The Global Center of Coca: The New King of Coke (Part 2)

Subscribe to VICE News here: The United Nations announced in 2013 that Peru has overtaken Colombia as the world’s top producer of coca, the raw plant material used to manufacture cocaine. For the past two decades, Colombia has been virtually synonymous with cocaine. Now that Peru has become the global epicenter of cocaine production, the Andean nation runs the risk of becoming the world’s next great narco state. The Peruvian government is trying to crack down on the problem by ramping up eradication of coca plants, and devoting military and police resources to interdiction efforts. Despite the response — and a hefty amount of foreign aid devoted to combatting cocaine production — Peruvian coke is being consumed in the nightclubs of Lima and in cities around the world like never before. VICE News travels to Peru to learn more about the government’s battle plan against cocaine, and to see how nearly every aspect of Peruvian society is caught up in the fight. We witness how the fine, white powder has forced an entire nation to the brink in the global war on drugs. In part two, VICE News correspondent Kaj Larsen heads to the VRAE, a fertile region in the center of Peru, to see how the police and military are attempting to crack down on the trafficking of illicit drugs by ramping up their land, air, and sea interdiction efforts. Watch Part 1 – Read “The Opium and Heroin Business Is Booming in Southeast Asia’s ‘Golden Triangle'” – Read “A Law Designed to Target Coke Lords Is Screwing Over Legal Pot Companies” – Check out the VICE News beta for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram:

From: VICE News

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Build Your Own Mobile Device with Google’s Ara, Puzzlephone

google ara puzzlephone

Interchangeable components may be the key to a new smartphone revolution. Soon, you’ll likely be able to swap out a lagging processor for an upgraded version. A cracked screen will be no problem if you can just pop in a replacement. If a battery simply won’t hold a charge any longer, a new one can be substituted in a jiffy.

New modular phones allowing you to upgrade features without purchasing a whole new device are in the research-and-development phase and could be in your hands by sometime in 2015.

One such innovative idea is the Google’s Project Ara. Project Ara is a proposed modular smartphone constructed of swappable tiles. These tiles control various key functions of the smartphone as a whole.

But, for example, rather than upgrading your phone’s camera by buying a whole new device, you can simply swap a new camera for the old by popping in a new tile.

The components (about 9 on a recent prototype of the Ara phone) communicate with each other and then the phone, as a whole.

Here’s an overview of Project Ara from The Verge:

Per the current plan, Google would only create the “endoskeleton” of Ara. Other developers would then create the components that snap into place using magnets. And the Project Ara team sees a new ecosystem evolving around the new phones in which these developers would sell new component tiles directly to consumers.

Meanwhile, a Finnish company called Circular Devices is working on Puzzlephone. While Ara contains more than a few parts, Puzzlephone has just three. And if something goes wrong with one of those parts or you want to upgrade, you can simply swap one for another.

The three basic components to Puzzlephone are the Brain, Heart, and Spine, according to a Wired report.

Here’s a quick rundown of each and how they work:

  • The Spine: Comprised of an LCD module display screen, the main buttons for Puzzlephone, as well as the speakers and microphone.
  • The Heart: Where you’ll find the battery.
  • The Brain: The phone’s processor, camera, and volume buttons.

So far Puzzlephone remains one the drawing board and a prototype has yet to be developed. However, Circular Devices hopes to have phones in users’ hands by the end of 2015.

Initial plans are for Puzzlephone to run on Android. There is no indication whether an option could exist to run another mobile operating system like Windows Phone, Firefox OS, or even Sailfish OS in the future.

Image: Puzzlephone

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A Body is Identified: Mexico’s Disappeared Students (Dispatch 1)

Subscribe to VICE News here: On December 7, Mexico’s Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam confirmed that human remains found in a river in Cocula, Guerrero, were those of Alexander Mora, one of the missing 43 Ayotzinapa students. In our first dispatch about the case that has electrified Mexico, VICE News spoke with parents of the missing students, who are reluctant to accept the identification of one set of remains as evidence of a massacre of the other 42 students, as they continue to demand answers. Read “Argentine Investigators Cast Doubt on Mexico’s Claim Over Student Remains” – Watch “The Missing 43: Mexico’s Disappeared Students” – Check out the VICE News beta for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram:

From: VICE News

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5 Ways Small Retailers Plan to Compete This Holiday Season

Sponsored Post

compete this holiday season

In recent years there’s been a lot of talk about the difficulties small retailers face when it comes to competing. But we business owners are nothing if not resilient. So instead of fixating on the problems, for many of us our focus goes immediately to solutions.

The question, then, is: how do we compete better in the marketplace and assure we have the best holiday sales season possible?

A recent survey of small business retailers by Ink from Chase gives us a glimpse into how our peers are planning to compete. I want to share the survey results, because I think they can either reinforce that we are on the right track, or give us ideas for how to be stronger competitors ourselves.

Some 40% of those surveyed are optimistic enough to expect their businesses to perform better this holiday season compared to 2013. Over half expect some of their sales to come from new customers this year.

Let’s take a look at five specific ways small businesses plan to compete:

1) Offer Personalized Service, Including Fulfilling Special Requests

Don’t underestimate one of the biggest advantages that small businesses have over larger counterparts: the intimacy with customers. As small business firms, we are more likely to know our customers by name. We tend to live and work in the same communities.

Even if we’re involved in e-commerce and don’t know our customers face-to-face, we usually know our customers’ needs in depth. We may be involved in niche businesses or produce niche products. For niche sellers, the next sale is not just about “another SKU.” We know what shoppers are looking for and exactly how they plan to use what they are shopping for. We know that not just any item will do.

That’s a tremendous advantage with customers with highly specific needs or desires, and who want knowledgeable service.

And 62% of business owners in the survey know it. They say that fulfilling special requests and fulfilling special orders gives them an advantage over larger retailers.

2) Create Exclusive Offerings

Another way to distinguish your business from others is by offering exclusive products. If you produce products, then you’re in position to create exclusive offerings. If you’re a retailer of others’ products, it may pay to forge relationships with producers for exclusive lines or a product that you have exclusive geographic rights to sell in your region. Or ask the producer to create a special color or special branded version.

Even payment options can be used to differentiate your business. According to Laura Miller, president of Ink from Chase, “Extended payment options are one way to set your business apart. In our survey, 20% said they would offer extended payment terms during the 2014 holiday season. Offering flexibility for your customers is another to way to establish loyalty and provide your customers with more personalized services that meet their individual needs.”

3) Personally Reach Out to Customers

In today’s crowded world, your best and most regular customers get busy, too. Remind them when new shipments come in or when you have a special sale. A short email or even a phone call can make all the difference. In the survey, over half (58%) of business owners say they compete by reaching out personally to customers.

A boutique dressmaker in my town has a beautiful touch for this. She sends out emails, individual Facebook messages, and sometimes postcards signed personally, to let me know when she has gotten in something fabulous. A simple communication like “Just in! Beautiful earrings and bangles from XYZ – you have to see these to appreciate their dazzle!” is enough. It’s not high pressure — just pure information designed to entice. And it shows that she remembers me personally.

4) Offer Customized Shopping Experiences

Along with the general idea of personal service and knowing your customers, is the related concept of creating customized shopping experiences. In the survey, 49% say they create customized shopping experiences to get a leg up during the holidays.

What is a customized shopping experience? This can mean many things, from an e-commerce seller suggesting products based on past purchases, to a retail shop owner who walks around the store with you.

Here’s one memorable example for me. A family-owned shoe store in my area has been in business almost 100 years. They do not compete on price. In fact, they are known for being one of the priciest shoe stores in the area. Instead, they offer the widest range of sizes and widths. They offer customized fittings at a level you almost never find these days — previously by hand, but now it is partially computerized.

But the best part is they keep a personal record of every customer from measurements, foot conditions, special orthotics and all past shoe purchases. Today this is all kept via computer, but I can remember back when they still kept records on 3×5 index cards.

As a result, they can offer a customized shopping experience for each person.

5) Increase Marketing

Last but not least, small businesses plan to increase their marketing including enhancing their social media presence and conducting social promotions. “Engaging with your customers online is a relatively low cost marketing solution,” said Miller. “Making your marketing as personalized as possible is a way to attract customers to come and buy, and social media with its two-way communication capabilities is a great way to personalize it,” she added.

Christmas Gifts Photo via Shutterstock

* * * * *

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Ink from Chase. Small Business Trends received compensation for this article, however all opinions stated are those of the author.

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VICE News Exclusive: The Architect of the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Program (Trailer)

Subscribe to VICE News here: The Senate Intelligence Committee has today released a blistering, 500-page report on the CIA’s controversial detention and interrogation program, a document that committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said represents the most significant oversight effort in the history of the US Senate. The $40 million, five-year study concluded that CIA officials exaggerated the value of the intelligence they gleaned from dozens of “high-value detainees” held at black site prisons, where they were subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding. The committee reviewed more than 6 million pages of top-secret CIA documents and found that the architect of the interrogation program was a retired Air Force psychologist named James Mitchell, an agency contractor who — according to news reports — personally waterboarded alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The Senate report does not identify Mitchell by name. He is referred to as “Contractor A” throughout the executive summary. VICE News met with Mitchell in suburban Florida and had a candid discussion with him about the role he played in devising the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program and his involvement in one of the darkest chapters of the war on terror. This is the first time Mitchell has ever appeared on camera. Read “Security Heightened at US Embassies Ahead of CIA Torture Report Release” – Watch “Jailed Al Jazeera Journalist Abdullah Elshamy Speaks Out: The VICE News Interview” – Check out the VICE News beta for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram:

From: VICE News

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Bing Pulse Lets You Measure the Mood

bing pulse

Are you worried the webinars you’re hosting are getting a little boring? Was there a part of a conference you organized that was particularly interesting to participants? A new tool from Microsoft called Bing Pulse 2.0 could give you those answers instantly.

The company recently released the beta version of Bing Pulse, called Bing Pulse 2.0. This technology has already been used by cable news companies and other large organizations to measure the mood during a presidential addresses and other real-time events. The concept is similar to the dials that focus groups or test audiences have historically used to indicate their feelings about a presentation or program.

Microsoft is making the beta version of this app available for free until the end of January 2015, according to a TechCrunch report. After that, Microsoft plans to make Bing Pulse a freemium app. The free version will allow users to gather basic feedback from their events. Premium versions will give users access to more detailed information.

Check out how Bing Pulse was used by CNN during the recent address to the nation by President Barack Obama on the terror network, ISIL:

The tool could be especially useful for small businesses or entrepreneurs who conduct a lot of webinars, training sessions, and other conferences. If you plan to use Bing Pulse at your event, you simply have to set up what information you’d like to track. Then direct your audience to visit a webpage where they can constantly give you feedback when they’re prompted.

The app creators say that live event organizers, broadcasters, educational institutions, and opinion research firms could also greatly benefit from Bing Pulse 2.0.

Once participants or attendees are at an event and logged on to the Bing Pulse site, they’ll start to be prompted for their reactions and responses. This data can range from a simple like or dislike to more specific information. As a way of keeping your audiences engaged, you can get feedback on specific events. For example, you can find out whether they like or dislike a specific presentation or presenter.

On the official Bing Blog, the company writes:

“Bing Pulse 2.0 beta features a highly flexible producer dashboard that puts the organizer in control of the experience by allowing them to easily set up, customize and control a Bing Pulse. This includes allowing their audience to provide real-time feedback throughout the event, pushing poll questions to the audience at any time, and customizing the look-and-feel of a Bing Pulse, including integration of social media handles or hashtags, to map back to their brand.”

According to Microsoft, when your conference or presentation is complete, you’ll be able to comb through the data and make adjustments to future events based on the information Bing Pulse gathered. But developers say the information is presented in real time, too, so you can make adjustments as the event is going on, if you wish. Results from your polling during the events can be viewed privately. Or they can be displayed on a large screen during an event. Information is presented in graphics and other easy-to-read formats, Microsoft says.

Image: Bing

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VICE News Daily: Beyond The Headlines – December 09, 2014

Subscribe to VICE News here: The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines.​ Today: Afghan Taliban target police headquarters in Kandahar, hundreds of workers walk off the job in Germany, depopulation is causing Japan’s villages and towns to vanish, and senior official of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch condemns beheadings by Islamic State militants. AFGHANISTAN Taliban Fighters Target Police Headquarters in Kandahar At least five people were killed in the attack, a somber reminder of the threat the country’s fledgling military faces with the departure of foreign troops. GERMANY Amazon Workers Go On Strike, Again Labor union Verdi announced that 500 employees walked off the job on Monday and more will follow suit if the online retailer doesn’t meet their salary demands. JAPAN Depopulation and the Disappearing Countryside Low birth rates and a rapidly aging population leave more scarecrows than actual people in the southwestern village of Nagoro. YEMEN Senior Al Qaeda Official Criticizes Islamic State’s Beheadings Military commander Nasser bin Ali al Ansi condemns the group’s tactic as ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘very barbaric.’ Check out the VICE News beta for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram:

From: VICE News

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