Monthly Archives: April 2017

30Apr 2017

Crime Stoppers shred documents, raise money to offer rewards – WNDU-TV


SOUTH BEND, Ind. Integra and Crime Stoppers teamed up outside the Martin’s off Ireland Road in South Bend on Saturday to shred people’s sensitive documents.

For $10, they shredded all unwanted documents, which they hope will reduce crime.

Detective Kayla Miller of the South Bend Police Department and Crime Stoppers said, “All the proceeds come right back to the Michiana Crime Stoppers. We’re able to pay out the reward, which means the money that we’re raising in our community is going back into our community.”

Crime Stoppers is on track to pay out its one millionth dollar in rewards this year.

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30Apr 2017

Washington Attorney General Says Travel Ban Will Probably Go To SCOTUS – NPR


The state of Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson played a part in President Trump’s first travel ban being blocked. He now talks about the first 100 days in office and Trump’s travel ban.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Continuing our special coverage of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, we wanted to circle back to one of the flashpoints. We’re talking about the attempt to impose a ban on travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The ban sparked chaos at some airports, intense legal maneuvering and massive protests. After a few days, a federal judge stopped the order acting on a petition by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. A second attempt has also been blocked.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel and refugees coming into our country from certain countries.

MARTIN: This 100-day moment seems a good time to check back in with Attorney General Bob Ferguson who was kind enough to join us in our studios in Washington, D.C. Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for speaking with us.

BOB FERGUSON: Thanks for having me, really appreciate it, Michel.

MARTIN: So if you’re just joining the program I’m asking all of our guests today who are from across the political spectrum for an overall assessment of President Trump’s first 100 days in office. So, Mr. Attorney General, you’re a Democrat. Your thoughts?

FERGUSON: Sure. What I think I can speak to is his inability to sign and execute an executive order that’s actually constitutional. And I think his difficulties there go to the fact that the preparation, the work that goes into those executive orders has been sorely lacking on many fronts.

MARTIN: So could you just give us a sense of where the travel ban is now? What is the status of it?

FERGUSON: You bet. Well, essentially the original travel ban has been shut down, blocked in the courts, and they’ve essentially given up on that. So our initial litigation worked. He has done a revised travel ban, as you know, after many weeks of consideration. That has also been blocked in a couple of different courts – in Hawaii and in Maryland. Those cases are on appeal.

But while those cases go up on appeal, the executive order has been stopped and injunction is in place. I do think, Michel, the long story very short is this will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

MARTIN: So you alluded to this a little bit in your last answer which is this is just the latest example of the executive branch which is at odds with priorities at other jurisdictional levels. But let’s talk about that kind of the conflict with local governmental priorities.

In your state, Seattle is one of several cities that President Trump is threatening with removing federal funds because he views them as sanctuary cities, the attorney general has also indicated that there may be a crackdown on states including Washington that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Has this presidency reshaped the local governments sense of their own authority? Has it curtailed it in some way?

FERGUSON: I think what I would say is I don’t think it’s curtailed it. I think there is a heightened awareness of what’s coming out of Washington right now, whether you’re a state attorney general or a local elected official at a city like Seattle. But one thing that’s been consistent, though, is on each of these efforts by the administration, they’ve been blocked by the courts.

They’ve yet to find a single federal judge in numerous administrations – both judges appointed by Republican presidents and Democratic presidents – who agree with them on the travel ban or the sanctuary city executive order. That’s been a key point, I think. And, frankly, it reinforces that the rule of law is still paramount. You can’t talk your way out of a court room. You can’t tweet your way out of it. It’s not the loudest voice that prevails. It’s the Constitution.

MARTIN: I wanted to ask you about the – sort of the political side of this. What do you think is your primary responsibility now? Is it to resist – is the term that many protesters use – I mean, obviously the courts are your venue – is to resist what you consider to be overreaching by the Trump administration? Or is it to do something else? I mean, should it be focused on winning more races? Should it be focused on grooming another generation of elected leadership.

What’s the pathway for Democrats here? What should they be spending their time on since time is the one thing they’re not making more of?

FERGUSON: I guess I’ll answer that in two ways. For an attorney general like myself, my work is very focused. I don’t think of it to your question as resist. I get thousands of letters from people saying exactly that. Thanks for resisting. I don’t think of it that way, Michel. I think of the rule of law, making sure the president is accountable to that, if he’s harming Washingtonians, then I need to hold him accountable to that. That’s how I view my role.

Now, on the broader question of Democrats more generally, in some respects, all of the above. I will say, though, I have a particular interest in the fact that I think as a Democratic Party, we’re strong at grassroots work, but I think we’ve been singularly unimpressive at issues such as redistricting, for example. That has gone on in past years where Democrats have really been harmed, and that’s been creating for a generation real problems for us or being really mindful of our bench, building at the state legislative level, state legislatures across the country dominated by Republicans. Even in my very blue state of Washington, the state Senate is controlled by Republicans. As a result, our Democratic governor has a difficult time getting some key things through the legislature. So I would like to see a greater focus at that local level that I think is critically important.

MARTIN: That was Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson. He was kind enough to join us in our studios in Washington, D.C. Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for speaking with us.

FERGUSON: Thank you, Michel.

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NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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30Apr 2017

Credit cards, ATMs could be obsolete in India by 2020 – MarketWatch – MarketWatch


MUMBAI—Following India’s crackdown on cash, millions of residents who have never even used a credit card are leapfrogging into mobile payments, finding phone apps more accessible than plastic.

The value of mobile money transactions have more than doubled since the nullification of 86% of India’s cash in circulation in November, while those made with credit and debit cards has fallen, and check purchases have barely budged. Mobile payments still make up only a small percentage of overall transactions, but their surging popularity is being noticed.

Related: Why Apple Pay and mobile wallets never really took off despite all the buzz back in 2014

At this rate, cards and automated teller machines could be redundant in India by 2020, predicted Amitabh Kant, head of NITI Aayog, the government’s economic policy-making body. India’s government, along with removing paper money, has encouraged electronic payments by loosening regulations and adding infrastructure.

Related: Even young, hip Americans don’t want to use mobile payment apps

Mobile wallets could be the next example of countries pole-vaulting to the latest technology, in the same way that some emerging markets went directly to using cellphones, bypassing a landline network. More merchants already accept payments from Paytm, India’s largest mobile-payment company, than accept credit or debit cards in India. There are only 2.5 million card-scanning machines in the country, while 5 million merchants accept Paytm through their smartphones.

Read an expanded version of this article at WSJ.com.

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29Apr 2017

Heroes of the Storm's 2.0 update is about rewards, not changing the game – VentureBeat


Blizzard has rebooted Heroes of the Storm without actually rebooting it.

The developer  has made a big to-do about Heroes of the Storm 2.0, effectively relaunching its free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) for PC. It launched earlier this week, introducing a new rewards program that takes a lot of cues from Blizzard’s hit team-based shooter, Overwatch.

And why wouldn’t Blizzard want to  spread some of Overwatch’s appeal to Heroes of the Storm? Overwatch has over 30 million players since launching in May 2016, and it mentions players numbers some of its other games. Meanwhile, Blizzard doesn’t release player numbers for Heroes of the Storm, and the silence is telling us that it doesn’t have anything to boast about.

Above: Genji in Heroes of the Storm.

Image Credit: Blizzard

Blizzard was going to have a hard time in the MOBA market when it launched Heroes of the Storm. League of Legends and Dota 2 dominated the scene before its game came out in 2014. And those MOBAs remain on top of the category. Blizzard tried to differentiate Heroes of the Storm by making it an easier to get into than the others. It doesn’t include some of the complexities of LoL or Dota 2, like having to kill your own minions to deny the enemy team extra money and experience points.

Instead, Heroes of the Storm is more straight-forward, instead adding variety with its maps. LoL and Dota 2 games mostly take place on the same stage, a forested map with two bases on opposite corners connected by three lanes. The object is to destroy the other team’s base.

Heroes of the Storms maps have different layouts and different objectives. Sometimes you have to collect items across the map to weaken the enemy’s fortresses, or you need to capture control points that fire lasers at the other team’s towers.

These objectives make comebacks more possible, since capturing an objective can give the losing team some momentum. But it is different, and that alone has caused some hardcore MOBA players to turn their noses up at Heroes of the Storm.

Above: Wrecking buildings in Heroes of the Storm.

Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

And nothing in Heroes of the Storm 2.0 fixes that problem. Dota 2 and LoL fans will still think of Heroes of the Storm as a dumbed-down MOBA. So Blizzard’s best hope is to bring in new players who feel intimidated by other MOBAs or fans of its other games, like World of Warcraft and Overwatch. Heroes of the Storm features a roster made up of characters from all of Blizzard’s big franchises, and the studio often gives players goodies for its other game if they play its MOBA.

But that’s been the strategy for nearly two years now. But now Blizzard is doing just about as much as it can to bring more players in. Anyone who logs in gets to pick between one of four bundles that includes 20 free heroes. A free-to-play game like this makes money by selling new characters, but Blizzard is gambling than such a generous offer can bring people in and get them hooked.

But will the changes hook them? I have doubts. Heroes of the Storm 2.0, despite its newfound generosity, is still the same game. A rush of new players can’t elevate it Overwatch-levels of stardom. If it was going to be a breakout hit, that would have happened in 2015.

But 2.0 may increase the game’s revenues, if only momentarily. But this feels like a desperate card to play, one that Blizzard may not be able to top.

VentureBeat’s PC Gaming channel is presented by the Intel® Game Dev program. 


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29Apr 2017

Is Time Travel Possible, According To Science? – Forbes