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A Modern Day Exodus: Why Are New Yorkers Leaving the City?

While the trend of New Yorkers leaving the city may seem like recent news to some people, the metropolitan exodus is not a sudden or unprecedented occurrence. Even prior to the, the city’s demographics were changing for the better part of a decade. The coronavirus pandemic has only hastened these trends.

Back in September of 2019, nearly 300 people per day were moving out of the New York City. That number, amounting to one million people over nine years, understandably made people curious. What changed for all of these New York residents?

While not exclusively a “New York problem” – Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. are among the cities that have experienced similar exoduses – there are New York-specific reasons. One of the links drawn to the outward migration is the cost of living in New York City. Crumbling infrastructure and high tax rates are also among the connections.

Today, the picture is grimmer. Millions of residents fled the New York City area during the pandemic. Unacast, a location analytics company, that a net 70,000 people left the metropolitan area in 2020. The company’s findings revealed that 3.57 million people permanently departed New York City between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 7, 2020.

However, despite these changes and the gradual population decline in New York City, it is not to say that there are not new residents. In fact, Unacast also noted in the company’s 2020 report that there were about 3.5 million people with lower average incomes who moved into the city. Perhaps just as noteworthy as the former residents’ departure is the changing demographic of who presently lives in New York City.

Even so, the question still remains, where did all of the former New York City residents go?

Many former New York City residents are setting their sights on relocating to Upstate New York or the suburbs. Both of these come with the obvious appeals. For one, moving to either location means that you are no longer paying New York City taxes. Eve Ashworth, owner of Ashworth Creative, a boutique marketing agency in upstate New York, has noticed not only new residents moving in, but also bringing business with them as well. “We have new neighbors now that hold high profile positions at New York City fims and organizations. They are loving the life up here, especially these days, and these transplants are realizing that the Hudson Valley has first class professionals up here without the downstate price tag.”

Additionally, if you are considering starting up a new business as well, it is certainly easier to do so Upstate than it is in New York City. Depending on the specific industry, other location options for your start-up could include Syracuse, Buffalo, the Finger Lakes, Albany, or White Plains.

Another undeniable appeal is that, in many cases, the New Jersey suburbs in particular have access via train or bus lines into New York City. So, for those who may still work in New York City, they can have the more affordable best of both worlds.

Portland Considering Facial Recognition Ban

The increasing usage of technology has opened the world to many productive programs; unfortunately, this also leads the general public to gain access to potentially dangerous software as well. One such software is facial recognition technology. Some areas in the United States have not given much of an opinion on the dangers of facial recognition, and some states are quite the opposite. The Portland, Oregon city council is planning on hosting a public meeting next month to discuss the idea of banning the technology. This ban will block the usage of facial recognition by not only private companies but the government as well. 
 
The benefits of facial recognition leave some to wonder why it should be banned at all. After all, Detroit has banned it for all uses except for investigation violent crimes and home invasions. Although facial recognition technology seems like something used in old sci-fi movies, it is in fact a real thing now, and a potential danger to society. Many are afraid that utilizing it goes against traditional American values and makes the country seem less free. 
 
The danger of this technology lies in the privacy of citizens. In order for facial recognition to work, it must store crucial data. Other bio-metric scanning technology is included in this worry, as storing your fingerprints is quite scary to some. To enter some buildings, you may have to have your fingerprints and your face scanned, thus the data being stored somewhere. This extremely complex and controversial issue will most likely ultimately be decided on at the federal level. However, by introducing concerns through local means, the issues will be addressed and decided on quicker. With the growing use of technology, if not banned or only used with set restrictions, it will only grow to become more complicated. Hopefully the conference in Portland, Oregon will shed some light on what is going to happen next. 

Have Medical Alert Devices Held Pace with Technology?

…or for that matter, With the number of seniors Today?

Many of us who are old enough to have parents who are old enough to need some sort of medical alert system remember the I’ve Fallen But I Can’t Get Up ads from a company named Life Alert. Yes, Life Alert is still around and kinda-sorta still using that same line and that same commercial, though with a few updates from the 90s clip we all used to lampoon. What Life Alert is mainly known for now is having the highest prices in the industry with many competitors in line simply with the angle to save you money versus what Life Alert costs the average senior.

If you are in the market for a device for you or an agin parent, Consumer Reports has a good write up of some of the major brands and their price points, alongside savvy ways to decide what is right for you and yours.

However, what we are more curious about, after having looked at dozens of medical alert images is that they don’t seem to be much smarter than they were a couple decades ago, and they certainly don’t look any better. Fair point to say that seniors want what they’ve seen before and we’re still in that era, but we’ve had smart devices for more than 10 years with plenty of seniors who have them. Getting one of these ugly things might just make a person feel old, which is likely worse than having to be trained on a newfangled system.

What’s more, there are more seniors today that an any other point in history, AND THAT NUMBER IS GROWING! Population Reference Bureau details how we are on pace to double the current record number of seniors over the next 40 years, and this group will increasingly become more digitally savvy and comprise 20+% of the population in the US.

Business people know this. Innovators know this. They are all aware of these trends, yet here we sit with out of date devices that are old, clunky, and–while improved from 20 years ago–very much behind the curve compared to technology for hailing cabs or food home service delivery or sundry other mobile device tech.

It’s true that Apple has a medical alert app and it can be paired with an Apple Watch, which is about as sleek and stylish as they come. But Apple is not senior-first. They aren’t going to become senior-first either and ruin their image as being cutting edge. They will eat into this market, for sure, but they aren’t about to lean in harder than they have.

The market for seniors in general is popping and for medical alert devices it has got to be a bull market. It IS COMING. But it has been behind and needs to catch up. Fast.

Female senators in Utah walk out on abortion bill

A recent vote within Utah’s Senate saw its entire female population, six women, leave the chamber in disgust and abstaining from voting on a bill regarding the topic of abortion. Despite their absence, the bill, requiring a woman be shown an ultrasound before being allowed to pursue an abortion, passed. 
 
Republican Senator Deidre Henderson made the spontaneous decision to address the press regarding the walkout. She regarded this decision as an attempt to underscore how troublingly invasive such a piece of legislation is. Frustratingly, the piece of legislation that direct affecting women would have had no different a turnout had these six senators, two of whom are Republicans, remained to cast a vote. Even with the absence of any female voting and five Republican men voting against it, the bill passed 16-7. 
 
Henderson clarified that despite opposed abortion, the ultrasound stipulation is too far. Specifically, the bill demands women view images and hear a fetal heartbeat prior to being allowed to abort. While women already get ultrasounds before pursuing abortion, this bill would fine doctors $100,000 or more for failing to abort without showing the patient the ultrasound. 
 
Republican Senator Curtis Bramble, the bill’s sponsor, hand-waved concerns by suggesting women look away from the photos and not listen to the heartbeat. He believes anyone looking to take a child’s life should have all the information available. 
 
Prior to the vote, Henderson amended the bill with a prohibition against invasive transvaginal ultrasounds. The bill now heads back to the House for approval of the amended bill. Three medical groups have asked Republican Governor Gary Herbert to veto the bill. 
 
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne remarked how sad it was for the six women to tell their personal stories while opposing the bill yet no man deemed the bill too invasive. 

From Inflation to Groceries to Marketing: The Amazonification of Everything

One of the current news topics that we’ve been following with a longer story arc is the impact that Amazon has had on inflation in the short-term, as well as the broader consequences on the future of the U.S. economy. First, let’s review some of the seminal news stories about this topic that have been published over the last year or so. At the end of last year, Bloomerg News was among the first to substantiate the notion that Amazon’s immense market power was putting so much pressure on other retailers to lower prices that this single point of influence was having a measurable impact on the economy’s overall rate of inflation. Mark Whitehouse points out, “Economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., for example, estimate that pressure from online retail may be subtracting about 0.1 percentage point from the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation.”

A few months later, The Atlantic had an interesting piece about Amazon/Whole Foods gearing up to offer two-hour food delivery service. Titled The Amazonification of Whole Foods, the article makes clear that the development is about more than just making grocery shopping more convenient. “Enriching Prime is arguably Amazon’s most important goal, given the lifetime value of a Prime subscriber. What’s more, as Amazon becomes the top-of-mind destination for not only books but also toiletries, medicine, and chicken breasts, it becomes the first-stop destination for all of its customers’ searches.”

We’ve also noticed a corresponding shift in the marketing industry and the dominant strategies for marketing in the retail space as well as other sectors of the economy. rDialogue has made Amazonification the cornerstone of their loyalty marketing philosophy, which boils down what has made Amazon so successful into three parts:

1. Make customer-centricity an explicit and consistent business strategy.

2. Use data aggressively to deliver relevance.

3. Recognize that customer loyalty drivers are much more than just financial. They are experiential.

The marketing agency also noted that several companies have tried, but failed, to emulate Amazon’s approach. From retail to groceries to other consumer commodities, it’s unclear how broad this Amazonification of the economy might eventually become. It’s also unclear whether other companies will be able to capture customer loyalty in a way that competes with Amazon’s influence, even within their own industries and segments of the economy. What happens if Amazon’s dominance turns away all competitors? We noticed, for example, in planning to raise membership costs that Amazon Prime itself isn’t immune from inflationary pressures. And this brings us full circle to the question of inflation and what lies ahead when the process of Amazonification is complete. It’s a question for which nobody seems to have a satisfying answer.

Original Sources: Bloomberg, The Altantic,

John McCain’s Death Leaves Immediate Impact, Long-Lasting Legacy

John McCain died on August 25th, 2018. He was 81 years old. The senator was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, in July 2017 and, until recently, had been treating the cancer with radiation and chemotherapy. Even during the treatment, Senator McCain continued to travel, correspond with loved ones, and serve in his role as U.S. Senator, most notably to cast the decisive No vote to preserve the Affordable Care Act.

The final passing set off a wave of memorials and tributes, as well as a few people who pushed back, albeit mildly, against the idea of actual sainthood. From the somewhat mischievous youth to his war heroics and time as prisoner of war—and then coming back to serve his country as a congressman, senator, presidential candidate, and stateman—the importance of his vote and the significance of his stature only increased throughout his life and political career. Surveying some of the most well-respected writers and publications, one of the most striking qualities that stands out is the longevity, not just of the man but of the legacy itself.

From Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times, in demonstrating McCain’s heroic posture while serving as a prisoner of war:

Once he was visited by a group of North Vietnamese dignitaries. A prisoner, Jack Van Loan, said Mr. McCain shrieked at them. “Here’s a guy that’s all crippled up, all busted up, and he doesn’t know if he’s going to live to the next day, and he literally blew them out of there with a verbal assault,” Mr. Van Loan told Mr. Timberg. “You can’t imagine the example John set for the rest of the camp by doing that.”

From Philip Elliott, Time Magazine, in describing McCain’s dark sense of humor and one his favorite sayings, ““It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.”

The accompanying glint in McCain’s eye captured the combination of fatalism, determination and comic relief that defined his distinctly American spirit. Few knew better than the former prisoner of war, veteran legislator and two-time presidential contender that life is cruel, the fates are fickle and the situation can always get worse. Best to call it like you see it, crack wise and forge ahead.

Original Sources: The New York Times, Time Magazine

White Helmet Rescue Workers Trapped in Syria

Nearly 300 White Helmet rescue workers have been trapped in Syria after an evacuation on Sunday, July 22nd. The Israeli-led evacuation brought hundreds of rescue workers and their family members to safety, but there are still 300 White Helmets left. These volunteers are calling on the UK, Canada, Jordan, and America to continue their efforts in evacuating the remaining members. The remaining White Helmets were unable to reach the evacuation point in southern Syria because of blocked roads—a result of fighting in the area between Syrian forces and ISIS affiliate Khalid ibn al-Walid. The fighting has intensified in recent days as Syria tries to eradicate remaining ISIS pockets in the southern part of the country.

The White Helmets rescue group operates primarily in opposition-held parts of Syria, acting as an informal emergency services provider in areas devastated by the war. Though there are 300 currently trapped, there remain more than 3,000 members within the country, most of whom are civilian volunteers. These groups travel to the scenes of air strikes and other bombardments to rescue individuals and families trapped in the rubble.

The Syrian government, backed by its ally, Russia, has seized control of much of southwest Syria—the area where an insurgency against President Assad first began in 2011. According to British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, the White Helmets have saved over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict. The United Nations estimates that more than 300,000 Syrians have been displaced since the government offensive began in June.

Transferred Syrians and White Helmets will remain in a restricted area in Jordan for the time being. However, the remaining White Helmets are still in extreme danger. They are considered “terrorists” by the regime, but Israel’s help with the evacuation could lead to a new charge: of being collaborators with Israel. There are no current plans to evacuate the remaining White Helmets and civil defense workers in the area.

Original Source(s): NPR; CNN

Israel Launches ‘Wide-Scale Attack’ Against Hamas

The Israeli Air Force recently launched a wide-scale attack against Hamas military targets in Gaza on Friday, July 20th. This information comes from a statement issued by the Israeli military. The Israeli Defense Forces stated that the attack was in response to a shooting carried out against its soldiers earlier in the day. Palestinian protesters had gathered along the fence that separates Israel and Gaza, resulting in the death of four protestors by Israeli forces.

The fence between Israel and Gaza has seen rising tensions in recent months, frequently erupting into violence. Similarly, Israel has seen a dramatic increase in arson attacks from balloons and kites launched from Gaza. Israel has claimed that Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, is orchestrating the protests and violence. As a result, Israel has significantly tightened restrictions on the flow of goods to this part of the country.

Israeli army snipers and other troops have killed around 140 Palestinians since the wall protests began in March of 2018. Thousands of others have been injured. The protestors have stated their intent to continue until Israel halts its twelve-year siege of Gaza. Israel says that fires started by the protestors have destroyed large areas of farmland and crops.

Gaza has suffered greatly in recent years. Electricity is sparse, and access to water, medicine, and jobs continues to dwindle dangerously. Some experts believe that Israel’s decision to end their occupation of Gaza has a lot to do with ending rivalries between Palestinians political factions—specifically Haas and Fatah. Israel began its air, land, and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007 when Hamas took control of the territory.

This recent attack by Israeli forces comes in direct response to the killing of an Israeli guard by Palestinian sniper. The military said a “terrorist squad” fired at troops and that one soldier was severely injured and later died of his wounds. After this initial fire, Israel’s military said it struck 15 Hamas positions, including weapons warehouses, command and control centers, and training facilities.

Sources: Al Jazeera; CNN

Toronto Shooting Leaves 2 Dead and 13 Hurt

A mass shooting in Toronto has left two dead and thirteen injured. A 9-year-old girl was left in critical condition, and at least thirteen people were struck by bullets Sunday night when a man fired shots at groups of people in the city’s Greektown neighborhood.

The gunman, identified only as a 29-year-old, opened fire on Danforth Avenue, shooting between 15 and 20 rounds during the spree. At least nine were hospitalized. The gunman was found dead in a nearby alley after exchanging gunfire with police, but it is unclear if he killed himself or died as a result of the exchange. Terrorism is not being ruled out as a motive. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said the authorities were investigating every possible motive. Investigators in the city’s forensic, homicide, guns and gangs, and victim service units have remained on the scene in addition to the Toronto Police canine unit.

Authorities received a call shortly after 10PM on Sunday, July 22nd, about the incident in Toronto’s Greektown neighborhood. The area is a lively residential neighborhood with crowded restaurants and cafes. Witnesses reported hearing shots and described the suspect walking past restaurants, cafes, and patios on both sides of the street, firing into them. Mayor John Tory said the attack is “evidence of a gun problem” in Toronto, and that “Guns are too readily available to too many people.” A Toronto Councilor said the shooting was “not gang related.” He continued, saying, “It looks like someone who is very disturbed.”

All surviving victims are in serious and critical condition. A 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman were pronounced dead on the scene, but their identities have yet to be released. Over the past weekend, Toronto police deployed dozens of additional officers to deal with a recent spike in gun violence in the city. This shooting comes a few months after the driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 14.

Original Source(s): New York Post; Fox News; Toronto Star

FBI Receives Recording of Donald Trump from Former Attorney Michael Cohen

According to several news outlets, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney, recorded a conversation he had with the President two months before the 2016 presidential election. In this conversation, then men discussed the possibility of paying Karen McDougal, also known as Stormy Daniels. That recording is now in the hands of the FBI.

In this recording, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and Mr. Cohen discussed the possibility of purchasing the rights to McDougal’s story. Karen McDougal and Donald Trump had previously engaged in an extramarital affair, but she sold her story to the National Enquirer in exchange for $150,000. The recording allegedly includes President Trump’s considering of purchasing the story from the National Enquirer. Some analysts are speculating that this was a way for Donald Trump to pay the company back for what they paid McDougal—this suggests that then-candidate Trump may have been behind the initial sale.

The tape has yet to be released to the public, but news outlets across the ideological spectrum are beginning to speculate on its implications. Federal authorities are also trying to understand the role the National Enquirer played in the alleged coverup.

The recording obtained by federal authorities was less than two minutes long, and it cut off while the conversation was ongoing. President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed the existence of the recording to the Times, but downplayed its importance by commenting about its length and the lack of action that followed. The recordings were among the personal effects of Mr. Cohen seized in an April raid by federal agents. Other seized items included his computer, his phone, and several records. Sources: The Washington Post; The Washington Examiner, New York Times