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17Oct 2018

Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank: My First Big Travel Splurge – Forbes

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Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank: My First Big Travel Splurge
Barbara Corcoran's credits include straight D's in high school and college and 20 jobs by the time she turned 23. It was her next job that would make her one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country: She borrowed $1,000 and quit her job as a …

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17Oct 2018

Are Other People's Credit-Card Rewards Costing You Money? – New York Magazine

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon and Target have a surprising argument to make: The proliferation of rewards-rich credit cards is bad for consumers.

They are suing for the right to pick and choose which Visa and Mastercards they accept. They want to be able to reject the richest rewards cards – cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve, which offer generous cash back, points, and other perks, and which come with the highest transaction fees charged to merchants. They say, if they obtain this right, they’ll be able to charge lower prices to shoppers.

Card network-retailer litigation over processing fees has been ongoing for years, but while many retailers are headed toward a multi-billion-dollar settlement with the networks, The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Amazon, Target, Home Depot and a coalition of others intend to opt out so they can keep litigating this issue of picking and choosing cards.

Did you know a merchant pays different fees to accept different classes of the same type of credit card? If your Visa card says “Signature” under the logo, merchants are paying a few extra tenths of a percentage point of your purchase price for the privilege of accepting your card, compared to a lower-tier Visa.

That extra money goes to your bank, which uses it to pay for the rewards and benefits you receive as a Visa Signature cardholder. (Congratulations.)

As rewards cards have become more popular (over 90 percent of credit-card transactions are now on cards that pay some sort of reward), merchants are paying out those higher fees more often. And here’s the part that drives Amazon, Target, Home Depot, and that coalition of retailers crazy: If they want to accept any Visa card, Visa imposes an “accept all cards” rule, requiring them to accept low-fee and high-fee cards alike. The same goes for Mastercard.

So, these retailers are suing. They want a federal court to declare that the “accept all cards” policy is anticompetitive, because it protects banks like Citibank and Chase from having to compete to offer merchants lower interchange fees on the Visa and Mastercard cards they issue.

The card networks and issuing banks defend the “accept all cards” rule, saying it’s consumer-friendly because it protects convenience and choice: If consumers know a retailer accepts Visa, they don’t have to worry about whether it accepts the particular Visa they carry. And they note that interchange fees support rewards programs that cardholders value and are sometimes even obsessed with.

If the retailers get their way, the landscape for those rewards cards could change significantly.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One possible change would be that high-end Visa and Mastercard rewards cards could become more like American Express: accepted at fewer retailers. But another likely effect is retailers, especially giant retailers like Amazon, would gain more leverage to negotiate down the fees they pay to accept premium cards.

If that happens, banks may have to cut back the generosity of rewards programs to adjust to lower transaction-fee income.

That’s what happened after Australia capped credit-card interchange fees in 2003: Merchants’ costs to process cards fell sharply, as did the generosity of rewards paid to credit-card holders. Annual credit card fees went up.

Philip Lowe, then an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia and now its head, said he was “confident that these lower costs will flow through into lower prices for goods and services,” estimating they would lower consumer prices overall by 0.1 or 0.2 percent.

If true, that probably means most consumers came out ahead under Australia’s regulation. But the value of credit-card rewards fell by 0.27 cents per dollar spent in the eight years after the rule was put in place, meaning the savviest rewards consumers may have actually come out behind.

Shifting the playing field to give retailers more power in negotiations with credit card networks — the approach Amazon and Target are suing to get in the U.S. — would be a much lighter-touch regulatory approach than Australia’s fee cap.

But any change that reduces interchange fee revenue is likely to lead to less generous deals for cardholders. Interchange fees are one of the three main revenue sources banks use to pay out rewards — annual fees and interest charges are the other two — so less interchange revenue will have to mean either fewer rewards or higher fees imposed directly on cardholders.

This last observation was key to a Supreme Court decision earlier this year, rejecting claims by many state attorneys general that another card-network policy was anti-competitive.

In Ohio et al. vs. American Express, the court’s 5–4 conservative majority upheld Amex’s “anti-steering” policy against anti-trust challenge. Like “accept all cards,” this is a policy that props up merchant fees — in this instance, by barring merchants who take Amex from offering discounts to users of other credit cards or otherwise discouraging customers from paying with Amex. If merchants had the freedom to steer customers toward lower-fee payment methods, that would tend to mean less in fees paid by retailers to card networks and banks.

The justices in the majority said it wasn’t good enough for the plaintiffs to show that Amex’s policy increased the price retailers paid to process credit cards. Since credit-card networks are a “two-sided platform” (that is, they serve consumers and merchants together) the court wanted to see evidence the policy increased the total costs borne by consumers and merchants. The court wasn’t convinced of this, noting Amex “uses higher merchant fees to offer its cardholders a more robust rewards program.”

But the decision contains some breadcrumbs suggesting the Court might be more amenable to a judgment against Visa and Mastercard than American Express.

As the court noted, merchants who don’t like the Amex anti-steering policy have an option: They can decline to accept Amex. Many do: About a third of U.S. retail locations that accept Visa and Mastercard refuse Amex. Since a large majority of Amex cardholders also carry a Visa or Mastercard, this doesn’t alienate too many shoppers.

Opting out of Visa or Mastercard is a much more difficult proposition for a retailer because of their larger market share, and because they are often the only cards in a shopper’s wallet. So, the retailers can plausibly argue the top two players have a lot more market power to abuse than Amex.

It is worth thinking here about Costco as an exception that proves this rule about market power. Costco does not take whatever credit card you want to use; the warehouse club long accepted only American Express, and it switched in 2016 to take only Visa, striking a deal that gives it a steep discount on credit-card processing in exchange for exclusivity.

But Costco is a membership club with highly committed customers who pay annual fees. And Costco shoppers are used to trading choice for cost savings: You buy whatever brand of ketchup Costco has, and you use the credit card they tell you to use. Meanwhile, card networks are willing to offer excellent terms for exclusivity at Costco because Costco shoppers tend to have high incomes, and getting into those customers’ wallets at Costco means getting higher-fee transactions from those same shoppers at other stores.

All of which is to say, other retailers can’t do what Costco does. They will annoy customers if they take just one kind of card, and card networks won’t be willing to offer them the sort of generous exclusivity deal Costco gets. They are stuck paying the high fees for Visa and Mastercard processing under the “accept all cards” rule.

Suppose merchants are right that this situation is harming them. Should we consumers care about their plight?

My instinct is to say yes. Because retail is a highly competitive, low-margin sector, there is good reason to believe much of retailers’ cost savings from lower credit-card processing fees would flow through to consumers as lower prices. Not all the savings would flow through — but then, not all the incremental merchant fees paid to banks flow through as rewards points today.

And what consumer savings do emerge under a more retailer-friendly system would likely be more equitable.

“It is a transfer to people who are good at managing cards and points, and thus it is almost certainly regressive in its impact,” the economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University said regarding the current, rewards-heavy system. “And objectionable on those grounds.”

Still, Cowen proposes a different solution than making card networks ax the “accept all cards” rule. He would let retailers offer whatever kinds of discounts they like for any method of payment — if they prefer that customers use low-fee, low-reward credit cards, they could knock a few tenths of a percentage point off their purchase price for customers who agree to do so.

That is, he would allow the sort of steering Amex has defended its right to prevent.

The Dodd-Frank banking reform law already created some rights for retailers in this area: They can offer discounts to steer you to pay by debit card or cash. But after Ohio v. Amex, you’d need a new law to give them the right to steer customers between credit cards. This is the sort of no-fiscal-cost consumer protection reform Democrats could take up if they retake the government.

Or, as the retailers’ anti-trust case proceeds, maybe the courts will decide Visa and Mastercard are sufficiently more powerful than American Express to merit an anti-trust penalty, and grant the retailers more power in their negotiations with card networks.

If that happens, you may no longer get the all rich credit card rewards you’ve gotten used to. But you should see slightly lower prices at the cash register.

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16Oct 2018

SkyTeam, Hertz partnership drives Frequent Flyer benefits – Travel Daily News International

AMSTERDAM – SkyTeam has partnered with global car rental company, Hertz, becoming the first airline alliance to offer car hire benefits to Frequent Flyers plus the opportunity to earn miles when renting a vehicle. Effective October 16, 2018, Frequent Flyers of all 20 member airlines can enjoy a variety of benefits on Hertz rentals while notching up miles towards air travel* when they hit the road.

Special rates apply whether cruising in a convertible along Australia’s Great Ocean Road or America’s iconic Route 66, taking a jeep down South Africa’s Garden Route, or simply needing a runabout. To take advantage, customers quote a special SkyTeam code when they make their Hertz reservation and provide their frequent flyer number to earn miles on qualifying rentals.

Hertz covers SkyTeam’s global network of 1,072 destinations with thousands of rental locations across North America, Europe, The Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Car hire reservations can be made online, by phone or through the Hertz app.

“Millions of SkyTeam customers hire cars at home or away and we are excited to take Frequent Flyer perks up a gear through our partnership with Hertz, one of the world’s leading car rental brands,” says Mauro Oretti, SkyTeam’s vice president sales and marketing. “Our aim at SkyTeam is to offer the best end-to-end travel experience for our customers. Extending loyalty benefits beyond the airport is a natural step as we continue to add value to our customers’ everyday traveling lives.”

Vincent Gillet, Vice President Marketing, Hertz International added: “We at Hertz are honored to offer car rental benefits to the 730 million customers travelling annually with the members of SkyTeam, one of the world’s leading airline alliances. Hertz already works more than half of the SkyTeam partner member airlines, so it was a natural move for us to extend our relationship to the full alliance. As a proud partner of SkyTeam and their first non-air affiliate, we look forward to providing a seamless fly-drive experience for our mutual customers.”

*Due to contractual reasons Frequent Flyer mileage accrual is not available to members of Alitalia/MilleMiglia or Aerolineas Argentinas/Aerolineas Plus.

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16Oct 2018

Tesla Is High-Risk, High-Reward, But The Rewards Justify The Risks –

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is arguably the biggest battleground stock in the market. On one end, you have bulls who think Tesla is changing the world and that Tesla stock is heading for the moon in the long run (much like its founder Elon Musk). On the other end, you have bears who think Tesla is on the verge of bankruptcy and that Tesla stock is heading for the graveyard.

Because of this stark bull-bear dynamic, Tesla stock is high-risk, high-reward. And, unless you can stomach the volatility inherent with owning this type of stock, you should forget about TSLA.

But, if you can stomach the volatility, then Tesla stock could be a nice pick-up at $250. The $250 level has shown surprisingly strong support for this stock. Near-term production, delivery and profitability fundamentals appear to be improving. The long-term growth narrative is becoming more clear.

Overall, Tesla stock is still high risk, but the rewards appear to justify the risks. The stock needs a catalyst to reverse sentiment and get it back on an uptrend. That catalyst won’t arrive until the third-quarter earnings report. Thus, the best game-plan is to accumulate on dips towards $250, and wait for the Q3 report.

The High-Reward Part of Tesla

If everything goes right for Tesla in its transformation from nascent EV automaker to global next-gen energy company, then Tesla stock could easily be worth $200 billion by 2030, versus a $40 billion valuation today.

The thesis is pretty simple. Tesla continues to pioneer the electric vehicle market and, as legislation and other secular trends push up EV adoption globally, Tesla should maintain leadership market share and sell a ton of cars at healthy gross margins.

Here are the numbers. There were nearly 71 million passenger car registrations last year. About 1.3 million were EVs, implying 1.8% share. That is up from 1% in 2016, 0.8% in 2015, and 0.5% in 2014 — so there is a consistent uptrend here. Norway is the gold standard for EV adoption at 30%. Inevitably, given legislation changes, cost advantages and convenience improvements, the world is heading towards 30% share. Norway got there quickly, going from 1% to 30% in five years. The world will move much more slowly, and it will likely take 10-15 years to go from 1% to 30%.

Thus, by 2030, EVs should account for 30% of total new car registrations. Assuming the total auto market grows at a steady 1% rate to 80.5 million vehicles by then, then 30% share implies 24.15 million EVs.

Of the 1.3 million EVs delivered last year, over 100,000 were Tesla cars, giving Tesla 8% share. Tesla will have a tough time growing share with rising competition, but it is reasonable to project 7.5% at scale given Tesla’s first-mover’s advantage and leading brand. A 7.5% share on 24.15 million EVs implies 1.8 million Tesla deliveries in 2030.

Automotive ASP was above $80,000 last year. That, too, will inevitably come down as Tesla goes mass market with lower priced models. Assuming a $50,000 ASP, we are talking about potential automotive sales of $90 billion. Throw in roughly $20 billion for automotive leasing, services and the energy business, and Tesla is looking at potential sales of $120 billion.

Gross margins should head towards 30%, at the higher-end for autos, given Tesla’s higher ASP. The opex rate should be driven towards the auto-average level of 15%. Thus, Tesla is looking at potentially 15% operating margins on $110 billion in sales by 2030. That combination should lead to roughly $12 billion in net profits. A market-average 16 multiple on that implies a valuation of nearly $200 billion for Tesla stock by 2030.

The High-Risk Part

Although the potential reward of a stock that could grow by fivefold over the next decade is compelling, investors shouldn’t ignore the risks of Tesla stock.

The aforementioned bull thesis rests on some major assumptions. Namely, it assumes global mass market EV adoption will happen within the next decade, Tesla will be able to maintain its market share in that burgeoning EV market, and gross margins will continue to improve. None of these are a given. In fact, many would consider these assumptions overly aggressive. As such, the aforementioned bull thesis should be considered a “best case” scenario.

Beyond the fundamentals, there are tons of red flags which investors should be aware of. Musk has been a wild card, and projects to remain a wild card for the foreseeable future. The SEC lawsuit is in the rear-view mirror, but there are murmurs that Tesla’s legal headaches aren’t behind it. Management turnover has been discouragingly high. Production is improving, but not fixed. Delivery rates are improving, but not up to par. The balance sheet is not well managed and quite scary on its own.

In totality, Tesla stock has a lot of red flags. As a result, this is a high-risk stock.

Bottom Line on TSLA Stock

The only way to look at Tesla stock is as a high-risk, high-reward play. At this point in time, the risks seem to be offsetting the rewards, so the value prop to buy Tesla stock isn’t great… yet.

At some point, I believe this narrative will turn around. The risks will abate. The rewards will become apparent. And, ultimately, Tesla stock will head higher. This could happen if Tesla reports a profit in Q3. Until then, this stock will likely remain range-bound.

As of this writing, Luke Lango was long TSLA. 

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16Oct 2018

The Not-So-Glamourous Side of Solo Travel: Women Who Travel Podcast – Condé Nast Traveler

We've said it once, and we'll say it again (and again): Solo travel is one of the most empowering ways to explore our world. You get to do what you want when you want to; you can secure a spot at some of world's best restaurants with ease (thanks to that solo seat at the bar); and, most importantly, get to know yourself better. But what we often don't talk about are the moments when traveling alone can feel far too overwhelming—the times when we find ourselves crying in the pasta aisle of Genoa's Eataly or plucking up the courage to ask a stranger to take our photo on the Bolivian salt flats. It's not all perfect, and sometimes, even the well-traveled Traveler editors get lonely on the road.

On this week's episode, we have some real talk about the tough moments of solo travel that you don't see on Instagram—and share what we've learned about appreciating our own company and the importance of self care. Nervous to travel solo? Start at home, checking out museums, restaurants, and even movies by yourself. Then, once you've picked your destination, plan accordingly by staying at a more communal or community-focused hotel. (No, it doesn't have to be a hostel. The Ace Hotel will do just fine.) Strike a balance with a group tour (or two) mixed in to your itinerary or book yourself on a trip with a group like El Camino Travel or Adventure Women, which enables you to travel on your own without being totally alone. And always, always, bring a book for company.

The best advice we've received? Don't compare your version of the perfect solo trip to someone else's. If it means spending a few days alone and meeting up with friends, that's perfect. If it means not seeing another human being because you're posted up on a beach in an Airbnb, that's also perfect. If it means traveling on your own, within a group of strangers, well, that's perfect, too. As long as your trip gets you out of your comfort zone—whatever that is—you're doing it right.

Shoutout to our Facebook group members for sparking this discussion, and to Megan Spurrell and Betsy Blumenthal for joining the episode. A massive thanks to Brett Fuchs, too, for engineering and mixing. Check back every Monday for the latest installment of Women Who Travel. To keep up with our podcast each week, subscribe to Women Who Travel on the iTunes store or Spotify and if you have a minute to spare, leave a review—we’d love to hear from you.

If you're interested in sharing your own travel stories with fellow female travelers (solo or otherwise), Women Who Travel is heading to Denver this month. You can find more information about our third meet-up here.

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16Oct 2018

US Credit Card Giants Flout India's New Law on Personal Data – New York Times

U.S. Credit Card Giants Flout India’s New Law on Personal Data

Visa, Mastercard and American Express will be violating a new Indian law that is going into effect on Monday night every time an Indian swipes a credit or debit card.CreditCreditPhilippe Wojazer/Reuters

By Vindu Goel

  • Oct. 15, 2018

MUMBAI, India — When the clock struck midnight in Delhi at the end of Monday, Visa, Mastercard and American Express were suddenly in violation of the law every time an Indian swiped a credit or debit card.

They also became unwilling warriors in a budding conflict between America’s technology giants and the Indian government, which wants more control over the data they collect on India’s 1.3 billion residents.

The spark for the current fight is a new regulation, issued in April and in effect starting Tuesday, that requires payments companies to store all information about transactions involving Indians solely on computers in the country. The rule and the hubbub over it are part of a debate over a concept known as “data localization,” in which a country places restrictions on data as a way to gain better control over it and potentially curb the power of international companies. American firms have lobbied hard against data localization rules around the world.

In India, Visa, Mastercard and American Express, as well as other financial players like Amazon and PayPal, said they needed more time to comply with the order by the country’s banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India.

The companies told the R.B.I. that their fraud detection and other data processing systems were distributed on machines across the world and could not be quickly redesigned to work in India alone. As an alternative, they offered to store copies of the Indian data in the country for easy access by regulators, tax authorities and law enforcement.

But the R.B.I. would have none of it. In recent phone calls to the top Indian executives of the major payments companies and in letters to the companies last week, the banking regulator warned that it would take action, including imposing fines, if they missed the Monday night deadline.

Mukesh Aghi, the chief executive of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, said the payments companies were frustrated with the regulators. “They refuse to sit down and have a discussion,” said Dr. Aghi, whose policy group counts the head of Mastercard on its board.

Spokesmen for Visa and American Express declined to comment on their response to the local storage rule. Representatives of Mastercard and the R.B.I. did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Amazon, which operates an India-only payments service that uses elements of its global technology platform, said in a statement: “Compliance with local laws and regulation is a top priority for us in all the countries we operate in. We continue to work closely with the regulator towards this.”

The R.B.I., an agency akin to the Federal Reserve in the United States, has said little about why it decided that Indian financial data must be stored only in India. In its April order, it said, “In order to ensure better monitoring, it is important to have unfettered supervisory access to data stored with these system providers.”

Its policy changed as other arms of the Indian government — spurred by both a privacy ruling from the Supreme Court and India-first nationalists in the governing Bharatiya Janata Party — had begun deliberating over much bigger changes to the country’s data, e-commerce and privacy laws.

Those broader proposals, which are unlikely to be passed until after India’s national elections in May, are intended to curb the ability of American tech titans to collect, analyze and make money from data they collect inside the country, which is the world’s fastest-growing market for new internet users. The rules would also give a leg up to domestic firms like Reliance Jio, a leading telecom provider, and Paytm, a payments company, which are seeking government help as they try to compete with the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Mastercard.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has portrayed himself abroad as a pro-business leader who welcomes foreign investment. At the same time, the right wing of his party has pushed him to adopt more protectionist, India-first policies to appeal to voters, and law enforcement officials have urged him to make sure they can easily get data on residents when they need it.

The Trump administration and the bipartisan India caucus of the United States Senate have both urged India to reconsider its data localization campaign, in part because India’s own outsourcing companies depend on moving data across borders to offer their services.

On Friday, the co-chairmen of the India caucus, Senators John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, wrote to Mr. Modi warning that data localization “will have negative impacts on the ability of companies to do business in India, may undermine your own economic goals and will likely not improve the security of Indian citizens’ data.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: New Law in India Is a Problem for U.S. Companies. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Related Coverage

India Pushes Back Against Tech ‘Colonization’ by Internet Giants

Aug. 31, 2018


What the G.D.P.R., Europe’s Tough New Data Law, Means for You

May 6, 2018


India’s Top Payments App Adds Chatting, Challenging WhatsApp

Nov. 2, 2017


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15Oct 2018

Local woman finds great rewards in career assisting international public health efforts – Leader-Telegram



When she’s surrounded by strong women and men — colleagues, beneficiaries and friends alike — and seeing that her work matters, Mary Kante asks herself: “Who wouldn’t want to do this?”

For Kante, an Eau Claire resident who works for a nonprofit organization called Population Services International, there’s nothing quite like what she does for a living.

On a rainy Thursday afternoon in July, Kante awaited her 8-year-old son’s return from summer day camp and prepared for a trip to Cameroon that would last roughly a week and a half.

Just a few days prior, she had returned from a trip to Niger.

But Kante said she isn’t the kind of person who travels at random. If she’s going to leave the country, she likes to have a purpose. Her career with PSI has given her that.

Over the 16 years she has worked for the nonprofit, Kante has been to Africa over a dozen times. From Kenya to the Congo to numerous other countries, her work has certainly taken her places.

Kante said during her stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic, she would see PSI’s products and marketing materials in local communities. That was her introduction to the organization and its missions.

PSI focuses on making universal health care coverage a reality. According to the organization’s website, it does this through programs centered around contraception; HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; malaria; noncommunicable diseases; and water, sanitation and hygiene. The organization serves more than 50 countries.

When she took a position as a media director in Washington, D.C., after her time in the Peace Corps, Kante said, she kept thinking about her former volunteer work.

“I definitely felt a calling to go back to Africa and to go back to public health development work,” Kante said.

After graduating from Brown University with a masters degree in economics, she saw in 2002 that PSI had a program called field representatives in waiting. Within a few days of applying, she said, she was off to Madagascar for her first posting. There she remained for five years.

From helping ministries of health write guidelines for delivering mosquito nets to writing program proposals to helping actually implement programs, Kante’s work has always been about the people. 

“It’s fun to get all nerdy and talk numbers and stats, but at the end of the day, it’s about Sara,” she said.

Sara is an archetype created to help PSI employees really put themselves in the shoes of those they’re serving, empathize and address their needs.

Kante said this archetype changes depending on the community being served because women in Cambodia will have different challenges from women in Congo. Her work has been centered around malaria.

A net gain

As far as the malaria side of operations is concerned, one of the organization’s primary focuses is delivering long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, or LLINs. PSI gives these nets, which cover beds, to families who need them, for free, and they can last anywhere from a few months to a few years with proper use. 

“You can have a massive health impact with a tool that’s easy to use,” Kante said of the nets.

To get to PSI’s goal of universal coverage, there should be 1 LLIN for every 1.8 people at risk of contracting malaria. In addition to delivering these nets, PSI also gives vaccinations.

What the organization does to deal with malaria goes beyond prevention efforts. In addition to net distributions and vaccinations, the organization also focuses on diagnosis, treatment and surveillance of the vector-borne disease.

Mom to mom

Kante’s work especially relates to mothers and their children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the 445,000 people who died of malaria in 2016 were young children in sub-Saharan Africa; malaria is one of the leading causes of illness and death in many developing countries. Being a mother herself, Kante said, has led to some unforgettable memories. 

“It is a very powerful gift and special blessing to be a mom myself,” she said. “Then on the work side, wow … doing that work while being a mom, you recognize other mothers.”

After her son, Abraham, was born, Kante took some time off from her career and came back to Eau Claire, but she found her colleagues curious about what she was going to do next. When she told them she wasn’t sure, they invited her to consult, once again with PSI. She brought her son with her, and the two traveled around the world together for three years, starting with Haiti.

Along the way, she said, she met even more incredible people who served as nannies and friends. Because of their help, she was able to move forward with the work she loves and still have vital bonding time with her baby. Now that Abraham is older, Kante does much of her work from home so the two can have more stability.

“It’s exciting,” she said, “to be a part of that global movement and those initiatives and to get to do it from Eau Claire most of the time.”

The mother-son duo have established a home they can always return to in a community for which Kante said she has always had a lot of love. Whenever she does leave, she has a network of baby sitters who attend UW-Eau Claire; she said she is grateful to have them as caretakers.

Mark Mislivec, PSI’s deputy director of new business development, got the chance to work with Kante for about three years when he served as her supervisor. At the time she was writing proposals. Besides being process-oriented and knowing how to get any job done, Mislivec said, one thing stands out about Kante as an employee more than anything else.

“I think the first thing anyone would notice about Mary is that she always has a positive attitude … it’s a fundamental part of her success,” he said.

Despite being in tough circumstances and dealing with serious topics, he said, she brings joy to any situation, which can help create profound international bonds.

Kante and her work are only part of this equation. As she noted, pointing to a picture of an African woman with whom she has worked, she gets the opportunity to make a difference alongside so many other hardworking, passionate, determined people to eliminate malaria from the face of the Earth.

And she’s nowhere close to done yet.

Contact: 715-833-9203,

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15Oct 2018

Tell Us Your Best Athens Travel Tips – Lifehacker

I’ve read one book about Athens, a novel about “runners” who hop the trains into the city and scam tourists into overpaying for crumbling hotel rooms in a seedy part of town. Running is a thoughtful period piece about dignity and desperation. But it is not exactly a commercial for visiting Athens. How is Athens these days? Is it too crowded to enjoy, or is there lots to do if you get off the deep-rutted path? If it’s not worth it, where else can a grecophile go to soak up the culture, especially if they still want a day trip to the Acropolis?

Each Monday on Hack Your City, we ask readers for your best tips on a city: driving tips, restaurant recs, things to do, and any other advice for visitors and locals. Then on Thursday, we present the best comments. We’re working our way around the U.S. and around the globe.


What’s underrated? What places deserve a few more discerning visitors? What are the best alternatives to tourist traps? What’s the weirdest thing you like in the area?

How should a visitor approach the city? What attitude should they adopt? What local traditions, behaviors, and laws should they be aware of? What should they know about the city’s past and present? How can visitors get along with the locals (and the other visitors)? What problems is the city dealing with?

What’s it like long-term? What do you love and hate about the city? What do you recommend to other residents? How do you hack your commute, what’s your daily lunch spot or the best spot to people-watch? What mistakes do new residents make—any common misconceptions or mispronunciations? Where do you go when you want to get out of town for a day or a week?


Lastly, how has the city’s vibe changed over recent years, especially with the economic crises Greece has faced? What old travel advice no longer applies here, and what new advice does?

Leave your tips in the comments below, and we’ll highlight the best ones. (Read some other comments first to make sure yours is unique.) Then come back Thursday for a new post with the highlights.

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15Oct 2018

When Should I Get a Credit Card Instead of a Loan? – WTOP

If you find yourself in a situation where you need a little financial help, take time to think about your options. Automatically reaching for a credit card might not be the best money move.

You want your choice to minimize the risk of making your debt worse than it already is. According to the Federal Reserve, consumer debt increased $20.1 billion month over month in August. Nonrevolving debt, which includes personal loans, increased at a higher rate than revolving debt, which includes credit cards.

Debt is on the rise, for sure, but you don’t have to become part of that trend. So, let’s take a look at how to decide if you need a credit card or a personal loan. Make the right choice, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to fiscal sanity again.

When to Use a Credit Card

A few years ago, I had a giant hole in my kitchen ceiling. It was the unfortunate result of a leaking roof and a monsoon-like storm that lasted for five days.

The bill for this fiasco? A cool $16,000. I was fortunate to have an emergency fund and a credit card with a ridiculously low annual percentage rate (the perks of having a long, drama-free credit history). It was going to take my insurer some time to approve the coverage, and I needed to fix the roof before it rained again.

So, I used an insurance-approved contractor, and I put the expense on my low-APR credit card for the rewards. I like having a low-APR card just in case something goes wrong and I need to float the bill for a month or two.

When the credit card bill was due, I paid it in full from my emergency fund. Insurance paid for part of the repairs, so when I got that check, I reimbursed my emergency fund.

[Read: The Best Bad Credit Loans of 2018.]

Using a credit card worked because I earned rewards, I had the money in an emergency fund to cover the bill, and it was going to be a short-term financial problem.

But let’s change the scenario a bit. Let’s say you have your own version of my kitchen ceiling, but you don’t have an emergency fund and you need a year to pay off the bill. If you have good credit, then you could get a credit card with a zero percent introductory APR on purchases to fund your expense.

You’ll need to make monthly payments on the bill and pay it off before the intro rate ends. Right now, zero percent intro rates usually last from 12 to about 20 months. Note that the intro period for purchases may be shorter than the intro period for balance transfers. In that case, you may want to use a card you already have and transfer the amount to your new card. But be wary of transfer fees.

When is a credit card a bad idea? If it’s a long-term scenario, you’ll most likely get a better interest rate with a personal loan. Interest rates on credit cards likely will continue to rise, so they are not the right choice for a long-term loan.

[Read: The Best Credit Cards Without Balance Transfer Fees.]

When to Get a Personal Loan

Suppose you need to replace your heating and air conditioning unit, which also happened to me a few years ago. Yes, my house is in advanced middle age and it’s falling apart.

Your credit cards have APRs north of 20 percent, and your rainy-day fund is a little worse for wear. You’re looking at a $4,000 investment, and putting this amount on a high-interest credit card and taking a few years to pay it off would be kind of insane.

In this situation, getting a personal loan makes more sense. You’ll most likely get a better interest rate (unless your credit is bad), and you’ll be making fixed installment payments over a few years. You’ll have a set monthly payment to include in your budget.

Hop online and do some research so you get the best rate. You want to check out rate comparison websites, your own bank and outside-the-box options, such as peer-to-peer lending companies.

What if You Need to Consolidate Debt?

The answer to this is pretty simple. If you have great credit and you think you can pay off the debt in 18 months or so, then a balance transfer credit card is a good fit.

The only question is whether or not your credit limit will be high enough to cover all the debt you want to transfer. If it is, then you can pay off your debt at zero percent interest during the intro period. You’ll save a lot of money this way.

[Read: The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2018.]

But what if you don’t have good credit or you need three to five years to pay off your debt? Then, it’s time to look at a debt consolidation loan.

Seeking the right debt consolidation loan takes time, but keep at it until you can find the best possible rate for your situation. You won’t get a zero percent interest rate, but for long-term borrowing, you’ll pay less interest with a personal loan than you will with a credit card.

More from U.S. News

Guide to Credit Card Balance Transfers

When Are Balance Transfer Fees Worth It?

Debt Repayment Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Repaying Loans

When Should I Get a Credit Card Instead of a Loan? originally appeared on

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15Oct 2018

How to play the miles game: top tips for beginning frequent flyers – Lonely Planet Travel News

So, you’re travelling and you want to earn frequent flyer miles, or you see your friends upgrading themselves to a luxurious premium cabin and want to know how to do it yourself? As an aviation journalist and frequent flyer, I’m often asked “how do I get started?” in the points and miles game. So here’s a brief intro.

Want to know how to get a better cabin while flying?Photo by: Artur Debat/Getty Images
Image by Artur Debat/Getty Images

For the vast majority of folks, that airline frequent flyer card tier status is not something that’s feasible to chase for a once or twice a year vacation. If you want the perks like extra bags or speedy boarding, get your airline’s credit card, or simply pay for it: lots of airlines are now raising what they call “ancillary revenue” by selling you the benefits without having to earn them.

To get started, choose a main and alternate airline, which will largely be dictated by where you live. London is pretty much British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, but elsewhere in the UK a KLM connection is often more convenient. Frankfurt is Lufthansa, Dublin is Aer Lingus, Atlanta and Detroit are Delta, and so on. Picking an airline that has a household pooling programme can be a game changer for families, although these aren’t very widespread.

Sign up for those programmes and research how the earning works: how much do you get for flying in economy? Probably not much, especially since most programmes are moving from distance flown to ticket price paid. But understand how codeshares – where an airline puts its own code and flight number on a partner airline flight — change that. Booking the same American Airlines plane with a British Airways BA flight number can change the amount of miles you earn.

Rear View Of People Sitting In Airplane
Aviation expert gives handy hints for upgrading. Photo by: Franziska Uhlman/EyeEm/Getty Images

Figure out what you want to get out of the deal. Do you want a business class return flight? Do you want to upgrade yourself and your sweetheart into premium economy? How many points will you need to get there? Those are both reasonable aims for most frequent flyers, and knowing your goal helps you figure out how to get there. The value in most programmes comes from redeeming for premium cabins — whether outright paying with points or whether upgrading from economy. But if upgrading, make sure you’re booking one of the fares that let you upgrade. Call the airline to check you’re on the right track.

Read up on who your airline’s partners are, especially other airlines, hotels and rental cars, and choose them if there’s no pricing difference. Hotels are another layer of complexity, and most beginners will want to minimise the number of different point currencies they earn, but sometimes supermarket, petrol/gas station and other partnerships can be very lucrative, and the range of partners can be astounding.

Everyone has to start somewhere. Photo by Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

If your financial situation allows it, sign up for at least your primary airline’s credit card. Signup bonuses — where you get X thousand miles after spending a certain amount within a certain time slot — are probably the best way to earn miles, but make sure that you track it and that you can pay the card off each month. Spending money on interest is a bad deal for pretty much everyone who isn’t a bank.

Figure out where to put any miles you want to fly. Is work sending you to a conference? Signing up for an account with close-to-home members of the three major airline alliances (oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance) is a good plan in advance so that you never lose out on earning those miles.

Lastly, be realistic. If you fly economy once a year and don’t play the rest of the game then it’ll be a while until you earn enough points for anything useful, but keep an eye out and be patient. Even an infrequent flyer can earn those big rewards!

Need more help? Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram: I’m @thatjohn.

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