United Airlines Attempts to Avoid a PR Mess

United Continental Holdings Inc., the Chicago-based airline has become the airline that has the most controversial issues for some time now. Perhaps you have heard about the David Dao incident. The passenger was physically coerced into leaving the flight because of a mistake made by the airline. They overbooked the flight, leaving no available seat for a customer who had already paid for his seat. That was not the worst part. Dr. David Dao had suffered from a severe concussion in addition to losing a couple of his teeth as well as a broken nose from the violence asserted by the airline employees. Put aside the fact that he was a paying customer like everyone else and deserves to be treated like one. No human being should ever be treated like this, especially a senior citizen.

Truth be told, United Airlines’ awful customer service actually began ten years ago.

There is a song with over 17 million views titled, United Breaks Guitars, by Dave Carroll, a Canadian musician. As the name suggests, Carroll’s guitar was broken by the United Airlines’ baggage handlers. That was not the main problem. It is the fact that they adamantly refused to take responsibility for breaking the singer-songwriter’s $3,500 guitar. Even in the Dr. Dao’s incident, Oscar Munoz, CEO of the United Airlines had criticized the passenger instead of taking responsibility. He did not actually apologize to Dr. Dao until the third statement of apology was issued in response to the controversy.

As a result of this incident, another passenger, Shirley Yamauchi was afraid to stand her ground and became yet another victim of United Airlines. This incident occurred three months after Dr. Dao’s incident. Yamauchi was on a United flight along with her two-year-old toddler. She lawfully purchased two tickets, one for herself and one for her son. However, another passenger showed up with a ticket for her son’s seat, which means that United has once again overbooked the flight. The other passenger proceeded to take his seat, so Yamauchi sought for help from a flight attendant. Like every incident United has had, the employee did not stand by her. In fact, she was told that the flight was full and that there was nothing they could do. In the end, Yamauchi had to place her son on her lap throughout the course of the flight. This was reported by Hawaii News Now.

Within the same month of Dr. Dao’s incident, there were three other unpleasant episodes. First, Lucie Bahetoukilae, a French passenger who had a ticket to fly home, was placed on the wrong plane and sent to San Francisco instead, as reported by WABC. It is understandable for slight miscommunications to occur for the reason that the passenger only spoke French. However, the employee that scanned her boarding pass and the employee who seated her both had the chance to look at her ticket. That was part of their job. What were they doing?

Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell were two people in love who were flying to Costa Rica to get married. Nonetheless, their day was ruined by the United Airlines, as usual. KHOU reported that when they approached their seats on the plane, they found another passenger who was laid across the seats, fast asleep. Hence, they took a seat in the empty seats nearby. When the flight attendant approached them, the couple openly admitted that they were not in their assigned seats – for a reason – and were willing to pay the additional fee as they were seated at the economy plus spots. Following the instructions of the flight attendant, they returned to their original seats with no problem. Here’s the strange part: a U.S. Marshall came on board and kicked them off the plane. Still, the couple did as they were told with no commotion. On the following Saturday, the airline issued a statement that criticized the couple saying that they “wouldn’t follow crew instructions”. If they did not, would they have gotten off the plane? Wouldn’t they have ended up like Dr. Dao?

The third incident involves Simon, the son of the world’s largest rabbit. Simon was three-foot-long and was anticipated to grow even bigger. According to PEOPLE magazine, a group in Iowa had purchased the enormous continental rabbit for fundraising purposes. Needless to say, the darling creature was found dead when the United flight landed. Guy R. Cook is the attorney who represented the group in Iowa in this proceeding. Based on Cook’s letter to PEOPLE magazine, the airline proceeded to cremate the rabbit’s carcass without permission or instructions from Simon’s owner.

Earlier in that year, Kathleen Considine, the owner of Jacob the golden retriever voiced her complaint about United Airlines through Facebook. After being in United PetSafe program, Jacob was returned to Considine in a distressed condition and subsequently passed away soon after. In a report by WDIV, the airline reiterated the safety and comfort of pets in their PetSafe program – so was Simon the rabbit.

On Monday night, Kokito, a ten-month-old French Pitbull that was placed in a pet carrier passed away after being in the overhead compartment for a three and a half hours long flight. Initially placed under the seats, a flight attendant persistently told the passenger to stow it in the overhead bins. Then, the spokeswoman of the airline came out to justify their mistake by saying that the flight attendant was not aware of the presence of Kokito. Several passengers on board have contradicted this statement as they mentioned that the sound of the dog barking was a clear indication.

Earlier this week, United Airlines has, once again, made a mistake.

Irgo the German Shepherd was scheduled to fly back to Kansas City on a United flight while a Great Dane in the United’s care was bound for Tokyo. However, there was a mix-up within the airline and the two dogs were sent to the wrong locations. Irgo arrived at Tokyo while the Great Dane was sent to Missouri.

Learning from previous mistakes, the United Airlines immediately transported Irgo back to Kansas City, Missouri with a private jet.

UPDATE: Irgo should be arriving about 7:30pm CT at the Wichita airport. He is being flown by private charter, and being treated like the king he is!!! I will update you all when I get my baby back!!

Posted by Kara Swindle on Thursday, March 15, 2018

While we are glad that Irgo is receiving the proper care and treatment, the conscientious approach taken by the airline is ostensible. “It is pennies to try to stop that news,” says Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group. He insinuated that though the cost of chartering a private jet may be high, it was a trifling price to pay in order to avoid further controversy, especially because the most recent case of Kokito was less than a week ago.

United Airlines time and time again raised commotions because of their own mistakes and more often than not, they have refused to take responsibility for it. Now, they are taking extreme measures just for the sake of maintaining their reputation. They see these problems and treat them from the standpoint of public relations. The truth is that these are matters concerning life and death.

A statement from the letter written by Cook, the attorney in Simon the rabbit incident, to PEOPLE magazine rightfully concluded the problem with United Continental Holdings Inc.:

“The importance of Simon’s death goes beyond the life of a single rabbit, it reflects an attitude of United Airlines that lacks basic decency and respect for the people and the property it is hired to serve.”

A detailed examination of all of the cases mentioned above reveals the one thing they all have in common. All of these incidents have resulted from a gross negligence and the lack of effort on the airline’s part. All of the incidents could have been prevented if the employees involved had just shown a little more respect and care towards the customers, their pets and their belongings. In fact, it could have been turned around if they had taken the proper responsibility and owned up to their mistakes as soon as these things happen.

More than five incidents have happened within this airline, to customer’s possessions and the people and their pets. Two of them happened under the PetSafe program that they insisted was safe (notice the name of the program) for the pets. They repeatedly overbook their flights and cause inconvenience to the passengers. The chief executive officer himself has shown disrespect by refusing to apologize to Dr. Dao while saying that their employee had taken the correct approach – which is ridiculous.

Why are people still opting for United Airlines’ services? Have they not done enough harm to their customers and to animals? Why aren’t the board members of United Continental Holdings Inc. taking disciplinary actions towards said employees? Is it because the shares were only 0.6 percent lower after everything? Will they not be concerned unless it affects them drastically in terms of money?

On a larger narrative, this is just another side effect of our money-oriented society. There isn’t another reason for overbooking flight besides profit motives. Refusing to take responsibility is just the refusal to pay compensation costs.

When all’s said and done, there is nothing we can do unless the society is willing to act collectively. Unfortunately, the United Airlines essentially acts as a metonymy for the callousness and money-oriented society that we live in. It is the “if it does not concern me, I don’t care” mentality that is perishing the world.

Featured image via flickr/ Ikarasawa

United Airlines responsible for another loss

United Airlines have, once again, evoked strong negative emotions in their passengers. Just last year, there was news of a passenger, coerced into leaving a plane because they made a mistake and overbooked the flight. As of Monday night, they are now responsible for the death of somebody’s beloved pet. On Flight 1284 from Houston to LaGuardia airport in New York – a three and a half hour long flight – one of the cabin crews had requested for a passenger to stow their bag in the overhead compartment.

Little did she know that it was not just a bag, instead it was a pet carrier with a dog inside of it, or so they claim. In spite of the claims made by a representative of the airline denying the prior knowledge of the puppy in the bag, there is little to no supporting evidence. Every passenger on board including the family in question asserted the fact that the sound of the dog barking should have been enough to tip them off.

Needless to say, this resulted in the suffocation of the poor pup. People all over the world especially animal rights activists are deeply infuriated by this incident because it involves the life of a truly precious being.

United Continental Holdings Inc., the Chicago-based airline have recently announced the implementation of their new plan in response to the incident. Bright colored tags will be issued starting next month, to passengers who are traveling with a pet in order to avoid the recurrence of such “tragic accident”, as phrased by the airline company. In conjunction with this matter, United Airlines have issued an official statement of apology as follows:

“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Clearly, no justification or follow-up actions will be adequate to make up for this loss, particularly towards the affected individuals. The cabin crew in the discussion has insisted on the fact that she was not aware of the presence of Kokito, the pup. This strongly contradicts the claims made by the other passengers on board. Maggie Gremminger, one of the passengers who was seated near the pet owner, has vocally criticized the airlines on Twitter. She persistently asserted the fact that there was obviously a dog in the bag, but the United flight attendant was adamant about placing it in the overhead compartment. The passengers were not aware of the rules and regulations regarding pets on board, for that reason they did not take actions. Despite of the odd instruction, some presumed that the planes had air ventilation in the compartments.

This incident has subsequently sparked controversy towards United Airlines such that Senator John Kennedy has acknowledged this issue on Twitter.

The public has expressed concerns towards matter regarding animals on board. The district attorney’s office of the Harris County in Texas is now joining forces with the animal cruelty task force of the county to further investigate the incident. United Airlines have not informed the public of the punishment towards said cabin crew.

To make matters worse, this is not the first time that United Airlines have taken away the life of a pitiful dog. There was another case that happened a year ago on a domestic flight. A dog that was under the care of United’s PetSafe program passed away after flying in a crate in the plane’s hold due to its larger size.

How can travelers ever trust the airline with their pets again?

In the book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, the principle of equality between human and animals are defined by equal consideration. Consideration, not treatment. In the fight for animal rights, counterarguments have been brought up with the assertion that these beings are not able to reason or communicate. However, Jeremy Bentham, a well-known philosopher has once said that the ability to experience pain and agony is the element that gives a being “the right to equal treatment”. Human beings, from a biological standpoint, is also categorized as an animal.

We are all just living beings co-existing on the earth. The only distinction is our ability to do math, our ability to logical thinking as well as reasoning. With that said, people are only asked to provide equal consideration not treatment. It seems that the lack of consideration towards pet is just another evil attribute of mankind. Why is it so difficult for men to treat other beings how they would like to be treated? A little kindness goes a long way.

“When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife,” quoting Ingrid Newkirk, and animal rights activist and the founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization.

In memoriam Kokito, the precious ten-months-old French bulldog.

Featured image via flickr/ Tomás Del Coro

Mining Cryptocurrency: The Beginner Course

Hello there! We would like to welcome again to our feature on bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general! In our previous installment, we went over the humble beginnings of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as it ballooned into the pop culture curiosity it has become. In today’s feature, we will be going over the basics of mining cryptocurrency, one of our most requested topics! And what better time than now, cryptocurrency is all the rage, once again!

Screenshot of the Bitcoin client, using crypto...
Screenshot of the Bitcoin client, using cryptocurrency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much like any other form of currency, you can acquire cryptocurrency via accepting them for a transaction, but there are two much more popular ways to acquire them: purchasing the cryptocurrency through an exchange (paying a different form of currency for the cryptocurrency, usually in the hopes that the prices will rise after the transaction, similar to buying stock), and mining them, which began in 2009.

When you hear “mining” the first thing that often pops into the forefront of your mind is an image of a prospector during the gold rush, journeying west in hopes of discovering gold in the untapped ground. That often leads to organizations buying swaths of land where only they are allowed to mine there, no outside forces can mine there. That actually has quite a few parallels to cryptocurrency, instead of companies buying land to make money off their mining, companies are introducing their own forms of cryptocurrency. And much like gold, cryptocurrency is in a finite quantity, but that is by design of the company, for instance, bitcoin is limited to 21 million total, and we are over half way through that amount.

Also similar to gold miners using tools to mine, cryptocurrency miners use their computers raw power to have the chance to “discover” their loot. In order to acquire the cryptocurrency, miners (or malware software mining on computers without the user’s knowledge) perform algorithms in the hopes of finding an available cryptocurrency. The more power, the better, the more computers, the better.

The software for mining is actually very easy to use, while also being open source, meaning quite literally anyone can download and run it. But what most people do not realize is that miners also require security from outside attacks. Like an outside force sneaking into a gold mining camp under the cover of night, stealing the hard-earned earned gold mined out of the ground, there are those out there who specialize in breaking into the “wallets” of cryptocurrency miners, stealing their prized cryptocurrency. A suitably secure online bank account to house your cryptocurrency is a necessity.

Now, you may be asking, “how can I hope to make any money by myself with so many people out there mining for cryptocurrency such as bitcoin?” and that is a very good question, as acting as a single entity can make it extremely difficult to find cryptocurrency on your own. The way some people get around this is by joining a mining pool, where a group of users pool their computer resources together and share a percentage of the cryptocurrency mined. You may receive less money in the long run, but your chances of success are much higher.

Another popular way to “outsource” the mining of cryptocurrency is to use a Cloud mining service, where you basically rent mining hardware from another location that does the mining for you. There is no guarantee that you will see a return on your investment, but there is no wear and tear on your own hardware through this process.

There are several things to keep in mind if you do decide to mine on your own, such as electricity. While the software and algorithms don’t cause much in the way of damage to your computer, it will, however, take constant electricity to keep your system running, thereby increasing your electricity costs.

Mining cryptocurrency certainly isn’t for everyone, and most people don’t make the kind of crazy money the media likes to attribute to cryptocurrency. Much like other businesses, there are those who are making money hand over fist, and those who make it possible for those big businesses to make money. If you do decide to go at it on your own, there are many different specialized pieces of hardware you can buy to make the process easier, and that will be the focus of our next cryptocurrency feature! Check back in next time where we will go over computer parts, their purposes, their price, and the difference they make!

Apple is dominating the tech industry

Back in 2010, there was a virtual magazine subscription called Next Issue, but was rebranded as Texture by Next Issue Media in 2015. Now, Texture has over two hundred magazines available electronically on most systems including Windows, Amazon, Android and iOS. All it requires users to do is to pay a fixed monthly charge and access to articles from all of the magazines will be available in its entirety.

Initially, the application was created by several large magazine issuers collectively and supported by the financial assistance of external investors at a total sum of $50 million. The main idea was to become the dominant platform for tablet (i.e. iPad etc.) users to subscribe to magazines. Since people have been going onto the internet to do so, Google has been that platform for them.

In an era where smart devices and gadgets have become a necessity, it was assumed that magazines too, like other entities, will be highly sought after in electronic form. However, this plan took a hit when The Daily, a highly popular digital magazine by News Corporation went under. Even so, Texture apparently has had couple hundred thousand of clients by 2016 as disclosed by John Loughlin, the CEO of Texture, initially recounted by The New York Post. If that is the case, why did Next Issue Media let go of Texture?

In recent news, Apple, the iOS devices’ company has announced its official acquisition of Texture. Fortunately for those who are not in possession of an iOS device, Apple has confirmed that Android devices will still be able to get a hold on the application. It seems that Texture employees too, are secured in their current post as Apple has procured the staff in addition to the firm. This leads us to the next question. If Next Issue Media is willing to let Texture go, presumably because of its low demand in the market, why is Apple rushing to acquire it and at what cost?

Moreover, Apple, on its own, already offers digital magazine subscription services online. Hence, for what reason could it be for Apple to bid for another magazine service? Eddy Cue, the Senior Vice President of Apple issued a statement as presented below:

“We’re excited Texture will join Apple, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the world’s leading publishers. We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”

Likewise, CEO of Texture has also issued a statement to express their contentment:

“I’m thrilled that Next Issue Media and its award-winning Texture app are being acquired by Apple. The Texture team and its current owners, Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers Media, and KKR, could not be more pleased or excited with this development. We could not imagine a better home or future for the service.”

In 2014, Apple has taken over Beats, the brand of quality speakers and headphones. In addition to the gadgets and products, Apple had also taken over their music streaming service. With that, they turned it into the current Apple Music, which is as high in demand as Spotify. Within the same year, Apple once again recruited another brand, BookLamp. This application highly resembles Texture such that books are to BookLamp as magazines are to Texture. None of these is new because Apple has always been on the look to expand its empire. Another case in point is Apple’s recent acquisition of Shazam, another music streaming application.

Though we remain to be in the dark regarding Apple’s possible vision for Texture, an article by Ars Technica have made a suggestion. Even though nothing conclusive was disclosed in the statement issued by Apple’s Senior Vice President, arstechnica shed light on the phrase “trusted sources” and suggests that there’s a hidden meaning behind it. The article refers to the present as a time when reporters and publishers have voiced their opinions about large tech companies like Facebook and Google that are believed to have contributed to the biases in media as they are the one who controls the spread of news. Such actions have become noticeable that many heads have been turned and it has become public knowledge to take the content found on these platforms with a grain of salt.

Nonetheless, that is still just an assumption and we can only wait for Apple to announce their plans for Texture, if any, in the future.

On a different note, however, these multinational tech companies have surpassed mere dominance on the web. Just a couple of weeks ago, Jeff Bezos, the co-founder of Amazon has been proclaimed as the richest man in America. With that said, Amazon and Google, as well as Facebook, have provided digital magazine subscription services at one point or another. One way or another, they are further expanding their empires by dominating the market. At the moment, they are still attempting to grab every opportunity available in their industry. What happens when they have completely monopolized the industry? Will they dive into other industries and in turn dominate the world?

These companies are the perfect example of how the capitalist system is helping the rich get richer while the poor continue to suffer. Shouldn’t we be examining this news through a more economic and political aspect?

Featured image via flickr/ Luke Wroblewski

Twitter is following in the footsteps of Snapchat

In a generation where smartphones are no longer categorized as a luxury item but a necessity, everyone is on some form of social media. As such, the companies behind these social media platforms are competing to get ahead of one another. For one, Instagram began as a mere photo sharing application, but it has since then, added the live recording, boomerang effects and videos etc. Facebook too, offers these things and so much more.

There was a time when each platform has their own key purposes; the one element they are most associated with. Like words are to Twitter as pictures are to Instagram. None of these social media platforms run like that anymore. Now, whatever Snapchat offers, so does Instagram as well as Facebook.

There are always murmurs about possible updates in Snapchat and so on. Just a few months ago, there were talks around CNBC that suggest a potential camera-centric feature in Twitter.

Based on the analytics, Twitter has observed a substantial increase in posts and usage involving video contents throughout the course of 2017. People have been checking out local news as well as sports-related matter in the form of videos. This is so that users will have higher convenience and accessibility to post and to share videos through its platform. An article by Engadget, a technology media outlet has made juxtaposition of this prospective feature with “the location-based snap collections” curated and distributed by Snapchat on its Discover tab. CNBC outlet further explains that there will be a new element, the Twitter Moments. Twitter will then gather these location-based pictures and recordings and subsequently assemble them through Twitter Moments. In this way, a wide range of stories about things going on in the area will conveniently be within reach.

A while ago, Snapchat had disappointed all of its users by introducing advertisements all over their Stories and Discover content. Similarly, Twitter will become the next platform for businesses to place their advertisements on. All in all, this feature will no doubt increase the firm’s revenue through advertising profits.

Nonetheless, nothing has been confirmed at this moment. No information has been revealed about its possible release date as well as whether it will actually present itself at all. Inside sources from CNBC reveals the fact that this notion is somewhat fresh off the boat. It is still way too early to expect its release anytime now.

Still, it seems as though every social media platform is now coming up with distinct features to match what the others offer. Stories, Moments, Live are all features that Facebook and Instagram have implemented following Snapchat. Be that as it may, with Snapchat constantly adding and changing its ways, users are beginning to realize the number of alternative social media platforms there are. They all offer the same features as well as the same conditions. Lots of buzz has surrounded Snapchat since it places advertisements in a strategic spot such that it constantly catches users off-guard, forcing them to watch it. Their recent change in design in order to accommodate more advertisement have caused it to lose their supporters. Many are now deleting their Snapchat altogether since Instagram is slowly becoming the better option.

Conversely, we cannot blame the firms for such actions. Put yourselves in the shoes of the company. What is the main concern and aim of a business if not profit? Profit maximization remains to be the first and foremost priority for suppliers in the market.

This leads to the following questions. Profit motivations aside, is it a good idea for all social platforms to be the same? Will people eventually stick to one particular platform and which one would that be? Are these changes better or worse and for who?

Only time will tell.

Featured image via flickr/ Esther Vargas

Flights are cancelled as a direct result of global warming

With the deterioration in global warming, it is no wonder we have been experiencing such extreme weathers in 2018. Owing to the phrase ‘global warming’, many have been questioning the validity because of the extreme cold that we have experienced – and are still experiencing – this year. While the change in climate has not been in compliance with the presumed direction, there is a simple reasoning behind it.

Why are we so concerned about the North Pole melting (aside from the worries over polar bears)? This is because as it melts, more evaporating water will subsist which consequently leads to a higher precipitation rate. The precipitation then exists as rain, snow and hail as we know it. This has been proven by the 2006 Lake Erie occurrence. Lake Erie is one of the Great Lakes in North America that normally freezes during winter. However, the warm weather, from global warming, prevented the lake from being frozen during winter for the first time ever. Subsequently, the rate of snowfalls was greater than before.

The east coast seems to be suffering the most from the extreme cold this year. Back in January, plenty of flights to and fro the New York area were cancelled due to the sudden snowstorm. However, as we step into the spring season with summer fast approaching, the relentless cold storms are becoming somewhat of an odd occurrence.

FlightAware, the flight-tracking site have enclosed that over seven hundred flights to and fro Boston that was scheduled for Tuesday have been canceled because of the storm. This time, meteorologists have revealed that the intense snowstorm will leave behind at least a foot of snow. Of that seven hundred, more than half were flights that were departing from Boston whereas the rest are incoming flights. Delta Airline has called off a majority of its Tuesday shuttle service between Boston and LaGuardia in New York while American Airlines have completely shut down the hourly shuttle service between the two locations. In addition, American Airlines have also called off all of the Tuesday Boston flights and may be shutting down more flights around the Northeast region. Ross Feinstein, the spokesperson of the airline said that they initially had a total of a hundred and seventy-eight Boston flights scheduled for Tuesday.

Even though customers will not be charged for the flight change, it seems as though Southwest Airlines are expecting travelers to pay for the surcharge because the flights on some dates are more expensive than others. This is rather unreasonable since the customers do not have a say in the matter. Yet again, who is to blame but ourselves? JetBlue, Delta and American Airlines will not be charging their passengers for any changes due to the storm. While it is certainly a nuisance for travelers, it must not be easy for the airlines and all of their employers as well. Announcing the cancelation of flights in advance may be a way to avoid wasting everyone’s time but the process to call everyone back in order to resume their duties will indubitably be troublesome since it is almost impossible to predict what happens next.

Just last week, a snowstorm from the northeast region has affected over two thousand flights.

This should be a wakeup call to everyone out there who has been denying the reality of climate change and global warming. Aside from that, a frequently mentioned argument questions the cold weather as opposed to global warming. To further clarify this, it should be understood that climate and weather are not the same thing. The National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration (NOAA) describes climate as the average of weather throughout the course of three decades, at least. What we experience within a short period of time can have a very different outcome on a larger narrative.

The United States have been the largest contributor to this issue for the past fifteen decades. At present, US is slightly behind China, who produces twenty-eight percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. What are you doing to counter global warming/climate change at this instant? Are you even aware of the severity of the situation?

Featured image via flickr/jseliger2

Racial prejudice or just bad customer service?

It is certainly upsetting to receive news that the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), our all-time favorite pancake place has shown discrimination against a group of people. An incident that happened at one of the IHOP branches in the city of Auburn in Maine has sparked controversy in recent news. On Sunday, several African American youths who were about to dine at IHOP was requested by the waitress, who was on duty, to pay the check before getting their orders.

At first glance, this may seem like a case of bigotry – as presumed by the general public as well as the IHOP president himself. Darren Rebelez, the President of IHOP came out to address the issue after someone posted the story on Facebook. On Tuesday, Rebelez made an announcement to clear the IHOP chains of being accused of racial prejudice.

“IHOP and its franchises have zero tolerance for actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type,” he says.

He went on to justify what happened in Auburn as an “isolated incident” and informed the public that they will, of course, take responsibility for it. IHOP is now offering an official apology to the youths and he claims that the waitress will be given the proper disciplinary actions. Subsequently, that particular chain will be shut down on Thursday for further training to prevent this sort of incidents from ever happening again. The corporation issued a statement to the public the day after the incident as follows.

“IHOP and our franchisees strive to create a warm and hospitable dining experience for all guests, and this isolated incident is not reflective of that commitment nor tolerated. The franchisee of this location is in the process of reaching out directly to the affected guests to apologize for an individual team member’s misguided actions as well as using this as an opportunity to underscore the values we uphold as a brand with his entire team.”

Mankind has been said to be evil by nature as portrayed by the Adam and Eve story. While greed and terrorism are no doubt few of the most appalling elements, there is no doubt that racism is by far the worst. Why are people discriminated because of the color of their skin? Each and every individual are of the same species; If you can have enough love and affection as well as compassion towards another species like puppies and ponies, is it so difficult to direct that same compassion towards someone of the same species?

The concept of race, or the variation in the color of our skin is merely a result of our predominant geographic region. Melanin is the pigment in our genes that makes us tanner as it protects us against the harmful UV rays from the extreme sunlight. As such, the population that lived in locations that have more extreme sun exposure, have adapted to their environment by producing more melanin in their bodies after many generations. Those who are darker merely means that they have more melanin in their genes, which protects them from getting sunburned as easily.

The point is that race is merely a social construct, a human invention created to justify inequality. However, people who have an innate racial prejudice is awfully despicable and there is not a single word in the English language that is good enough to justify these actions.

With that in mind, we should aspire to be a better person in every way possible. Hence, despite of what it may seem like, perhaps the waitress at IHOP deserves the benefit of the doubt. This is highly plausible as explained by Melvin Escobar, the local manager. The incident is not a racial-based prejudice, instead it is because there have been cases whereby teens have skipped out on the check after dining. Needless to say, the approach taken by the server remains to be disrespectful and ill-mannered. Escobar promises that “this is the first time it happened, and that will be the last time.”

Featured Image via flickr/Mike Mozart

Talia Chetrit, a notable artist in the Armory Show 2018

Talia Chetrit is an inspirational contemporary art photographer from the United States. She was born in Washington D.C. in the year of 1982. She pursued her tertiary education in Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was given the Fred J. Foster Fellowship Award. Following that, she received a Graduate Fellowship from the Rhode Island School of Design, where she completed the graduate program and attained her Master’s in Fine Arts. Since then, Chetrit has shifted location and is now working and living in New York.

Her first exhibition in New York was under the gallery, Plane Space for her piece entitled Items May Have Shifted in 2005. In 2008, her work was featured in “31 Under 31: Young Women in Art Photography”, curated by Lumi Tan and Jon Feinstein in 3rd Ward Brooklyn. Internationally, she has also been featured in many countries, as a group show as well as solo shows. In 2004, she was part of the 4th annual International Photography Exhibition curated by Barbara Degenevieve in the town of Pingyao in China. In addition, she presented solo at the Kaufmann Repetto gallery in Milan, Italy in 2011. A year later, one of her piece called Bodies in Trouble was featured in the Sies + Höke gallery in Düsseldorf, Germany.    

Overall, it is apparent that Chetrit has had more solo shows than collaborations, perhaps due to her unconventional approaches in the construction of her pieces.

A number of Chetrit’s works were exhibited at the Armory Show of 2018 under the Sies + Höke, a Germany-based contemporary art gallery. Two of the most remarkable pieces were both inkjet prints entitled Self-portrait (all fours), 2017 and Red Eyes, 1994/2017. The original photos that these prints were developed from are photographs that were captured by Chetrit herself, along with several of her friends back in the 1990s when she was still a mere teenage girl. These photos mark the commencement of her feminist exploration into image-making, self-representation and so forth. More often than not, there exists a personal narrative with regards to mental and emotional causes that lies beneath the surface of her projects. In another collection, Chetrit once again salvaged her old photos. This time, she uses the very first rolls of film that she had used to capture photos of her own family in the 1990s. Nonetheless, most of her pieces make passing references on the subject of sexuality and the human body.

Talia Chetrit focuses her projects on the search for deeply-veiled elements behind the structure and utilization of a photography. As a rule, she exploits the matter of obscuration, separation and distortion in a way that the person in the print is no longer identifiable. In this way, her work is conceptualized and abstracted. Aside from that, Chetrit often utilizes a monochromatic color scheme, in addition to the reversal of orientations in terms of horizontal and vertical. On top of that, she also transposes the negative and positive space in order to form more unorthodox pieces. With her nonconformist feminist mentality and methods, she has been praised by many and time and time again juxtaposed with prominent contemporary artists like Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman.

Talia Chetrit has had solo art exhibitions as well as collaborations with other artists under different galleries all across the world. Several more of her exhibition highlights include the Art Basel in Miami Beach last year, under Sies + Höke, the same gallery as in the Armory Show as well as the Art Düsseldorf 2017. Her pieces have been part of the Armory Show since 2014. An ongoing show that began on 16th February and will end on 25th March is located at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, an art museum in Cologne, Germany. Chetrit’s upcoming solo shows will be taking place in MAXXI, Museo delle Arti del XXI secolo, Rome. It is a national museum that consists of contemporary art and architecture.

Featured Image via flickr/ Todd Carpenter

Coca-cola introduces a healthy alternative

In an era dominated by the millennials, the demand for certain goods and services have dropped as millennials are known to have a more distinct preference compared to previous generations. As a result, suppliers are attempting to come up with new products that are in compliance with the effective demand. Surveys have found that 42 percent of the respondents seek after health and nutrition in their consumption of food and beverages. Hence, PepsiCo, the main company of several brands such as Pepsi, Tropicana and Gatorade, to name a few, has introduced their new beverage. Bubly, the brand of the new sparkling water, was debuted just last month as the company wishes to exploit the $1.2 billion industry behind sparkling water.

Another one of the most recent companies to undertake this change is Coca-Cola, the long-term consumers’ choice of soda. The negative effects of the consumption of Coca-Cola have become public knowledge for some time now. For this reason, they are pleased to announce the debut of their new beverage, which is a healthier alternative to their original soda. Zico is the name of the new coconut water introduced by the Coca-Cola company. This beverage is the complete opposite of Coca-Cola in terms of the sugar content.

“Coconut water is – and is perceived to be – a better-for-you product,” says Tom Larsen, the general manager of Zico in an interview with Business Insider.

As consumers, we are well aware of the hesitation that comes along with trying new things. This is evidently another problem with Zico, as Meghan Seidner, the Vice President of Zico’s marketing department admits, “The taste can be a bit polarizing for some.” Seidner proceeds to divulge the fact that their statistics have shown that six to seven coconut water have to be consumed before consumers can take a liking to it. This is clearly a hindrance because more often than not, consumers are not willing to spend their money on items that they dislike after the first try – how many people would purchase something they barely like more than three times?

Technavio, a top-rank market-research firm believes that the market for coconut water worldwide will rise from an estimate of $2 billion to over $7 billion within five years. It is believed that in the United States alone, the market for coconut water will reach a sum of $1.5 billion in the next two years. Nonetheless, there is a tremendous number of companies supplying these beverages, which means that the competition is fierce. As a new product, it is no doubt challenging to compete against other brands that have already established a brand loyalty.

Zico have concentrated their efforts in the invention of new flavors recently since the company has, so far, decided that the best approach to counter the aforementioned problem is by allowing consumers to have more options and in turn, hope that they get captivated by one. Aside from the conventional chocolate flavor, Zico also offers jalapeño-mango and watermelon-raspberry flavored coconut water. As of last Friday, Zico debuted their latest addition to the health-conscious beverage series. This selling point of this new coconut water lies behind its concoction of an organic juice and is given the name ZICOCocoLixir.

ZICOCocoLixir was produced because market-researchers have categorized coconut water and cold-press juices as the two beverages with a fast-expanding market. They offer a variety of vegetable-based juices with funny labels using wordplay such as Unbe-leaf-able and Turn Up the Beet.

All things considered, nevertheless, Larsen and Seidner have both stood out to suggest that the endorsement of Coca-Cola as the parent company to these beverages will serve to distinguish them from minor brands.

“We’re going to be a total beverage company across the globe,” the company’s plan for the future reiterated by Larsen, after James Quincy, the CEO of Coca-Cola.

Featured Image via flickr/ Mike Mozart

Unexpected Rewards for Evoni William’s Good Deed

An extraordinary act of kindness that has occurred recently has reassured our faith in humanity, once again. A recent high school graduate who has been working at the Texas Waffle House is the perfect illustration of the fact that you will be rewarded for the good deeds that you have done when you least expect it. 18-years-old Evoni Williams from the city of La Marque in Texas has taken the job straight out of high school in order to earn enough money for college tuition. Adrian Charpentier is an elderly customer who was at the restaurant during William’s shift. He had just been released from the hospital after his recent surgery and was still recovering. As such, he was not able to utilize the cutleries properly which was captured by the surveillance video.

“I had no coordination or strength in my hands,” Charpentier proclaimed.

Following that, he requested for help from Williams. Amidst the crowded restaurant, Williams was seen to provide assistance without further hesitation.

“I was never raised to bash people. I was raised to help and try to give blessings. It just came from the heart,” Williams spoke modestly.

She further mentioned that Charpentier is a regular customer at Texas Waffle House and it was clear to her that he really needed assistance. This seemingly trivial deed consequently turned out to be so much more, though Williams certainly did not see it coming. A photo of the undertaking was posted on social media platforms and within a short period of time, went viral. This, in turn, turned many heads, including Bobby Hocking’s, the mayor of her town who then honored her. In addition, countless of people have openly complimented Williams for her action – an act of kindness without expectations. However, none of these compares to the biggest reward that she was offered by the Texas Southern University. Williams is now the recipient of a scholarship worth $16,000. This means that she will be able to begin her tertiary education with $4000 per semester for four semesters.

As we proceed into the later stages of the capitalist system, it seems that the notion of profit maximization has far exceeded the system itself. Money is slowly becoming the object of worship in the society, despite the fact that it is nothing but a piece of paper. A piece of paper which value was decided by the beliefs of people. This, in a way, destroys humanity because people have gone to extreme lengths to acquire wealth. Evident by the history, people are capable of sins like murder and such if they were obstructing their paths to gain money and power. Hence, it is heartening to find those who are willing to go out of their way to help others in need without incentives whatsoever.

While seeing the act of kindness itself is more than inspiring, we are certainly glad that Evoni Williams is getting the appreciation and rewards that she deserves. Her compassion and helpfulness towards the elderly are entities that every person should have. The society has always been cruel and deceitful because people are selfish by nature. With the growing capitalistic mentality, it should come as no surprise that a majority of the people are increasingly self-concerned, which subsequently means that they are less concerned with the well-being of others. Finally, this leads to the question wondering if our assumed ‘progress’ is for and against the sake of humanity. We have come so far from living in caves to being surrounded by skyscrapers. We have learned to build and go along with various economic and political systems that allow a nation to function properly.

Yet again, are we destroying mankind or improving it? Perhaps because of the tangibility of one as opposed to the abstractness of the concept of humanity. It seems as it has for a long time now, that the tangible things are overpowering our moralities. With Evoni Williams’ act of kindness, however, we can safely say that our system has not killed our humanity.

Featured Image via Flickr/Ethan Prater

Julian Charrière, the Conceptual Artist

“Charrière focuses on investigations of the natural world, revealing the profound force exerted by humans and the environment on one another and highlighting how ecological systems can exhibit traces of human energy,” as phrased by Artsy, the online source for fine art.

Originally from the district of Morges in Switzerland, Charrière was born in the year of 1987 and is of Swiss-French descent. He began his tertiary education in pursuance of art at the École cantonale d’art du Valais in Switzerland. However, he later transferred to the Berlin University of Arts in Germany where he eventually completed his studies under Olafur Eliasson’s Institut für Raumexperimente (Institute of Spatial Experiments) in 2013.

Julian Charrière is a Berlin-based artist who presents his work in the form of sculpture, photography and performance by way of conceptualism. The changing cultural knowledge of the natural world and its processes are key mechanisms that are explicitly present in his projects. Charrière frequently travels to remote locations such as Kazakhstan and the Southern Cone in pursuit of inspiration and knowledge of the natural sciences, in addition to the attainment of earth materials which he uses to create his artwork. He often explores distant spots that are hazardous due to their exposure to natural disasters such as volcanoes and icefields.

“I use some scientific methods, but I would describe it more as an archeologist or geologist. I go into the field and get inspired by what I see, then I bring things back to the studio and do work,” he explains.

One of Julian Charrière’s most alluring project is the on-site performance titled Some Pigeons Are More Equal Than Others in which he collaborated with Julius von Bismarck, another renowned artist, for La Biennale di Venezia (the Venice Biennial), the 13th International Architecture Exhibition that happened in 2012. Since then, Charrière and Bismarck have worked together recurrently, notably in 2016, to produce Objects in mirror might be closer than they appear, Desert Now and so forth. Charrière has had his projects featured by Das Numen, the Berlin-based art collective, in addition to his solo art expositions. He has had his work exhibited all across the world ranging from Europe to Asia. Several of his most recent expositions were located in Parasol Unit Foundation for Art in London, Galerie Bugada & Cargnel in Paris, Dittrich and Schlechtriem in Berlin, Steve Turner Gallery in Los Angeles, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India and so on.

Charrière was presented with the Kiefer Hablitzel Swiss Art Awards first in 2013, then again in 2015. The prize-winning exhibition in 2013 is named after a quote by Buckminster Fuller – We Are All Astronauts on A Little Spaceship Called Earth. This project deals with current issues centering around the concept of occurrences that alters the relationship between space and time as well as their conditions with respect to the growth on a worldwide scale. Not long after, his piece was featured in a curated section at the Lyon Biennial of Palais de Tokyo. A year later, in 2016, Charrière was granted the Kaiserring Scholarship for Young Art. He was subsequently announced as one of the three artists who were nominated for the BMW Art Journey 2017 during Art Basel in Hong Kong. Within the same year, Charrière’s art piece was showcased in Viva Arte Viva, the 57th international Art Exhibition curated by Christine Macel for La Biennale di Venezia.

For the Armory Show that took place over the past few days, a number of Julian Charrière’s pieces were featured under the Dittrich and Schlechtriem gallery. Two of the most exclusive sets were the Future Fossil Spaces – materials used include salt from the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and acrylic containers filled with lithium-brine. It is an installation comprising of three hexagonal towers constructed by salt and plaster. The other piece is titled Bokbata II – Terminal Beach, 2016 and is presented in the form of a sizeable monochromatic photograph.

“To date, his works has explored post-romantic constructions of ‘nature’, and staged tensions between deep or geological timescales and those relating to mankind. Charrière’s approach further reflects upon the mythos of the quest and its objects in a globalized age. Deploying seemingly perennial imagery to contemporary ends, his interventions at the borderline of mysticism and the material encapsulate our fraught relations with place today,” concluded by Julian Charrière’s online platform.

Featured Image via Dage – Looking For Europe

International Women’s Day as well as Women’s History Month

International Women’s Day, as defined on their website, “is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

A number of multinational corporations have made an effort to acknowledge the significance of March 8th, otherwise known as the International Women’s Day. For instance, the KFC divisions in Malaysia have replaced Colonel Sanders with his wife, Claudia as the face of the company for the day. This is an illustration of the appreciation towards hardworking women as Claudia played an integral role in the success of the fast food chain. In addition, the company behind Brawny paper towels have been leading a #StrengthHasNoGender campaign. They have recently announced their decision to switch their famous red flannel-wearing male representative for a female figure in celebration of Women’s History month.

Mentioned in this month’s issue of the New Yorker magazine, Johnnie Walker Black Label, the well-known whisky brand has introduced a new and limited (only available during Women’s History month) edition. Johnnie Walker Black Label the Jane Walker Edition has a unique selling point. Their marketing strategy involves the donation of $1 to a non-profit organization that supports women’s progress initiatives, such as Monumental Women, for every bottle of the Jane Walker Edition sold. The donation could reach a sum of $250,000, depending on the sales.

“Important conversations about gender continue to be at the forefront of culture, and we strongly believe there is no better time than now to introduce our Jane Walker icon and contribute to pioneering organizations that share our mission. We are proud to toast the many achievements of women and everyone on the journey towards progress in gender equality.” – Stephanie Jacoby, the Vice President of Johnnie Walker.

These companies are not the only ones who have made some changes to their iconic elements for the course of Women’s History month to advocate for feminism.

It seems that McDonald’s has just joined the party following recent events. A source from Business Insider reveals the approach taken by the international fast food chain.

“The golden “M” will be flipped into a golden “W” in celebration of women everywhere… We have a long history of supporting women in the workplace, giving them the opportunity to grow and succeed. In the U.S. we take pride in our diversity and we are proud to share that today; six out of ten restaurant managers are women,” communicated by Lauren Altmin, a McDonald’s representative in an exchange with CNBC Make It media outlet.

When the change was first implemented in the Lynwood, California branch, many have assumed that it was an unintentional shift; Some thought it was a prank. However, Patricia Williams, the owner of that particular branch, along with other representatives have stood out to clarify the movement.

“For the first time in our brand history, we flipped our iconic arches for International Women’s Day in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere and especially in our restaurants. From restaurant crew and management to our C-suite of senior leadership, women play invaluable roles at all levels and together with our independent franchise owners we’re committed to their success,” quote Wendy Lewis, McDonald’s Chief Diversity Officer.

McDonald’s is extending their effort by producing the new golden “W” on “packaging, crew shirts, hats and bag stuffers” in addition to the replacement of the former logo on their social media pages. The special edition packaging and products will only be present at exactly one hundred McDonald’s branches.

It is always heart-warming to see our favorite brands advocate for gender equality as well as women’s rights. While many corporations are making a change, it is obvious that some are extending more efforts than others.

Let us come together and celebrate the month of March, Women’s History month in honor of all the women out there.

Featured Image via Flickr/Mike Mozart

The Mysterious Case of Amelia Earhart

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the first female who flew across the Atlantic Ocean on her own, have baffled millions of people since 1937. Back then, hers was a name that was widely recognized due to her achievements in air travel. Consequent to the incident, she has come to be the subject of many public discussions – and the name Amelia Earhart has become even more prominent since. 2nd July 1937 was the day that she vanished into thin air, along with Fred Noonan, her navigator at the time. It happened over the course of her journey to Howland Island – in the Pacific – from Papua New Guinea. It was part of her expedition to fly around the world.

This mystery has lasted over eight decades and is fast approaching one whole century. In conjunction with this matter, many have come up with their own theories to explain the incident. The most unsettling question continues to be the same. Where are her remains?

With the advancement in forensic science, recent discoveries have revealed, or rather, overturned previous findings. Three years after her disappearance, back in 1940, about thirteen human bones were discovered on Gardner Island. Gardner Island, also referred to as Nikumaroro, was a secluded land amidst the Pacific that lies 1,200 miles away from the Marshall Islands. This led to a theory that suggests that Earhart did not die in a plane crash. In fact, Gardner Island is presumed to be the island where she had landed her plane on after some mishaps. This theory believes that she was stranded on the remote island and was never rescued until she eventually passed away. This theory has been brought up due to the statement made by Richard Jantz, a former anthropology Professor at the University of Tennessee, who allegedly claims that the bones belonged to Earhart.

The forensic analysis done in 1941 had eliminated this possibility because of the result that suggests it was the remains of a man, as opposed to Earhart. This examination was carried out by Dr. David Hoodless, the principal of the Central Medical School in Fiji, an island in the South Pacific Ocean. Three aspects were taken into consideration in his analysis. According to the New York Post, they are:

  • the ratio of the femur’s circumference to length
  • the angle of the femur and pelvis
  • the subpubic angle (the angle formed between two pelvis bones)

The gender can be determined by evaluating the subpubic angle. A notably narrower subpubic angle points to a male structure and vice versa.

The examination concludes that the bones were likely to have belonged to, says Jantz and quote, “short, stocky muscular European”. The height of said male is estimated to be around 5 feet and 5.5 inches. This, aside from the presumed gender, negates any hints of it being Earhart. Her flying license and driving license indicate that her height is around 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 7 inches respectively, which is in compliance with the estimation from her pictures. Both of these numbers far exceed the estimated height of whom the bones had belonged to. Noonan the navigator was eliminated from the possibilities because he was towering at the height of 6 feet and a quarter inch.

Nonetheless, Professor Jantz has pointed out the inaccuracy of the 19th century forensic science methods. The outdated approach may have, by a high percentage in the margin of error, miscalculated the actual height. This means that the height, in actuality, matches that of Amelia Earhart’s. With the utilization of up-to-date methods of analysis, Professor Jantz has reached a different conclusion in terms of sexual characteristics.

“When Hoodless conducted his analysis, forensic osteology was not yet a well-developed discipline. Evaluating his methods with reference to modern data and methods suggests that they were inadequate to his task; this is particularly the case with his sexing method. Therefore, his sex assessment of the Nikumaroro bones cannot be assumed to be correct,” quoting an official statement made by Richard Jantz in a paper that has been published in the Forensic Anthropology journal.

The only criteria that Jantz have shown approval of – in Dr. Hoodless’ report – is the measure of the subpubic angle. Even so, he has made a remark saying that it should be open “to considerable variation, much of which was little understood in 1941.”

Through research of his own, Jantz has allegedly proved his theory. He collected statistical figures from a sum of 2,776 individuals and made a juxtaposition of it with the numbers from Dr. Hoodless’ investigation from 1941. In addition, Jantz made approximations through the observation and close study of Earhart’s pictures and the sizing of her apparels.

“This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample. This strongly supports the conclusion that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to Amelia Earhart,” concludes Professor Jantz.

All in all, this remains to be yet another theory. While Professor Jantz’s analysis and justification were implemented on the grounds of the new and improved analysis methods, other scholars of our generation have expressed their support and are still in agreement with Dr. David Hoodless’ findings that took place 77 years ago. There are also those who believe that her life ended in the Marshall Islands instead of Gardner Island.

Like any other controversial issue, the debates do not seem to be settling down anytime soon. In fact, another “alleged” evidence, in this case, was brought up just last year. That is most definitely not the first and will not be the last of it.

Featured Image via Flickr/IMLS Digital Collections and Content

KFC Malaysia shows support for International Women’s Day

It is always nice to receive news regarding events that celebrate and demonstrates appreciation towards women. In celebration of International Women’s Day, the KFC divisions in Malaysia have appointed a female figure as the new face of the company. The guest of honor in the discussion is Claudia, Colonel Sanders’ second wife whom he met through their former employment relationship. She was employed as a server at Sanders Café, Colonel Sanders’ first dining establishment – as revealed by Business Insider. Subsequently, Claudia became a prominent figure due to her contribution and role in the success of the fast food franchise that is now available across the world.

 “Mrs. Sanders played a very important role in the success of KFC. While the Colonel was busy promoting his chicken and running the company, she took orders in the restaurant, mixed the secret blend of herbs and spices, and as you know, in those days there were no courier services, so she had to take the orders to the train station for shipping,” Merrill Pereyra, the CEO of QSR Brands, the corporation that KFC establishments in Malaysia ultimately belongs to, conveys to audience in a video posted on Youtube.

This video, aside from justifying the move, serves as an introduction to Claudia.

Claudia played an integral part in the business and is no stranger to the general public. As a matter of fact, she has had previous encounters with the media.

In an early interview with Claudia, the Associated Press quoted, “While he was out selling, I was home doing the work.”

Claudia’s significant contribution is clearly acknowledged and illustrated in her obituary produced by the Associated Press back in 1997.

”We could not have been the company we are now without Claudia’s contributions,” David Novak, KFC’s president and chief executive expresses with gratitude.

No matter how far women have come in terms of achieving equal rights in legal proceedings, the progress in society and political aspects remain ostensible. We have arrived at an era in which women are contending for equal treatments in our daily lives. This is an aspect that does not have an exact standard of measurement, which is why an event like this is significant.

“To all women of KFC and the world out there, we would like to say that your future is always bright, equal, safe and rewarding. Keep inspiring us and impacting lives and thank you for all your hard work and contribution to our community, family and this organization,” Pereyra coherently articulated the firm’s attempt to show appreciation and gratitude towards women’s effort in the workplace and domestically in an interview with Marketing magazine.

This, nonetheless, is not the first demonstration of female appreciation by the KFC branches. Prior to the appointment of Claudia as the face of the company, the role of a female Sanders had belonged to another. Reba McEntire the mascot was the first appointed female counterpart of Colonel Sanders. This evidently shows KFC’s effort in advocating for gender equality. Following closely behind is another fast food chain, Mcdonalds. In honor to the International Women’s Day, McDonalds have decided to rotate the prominent ‘M’ in its logo into a ‘W’. This advertising strategy centers on the idea of ‘W’ for women.

Amidst of these strategic marketing move (and as a tribute to Claudia), many have criticized the inadequacy of their efforts. They feel that the one-day occurrence is not sufficient for the advocacy of women’s rights. Be that as it may, we should all appreciate the effort involved. Much like the fight for every other cause, we need to take it one step at a time. Regardless of the extent of a move, some is always better than none.

Let us continue to advocate and contend for gender equality and look forward to making more progress.

Featured Image via Flickr/whologwhy

Be Careful with the Cryptocurrency You Invest in

Cryptocurrency has turned a lot of heads in recent years. Despite its original intent to be the future of currency, it has become a promising source of investment for many out there. Cryptocurrency investors are ranging from business professionals to amateurs – thanks to its accessibility. It has become a prospective alternative to other commodities such as stocks, bonds and so forth. What’s more, is that these cryptocurrencies have successfully attained over billions of dollars from investors in these few years. As a result, it has captured worldwide attention from major organizations and media.

Updates about cryptocurrency have surfaced as a consequence of the steep decline and frequent fluctuations in its value. Several media organizations including CNBC have informed the public about the action taken by the SEC towards some of the major firms in the cryptocurrency industry. Since then, SEC have reached out to educate investors about these firms.

SEC have come up with several guidelines for investors to take into consideration. They are urging investors to do some research prior to the transaction. Investors should ask for clarification regarding their criterions in the process of choosing the quality assets. In addition, they should find out the status of the market under the National Securities Exchange. More facts and figures should be acquired from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority concerning the people behind the market if possible.

“Amid signals that the SEC would check online platforms for violations of registration or exchange rules… some of the markets have requested or received approvals as alternative trading systems,” proclaimed Nick Morgan, one of the partners at Paul Hastings LLP. Morgan was previously part of the SEC senior trial counsel.

“Likewise, the SEC does not review the trading protocols used by these platforms, which determine how orders interact and execute, and access to a platform’s trading services may not be the same for all user,” as disclosed in a statement by the SEC Enforcement and Trading and Markets divisions.

SEC have stepped out to remind investors about the truth behind these platforms. The digital commodities offered by these servers are not endorsed by the SEC, and the list of criterions they follow are not associated to SEC.

“The so-called standards shouldn’t be equated to the listing standards of national securities exchanges,” the regulator reminds investors.

SEC continues to clarify and distance themselves from these servers.

The values of cryptocurrencies have suffered a decline in value, once again, on Wednesday.  Bitcoin value decreased to 7.1%, an improvement from the initial 9%, to $10,030 with Ethereum and Litecoin following behind, as announced by CoinMarketCap. This happened following a warning by the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning potentially unlawful trading websites that does not have regulatory oversight. The chief federal regulator of the United States financial markets has informed the public of the fact that these trading websites are not SEC-registered and regulated.

Bitcoin remains to be the most noteworthy cryptocurrency at this moment.

Cryptocurrency is a highly demanded choice of investment because of its convenience and availability. It allows beginners and youths to invest without feeling restricted by the amount. However, it also belongs to the “high risk high reward” classification. With this new piece of information from SEC, nonetheless, the risk that it entails have become more apparent and severe. Public confidence in cryptocurrency is already quickly slipping away with its severe decline. Will this statement from SEC further affect the demand for cryptocurrency?

There is no such thing as a meaningful Bitcoin price prediction. It just isn’t possible with the current structure. Bitcoin was never really intended to be a store of value. You have separate classes of investors, each with different goals for what Bitcoin should be. Miners and holders want it high, and the currency crowd wants it low. Those forces will pull at each other in unpredictable ways. Besides, the major exchanges and trading platform are all amateur hour, and most have perverse incentives to front run, which can tilt prices even more dramatically. Market manipulation is rampant and structurally impossible to solve short of mass action or outside regulation.

Featured Image via Flickr/Steve Garfield

Don’t be Alarmed if You Hear Laughter, could be Alexa

Owing to the advancement and innovation in science and technology, we have become the generation that resorts to the utilization of voice-enabled devices in order to complete our daily tasks such as switching the lights on and off, playing music and so forth. Consequently, various companies in that industry – Google and Amazon, to name a few – have begun to offer “smart” devices. Amazon has a series of devices that holds the name of “Alexa”. Few examples are the echo spot, echo dot, echo show, echo plus etc.

Alexa is to Echo devices as Siri is to Apple devices. Alexa was designed to be as human as possible in performing conversational tasks. Although it may have been entertaining in the beginning to have an ostensible artificial intelligence, what happens when it starts to act unpredictably? An issue that has arisen recently clearly demonstrates this situation. Consumers have been complaining about a problem with these Alexa-enabled devices throughout the past couple of days. Apparently, Alexa has been causing a bizarre laughter without being instructed to do so. Some reported that the laughter came after they commanded Alexa to switch off the lights. This subject has been brought up and supported by a large number of consumers.

Many indicated that the Echo devices have laughed despite of the absenteeism of the wake word, which is “Alexa” by default. This issue has captured a lot of attention from media outlets. Aside from media attention, this has also temporarily generated a social trend on the social platform, Twitter. Through Twitter and Reddit, consumers have expressed their distaste because of the element of surprise. Imagine yourself alone at home. Out of nowhere, you hear a strange laughter coming from a close distance. A clear description of this image is certainly frightening and a cause of concern. Users claimed that they have resorted to directly pulling the plug on their Echo devices.

In response to these negative reviews, Amazon has stepped out to address the issue.

The Verge quoted a response from Amazon that says, “We’re aware of this and working to fix it.”

They have since then announced a couple of their upgrades. One of them involves the deactivation of the command, “Alexa, laugh,” with the replacement of “Alexa, can you laugh?” Amazon proceeded to justify this move by suggesting that in this way, false positives are less likely to occur.” To clarify, this means that the Alexa voice detection will have a lower chance of pick up on arbitrary words that subsequently triggers the laughter.

 “We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘Sure, I can laugh,’ followed by laughter,” added by a representative of Amazon.

In spite of all the improvements made, several people have made remarks regarding a different aspect. In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, a scene depicting the machine HAL 9000 acknowledging his wicked plans and uttered, “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Ultimately, this leads to the discussion of machine versus mankind. Robot overlords rule. Is this another indication of our over dependence on gadgets and devices? It seems as though we are fast approaching a dystopian future as depicted in movies. While we remain gratified and proud of the progress we have made in the field of technology, we should still keep it in moderation when it comes to the utilization of said devices.

At this point, it seems like the only distinction between men and robots is the ability to feel compassion and detect emotions. Should we be trying to create more artificial intelligence? Are we moving forward or bringing an end to the world?

Featured Image via Flickr/Guillermo Fernandes

Fight for the Safety of Children and Women

Each and every one of us tends to have an innate desire to preserve the innocence of children, regardless of our differences in terms of personal identity. However, there has been a longstanding debate over the exact age at which children should be able to make their own decisions. Although this remains indefinite across the world, nations have had to come to their own conclusions in the process of setting a legal age of sexual consent. The consequence of a lack thereof is apparent in recent cases. Four months ago, the alleged rapist of an eleven-year-old girl was exonerated from rape charges. The absence of elements such as violence, threat, surprise and constraint ultimately led to the thirty-year-old man’s discharge.

With the implementation of France’s new policy towards setting the legal age of sexual consent at fifteen-years-old, sexual contact with anyone under that age will be convicted with rape charges, regardless of context; Children are never in the position to give consent. This move is supported by Marlene Schiappa, the Equality Minister, following the advice of legal professionals. This is an extremely uplifting news seeing as these offenders could only be accused of sexual abuse of a minor instead of rape prior to this. At worst, they could only be forced to serve a five-year sentence, in addition to an $87,000 penalty. That is the same punishment for both minors and legal adults. That leaves room for plenty of alleged rapist to break free. Those who are behind such horrific acts deserve a far more punitive consequence.

 “Setting a legal age of sexual consent would allow a collective awareness and that everyone would see what was legal and illegal,” quoting Agnès Buzyn, the Minister of Solidarity and Health in Le Figaro, the French newspaper reports.

Even the current fixed age seems too young in comparison to Cyprus, who has set their legal age of sexual consent at seventeen-years-old. Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Portugal, on the other hand, have set their age at fourteen-years-old. Furthermore, France had some uncertainty regarding the exact age, be it thirteen or fifteen. In that period of time, many activist organizations that supports the cause of fighting violence against children were pushing for the higher age, reaffirmed by the Equality Minister and President Emmanuel Macron.

All of the aforementioned components concerning sexual assault policies are awaiting the government’s approval in the coming weeks. A separate case that incriminated a twenty-eight-year-old man with sexual assault charges have had some changes recently. The victim was initially described as “not physically forced to have sex” but the change in policy have decided that it is indeed, rape. With varying legal age of consent across the world, ranging from thirteen to eighteen, how do we determine when children have the ability to make the right judgements?

Perhaps we should focus on improving the safety of these women (and men) by eliminating the callous criminals. In the meantime, we can only attempt to do so through the platform of legal proceedings. Children and women should be able to feel safe in their environments as well as everybody else. Legal age or otherwise, children will eventually reach the consented age but that still does not ensure that no harm will come in their way. As a matter of fact, sexual assault is a usual occurrence on the streets of France as well. Findings have revealed that one in every eight French females has been sexually assaulted before. Hence, new plans for anti-street harassment policy are vital to the safety of women in France.

Further updates will be posted when it is announced.

Featured Image via Flickr/wp paarz

Jeff Bezos, First Centi-Billionaire in America

Jeff Bezos, the co-founder of Amazon has officially made it all the way to the top of Forbes list of world’s billionaires. Moreover, he has become the first and only person in America to acquire the title of centi-billionaire at a total worth of $127 billion, as determined by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He has now surpassed other well-known billionaires, like Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft who is estimated at the worth of $90 billion, and Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Though Bezos was already a centi-billionaire from the sudden development of the Amazon shares last year, he has already earned about $15 billion more in the start of just this year and is expecting further growth.

This is apparent by the four percent increase – in Amazon stocks – in February when the broader market suffered a decline of four percent.

“Bezos has seen his wealth remain in excess of $100 billion, and with the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg also tipped to reach that eye-watering milestone, it seems we’re entering the era of the centi-billionaire,” articulated by Vishal Chhatralia, the Vice President of Digital Operations for RS Components.  

To illustrate the astronomical extent of his wealth, juxtapositions have been made. To begin with, the ratio of a centi-billionaire with exactly $100 billion juxtaposed with an average American’s wealth (based on the country’s Gross Domestic Product) is 1 to 1.8 million. Likewise, the ratio of an average American’s wealth juxtaposed with Jeff Bezos’ fortune is 2.3 million to one.

Capitalism promotes profitability and long term economic expansion. It is the market system that has led to the United States’ success in today’s global market. However, it is also a system that works by merit. Although it can bring about a vast reduction in the unemployment rate that consequently eliminates the costs and wastes in the society, many have brought up the counterargument concerning the increasing gap in wealth inequality. Ultimately, the decision-making power within the market will fall on the top tier of the society, the centi-billionaires and the government, resulting in the negligence of other consumers’ wants and needs. This is a cause of distress because if the gap of wealth inequality gets bigger without a solution, various form of political instability and radicalization of society will be more likely to happen.

Nonetheless, the neoliberal form of capitalism is believed to be the most satisfactory political economic future so far as it is able to solve the demand problem caused by wealth inequality. This is attributable to the increase in state spending following the increase in profit margins as business proprietors dominate the labor industry. Like the conventional capitalist system, this, too, works by merit and though wealth inequality may become an issue, the increased collective spending can act as a counter against it. The strength of continuing the neoliberal form of capitalism, perhaps with some adjustments to it is that it is currently the most efficient system in maintaining a balanced relationship between the society and economy of a nation. Yet again, this system, without its previous function to ensure a stable growth in the economy, will only result in a decline in the living standard of the majority.

Hence, a centi-billionaire’s decision towards the final placement of their fortune can affect the future of many; ranging from an individual to an entire nation. Prospective centi-billionaires such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg have all pledged to return a big portion of their fortunes to the society for the greater good. No such promise has been made by Jeff Bezos. Then again, Bezos and his spouse have been quite the philanthropist for some time now. As alumni of Princeton University, they have previously donated a sum of $15 million to the college. In addition, the United States branch of Reporters Without Borders opened an office in San Francisco, California after receiving a generous donation of $250,000 from Bezos.

Adding to the list is a $33 million donation made to TheDream.US, a scholarship reserved for a thousand immigrant high school students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status who are receiving tertiary education. His reason for choosing this cause could be traced back to his father. As a sixteen years old Cuban immigrant, his father travelled by himself to the States under Operation Pedro Plan.

All things considered, however, the key aspect to keep an eye on is Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company. His alleged plan is to support this company by trading off $1 billion worth of Amazon stock annually. Blue Origin centers its research with the goal to acquire technological revolution. Bezos have explained his vision to build an economical space platform to compete with the Internet, despite its current focus on commercial purposes.

“That will be necessary to save the Earth, because without being able to expand into space, human civilization will have to contract,” he justified at a conference held in Los Angeles, California last November.

Featured Image via Wikimedia

Women are People, Not a Commodity

An extraordinary event transpired amidst the 19th and 20th centuries which altered the course of the history and transformed the world into life as we know it today. This century-long struggle has come to be known as the period of women’s suffrage movement. Prior to that time, long before any of us were born, women were once considered as a mere commodity just like a property. In fact, the United States in the early 1800s marked the era of white male dominance. It was a time when women were not permitted the same rights that men did, such as the right to vote as well as the right to own property.

Nonetheless, many women in countries all over the world are still considered inferior for the most part. Some examples of these places are Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the most infamous of all, Egypt. The society within these countries has an ostensibly innate gender-biased predisposition towards women that still subsists today. Frequent cases of domestic violence and the little to zero number of women in business and politics can be seen as the supporting evidence for the statement above, which is why an event hosted by Saudi Arabia recently has received worldwide attention.

With the rest of the world progressing so rapidly in terms of gender equality, it should come as no surprise that the women who are residing in Saudi Arabia, one of the countries in the Middle East are making an effort to improve women’s rights. The recent event is a clear illustration of this endeavor; Their first and foremost women marathon that lasts for nearly two miles. Fifteen hundred women participated in the run, ranging from professionals such as Mizna al-Nassar to other laypersons, who are there to show their support to the cause – all age groups included. Mizna al-Nassar, a twenty-eight years old prospective Olympian who, since then, has announced her plans to enter the 2020 Olympics that will be located in Tokyo, as a representative on Saudi Arabia. She is currently pursuing a career in the line of graphic design.

She successfully crossed the finish line of the al-Ahsa run within fifteen minutes, an impressive achievement that is backed by her,

“regimented food program and training schedule supervised by professional trainer,” in addition to past experience, “I have participated in the Islamic Sport Games in Baku Azerbaijan in 2017 and in the Ladies Sport Games in Sharjah in 2018,”

– she informed Al Arabiya, a news outlet that is based in Saudi.

The “al-Ahsa Runs” took place in the Eastern province of al-Ahsa, as reported by the Anadolu Agency.

Nonetheless, all participants in the run were reported to have their abayas and hijabs on in accordance with the Sharia law. Needless to say, this was not an easy race for the women, but their determination is both admirable and inspiring for all female across the world. Several months prior to this run, these women had just overcome the law that inhibits them from driving on the streets in the country. All in all, the Middle Eastern countries are really making progress towards gender equality in recent months.

While we are extremely proud of them, we cannot help but wonder why we have to fight for these entities in our lives. Why are female frequently considered as the inferior counterpart, when we are able to perform miraculous tasks such as reproduction, in addition to bearing the astronomical amount of pain that follows. Even so, women’s rights are still on the brink today in the United States as we approach the subject of pregnancy.

If we are as far ahead as we are led to believe, why do we still have to fight for Pro-Choice?

Featured Image via Flickr/Hernán Piñera

Xiaomi: Alternative for Android Smartphones

Attributable to the 21st-century advancement in technology, there are not many folks out there who are not in possession of a smartphone. As a matter of fact, smartphones are no longer considered as a luxury item, instead, they have become a necessity to our generation just like water and oxygen. They are the first thing that we look at every morning and the last thing we have our hands on before we go to bed. As a result, the industry behind all of this technology has skyrocketed in recent years. As the demand for smartphones increases, it should come as no surprise that different brands of suppliers are contending to get ahead.

With the United States’ dominance in the global market, foreign suppliers have long been anticipated to demand entry to the circle. Many have not been able to pass the barriers to entry, in addition to minor factors. This is because the United States has maintained a strict policy in these affairs on the grounds of upholding national security interests. ZTE, one of the smartphone manufacturer that originated from China obtained the position as the third runner-up in the United States market last year. Samsung is another multinational conglomerate company that, as we all know, is a leading smartphone provider.

A recent report from the Wall Street Journal reveals a new player in the competition amidst android smartphone providers across the States. Xiaomi, another multinational firm from China, has made its way into Spain earlier on, after finding success in Southeast Asia and India.

“We’ve always been considering entering the U.S. market,” Lei Jun, the Chairman of Xiaomi, expressed in the event of China’s legislative session that takes place once a year in Beijing, China.

Conversely, Xiaomi is not new to the United States market. They have been the retailer of quality gadgets such as television set-top unit for android, cameras, speakers, headphones and so forth for some time now. Due to the exclusivity of the smartphone market, however, Xiaomi has not been able to navigate through government policies imposed by the United States.

Despite the complicated regulations and proceedings, Jun is determined to overcome these challenges. He insisted that Xiaomi, as a firm, will familiarize themselves with United States rules and regulations in the course of months. At the meantime, they will continue to enhance and upgrade their products based on customers’ demands.

Though this may sound promising, the encounter with Huawei may suggests otherwise. Prior to this, Huawei had introduced its featured smartphone, Mate 10 Pro, in the United States. They were considered as a prospective partner by the local phone service provider, AT&T. In spite of that, their plans ended unsuccessfully due to government interference.

Many people are putting down their iPhones in exchange for Android devices that allow more room for customization. As we look forward to Jun’s promising plans, the anticipation of these smartphones offered by Xiaomi will no doubt be exciting for all the Android users out there! In fact, consumers in Southeast Asia have expressed their approval online since the appearance of Xiaomi gadgets many years ago. With an addition to the competition, other smartphone providers will undoubtedly improve their products in order to keep up. As a consequent to an increased number of substitute products, the manufacturers will have to lower their cost of production in order to compete, which means that the final benefactor in the smartphone market will be the consumers who holds the purchasing power.

The two leading brands, Apple and Samsung, will experience a decrease in value. This is because with more participants in the run for a portion of the pie, their halves become smaller. Replacing the pie with market value shows the loss that Apple and Samsung will suffer from, as more companies get ahead.

Featured Image via Flickr/Jon Russell