a variety of insurance products but it seems like the only thing I was ever pitched, and other reports confirm was the FIUL policy (Indexed Universal Life). I was told that through the FIUL I would be investing and getting life insurance. After examining the details I found that you typically pay out the whole first year to the agent who sold you the policy as commission, and the high maintenance fees plus cost of insurance have a potential to eat up any sort of "savings" the policy was supposed to retain. Take a look at this recount for what you may be pitched. Also look at this post by a fellow Redditor who claims his brother was sold a policy that looks like an IUL of sorts at the age of 24 for a reported cost of $500 / month. My recommendation, let them draw you up a policy, have them print it out, then take it to any reputable firm (specifically a CFP or Certified Financial Planner) to get the full details on what you are being sold. An ex-member informed me that many of these policies are defaulted on after 4 - 5 years resulting in potential surrender fees that leave those who default with nothing. Keep in mind, these are generally hundreds of dollars per month FIUL policies being sold to low income families. Your agent may not always have your best interest and may be misinformed (see below), so it would be wise to validate before making any decision.
According to this article from Money Magazine, up to 15% of cash-value buyers nationwide give up their policies by the second year, and Western Reserve executives say WMA's clients are "in line" with that average. Too bad: Surrendering in the first year means losing most or all of the money that you paid in. Here is another scholarly article that describes how IUL policies may be used and abused with background on how they are able to be sold with minimal licensing. Take note of the scenario described in the section titled "the Ugly", it states "While a poorly designed and poorly disclosed IUL product may perform badly for some policyholders, when it is combined with a premium finance strategy, it can produce truly ugly consequences. Premium finance involves the borrowing of funds from a bank or financial institution to pay premiums." Notice that this recount states "The last "business meeting" I went to, there was a woman giving a presentation on how to convince people to make only minimum mortgage payments, re-leverage their home in some cases, and stick all of the money in whichever one of their partners mutual funds they were pushing at the time." It may also be relevant to take a look at this Forbes article regarding Universal Life Policyholders - Retirement Disaster Looms For Universal Life Policyholders. In addition, the following quote taken from USNews.com may be useful If you are being pitched a whole life or universal life policy from any provider: "Life insurance is a tool, not an investment. With whole life/universal life insurance, you will pay a higher premium with the promise that the company will take those extra dollars and invest them for you. The problem is that this type of insurance is very expensive. The investments don’t grow because the expenses eat up your interest. In 29 years as a financial planner, I’ve yet to see whole life or universal life pay off for any client. Often, people have little to show for such policies other than the money they paid in. Whole life and universal life policies are the reasons why life insurance companies can afford big buildings and Super Bowl ads. The only time these policies make sense if you have an estate-tax problem but this is a subject beyond the scope of this post."
Criticisms of IUL
Here are some more sources. It is my opinion that even though the agents may be licensed, they usually have little if any understanding of the actual products that they are pushing, specifically in the IUL category. If you need a plain and simple explanation on how IULs may be abused, check out any of the resources below:
5 reasons why Clark Howard hates IUL
5 Reasons NOT to buy IUL
IUL a rip-off with a fancy name
Dave Ramsey NEVER recommends cash value life insurance
The returns of IUL are horrible
Lavish agent commissions
2% to 5% range when held for life
Whole Life Insurance returns of only 3 – 4%
Suze Orman on UL
For a clear explanation, Chapter 3 of "Investing for Dummies" in the section "Avoid these supposed tax saving investments"; it states: "Another investment that many salespeople love to pitch is cash value life insurance. Life insurance that combines life insurance protection with an account that has cash value is usually known as universal, whole, or variable life. Life insurance with a cash value is, at best, a mediocre way to invest money and at worst, a terrible mistake, especially if you haven't exhausted contributing money to retirement accounts."
FIUL guarantees that I will not lose my investment because returns employ a 12% ceiling alongside a 1% floor, this means I can never lose money - hypothetical
Ignoring fees, agent commission (typically 90 - 100% first year premiums), and cost of insurance, we can employ a direct analysis comparing a 12% max and 1% min return rate to actual S&P returns. From 1995 to 2014 we see that 10k invested at 12% max and 1% min would yield 45k as compared to if it were invested directly into the S&P, we would see a return of 65k. If we look at 1985 - 2014, we see that 10K would grow to approximately 90k in the IUL and 255k if directly invested in the S&P. Where do you think this difference goes? Hence the commonly given advice from legitimate financial advisers to "buy term and invest the difference". This isn't debatable, these are the actual historical return rates. Note: A 200k term policy can be had for around $21 / mo. How much are you currently paying for coverage?
Do agents pitch IUL policies in light of these facts?
If you believe this response from a self proclaimed WFG agent in this very thread to be authentic: "He could have talked to one of the bad apples out there, and we all know that there are bad apples in every single major business there is, am I right? However, he is right that the agent tried to “pitch” him the FFIUL from Transamerica. That is because it is simply one of the best products out there in our industry with good guarantees that I believed fits his financial needs."
Here is another agent's point of view, toolbocisascam sent me the following rebuttal (grammar retained) via PM: Toolboc, Stop using old information about WFG to try to discredit a great company. Just because you had a bad experience doesn't mean the whole company is bad. Everyone got in trouble when it was WMA. We are owned by Transamerica now and that kind of stuff isn't happening. One of the ladies in our office put her kid through College with a IUL. She saved 43k tax free and pulled it out when she needed it. Insurance companies make money! That is how they stay n business. IT'S A BUSINESS!! If you don't make money you close. To invest directly in the S&P 500 is a great way to loose what you invested. The IUL keeps it safe!!
Do you notice a pattern? How is it that these salesmen come off so certain about an arguably unsuitable product? What is the primary audience? According to WFG literature they claim to stand up as a financial security service for low-income families. Hmmm... It starts to look like there is some enticement with the whole showing off of houses and rented cars then coupled with misinformation regarding financial advice. I wonder if these recruits are encouraged to purchase IUL's themselves? (Every agent I ever asked told me they had one) Is this by design?
Were you pitched an IUL? Do you currently pay into an IUL?
If you make less than 250k / yr and aren't currently facing estate issues, you may want to get a second opinion. Let me guess, you were pitched by someone close to you (friend / family)?
We sell a variety of products though through various insurers, IUL is not all we sell - hypothetical
Were you told to invest in your future even though you have no dependents? Were you sold insurance policies on your children?
Of course these guys are all licensed though, so they know what they are doing better than those who aren't right?
Correct, recruits are usually licensed to sell insurance which has qualifications that vary by state, which does not require an advanced degree.
According to The Bishop Company LLC Report: Under current law, indexed products are state regulated and do not require a securities license to sell. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has fought since the 1990s to bring indexed products under federal securities oversight due to numerous consumer complaints and regulatory actions by state attorneys general regarding the products’reliance on the performance of equity indices and comparisons to directly owning equities. Despite the current federal law declaring that indexed products are not securities, the debate continues at the state level as to whether the recommendation to move client funds from securities to indexed products constitutes investment advice. Some states have adopted regulations regarding the recommendation of indexed products as substitutes for securities that can cause agents without securities licenses to lose their state insurance license if violated. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which is the self-regulatory organization that oversees all securities firms and securities licensed professionals, has also expressed concerns over inadequate disclosures of the fees and charges within indexed products. In 2012, FINRA announced that all broker-dealers must create written supervisory procedures to monitor the sales of these products by securities licensed agents. Unfortunately,this rule has no force over agents who are not securities licensed (Most agents are Insurance licensed) and thus, provides no protection to consumers that purchase products illustrated using unrealistic earnings projections. In order to fully appreciate the concerns over indexed products – and more specifically, indexed universal life – it is important to understand what the product is and how it functions.
How can agents ignore facts in the face of evidence?
There appeared to be a cult-like "us-vs-them" attitude in the group I encountered. Members were encouraged to cease contact with those who are against "the business". Within Amway this type of situation is often referred to as an "Amriff". Mention something skeptical about the business and you will be called "negative" and "arrogant". Many of the agents I encountered could be described as fanatical, see examples in many of the responses below. For example, PovertyKiller states :"You died at where we call the killing zone, or sign then die, you kept trying to find faults of the company, and your mind completely consumed it, not willing to change while you were there, feel sorry for you, that you wasted your time. and now even more time looking for uncertain facts to back you up".
Top performers are rewarded with exotic vacations, I know because my recruiter brought me along for one before I was recruited. -hypothetical
Those trips they boast about? They may not be paid for in full by the company. It may be out of your own pocket or an investment by your upline to put you in a conference. An ex-member informed me that after a trip to Tahiti he received a 1099 for $16,000.
Furthermore, we received life-changing advice on the trip that has now convinced me to devote my life to helping families out of poverty with financial services. The best part is that these events don't produce any profit, we just donate to keep them at cost. We also get access to special books that you can't buy anywhere else, of course these are sold at cost for our benefit. No one makes money off of these tools. - hypothetical
Does any of the advice received sound similar to reported advice given to Amway distributors?
Check out this internal training guide, specifically the last page that states "The Four Wheels Needed to Run Your Business". Notice some of the suggestions "Attend BIG EVENTS and BOOT CAMP trainings to learn the A-Z of your business" and "Read books, listen to CDs, attend Seminars to improve your skills".
Events, Boot Camps, Books, CDs, and Seminars. Guess what those are? Those are products... Guess who buys them? People within the organization (i.e. recruits). ... Guess who doesn't buy them? People outside the organization... Do you know what this looks like?
I'm going to stop and state it very clearly... There is nothing wrong with WFG on its own, it is perfectly legal. However, the MLM aspect may allow for a system wherein racketeer influence may abound. The issue is that this money isn't always coming from the product, it also comes from the motivational businesses. These are groups that exist solely to create a dependency on their products/seminars/conferences/tapes to ensure your success in the product front. When you book travel, it goes through an affiliate agency; this completely contradicts choice of airline etc. You will be repeatedly sold "tools" in the form of books, videos, DVDs, seminars (often in the thousands of dollars) etc. to guarantee your success. The product front will typically wrap around a high cost product that is difficult to sell on it's own. While these pay out, it is insignificant compared to the money that is made off of motivation. These "tools" may be encouraged to be purchased with cash, specifically so that the money may go unreported. Now when someone figures this out, the group wants to silence you or simply convince you of false arguments against the parent company i.e. calling it a pyramid scheme. When you mention cult-like effects, it comes from pawning a dream onto someone that is attainable through the product front which perpetuates that success is around the corner if you would just get on board with the tools. It creates an all-consuming misdirected dependency. Consider that each person that you introduce to the product front is now a recruit for the secondary tool business in addition to everything else. These seminars will have you believing that you can sell more, you will see people being rewarded for in fact selling more than others, but they will never have the success until they wake up and realize how they are being taken advantage of and do the same to others. You may be motivated into purchasing office space for expanding your business, which again makes you a recruiter for the secondary tools. Read some of the internal docs I posted, the group trains on recruiting people who have purchased your product. And consider, who these clients are. Anyone fortunate enough to be employed by a legitimate company will typically have insurance offered by the provider. Those people are not in this market, so just exactly who is? This isn't a product needed by most people, but for those who believe in the dream they sell. Now you have all this smoke and mirrors going on validating what you are doing when it may in fact be harmful.
Why would recruitment be heavily emphasized and based on "dream-selling", is it for your benefit or does it serve something else? I mean you guys love to tout that you give everyone a chance and that anyone can try their hand at this exceptional business opportunity. At the end of the day, it's almost as if being a warm body is good enough? Perhaps simply being a warm body is good enough for something... Something that exists within the organization that benefits a select few.
But it's my business! I'm an independent business owner! I am an entrepeneur! - hypothetical
Really? Are you registered as an LLC, S-Corp or other official designation? Do you own your book of business if you leave the company? Can you create advertisements without approval? If you wanted to record a meeting and post it to Youtube, would that be allowed?
Are you sure you aren't actually a contractor who pays for everything that is usually paid for by traditional companies (training, books, travel etc)while being restricted in your ability to perform independently?
Leveraging warm market and personal contacts
They ask you for 25 names when you are recruited, and may call these people using your name and relationship to leverage a recruitment or sale. The entire system being commission based and recruit focused with attention to leveraging the trust of those around you which arguably creates a system wherein racketeer influence may abound. If you found out you were sold an unsuitable policy by your friend or relative, would you turn them in?
Shortly after initial contacting from a recruiter I began receiving multiple calls from similar "business opportunities" for example one for Kangen Water filters. This corroborates reports of MLMs selling off information to other companies as lead generation.
You are negative, why was our company showcased in Forbes magazine idiot!? - hypothetical
Because an advertising space was paid for... See this rebuttal for an example of someone defending a deceptive MLM, in a Forbes article, completely unaware that the group they were defending was in fact withholding information and making false income claims (The FTC literally shut this group down after appropriate investigation was performed). Your tone and defensiveness sound very similar.
Look, we are backed by a billion dollar company, here is proof - hypothetical
Correct, WFG is backed by Aegon and Transamerica. Amway is also one of the largest companies in the world too with a backing from Alticor, but a quick search can turn up plenty of interesting stories related to their MLM. Keep in mind, while related, it is important to differentiate between a parent company and the motivational groups that may exist within.
If this type of business is so questionable, why doesn't the government shut it down? - hypothetical
See this rebuttal.
Furthermore, why would you expect the FTC to do anything?
In April 2016, a new FTC rule was supposed to protect prospective distributors by requiring companies to provide a one-page disclosure form that includes support for earnings claims, a list of previous legal actions against the firm, and its cancellation or refund policy. But the regulation, which went into effect in April, excludes multilevel marketers. Critics of the $28.5 billion industry—which also includes Avon, Herbalife, and Tupperware—say that’s because of intense lobbying. “The industry raised a firestorm of opposition to a rule that for any legitimate company would not have been too burdensome,” says Douglas Brooks, a Boston franchise attorney who says he has brought 10 class actions against MLM companies over the past 20 years. - Source
On the front line of the lobbying effort to secure an exemption were three lawyers who had previously held high-level positions at the FTC: Timothy Muris and J. Howard Beales, both working on behalf of Primerica Financial Services; and Joan Bernstein, who represents Amway’s North American unit.
Is this a conspiracy?
I have provided facts where applicable along with sources for your convenience. I can only suggest that you think and decide for yourself. Personally, I believe this is the result of intense lobbying which has allowed for questionable business practice to flourish legally which has the potential to take advantage of those misinformed as a result of outright protection from the FTC regarding full disclosure of "income opportunity" statistics.
Are agents trained to respond to objections?
Yes, and here are some of them
Family / Relationship Effects
my mom is into WFG and she goes to all the conferences. how can i get her out? i feel like she has been brainwashed.
My brother is throwing his life away
Boyfriend brainwashed by WFG
Amway addiction kills marriage
Past Exposure of questionable behavior
Fortunately, back when the group was known as WMA, up until around 2006, a group formed to expose the true nature of what goes on in the group on xwma.org (ex-WMA). It was pulled down for unknown reasons, but.... Using the Way Back Machine (an internet archive service), you can see this website as it was when it was still standing in 2006. There are accounts from past WMA and WFG employees that you will likely find shocking if you have spent any time near this group or those involved.
Take a look at the xwma.org snapshot from 2006 and for bonus material have a look at speakout section 1 - 3rd post down and speakout section 3 - Search for "The Power of ONE pissed off BITCH" . These are from the xwma.org site mentioned earlier and is only available due to being archived by the Wayback Machine. One can only speculate why xwma.org is not currently online.
The important thing to notice when going through the information above is the pattern. Again, you get allegations of rented cars, rented homes, cult-like evironment, mention of selling on Variable Universal Life policies (the name of the cash value policy being pushed at the time). It is important to note that these types of allegations are not confined to WFG but are rather common in MLM at large.
Suppression
Why haven't you heard about any of this? Because it may be suppressed. SEO appears to bring up the following. It seems like they don't want you to know is what actually happens when you invest time in the group (which likely varies in different locales), and may be why this information is so hard to find. I read that one person claimed to have lost his life savings to the group and successfully sued but was unable to describe details as part of the settlement agreement. Again, research Amway for similar recounts. For recounts that relate specifically to WFG, I recommend contacting the Zamansky law firm located in New York. They claim a specialty in investigating fraudulent and unsuitable sales of annuities and other insurance and investment products by representatives of World Group Securities, Inc. a/k/a World Financial Group (“World Group”).
Suppression is not uncommon, in fact similar tactics have been employed by the Church of Scientology as described in this recount from an ex-member. An internal message from ex-Amway VP Ken McDonald describes a strategy where it is suggested to "provide very soon, for all those who qualified Emeralds and above who want it their own personal homepage so we will have tons of positive Amway information on the web." along with "we’ve moved the positive Amway sites quite a bit up in the web search engines, and some of the negative sites down". In addition, Amway has been cited as enforcing tactics to suppress online information, going so far as to make claim that unfavorable comments actually come from rival Proctor and Gamble. See if you can notice a similarity when this WFG proponent makes the following statement in this very thread: "I'm a little disappointed that no one who is part of the business has given a real reply to this, except for the guy spazzing in caps which I'm not even convinced isn't a planted shill to make WFG look bad. I'm sure there are some legitimate concerns, but competing companies have been known to masquerade as unbiased reviewers to discredit the company. I'm looking at you, Primerica." Primerica may be seen as a rival / scapegoat to WFG as they are a similar MLM but tend to focus on selling Term life insurance policies and investing the difference. Upon initial posting of information against WFG, I experienced the following. Outside of these examples, you may find interesting modifications in the edit history on the Wikipedia Page for WFG.
Personal Attacks
As further evidence of suppression, my first post to /jobs was deleted due to the arrival of shills on my original post. Admin, appropriate-username has recognized this as a misunderstanding and given permission to repost. I think people should be aware of this. It's pretty weird to say the least. I've been harassed multiple times since posting this content. It's apparent that something about this content bothers a few individuals enough to create new accounts and attempt to discredit me with offensive remarks. I think people should know about this. In fact, I was recently assaulted while on a machine at my local gym and told to "watch my back" as the assailant fled (this may or may not be related to these events as I was not able to catch the assailant, but is worth mentioning).
Commentary on MLM
For anyone reading this thread looking to understand the bigger picture see this rebuttal, I suggest expanding the deleted comments as there are some interesting rebuttals and examples of the fanatical support from those involved. For the record, WFG is not a pyramid scheme, no matter how close it may resemble , it is not. However, the MLM structure may facilitate groups wherein racketeer influence may abound. This has been cited in various MLMs and may explain the scenario of the aforementioned CEO MD. You won't find books on this particular organization but you can find applicable information by researching MLMs in general. It is my suggestion that you can gain applicable clarity around the vagueness of the business as it is usually presented by comparing to Amway. Amway is considered the original MLM and this group falls within the classification of MLM by their own definition. Two of the more recent and telling books on Amway include Eric Sheibeler's Free e-book "Merchants of Deception" and Ruth Carter's "Amway Motivational Organizations: Behind the Smoke and Mirrors". These books can help grasp the wider mechanism of characteristics found in MLMs (specifically what are often referred to as "motivational organizations") including false income claims, deceptive recruiting tactics, information control, groupthink effects, potential financial ruin, and how the trips / conventions work. Within the first 20 pages of either of these books, you should begin to see many similarities and the light bulb will go on. There is no simple one-sentence explanation as MLM operates on a variety of levels that requires a decent bit of reading to understand. Ultimately, it is your decision to perform due diligence before pledging involvement. If you are considering involvement in any MLM under the pretense that such opportunities are highly profitable, I would recommend taking a look at THE CASE (FOR AND) AGAINST MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING: The Complete Guide to Understanding the Flaws – and Proving and Countering the Effects – of Endless Chain “Opportunity” Recruitment, or Product-based Pyramid Schemes, specifically Chapter 7: MLM’s ABYSMAL NUMBERS, which discloses an analysis of multiple MLM opportunities (WFG being mentioned). The conclusion being that regardless of product, MLM opportunities consistently favor and pay out those at the top with approximately 99% of participants losing money.
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CNR: One Year Later

24th of April 2189
Batarian Civil War Formally Concludes. Council Recognises New Batarian Government
Khar’Shan, After a year of bloodshed and a long stalemate, there is finally a clear victor in the three-way conflict that has devastated the Kite’s Nest cluster. That victor is the Harmony Pact, led by Acting President Grothan Pazness, a surprise result, which came about by, perhaps, an even more surprising cause.
Less than twenty-four hours before declaring victory, the Harmony Pact appeared doomed. Having forced Pact forces back to their last hold-out on the colony world of Camala, the Hegemony’s Home Guard Fleet was poised to destroy them. Supreme Leader Ka'hairal Balak came in person to oversee the final push against the hopelessly outgunned rebel forces, and planned orbital bombardment and land invasion of Camala itself. However, moments before battle was to commence, something incredible happened.
Eight Dreadnought Class ships, now known to have been created and controlled by the enigmatic AI known as Daedalus, arrived on the scene, and engaged the Hegemony fleet. Amazingly, not a single ship was destroyed, and not a single Batarian killed in the resulting firefight. Daedalus disabled the Home Guard Fleet’s weaponry and propulsion systems, before deploying hundreds of boarding pods filled with drones to breach their hulls. While their exact objective remains unclear, CNR has been able to confirm that after they were deployed, Daedalus broadcasted evidence to both Hegemony and Resistance forces that Balak had been colluding with Cerberus for the entire war. It seems that after that revelation, the crews if the Balak’s flagship mutinied, and when Harmony Pact soldiers boarded to arrest Balak hours later, they faced no opposition.
In the hours that followed, a ceasefire was called, Daedalus flew one of his ships to Khar’Shan so as to establish a QEC link between the homeworld and Camala (The other seven entered Camala’s atmosphere, and unconfirmed reports suggest they are repairing damage from orbital attacks, and assisting refugees evacuated from the cities). Top officials of the Hegemony’s ruling party and the Batarian Government in Exile entered negotiations about the future of the Kite’s Nest. We don't know what was said in those talks, only that eighteen hours after Daedalus’s ships appeared over Camala, Balak’s deputy, Papo Kron'manrek, appeared on state holovision to announce the end of the war, and the formal surrender of the Hegemony to the Harmony Pact.
The news was met with celebration, both on Camala, and the refugee village on the Citadel known as ‘Little Khar’Shan’. Within hours, the Citadel Council has convened an extraordinary session, and unanimously passed an emergency resolution provisionally recognising the Harmony Pact (subject to an inspections to confirm they meet all the Citadel’s requirements). They also passed a second resolution (3 votes to 1) authorising the fleet guarding the Batarian DMZ to enter the Harsa system, and start enforcing the peace agreement, and Citadel law, as well as to provide what aid they can to civilians.
Grothan Pazness had this to say to the to the press of the Galaxy: “Today is a great day, one which shall be marked forever in Batarian history as the day the Hegemony died, its reign of fear and blood ended once and for all, with the help of our benefactor, Daedalus, to whom we all owe a great debt. Here on Camala the people celebrate, and so they should. But when the celebration is over, our real work must begin. Our work to rebuild our broken planets, reunite our scattered people, and form a better Batarian state, to govern its citizens by consent, not terror. Thank you.”
After making that statement, the acting President boarded a ship to Khar’Shan, there to form accept the Hegemony’s surrender in person and form a provisional government. He is set to arrive in the next hour. For live coverage of that, and updates on the activities of Daedalus in the cluster, stay right here with CNR.
1st of May 2189
Spectres Arrest Hundreds of Alleged Cerberus Agents Across the Galaxy.
The Citadel, Over the last seven days, law enforcement agencies across Citadel space have collaborated under the direction of the Council Spectres to arrest over three-hundred people, and seize billions of credits worth of assets, all alleged to have been backing the human supremacist terrorist organisation known as Cerberus. The arrests began almost immediately after the apparent destruction of the group’s base in the Schwarzschild system, and apparent death of their leader (Known as The Prophet) on the 23rd of April. The Spectres’ official name for the effort is Operation Tabula Rasa. Colloquially, however, some enforcers have reportedly dubbed it Operation Roundup. Many of those arrested are wealthy, prominent figures in finance, industry, and science throughout human, and Citadel space.
In a press conference at Spectre HQ, Spectre Jondum Bau had this to say: “Shortly before the initiation of Operation Tabula Rasa, a Spectre agent received a great deal of actionable intelligence from a source within Cerberus. This source identified many individuals within the organisation, as well as its external backers, ranging from financiers, to manufacturers of their equipment. The source also identified shell companies, assets, facilities and accomplices, both knowing and unknowing. Once the Spectres had this intelligence, we organised both amongst ourselves, and with the law enforcers and militaries of the Citadel’s various member governments, to apprehend these individuals, organisations and assets, before Cerberus could scatter and reorganise themselves as they did in the final days of the Reaper War. We are able to divulge this now because, as of this morning, all Cerberus agents and assets identified by our source are in Citadel custody or possession. Operation Tabula Rasa has been an unqualified success. As I speak, my fellow Spectres and C-Sec investigators are examining all collected evidence, cataloguing the many crimes of this heinous organisation, and making preparations for those now in custody to be brought to trial, and their crimes laid bare before the Galactic community.”
When CNR’s own own Vienthny T’Zeci asked the nature of this intelligence source, Bau replied: “We cannot divulge that at present. Rest assured, it will be made public when the first of our suspects is brought to trial.”
Among the prominent figures arrested are human businessmen Jin Hatsumoto and Marshall Brody, Westerlund News reporter (Under what is now known to be the assumed name) Mercedes Rodriguez, Illium hedge fund manager, Po’Vanir, and Terminus pirate leader, Jeanine Dalantoss, apprehended by a tactical raid on her home on Omega.
The Citadel has confirmed at least three-hundred and eighty arrests so far, and it is possible more will follow as those in custody are interrogated. It remains to be seen whether the Spectres’ source is quite as comprehensive as they believe, but if it is, then humanity, and the Galactic Community at large may finally have seen the last of Cerberus, and be able to close this troubled chapter of galactic history.
7th of June 2189
Volus Startup Announces Breakthrough in Biotic Implant Technology
Nos Astra, Illium, Tasale Biotic Innovations, an Illium-based tech startup established in 2185, has announced a technological breakthrough that's sending ripples through the field of Biotic technology and engineering. It's a new type of neural interface which researchers believe may be able to deliver superior output, and faster use of Biotic abilities, without the medically detrimental side effects usually associated with such efficiency.
The “Great Wind” (The patented name for the new system), has Biotic implants use nanites as a delivery vector for an Element Zero enthused chemical compound designed to slightly alter the subjects nervous system, both to improve the system’s own management of Eezo/Dark Energy, and to integrate the implant into the system thus, supposedly, circumventing the issue of BIRS (Biotic Implant Rejection Syndrome) that has, in the past, caused serious medical complications for Biotics with powerful implants (such as the L2 Implant for humans).
“BIRS has always been the main hindrance to non-asari biotics,” said Niftu Cal in an interview with CNR. “No other sapient species seem to have the asari’s innate aptitude to deploy they're biotics so efficiently without seriously harming the nervous system. For decades science has been trying to create a powerful implant that integrates seamlessly with the subject’s nervous system, without success. The principle of Great Wind is simple: Adapt the subject to the implant, not the other way around. With this, any biotic, of any species, could be a veritable Biotic G...um...Expert. Biotic Expert.”
When asked about the availability of the new system, he answered: “We currently consider Great Wind complete, and will be submitting it for review by the medical associations of various Citadel Governments shortly. Once it has been approved, we'll start licensing it to implant manufacturers. How long a process like this can take is hard to predict, but we hope implants using the Great Wind system will be commercially available in the next few years. We’ll also be licensing out the nanite delivery system for other purposes. Our main interest is biotics, but the same technology could have applications for treatment of neurological diseases, and general enhancement of the nervous system.”
Prior to founding Tasale Biotic Innovations, Cal was a wealthy Illium-based merchant. 4 years ago, he sold his shares in his company, and spent that many (as well as most of his personal wealth) on a number of state-of-the-art laboratories, and a team of top scientists in the fields of biotic neuro-science and engineering. We spoke to the head of that team, Doctor Lysa T'goze.
“Being given a fantastic lab, a team of like minded people, a lot of research freedom and a chance to make a real difference in the Galaxy was great, but honestly, what attracted me to the company was Niftu himself. The man has a real passion for Biotics, and a lot of energy, it's contagious, and rare in commercial science. Even more rare, is that he isn't even a Biotic himself. He sometimes mentions an experience he had that ‘woke’ his love of Biotics, but never goes into detail.
What effects might this new technology have for Biotics the Galaxy over? Stay with CNR, to find out.
18th of July 2189
Krogan Clans Announce Formation of a Unified Military Council.
Bolt City, Tuchanka, Krogan inter-clan militarism has been a fact of life on Tuchanka for the entire industrialised history of the krogan species. It has, however, unusually taken the form of individual clan armies to fight inter-clan wars. Only in the three conflicts have a majority of krogan clans unified their strengths, and then, only to fight a specific common enemy. Indeed, ever since the terms imposed by the Citadel at the end of the Krogan Rebellions forbade them from maintaining a space-navy most krogan leaders considered large scale cooperation a fool’s errand. Even if the krogan were to form a collective army, they couldn't take them off Tuchanka. Now, however, all that looks set to change.
As the Council, in recognition of krogan service in the Reaper War, continues to relax and repeal sanctions against them, including loosening the restrictions their freedom to keep a space-navy, many krogan clans have begun to see the potential in military cooperation. To this end, Clan Urdnot called a summit of thirty-one militarily prominent krogan clans. Today, at the conclusion of that summit, a press conference was held to inform the Galaxy what has been agreed. Urdnot Wrex, chief of Clan Urdnot, spoke at that conference:
“Today, twenty-four of the clans at this summit agreed to form the Krogan Unified Military Council, on which we will all have representation. Other clans may join at any time, if they agree to the rules. The council will have three purposes: Firstly, to make sure no clan is more militarised that they're allowed to be, either by Citadel law, or by inter-clan agreements. Secondly, to coordinate the collective defence of Tuchanka and her allies, when necessary. Thirdly, to end clan wars quickly, and deter future ones. The KUMC will intervene in any new clan wars started on Tuchanka. We will intervene against the aggressor. So, anyone out there thinking of shooting up their neighbour’s clan fort over an old blood-feud, perceived wrong, or anything else equally stupid, can chew on that.”
At the summit to endorse the new council was war hero Urdnot Grunt, making his first public appearance since three months ago, when he sustained a severe injury stopping Cerberus terrorists from releasing a deadly strain of nanites into Tuchanka’s atmosphere. The act cemented his position as perhaps the most respected warrior on Tuchanka. Some experts have speculated his endorsement may be the main reason so many clans agreed to this initiative. The Aralakh Company leader now sports a cybernetic right eye, and a deep scar on his headplate. When CNR spoke to him, he had this to say:
“Miss this lying in a hospital bed because of some fancy grey goo? Hehehe...No. I didn't beat the Reapers for that. Besides, I'm not the only one-eyed badass to get out of hospital this week. Wouldn't wanna be shown up.”
That last remark may have been a reference to ‘Cassandra’ (False name to protect her anonymity), a witness in the trial of Brenton Hanze. Cassandra was the victim of an assassination attempt three months ago, and was recently confirmed to have been discharged from hospital.
8th of August 2189
Extranet Leaks Reveal Troubling Information About Yahg Homeworld, Parnack
Presidium, Citadel, Earlier this week, a number of reports and internal memos from the Citadel Committee for Pre-Spaceflight Xeno-Sociology were leaked onto the Extranet. Thousands of campaigners, transparency activists and curious individuals began examining the leaked files’ and dissemination information (and misinformation) about their content. Nothing, however, has provoked as much of a reaction from the general public as a five month old report from an observation team taking extra-atmospheric readings of the planet Parnack, home to the Yahg species. Parnack has been under official quarantine ever since the Citadel’s initial contact attempt with the Yahg ended with unprovoked violence. Five months ago, the observation team detected a series of anomalous Dark Energy fluctuations on Parnack’s surface, implying that the Yahg may have discovered, and begun to experiment with Element Zero.
The revelation provoked uproar here on the Citadel. Thousands of protesters assembled on the Presidium today, demanding answers from the council about their plan of action. The protest’s main organiser, Lutus Dardanion, spoke to reporters:
“The Yahg are a species so predatory and aggressive they got their planet quarantined. If they achieve FTL spaceflight, it could make the Krogan Rebellions look like a picnic. They're also highly intelligent, and quick learners, so if they've discovered Eezo, they could be FTL capable faster than any of us can predict. The Council has known about this for months, and not only have they not deigned to share knowledge of this clear and present danger with the public, but they have not yet been seen to prepare any kind of strategy to neutralise this threat if it becomes more than a hypothetical. If they have such a plan, we have a right to know it. And if they don't, then what the [EXPLETIVE CENSORED] have they been doing for five months?” When asked about the security risks of sharing the details of such a strategy, Dardanion answered: “What are any of us going to do? What is anyone going to do? Go leak it to the Yahg? That argument just doesn't work when the enemy is a pre-Spaceflight species known for killing aliens on sight.”
In a press release addressing the protesters’ concerns, the Council had this to say: “The Citadel Council presently has no comment on the content of any of the classified documents illegally leaked in recent days. We do, however, wish to restate that our policy is now, and has always been, to keep sensitive military information, especially that which pertains to strategy, classified on a need-to-know basis. Any further information regarding the situation on Parnack will be made public if and when the situation is no longer sensitive, or the public needs to know.”
CNR will be staying with this story, as it develops.
7th of September 2189
Brenton Hanze Found Guilty, Sentenced to Life in Prison.
Geneva, Earth, The high-profile trial of disgraced former Verizoni CEO, Brenton Hanze, came to an end today, when the fifteen justices of the Systems Alliance High Court returned a unanimous verdict. They found Hanze guilty of embezzlement, illegal nanotechnology research, fraud, a variety of interplanetary and interstellar treaty violations, sixty-three counts of contract murder and conspiracy to murder, and conspiracy to commit genocide. The only crime of which Hanze was charged and not convicted was treason, for which he could have been put to death. His defence successfully argued that as Cerberus (The organisation with which he conspired) were not a state or government, and were not technically at war with the Alliance at the time, Hanze’s crimes did not meet the Alliance’s definition of treason. It was, however, a pyrrhic victory.
For conspiracy to commit genocide alone, the Court sentenced Hanze to life in prison, without the possibility of early release (This makes Hanze only the fourth person since the foundation of the Alliance to receive a whole-life sentence from a human court), and various other sentences for the other crimes, to be served concurrently. The former CEO broke down in tears as the sentence was read out.
The verdict and sentence was met with cheers from the activists gathered outside the courthouse. A banner that reads “Justice Served!” was held up by a line of ecstatic humans and krogan.
“I'm just sorry they’re not fryin’ him.” one krogan demonstrator told CNR. “Still, he’ll never see the sun again. I won't argue with that result.”
“I'm so happy about this, not just that it happened, but the way it happened.” said Lucia Venning, a law student at the local university, attending the event. “It wasn't mob justice or soldiers with guns that took Hanze down, and it wasn't an alien court either, it was humans charging, prosecuting, and punishing our own. Commander Shepard showed the people of the Galaxy humans can fight, Caesar Mayhew just showed them we can think, and act justly.”
We spoke to prosecutor Caesar Mayhew on his way out of court: “Today is a great day for humanity and our friends throughout the Galaxy. At the beginning of this trial, I said it was my prayer that we could satisfy both our own expectations of justice as well as those of our non-human compatriots, and I believe we have done just that. Brenton Hanze will spend the rest of his life in prison for his monstrous crimes, and we, the citizens of the galaxy, can move on to a brighter future in friendship and cooperation, leaving the xenophobic, murderous ilk of Hanze and his Cerberus co-conspirators consigned to the past.”
When asked if he planned to play a role in prosecuting any of the other alleged Cerberus affiliates arrested during Operation Tabula Rasa, Mayhew answered: “No, I think I'm finished with prosecution for the time being. I’ll leave the other Cerberus criminals in the capable hands of the Citadel’s many skilled prosecutors. I'm going to resume my position at the Redevelopment Foundation. I've already accepted an assignment on Khar’Shan.”
Benton Hanze left the courthouse on a shuttle back to Basel-Stadt High Security Prison, where he is to spend the rest of his life, allowing humanity, and the krogan, long awaited closure on his harrowing crimes.
17th of October 2189
Ka'hairal Balak Commits Suicide in Custody
Kra’Datar, Khar’Shan, Deposed dictator of the now dissolved Batarian Hegemony, Ka’hairal Balak was found dead in his prison cell, in the Khar’Shan capital, Kra’Datar, early this morning. An autopsy determined the cause of death to have been poison. The chemical found in his system, colloquially known as Blight used to be issued in capsules to Hegemony agents with suicide on capture instructions. Batarian authorities have said they are treating the death as a suicide, and are investigating how the capsule got into Balak’s possession.
Balak’s death means the end of months of debate in the new regime. Ever since his arrest six months ago, the question of his fate has hung over acting President Grothan Pazness, with some members of his provisional government favouring a military judicial process, and others believing Balak should be handed over to the Citadel to be tried for crimes against sentients. Recently, these factions have rallied behind defence secretary, Bogan Fef, and special advisor from the Intersentient Galactic Redevelopment Foundation, Caesar Mayhew, respectively.
Bogan Fef was the Harmony Pact’s fleet admiral during the war, and directed the desperate battle against the Home Guard Fleet in its final days. She argued that, because Balak was a military official prior to becoming dictator, he may have still been subject to military law, and could have been tried by a military tribunal. In a recent address to the provisional cabinet, she said: “Setting up a civilian judicial system takes time we don't have. Balak needs to be dealt with, his victims deserve justice….do you know what will happen if we hand him over to the Citadel? He’ll use the public trial as an opportunity to grandstand his ideas, to present himself as as statesman, a victim of injustice, and no matter how careful we are, some will believe it. There's enough public wariness about rejoining the Citadel already without giving the Balak loyalists ammunition.”
Caesar Mayhew is a human lawyer who earned galactic fame for prosecuting and convicting Cerberus conspirator, Brenton Hanze earlier this year. Now back with his non-profit the Intersentient Galactic Redevelopment Foundation, Mayhew is the head of a team of lawyers helping the Provisional Government set up the new Batarian legal system, and draft a constitution. Mayhew has argued passionately for Balak to stand trial on the Citadel. At a recent speech a dinner at Government House (formerly the Leader’s Palace), he said: “Yes, it's true, Balak does need to be addressed soon, and the legal system is not yet equipped for it, but the solution to that isn't to give him a show-trial before a kangaroo court and then execute him. The Citadel has a dedicated court for trying war criminals. They are equipped to handle this. And yes, he probably will use it as an opportunity for theatrics and distortion. I'm sorry, that's the chance you have to take. That's the rule of laws. It's not a violation of sovereignty to let the galactic community enforce galactic laws, it's an acknowledgement of your membership in that community, and an affirmation of the values of democracy, openness, and rule of law for which you fought.”
Both have their supporters within the provisional government, and Batarian public. Acting President Pazness has been non-committal about his choice, and now, doesn't need to make it. This turn of events is embarrassing for the head of state, both because he won't be able to bring Balak to trial (something he once said would be a ‘landmark moment for Batarian justice’), and because it makes him look slow, indecisive and potentially weak, in front of a public that has known nothing but strong-man dictators in living memory.
7th of November 2189
Alliance Parliamentary Election Results Are In. Unity Party, Led By Jack Westerfield, Are The Largest Party.
Geneva, Earth, The Unity Party have won the largest number of seats in the Systems Alliance Parliamentary elections, taking 631 of the 1,280 seats, and making it most likely that Jack Westerfield will be the next Prime Minister of the Systems Alliance, at the head of a coalition government. The second largest party is the Conservative Alliance, led by Jacque Champouest, with 433 seats. 41 seats went to the Terra Firma Party, 34 to the Liberal Democratic Front, 31 to the Civic National Party, 30 to the Socialist Workers Union and 80 to various minor parties and a handful of independent candidates. The Unity Party are 10 seats short of the majority they need, and have already announced that they are in talks with the Liberals and Socialists, and are optimistic about quickly reaching a coalition deal.
It has been a long and bitter campaign, which put two irreconcilable visions of humanity's future head to head. Jack Westerfield, former governor of the Texan Megalopolis, has championed closer diplomatic ties between Earth and her galactic neighbours, calling for more involvement in the Citadel, and multi-species cooperation against mutual threats of poverty, and interstellar crime. His main opponent Jacque Champouest, has made the case that too much involvement in the galaxy at large erodes human sovereignty, makes it harder to concentrate on domestic issues, and could rope the Alliance into conflicts it has no interest is. “We need to fight our own battles, not the whole Galaxy's” he said in an Extranet advertisement. The Conservative campaign drew particular attention to Westerfield’s support for Citadel intervention in the Batarian Civil War.
At the beginning of 2189, it was a close fought thing, with Champouest a narrow favourite, benefiting from growing public concerns about military entanglement in the Kite’s Nest. Two things saw the Unity Party pull ahead: The end of the Batarian Civil War, allaying the fears many voters had of interventionism, and the verdict of the Brenton Hanze trial. More specifically, Jacque Champouest’s perceived reluctance to condemn Hanze, even after the result.
“I think it's practically a certainty that Jack Westerfield will be our Prime Minister tomorrow” Said CNR’s political editor, Alissa Layson. “He’s 10 seats short of a majority, the Liberals and Socialists are both in a position to play kingmaker here and, for all their differences, with each other, and with Unity, they have one thing in common: Neither one wants Jacque Champoues or Charles Saracino anywhere near government. One of them will make a deal.”
16th of December 2189
Asari and Salarian Governments Under Pressure Over Extranet Leaks.
The Citadel, Two days ago, a Citadel based group known as the Wild Seven released an enormous amount of data onto the Extranet. The data, they claim, was obtained by hacking the records of the Salarian Union's STG, the Asari Republic’s Ministry of Science, the Systems Alliance Navy and more. A small army of amateur transparency activists and interested parties rushed to examine the content of the leaks. What they found has led three thousand people to march on the Presidium in protest today.
The STG leaks show that the group has been abducting and experimenting on members of the pre-FTL species, the Yahg, for a number of years. They also contain what are allegedly the minutes of several meetings between the organisation’s leadership during the Reaper War, in which they openly discuss the timing, logistics and applications of uplifting the Yahg. The response to this revelation by the general public has been overwhelmingly negative, often angrily so. “Have they learned nothing from the Krogan Rebellions?” Asked one protestor who spoke to CNR. “Uplifting species who aren't ready for it is never a good idea. The STG know it too or they wouldn't have been so secretive about it.”
The Asari Ministry of Science leaks contained another startling revelation: The Asari government have allegedly known about a Prothean Beacon in the Temple of Athame for the entire spacefaring history of the Asari species, and that a number of their most important technological developments in biotics, FTL technology, computing and bio-engineering came from secretly reverse engineering this beacon. Concealment of Prothean technology for the purposes of gaining a technological advantage over other species or nations is strictly prohibited by one of the Citadel’s oldest laws. In fact, it was Matriarch Amlina herself who proposed the measure on the first Citadel Council. The protestors here today are demanding to know the full history of Prothean technology in Asari science, and some are calling for Matriarchs who knew about the beacon to face criminal charges. “They knew about this beacon for millennia and didn't tell anyone until the Reaper War.” Said a protestor to CNR. “Worse, they didn't tell Commander Shepard until we were losing the Reaper War. How many lives could have been saved if they hadn't kept this to themselves. This needs to be looked into.”
The Ministry of Science has yet to make any comment on the leaks, other than that they are illegal, and that the responsible parties will be found and prosecuted. Director Kirrahe of the STG said this at a short press conference yesterday:
“I am able to confirm that during the Reaper War, STG leadership did consider uplifting the Yahg, and, to that end, conducted experiments on several live specimens. Context is important here, we were faced with an existential threat, as were all the spacefaring species of this Galaxy. Extreme measures, measures unthinkable under other circumstances, were considered by the Salarian Union, and our Galactic neighbours. When I became Director after the war, my third official act on my first day was to terminate the programme. The Citadel is welcome to inspect the facility where Yahg were held to confirm that the programme has been discontinued.”
Activists are continuing to examine the content of the leaks, convinced there are more revelations to be found. Whether they're right or wrong, CNR will stay with this story as it develops.
27th of January 2190
Delegates From Governments Across the Galaxy Arrive on Asgard
Valhalla, Asgard, Representatives from over fifty governments, ranging in size from single independent colonies to inter-species coalitions, arrived today on Asgard, the world terraformed by the mysterious, powerful artificial intelligence known as Daedalus. The summit has been arranged by Daedalus to discuss his technology and resources with the galaxy's various interested parties, and arrange terms on which they may be shared and used. The visitors were welcomed to Valhalla’s extensive spaceport, both by Daedalus himself in his constructed organic body, and several hundred synthetic proxies, to welcome each delegation in turn and provide transport to the city's central tower where the summit is now taking place.
No press access has been granted to the summit itself, but in a brief comment to CNR’s correspondent attached to the Citadel delegation, Daedalus had this to say: “I hope that this is a productive few days, and that by the end of it, we can trust each other a little better, and help each other overcome the challenges that face us all.”
While most representatives at the summit are diplomats and scientists, there are notable exceptions. Both the Batarian Government, and the Krogan coalition led by Clan Urdnot, have sent their heads of state (Acting President Pazness and Chief Urdnot Wrex respectively). In the case of the Batarians, this is likely a gesture of gratitude for Daedalus’s timely intervention in their recent civil war, and subsequent help repairing atmospheric damage, and providing aid to endangered civilians on the planet Camala. In the case of the Krogan, Urdnot Wrex has stated his purpose there is to petition Daedalus for help reconstructing Tuchanka’s atmosphere and ecosystem, both damaged long ago by nuclear war, and orbital bombardment during the Krogan Rebellions.
Other governments have expressed interests ranging from quick terraforming of barren worlds in their home systems, to unlocking the elusive secrets of Zha'til computing. Daedalus has placed only once red line on the summit: He will not be sharing any of his advances in offensive weapons technology.
The conference is set to last for three days, but may last longer if negotiations require it. If all goes well, Daedalus’s Zha'til technology could have a major impact on the galaxy in the coming years.
24th of February 2190
Aria T’Loak Clamps Down on Unrest on Omega
Omega, “Don't [CENSORED] with Aria.” Those are the words that have defined life on this station since the pirate queen took power nearly three hundred years ago. Aria T’Loak has been the only unchallengeable power on a station of waring paramilitary groups for centuries, both through her impressive martial strength, and firmly entrenched cult of personality, and personal legend. “Aria is Omega” is a common expression on the station, and until recently, few would have disputed it. That changed in the past few months, as Aria’s organisation has been the target of a series of coordinated attacks by a mysterious figure calling himself “The Phoenix.”
The Phoenix’s campaign on Omega has included assassination of several of Aria’s lieutenants, thefts of her ships and competition with her organisation in the trade of red sand and weapons. This culminated in a public spectacle yesterday, when a freighter ship carrying Avenger rifles was hijacked from Aria’s crew as it entered the Sahrabarik system. Rather than docking in one of Aria’s ports, the ship flew low over the commercial district, dropping it's cargo as time went. The Phoenix’s distinctive symbol was maked on the side, along with the words “Better Luck Next Time, Babs -TP” in several languages common on Omega.
Today, Aria responded: Her gang entered the commercial district in force, and began a systematic search. They retrieved whatever guns from the stolen shipment were still in the area, and made examples of merchants found to have been selling them (Usually beatings, though there have been at least two confirmed instances of shootings). The enforcers also claimed all outstanding protection payments, and detained a number of locals suspected of affliction with The Phoenix. The message is unambiguous: Omega’s one rule is still in full effect. But some are interpreting this visible clampdown as a act of desperation. A local mercenary who asked to remain anonymous, had this to say:
“This ain't usually Aria’s style. Blow up a depot or ventilate a rival, sure, but putting a whole district under martial law? That's not normal Aria. That's scared Aria. She won't admit it, neither will any of her goons, but The Phoenix’s got her running scared.”
What does this mean for the future of Omega? Is Aria’s grip on the station at risk, or as strong as ever? Who is the mysterious Phoenix, and what will he do next? More on this, as it develops, with CNR.
26th of March 2190
Batarian Constitution Finalised, Ready for Referendum
Kra’Datar, Khar’Shan, After almost a year of preparation, the Batarian Provisional Government has what it hopes to be the final draft of of the constitution for their new nation, to be known as The Batarian Republic. The document was written by members of the Provisional Government, Batarian political philosophers and Sapient Rights activists returning from exile, and advised on by an inter-species team of lawyers from Intersentient Galactic Redevelopment Foundation. This draft of the document consists of twenty-three articles. It includes the structure of the legislature (A senate of one-thousand-five-hundred, elected every four years), the executive (A president, elected every four years, midway through each senate term), and, in a first for Batarian spacefaring history, an independent judiciary with the power to judge the constitutionality of actions by the other two branches. Finally, the document includes a bill of rights, including freedom of expression, association, privacy, guaranteed voting rights in elections and referendums for all Batarians over twenty years of age, and various rights of the accused and prisoners, unheard of in the old Hegemony’s justice system.
The document is, however, not without its controversial elements. Political philosopher, Karag Dar'keprak, a long time exile from the Hegemony who worked on the constitution, says he is unhappy with this final draft, and will urge citizens to vote it down when it comes up for referendum. He says it puts too much power power in the hands of the President, and contains no method of holding the executive to account for wrongdoing.
“I have nothing but respect for Grothan Pazness for leading us in the war,” Dar’keprak told CNR, “But this constitution has several unacceptable elements, clearly meant to shield him from future accountability, both democratic and legal. For example, there is no process for Presidential Impeachment. Myself and Caesar Mayhew both fought for the inclusion of such a process, but Pazness opposed us at every turn. Article 19, at Pazness’s insistence, also guarantees all previous presidents and acting presidents, which at the moment means Pazness alone, a Senate seat for life. I can't, in good conscience, help make this document the cornerstone of Batarian democracy. I’ll campaign against it in the referendum, and if I lose, I'll challenge Pazness for the presidency, running on a platform of constitutional reform and executive accountability.”
The referendum on the constitution is set to take place in three months time, as both its proponents and its critics prepare to begin campaigns. This will be the first time time in the Batarian people's spacefaring history they will have been allowed a free, fair vote with universal suffrage, and they will be deciding an issue that could forever change the political face of the Kite’s Nest.
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