Weekend Digest: The Castro trap, flawed NFL concussion research, and going Medieval edition

by Larry Brannan ([email protected]) 111 views 

On this week’s TV edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on KATV Channel 7 in Central Arkansas and now in Northeast Arkansas on KAIT-NBC, Sundays at 10 a.m.:

The Legislature
The legislature convenes soon. A special session, a fiscal session, maybe more. We’ll talk about Arkansas Works, dark money and more with Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson and Rep. Clarke Tucker.

State government has made a concerted effort to impove, but how easy is it? KATV’s Elicia Dover discusses her research on Arkansas’ transparency in government web site.

And, it was a party in Austin, Texas. Actually, it was a lot of work. The South by Southwest tech conference ends. CJRW’s director of digital Zack Hill talks about what’s now and what’s next.

Tune in to Talk Business & Politics in Central Arkansas on KATV Channel 7, Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and now in Northeast Arkansas on KAIT-NBC, Sundays at 10 a.m.

Forbes reports, “Baseline Ventures’ Steve Anderson wrote Instagram’s Kevin Systrom his first check for $250,000 in 2010. In 2012, when Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, Anderson owned about 12% of the company.”

But things didn’t just exactly fall into place that easy for Anderson. In the first place after receiving Anderson’s initial investment, Systrom and his partner changed the app they had been working on, “that was going nowhere” and developed Instagram instead. Now they had to convince Anderson, and that worried them. Shouldn’t have.

Anderson knew the numbers were bad. They’d been talking about it for weeks. The young founders told him their plan to start fresh, not sure if their backer would be irate, disappointed or sympathetic. Anderson rubbed the ginger stubble on his chin and stared at the table. It didn’t take him long, however, to look up with a grin: “Well, what the hell took you so long?”

“That kind of split-second verdict is typical Anderson, the 47-year-old brain behind one of Silicon Valley’s most successful–and smallest–investment firms. As the second-highest-ranking member on the Midas List, FORBES’ annual tally of the world’s top 100 tech investors, he could easily join an elite VC firm. But his Baseline Ventures has only one decision maker, with an uncanny ability to find and fund entrepreneurs with germs of possibly big ideas.”

Forbes profiles this “one-man deal machine” at this link.

Harvard Business Review posts, “Venture capitalists are head-over-heels in love with platform markets these days. Most of the so-called unicorns — startups achieving billion-dollar valuations — are platforms: markets that connect buyers, sellers, and others, with the platform standing between them. Uber, Airbnb, WeWork, Amazon — they’re all platforms.”

Their current vogue might lead you to believe that they’re a 21st-century tech innovation. They’re not. Platform markets have been around for centuries. And as with most things, today’s platform designers may learn something from knowing a bit of this history.

Connect here for your history lesson on platforms.

In an interview with Inc., CMO of Belkin Kieran Hannon “explains why digital and traditional aren’t separate elements.”

I talked with Kieran Hannon, CMO of Belkin, about marketing trends, surprises, and constants. He shared his insights on personalization, IoT, and why brands can’t over-rely on programmatic.

For this insightful interview, go to this link.

CNN says it’s inevitable.

“The physical and psychological scars of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris were still healing when Belgium was hit with its own devastating jihadist massacres on Tuesday. The arrest last Friday of Salah Abdeslam seemed to end one chapter of the ongoing threat, but instead of disrupting terrorist planning, it may have kicked the hornet’s nest and accelerated an attack.”

The truth is, this nightmare is not over – not even close. Not for Belgium, nor for the rest of Europe. Europe’s terrorism problem is much larger than jihadists in Belgium or France. They are the first two EU countries believed to be hit by ISIS in mass casualty attacks, but they will not be the last. In fact, the more we learn about ISIS’ capabilities and intentions, the clearer it becomes that the Islamic State’s terror war will expand past the borders of these two states.

For the complete story, follow this link.

It’s gotten so bad, The Hill reports, “Members of the GOP foreign policy establishment are open to supporting Ted Cruz or even Hillary Clinton for president if that’s what it takes to prevent Donald Trump from becoming commander in chief.”

In interviews with The Hill, prominent Republicans who signed a scathing open letter denouncing Trump said they aren’t wavering from their opposition to him.

“What’s happening is you have a lot of people who are desperate to get anybody in there other than Trump. … People are going to go for Cruz, because at the end of the day they think he’s considerably less bad than Trump,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who also served in the George W. Bush administration.

Cohen, along with Bryan McGrath, organized an open letter opposing Trump that was signed by more than 120 members of the Republican foreign policy establishment. The letter declared that Trump is unfit to be president because his views of American power are “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.”

“I’ll never support Trump, period. If the only choices I’m offered is between Hillary and Trump, I’ll go for Hillary,” said Cohen, who said he’s hoping for a third possibility or a write-in.

More on this story here.

Roll Call posts, “In the days leading up to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, most polls showed Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton by five to 15 points in South Carolina. But two days before voting, a small polling firm in Raleigh, N.C., gave Obama a 20-point lead.”

“People were like, ‘Who are these people? They’re crazy. There’s no way he’s going to win by that much,’” said Tom Jensen, 32, director of Public Policy Polling. Obama ended up winning by nearly 30 points.”

Having been around for just seven years and known only for polling North Carolina races, PPP dipped its toe in the Palmetto State’s primary after most pollsters missed Clinton’s 2008 New Hampshire victory. Since then, the six-person Democratic firm has grown into one of the most prolific and contoversial national polling companies with an impressively accurate record.

PPP correctly predicted the winner of every state in the 2012 presidential race, as well as the winner of every competitive Senate race it polled that year.

Meet its director Jensen, who has a surprising take on Trump’s presidential chances, and learn more about the now powerful Public Policy Polling at this link.

The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out a lawsuit “that could have brought Colorado’s legal marijuana boom to a screeching halt hasn’t deterred opponents of the national legalization effort,” according to The Washington Post.

Already, the plaintiffs and their supporters are looking to regroup. “The Court’s decision does not bar additional challenges to Colorado’s scheme in federal district court,” said Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson in a statement.

Oklahoma and Nebraska asked the Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Colorado’s marijuana legalization framework, saying that the state’s legalization regime was causing marijuana to flow across the borders into their own states, creating law enforcement headaches.

“But by a 6-2 majority, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, without comment.”

More on this story and its opponents’ next steps, here.

“In a historic news conference, Obama not only allowed Castro to be pressed on political prisoners. He joined in himself,” posts POLITICO.

President Barack Obama jokes that he likes news conferences and wants to do more of them, and let them go on longer. That tends to be less the case at the White House than abroad, when Obama’s trying to make a point about a repressive regime by turning to the news media.

Monday afternoon here in Havana, he did it to Raúl Castro, right in the Revolutionary Palace, letting him be pressed with questions for the first time — ever — and joining in himself. And not just that: He had to answer for the political prisoners whom the government rounds up almost daily — yet denies even exist.

Cubans watching on state television, which broadcast the whole thing live and in full, had never seen anything like this. Neither has the White House press corps. Or anyone who works at the White House. The awkward photo that ended the event, with Obama looking like he had a limp wrist because he resisted Castro’s attempt to raise their hands together in victory as they walked out of the room, couldn’t change what had happened in what’s likely to be the most important hour of the president’s two-day trip here.

Get the complete wrap on this historic press conference and how Obama laid the trap for the Cuban leader by clicking this link.

With several of its marquee players retiring early after a cascade of frightening concussions, the league formed a committee in 1994 that would ultimately issue a succession of research papers playing down the danger of head injuries. Amid criticism of the committee’s work, physicians brought in later to continue the research said the papers had relied on faulty analysis.

Now, an investigation by The New York Times has found that the NFL’s concussion research was far more flawed than previously known.

For the last 13 years, the N.F.L. has stood by the research, which, the papers stated, was based on a full accounting of all concussions diagnosed by team physicians from 1996 through 2001. But confidential data obtained by The Times shows that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies — including some severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. The committee then calculated the rates of concussions using the incomplete data, making them appear less frequent than they actually were.

The complete story and why the NFL’s strategy is being compared to that formerly used by Big Tobacco, at this link.

“It’s rare that a consumer technology is a giant leap forward rather than the next iterative step. Virtual reality represents just that kind of leap,” says Fast Company.

With the spring launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well as the imminent release of Sony’s  PlayStation VR, high-end virtual reality has arrived. Add to that lower-end headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR, Google’s Cardboard, and many other players and it’s clear that 2016 is the year the technology goes mainstream. While none of the hardware makers are promising to sell millions of units this year, estimates peg the VR market—hardware and content—at $30 billion by 2020. It’s not just gaming and entertainment that are poised for transformation.

Here are some of the most interesting – and potentially lucrative – ways VR is being deployed.

“Oklahoma doctor claims $300 ‘Jesus Shot’ can cure chronic pain,” reports Fox News Health.

News broke this week that a Texas lawmaker had allegedly traveled to Oklahoma on the taxpayers’ dime to get an experimental treatment he says has cured his chronic pain, bringing a controversial medical procedure called the “Jesus Shot” into the national spotlight.

Fox News Health says the shot is only administered by one doctor, John Michael Lonergan.

Lonergan, who works at Priceless Beauty Spa in Kingfisher, Okla., has said the Jesus Shot cures chronic pain for life, the Chronicle reported. He reportedly charges $300 for the shot.

So what the heck is in it, and is it legit or quackery? We “needled” you with a tease, now get the full read at this link.

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