Tag Archives: Others
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States Postal Service should have more flexibility to raise rates for packages, according to recommendations from a task force set up by President Donald Trump, a move that could hurt profits of Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and other large online retailers. The task force was announced in April to find ways to stem financial losses by the service, an independent agency within the federal government. Its creation followed criticism by Trump that the Postal Office provided too much service to Amazon for too little money.
FILE PHOTO – A view shows U.S. postal service mail boxes at a post office in Encinitas, California in this February 6, 2013, file photo. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files
The Postal Service lost almost $ 4 billion in fiscal 2018, which ended on Sept. 30, even as package deliveries rose.
It has been losing money for more than a decade, the task force said, partially because the loss of revenue from letters, bills and other ordinary mail in an increasingly digital economy have not been offset by increased revenue from an explosion in deliveries from online shopping.
The president has repeatedly attacked Amazon for treating the Postal Service as its “delivery boy” by paying less than it should for deliveries and contributing to the service’s $ 65 billion loss since the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, without presenting evidence.
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, a newspaper whose critical coverage of the president has repeatedly drawn Trump’s ire.
The rates the Postal Service charges Amazon and other bulk customers are not made public.
“None of our findings or recommendations relate to any one company,” a senior administration official said on Tuesday.
Amazon shares closed down 5.8 percent at $ 1,669.94, while eBay (EBAY.O) fell 3.1 percent to $ 29.26, amid a broad stock market selloff on Tuesday.
The Package Coalition, which includes Amazon and other online and catalog shippers, warned against any move to raise prices to deliver their packages.
“The Package Coalition is concerned that, by raising prices and depriving Americans of affordable delivery services, the Postal Task Force’s package delivery recommendations would harm consumers, large and small businesses, and especially rural communities,” the group said in an emailed statement.
Most of the recommendations made by the task force, including possible price hikes, can be implemented by the agency. Changes, such as to frequency of mail delivery, would require legislation.
The task force recommended that the Postal Service have the authority to charge market-based rates for anything that is not deemed an essential service, like delivery of prescription drugs.
BAD NEWS FOR AMAZON
“Although the USPS does have pricing flexibility within its package delivery segment, packages have not been priced with profitability in mind. The USPS should have the authority to charge market-based prices for both mail and package items that are not deemed ‘essential services,’” the task force said in its summary.
That would be bad news for Amazon and other online sellers that ship billions of packages a year to customers.
“If they go to market pricing, there will definitely be a negative impact on Amazon’s business,” said Marc Wulfraat, president of logistics consultancy MWPVL International Inc.
If prices jumped 10 percent, that would increase annual costs for Amazon by at least $ 1 billion, he said.
The task force also recommended that the Postal Service address rising labor costs.
The Postal Service should also restructure $ 43 billion in pre-funding payments that it owes the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, the task force said.
Cowen & Co, in a May report, said the Postal Service and Amazon were “co-dependent,” but that Amazon went elsewhere for most packages that needed to arrive quickly.
Cowen estimated that the Postal Service delivered about 59 percent of Amazon’s U.S. packages in 2017, and package delivery could account for 50 percent of postal service revenue by 2023.
The American Postal Workers Union warned against any effort to cut services. “Recommendations would slow down service, reduce delivery days and privatize large portions of the public Postal Service. Most of the report’s recommendations, if implemented, would hurt business and individuals alike,” the union said in a statement.
Reporting by Diane Bartz and Jeffrey Dastin; editing by Bill Berkrot
And the advice rings true. When we focus too much on others, we can lose sight of ourselves and our own progress. Now researchers are figuring out why.
A team led by Steven Buzinksi at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has investigated how the judgments and decisions of students can be guided by their perceptions of how others like them behave. This idea was explored previously — another study, concerned with how students overestimate how much their peers drink alcohol, found that this “widespread overestimation” actually influences students to drink more themselves.
However, this Chapel Hill team wanted to see if study habits and behaviors were affected in similar ways by inaccurate perceptions.
In studying hundreds of social psychology undergraduates, researchers found that exam scores could actually take a hit when students miscalculated how much their peers studied.
Overall, students had a tendency to underestimate how much time peers spent studying for upcoming exams. Even further, how much a student studied correlated with what they perceived was a normal amount of time to study, according to what they perceived about everyone else.
However, Buzinski and his team found that students’ misconceptions about the study time of their peers were not always positive influences for actual exam performance. One would normally assume that underestimating typical study time would lead to choosing to study less, and receiving poor test grades.
But, in fact, researchers surprisingly found that those students who overestimated, not underestimated, their peers’ study time actually performed worse in the subsequent test.
The reason? Buzinski’s team speculate that anxiety and self-doubt arrived when a student felt as if his or her peers were hitting the books too hard (even though it is likely that this perception was inaccurate).
Future research will be needed “to confirm the robustness of these findings,” and it may be necessary to “directly observe how correcting misconceptions affects students’ study behavior and their confidence.”
Ultimately, it may benefit you to apply these findings to your own working life — to think about how hard others may be working may actually cause you stress and anxiety, damaging your performance. Plus, you may be wrong about how hard your peers are working — so yes, make sure to focus on you.
Twitch Prime will celebrate Amazon Prime Day with a special PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Squad Showdown featuring popular DJ deadmau5 and streamers including Shroud, the controversial Dr DisRespect, Anne Munition and more.
Deadmau5 will perform his new single, “Monophobia Ft Rob Swire,” along with music from his Mau5ville Vol. 1 CD and other new music.
The festivities start at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on July 13 on Twitch. Viewers get in-game PUBG goodies, and Twitch promises killer squad action between celebrities and streamers. The full streamer lineup: Shroud, Dr DisRespect, Anne Munition, Chocotaco, chad, anthony_kongphan, Ashek, Lil_Lexi, DizzyKitten, Tsm_viss, Luzu, Tsm_smak, GoldGlove, GiantWaffle, N0thing, and Trick2g.
Details are posted on the Twitch blog. The company is offering daily free games for Twitch Prime members, as well as Twitch and deadmau5 merchandise.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) has tested a new blockchain platform for issuing financial instruments with the National Bank of Canada and other large firms, they said on Friday, seeking to streamline origination, settlement, interest rate payments and other processes.
The test on Wednesday mirrored the Canadian bank’s $ 150 million offering on the same day of a one-year floating-rate Yankee certificate of deposit, they said in a statement. The platform was built over more than a year using Quorum, a type of open-source blockchain that JPMorgan has developed inhouse and is in discussions to spin off.
Participants in the experiment included Goldman Sachs Asset Management, the fund management arm of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Legg Mason Inc’s (LM.N) Western Asset and other investors in the certificate of deposit.
Banks have poured millions of dollars to develop blockchain, the software first created to run cryptocurrency bitcoin, to streamline processes ranging from cross-border payments to securities settlement.
“Blockchain-related technologies have the potential to bring about major change in the financial services industry,” David Furlong, senior vice president of artificial intelligence, venture capital and blockchain at National Bank of Canada, said in a statement.
JPMorgan is considering spinning off Quorum because the technology has attracted significant outside interest, Umar Farooq, head of blockchain initiatives for JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank said in an interview.
He said it was taking too much time to field requests for help from users at other companies.
Charging for assistance is not an option because software support is not the bank’s business, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. The source was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The spin-off discussions are in the early stages and the bank has received interest from financial institutions and large enterprise technology companies, Farooq added. He declined to name the companies.
JPMorgan plans to beef up the Quorum team with dozens of engineers from the bank’s other divisions who have become familiar with the technology, he said.
Blockchain is in the early stages of development in the financial industry, but JPMorgan is optimistic about its potential, Farooq said.
“We haven’t really seen a lot of really large scale things go into production yet. There are few cases where blockchain can really shine.”
Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Richard Chang
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it will no longer require employees to resolve sexual-harassment claims through private arbitration, one of the first signs that the legal contracts long used to hide workplace misconduct may be starting to crumble under the pressure of the #MeToo movement.
Roughly 60 million Americans are subject to mandatory arbitration agreements, generally as part of employment contracts they signed when they were hired. The agreements compel employees to address claims through a private arbiter rather than in court, which can keep victims in the dark about prior harassment claims, shield serial abusers, and hide sexual harassment from public scrutiny.
Microsoft says it made the change as it prepared to throw its support behind a bill proposed by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) that would make forced arbitration in harassment cases unenforceable under federal law. “After returning from Washington to Seattle, we also reflected on a second aspect of the issue. We asked ourselves about our own practices and whether we should change any of them,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer wrote on the company’s corporate blog.
Forced arbitration agreements are popular in Silicon Valley, where employers often impose strict confidentiality provisions that keep employment issues private. Now the question is whether other big players will follow Microsoft’s lead.
Amazon says it doesn’t ask employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. A Facebook spokesperson says the company is looking into the Graham-Gillibrand proposal and referred to the company’s harassment policy. Uber, Google, and Apple did not immediately respond to questions from WIRED about arbitration agreements for sexual harassment or their support for the new bill. Uber’s employment contracts include a binding arbitration clause, but the company now gives employees 30 days to opt-out of that clause, Uber told WIRED in June.
Confidentiality provisions, including nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) and non-disparagement clauses, came under fire after news reports revealed how these contracts were used to shield serial abusers like Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and Roger Ailes, by silencing victims.
Earlier this month, experts told WIRED that reforming these contracts would help pierce the secrecy around sexual harassment. Both former Uber engineer Susan Fowler and former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson have identified forced arbitration clauses as legal impediments for harassment victims. Fowler, whose harassment allegations led to the ouster of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in August in support of an ongoing Supreme Court case to determine whether forced arbitration violates federal law. Carlson, who sued Ailes for sexual harassment, joined Graham and Gillibrand at a press conference introducing their bill earlier this month.
Microsoft’s public stand against secrecy follows a Bloomberg story last week about a rape claim from a female Microsoft intern, which came to light as part of a two-year-old class-action lawsuit against Microsoft for gender discrimination.
The rape allegation from the Microsoft intern emerged in recently unsealed documents in the class action suit. According to Bloomberg, the intern was required to keep working alongside her alleged rapist while the company investigated her claim.
The policy change may be relatively simpler to implement at Microsoft, which typically does not include arbitration agreements in its employment contracts. In his blog post, Smith said a review found that only “a small segment” of its 125,000 employees “have contractual clauses requiring pre-dispute arbitration for harassment claims in employment agreements.” That covers a few hundred people. A Microsoft spokesperson says the company also will not compel arbitration related to gender discrimination, which is included in the proposed legislation.
What is the best repellent to avoid being bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus? This question was originally answered on Quora by Tirumalai Kamala.