World-Herald editorial: China’s eyeing military change

Li Tao

Chinas Xi calls for cooperation on Internet regulation

In this photo released by Chinas Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Second World Internet Conference in Wuzhen Town, east Chinas Zhejiang Province, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Xi called Wednesday for governments to cooperate in regulating Internet use, stepping up efforts to promote controls that activists complain stifle free expression. Xis government operates extensive Internet monitoring and censorship and has tightened controls since he came to power in 2013. (Li Tao/Xinhua via AP) NO SALES

Chris Rickert: County’s toothless insurance requirement is minor risk in …

A Canadian company looking to build a new Dane County oil pumping station believes a County Board decision to leave in place a state-invalidated spill insurance requirement “creates confusion, regulatory uncertainty and unpredictability.”

Keep in mind this is a company in the oil business — one of the most confusing, least certain and least predictable businesses there is.

The board voted Dec. 3 to keep the $25 million requirement in Enbridge Energy’s conditional use permit after Legislative Republicans essentially invalidated it with a last-minute amendment to the 2015-17 state budget in July.

Six investments in – Amadeus Ventures on home runs and being hands on

Amadeus Ventures, a fund for early stage travel startups, is about to add a seventh startup to its portfolio, probably in Asia.

The two-year old initiative has so far invested in six newbies including hotel data specialist Olset, air and hotel price tracker Yapta and vacation rental specialist BookingPal.

When the fund was established, the aim was to take a minority stake in startups with innovative ideas that could extend what Amadeus already does, especially in the areas of personalisation, new forms of content and the end-to-end trip experience.

That same thinking applies today and the company continues to invest in and collaborate with startups in and around those themes.

Head of Amadeus Ventures Katherine Grass explains that the concept has matured in that it was about financial investment while now its also about in-depth partnerships on top of the investment.

In an interview with Tnooz she talks about the fund, the criteria and the best outcomes.

The money pot

While Amadeus doesnt tend to talk about the exact figures involved, Grass says the money comes off the companys balance sheet and that it seeks to make three or four investments a year and up to Euro 3 million per company.

She explains further:

When we first started we thought we would invest in a little bit later stage companies 20 people, a handful of customers, looking to grow, those looking to raise around the Series A mark. But, we see our sweet spot is more seed companies with 10 people, one or two customers, who are still proving the concept so were participating in a lot more of these early stage companies.

Grass adds that in the past five years the investment landscape  has changed with startups previously having to raise larger sums for heavy development and infrastructure and growth was slower. Now, it all tends to happen faster partly because of technology development such as the cloud and the companies are focused more quickly on customer scale and strategic partners.

Its worth noting that Travelport set up an incubator about seven months ago to invest and mentor startups via labs run three times a year with four startups at a time.

Investment criteria

Like many financial investors, one of the first things Amadeus Ventures looks at is the team and whether it has a proven track record and says Grass a hunger for hitting that home run, being able to drive a startup and being all hands on deck.

After that it falls to the actual idea and business it has to be in the travel space and in one of the areas of interest to Amadeus personalisation, new forms of content and end-to-end trip.

And, the company also looks at ability to scale. Grass says:

If a startup was looking to conquer Germany then its probably not going to be a good fit because were looking for something to go across markets globally.

Best possible outcomes

Of the six investments so far, Madrid-based taxi app Cabify is the only which Amadeus Ventures has exited. Grass says that the startup had reached a maturity, was flourishing and Amadeus is now integrating the content within its systems. Therefore, the thinking was to reinvest some of the profit elsewhere.

She says:

The best outcomes have really been the relationships where we make an investment with one hand and a commercial relationship with the other because we want to work together and grow together. We look to achieve that with each and Cabify was no different.

Grass adds that each investment has a similar life-cycle and the thinking, as a strategic investor,  is always to exit at some point. In addition, there are other big name investors involved and all are on the same page.

Investments with benefits

Equity aside, there are other advantages to making small investments in travel startups. Grass talks about folio diversification and boosting products and services for customers. She also says that working with early stage companies with fresh minds enriches the mindset internally and gets everyone thinking about trends and whats happening in the wider market.

From a startup point of view, theres the money which the startups need as well as specific needs which they discuss with Amadeus. Then there are benefits in terms of customer reach. Grass says:

Its being able to open doors to online travel segments such as airlines and OTAs. Those doors just dont open. Theres also industry expertise in terms of mentoring them.

Innovation trends

Amadeus Ventures is seeing significant development around hotel solutions from more effective hotel search to skipping the check-in process. Grass also says there is more startup activity away from the Silicon Valley probably because of how expensive it has become.

As the world becomes global it becomes easier for startups to get investment. They are looking oversea to find cheaper opportunities for capital London, Berlin, Israel and, there is more coming out of Asia.

She adds that peer-to-peer startups are still growing in a big way.

And finally how do you see innovation?

Its areas which we are not focused on, ways we can diversify our reach and our portfolio, ideas we can turn into value and drive revenue, ones that are executed well.

FDA proposes unprecedented ban to prevent long-term damage

Why the focus on kids? The effects of exposure to UV radiation add up over one’s lifetime, according to FDA officials. Therefore, UV radiation exposure in children and teenagers puts them at a greater risk for skin and eye damage later in life.

But teens aren’t the only ones targeted with this new round of rules. Adults, 18 and older, would be required to sign a risk-acknowledgement certification that states they have been informed of the risks before their first tanning session and every six months thereafter.

The initiative also aims to improve eye safety, enhance labeling on bulbs to prevent burns, and require emergency shut-off switches for each device.

Related: When a Child Has Cancer

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports more than 419,000 cases of the disease in the US each year that are linked to indoor tanning, including about 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas, and 6,200 melanomas.

“There are a multitude of pros regarding the FDA’s newly proposed tanning bed regulations,” Prystowsky said.

The proposed rules are available online for public comment for 90 days.

Judge Questions Restrictions on Israel Spy

MANHATTAN (CN) – The US Parole Commission failed to demonstrate the need for extra government scrutiny on convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, a federal judge ruled Monday.
One day shy of his 30th year behind bars for using his job as a civilian intelligence contractor to supply classified information in suitcases to Israeli agents, Pollard became a free man last month on Nov. 20.
He immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging the conditions of his parole, including a curfew and GPS and Internet monitoring.
Eliot Lauer, an attorney for the spy with Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt amp; Mosele, noted that the Internet did not even exist when Pollard passed along hard copies of the information in 1985.
US District Judge Katherine Forrest appeared skeptical about the need for these restrictions at a roughly hour-long hearing Monday, but she gave the US Parole Commission another opportunity to make its case.
The commission spent just one page explaining its desire to keep a close eye on Pollard.
Assistant US Attorney Rebecca Sol Tonio noted that the top-secret and secret classification of the documents Pollard passed on, by definition, means the disclosure of that information could pose exceptionally grave or serious damage to the government.
For Lauer, however, that risk is long gone, if it was ever a factor at all.
Former US National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and former Senate Intelligence Committee member Dennis DeConcini both submitted sworn declarations on Pollards behalf finding that this information is of no value to anyone today.
The prosecutor disputed this by saying that much of the information remains classified. Ironically, however, the Parole Commission lacks security clearances to understand why.
When Pollard first filed his lawsuit, he pointed to his severe diabetes as a reason why his bracelet was a burden. Now he asserts that as an observant Jew the bracelet imposes a religious burden because he has to recharge its batteries on the sabbath.
Pollard also says curfews forcing to be home between before 7 am and after 7 pm prevent him from attending religious services and events, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Tonio countered that parole officials swapped his monitoring with another that keeps a charge for 40 hours to address the first issue.
One probation officer who submitted a declaration for the defense told the court that Pollards case is only the third that he has encountered involving monitoring.
As for the computer monitoring, Pollard claims that this restriction is burden for his attempt to land a job in the finance industry.
Judge Forrest said that she was reluctant to make any changes to the terms of his parole without giving the Parole Commission another chance to explain their findings on remand.
If I were wrong, I would be treading in an area that is quite serious, she said.
Pollard and his attorneys declined to comment outside the courtroom.

Delta Air Lines balances long term foreign investments (and JVs) with short …

One of the largest agenda items for Delta Air Lines in 2016 is gaining approval for a joint venture with Aeromexico and moving forward to enlarge its stake in Mexicos largest airline to force change that should drive financial benefits for both airlines. Delta plans to use its three year old investment in Virgin Atlantic as a blueprint for guiding Aeromexico to increased efficiency and margins.

Delta is also taking a stake in China Eastern, and once that agreement is formalised Delta says it will have a foothold in all the top international regions from the US. Many of Deltas moves to invest in foreign airlines during the last few years reflect its strategy of building network utility for the longhaul, creating a scenario where it has to balance those investments with creating an appropriate level of return for shareholders.

In the short term, Delta continues to stress measured capacity growth of flat to 2% in 2016, with the bulk of the increase allocated to the domestic market. Most of the domestic capacity is targeted to New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and Seattle, regions that Delta believes warrant the added supply. [1584 words]

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Vaughan David Investments Inc 13F Stocks

Vaughan David Investments Inc just filed its quarterly 13F. Dated 26/12/2015, the report reveals the investment manager has a portfolio value of $1.58 billion, representing a decrease of $109.71 million from the previous quarter when it was $1.69 billion. Note: This filling reprents about 87.46% of Vaughan David Investments Incs assets, which which are listed in the US.

Migrants will get more time to sign up for insurance

HONOLULU – The federal government is allowing more time for a group of migrants in Hawaii to enroll in health insurance plans under President Barack Obamas health care law.

People living in Hawaii under the Compact of Free Association will get 60 extra days – until Feb. 15 – to sign up, Gov. David Ige announced Thursday.

The compact allows migrants from several Pacific Island nations to live and work freely in the US In exchange, the US military controls strategic parts of the region.

But an estimated 4,300 migrants who were insured through the Hawaii Health Connector havent been able to enroll in the federal site because theyre having trouble due to language barriers and documentation requirements, state officials said.

The decision to extend the deadline came as welcome news to people who have been helping with the enrollment efforts.

Thats truly a Christmas present for a lot of families who were not able to make the deadline, said Josie Howard, program director for We Are Oceania, a nonprofit organization that helps Micronesians who live in Hawaii. Its very good news. Were very appreciative of that decision.

Once people from compact nations are enrolled, a state program covers the cost of the premiums, said Rachel Wong, director of the state Department of Human Services.

We havent had this type of collaboration between the state and this community before, Wong said.

The state negotiated with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to extend the enrollment time.

We appreciate the federal governments understanding of the special circumstances our residents from compact nations face when seeking health care services in Hawaii, Ige said.

Interpreters from We Are Oceania have been working to help people from Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia enroll. But the process can take up to four hours, especially if the person enrolling has a large family, Howard said.

One of the main issues is that the federal call center for doesnt have enough interpreters who speak the languages of the Compact of Free Association nations, Wong said.

Another barrier is that the federal government has stricter guidelines than the state did about which documents people need on hand when they sign up. Enrollees are required to bring a passport and I94 form, a document marking their arrival in the country. But not everyone has their I94 form, and if its lost or stolen it costs about $330 to replace, Howard said.