Sunday, 31 March 2019

Kweku Baako Jnr And Anas Amereyaw Are National Heroes - Not Villians, To Be Freely Condemned By Greedy And Feckless Politicians

No Ghanaian  journalist, worth his or her salt, should ever fall for the  Machiavellian plot to destroy the reputations  of Kweku Baako Jnr, and  his brilliant protégé, Anas Amereyaw. That shabby plot, is one of the most disgraceful conspiracies, ever to be hatched by members of a serving government,  in Ghana's entire history, since independence in 1957. Pity.

That vile and cynical  plot, according to bush-telegraph sources, was apparently  hatched by a greedy cabal of cynical regime-insiders, whose secret agenda, is apparently to exploit their positions in the administration of the serious-minded and honest President Akufo-Addo,  for personal gain - at Ghanaian society's expense. Hmmmm, Oman Ghana, eyeasem o - asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa.

Furthermore, it is vial that all independent-minded, and fair-minded Ghanaian  media professionals,  understand  clearly that the   loaded-phrase, often bandied  about  by the cynics in President Akufo-Addo's regime: "We must watch the raw unedited video footage of The Tiger Eye Private Investigators' story..." is actually  code for:  Let us see if we can find something in the unedited  video recording, to enable us trip up that confounded nosey-parker, who wants to ruin our wealth  acquisition plans.

Any politician in our homeland Ghana, who frequently utters that abominable and unpardonable phrase, in connection with the work of the Tiger Eye Private Investigators, is definitely an individual who must be monitored  closely, by the Ghanaian media, at all material times. The question we must all ponder over is: Has Kweku Baako Jnr not spent virtually all his adult life fighting corrupt and dictatorial military regimes that tried to enslave the good people of Ghana in the past?  And has Anas Amereyaw not also worked hard most of his adult life to expose egregious  corruption  in Ghanaian society? They are national heroes, not villians, to be freely condemned by feckless politicians. Who born dog? Haaba.

WLRN/Kate Stein: How Trees Can Make South Florida More Resilient Against Rising Temperatures


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How Trees Can Make South Florida More Resilient Against Rising Temperatures
By Kate Stein • May 2, 2018

    Volunteers from Bacardi worked with Miami-Dade County employees and the non-profit American Forests to plant trees in Losner Park in unincorporated Miami-Dade.
    Volunteers from Bacardi worked with Miami-Dade County employees and the non-profit American Forests to plant trees in Losner Park in unincorporated Miami-Dade.
    Kate Stein / WLRN

Global warming is likely contributing to record-breaking heat in South Florida: 2015 and 2017 tied for the hottest year since regional record-keeping began in the 1800s, and temperatures in the early part of 2018 are setting records, too.

Without global cooperation, the region can't significantly slow global warming. So many communities are instead thinking about how to adapt to hotter weather. One way is by planting trees to shade sidewalks and bus stops, and in neighborhoods where people might not be able to afford much air conditioning.

"'If you have one tree to plant, plant it in a city,'" said Ian Leahy, director of Urban Forest Programs for American Forests, quoting urban forestry expert David Nowak. "It has this impact that goes beyond planting a tree anywhere else."

Leahy was in unincorporated South Dade on Wednesday to help with a tree planting at a new park. It's part of Miami-Dade's effort to plant a million trees countywide by 2020 -- one example of resilience efforts that link climate change impacts to public health and urban land use.

"High heat can cause severe health impacts and even death. We saw that with Irma in communities up north," said Jane Gilbert, chief resilience officer for the city of Miami, referring to deaths at a Broward nursing home that lost power to its air conditioning system. While trees aren't substitutes for air conditioning, they can help lower outdoor temperatures by a few degrees. Gilbert says studies of Miami have shown that areas with fewer trees -- which are mostly low-income -- can be two or three degrees hotter than other places.

"It’s really critical that we reduce what we call the 'heat island effect' in our most urban areas," she said.

Miami-Dade's Tree Week continues through Friday, and includes tree planting efforts with volunteers from Bacardi, Coca-Cola and Bank of America. A workshop for Miami-Dade commissioners on Friday focuses on the urban tree canopy and hurricane impacts; you can learn more here.
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    EEO REPORT Stewart and Lulu Garcia-Navarro: Florida, Doctors See Climate Change Hurting Their Most Vulnerable Patients

How Climate Change Is Affecting Residents' Health In Miami The medical community in Florida is increasingly sounding the alarm about the health risks associated with rising temperatures.

In Florida, Doctors See Climate Change Hurting Their Most Vulnerable Patients

In Florida, Doctors See Climate Change Hurting Their Most Vulnerable Patients 5:59
In Florida, Doctors See Climate Change Hurting Their Most Vulnerable Patients

March 30, 20197:00 AM ET

Ian Stewart
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Jorge lives in a small efficiency near downtown Miami. He sells fruit on the street to make a living, and says he has felt the impacts of increasingly hot summers on his health.
Maria Alejandra Cardona for NPR

Every week, Jorge needs to earn $364.08. His handwritten budget is taped to the wall of the windowless shed where he lives in Miami. Inside the tiny space, there's barely enough room for a twin bed and a battered dresser; his kitchen consists of a blender and a microwave. There's no running water, and mosquitoes fly in through the open door.

The little that he earns needs to cover more than just his living expenses — Jorge has diabetes and cancer to manage, and he needs to support his five children back home in Ecuador.

To survive, Jorge, who requested that his last name not be used for this story to protect his health information, sells fruit on the side of the road. "Rain or shine, cold or heat, I still have to work," he says.

Most days, it's the heat he struggles with the most, and in recent years, the city has felt hotter than ever.

"When you work in the streets," Jorge says, "you really feel the change."

And it may only be getting worse. The 2018 National Climate Assessment noted that the southeastern United States is already experiencing "more and longer summer heat waves." By 2050, experts say, rising global temperatures are expected to mean that nearly half the days in the year in Florida will be dangerously hot, when the combination of heat and humidity will make it feel like it's 105 degrees or more.

Jorge, seen outside his home, prepares fruit to sell on the streets of Miami. He says he is already feeling the effects of climate change and increasing heat that makes it difficult to be outside.
Maria Alejandra Cardona for NPR

"When you work in the streets," Jorge says, "you really feel the change."
Maria Alejandra Cardona for NPR

Such projections are reshaping the conversation around climate change in South Florida. For years, that discussion had been dominated the impacts of rising sea levels. Now, the state's medical community is sounding the alarm about the health risks associated with rising temperatures. Whether it's a longer allergy season, air quality issues or mosquito-borne illnesses, heat is already making people sicker, they say, and the nearly 60 percent of Miami residents who live paycheck to paycheck could be the most in danger.

Cheryl Holder is Jorge's doctor, and treats many patients who are living in poverty or are uninsured or homeless. A professor of medicine at Florida International University and a founder of Florida Clinicians for Climate Action, Holder says she started considering climate change in her work a few years ago, after an older patient came to her clinic.

Cheryl Holder, a co-founder of Florida Clinicians For Climate Action, says she has seen an increase in illnesses exacerbated by climate change in low-income neighborhoods such as Little Haiti and Liberty City in Miami.
Maria Alejandra Cardona for NPR

"She needed more asthma medicines and she just was not as controlled as she had been," Holder says.

She soon noticed that other patients were having more respiratory ailments. So she reached out to fellow doctors, and the stories they were all hearing pointed to the same thing: Climate change was leading to a cascade of health problems.

The past three years, Holder says, "have been the hottest days on record." And with that heat, her patients with allergies have seen their symptoms exacerbated by a longer ragweed season and trees that flower earlier. The heat and humidity also make it harder to breathe, raising the risk of dehydration and kidney disease.

The problems hardly end there, Holder says. People who can't afford air conditioning find it more difficult to sleep, which can contribute to obesity. Exposure to high nighttime temperatures also makes it harder for the body to recover from daytime heat, which can result in "in heat-related illness and death," according to the National Climate Assessment. Holder says her patients have air conditioners if they can afford them, but they're often old and dangerously moldy.

On top of those concerns, climate change is fueling larger and more powerful hurricanes, storms that can damage flimsier homes, like Jorge's. People with limited means might also be reluctant to go to shelters because they aren't able to buy the necessary supplies of food and water. And the storms themselves can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It's just a vicious cycle that I find my patients involved in," Holder says.

Cheryl Holder takes a patient's vitals in Miami on March 18.
Maria Alejandra Cardona for NPR

Florida Clinicians For Climate Action, which was founded last year, seeks to connect the dots for patients and show how their symptoms are related to a changing climate. Holder says patients need to understand what is happening in order to adapt, and to that end, physicians can be a trusted arbiter of information.

"We feel the messenger is crucial," Holder says.

Taking climate change into consideration means that Holder is more likely to ask her patients who work outdoors about dehydration, for example, or to take a longer allergy season into account when treating those with respiratory ailments whose medicines are no longer keeping up with their symptoms.

Holder and her FCCA colleagues are also working to educate other nurses and physicians who may not yet understand the links between their patients' changing health and the changing climate around them.

Doctors in at least 11 other states have formed similar groups, coordinated by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health at George Mason University. In their founding document, Holder's Florida chapter warns that future health risks will not be evenly distributed.

"The burden will fall on the most vulnerable, such as the elderly, children, and pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and those with fewer resources," the document says. "Ironically the people who are most economically vulnerable have typically contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions."

People like Jorge, who is in his 70s, have already started to adapt. He runs a small air conditioner at night when it is too hot to sleep but says he has to be careful because of the cost. When he works outside, he tries to stay in the shade, wears long-sleeved shirts to keep the sun off and takes a break in the middle of the day.

The city is working to increase tree canopy coverage in the city to reduce "heat islands" and says it targets seniors with hurricane preparedness workshops, among many other climate resilience projects.

But Holder says she is concerned that city and state officials are more focused on the dramatic threats to the coastline, and she would like to see a sharper focus on the ongoing changes to their constituents' health.

"I hear a lot more about sea level rise and raising the sidewalks and replenishing the beaches. But it's going to be very, very difficult for the poor population," Holder says. "I don't know how they're going to survive."

Bloomberg Businessweek/Chester Dawson: What First Responders Don’t Know About Fiery Electric Vehicles

Bloomberg Businessweek
What First Responders Don’t Know About Fiery Electric Vehicles

Lithium-ion batteries, once ignited, are extremely difficult to douse.
By Chester Dawson
25 March 2019, 10:00 UTC
relates to What First Responders Don’t Know About Fiery Electric Vehicles

Illustration: Rina Barbarić

After an out-of-control Tesla Model S plowed into a stand of palm trees on a highway median outside Fort Lauderdale last month, police rushed to put out the ensuing blaze using a department-issued fire extinguisher. It was a wasted effort. The car kept on burning after the crash, which killed the driver.

The police may not have known lithium-ion batteries inside electric vehicles, once ignited, can’t be put out with chemicals from a conventional extinguisher. The battery fires are susceptible to a self-destructive chain reaction known as thermal runaway, causing a feedback loop of rising temperatures. The Tesla fire stumped a series of first responders in Florida. Firefighters eventually doused the flames with water, which seemed to work, but the wrecked car reignited twice more after being towed away. That prompted what a police report later termed “extraordinary measures,” including a call to Broward County’s hazmat unit for advice on stamping out the fire once and for all.

The accident illustrates the challenges faced by first responders unfamiliar with the special characteristics—and hazards—of electric vehicles’ powertrains. Safety experts say the only way to extinguish a lithium-ion battery inside a car is with thousands of gallons of water, much more than what it takes to stop a fire in a typical gasoline engine. The other option is to just let it burn itself out. “It’s such a difficult fire because it takes so much water to put out,” said Robert Taylor, fire marshal in Davie, Fla., where the crash occurred.
Tesla crash AP Photo
Emergency personnel work at the scene where a Tesla SUV crashed into a barrier on Highway 101 in Mountain View, Calif., on March 23, 2018.
Source: KTVU via AP

In addition to fires, emergency responders dealing with EVs face risks from high-voltage cables and silent-running motors. The experience taught Taylor’s team important lessons about dealing with electric vehicles. “For us,” he said, “it’ll be the awareness of auto-ignition of the battery and knowing how long the energy remains in them.”

In an emailed statement, Tesla Inc. called the accident tragic and said it had reached out to first responders to offer cooperation. The company also noted that vehicle fires aren’t unique to EVs. “We understand that speed is being investigated as a factor in this crash,” the company wrote, “and know that high speed collisions can result in a fire in any type of car, not just electric vehicles.”

While one witness said the car “flew” past him, police said it was traveling at the posted speed limit of 50 miles per hour.

With more than 760,000 electric and plug-in vehicles on the road in the U.S., according to the International Energy Agency, emergency responders with little past exposure to these cars are becoming more likely to encounter one at a crash scene. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is already investigating multiple incidents involving EV battery fires and problems encountered by emergency personnel. The agency plans to issue a set of recommendations based on four reference cases by late summer or early fall. “That will be the first major report addressing the issue,” said NTSB spokesman Chris O’Neil.

Electric vehicles are no more prone to accidents or fires than gasoline-powered cars—and might be less so, according to a 2017 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That report also notes battery technology is still evolving, without any consensus on safe system design. Battery-powered cars remain a tiny minority in the U.S., with sales of EVs accounting for just 1.2 percent of total new vehicles delivered in the U.S. last year, according to data from Edmunds.

But the expectation that EV sales will rise sharply within the next five years makes it critical to educate first responders and develop new standards that make identification and troubleshooting easier for police, firefighters, and tow truck operators. So far about 250,000 of the roughly 1.1 million firefighting personnel in the U.S. have undergone some form of EV training, according to estimates from the National Fire Protection Association.
Tearing Apart Teslas to Find Elon Musk’s Best and Worst Decisions
The battery pack of a disassembled Tesla Model 3.
Photographer: Sean Proctor/Bloomberg

“First responders have 100 years of experience dealing with internal combustion engines, but it’s a very different situation when it comes to EVs ,” said Andrew Klock, program manager for emerging technology at NFPA, a nonprofit based in Quincy, Mass. “Every time an EV catches fire, we get a lot of calls” from emergency management coordinators, he said.

The NFPA began conducting training and creating reference manuals about a decade ago just as the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf were about to debut. It has worked closely since then with General Motors Co. and other automakers to educate first responders about what wires to avoid, where critical components are located under the hood, and how to control battery fires. The NFPA provides check sheets for most makes and models.

Tesla also regularly meets with first responders and donates its cars for training purposes. But there’s only so much that can be done once battery cells begin to spontaneously explode. The company’s online emergency response guide notes: “Battery fires can take up to 24 hours to extinguish. Consider allowing the battery to burn while protecting exposures.”

One of the first things first responders learn: Never cut an orange cable, a color reserved for wiring in excess of 60 volts. These can be found not just in the front or rear of a car but also running behind side panels. Most gasoline-powered vehicles have no orange cabling at all, since they use electrical charge powered by a standard 12-volt battery. A typical EV operates at closer to a potentially deadly 400 volts. The all-new Porsche Taycan, for example, will boast double that amount of electrical charge when it goes on sale later this year.

Higher voltages are part of a trend designed to maximize efficiency and boost horsepower. “We think you could see a world of 1,200 volts” for vehicles in a few years, said Mary Gustanski, chief technology officer at Delphi Technologies Plc, a major automotive powertrain supplier. But she said advanced componentry could eventually do away with most high-voltage cabling.

The orange color coding was one early step taken by automakers to aid first responders and auto repair technicians. Other efforts include standardizing instructional materials and advocating three-sided badging on vehicles to help identify EVs. That’s being shepherded by a Society of Automotive Engineering task force, which includes representatives from 11 automakers as well as auto suppliers and government officials. The SAE is expected to update those guidelines later this year with more recommendations, such as using an “e” (for electric) as a prefix or suffix on nameplates of newer EVs. Officials say future revisions may include calls for a kill switch to cut off power under the hoods of electric vehicles.
relates to What First Responders Don’t Know About Fiery Electric Vehicles

Countries outside the U.S. also are grappling with the issue of familiarizing emergency response crews with electric cars. In 2016 firefighters in a small town in Norway allowed a Tesla to burn to the ground at a charging station, leaving only the charred remains of the frame and wheels, because they mistakenly feared using water could lead to an electric shock. Later that year, firefighters in the Netherlands delayed extracting the body of a deceased Tesla driver involved in a crash due to fear of electrocution if they cut a wire in the car’s frame.

In the aftermath of that incident, Dutch authorities turned to one of the leading authorities on Tesla vehicles involved in accidents: the fire department in Fremont, Calif., where the automaker’s factory is located. The department has ample experience responding to EV-related incidents, including a fire at Tesla’s plant earlier this year requiring the full submersion of battery packs in water tanks, said Cory Wilson, a captain at the Fremont Fire Department. “We’ve had several incidents there,” he said.

Tesla has donated hundreds of vehicles to the local fire department for use in deconstructive demonstrations of the Jaws of Life and other rescue tools. “We’ve cut up 400 to 500 Teslas over the past five years,” said Wilson.

The Fremont Fire Department now has about 50 Teslas ready for the next of its regular two-day classes attended by emergency personnel from around the country. Visiting crews are taught how to safely cut through and demobilize the electric vehicles. Wilson said he accepted an invitation on behalf of the department to teach a special session in The Hague, Netherlands, for Dutch and German first responders in 2017.

“Not knowing how to secure an electric vehicle can be lethal,” he said. “We’re fortunate enough to have Tesla in our community.”

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The Most Principled  Players In Ghana's Financial Services Sector Must Be  Innovative, Above All.

Of all the casualties, whose businesses suffered terribly, from reputational damage, as a result of the sudden crisis of confidence, which led to instability in Ghana's financial services sector, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom is the one high-profile  entrepreneur, who deserves public sympathy, the most.

For many independent-minded, and fair-minded  Ghanaians, who are also discerning individuals,  it is pretty  hard not see that dark-unseen-forces took advantage of the panic that took hold of the investing public - who  resorted to responding  to the crisis with irrational-knee-jerk-reactions - to destroy  Nduom's image  and damage his Groupe Nduom's stellar brand.

The question is: If by definition certain investment products are time-bound,  how then can clients' principal sums  possibly be returned immediately, before their maturity term-dates, once that irrational demand is made? Ebeeii. Hmmmm, Oman Ghana eyeasem o.

The tragedy for our nation, is that all Nduom's businesses in the financial services sector, were underpinned by corporate good governance  principles - and guided by an ethos of ethical leadership from the Groupe Nduom's C-suit's top echelons.

Finally, for the benefit of all ethically-operating active players in Corporate Ghana's financial services sector,  today, we have culled and posted a article written by Zach Miller  and entitled: "Behind BBVA’s ramp of its Banking as a Service offering in the US". Quite apart from being ethical professionals, the most principled  players in our financial services sector must be  innovative, above all.

Please read on:


Banking as a service

Behind BBVA’s ramp of its Banking as a Service offering in the US

    BBVA built its banking as a service platform to service its own in-house banking brands.

    Now, the global bank wants to white label its banking services to the broader US technology market.

Zack Miller | March 26, 2019

Behind BBVA’s ramp of its Banking as a Service offering in the US

This month, we’re focused on banking as a service — defining it, understanding it, trying it on to see where it leads. The term BaaS is batted around a lot in the industry as it alludes to the near term evolution of a bank’s role in the financial system. But, like a lot of emerging technologies, there isn’t consensus on what it means. It definitely involves cloud-hosted banking services delivered to third parties applications via connections called APIs. Global bank BBVA has made a big bet on the opening up of banking tech infrastructure and in the US, is focused on ramping adoption of its banking as a service platform.

Today, on the podcast we talk with Brent Baker, the head of growth and operations at BBVA’s Open Platform, which means he’s in charge of bringing new customers and maintaining risk and control. We focus primarily on his work with the firm’s banking as a service offering and how it fits into BBVA’s global strategy of being the bank of billions of people.

Subscribe: iTunes I SoundCloud I Spotify

The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

BBVA’s Open Platform

Open Platform is a subset of our larger Open Banking initiative that the bank is leading. For the global bank, Open Banking is a key part of its strategy, understanding that this strategy must align with the markets it participates in.

Open Banking is active in Spain (where BBVA’s headquarters are), Mexico with Bancomer, and in the US with Compass. What’s unique about the US is that we’re really focused on our banking as a service solution. We look at it as a white label solution to let third parties take advantage of our core banking capabilities, as opposed to some other open banking settings where BaaS only gives access to existing customer data.

When we describe banking as a service at BBVA in the US, the key is that it’s a white label experience. We’re providing not only read functionality but write functionality. We allow a client of ours to launch their application or service, incorporate core banking capabilities that they don’t typically have access to via a set of APIs. That’s what makes it an open platform.

We don’t view this as yet another channel for bank-branded products. You see a lot of banks rolling out developer platforms. It’s become table stakes for major institutions. They often provide access to existing branded services. So, you can get access to the Wells Fargo ACH solution via API, or you can originate a Capital 360 savings account — all great services for a specific market.

We’re going after clients who want to control the experience end to end but take advantage of the same services.

BBVA’s move into open banking and banking as a service

When BBVA acquired Simple in 2014, as part of that acquisition, it needed to transfer Simple off its core provider and onto the Compass core. To do that, BBVA needed to build a platform that gave Simple access to the bank’s functionality, from treasury management to card issuance. But, Simple needed to control the end experience, as it had up until that point.

The bank was also launching two neobanks of its own, Azlo and Denizen, and took what it had done for Simple and launched them on the same platform. Now, at the end of 2017, you have three operational banks on this platform. The bank then decided to see if there was a market for this technology outside BBVA.

We put a product in market Q1 2018 and went through a pretty extensive beta period. Our cohort group gave us feedback on the product and on the onboarding experience, and also gave us feedback on our pricing structure. This lead to the launch of our banking as a service launch at the end of Q3 2018. We’ve been in market for about 6 months.

We’ve learned that our offering is unique — there aren’t that many products in the US like it. We’ve brought on clients who are eager to scale with us. They like the fact that they get support from our client integration team. We don’t see ourselves as a vendor in this scenario. We see it as a true partnership.

Digit traditionally had a closed-loop savings program. They’ve done a great job of building an active and vibrant customer base and helping customers reach savings goals. Digit is taking advantage of Open Platform’s payment capabilities — ACH and bill payment — to help customers set a debt reduction target and pay down their debt.

Growing the BBVA BaaS brand

Awareness and storytelling are a big emphasis for us right now. We’re in market, talking to a lot of people, understanding how to position ourselves. We’re covering a lot of channels and doing more with media and press. We’re also leveraging our existing partnerships to help tell our story.

In 2018, we demonstrated that there was market fit, that we knew the pricing targets that would play in the market and that we could get this to market. Now that we’re in market, we’re focused on scalability. We’re focused on how to continue to scale the onboarding of clients while still offering support to our clients in a controlled manner.

How BBVA differentiates itself

I think it’s 2 things. The first is our robust suite of services. We offer a wide range of banking solutions — it’s a one stop shop.

Where I feel we are really setting ourselves apart is the emphasis around the developer experience. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about developer onboarding, our API documentation and the design of our APIs. We set out a mission from the beginning not to design the Open Platform the way a bank would. I don’t want to offend anyone with that, but we didn’t want to create an ACH API. We wanted to create a unified payments solution that minimizes the number of parameters and makes it easy for our clients to scale.

Stripe and Twilio have really well-designed APIs. Why shouldn’t a bank?

Banking as a service, Podcasts

Green Dot’s Dov Marmor: ‘Ultimately, people want to bank with the brands they love’

    Green Dot is best known for its prepaid debit card programs.

    But the company has evolved into banking as a service, working with many top brands.

Tearsheet Editors | March 29, 2019

Banking as a service

WTF is banking as a service?

    As a term, Banking as a Service creates a lot of misunderstanding.

    But there's full clarity on the move to distribute financial services out to third party apps.

Tearsheet Editors | March 25, 2019

© 2019 Tearsheet. All rights reserved.

    About Us Masthead Privacy Policy."

End of culled content from the Teersheet website.

Tearsheet/Zack Miller: Apple Card is a good card for consumers but even better for Apple’s mobile payment strategy


Apple Card is a good card for consumers but even better for Apple’s mobile payment strategy

    With speculation high, Apple revealed more details about its Apple Card.
    With Goldman Sachs's backing, Apple's new product is less revolutionary and more evolutionary.

Zack Miller | March 26, 2019

Apple Card is a good card for consumers but even better for Apple’s mobile payment strategy

While the dust settles around yesterday’s Apple Card announcement, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this isn’t a simple product.

For a year, we’ve speculated on what the Apple-Goldman card would mean for mobile payments. Now, Apple has revealed the specs in theatrics only Apple can produce.

Rewards are good, not great

On its own, compared apples-to-apples to other credit cards and rewards programs, the Apple Card doesn’t appear to offer anything earth shattering.

Of course, there as some small devils in the fine print. The card offers 3 percent cash back on Apple purchases, 2 percent on all purchases made via Apple Pay and 1 percent cash back on physical card purchases. You can definitely find cards with equal and more generous rewards.

Instead of competing on outright rewards levels, Apple intends to change the rewards experience. Most cash-back cards provide cash or miles after the statement closes. Apple Card introduces Daily Cash — holders of the card will receive daily installments of their awards in the form of Apple Cash.

Apple has also appears to have done a solid job with its spending tracking and categorization of spending types, a tricky functionality that hampers banks, personal finance managers, and data aggregators.
Apple Card

Apple Card as the hub of Apple’s payment ecosystem

Apple has its eyes on a bigger prize. Its establishing a content and technology ecosystem and Apple Card will take its place at the center of this hub with Apple Pay.

Apple Card holders can also find discounts to Apple’s new subscription magazine , content, and gaming products that, when used with Apple Card, will provide a steady flow of monthly payments into the digital card account.

It’s also a beautiful card and takes its rightful place alongside many of the well-designed, frequently metallic, cards offered by leading mobile payments providers.

    Pushing cash rewards to Apple Cash card w/in Apple wallet is a clever move to spur peer-to-peer payments (think Venmo-killer) & keep $$$ inside Apple ecosystem.

    Apple’s cost of funds is near zero if Apple Cash gets recycled to iTunes or P2P (vs card fees today).

    — Peter Berg (@peter) 26 March 2019

But mostly, the card provides the connective tissue between Apple Pay and Apple Cash, which holders will accrue daily. This cash can be earned, spent and re-spent entirely within Apple’s ecosystem. This could provide way more of an impetus to use Apple Pay for P2P payments than currently exists today.

As more cash is captured inside the Apple ecosystem, some interesting things can happen. Play this scenario out, and although the card runs on Mastercard rails, this could be Apple’s end-around of the credit card companies. Apple Card waters Apple’s walled garden with money.

Goldman Sachs, banking role in Apple Card

As the issuing bank behind the new Apple Card, Goldman Sachs’ collaboration on this new product speaks to the changing direction the bank is taking to reach new accountholders.

This ethos of increasing simplicity and transparency underscores much of the marketing effort behind the firm’s new consumer finance division. Marcus by Goldman Sachs has more than 3 million customers, $45 billion in deposits and $5 billion in consumer loan balances.

“Apple Card completely changes the credit card experience and is built to help customers lead a healthier financial life,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said in a memo to employees.

“We’re excited to partner with Apple on this card, which is designed to be truly on the side of the customer.”

With Apple Card, the global tech firm emerges as a legitimate player in fintech.

“The prophecy is slowly coming true,” said David Murphy, EMEA and APAC Banking Lead at Publicis Sapient. “For the past five years, banks have been told repeatedly that that the fintechs will disintermediate them and relegate banks to infrastructure. The fintechs have better customer experience and can operate way more efficiently. Because the fintechs were always small though, they felt like ankle biters. They put pressure on pricing but weren’t big enough to steal market share,” he said.

Apple has the resources and ambition to put pressure on the existing financial system.

“Apple is not a small Fintech. They appear to have come up with a very compelling customer experience and differentiated financial offer that integrates into their phone. They can put pressure on pricing and steal significant share. It’s not surprising that Goldman is backing up the card,” Murphy said.

Goal isn’t direct profit. Yet.

As the center of a payments and content hub, Apple Card isn’t intended to massively move the Apple profit needle — at least at the start.

    Goldman analysts on the Apple card: “Apple Card interesting but small earnings impact for Apple”

    — Julie VerHage (@julieverhage) 26 March 2019

Focusing on the new card itself is a bit of a distraction. Apple Card is a beachhead, beyond Apple Pay and beyond its content products, for Apple to embed itself further in its users’ consumption of content and media.
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    Honeybook is a popular financial management platform for solopreneurs and freelancers.
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    VP of marketing and branding, Melissa Lowry shares what's behind the creative campaign.

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Amazon Pay just got a boost: Worldpay is first acquirer to enable Amazon Pay

    Worldpay is the first acquirer to enable Amazon Pay.
    Worldpay does a lot of work in ecommerce, potentially giving Amazon Pay a lot more visibility.

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    Loyalty programs are evolving along with digital channels.
    Citi's Mary Hines joins us on the podcast to talk about optimizing engagement.

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Dr. Mercola: The Best Anti-Anxiety Foods to Munch On
The Best Anti-Anxiety Foods to Munch On
Fact Checked

    March 31, 2019
    Available in: English

natto and kimchi
Story at-a-glance -

    Being anxious is not an excuse for you to be reckless with what you eat
    Steer clear of sugar, gluten and processed foods if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or are feeling anxious, since they can further exacerbate symptoms

Whenever their stress levels rise, some people typically reach for a bag of chips or pint of ice cream, a habit known as "stress eating"1 or "emotional eating." But although you may temporarily feel good after eating "comfort food," you might end up regretting this in the long term. Emotional eating can result in inability to address the situation responsible for triggering unhealthy heating habits, devastating stress2 and weight gain.3
These Stress-Busting Foods Are All You Need

Being anxious is not an excuse for you to be reckless with what you eat. The next time you're down in the dumps, opt for these potentially stress-busting foods to allow you to combat these feelings:4

• Green leafy vegetables — According to Heather Mangieri, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, green leafy vegetables contain folate that produces "dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical [or neurotransmitter], helping you keep calm."5 Your best bets for green leafy vegetables include spinach, kale and Swiss chard.6

• Fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir and natto — Beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, are abundant in fermented foods, and may positively impact your mood and brain health, given that they are able to move mood- and behavior-regulating signals to the brain via the vagus nerve.

One example of a beneficial probiotic is the Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain. It improved GABA levels in certain brain regions,7 and helped decrease corticosterone (a stress-inducing hormone) levels and alleviated anxiety- and depression-related behavior.8

• Animal-based omega-3 fats — Ideally acquired from fish like wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines or anchovies, or high-quality krill oil supplements, omega-3 fats can do wonders for your mood.

Research has proven that omega-3 fats were effective in inhibiting initial symptoms of depression without the side effects.9 Another study recorded a 20 percent decrease in anxiety among medical students who took omega-3s.10

• Blueberries — Pigments called anthocyanins are responsible for the deep colors of blueberries, and help with the brain's production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that may boost your mood, memory and function.

• Bananas — These yellow fruits are home to dopamine, which may assist with promoting a better mood. Other vital mood-boosting nutrients present in bananas include B vitamins and magnesium. The former may help calm down the nervous system.

• Kiwis — These vitamin C-rich fruits may not just assist with combating infections, but aid in alleviating stress too. Studies have shown that consistent vitamin C intake helped lower both levels of stress hormones in the blood and typical indicators of physical and emotional stress.11

• Dark chocolate — Anandamide, a neurotransmitter found in dark chocolate, is said to be beneficial in momentarily inhibiting negative feelings of pain and depression. However, eat chocolate in moderation, since some varieties contain high amounts of sugar that can be devastating for your health.

• Turmeric — This spice has been renowned globally, and most of its health benefits may be traced to the pigment curcumin. It's responsible for the spice's bright yellow-orange hue and health benefits, such as neuroprotective properties that may defend your brain and improve your mood.12
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Does the Combination of Caffeine and Anxiety Work?

Caffeine-containing beverages like sports drinks should not be considered for anxiety disorder patients because it may worsen their condition.13 However, a cup of organic, shade-grown black coffee without added creamers, sugars or sweeteners may be an exception to this rule.

A cup of joe can positively affect brain health by enhancing production of neurotransmitters that may assist with mood control, and promoting release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that allows brain stem cells to develop new neurons.

The key to making coffee work for you, despite the caffeine in it, is to consume it in moderation and know the amount of coffee your body can tolerate in a given day, since different studies have suggested varying amounts of black coffee for a specific benefit. However, if you're pregnant, you should refrain from drinking any coffee at all. 
Let Go of Mood-Wrecking Foods

Steer clear of these three types of foods if you have been diagnosed with anxiety or are feeling anxious, since they can exacerbate symptoms:

• Sugar — Excessive sugar intake may contribute to different health problems for your mental and overall health. Apart from causing changes to blood sugar levels and mood swings, consuming way too much sugar may lead to insulin and leptin resistance that can cause impaired brain signaling, and reduce BDNF activity that may negatively affect stimulation or promotion of healthy brain neurons.

You may increase your depression risk if you consume excessive amounts of sugar as well, since this substance may cause chemical reactions in the body that may trigger chronic inflammation and immune system disruptions.

• Gluten — This protein found in grains like wheat, rye and barley14 was proven to negatively impact your mood and brain health. Various studies have proven this point. For instance, a 2001 Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology study showed that people with untreated celiac disease tend to experience anxiety and/or depression.15

Another study, published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica in 2005, revealed that subjects who underwent a gluten-free diet experienced reductions or even a full remission of schizophrenia symptoms.16

• Processed foods — You must avoid these foods, which are usually made with sugar or gluten, trans fats, artificial sweeteners and colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and synthetic ingredients, as much as possible because these may cause irritability and poor mood.


Anxiety: Introduction

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety Versus Panic Attacks

Anxiety in Children

Anxiety During Pregnancy

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

Anxiety Causes

Anxiety Types

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety Prevention

Anxiety Diet

Anxiety Support Groups

Anxiety FAQ



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If you want to use an article on your site please click here. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Dr. Mercola is required.

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Dr. Mercola: neuroplasticity stroke rehabilitation Don't Wait Until You Get Home, Do This Now if a Stroke Hits mecovery After a Stroke
Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola
How to Optimize Your Recovery After a Stroke
Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

    March 31, 2019
    Available in: English

Download Interview Transcript
Visit the Mercola Video Library
Story at-a-glance -

    Ischemic strokes can be effectively treated within a three-hour window; thrombolytic drugs can be administered that dissolve the blockage, preventing further damage to your brain
    Following a stroke, it’s important to engage your neuroplasticity to regain lost function. “Stroke of Luck: Master Neuroplasticity for Recovery and Growth After Stroke” is an important reference guide for doctors and patients
    Brain training and physical exercises allow your brain to develop alternate pathways to bypass the damaged area; the sooner you do it after the damage has been incurred, the more effective it will be
    An estimated 795,000 strokes occur each year in the U.S. It’s the fifth leading cause of death, killing an estimated 142,000 annually
    Strokes are becoming more prevalent in younger people. An estimated 10 percent of all strokes occur in people under the age of 50

Bob Dennis, Ph.D., a biomedical engineer by profession, is also the author of "Stroke of Luck: Master Neuroplasticity for Recovery and Growth After Stroke," and its much-shortened version, "Stroke of Luck: NOW! Fast and Free Exercises to Immediately Begin Mastering Neuroplasticity Following a Stroke," an excellent reference book that everyone should have in their medical library.

Why do I recommend you get a copy of Bob's book now? Because it is highly likely you or someone you know or love will have a stroke, and you simply don't want to wait for this book to ship to you as you will need access to it immediately if you are to minimize the damage done from the stroke.

Stroke is a massively pervasive problem in the U.S., with an estimated 795,000 strokes occurring each year.1 It's the fifth leading cause of death, killing an estimated 142,000 annually. It's also a leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S.2 Strokes are also becoming more prevalent in younger people.3 An estimated 10 percent of all strokes occur in people under the age of 50.4

The impetus behind the book was Dennis' personal experience. He's suffered two strokes so far, the last one in July 2018, at the age of 54, and made a magnificent recovery using the techniques he lays out in his book.

A recent example that has ignited renewed interest in prevention is the sudden death of 52-year-old actor, Luke Perry, from a massive stroke. Unfortunately, if it doesn't kill you, you may suffer with severe disabilities for the remainder of your life, which is why Dennis' book is so important.

He compiled this book as a resource to help stroke victims improve their chances of making as full a recovery as possible, and his own story is evidence that it's possible. He recounts his experience:

    "I woke up one morning in early July of 2018 and realized I'd had a stroke while I was in bed. I could barely talk, but I was able to get myself to a doctor. Of course, they loaded me immediately onto an ambulance and took me to a hospital. I was really aware of what was going on and what was happening. I paid very close attention to what they were asking me to do and what they were telling me.

    The standard of care now … is that when you have a stroke, within three hours, they can give you thrombolytics — chemicals … to break up a thrombus or a clot … It … saves and preserves brain tissue without permanent death of the neurons. I was outside the three-hour thrombolytic window, so that was not an option."

Conventional Medicine Falls Short on Stroke Recovery

For clarification, within that three-hour window, they have to determine which type of stroke you had, as giving thrombolytics to someone who has suffered a hemorrhagic stroke would be lethal (since a vein has ruptured and it's already bleeding inside the brain).

Hence, one of the first things that must be done is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine whether your stroke is due to a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or a rupture (hemorrhagic stroke). According to the American Stroke Association, 87 percent of strokes are ischemic; the remainder are hemorrhagic.5

    "Fortunately for me, most of my colleagues are neurophysiologists. On the very first day, my wife was able to ask them what I should be doing to get the best possible recovery. I got a lot of real expert opinions on it from my colleagues … I kept asking the mainstream physicians, 'What should I be doing to improve my recovery?'

    They kept saying, 'Well, take your meds, which are statins … and baby aspirin. Consider trying a Mediterranean diet.' The last thing they said was, 'Well, you should go to physical therapy (PT) too.' Now, I spoke to everybody who was at the hospital — a Level 1 neurotrauma stroke center — and that was the sum total of all of their advice.

    I was thinking to myself, 'Seriously, come on. This happens to 800,000 Americans a year? I know there are things you can do after stroke, where's the good advice?' It wasn't forthcoming … Of course, I knew a lot more because I'm a biomedical engineer. I knew a lot more than they were telling me. I got kind of a little angry about the fact that they don't give good advice.

    They basically give you the advice, 'Just lie there and wait,' which, in my opinion, is the worst thing you can do. Once you know it's not hemorrhagic, you should be doing things to promote your neuroplasticity. That's what I did. I just started doing what I knew was right …

    If I couldn't do something, I did it over and over and over again until I could do it. I recovered from the point where I couldn't stand, I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk. By the end of the first day, I was pretty much ambulatory. I could communicate with people … [in] … one day.

    I'm no genius. I'm just a regular guy, but that is neuroplasticity right there happening. You can make the most of it … Right after your brain is injured, you have this brief window of immense neuroplasticity and you need to take advantage of it. I got kind of ticked off by this whole system.

    I was like, 'You know what? Somebody needs to start telling people [that] as soon as you have a stroke, make sure you start doing things, especially the things they've asked you to do when they're assessing you. Because those things are safe. They're effective. They zero in on your problem, and you can do them without any special equipment.

    One of the ones they asked me to do was talk like a baby — 'Da, da, da, da, da. Ma, ma, ma, ma, ma' — which I couldn't do. But you can sit on a gurney and you can go, 'Da, da, da, da, da,' until you can do it, right? I list all of [these strategies] in the book, because I think that they're a really good place to start."

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Stroke Preparedness

Dennis wanted to make sure this information is available to anyone who needs it, and at a moment's notice, so the book is primarily designed to be an e-book, and is available for free on Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. "Also, as an e-book, you can have it the day you need it, which is the day you have a stroke," he says. "You don't have to wait for it to be delivered."

You don't even need to buy the book to get the most important advice and recommendations from it. You can simply click on the preview and read the summary, placed before the table of contents. My recommendation would be to get the book and review it now, before you or someone you love has a stroke, so you're already familiar with the material.

Dennis' experience is a powerful demonstration of how you can rapidly regain functionality by taking full advantage of your brain's capacity to rewire itself, a process called neuroplasticity. Basically, the brain training Dennis describes allows your brain to develop alternate pathways to bypass the damaged neurons, and the sooner you do it after the damage has been incurred, the more effective it will be.

    "In the full-length version of the book, which is about 600 pages in hard copy, I talk about the mechanism of neuroplasticity at great length … It turns out neuroplasticity is something that happens every time you learn something.

    You can take different kinds of supplements, drugs and just food substances, which are thought of as nootropics. Sometimes they explicitly say, 'This promotes neuroplasticity.' If you put in the term, neuroplasticity, just as a Google search term, there are all kinds of blogs on it.

    I downloaded and I show a few of these blogs. They're all very similar. They all amount to the following: Do novel things. Keep moving. Keep learning. Keep trying things. Keep challenging yourself. You don't have to have a stroke to have neuroplasticity, right? It just naturally happens when your brain is working and learning new things."

Helpful Lifestyle Interventions to Aid With Stroke

In addition to brain training exercises, Dennis also implemented a number of powerful lifestyle interventions that aided his healing. Among them, intermittent fasting, which he says radically changed his life and played an important role in his recovery. Since he started intermittent fasting after his stroke last year, he's lost 52 pounds.

    "The book is mostly about attitude and exercises for your mind and body, because your musculoskeletal system does interact with your body. But I do spend some time talking about how different things, like supplements and different technologies … can be helpful. But I'm not an expert in those, and I don't think I'm really plowing new ground there. I just mention them …

    Now, I don't think anybody should wait to have a stroke before doing intermittent fasting … In fact, if I could wind the clock back to when I was a kid, there would be one change that I would make in my life — I would stop eating all the time. I would intermittently fast … Once you start eating once a day and you eat well, you're just not hungry the rest of the time."

Stroke of Luck

The title of the book, "Stroke of Luck," refers to the concept of being an inverse paranoid, or pronoia, where you presume that when bad things happen, something good can come out of it. In Dennis' case, that's exactly what happened. By taking advantage of neuroplasticity, and training extra hard due to his stroke, he ended up not only recovering back to his prestroke state but actually improved beyond that.

His sense of balance improved, and he became ambidextrous. He was also able to eliminate his chronic back pain. As a biomedical engineer, Dennis invented one of the best pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) devices on the market (which I personally use every day) called ICES model M1.

One of the reasons behind its development was his desire to create something to help with his own back pain issues. Remarkably, the stroke ended up being part of the answer. He tells the story:

    "They had me on opioids, so I developed the PEMF device. It actually worked really well for my lower back pain, general aches and pains, injuries and stuff like that. But then about four or five years ago, I started developing complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in my pelvis and legs, which means I was just in pain all the time.

    It was probably centrally mediated, which means it was probably something in my brain, because the PEMF was not helping. CRPS is a terrible condition. It's got, on average, the highest pain scale rating of any condition. There's virtually no treatment for it ...

    I threw every scrap of knowledge that I had at it and wasn't getting better. And then when I had the stroke and came out of it the next morning, the pain was gone ... It's known that certain types of pain are because your brain is mis-wired …

    If one [brain] region is damaged, you can vicariate, which means that a different area of the brain can take over that function and adopt it. A lot of people do not know this … There's a lot about the brain that we just don't understand. But we do understand that under the right conditions, it can rewire itself ...

    If you're exercising enough areas in your brain, you get a total brain response of neuroplasticity. It is known, for example, that one area with one lesion of a stroke in your brain will actually cause neuroplasticity throughout the brain.

    If you are actively encouraging neuroplasticity enough in different places in your brain, the rising tide lifts all boats. A lot of things just get better, because your brain is in the zone. It's in the mode to rewire itself, and it does …

    As far as the pain is concerned, it just vanished [after the stroke]. I woke up and it was gone … I wanted a full recovery of my brain, but I did not want the pain back. I didn't want all of the circuits to vicariate. I only wanted the good ones to vicariate.

    I think I've been about 90 percent successful because I had a little tiny bit of the pain return, but now I'm able to exercise and make that go away … In the book, I tried to make it a resource, but I boiled it down to, 'What does the brain really do? What do we really know? If you want to exercise this kind of sensory input … motor activity or mental activity, you can do these kinds of exercises.'"

Time Is of the Essence

It's well worth reiterating that when you're dealing with a stroke, first, you need very rapid medical treatment. You only have a three-hour window within which medication can be administered to dissolve the clot and prevent further damage. But you also need to start your recovery program as quickly as possible — that same day, or as soon as you're coherent enough to begin. The same applies to PT.

Dennis was told he'd have to wait three weeks for a PT appointment, which he realized was far too long. So, he developed his own PT program. "If I had just done what was prescribed and advised, I don't think my recovery would have been very good. I certainly could not have given this interview," he says.

As a result, by the time he saw his physical therapist, he was already able to perform 80 or 90 percent of the exercises prescribed. Dennis also emphasizes the need to get the most out of your prescribed PT. Many simply drop out and stop going after a couple of sessions, thinking that once they know the exercises, they can just do them at home.

    "PT is only as good as what you bring to it," he says. "When I went to PT, I had a huge list of questions. I said, 'Can you measure this? Can you measure that?' They put me on every machine they had. I started getting numbers, so I knew I was doing something right. I was getting better at the sensory organization testing.

    Then a few weeks later, I did it again. They said, 'Whoa. You're improving way better than anybody in the history of doing this.' In fact, one of the physical therapists said, 'Your scores are higher than mine' … Because I was exercising …

    [PT is] the best part of the medical system you definitely want to engage if you have a stroke. Get the best physical therapist that you can and the best occupational therapist and the best speech therapist. I had all three …

    [My] fast recovery was because of what I brought to the treatment. If you just do what they're asking you to do, I think most people will have a pretty poor recovery. I'm going to make a statement now. I will stand by this. Most people can and should expect a much, much better recovery than the medical system would expect or report if they simply do as much as they can, but also do [what] they cannot do and keep exercising it, and keep doing new things."

More Information

In my view, "Stroke of Luck" should be required reading for all primary care clinicians, because they really need to understand this information — and provide it as a resource to their stroke patients, as it contains such a valuable variety of recommendations consolidated all in one place.

    "What I wanted to do was collect every resource related to exercise, lifestyle, attitude and choices," Dennis says. "There's nothing in there that I didn't try. I didn't just list a bunch of junk. Even the really strange things, I've tried them. If it seemed to me to be stupid and hokey, it's not in the book."

The full-length hard copy version of the book, "Stroke of Luck: Master Neuroplasticity for Recovery and Growth After Stroke," is just over 600 pages and retails for $84.59 (the minimum price allowed by the publisher for that book in hard copy). It's also available as an e-book for less than $8.

The shortened version, "Stroke of Luck: NOW! Fast and Free Exercises to Immediately Begin Mastering Neuroplasticity Following a Stroke — Right Now!" is only 100 pages long. It's available in paperback for less than $20, and as an e-book for less than $6 (or free with Kindle Unlimited).

Also, remember you can get the key points in the summary completely free without download simply by opening up the Amazon preview. The shorter version contains the information Dennis believes is imperative to know on the day of your stroke. "I boiled all these things down to the essential points of which exercises you should be thinking about, safety points you should be keeping in mind," he says. "That's it."

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If you want to use an article on your site please click here. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Dr. Mercola is required.

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Saturday, 30 March 2019

The Washington Post/Thomas Toch: The Lottery That’s Revolutionizing D.C. Schools

The Washington Post   
 Democracy Dies in Darkness
The Lottery That’s Revolutionizing D.C. Schools. A Nobel Prize-winning economist designed an algorithm that transformed where Washington kids go to school. But how far can it go in addressing segregation and inequality?
Taylor Johnson on her way to KIPP DC College Prep in Northeast Washington.
Story by Thomas Toch
Photos by Evelyn Hockstein
March 20, 2019

On a snowy December Saturday in 2017, Crystal and Sean Goliday and their young son, Noah, were among some 5,000 District of Columbia families streaming into the D.C. Armory next to RFK Stadium. Inside, staff from nearly all of the city’s 236 charter and traditional public schools were pitching their schools to passersby from long rows of brightly decorated, swag-filled booths set up on the armory’s hardwood floor.

At EdFest, Washington’s citywide school fair and a modern-day education bazaar that would have been hard to contemplate a generation ago, high schools even had their cheerleaders out. Coaches held up uniforms to entice recruits. The Golidays were excited but anxious as they moved through the crowds. Crystal owned a townhouse in suburban Upper Marlboro, Md., when she and Sean met, but they wanted to raise a family in the city, in a predominantly African American neighborhood where their investment in a home would grow. So they bought a small, 70-year-old rowhouse in the Deanwood neighborhood, just over the Anacostia River from RFK. They didn’t want their low-performing neighborhood school for Noah, who would be starting preschool eight months after EdFest, but they hoped to stay in Ward 7 rather than return to the suburbs or pay for private school. They were looking for other public options. In Washington, students could attend any traditional public school with open spots, and nearly half the city’s public school population attended charter schools, publicly funded but privately operated.

Crystal and Sean tried to read the body language of representatives of popular schools as they worked their way up and down the aisles at EdFest. “We’ll never get in here,” Crystal sighed, sizing up the crowd at the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School booth, a Chinese-English immersion program. Like many of the city’s more affluent families, Crystal was drawn to specialized schools such as Yu Ying.

After exchanging pleasantries with the principal of Cleveland Elementary, a Spanish-English bilingual school run by D.C. Public Schools, the city’s traditional school district, Crystal asked, “Can you tell me, honestly, our chances?”

“Really, honestly, you have to just try the lottery,” the principal responded.

“We’re concerned that we’ll be stuck with the neighborhood school,” Sean told me a short time later, as he darted after Noah. He liked a high-achieving school on Capitol Hill that uses the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy.

“Sean and I both went to city public schools,” Crystal said. “We want Noah to be challenged.” The Golidays were also drawn to schools that were racially and socioeconomically diverse. They didn’t want Noah to be among the only African American students in his school.
Because My School DC’s software places students, the system levels the playing field for families who lack political connections or the time to complete scores of applications.

Taylor Johnson, an eighth-grader at Democracy Prep Congress Heights Public Charter School, had different priorities at EdFest. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, she had grown up in a two-bedroom apartment with her mother and father and twin brother, Todd, in the Southeast Washington neighborhood of Congress Heights, just a few blocks from Democracy Prep. The following school year, 2018-19, she and Todd, who goes by T.J., would be in high school.

Their mother, Kelli Johnson, graduated from nearby Ballou High School and was the first in her extended family to earn a college degree. Taylor, partial to jeans, sneakers and big earrings, had aspirations beyond high school. “I want to go to college,” she told me. “Be a teacher or do cosmetology.” Ballou had a cosmetology program, but it was among the lowest-rated schools in the city, and Taylor wasn’t impressed when she visited. “People were playing in class, teachers weren’t teaching,” she said.

Taylor and her brother lived in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. A week after I visited Democracy Prep last year, a Ballou student was fatally shot in the middle of the afternoon across the street from Taylor’s school. “I’ve asked to go somewhere where I know I’m safe,” the 14-year-old told me.
Pre-K student Noah Goliday with parents Sean and Crystal Goliday at a Valentine's Day event at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School.

Her parents didn’t need any convincing. To the Johnsons, that meant going to high school on the other side of the Anacostia River. At EdFest, Taylor bypassed Ballou, Anacostia High School, Friendship Tech Prep and other Ward 7 and 8 schools. It was the pitches by McKinley Tech, KIPP DC College Prep, E.L. Haynes and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Georgetown that she wanted to hear.

Public school choice has expanded steadily in the nation’s cities since the first magnet schools emerged nearly five decades ago as a way to desegregate public school systems voluntarily, and especially since the start of charter schooling in the early 1990s. But in Washington and the rest of the country, taking advantage of expanding school options traditionally meant navigating myriad application timelines and deadlines without information to make clear comparisons. It meant oversubscribed schools pulling names out of paper bags, families pitching tents on sidewalks — or paying others to camp out for them — to get to the front of wait-list lines, and schools cherry-picking applicants to get the most attractive students: a system favoring the well-educated, the wealthy and the well-connected.

For schools, the system made planning almost impossible. Many students were admitted to multiple schools but didn’t let schools know their plans — causing thousands of wait-listed students to change schools through September and early October, leaving schools guessing about revenue and staffing, and disrupting instruction. Now, the Johnsons and the Golidays were following a very different route. Since the 2014-15 school year, the District’s 93,000 public school students have selected traditional public schools and charters through a single centralized application process powered by a computer program that matches as many students as possible to their top choices.
For all its success, My School DC has suggested there are limits to what school choice can accomplish — especially as an antidote to racial and socioeconomic segregation.

Launched by then-Mayor Vincent C. Gray and run by a unit in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education called My School DC, the common enrollment system starts with schools submitting lists of open spots. Students or parents set up accounts on the My School DC site and rank their preferences, applying to as many as a dozen schools after searching with a My School DC search engine, via fairs like EdFest, or by attending public school open houses.

My School DC gives students random lottery numbers. Then an algorithm works to place as many students as possible in the schools they want, giving those with better lottery numbers an edge when schools are oversubscribed.

Students are automatically placed on the wait lists of schools they’ve ranked but aren’t matched with, including schools higher on their lists than schools they are matched with. And My School DC matches wait-listed students as spots become available. Parents and students can track their standing online.

Every student in the city is guaranteed a spot in a neighborhood DCPS school. Today, though, with families able to move beyond neighborhood school boundaries, only 27 percent of Washington’s public school students take that option.

Because My School DC’s software places students, the system levels the playing field for families who lack political connections or the time and resources to stand in lines, lobby school principals and complete scores of applications. The algorithm rewards the ranking of schools in students’ true preference orders, removing any advantage of attempts to game the system. And a common online application process eliminates multiple deadlines, lost paperwork and the cost to schools of hiring people to input thousands of paper applications.

The common enrollment system is an important window into Washington’s changing educational landscape — generating a trove of information about school preferences that is shaping city leaders’ thinking about what kind of schools to create and where to put them. It is also making public education more transparent for families, and bringing new competitive energy to both traditional public schools and charters, even as it has led the two types of schools to work together in mutually beneficial ways. And yet, for all its success, My School DC has suggested that there are limits to what school choice can accomplish — especially as an antidote to the racial and socioeconomic segregation that plagues education systems nationwide.
Noah Goliday in class at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School.

The Golidays and Johnsons had a Nobel Prize-winning Stanford University economist named Alvin Roth to thank for the My School DC enrollment system. He grew up in Queens, the son of public high school teachers who were less than pleased when he stopped going to classes his junior year. A Columbia University engineering professor who had been working with Roth in a weekend science program for talented high-schoolers rescued him by getting him into the Ivy League school at the start of what would have been his senior year, without a high school diploma. He went on to earn a Stanford doctorate and a Harvard professorship.

Roth, now 67, gravitated to matching markets, where parties must choose one another, through applications, courtship and other means. In 1995, he wrote a mathematical algorithm that greatly improved the efficiency of the system for matching medical school graduates to hospitals for their residencies. That work led him to improve the matching models for law clerkships, the hiring of newly minted economists, Internet auctions and sororities. “I’m a market designer,” he says. “Currently, I’m focused on kidneys. We’re trying to match more donor kidneys to people globally.”

He brought his expertise to the education sector when he was teaching at Harvard. He got a call in 2003 from a New York City Department of Education official who had read his work on residency matching and wanted him to redesign New York’s dysfunctional high school enrollment system. In New York, which has the nation’s largest public school district, high school choice is mandatory. Every year, the city’s roughly 80,000 eighth-graders must select, via application, from more than 700 programs spread across New York’s five boroughs. The system was surpassingly stressful for families, who were forced to put at the top of their lists schools they thought would be less popular rather than schools they really wanted to attend. It was also rife with cronyism, and thoroughly ineffective. At the end of the months-long process, some 30,000 students were left without schools to attend.

Roth and a star Harvard graduate student, Parag Pathak, the son of Nepalese immigrants and now an MIT professor, adopted Roth’s medical match methodology to streamline the New York system, working with another market expert, economist Atila Abdulkadiroglu, now at Duke. In 2012, Roth won the Nobel Prize in economics for his matching work, including the New York project.

After students’ school selections and lottery numbers are uploaded into a computer, Roth explained in his modest office in the Stanford economics department, the machine executes a vast number of nearly instantaneous school placements, “making temporary matches that are constantly revised as schools are filled with students that rank them higher and have higher tie-breaking lottery numbers.” Unmatched students cascade through the system, as the computer works to match them to their next-highest choices.

“The model gives students who don’t get their first choices just as much chance of getting their second choices as if they had ranked their second choices as their first choices,” Roth told me, “permitting every family to put the schools they want most to attend at the top of their lists and putting more students in schools they want to be in. Children who grow up in poorer neighborhoods shouldn’t be condemned to go to poorer schools.”
Todd Johnson, who goes by T.J., outside McKinley Tech. T.J. had been interested in McKinley Tech and Banneker Academic High but made McKinley his first choice.

Promoting school choice isn’t a universal goal among public educators. Administrators worry the common enrollment model could encourage more students and funding to flow to the charter sector. Charter leaders, especially at popular schools, worry about losing control of their enrollment and losing market share to other charters. Former D.C. schools chancellor Antwan Wilson rejected common enrollment in his prior job leading the Oakland, Calif., school district in the face of intense pressure from unions and traditional public school advocates — only to lose his next job over the policy when he sidestepped the My School DC system in placing his daughter in a DCPS high school last year.

But in Washington, the teacher union is weak, and Wilson’s predecessor, Kaya Henderson, and her counterpart in the charter sector, Scott Pearson, the executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, saw common enrollment as a way to help schools and students. A supporter of school choice, Henderson had improved lotteries for preschoolers and students seeking schools outside of their neighborhoods. In 2011, she launched a common application for DCPS’s half-dozen selective high schools. “We were driving D.C. parents crazy” by having schools manage their own enrollments, she told me.

And the annual game of musical chairs in charter admissions made it tough to know who would show up at her DCPS schools. The picture would be a lot clearer under Roth’s common enrollment system, she sensed. Schools would get real-time updates on new applicants and on how many current students were applying out. Wait lists would be immediately updated when a student accepted a spot, providing invaluable enrollment information for planning purposes. And a year-end report would tell school leaders where else their applicants applied, highlighting each school’s top competitors. It would be like Amazon, a My School DC staffer told me: “Shoppers who looked at this product also looked at these other products.” (Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
The new system “removes any sort of shadow that people cast on charter schools of gaming the system, of being secretly selective,” says Scott Pearson.

Pearson viewed Roth’s model as a way to cut the cost and confusion of having more than 60 charter school organizations running their own application systems. Just as important, it was a way to counter the growing perception that some charters were working to exclude challenging students. The computer-driven system thwarts schools’ attempts to discourage tougher-to-educate applicants — a problem in the expanding public school choice landscape. And it does schools no good to hold back spots from the lottery in an effort to fill them on their own; they can no longer draw on their wait lists selectively now that My School DC manages the lists. To Pearson, the new system “removes any sort of shadow that people cast on charter schools of gaming the system, of being secretly selective.”

Abigail Smith was developing the charter sector’s common deadline when Gray named her deputy mayor for education in 2013. Building a single citywide public school enrollment system powered by Roth’s algorithm was her top priority. “You’re always in a situation where the rich and the powerful are going to find a way to maximize the system,” Smith told me. “The idea is to level the playing field as much as possible.”
T.J. Johnson practicing the trombone after school.

The Golidays, who moved to the Washington area to attend graduate school, had been exploring the world of D.C. schools since Noah was 1. Crystal tracked Moms on the Hill (MOTH), an online group of thousands of mostly middle-class parents, and visited schools citywide, collecting what she learned in a detailed spreadsheet. Sean was drawn to the experiential learning at the center of the Reggio Emilia school. And they both liked the “sense of community” at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, a French- and Spanish-immersion charter near Catholic University.

The school had an International Baccalaureate program, high test scores and a diverse student body and faculty. It also had established a partnership with three other dual-language elementary charter schools to send their graduates to DC International School, a dual-language charter middle school-high school. “It would give us a clear path to graduation,” Crystal said. And so, they put a campus that the school was opening east of the Anacostia at the top of their list, hoping that the large number of spots there would work in their favor.

On Monday morning, two days after EdFest and hours after the My School DC application season opened, the Golidays typed their 12 choices into Noah’s portal on the My School DC website and hit send, making them among the first of nearly 25,000 D.C. families seeking spots outside of their neighborhoods, almost a third of them for preschoolers like Noah. Four months later, they would learn Noah’s fate.

Meanwhile, the Johnsons weren’t alone in wanting out of Southeast schools. The flow of students under the common enrollment system has been almost exclusively from east to west, says E.V. Downey, who until recently helped about 400 mostly younger middle-class families a year navigate the public school choice landscape, charging them a few hundred dollars a year as a consultant.

Middle-class African Americans living in Hillcrest and other more-affluent enclaves east of the Anacostia, she says, have bypassed the many highly structured charter schools in their neighborhoods in favor of schools in Brookland, Petworth and other neighborhoods closer to the center of the city that stress art, music and exploratory learning, which are also draws for middle-class white and Latino families. But the commitment of families like the Johnsons to attend schools across the Anacostia River meant that they bypassed not only Ballou and Anacostia High, but also Thurgood Marshall Academy, a highly rated Ward 8 charter school that has struggled to fill its spots in a neighborhood that many families have sought to escape.

Todd Johnson (T.J.), wiry and sporting a fade haircut, was a good student at Jefferson Middle School Academy, where just 18 percent of students met the city’s math standards, and where he played trombone in the band, ran track and captained the boys’ basketball team. He and Taylor and their parents toured several schools, including two of DCPS’s half-dozen selective high schools, which required students to meet their admissions standards before including the schools on their My School DC applications.
With many families lacking Internet connections, My School DC makes public service announcements on radio and Metro buses.

T.J. got a thumbs-up at both McKinley Tech and Banneker Academic High but made McKinley his first choice, he told me, because the school’s sports program was stronger. Taylor didn’t get interviews at either school and shifted her focus to Washington Leadership Academy and KIPP DC College Prep. They both got their applications in before the My School DC deadline, T.J. using a computer in his middle school library, Taylor applying from home before running out the door to cheerleading practice.

With many families lacking Internet connections or transportation to traverse the city researching schools, My School DC spends a substantial part of its $2 million annual budget helping disadvantaged families — including training guidance counselors and other school staff to assist families with applications; hosting information sessions at recreation centers, homeless shelters and other city agencies; and making public service announcements on radio, social media and Metro buses. A nonprofit called DC School Reform Now counsels hundreds of low-income families a year and produces a series of Zillow-like virtual school tours. And enabling families to submit applications via smartphones has helped bridge the city’s digital divide.

My School DC has reduced to under 300 a year the number of students that schools enroll outside of the centralized system. In an effort to drive the number lower, the My School DC board last summer gave itself the authority to have the city’s inspector general police schools not playing by the rules.
Taylor Johnson hugs Wanice Edwards, ninth-grade dean at KIPP College Prep.

The Golidays and the Johnsons were lucky. My School DC sent Kelli Johnson emails in late winter congratulating Taylor for getting into KIPP College Prep, her first choice, and welcoming T.J. to McKinley, where he was among 185 incoming ninth-graders matched from over 800 applicants.

My School DC’s algorithm matched Noah Goliday to Stokes East End’s French program, the family’s second choice after the school’s Spanish program. Stokes had announced in late February that its new East End campus would be on East Capitol Street in Ward 7, near the Prince George’s County line, a short drive from the Golidays’ home. Like many families, they had asked a lot of questions when they learned that Stokes’s young students would be sharing a building with a charter high school. There would be separate entrances and security guards, school leaders responded. That was good enough for the Golidays, and they kept the school at the top of their My School DC list.

When East End opened its doors in August, it had a diverse student body drawn from every ward in the city, with white students living west of the Anacostia River making up 15 percent of its enrollment, the first time in the city’s modern history that significant numbers of white students were traversing the river to attend public school, says Pearson.

The Golidays were thrilled they landed a spot. Still, 8,600 students ended up on wait lists without matches. The problem is that there aren’t enough spots in sought-after schools.

Preferences built into the My School DC system, including for siblings of enrolled students, add to the challenge. A so-called in-boundary preference makes it particularly tough to get into the city’s best traditional neighborhood schools. Carving the city into attendance zones and guaranteeing students a spot in the traditional public school in their zone is a way of reconciling school choice with the right of every student to a free public education.

But not surprisingly, families living within the boundaries of top schools exercise their in-boundary advantage more often than families with weak neighborhood options. And because many of the highest-performing neighborhood schools are in predominantly white and more-affluent sections of the city, the My School DC preferences weaken the system’s ability to reduce long-standing racial and economic segregation in Washington’s public schools, despite citywide school choice. For the same reason, undoing the preferences would be politically impossible.

That majority white Ward 3 has no charter schools — with their mandate to take applications from throughout the city — compounds the problem. So does the fact that white students make up only 15 percent of the city’s public school enrollment, while studies estimate that about half the city’s white students attend private schools. So one path to desegregating the city’s schools is persuading more white students to stay in the public sector. “There are choices white families are making that are reinforcing the status quo racially,” says Smith, the former deputy mayor for education.

When the Golidays moved in September to a larger house in Ward 7, Noah’s trip to school was only a few minutes longer — across Pennsylvania Avenue SE to East Capitol Street. Each day he’s greeted by Stokes staff as he walks into the sparkling new gym under the weight of a big backpack emblazoned with “I can do anything.”
Based on the success of My School DC, DCPS and the charter sector have started to plan the District’s educational future more thoughtfully.

But for many D.C. students, the daily school commute is a test of their resolve, as I learned when I traveled with Taylor and T.J. Johnson to KIPP College Prep and McKinley Tech on Halloween. Just before school started last summer, the Johnsons, hoping to save money for a house of their own, moved from Congress Heights to Todd Sr.’s mother’s compact, 1,500-square-foot, World War II vintage brick rowhouse, two blocks from Prince George’s County in Ward 7.

The move meant that Taylor rises at 5:50 in the morning to leave the house at 6:40 in her mother’s Nissan Sentra, battling buses down Alabama Avenue SE to the Congress Heights Metro station. It was still dark when we boarded a standing-room-only Green Line train bound for Chinatown at 7:05. We switched to a Red Line train and rode it a couple of stops to NoMa-Gallaudet U station, arriving half an hour after we departed Congress Heights.

From there, we walked half a mile, under a railroad trestle and up a hill through the gentrifying Union Market neighborhood, arriving at KIPP at 7:50. Sometimes Taylor catches a KIPP shuttle bus from the NoMa station. But she mostly walks up the hill by herself.

T.J. follows much the same route as his sister, walking half a mile in the opposite direction once he gets to the NoMa station, across New York Avenue NE and past SiriusXM’s massive antennas before reaching McKinley’s worn marble steps and metal detectors.
Taylor Johnson in her world history class at KIPP.

Their return home after school takes longer, an hour and a half without their parents ferrying them to the Congress Heights station. Taylor told me the day we traveled together that she feels safe commuting by herself in the dark. Yet for many D.C. students, there’s a limit to how far they are willing and able to travel to schools.

Recognizing this, DCPS and the charter sector have started to plan the District’s educational future more thoughtfully. Armed with My School DC data that provides a much clearer picture of families’ school preferences, they have responded by adding popular programs in neighborhoods that don’t have them. “It completely changed the game,” former chancellor Henderson told me. “We went from being a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. It forced us to think about advertising, enrollment and the academic programming we locate around the city, including a big investment in music, physical education and foreign languages. Families that were leaving [DCPS] because they wanted their kids to learn a language can now go to a neighborhood school.”

In forcing traditional public schools to compete more directly, the common enrollment system has pressed them to strengthen themselves, as Henderson suggests. It has made school choice fairer and more efficient. And it has changed the dynamic between Washington’s public and private schools. Families are finding public Montessori programs, dual-language opportunities like Noah’s and other options that were offered mainly in the private sector in the past. But the long wait lists at some schools and empty spots at others that the My School DC lottery has produced make clear that the success of school choice in Washington will ultimately require creating more strong schools. “If we don’t have capacity in A-plus schools for all the kids, then some kids aren’t going to go to A-plus schools,” Roth told me. “No system of choice can fix that.”
Noah Goliday sits with a book in class at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School.

Thomas Toch is the director of FutureEd, an independent think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
Credits: Story by Thomas Toch. Photos by Evelyn Hockstein. Designed by Twila Waddy.