In A Country That Bans Women From Driving, Uber Sees Profit

Uber received the single largest investment ever made in a private company on Wednesday — a $3.5 billion check from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which values Uber itself at $62.5 billion. The company’s CEO called it a “vote of confidence in our business.”

In other words, a ride-hailing company that bills itself as the future of transportation is cozying up to a country where women who have the audacity to drive can be sentenced to floggings

Uber denies that the investment makes for awkward bedfellows, instead portraying the company’s presence in Saudi Arabia as the first in a long line of incremental positive changes for women in the country.

“We’ve been operational in Saudi Arabia since 2014,” Uber spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker told The Huffington Post. “Today, 80 percent of our riders [in Saudi Arabia] are women. The government has made clear that they are working to increase entrepreneurship and women’s employment, and we are uniquely positioned to help in both areas,” she said.

That figure isn’t surprising given that the country’s women and girls, who make up roughly 43 percent of the population, have no choice but to call a taxi when they need to get somewhere. Because of this, many women have trouble holding down jobs for lack of secure transportation. 

And hired drivers aren’t necessarily the safest option for women. “Every time I get in the car with my driver, I feel scared because of the way he drives,” one teacher, Amal B, told the outlet Al Bawaba. Another teacher, Soad Al-Harbi, said she feels captive to her driver and pays him even when he doesn’t show up because “I’m scared he will get angry and stop driving me to work. As women, we need drivers and we have to put up with all the trouble they cause us.”

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A woman waits for an Uber at a shopping mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Since women are not allowed to drive in the country, they must hire cars.

“Like most Western companies who have been making billions by helping the Saudi oligarchs [in] suppressing their subjects, Uber’s moral commitment is to make money at any cost,” said Ali Alyami, the director for the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

By chauffeuring women around, Alyami said, the ride-hailing service only “reassures women’s continued marginalization.”

Asked about the company’s role in pushing for women’s rights, an Uber spokesperson said that “of course” women should be permitted to drive, but while they cannot, Uber provides a valuable service. The person also said that Uber’s acceptance of the investment did not mean it endorsed the government’s policy.

Note: The Huffington Post’s Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington is a member of Uber’s board of directors, and has recused herself from any involvement in the site’s coverage of the company.

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9 jobs you can do from home – Times of India

9 jobs you can do from home
Times of India
Adsense pays on the basis of clicks and views the ads receive.Alternatively, you can take up affiliate marketing or product sales through your blog to turn it into a moneymaking venture. If your blog already attracts traffic, you could enlist blog

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Blog vs. Vlog: Is There a Right Choice? – The Good Men Project (blog)

The Good Men Project (blog)

Blog vs. Vlog: Is There a Right Choice?
The Good Men Project (blog)
Blogging or vlogging isn't normally what I care for very much; an occasional article read or a video watched is as far as I usually go. However, even with my skepticism, I cannot deny that both these activities are becoming more and more effective

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The life and times of a newspaper baron – BBC News

Down in the crypt underneath the vast bulk of St Paul’s Cathedral, down there where London started, there is a handsome memorial stone with a haunting inscription.

“Lord Thomson of Fleet,” it says. “He gave new direction to the British newspaper industry.”

And then the sentence that gives pause: “A strange and adventurous man from nowhere, ennobled by the great virtues of courage, and integrity, and faithfulness.”

Roy Thomson died in 1976 at the age of 82, and his was indeed a remarkable business story. The plaque made me remember it again.

He was born to a pretty poor family in Toronto in 1894, and was hindered by poor eyesight. Or maybe helped, increasing his doggedness. He dabbled in small businesses from his teens onwards, with little success.

He tried farming, and failed. He went back to Toronto and had several undistinguished jobs. Then he started selling radios in small towns deep in northern Ontario, the only territory left.

Image copyright Getty Images

And there began a remarkable media story. Rural radio users in the 1930s had little to listen to. So Roy Thomson bought someone else’s neglected radio licence, and his station CFCH began broadcasting in the town of North Bay in March 1931; the inaugural programme had music by the Battery Boys and a speech by the mayor.

Roy Thomson, odd job man, was on his way. In 1934 he bought a small local paper, the Timmins Daily Press, beginning what soon became a diverse media empire. By the end of the 1940s, Thomson owned 19 newspapers and was president of the Canadian daily paper publishers’ association.

But the old country beckoned. In 1952, seeking his Scottish roots, Roy Thomson moved to Edinburgh. The next year he bought the Scotsman, giving him some status but a lot of criticism as he applied commercial instincts to a venerable paper.

Then came television. The government introduced what was called, in typical British look-down-the-nose way, “commercial” television. Roy Thomson with his Scotsman credentials led the consortium which won the franchise for Scottish TV, launched in 1957.

Brash, vulgar

In a much-quoted (but maybe inaccurately quoted) phrase, he described television as a licence to print money. It was.

But print was at the heart of his increasing empire. As he put it: “I buy newspapers to make money, to buy more newspapers to make more money.”

Image copyright Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno
Image caption The holiday business was floated on the stock exchange in 1998, and is today owned by TUI

Like Beaverbrook before him and Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch after him, Roy Thomson was a wild colonial boy who cut a swathe through traditional owned British newspapers.

He used the profits from STV to buy a raft of Kemsley newspapers from the Kemsley family in 1957, including the Sunday Times.

When the family owners of what used to be termed The Times of London panicked over tiny losses in 1966, Thomson was there to snap it up. His newspaper empire grew to embrace more than 200 papers in Britain, Canada and the USA, and a host of other publishing interests.

Every time he met another newspaperman, he would ask if their paper was for sale. It was brash, vulgar, persistent.

Not just publishing, either. With its Scottish perspective connection, the International Thomson Organisation (as it was by then called) joined a consortium that successfully struck oil in North Sea fields.

Much of the group’s flair was due to a canny chief executive, Gordon Brunton, now Sir Gordon. He had been at the London School of Economics with Vladimir Raitz, the man who revolutionised post war British travel.

In 1950 Mr Raitz had organised what was effectively the first modern package holiday, flying fellow Russians to Corsica for a holiday in the sun for 32 all round, at a time when harsh official limits on taking sterling abroad severely restricted foreign travel from the UK.

Mr Raitz founded the pioneering Horizon Holidays and later helped Sir Gordon launch what became Thomson Holidays, one of the main travel companies of its time.

Remarkable story

I saw Roy Thomson once, coming in through the revolving doors at the Sunday Times in London, where he moved around by public transport.

His pebble thick spectacle lenses glinted in the sun, and he was on his way upstairs to his office, probably to get out his ruler and measure the amount of advertising in his own newspapers and that of his rivals.

This overt preoccupation with the commerce of newspapers was scorned by superior journalistic types, but it was he, not they, who got a barony named after Fleet Street, where his newspapers never had offices.

Image copyright Pascal Le Segretain
Image caption The business is today called Thomson Reuters

But for all Roy Thomson’s commercial instincts, he failed to transform the impossibly tangled way that newspapers were produced.

A year-long strike of production workers at the Times and the Sunday Times in 1979 changed little, and not long afterwards his son Kenneth (Lord Thomson in Britain, Ken in Canada) sold those two papers to Rupert Murdoch, who then took on the print unions in a decisive encounter that transformed Fleet Street.

Many other papers followed that sale. But though print has little or no part in it, Roy Thomson had created a continuing huge business empire.

At one time his late son Ken (also Lord Thomson, but only in Britain) was named by the magazine Forbes as the ninth richest man in the world.

Roy Thomson’s grandson David inherited the leadership of the company in 2006 and continued the evolution of the business by buying the venerable news agency Reuters two years later. He’s now chairman of the company named Thomson Reuters, the biggest business information provider in the world.

It is a remarkable family story, based on the man who was still a failing jack of all trades at the age of 36, still known only in Canada at the age of 54, who became a national known figure in Britain only in his 60s. Roy Thomson’s autobiography is called “After I was 60”.

That’s what the plaque means by calling him a strange and adventurous man from nowhere. It is striking to see him so memorialised in St Paul’s.

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Bloggers not able to write off GST woes – Economic Times (blog)

Economic Times (blog)

Bloggers not able to write off GST woes
Economic Times (blog)
Blogging, which began as a way for people to express their views, experiences and stories, has transformed into an industry of sorts.Bloggers can earn good money through advertising and by partnering with brands and are liable to pay a 15% service tax

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Cowboys' 2017 Seventh-Round Selection Joey Ivie Excites Rod … – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Cowboys' 2017 Seventh-Round Selection Joey Ivie Excites Rod …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
As we continue to take a look at all of the Dallas Cowboys' 2017 draft selections, we come to the seventh round. The Cowboys had three selections in the final …

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The Taxi Drivers Turned Black-Market Nuke Smugglers

Six men were nabbed in Georgia for trying to sell uranium to an unknown buyer—just months after a criminal group was arrested for peddling a radioactive isotope on the black market. “>

Only a few weeks after Georgias president attended the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., law enforcement nabbed illegal uranium dealers in his own backyard, in the countrys capital of Tbilisi.

The arrests stoked fears of an underground nuclear market, of radiation leakage, and of terrorists working on a dirty bomb. With accounts of local Muslims in Georgia joining up with ISIS, not to mention a brewing conflict between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan, Georgians have good reason to be worried. 

According to authorities, six menthree Georgians and three Armenianswere trying to sell a few kilos of uranium for $200 million. Four of the six were pensioners and the other two worked as taxi drivers. A Tbilisi court convicted all the smugglers and they face up to 10 years in prison.

The smugglers were arrested in a private apartment in a joint special operation by Georgian counterintelligence and special-ops departments for illegal handling of nuclear materials, according to the State Security Service of Georgia.

Whats worrisome for Georgia is that this is the second known case of nuclear smuggling in less than six months. In January, the State Security Department detained three members of a criminal group for the illegal handling and selling of nuclear material, specifically the radioactive isotope Cesium-137, officials told The Daily Beast.

The Cesium-137 sellers had pocketed $100,000 when authorities caught up with them; the taxi drivers and retirees were looking for $200 million. According to the World Bank, up to 27 percent of the Georgian population and up to 37 percent of Armenians live below the poverty line. The Caucasus are full of men desperate to make money, even if that involves the risk of imprisonment.

Georgian authorities have been struggling to put the end to the underground radioactive market for years. The deals on nuclear materials happen here every year; people regularly smuggle radioactive substances from Russia via Georgia to Turkey or Iran, a political expert, former Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili, told The Daily Beast. Utiashvili pointed out that in 2010, Georgian authorities made two major seizures of highly enriched uranium (HEU). Tests at the time confirmed that the materials, enriched by 89.4 percent, could be used for making a nuclear bomb. The two smugglers, a businessman and a physicist from Armenia, pleaded guilty for smuggling the package with HEU by train from Yerevan to Tbilisi in 2010.

The head of the Nuclear Waste department at the countrys Agency of Nuclear and Radiation Safety, Georgiy Nabaxtiani, insisted that Georgia had been working hard to take control over radioactive deals since early 1990s. We now have much stricter regulationsour borders are very well controlled, we scan both pedestrians and vehicles for radiation, Nabaxtiani told The Daily Beast. This time the dealers did not cross the border, they were trying to sell a few kilos of Uranium-238 inside Georgian territory. The investigators are trying to find out where they had obtained the uranium.

Chief among the concerns of nuclear watchdog agencies is the idea that terrorist groups such as ISIS could be trying to obtain radioactive material via the Georgian black market. If there is a demand for enriched uranium among terrorists trying to build a bomb, this is very concerning, as there are still hundreds of tons of highly radioactive materials stored in Russia and post Soviet States, an independent military expert based in Moscow, Alexander Golts, told The Daily Beast. But in any case they would need complicated industrial technologies to make a nuclear bomb, he added.

So why is Georgia more in the news for radioactive deals than other post-Soviet countries? It is difficult to pinpoint why Georgia continues to be a hot spot for nuclear trafficking, Yelena Sokolova, deputy director for the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told The Daily Beast. It is due to its geographical location on the pathway from Europe to the Middle East, a long history of illicit trade, and trafficking in other goods in the region.

Sokolova added that so far, all seizures in Georgia have either been the result of police sting operations or accidental discoveries. There have been reports about alleged buyers for nuclear and radioactive materials coming either from the Middle East or North Africa, she said.

Authorities in both the North and South Caucuses regions have registered attempts by criminals to smuggle radioactive materials, but not all of the substances would be worth the risk of going to jail for 10 years. It is a continuing mystery how people can offer a few grams of a common material of no real value as a sample of tons of something they probably do not even have that has no real threat to society, Robert Kelly, a senior research fellow within the SIPRI Nuclear Weapons Project, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Program, noted to The Daily Beast.

Could one really sell a few kilos of Uranium-238 for $200 million? Todays market price for Uranium-238 is about $27 per pound. If Georgian dealers were aware of the real prices, to make $200 million, theyd have to sell 3,700 tons of uranium, which would necessitate a long line of trucks full of the stuff, Kelly said.

The bottom line is that only idiots would pay $200 million for Uranium-238 in any form and evenif they succeeded in buying it, it is barely radioactive and would be of very little health hazard to anyone, except someone who would eat handfuls of it, said Kelly, who is a veteran of over 35 years in the U.S. Department of Energy nuclear weapons complex.

Still, the fact that none of the buyers of the radioactive material have been identified or arrested seems concerning to local observers. The recent arrests have made Georgians feel vulnerable to the threat of international terrorism, especially considering the fact that dozens of their countrymen are joining ISIS each year. I am not surprised that pensioners, who often do not have money for food and medicine, were trying to sell uranium, risking their freedom for the money they were promised, the executive director of Europe House, Maia Nikolaishvili, told The Daily Beast. As a mother, she added, I am very worried of the terrorism threat.

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‘Show me the money!’: the self-published authors being snapped up by Hollywood

After the success of self-published authors like Andy Weir and EL James, Hollywood is scooping up the rights to books as fast as it can. But why and is it always good for the author?

After watching Quentin Tarantinos Kill Bill, self-published author Mark Dawson was inspired to create his own answer to the films heroine Beatrix Black Mamba Kiddo. And now Dawson and his character government-employed assassin Beatrix Rose are set to take on Hollywood, with his series on the verge of a major television deal, complete with a triple A producer.

Admitting he had a holy shit moment when he was told who the producer was, the Salisbury-based former lawyer said he had initially signed a shopping agreement after an approach through his website. They have attached a writer and an extremely well-known Hollywood figure and director to it, Dawson says. The people linked are all serious players household names and they have pitched it to half a dozen studios and from that they have got an agreement [to develop it] for television.

Dawson wasnt always Hollywood fodder. Sales of his first self-published novel, 2012s Black Mile, only trickled in until he took Amazons advice and offered it to readers for free. In one weekend, his novel was downloaded 50,000 times. Dawson built his audience from there, spending hundreds of pounds a day on Facebook advertising and writing on his commute. After writing 23 books in four years, he says his annual income is now in the high six figures.

Details of Dawsons TV deal are under wraps, and he says it is expected to be finalised in the next few days. But his is just the latest in a line of deals between studios and self-published authors, including AG Riddle and Hugh Howey, who have been targeted by studios after the successes of Andy Weirs The Martian and EL Jamess Fifty Shades franchise. AG Riddles Departure series was scooped up by Fox-based producer Steve Tzirlin in a six-figure deal, while Howeys dystopian sci-fi novel Wool was signed up by Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox.

Bestselling self-published authors attract producers because they have a proven track record if they stay on Amazon sales charts over time, Howey said. Hollywood is always looking for a built-in audience. They want to know theyll recoup their investment, he says. Modern films easily cost $100m to make, usually more. There isnt much room for risk here.

Another attraction in the litigious world of film, according to producer Doreen Spicer, is that these self-published books provide insurance. Theres a level of security that the story is original and not based on a pitch or idea from a writer in the room, said Spicer, whose credits include US sitcom The Wannabes and animated series The Proud Family. A producer can safeguard themselves from lawsuits by purchasing or licensing copyrights.

One of the most high-profile successes is Andy Weirs The Martian: a sci-fi thriller set on the red planet that the author self-published as a Kindle ebook for 99 cents. The 2015 film adaptation, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon as Weirs leading astronaut Mark Watney, made $630m worldwide.

Matt Damon as Mark Watney in the film adaptation of Andy Weirs self-published novel The Martian. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox

You never know how a film will turn out, but the film version of The Martian is incredible and I know Andy is thrilled with how it came out, says David Fugate, who became Weirs agent before the film deal went through a precaution he warns self-published authors to consider: In book publishing, the agreement licenses the publisher a specific set of rights and typically anything thats not covered in the agreement is reserved for the author. In the film industry, its exactly the opposite … the only rights reserved to the author are spelled out in a single clause. So if its not mentioned in that clause, it no longer belongs to the author, but to the purchaser of the rights. And of course, when youre licensing that broad a range of rights, having a clear understanding of what you should be paid for all those rights is critical.

As long as self-published authors take on an agent they should be fine. Otherwise they are mincemeat, says literary agent Andrew Lownie, citing the length and complexity of film and television contracts (a typical contract from Universal is around 50 pages). In that contract, an author may not just be signing away the right to adapt a book but repeat fees, merchandising, DVD rights, even every character and storyline in the book or series could be up for discussion. They buy everything up titles, characters, stories for as long as they possibly can, Nick Marston says, who heads the film division of agency Curtis Brown. If authors do not get advice, the deal they sign may prevent future films being made if the original producer fails to get their project of the ground, he adds: I have been involved with so many projects where the rights have been all tied up in a deal and it stops anything being made.

Unwitting authors can also mistakenly sign away the right to make money from future books. Ive seen film contracts that have been drafted in a way that means they have been given publishing rights to the authors work, warns publishing contract consultant Stephen Aucutt.

After approaches from everyone from an Oscar-winning director to a Disney Channel producer, Jeff Rivera has gone it alone to launch a streamed TV show, I Got You, based on his self-published novels about LGBT life of the same name. Money was not the priority, he says; the rise of Netflix and social media convinced him to take creative control.

I have readers around the world in Spanish, Arabic and English-speaking countries, he added. Streamed television was an opportunity to reach a market hungry for LGBT content but denied it by local traditional routes. There are millions of Arabs who are LGBT or open-minded heterosexuals, who dont have access to anything through local traditional media so watch things through social media, he added. It is a real opportunity to tell my stories to more people.

But for others, it is all about the cash. Thriller writer Russell Blake, who has been approached by four large production companies in Hollywood for his Jet series, said he had never reached a suitable arrangement. Self-published authors run a risk of being sold cheap, he added. Im a whore. Show me the money.

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Cowboys' Down-Roster Battles: Who Will Be The Last Wide Receiver To Make The Roster? – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Cowboys' Down-Roster Battles: Who Will Be The Last Wide Receiver To Make The Roster?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Re-signed this offseason for a four-year, $17 million contract (the same money Dez will make in a single year), Williams fits perfectly with the Cowboys. He was only fourth in targets with 61, and if Zeke receives a lot more passes, he may slide to

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Shockingly, Dallas Cowboys Could Have NFL's Second-Youngest O-Line In 2017 – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Shockingly, Dallas Cowboys Could Have NFL's Second-Youngest O-Line In 2017
Blogging The Boys (blog)
10 Pro Bowl seasons, six first-team All Pro seasons, and still the second-youngest unit in the NFL? That's just not fair. by One.Cool.Customer@OCC44 Jun 23, 2017, 3:00pm CDT. tweet · share · pin · Rec. The Cowboys offensive line has combined for 10 Pro …

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