Fact-Checking the Debate on Encryption

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin, ProPublicaAs politicians and counter-terrorism officials search for lessons from the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, senior officials have called for limits on technology that sends encrypted messages.It’s a debate that has repeatedly recurred for more than a decade.In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration directed technology companies to store copies of their encryption keys with the government. That would have given the government a “backdoor” to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies easy access to encrypted communications. That idea was dropped after sharp criticism from technologists and civil liberties advocates.More recently, intelligence officials in Europe and the United States have asserted that encryption hampers their ability to detect plots and trace perpetrators. But many have questioned whether it would be practical or wise to allow governments widespread power to read encrypted messages.To help readers appreciate the arguments on both sides, we’ve pulled together some FAQs on a subject that is sure to be hotly debated in the years to come.Q: Are terrorists really using encrypted messages to plot attacks?A: There’s mounting evidence that terrorist groups are using encryption, but so does nearly everyone living in modern society. Encryption protects your bank information, prevents your password from being stolen when you log into a website, and allows all e-commerce transactions to take place securely.In addition, apps that send encrypted text messaging apps through Wi-Fi, such as WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, have become increasingly commonplace in places where text messaging is expensive.One piece of evidence that terror networks are using encrypted messages surfaced in a recent issue of ISIS’s Dabiq magazine,where the group listed a contact number in Telegram. Soon after,Telegram shut down many ISIS-connected groups using its service. And earlier this year, a West Point researcher found copies of an encryption manual designed for journalists and activists on an Internet forum linked to ISIS.Intelligence officials have said that the planner of the Paris terrorist attacks used encryption technology, but police also found that one of the Paris terrorists was using an unencrypted cellphone.Q: Are Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter thwarting law enforcement through their use of encryption?A: In the past few years, Silicon Valley tech companies have added layers of encryption to their cellphones and websites in an effort to assure users that their data is safe from both hackers and spies. That encryption has also made it harder for law enforcement officials to read what is transmitted by those devices.Last year, Apple made encryption the default setting for iPhones, meaning that all data stored on the device was scrambled. In an open letter announcing the change, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote, “At Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.”In congressional testimony this month, FBI Director James Comey said that encryption is now part of “terrorist tradecraft.” He cited an instance in Garland, Texas, in which two terror suspects were arrested before they could execute an attack. “That morning, before one of those terrorists left to try and commit mass murder, he exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist. We have no idea what he said because those messages were encrypted,” Comey said.Q: But can’t the National Security Agency just crack any code it wants?A: It’s not clear how much encryption the NSA can break. In 2013, ProPublica and the New York Times reported on a top secret NSA program called Bullrun that was described in internal documents as being able to decrypt “vast amounts of encrypted Internet data.” The program started in 2011 and was the result of “an aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies.”Details of the project are not known. But the documents showed that in 2013, the agency planned to spend $250 million dollars to, in part, “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems.”Q: I heard that there is a “golden key” that unlocks all encryption. Is there such a thing?A: Not yet and it’s not clear it will ever exist. The U.S. government has been trying to figure out how to access encrypted data for decades. However, wiretapping a phone call is far easier than creating a backdoor into encryption technology.Last year, the Washington Post editorial board called for Apple and Google “with all their wizardry,” to “invent a kind of secure golden key” that would allow law enforcement officials to read any encrypted message sent by a suspect.It would be a tremendous challenge to convince the world’s encryption makers, many of whom live outside the United States, to give American authorities access to such a tool. And it would be an even bigger challenge to keep the master key secret — given that it would immediately become the No. 1 target of every hacker and nation in the world.To address that issue, a White House working group proposed a split key — where one half of the master key would be kept by the government and the other would be held by the encryption company. But the report noted that this approach would be “complex to implement and maintain.”Q: Are there less complicated ways to give law enforcement and intelligence officials the access they say they need?A: The White House working group offered three additional ideas for “backdoors” into encryption. All required manufacturing or software changes by U.S. providers and all involved significant political or technical problems.One idea raised by the panel called for manufacturers to create a special port on all devices that could only be accessed by law enforcement. Requiring a port would represent a “significant cost to U.S. providers,” but could be avoided by installing software that creates “a secondary layer of encryption,” the panel said.Another option would be for telecom providers to slip software that defeats encryption into routine upgrades sent to customers. Such an approach would “call into question the trustworthiness” of American companies’ software updates, and could be easily repelled by technically adept users.Finally, the working group suggestedthat telecom providers might be ordered to hack into their customers’ devices so that their backup routines would send unencrypted copies of all data to the government.Q: Will any of these backdoor schemes work?A: They all have flaws. A big one: Users could easily bypass all of the backdoor options by creating their own layers of encryption.It’s not clear that compelling American companies to allow backdoors would accomplish much. A significant amount of the encryption software used around the world comes from widely available “open source” products. “There may be no central authority” for the government to negotiate with, the White House said in its report.And even when there is a company to negotiate with, the government has not had luck getting access to encryption keys. Two years ago, for example, the FBI tried and failed to get access to encryption keys from Snowden’s email provider, Lavabit.Ladar Levison, Lavabit’s owner, “provided the FBI with an 11-page printout containing largely illegible characters in 4-point type” of the keys and then shut down the entire email service.Most importantly, the United States isn’t the only country in the world with legal power over technology companies. For example, many cellphones used in the United States are manufactured in China, which could also demand backdoor access for its intelligence and law enforcement authorities. The White House report warns that “any U.S. proposed solution will be adopted by other countries.”Q: So what is the government proposing?A: The short answer is that the government has quietly dropped its requests for a backdoor.Last year, in a speech at the Brookings Institution, FBI Director Comey called for a “regulatory or legislative fix” to the problem of law enforcement access to encrypted communications, which was widely interpreted as calling for legislation to require encryption backdoors.But after his proposal prompted a backlash from technologists, Comey has softened his tone. In July, he told a Senate panel that “there has not yet been a decision whether to seek legislation” about requiring companies to provide access to encrypted data.And in Wednesday’s testimony, he told a Senate panel that “the administration has decided not to seek a legislative remedy at this time.” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggested that she is going to seek legislation. “If there is conspiracy going on over the Internet, that encryption ought to be able to be pierced,” she said at the hearing.On Thursday, privacy advocates visited the White House to discuss a petition they submitted in support of strong encryption. Kevin Bankston, director of the Open Technology Institute, who attended the meeting, said that administration officials said they “would like to move beyond this debate” and start discussing “how to adapt to strong encryption rather than fighting it.”ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more

Secret to digital success with AI is ‘human-like’ feel

first_imgThe power of digital communications lies in the ability to provide intelligent experiences in real time. From proactive recommendations to providing product and service alternatives based on activities and behaviors, artificial intelligence (AI) can often simplify the customer journey.But, the myriad of choices available to today’s consumers, while usually appreciated, can quickly turn communication into noise. Without appropriate assistance and guidance, consumers can begin to feel overwhelmed and unable to make timely decisions.The question becomes, how can financial institutions best leverage data and insights to attract the right consumers and grow those relationships? In addition, how can institutions balance the use of digital tools and human engagement to reduce friction, personalize and simplify the customer journey and encourage the proper purchases? In other words, what is the best path to intelligent guidance for consumer engagement? continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

A shift back to used vehicles creates opportunity for credit unions

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Melinda Zabritski Melinda Zabritski is Senior Director for Experian automotive financial solutions team, where she is responsible for implementing products and services specific to the automotive credit and lending industry. She also … Details At the onset of COVID-19, the automotive industry experienced an unprecedented situation with stalled sales resulting from factory shutdowns, business restrictions and buyers choosing to delay purchases. To adjust, manufacturers offered competitive incentives to increase sales. Low interest rates, no money down offers, and extended loan terms made new vehicles an enticing buy, driving prime consumers back into the new vehicle market. As a result of the incentives, we saw captives increase overall market share, while credit unions and other lenders took a hit. Captives have historically held the largest portion of the new vehicle financing, but with the incentives offered early on during COVID-19, their market share jumped even higher. According to Experian’s Q2 2020 State of the Automotive Finance Market report, captives held more than 60% of new vehicle financing, up from 54.8% in Q2 2019. Comparatively, credit unions comprised 10.2% of new vehicle financing, down from 11.8% in the same time frame.Additional opportunity still exists for credit unions. Months into the pandemic, there are fewer incentives, new vehicle inventory shortages and rising vehicle costs could trigger car shoppers to lean back into the used vehicle market; a sweet spot for credit unions. Used vehicles rebound faster than newOverall, used vehicles are still in greater demand than new ones. Used vehicles made up 59.25%, of all financed vehicles in Q2 2020. And with new vehicle inventory shortages, used vehicle sales have rebounded at a faster rate than new. In June 2020, new vehicle sales were still down 10.73% year-over-year, while used vehicle sales actually grew 12.14% over the same period. This trend has continued through the summer, with 2.38% growth in July and 4% growth in August. This opens a great window of opportunity for credit unions. In the current environment, many consumers will expand their search for affordable financing options outside of what’s offered at the dealership. Historically, credit unions have held a strong percentage of the used vehicle lending market. In fact, in Q2 2020, credit unions held 24.9% of the used market share, second only to banks who held 34.8%. Credit unions can grow their market share offering loans at affordable rates that appeal to in-market car buyers.Prime consumers make up the largest segment of used vehicle loans at 36.9%. This is a positive trend for credit unions. Staying close to the data can help credit unions understand trends and anticipate demand, such as used vehicle demand rebounding—especially for prime consumers.  Extended terms keep payments manageable The average used vehicle loan amount continued to grow in Q2 2020, reaching just over $36,000. But to manage this increase, car buyers increasingly opted for extended loan terms to keep their monthly payments manageable. Terms reached record highs for used vehicle loans, with an average term length of about 65 months. Seventy-three-to-84-month term loans also saw an increase from 18.7% in Q2 2019 to 20.6% in 2020. This helped keep the average monthly payment for a used vehicle loan at $568, which was only an $18 increase from Q2 2019. Another contributing factor to manageable monthly payments was interest rates, which saw a steady decline, clocking in with an average rate of 9.69% for used vehicles in Q2 2020. As incentives continue to decrease, car buyers will look for the best rate for their loan, making way for credit unions to offer incentives that will attract more in-market consumers.  The automotive industry has experienced significant change since the beginning of COVID-19. While the initial reaction of manufacturers was to offer competitive, sales-driving incentives to push new car sales, they’ve scaled back their efforts, resulting in many consumers returning to the used market. As we continue to navigate toward recovery, credit unions can leverage this shift by staying close to the data, identifying trends and remaining fluid with strategies that offer consumers the best financing options, no matter their needs and budget.last_img read more

Village of Endicott residents could soon see lower energy costs, all while going green

first_imgBy switching to solar energy, residents could see an eight to ten percent savings. You also won’t have to put solar panels on your home. “People don’t have to do anything different, you just have to connect to it,” said Endicott Mayor Linda Jackson. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, using solar power instead of fossil fuels helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants in the air. By diversifying ventures into clean energy production, it’s all part of a plan for Endicott to become a hub for clean energy. Officials are looking at a possible solar farm for the village. The move would cut costs for not only residents but also for village operations. This latest project on solar energy is in an effort to branch out Endicott’s economic capabilities. “[We can] save the taxpayers money because this is going to save on our electric that we pay for the wastewater, the airport,” said Jackson. center_img (WBNG) — Village of Endicott leaders say they want Endicott to be a clean energy capital. In an effort to go green, officials say they may have found a way to reduce energy waste and your energy bill. “We had everything into IBM. IBM left and we died. Solar is just another different direction we can go in,” said Jackson. Endicott Deputy Mayor Cheryl Chapman is meeting with solar energy companies this week to discuss the project and how it will move forward.last_img read more

Binghamton men drop season opener to Marist in overtime

first_imgSophomore Brenton Mills led all scorers with 20 points. Senior Thomas Bruce put up a double-double in his return, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. “I thought going into it, it was just going to be a starting point, whatever that was,” said coach Tommy Dempsey. “Whether we won by twenty, lost by twenty, it was just nice to get out there and try to start to put your group together.” Off an inbound from George Tinsley, Cooperstown native Tyler Bertram hit a three-pointer with 1.4 seconds on the clock, to tie the game at 60 and bring it to overtime. The men head to Marist tomorrow for a 4 p.m. game against the Red Foxes. Dempsey said after starting a group today that had never played together, he saw a lot of good things they’ll build off moving forward. center_img “The key is the inbounder. Obviously, he hit a big shot, I’m not taking anything away from Tyler, it was a big shot, a lot of guts. He hadn’t played a lot in the second half and came in after sitting down for awhile,” said Dempsey. “I thought we played hard. You know we rebounded the ball well, we went after loose balls and guys played together, shared the ball,” said Dempsey. VESTAL (WBNG) — In an overtime battle, the Binghamton men’s basketball team fell to Marist 68-65 to open the season. last_img read more

CDC: vaccine deliveries set record, but will strains match?

first_imgNov 9, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Deliveries of seasonal influenza vaccine have already outpaced the number of doses ever distributed in a single season, officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today, but they voiced concerns about a possible mismatch of one of the strains.So far 103 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed to clinics and other providers, the most ever delivered, said Jeanne Santoli, MD, MPH, deputy director of the CDC’s immunization services division, at a CDC press conference today. By the end of the season, 132 million doses of the vaccine will be shipped, which is 10 million more than ever produced before in the United States, she added.Some providers may not have received their complete order yet, but all should have enough of the vaccine to launch their annual flu vaccine campaigns, Santoli said.Despite the plentiful supply of the vaccine early in the season, she said the CDC is working to raise awareness that flu vaccination in December or later still offers protection in advance of the flu season’s January-February peak. Santoli announced that the CDC will sponsor its second annual National Influenza Vaccination Week after Thanksgiving, from Nov 26 to Dec 2.So far, the CDC has noted low levels of flu activity in the United States, which is normal for the start of a new flu season, said Joe Bresee, MD, chief of epidemiology and prevention for the CDC’s immunization services division. Only 2.5% of specimens tested have been positive for influenza, and of those, 90% were influenza A, he said. Outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses are low in all parts of the country except for the mountain region, where the number is slightly higher.Only two areas are reporting local activity, Bresee said. According to the CDC’s most recent influenza update, only Hawaii and Florida reported local influenza activity. Seventeen states have reported sporadic activity. No pediatric deaths have been reported, he said.”The take-home message is that flu activity remains low and that people should get their vaccinations,” Bresee said. “The supply is at an all-time high, and we should make the most of this opportunity.”Though CDC officials haven’t seen enough isolates yet to determine if this year’s vaccine is a good match against influenza strains circulating in the United States, Bresee said the agency is concerned about reports from last season and this summer of possible drift in the H3N2 A strain.Canada’s Public Health Agency said the Wisconsin H3N2 strain has mutated from the one used in the vaccine, according to an Oct 24 report from CTV, Canada’s largest television network. The agency said the Malaysia influenza B strain also showed signs of change, the CTV report said.Bresee said reports from Latin America this summer suggested a drifted H3N2 strain, and he said a US Department of Defense report estimated that the flu vaccine in its European population last season was only 52% effective, which suggests a mismatch between the circulating strains and the vaccine.”It’s too early to tell-we don’t know what that will mean for the United States,” he said. “Vaccination is still the best way to prevent influenza complications, and this year should be no exception,” he noted, pointing out that even without a perfect match, the flu vaccine can reduce illness severity.See also:Nov 9 CDC press releaselast_img read more

Under Trump, US reputation hits rock-bottom: Pew global survey

first_imgIn the United Kingdom, 41 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of the US, the lowest percentage registered in any Pew Research Center survey there. In France, only 31 percent see the US positively, matching the grim ratings from March 2003, at the height of US-France tensions over the Iraq War.Germans give the US particularly low marks on the survey: 26 percent rate the US favorably, similar to the 25 percent in the same March 2003 poll.The US’ global reputation rebounded after the Iraq war and following the election of Democratic president Barack Obama. In France in 2009 for instance, the US favorability rating reached 75 percent.Data from Pew Research Center also shows that the US’ favorability rating drop from last year’s figures in all 13 countries surveyed. The erratic style of United States President Donald Trump’s leadership and his administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected 6.7 million people and killed more than 197,000 in the country, has battered the superpower nation’s standing in the world, sending its favorability rating in some countries to an all-time low, a fresh Pew Research Center survey has found.The public opinion survey, conducted in 13 countries by interviewing more than 13,000 people between June 10 and Aug. 3, found that 83 percent of respondents have no confidence in the leadership of President Trump, while only 34 percent express a favorable opinion of the US.The US’ reputation took a serious hit especially in Europe, the country’s traditional ally. Part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the US has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, Pew Research Center director for global attitude research Richard Wike said in a press briefing on Tuesday.”People have admired the US for its scientific achievement and technology, and this public health challenge came along and people thought the US could deal well with this big public health challenge,” Wike said.Wike added that the world viewed Trump’s personal attributes and leadership qualities in a negative light.”People say he was intolerant, he wasn’t well qualified, he was arrogant, dangerous and that’s part of the story why he has the lower rating.”Also, some of Trump’s isolationist policies, including withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal, the Paris Climate Accord and a number of free trade agreements, has further damaged the US’ standing in the world, he said.The survey also found that the public views President Trump more negatively than other world leaders.Among the six leaders included in the survey, Angela Merkel receives the highest marks: A median of 76 percent across the nations polled have confidence in the German chancellor. French President Emmanuel Macron also gets largely favorable reviews of 64 percent. Ratings for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are roughly split.In this “most-trusted leader” category, Trump, with an 83 percent disapproval rating, lands below Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping with 78 percent and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who only got a 23 percent approval rating.The only positive review that President Trump received was from Europeans who have favorable views of right-wing populist parties.For instance, supporters of Spain’s Vox party are likely to view Trump in a positive light: 45 percent are confident in his ability to handle international affairs. In Germany, 34 percent in the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) gave a positive review of Trump, while in the UK, 33 percent of the Brexit Party views the Republican president in a favorable light.(Left to right) Foreign Affairs Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House on September 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Agence France Presse/Alex Wong/Getty Images)Some of the efforts Trump made to improve his standing in the world, including his attempt to broker a peace deal in the Middle East, which recently materialized in the normalization between Israel and Arab countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, could only do so much to undo some of damages that he had exacted in international politics.”We have seen negative ratings in Jordan over the years, pretty low ratings in the Palestinian territory and from some other countries in the region […] in the past two decades, the reviews have been negative toward the United States,” he said.The new Pew Poll is devastating for how the world sees us. Confidence in the U.S. has plummeted to historic lows. The global public has even greater trust in Putin and Xi Jinping than Trump. We need new leadership. | Pew Research Center https://t.co/0GrmQDcryh— Nicholas Burns (@RNicholasBurns) September 15, 2020Former US Ambassador to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Nicholas Burns said the new poll was “devastating” and the country needed a new leadership to undo whatever damages Trump had wrought upon the US’ standing in the world.”Confidence in the US has plummeted to historic lows. The global public has even greater trust in Putin and Xi Jinping than Trump,” he said.Topics :last_img read more

Winning Post – GVC hit with heavy fine for misleading adverts

first_imgShare TVBET passes GLI test for five live games in Malta and Italy August 25, 2020 Share Regulus Partners, the strategic consultancy focused on international gambling and related industries, gives an insight into some of the key developments in the gambling industry as part of its ‘Winning Post’ column.UK: advertising regulation – tough loveAmongst the organisations likely to lose out if ever a ban on gambling adverts is instituted is the fines department at HM Government. This week on Valentine’s Day, the government raked in £350,000 in fines from GVC at the same time that the Advertising Standards Authority potentially made such fines more likely in the future.The fine was levied in respect of repeated breaches of social responsibility codes in relation to the advertising of free bets. In addition, GVC received a warning for not applying for a Personal Management Licence for its marketing director – a warning that will stay on its file for consideration should the company fall foul of regulations again. While always serious, GVC’s UK regulatory risk profile is likely to be under even greater scrutiny currently as it seeks to acquire the UK’s largest online gaming business (#4 overall).The announcement raises a couple of interesting questions, including why in this case a fine was levied (in the past, the Commission has preferred voluntary settlement) and whether GVC should have disclosed the fact that it was undergoing a licence review (as 888 did when it faced the scrutiny of the Commissioners last year). The identity of the five online operators facing licence review in relation to anti-money laundering and social responsibility failure is also obscure.Also on Valentine’s Day, the Advertising Standards Authority sent its tough love to the gambling industry with updated standards designed to discourage the promotion of repetitive or impulse gambling (no more “bet now!”, to highlight what is probably the UK’s most ubiquitous, successful and longest running betting ad campaign), and to require operators to make material terms and conditions attached to free bets or bonuses clearly visible to the consumer.Regulators often have to walk a tightrope between principle and prescription. Overly precise regulations can become outmoded and prone to circumvention or unintended consequences; while principles often require subjective judgement (and a degree of trust between the regulator and the regulated), which may lead to ambiguity. While the ASA has been very clear about certain matters, grey areas persist. Operators will need to tread carefully and engage closely with the regulatory community as they work out exactly where the borders have been redrawn.In the meantime, it seems likely that the steady drip of fines and voluntary settlements will continue.US: sportsbetting regulation – state of playProgress is continuing with State-by-State US regulation of sportsbetting in the hope of a favourable PASPA decision in the spring. Encouragingly for operators, Iowa (pop. 3m) has rejected the sports leagues proposal 1% handle, though the NBA has by no means given up. The 1% fee has also appeared in draft Missouri (pop. 6m), while Massachusetts (pop. 7m) is debating whether to make temporary DFS legislation permanent and also requesting the study into online betting; perhaps significantly within the context of international sportbetting operator hopes, a pro-DFS Senator explained it was worthy of support as a “homegrown” industry (rather like moonshine).The latest news points to three key themes. First, the US position is evolving rapidly and stakeholders need to be as prepared as possible (especially in terms of sensibly shaping the dialogue), without over-committing to any assumed outcome. Second, the landscape following a clear overruling of PASPA is likely to be a fragmented and contradictory patchwork, where (rather boring and limited) super-local solutions are likely to trump grand hopes and promises. Finally, we continue to be sceptical that the federal government will necessarily allow such a mess to evolve and anticipate some important caveats to any repeal (potentially evolving into certain permissions, taxes and integrity fees at a federal level).France: Q4 remote revenue – distorting growthThe domestically regulated French market grew 39% in Q4 to €295m, driven by an 83% increase in sportsbetting (to €163m, 55% mix); horseracing and poker converged at €66m, with the former growing at 6% and the latter an encouraging 8% after years of decline. Significantly, French sportsbetting growth was volume (+32%) as well as margin (+6.4ppts) driven. Unsurprisingly, football was the key driver (turnover +34%, 61% mix), though breakdown by league and sport also confirms the sources of volume growth: Premier League (+53%), LaLiga (+50%) and Serie A (+109%) materially outfperformed domestic leagues (+20%), Champions League (+25%) and Bundesliga (+6%); volleyball and handball also performed strongly (+52% and +60%, albeit at only 1% of turnover each). Poker growth was all tournament-led (+11%, 62% mix), with cash games broadly flat (although with the potential for growth in 2018 with cross-region liquidity sharing: Stars has started and Winamax is entering the Spanish market).Growth for FY17 was a less strong 18% to €962m, with 35% growth in sports (€472m, 49% mix), 5% growth in horseracing (€245m, 25% mix) and 7% growth in poker (also to €245m). The French market has therefore finished very strongly, but medium-term trends are less impressive. Moreover, very high turnover tax rates deliver a very unattractive betting RTP (81% for 2017 vs. c. 92% in .com / GW-led markets) and casino remains banned. Consequently, the majority of the French online gambling market is very likely to remain black. However, strong sports betting growth and a return to growth in poker demonstrates that an emerging online mass market is less price sensitive (or resourceful in accessing supply) than the traditional heavy user: the French model might work for a large and growing number of players, but it still does not work in capturing the majority of revenue.Spain: Q4 remote revenue – a marathon not a sprint The Spanish online market grew 38% in Q4 to €173m, similar growth to France and 84% of the spend per capita. However, the composition of Spanish growth was very different. Sportsbetting growth was ‘only’ 49% to €104m (60% mix), with casino growing at 37% to €49m. Strong casino progress was delivered in a period of high sports margins (benefiting pre-match mix), while Spain’s online product mix is also ‘normalising’, with slots growth to 52% casino mix suggesting more effective channelling as well as underlying growth. Poker also moved into growth: +5% to €16m (9% mix). While still small, bingo also delivered strong growth: +30% to €3m. On an FY basis Spain grew overall revenue by 31% to €562m, with 33% growth in betting (€317m, 56% mix), 39% growth in casino (€185m, 33% mix – including bingo) and 4% growth in poker (€60m, 11% mix).On the face of it, Spain’s relatively liberal online regime has generated frustrating results relative to the higher spend per head of a highly restricted France (albeit a 38% higher GDP per capita) and a similar one to restricted Portugal. However, with France growing at 18% in 2017 and Portugal’s betting market not growing at all since launch (Q316 – Q317, -26%; Q417 level with Q316), Spain’s broadly based 38% growth suggests significant medium-term divergence driven by a much more effective regulatory model.Malta: remote regulation – mafia.com?The MGA is reportedly broadening its investigations into the potential or alleged mafia connections of its Italy-facing licensees (10 licences out of 200). The Italian high-street gambling market has had a long history of mafia connections, and while this is unlikely to affect the majority of businesses (anymore), it has claimed some of the biggest (eg, B Plus: once Italy’s biggest VLT concession). Moreover, since high-street gambling morphed into remote (eg, via CTDs, often Malta-based), the connection has been a hard one to shift and hasn’t always required evidence for politicians and commentators to make some pretty sweeping claims (although there have also been enough cases to provide continuing fire for the smoke).The danger for businesses with current or even legacy Mafia issues is pretty obvious: getting kicked out of Malta leaves very few tax efficient options within the EU and is likely to jam up banking and payments near fatally regardless of any criminal proceedings. However, there may be a wider issue for Malta-based licensees: this is a recurring stick with which to beat the jurisdiction and responses such as tightening up AML enforcement (just announced) may not be enough if there is an underlying political agenda. The attitude of many of the larger Member States (and EU institutions) to POS regimes is frosty at best, and the irony of a more integrated post-Brexit EU is that it may mean a much tougher one for the ‘EU offshore’ model.UK: horseracing – The right sort of innovation?The announcement of plans for a ‘Formula 1’ style competition for horseracing caused much discussion within the industry this week. The brainchild of Jeremy Wray (former Swindon Town FC chairman, and brother of Betfair co-founder Ed) is for 12 ‘blue chip’ company-branded teams to compete in 48 races over 8 weeks during the summer, for £100,000 prizemoney per race. The contest will require one trainer per team, 4 jockeys and 30 horses. It promises to “distance this incredible sport from the public perception that its complicated, elitist recreation inextricably linked to gambling.” While a number of high profile people within the industry have given the idea their approval, the news was greeted largely negatively by racing’s core customer base on social media.Horseracing has a relatively poor track record when it comes to innovation, not helped by a disparate stakeholder base, a sometimes elitist culture and an often acrimonious relationship with bookmakers  – a key conduit to a vital customer-base. However, while efforts to attract “a whole new audience” to the sport, to do so in such disparaging terms to what is a largely successful product and symbiotic relationship (“wewill let betting take a back seat”) is in danger of creating more division than progress, especially if key stakeholders appear to back opinions as well as products. Sometimes big, glitzy innovation works and fresh thinking should always be encouraged, but far more good can be done by inclusively improving the base. These two drivers do not have to be mutually exclusive, but in too many cases they are. Bookmakers have one piece of silver lining to the cloud of distaste: more high-profile 12-runner fields is just what the industry needs…UK: sports betting integrity – Kindred steps upKindred has been announced as the latest member of the Sports Betting Integrity Forum (SBIF), in the same week that it signed an information sharing MOU with the RFU, with whom it also agreed to collaborate on “prevention and educational projects”. These positive steps may have featured among the actions recommended in Kindred’s recent integrity audit carried out by Ethisport. Following that audit, Kindred itself stated that it needed to further improve cooperation between operators, sports regulatory bodies and law enforcement.Ethisport describes its audit as involving 500 questions, with answers weighted and put through an algorithm to produce a rating. It is not clear how many other operators it has audited, which casts some doubt on the basis on which Ethisport claims that Kindred “leads the pack on sports betting integrity” and is “for sure part of the Top 5 leading betting operators fighting against the manipulations of sports competitions”. However, Kindred has proactively sought out a third party to audit its systems and processes and taken visible steps to strengthen its efforts through collaboration, which should be applauded. With Kindred now among its membership, the SBIF, the UK’s national platform for sports and sports betting integrity, should be more effective to the benefit of all stakeholders. 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Dodgers’ Pedro Baez applies a lesson he learned as a young hitter, shuns pressure

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error At least the Dodgers were correct in their assessment of Bell: he was not a future All-Star. Bell played 100 major league games, batting .195. That’s 100 more games than Baez will ever see at third base, but that’s OK by the Dodgers.Recently, Baez has been an infallible pillar of their bullpen. He’s allowed one run in his last 23 appearances through Game 2 of the NLCS, a streak that dates to Aug. 13. In the postseason, only three of the 17 batters he’s faced have reached base. Seven have struck out.The Dodgers have seen this Baez plenty over the last five years. They’ve also seen the other Pedro Baez – the one who struggles in bursts, coughing up one ill-timed run after another until he is booed off the mound by the home crowd.Take one such stretch earlier this season. Baez walked three of the six batters he faced April 20 against the Washington Nationals. He didn’t deliver a clean outing for another 12 games, during which opponents batted .310 and slugged .552. A mere hiccup descended into a chronic illness.Subero has seen this before too, but not from Baez the pitcher. Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season That’s why this current streak of success has been so encouraging. If there were any opportunities for Baez to put extra pressure on himself, he seems to have refrained.“This year, bouncing back and putting together this run right now shows he’s growing up, growing through that, in a very confident stage with himself,” Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “That’s always a good thing.”In a June 2017 game against the New York Mets, Baez drew a rare plate appearance with the bases loaded. He took four consecutive balls, collecting his first career walk and RBI. Subero remembers chatting with Baez about hitting again before a recent regular-season game between the Dodgers and Brewers.“(Baez) said, ‘man, hitting’s not as tough as I thought’,” Subero said. “Carlos, I take a couple ABs and it’s relaxed because I’m not expected to be a hitter now. So now I can put everything together.” MILWAUKEE — When he was a minor league manager, Carlos Subero was tasked with telling a young Kenley Jansen that his services as a catcher were no longer needed. The Dodgers saw a brighter future for him as a pitcher. Jansen grumbled in his broken Spanish, as Subero recalled nine years later on a recent afternoon at Miller Park.The challenge was different for each of Subero’s young pupils. For Jansen, the challenge was to accept his fate as the best closer in franchise history. For Ross Stripling, it was to prove he was healthy. For a streaky, stocky third baseman named Pedro Baez, the challenge was to relax.“We had at the time a guy named Josh Bell at third base,” said Subero, now the Milwaukee Brewers’ first base coach. “And I remember in 2009 I got called up to the big leagues. … (Former Dodgers general manager) Ned Colletti asked me, what do you think about Pedro Baez? I said, ‘this kid’s going to be an All-Star.’ … He had 63 RBIs, something like that, and he was hitting that right-center gap. He was our 3-hole hitter.“And we traded Josh Bell (for George Sherrill in 2009) because we thought Pedro was going to be the next guy.” How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire center_img Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies “Pedro can put pressure on himself,” Subero said. “He wants to do well. Accepting the fact that you’re going to have bad games, you have to move on from them. Pedro back then would be streaky – 0 for 4, 0 for 3, then the next thing you know he’s slumping. And he’s come from hitting 10 for 16 with three home runs.”That three-walk game against the Nationals in April? It followed a streak in which Baez struck out 8 of 10 opponents without allowing a baserunner.Years before Baez first pitched in a competitive game, the Dodgers saw the potential in his right arm. Their evaluators could easily measure how fast Baez slung a baseball across the diamond. Pitching became a viable fallback option, at least in theory.Measuring how a converted position player might adapt to the mental side of pitching is not as easy as holding a radar gun.Subero recalled one day when, as manager of the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts’ game in Montgomery, Ala., was canceled due to rain. He told the team bus to go back to the hotel; he was staying behind to pitch to Baez in the batting cage. Their session continued until 10 p.m.“Situational hitting. Bases loaded. Man on second base. This type of pitcher. Sinker. We had so much fun. Two hours,” Subero said. “And then we went to the mental side: ‘Pedro, if you stabilize this, your potential’s unbelievable.’”Baez topped out as a hitter at Double-A in 2012. He batted .216 for Chattanooga that season. Was the mental side of hitting too big a stumbling block for Baez?“I thought so,” Subero said.It’s been six years since Baez got regular at-bats, but it’s hard not to draw a parallel to his struggles as a pitcher. As the Dodgers’ one consistent set-up man to Jansen, the closer, Baez has a career ERA of 3.01. He’s averaged more than 60 appearances per season since 2015, yet is 0 for 10 in save opportunities. This year, Manager Dave Roberts has refrained from using Baez in high-leverage situations. Baez is most effective, it seems, when pressure is lowest.Related Articles Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco last_img read more

Report says farm bankruptcies up in Iowa

first_imgDES MOINES (AP) —- A new report says farm bankruptcies have risen in Iowa.The American Farm Bureau Federation shows Chapter 12 bankruptcies rose 24% nationwide over the previous year. The report covers the 12 months ending Sept. 30. The report cited severe weather and trade disputes among the problems faced by farmers.There were 24 farm bankruptcies in Iowa over those 12 months — a year-over-year increase of 10.The highest number of farm bankruptcies was in Wisconsin, with 48. Nebraska tied for second with Georgia and Kansas with 37.The report cites U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that farms will bring in $88 billion in 2019 — 29% below the record set in 2013.last_img