Facebook wants to manage your wifi network for you

❝ Back in 2017, Facebook rolled out the “Find Wi-Fi” feature globally, a feature that lists the nearby Wi-Fi networks that Page owners shared with Facebook. Two years later, Facebook is working to expand this feature from being a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks to a service that manages the Wi-Fi connections on the device.

❝ Facebook needs more geolocation data to hyper-target advertising and information — but mostly advertising — and know even more personal information about you. Of course, it can also learn what services you use and when you use them with this connection manager. They have learned well from their big brother, Google. Sigh!

Which is why I have such a negative attitude towards Facebook and Google. They are exclusively profit-driven creatures. Loyal only to the ethos, motivations of 19th Century capitalism. Given the profit structure of high tech, it’s unneeded. Apple [and others] have proven that.

CVS Caremark ending all tobacco sales

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CVS’ new Twitter avatar – debuted this morning

CVS Caremark, the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain, plans to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 retail stores by Oct. 1, a landmark decision that would make it the first national pharmacy company to cease tobacco sales.

The move, which the company announced Wednesday, comes after years of pressure from public health advocates and medical providers, who have urged retailers to make tobacco products and advertising less available, particularly to children and teenagers.

It also marks a major turn for one of the country’s biggest healthcare companies, which said it is giving up about $2 billion in annual sales, or about 1.6% of the company’s 2012 revenues.

CVS, which is second only to Walgreen Co. in retail locations, has been steadily increasing its business providing medical care through its pharmacists and a growing number of urgent care clinics at its retail locations.

“As the delivery of healthcare evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care,” Larry J. Merlo, the president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose…”

Public health advocates hailed the CVS decision, expressing optimism that it could catalyze new efforts to curb tobacco use…

No major retailer has taken steps to limit tobacco sales since Target announced in 1996 that it would stop selling tobacco products.

And though pressure on pharmacies has been growing, Walgreen went to court to try to stop San Francisco from imposing a ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies. The challenge was dismissed by a federal court. Boston has enacted a similar ban…

Walgreen’s is one of the pharmacies currently listed as a resource for my one prescription covered by Medicare. I’m reasonably unmedicated for an old fart. The reason for using Walgreen’s is simple. It is the nearest pharmacy to my home. I will now change that.

Today, I will find the nearest CVS Caremark and have my insurance coverage changed to make that pharmacy my prime source. My mother, my father, my sister – all died from cigarette-related illness. I was lucky and quit smoking 54 years ago. They didn’t quit until it was too late.

Now that I have a choice to change pharmacies and still maintain the insured cost for that one prescription, it’s worth the extra time and effort to go elsewhere.

Uruguay first country to legalize every aspect of marijuana

uruguay flag

Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana on Tuesday, a pioneering social experiment that will be closely watched by other nations debating drug liberalization.

A government-sponsored bill approved by 16-13 votes in the Senate provides for regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana and is aimed at wresting the business from criminals in the small South American nation…

Cannabis consumers will be able to buy a maximum of 40 grams each month from licensed pharmacies as long as they are Uruguayan residents over the age of 18 and registered on a government database that will monitor their monthly purchases.

When the law is implemented in 120 days, Uruguayans will be able to grow six marijuana plants in their homes a year, or as much as 480 grams and form smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year.

Registered drug users should be able to start buying marijuana over the counter from licensed pharmacies in April…

Uruguay’s attempt to quell drug trafficking is being followed closely in Latin America where the legalization of some narcotics is being increasingly seen by regional leaders as a possible way to end the violence spawned by the cocaine trade.

Rich countries debating legalization of pot are also watching the bill, which philanthropist George Soros has supported as an “experiment” that could provide an alternative to the failed U.S.-led policies of the long “war on drugs…”

Other countries have decriminalized marijuana possession and the Netherlands allows its sale in coffee shops, but Uruguay will be the first nation to legalize the whole chain from growing the plant to buying and selling its leaves.

RTFA. All the pros and cons are trotted by – though, regular readers will know my only problem would be figuring out a decent muffin recipe if I wished to partake. I don’t smoke anything.

I don’t doubt American politicians will be watching and listening – and ignoring positive results as thoroughly as many have, for example, ignored a national non-profit health service. Our politicians are so accustomed to pimping for unproductive useless profiteers like insurance companies, it’s not likely many would learn anything about revoking the sillyass War on Drugs.

Pic of the Day


Click to enlargeThe Palm Beach Post/Rachel Mummey

Though lots of folks make a big deal pro and con over Gray Thursday getting out in front of Black Friday for Shopmas goodies – I think the greatest motivation for retailers to bump their marketing ahead is that the whole shopping season is about a week shy of most years. They’re trying to make up for the short time producing a shortfall in projected sales.

Let’s hear it for a consumer-based economy, eh?

Toyota Prius is now the best-selling car in California

…Recent sales data shows that the world’s most popular hybrid is, in fact, the best-selling car in the state. Well, the best-selling vehicle line, at least, since the Prius now comes in four variants.

If you add up sales of the Prius Liftback (aka, the regular Prius), the C, V and Plug-In models, you get 46,380 units for the first three quarters of 2012, according to numbers from the California New Car Dealers Association and reported by Bloomberg. That’s enough to move the Prius from fourth place last year to first this year in the sales rankings in America’s most populous state. In fact, roughly a quarter of the Priuses that Toyota sold in the US were in California. Reports of $5 gallons of gas are relatively recent, but we have to assume that the state’s long-time high gas prices are playing a role in pushing the Prius to the pinnacle there. Nationwide, Bloomberg says, the Prius is in seventh place…

The Prius is already the best-selling car in Japan, and has been for years, even though the Honda Fit has been nipping at its heals. Worldwide, the Prius family was the third best-selling nameplate in the first quarter of 2012, behind the Toyota Corolla and the Ford Focus.

It helps when the firm responsible for a qualitative change in transportation – like the Prius – is more forward-looking, secure in their knowledge of technology, confident enough to last past early days of improvement and acceptance.

If this profitable project was governed by American politicians it would have been shutdown long ago as another “car whose time has not come”.

Traders in Nazi souvenirs take to grave-robbing for supplies

Bodies dug from graves to fuel trade in Nazi souvenirs…

Servicemen’s groups have condemned the trade in Nazi souvenirs, which has seen hundreds of artifacts – including dog tags and tank parts – stripped from graves in Demyansk, near Novgorod in Russia, and Kurland in Latvia.

The items end up for sale on websites or at specialist fairs while the bodies are dumped in mass graves.

Paul Reed, a military archaeologist, told The Times: “It’s wholesale looting of battle sites, and the bones are just tipped into holes at the end of the day.

“Second World War archaeology is in its infancy at the moment, and these people are destroying our future, as well as desecrating the graves of fallen soldiers. None of them deserved to have their bones dug up.”

Items have reportedly been offered at War and Peace, the biggest military fair in Europe, which takes place at Hop Farm, in Kent.

While the trade is outlawed in France and Germany, it is legal in the UK. And, of course, the US.

Collectors insist they are military historians rather than neo-Nazis who prefer to buy modern replicas.

I don’t care which specific kind of creep these people are – they still are ghouls. Especially the flavor who know damned well they’re buying from grave-robbers.

Congress — sort of — bans insider trading


Here’s where Congress’ principled motivation came from

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill on Thursday to ban insider trading by members of Congress and to impose new ethics requirements on lawmakers and federal agency officials. Doesn’t that look meaningful? Look further for the reality.

The 417-to-2 vote came less than three weeks after President Obama demanded such action in his State of the Union address. The Senate approved a similar bill by a vote of 96 to 3 on Feb. 2, but the lopsided votes concealed deep disagreements over the details of the legislation.

The swift response and the debate in both chambers showed lawmakers defensive and anxious about the low esteem in which Congress is held. The public approval rating of Congress has sunk below 15 percent…

Democrats said that House Republican leaders had weakened the Senate-passed bill by stripping out a provision that would, for the first time, regulate firms that collect “political intelligence” for hedge funds, mutual funds and other investors. Under the Senate bill, such firms would have to register and report their activities, as lobbyists do.

In place of this requirement, the House version of the bill calls for a study…blah, blah, blah.

Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York, who has been pushing ethics legislation since 2006, said that House Republican leaders apparently “could not stomach pressure from the political intelligence community, which is unregulated and unseen and operates in the dark…”

In the Senate, the bill — the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or Stock Act — was written by members of both parties. In the House, it was revised by Republican leaders, without consulting Democrats, and it was considered on the House floor in a way that precluded amendments…

Please, don’t expect too much bona fide work on ethics from a Congress dedicated to achieving little or nothing. Given the lack of concern for the life and economics of ordinary citizens by our elected elite – I wouldn’t expect much more than the odd sound bite’s worth of useful lawmaking to spill from the Congressional maw.

Even this halfway useful bill resulted from media pressure. Congress members who have been introducing such legislation for years have gotten nowhere. Only election year publicity on a couple of TV shows lit a fire under political butts.

Black Friday sales climbed 6.6% to a record high

Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent to the largest amount ever as many U.S. consumers unleashed pent-up demand and bought for themselves.

Shoppers spent $11.4 billion yesterday, ShopperTrak said in a statement today. Foot traffic rose 5.1 percent, according to the Chicago-based research firm…

The brisk turnout came as retailers from Gap to Wal-Mart Stores to Toys “R” Us opened their doors earlier than ever.

Many shoppers were rookies who had never before participated in the busiest shopping day of the year, dubbed Black Friday because many retailers are said to become profitable then. As many as 152 million people were expected to shop at stores and websites on Black Friday, up 10 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation…

Black Friday arrived with consumer sentiment at levels previously reached during recessions, as a record share of households said this is a bad time to spend, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. The measure has reached minus 50 or less in nine of the past 10 weeks, an unprecedented performance in its 26-year history.

Even with low confidence, shoppers paid more for goods and unleashed some pent-up demand, said Craig Johnson, president of consulting firm Customer Growth Partners, which is based in New Canaan, Connecticut…

Chains such as Macy’s, Target Corp. and Kohl’s Corp., which all opened at midnight, may have taken revenue from competitors like J.C. Penney that didn’t open until 4 a.m., according Ken Perkins, president of Swampscott, Massachusetts-based Retail Metrics…

The move to turn Black Friday into more than just one day also grew on the Web as online retailers, such as Amazon.com Inc., began advertising “Black Friday” deals well before yesterday. Online sales gained 39 percent on Thanksgiving and 24 percent on Black Friday, according to IBM’s Coremetrics.

Black Friday may illustrate a gap between what consumers tell pollsters and how they actually behave — a trend that has prevailed for much of this year, said Retail Metrics’ Perkins…“A solid Black Friday suggests the rest of the season should be pretty good,” Perkins said. “Those who have jobs have been willing to spend.”

Americans who have jobs have returned to saving in the course of the year. After a couple decades of relying on plastic to close the gap between the quest-for-scarce-goods and declining real income we reached negative savings numbers at the beginning of the recession. Over the course of this year, that number returned to halfway normal – around 5%.

Poisonally, I think folks spent less on credit this season and used debit cards and cash instead of credit cards. We’ll see. Unlike a couple of my favorite news sources and practically every conservative blog founded on Obama-hating I don’t intend to draw conclusions about commerce this season without hard data. Rightwing bloggers plastered the Web with posts about traffic being up on Black Friday and sales failing to match the traffic numbers.

They all were wrong. They counted on ideology and didn’t wait for real numbers.

My hopes – not ideological guesswork – is that folks return to increasing those savings amounts once the holiday season is past. We have a ways to go to return to a more traditional 10%. Meanwhile, China’s new middle class sticks to a savings rate around 40%. They even show up to buy a new car with cash instead of credit! You can guess what Wall Street whizbangs think of that?