Trump rallies his base on his 100th day

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump hit on some of the biggest issues he has tried to tackle during his first 100 days in office at a rally Saturday in Pennsylvania, where he struck a consistently divisive and determined tone.

The threat from North Korea, getting a health care bill passed and possibly renegotiating the Paris climate accord were among the big talking points of Trump’s nearly one-hour speech on his 100th day as President, which he delivered to a crowd in Harrisburg.
“I’ll be making a big decision on the Paris accord over the next two weeks, and we will see what happens,” Trump said on the same day that protesters backing action on climate change took to the streets in Washington and other cities across the country as part of the “People’s Climate March.”
    While Trump’s raucous rally was straight out of his campaign playbook, he also did something he rarely does — call out, by name, US congressmen from Pennsylvania who were in attendance.
    “We’re going to give Americans the freedom to purchase the health care plans they want, not the health care forced on them by the government,” Trump said. “And I’ll be so angry at Congressman (Mike) Kelly and Congressman (Tom) Marino and all of our congressmen in this room if we don’t get that damn thing passed quickly.”
    Trump, who found his stride in front of large, cheering crowds across the country in states where his populist message resonates, took the stage Saturday night alongside Vice President Mike Pence.
    “There is no place I’d rather be than right here in Pennsylvania to celebrate our 100-day milestone, to reflect on an incredible journey together,” Trump said.
    In addition to speaking at the rally, Trump signed two executive orders in Harrisburg, one directing a review all US trade agreements and the second establishing the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.
    Among the crowd favorites at Trump rallies are the President’s attacks on the press, and this especially rang true at Saturday’s event because many members of the press are celebrating at the White House Correspondents’ dinner in what Trump calls the “swamp” of Washington — setting up a prime-time duel with what has become his No. 1 foe, the media.
    “A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now,” Trump told the crowd. “They are gathered together for the White House Correspondents’ dinner — without the President. And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington’s swamp, spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people.”
    Trump held that divisive tone throughout the speech, prompting former presidential adviser and senior CNN political analyst David Gergen to call the remarks “deeply disturbing” in a special prime-time edition of “CNN Newsroom” with John Berman and Poppy Harlow.
    “This was the most divisive speech I have ever heard from a sitting American president,” Gergen said. “Others may disagree about that. He played to his base and he treated his other listeners, the rest of the people who have been disturbed about him or opposed him, he treated them basically as, ‘I don’t give a damn what you think because you’re frankly like the enemy.’ I thought it was a deeply disturbing speech.”
    This marks the first time in 36 years that a sitting president has not attended and spoken at the dinner. President Ronald Reagan missed the dinner while recovering in the hospital from an assassination attempt, but he still made remarks by phone. Richard Nixon was the last president to skip the dinner completely.
    The last time Trump attended the dinner was in 2011, when he was a New York real estate mogul and reality TV star who had just jumped into politics by getting involved in the “birther” movement, calling for President Barack Obama to release his birth certificate. Trump ended up being the butt of the jokes that night from comedian Seth Meyers and Obama himself.
    But no matter where he was, the spotlight was on Trump on Saturday since the day also marked a significant milestone in the career of a president. After serving as commander in chief for 100 days, his achievements, as well as shortfalls, were being closely scrutinized.
    On paper, Trump lacks a major legislative achievement, has the lowest approval ratings of any new commander in chief since World War II, has seen several key immigration goals held up by the courts and has failed to deliver the health care overhaul he promised again and again on the campaign trail.
    Trump’s sole big win has been the successful nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — something a president hasn’t done in his first 100 days since James Garfield appointed a justice within that time frame 136 years ago.
    Trump, a longtime critic of the number of Obama’s executive orders, issued more executive orders in his first 100 days than any other president aside from Harry Truman.
    It’s also been 100 days plagued with controversy, from appointing his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner to key White House posts to dealing with allegations of possible ties between some of his campaign aides and Russia.
    His campaign promises on such major items as repealing and replacing Obamacare and overhauling the tax code — things he rallied crowds with for months all over the country — have yet to be enacted. Even his promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico is caught up in a spending debate, with no support from Democrats and little to no progress being made.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/29/politics/donald-trump-100-days-rally/index.html

    The first 100 days in LGBT rights

    (CNN)Even before US President Donald Trump took office, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans feared his administration would roll back gains they made in the Obama administration.

    Now, 100 days into Trump’s presidency, advocacy groups say their concerns have been realized through Cabinet appointments and policy decisions that undermine civil rights for LGBT Americans.
    Here’s a timeline of key actions affecting LGBT Americans from the first 100 days.

      Reversing course

      February 10: In the first sign of a new Justice Department with different priorities, the agency dropped its defense of Obama-era protections for transgender students in a key lawsuit.
      After the departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance in May 2016 directing schools to let transgender students use facilities that correspond with their gender identity, officials in a dozen states sued to block their implementation.
      A federal judge in Texas granted the states’ request for a nationwide injunction to halt the guidelines’ enforcement. The Obama administration’s Justice Department appealed to reduce the injunction’s scope to states involved in the lawsuit while the case was alive.
      Then, the day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn in, the Justice Department said it withdrew its appeal so it could decide how to “best proceed” with the lawsuit.
      February 22: A few weeks later, the Trump administration withdrew the guidelines entirely, in a joint decision from the departments of Justice and Education.

        Protections pulled from trans school restrooms

      MUST WATCH

      March 27: Trump signed an executive order that nullified an Obama administration initiative to ensure that federal contractors complied with labor and civil rights laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
      March 28: Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s efforts to collect data on LGBT Americans had begun to unravel.
      Advocates have long pushed for the government to gather data on LGBT Americans, including how numerous they are. There’s no official national count of gay, bisexual or transgender Americans. Therefore, advocates welcomed the inclusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the Census Bureau’s road map for 2020 data collection. But celebrations were premature. The agency later said it found “no need” to collect the data.
      The reversal came days after Secretary Tom Price’s Department of Health and Human Services eliminated questions about about sexual orientation and gender identity in proposed versions of two critical health-care surveys addressing the needs of the elderly and the disabled.
      Advocates said their inclusion in surveys helps assess needs within the LGBT community and collect data to support policy changes.
      April 14: After North Carolina repealed and replaced its so-called bathroom bill with another measure that prevents cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances, the Justice Department halted its litigation related to the laws.

      Meanwhile, a handful of state and district courts have sided with transgender students in lawsuits against schools. And, observers are waiting to see what’s next for transgender teen Gavin Grimm’s lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia. The withdrawal of the guidance led the Supreme Court to return the case to a lower court to consider whether anti-discrimination protections extend to gender identity.

        The teen at the center of the transgender bathroom debate

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      Trump’s appointments

      Presidential appointments speak volumes about what an administration will stand for, said Sharon McGowan, director of strategy at legal aid group Lambda Legal.
      LGBT advocacy groups opposed the nominations of then-US Sen. Jeff Sessions and then-US Rep. Tom Price to head the Justice Department and Department of Health and Human Services based on their legislative track records on gay rights issues.
      As lawmakers, both supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2006, though Sessions promised in his confirmation hearings that he would follow the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality. It didn’t come up in Price’s hearings, and observers are waiting to see whether he upholds anti-discimination measures in the Affordable Health Care Act that protect LGBT Americans.
      When in Congress, Sessions and Price co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act, the so-called religious liberty bill preventing the federal government from punishing businesses for denying services to same-sex couples. They voted against expanding federal hate crime statutes to include sexual orientation, gender and disability. They condemned the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that forbade gay and lesbian service members from serving openly.
      LGBT advocates are concerned about the White House appointment of former Heritage Foundation employee Roger Severino to lead the Health and Human Services civil rights office. He came out against a provision of the Affordable Care Act banning discrimination against transgender patients, saying the rule would “threaten the religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and independent medical judgment of health care professionals.”

        Transgender identity, in their words

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      The road ahead

      From the President to the attorney general to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the administration has said it’s trying to balance civil rights with states’ right to set their own policies.
      But advocacy groups say the administration’s actions are efforts to erase them from America narrative.
      “One hundred days of Trump translates into 100 days of erasure for the LGBTQ community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of advocacy group GLAAD.
      “From the census exclusion, to rescinding Obama’s guidance for trans youth in schools, and lack of any LGBTQ mentions on the White House website, he has spent the early days of his administration trying to remove us from the very fabric of this country, and we must resist.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/28/politics/first-100-days-lgbt-rights-trnd/index.html

      An unusually large number of humpback whales died last year

      (CNN)The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched an investigation Thursday into a large number of humpback whale deaths from Maine to North Carolina.

      The agency declared the deaths an unusual mortality event, the first one observed in humpback whales in nearly a decade. An unusual mortality event (UME) is defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act as “a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response.”
      The last unusual mortality event declared for humpback whales was in 2006. Two other events were declared in 2005 and 2003, said Deborah Fauquier, veterinary medical officer for NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources. The cause of those UMEs was undetermined.
        Forty-one whales died in the region last year. According to NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources, the 16 year average for the region from 2000-2015 is 14 whales per year. As of April 24, 2017, 15 whales have died.
        Out of the 41 dead whales that died last year, 20 of them have been examined so far, said Mendy Garron, Stranding Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. Of those, 10 appear to have hit marine vessels. The whales’ bodies showed evidence of blunt force trauma, Garron said.
        Vessel strikes have been documented in Virginia (3), New York (3), Delaware (2), Massachusetts (1) and New Hampshire (1).
        Greg Silber, Large Whale Recovery Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, said many factors could have caused the whales to move closer to shipping routes, but there hasn’t been a spike in ship traffic.
        “It’s probably linked to prey sources,” he said. “Humpback whales follow where the prey is and there may be aggregation in certain areas.”
        Now that the unusual mortality event has been declared, NOAA’s investigation will involve data collection and analysis as well as monitoring environmental and habitat conditions, including human-caused threats.
        Humpback whales were recently taken off the endangered species list, but are still protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Fauquier said.
        Since the marine mammal UME program was created in 1991, there have been 63 formally recognized UMEs in the United States involving a variety of species.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/27/us/humpback-whale-death/index.html

        Cheap, widely available drug could stop thousands of mothers bleeding to death

        Tranexamic acid could save the lives of a third of women who die in childbirth from excessive bleeding, which kills 100,000 a year

        A cheap and widely available drug could save the lives of thousands of women who die in childbirth from excessive bleeding, one of the main killers of women worldwide.

        The drug, tranexamic acid, is available over the counter in the UK to women suffering from heavy periods. In Japan and the far east, it is used as a skin whitener. But now a very large study of 20,000 women in 21 countries has shown it can stop a third of cases of bleeding to death after giving birth.

        Haemorrhage after childbirth kills 100,000 women a year, mostly in low and middle-income countries. It is not only the women dying it is the impact on the child that has to grow up without a mother, children who might already be in the family and the husband, said associate professor Haleema Shakur from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the trial.

        This is of absolutely huge importance. While a single mother is dying, we need to keep fighting for them.

        The drug has already been proven to cut the death toll from bleeding after accidents in a trial of similar size. The latest trial, published in the Lancet medical journal, recruited more than 20,000 women who either gave birth in one of 193 hospitals involved or managed to get there after starting to bleed. They were randomly assigned either tranexamic acid or a placebo.

        The researchers found that tranexamic acid was most effective when it was given soon after the bleeding began. The trial was originally intended also to find out whether the drug saved women from having to undergo a hysterectomy the removal of the womb. But the scientists discovered that in many countries, where anaemia is common and blood supplies are limited, surgeons operated immediately as the surest way to save the womans life.

        If all women who haemorrhage after childbirth were given the drug, the trial suggests that 30,000 lives could be saved a year. In practice, that will be more difficult. Tranexamic acid was given in an intravenous injection in the hospitals, as the quickest way to have an effect. Many women give birth at home and may not get to a hospital in time.

        It is available in the form of a tablet for heavy periods, but absorption may take too long, said Shakur. They are now working on new ways to get it rapidly into womens systems perhaps as an injection in the arm muscle or as a capsule under the tongue. It is also possible that women deemed to be at high risk of haemorrhage could be given a tablet before they give birth. The trials have shown no side-effects, making the drug very safe.

        Of the two-thirds of women who died in spite of being given the drug, Shakur said some arrived at hospital too late, while others had underlying illness including severe malaria and anaemia which may have been the cause of death.

        It has taken a long time to show that the drug does work in the context it was designed for. Professor Ian Roberts from the London School, who co-led the study, said: The researchers who invented tranexamic acid more than 50 years ago hoped it would reduce deaths from postpartum haemorrhage, but they couldnt persuade obstetricians at the time to conduct a trial. Now we finally have these results that we hope can help save womens lives around the world.

        There are many next steps, said Shakur. We have to make sure tranexamic acid is available wherever a woman gives birth and is at risk, she said. We must make sure doctors and midwives are aware of the results of the study. And we need health ministers to make sure that the drug is available in their country and is on their shopping list of essential medicines.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/apr/26/cheap-widely-available-drug-could-stop-thousands-of-mothers-bleeding-to-death-tranexamic-acid

        Man, 95, who bludgeoned wife in ‘mercy killing’ bid gets suspended sentence

        Judge tells Denver Beddows he will not be jailed so as not to prolong his agony after acceding to wifes requests to take her life

        A great-grandfather who attempted to murder his wife in an act of mercy after she repeatedly begged him to end her life has been spared jail.

        Denver Charles Beddows, 95, attempted to kill his wife of 65 years, who he described as the most beautiful woman in the world, with a lump hammer and ceramic pan.

        Beddows, who ran a car body repair businesses for 40 years, carried out the act at the couples home in Warrington after his 88-year-old wife, Olive, pleaded with him to end her life so that she would not die in a care home.

        Liverpool crown court heard that the fiercely independent couple had a perfect and happy marriage but both their physical and mental health suffered after Olive Beddows was involved in a car accident around nine months before the attack.

        In the weeks preceding the incident the couples family said she had become increasingly anxious and had to be prescribed medication after her mental health was described as fragile.

        Anya Horwood, prosecuting, said: She became increasingly apprehensive and claimed they are coming to get me. It would appear that the additional care required for Mrs Beddows was placing an additional strain on the defendant who resolutely refused the assistance of social services.

        On the evening of 3 February the couples son and daughter-in-law went to the Beddows home to help them prepare for bed and found the couple in a confused state.

        At 10.15 the next morning Beddows rang his son sounding distressed, and said: Ive tried to kill your mother. Beddows told him he had hit her with a hammer.

        Their son, also named Denver, and his wife rushed to the house and found blood in the hallway and broken crockery.

        The couple were sitting together on the bathroom floor with Beddows holding his wifes head on a pillow and mumbling in distress.

        Olive Beddows was taken to hospital with multiple open skull fractures and injuries to her head and face.

        Beddows was confused and shaking, telling police officers: My wife was going mad. I tried to kill her why didnt she die? I went to get the hammer from the garage. I couldnt stab her.

        I wanted her to die and I havent managed to and now I have just increased her suffering.

        Beddows, who was also taken to hospital, told staff his wife had begged him to kill her because she did not want to go to a hospital.

        The pensioner who joined the RAF at 19, has had depression since 1962 and is now suffering from a form of post-traumatic amnesia said he had been working himself up to the attack for days but did not want to kill his wife in her sleep.

        He told officers: Then I got to this morning and it was now or never. But I messed it up and she isnt dead. Shes the most beautiful woman in the world and Ive made it worse. I would happily be a murderer please tell me I killed her.

        The judge was urged to suspend the inevitable prison sentence describing it as an act of mercy.

        Philip Tully, defending, said Olive Beddows had repeatedly asked her husband to end her life, which he had refused to act upon until that day when he was in state of exhaustion and despair in relation to her health and well being.

        Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, told Beddows who had been in custody since the incident that he would not be going to jail so as not to prolong your agony.

        He said: Although this was a terrible crime the blame which attaches to you for what you did is far outweighed by the tragedy of the situation and the circumstances in which you found yourself.

        You hit her out of bed with a pan and then subjected her to a repeated attack with a hammer in a determined effort to end her life for one reason and one reason alone she did not wish to end her days in a home or hospital where she believed that her deteriorating mental health was leading her.

        You were under immense pressure in the days leading up to your attempt to kill her and your acts were acts of last resort because you failed to persuade her that she was going nowhere.

        He said that he took into account that despite the severity of her injuries Olive Beddows was making a significant recovery, had forgiven her husband and wished to be reunited with him.

        That is indeed true love no doubt earned by you over 65 years of devoted and loyal married life described by you as perfect and happy, the judge added.

        Beddows, who was wearing a body warmer over his jumper, became visibly emotional during the proceedings, before saying: Thank you sir as he was led from the dock. He had pleaded guilty to attempting to murder his wife at their home in Warrington. He had been in custody since his arrest, having declined to apply for bail. He was given a two-year sentence suspended for two years.

        The couples family said in a statement: As a family we are trying to come to terms with the tragic events that took place on 4 February. The last 12 months have been particularly difficult, as we all attempted to cope with mums mental illness, which is still yet to be diagnosed.

        At present we are supporting both mum and dad.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/25/denver-beddows-95-mercy-killing

        Robert Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance author dies aged 88

        Book telling the father-son story of a motorcycle trip across the western United States was published in 1974 and quickly became a best-seller

        Robert Pirsig, author of the influential 1970s philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, has died at the age of 88.

        Peter Hubbard, executive editor of his publisher William Morrow & Co, said in a statement that Pirsigs wife Wendy had confirmed his death at his home in Maine after a period of failing health.

        Published in 1974 after being rejected by more than 100 other publishers, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was the father-son story of a motorcycle trip across the western United States. Loosely autobiographical, it also contained flashbacks to a period in which the author was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

        The book quickly became a best-seller. Pirsig said its protagonist set out to resolve the conflict between classic values that create machinery, such as a motorcycle, and romantic values, such as experiencing the beauty of a country road.

        Born in Minneapolis, Pirsig had a high IQ and graduated high school at the age of 15. He earned a degree in philosophy and also worked as a technical writer and instructor of English before being hospitalised for mental illness in the early 1960s.

        His philosophical thinking and personal experiences during these years, including a 1968 motorcycle trip across the US West with his eldest son, Christopher, formed the core of the narrative of the novel.

        Pirsig worked on the sequel, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals for 17 years before its publication in 1991. The story traced a sailboat journey taken by two fictitious characters along Americas eastern coast.

        Pirsig lived the last 30 years in South Berwick, Maine and is survived by his wife Wendy, two children and three grandchildren. His son Chris died in 1979.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/apr/25/robert-pirsig-zen-and-the-art-of-motorcycle-maintenance-author-dies-aged-88

        Bill Nye: Science made America great

        (CNN)I was proud to join thousands of concerned citizens, scientists and engineers in Saturday’s March for Science. With more than 600 marches taking place around the world, we conveyed that science is political, not partisan, and science should shape our policies.

        Although it is the means by which humankind discovers objective truths in nature, science is and has always been political. Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution refers to promoting “the progress of science and useful arts” to motivate innovators, stimulate the economy and establish just laws.
        The US has become the most powerful nation on Earth and among the greatest in history, because it has long respected and promoted science. Countless policies, from military deployments to regulations that control the formula of a shampoo, are based on science.
          Scientific research depends on government investment (approximately $65 billion in the US last year), which itself relies on a social compact: that basic research across all fields is beneficial to a nation.
          Currently, science is being actively undermined by ideological forces motivated to maintain the status quo rather than advance the nation’s long-term interest. This is especially true of the extractive fossil fuel industries. When facing tides of deliberate misinformation, scientists, engineers and researchers have taken it upon themselves to organize and raise awareness about their professions and the vital importance of the scientific enterprise.
          By marching, scientists had no choice but to engage more in the political sphere. They face staggering proposed budget cuts in energy, medical and environmental research. The denial of the accepted facts of science, along with the rejection of well-established theories — such as evolution and especially climate change — have cultivated anti-science policies that harm people, economies and our global environment.
          Science is a process that enables continual innovation, extraordinary public works, reliable transportation, and food for the world’s billions. Consider what the US has achieved in space science; the national pride and cosmic perspective of our planetary home are priceless. Science is universal. Countries around the world have followed suit and established space programs to garner similar benefits.

            Protesters to Trump: Science matters

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          Without science, the US, any country in fact, cannot compete on the world stage. Yet today, we have a great many lawmakers, not just here but around the world, deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science. It’s another formula — a formula for disaster. Imagine your world without printed words of any kind — paper, electronic or otherwise.

          Join us on Twitter and Facebook

          How would your life be without electricity, let alone information technology? Consider a city with no sewers. Be thankful for antibiotics and polio vaccines. These technologies derive from our science.
          To suppress scientific discoveries such as evolution, the benefit of vaccines, or global warming apparently based on nothing but intuition will soon prove costly and fruitless — and in some heretofore-productive agricultural regions, very costly and literally fruitless. These examples and countless others are connected to policy issues, which can only be addressed competently by understanding the natural laws in play.
          As a society, we want informed citizens, who can make good judgments in the voting booth. We ignore natural laws at our peril.
          At the 600-plus Marches for Science around the world this Earth Day, we reminded everyone, our lawmakers especially, that science serves our society, and science must shape our public policies. The science marches can prove effective by prompting action. May the facts be with us.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/22/opinions/science-and-government-opinion-bill-nye/index.html

          Duolingo launches paid subscriptions as it experiments with new ways to monetize its service

          Earlier this week, the popular language learning service Duolingo quietly introduced paid monthly subscriptions in its Android apps.

          Subscribers get two benefits: theywont see ads in the app and they will be able to download lessons for offline use. In addition, there is also a feel-good aspect to this, as Duolingo highlights that subscribers to Duolingo Plus, as the subscription is called, will help millions around the world learn for free.

          The new subscription service,which you can buy through an in-app purchase, currently costs $9.99 per month. Its live now on Android and will come to iOS in the future.

          Its worth stressing that this subscription is completely optional and a company spokesperson told me that Duolingos learning content will always be free.

          Update: a Duolingo spokesperson tells me that the company expects to break even (or come close to it) by the end of the year and that the company has a fully fleshed out monetization plan. We have updated the headline to reflect this.

          About a year ago, Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn announced that the companywould start experimenting with ads and optional in-app purchases to figure out how each would impact app usage and the financial health of the company. At the time, von Ahn said that Duolingo was spending about $42,000 per day on its servers, employees and other operating expenses, a number that has surely increased over the last year or so.

          Subscribers will help keep language education free for millions of people around the world, von Ahn writes in this weeks announcement.

          Ads in an educational app are always a difficult tradeoff between monetization and user experience because they are, by default, designed to take the user out of the app. Von Ahn acknowledged as much. I dont like ads any more than you do, but we need to test if a small non-intrusive ad at the end of a lesson makes people use Duolingo less. (We know this would take us a long way towards breaking even.), he wrote a year ago.

          Now, however, it doesnt look like ads are going away anytime soon, because not seeing ads is, after all, one of the main benefits of paying for Duolingo Plus.

          The original idea for monetizing Duolingo was to use the combined brainpower of its users to power a translation service. This service, however, remains in beta after all these years and the company doesnt really highlight it anymore (and as far as I can see, theres not even a link to it from its homepage at this point).

          Duolingos mission is to provide free language education to the world. Having talked to von Ahn many times in the last few years, I know that hes extremely passionate about this. At the same time, though, Duolingo also took almost $84 million in venture funding since it launched in 2011 and those investors surely want to see a return.

          Its worth noting that Duolingos move here feels a bit similar to that of Berlin-basedBabbel, the companys biggest competitor in Europe. Babbel, too, tried the ad model but found that it couldnt sustain its business through ads alone. In a last-minute pivot before running out of money, Babbel switched to a paid model and today it has hundreds of employees andruns a cash-flow positive operation. In all fairness, though, its mission wasnt to offer free language education to everyone, so it had far more freedom to pivot.

          Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/21/duolingo-launches-paid-subscriptions-as-it-struggles-to-monetize-its-service/

          UK’s online shoppers top global spending survey – BBC News

          Image copyright Science Photo Library

          Online shoppers in the UK spend more per household than consumers in any other country, a report says, amid a shift from stores to the internet.

          UK households spent the equivalent of $5,900 (4,611) using payment cards online in 2015, the UK Cards Association said.

          This was higher than Norway ($5,400), the US ($4,500) and Australia ($4,000).

          The association suggested the frequency of debit and credit cards and the ease of delivering items drove online buys.

          New figures from the association showed that 154bn was spent on the internet using cards in 2016 – up by a quarter in two years.

          Cinema tickets

          Entertainment – such as cinema and concert tickets, takeaway orders and music downloads – accounted for one in four online card purchases in the UK.

          Some 67% of concert ticket spending and 61% of cinema, theatre and dance spending was made online, the association’s figures showed.

          The popularity of renewing contracts such as insurance cover online, and payments into bank accounts over the internet also meant financial services registered considerable activity online. More than a quarter (27%) of what was spent online was in financial services.

          However, attempts of online retailers to make a mark in the grocery sector had so far failed in comparison to the use of cards in shops and supermarkets. Some 41% of in-store card purchases were on food and drink, compared with only 7% via the internet.

          Pawn shops, laundry and pubs, somewhat unsurprisingly, registered the least online shopping activity, the figures showed.

          Clicks or bricks

          Traditional retailers have felt a significant impact from the online shopping habits of customers.

          Earlier this week, High Street retailer Debenhams announced a change of strategy owing, in part, to fast-growing “mobile interaction”.

          The plan means up to 10 of its 176 UK stores may be closed over the next five years. A central distribution warehouse and about 10 smaller warehouses could also be shut.

          A further cost burden was also felt, particularly by clothes retailers, as a result of online shoppers returning items they did not want during a statutory cooling-off period.

          Consumer analysts Savvy Marketing compiled figures for BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme and found that among 1,000 online shoppers questioned, women’s clothing had been returned by 63% of them.

          Retailers said free returns were an important part of their business, but the costs had to be recovered somewhere or they risked going under.

          Image copyright Getty Images

          Many shoppers still fear that online shopping opens the door to cyber-criminals, but Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, argued that security was improving.

          “Since the early days of internet shopping there has been a host of innovations, from digital wallets to one click purchases, which bring enhanced security, choice and convenience for customers and which will lead to continued growth in the sector.

          “The additional protection provided when using a card also gives consumers extra peace of mind when they are shopping online,” he said.

          Concerns have also been raised over internet selling fuelling a rise in shopping addiction.

          Some mental health problems manifest themselves in compulsive buying, making purchases which are later regretted. This could lead those affected into a spiral of debt.

          A report by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute suggested that 24-hour online shopping meant “consumers who struggle to control their spending find themselves at greater risk than ever before”.

          Retailers send personalised emails to customers, based on previous purchases, which may include short-term discounts and promotions.

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          Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39655039

          Pesticide makers claim endangered species science ‘flawed’

          Washington (CNN)Lawyers for Dow AgroSciences and two other pesticide manufacturers are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw scientific reports that were provided to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the effects of those pesticides on endangered species.

          The reports were one of the final acts of President Barack Obama’s administration and were submitted just two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
          The letters, accompanied by a study sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, refuting those EPA reports claim the government research is “flawed” and are addressed to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
            The research includes a finding that one of the pesticides, chlorpyrifos, is “likely to adversely affect” 1778 out of 1835 species studied in the report.
            Dow AgroSciences, which produces chlorpyrifos, provided the letters to CNN after they were first published by the Associated Press. The other two pesticide makers asking the EPA for the reports to be withdrawn are Adama, which makes diazinon, and FMC Corporation, which makes malathion.
            Dow AgroSciences contends that “no pest control product has been more thoroughly evaluated” than chlorpyrifos — and that it is used in nearly 100 nations.
            Environmental groups like the Pesticide Action Network point to research linking chlorpyrifos, which has been registered for use in the US since 1965, to brain damage in children and want it banned.
            In March 2017, with Pruitt at the helm, EPA denied a petition that would have banned its use on US crops.
            The letters contain industry research which refutes the government’s findings and show how the industry is pushing its agenda.
            Dow Chemical, whose CEO Andrew Liveris was tapped by Trump in December to lead his American Manufacturing Council, dismissed the concerns in a statement: “Dow actively participates in policymaking and political processes, including political contributions to candidates, parties and causes, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws. Dow maintains and is committed to the highest standard of ethical conduct in all such activity.”
            The letters will do little to assuage worries among environmental groups about Pruitt’s cozy relationship with industry and major corporations.
            Emails from Pruitt’s time as the attorney general of Oklahoma, before he became the administrator of the EPA, show he and the energy industry worked very closely together.
            But EPA refutes the notion that manufacturers have undue influence.
            “We have had no meetings with Dow on this topic and we are reviewing petitions as they come in, giving careful consideration to sound science and good policymaking,” said J.P. Freire, EPA’s associate administrator for public affairs. “The administrator is committed to listening to stakeholders affected by EPA’s regulations, while also reviewing past decisions.”

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/20/politics/epa-scott-pruitt-pesticide-manufacturers-endangered-species/index.html