Archive for January, 2018

Polarizing Brands Not Exactly Hurting, But Should Your Small Business Get Into the Act?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Most Polarizing Brands Not Exactly Hurting for Business

Morning Consult and its survey of 336,370 Americans has revealed the most polarizing brands in the country aren’t exactly hurting for business. The top 10 brands are directly or indirectly related to the President, with Trump Hotels taking the number one spot.

This is the inaugural survey of Morning Consult’s Most Polarizing Brands designed to rank brands, companies and organization deemed the most divisive between Republicans and Democrats. The top 30 brands were selected from a pool of 1,900 organizations in a survey carried out online from October 3, 2017, to January 2, 2018, from a national sample of U.S. adults.

Most Polarizing Brands Not Exactly Hurting for Business

While becoming a polarizing brand can have negative consequences, it doesn’t seem to be affecting these large businesses. The same probably can’t be said for small businesses, especially if they are located in an area where the demographic is not supporting their political views.

Here are some of the highlights from the survey.

The most unfavorable brands for Democrats included Trump Hotels at 55 percent, Fox News at 43 percent, and Diet Pepsi at 39 percent. Republicans also listed media outlets not particularly enjoyed by the President in the top 10, but the NFL came in first at 49 percent followed by CNN with 48 percent. Interestingly Republicans and Democrats share a dislike of one particular brand. Diet Pepsi also came in third with Republicans at 39 percent.

Independents had a different take on what was really unfavorable because Diet Pepsi was tops at 45 percent, Diet Mountain Dew was second at 41 percent and Red Bull was third at 35 percent.

The split among respondents was 32 percent Democrat, 34 percent Republican, and 34 percent independent.

Most Polarizing Brands Not Exactly Hurting for Business

For Republicans, media companies dominated the top 30 taking all the spots from number two all the way to number 15, as well as others down the line. The division was down Democratic and Republican lines, with Trump supporters choosing the same likes and dislikes as the President. And for Democrats, brands associated with Trump were disliked.

In sports, the NBA and the NFL were preferred by Democrats, while NASCAR and the NHL were favored by Republicans. But when it comes time to order pizza to watch the big game, Papa John’s, Little Caesars, and Pizza Hut, were favored by Republicans over Democrats by a wide margin.

What about big box stores? Walmart was the choice for Republicans while Democrats preferred Target.

Small business owners are often cautioned against becoming political in marketing or other communications. Although there are obvious exceptions.

If you are marketing political T-shirts favoring a particular point of view or an online media channel with a distinct political slant, becoming political in your marketing might make perfect sense.

It should also be remembered that not all the brands in question took a public political stand and most have strong enough business models to survive shifting sentiments. So small business owners must decide before being branded political whether the designation will help or hurt in the long run.

Images: Morning Consult

This article, “Polarizing Brands Not Exactly Hurting, But Should Your Small Business Get Into the Act?” was first published on Small Business Trends


The dollar keeps weakening. Is that good news for the world?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

AT THE start of 2017, just before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, a survey of fund managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) found they believed that being positive on the dollar was “the most crowded trade”. It turned out they were right to be cautious. On a trade-weighted basis, the currency has fallen by 9% against other major currencies in the past year.

It is not clear what the Trump administration thinks about this. At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, said: “Obviously a weak dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities.” Although the rest of his statement was more nuanced, it is unusual for anyone in his position to depart from a “strong dollar” line. The greenback duly fell in price.

Mr Trump then followed up with a statement in favour of a strong dollar in the long term, which caused a rebound. Since it was only last April that he referred to the dollar as being “too…Continue reading

Bulgaria Wants to Buy Gas From Israel

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Bulgaria would be interested in buying Israeli gas if the EastMed pipeline connecting Leviathan to Europe is built.

Bulgarian Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova has told Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz that Bulgaria was interested in buying natural gas from Israel through the Greek hookup to a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Europe. Petkova announced that Bulgaria was planning to build a gas pipeline in cooperation with Greece that would connect Bulgaria to the EastMed project.

The Bulgarian minister, who heads the European forum of energy ministers, invited Steinitz to take part in a meeting of the European energy ministers in Bulgaria this coming April

Bulgaria currently buys most of its natural gas from Russian company Gazprom. Like all the European countries, Bulgaria would like to diversify its sources of natural gas. Connecting Bulgaria to Steinitz’s initiative is no simple matter; it probably requires laying a land-based pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria.

The EastMed project for laying an pipeline from the Leviathan natural gas reservoir to Italy via Greece has passed one European Union (EU) hurdle with the EU’s allocation of €34.5 million this year for completion of planning ahead of a final decision about investment in the project in 2019.

35% of the development work on the Leviathan reservoir has been completed. Construction of a gas pipeline to transport the gas from the handling platform to the Dor shore has ended, and the company has also begun preparations for the arrival of the new ENSCO DS 7 drilling platform in Israel in March, the Leviathan partners have announced.

Development of the Leviathan reservoir, Israel’s largest natural gas project, got underway a year ago. According to the most recent announcement by Delek Drilling Limited Partnership (TASE: DEDR.L), natural gas from Leviathan will begin reaching the economy in late 2019, matching the company’s previous predictions.

he partners say that many Israeli companies are quite involved in the construction and development of the Leviathan platform, including Ham-Let Nazareth Illit, Habonim, Inbal Valves, Upper Galilee company Amiad Metal Technologies, and Kibbutz Ein Dor-based company Teldor. These companies are developing and manufacturing the pipeline parts (adaptors and valves), special water filters, and so forth for the platform.

The new Ensco drilling ship won a tender published by Noble Energy for completion of drilling in the two production wells in Leviathan (Leviathan 7 and Leviathan 3), and for connection and completion of work on the four Leviathan wells to be connected to the production system as part of the development plan for the reservoir (Leviathan drillings 3, 4, 5, and 7).

The cost of the ship is $140,000 a day. For the sake of comparison, the cost of the previous ship was $200,000.

The Leviathan development plan (Stage 1A) provides for production drillings to be connected through an undersea pipeline to the permanent platform, which will be located 10 kilometers from the Hadera shore. The platform will be placed on the sea bottom at a depth of 80 meters, and will produce 12 BCM annually. The gas from the platform will run through a pipeline to the Israel Natural Gas Lines Company’s national transportation system, from where it will be sent to customers in Israel and neighboring countries. The cost of the first stage is estimated at $3.75 billion.

The second state in Leviathan’s development has yet to be submitted for approval, because gas supply agreements have not yet been reached. There are several options, for none of which has a concrete agreement been reached so far. These options include exports to Egypt, Turkey, the European pipeline through which Israel can export gas to Greece and Italy, and as reported recently in “Globes,” an energy-intensive aluminum production plant being considered in southern Israel that will consume 2 BCM annually.

Development of the second stage of Leviathan is due to be combined with development of the Aphrodite Cypriot gas reservoir, located only 30 kilometers away from Leviathan, in order to lower development costs and make it possible to make do with only one drilling platform. Aphrodite, which contains 120 BCM of gas, has not been developed since it was discovered in 2012. Cyprus, whose potential consumption is estimated at 1 BCM annually, is still using polluting fuel oil to produce electricity.


Source: Israel Business News


A Branch of the National Academy of Arts will be Opened in Burgas

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The government adopted a decree to open a branch of the National Academy of Arts in Burgas. The decision was taken on the proposal of the management of the higher school and on the basis of a project evaluated by the National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency.

In the branch of the Academy, 300 students from the professional field “Fine Arts” will be trained to acquire bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The opening of the branch is justified by the expressed public need for creative personnel in a municipality like Burgas – a cultural center with many young people, with dynamically developing tourism, production and services.

The existence of a structure of the higher school will contribute to the satisfaction of the needs of creative professionals – specialists in the field of fine and applied arts, design, conservation, restoration and art science.

The training process will be provided by the main professors in the academy, with 10 additional lecturers appointed under the project. For the needs of the subsidiary Burgas Municipality provides over 1050 sq. M of renovated building in Bourgas East port complex. 


Student Credits for BGN 50 Million with State Guarantee

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The Government issued a state guarantee of up to BGN 50 million under the Student and PhD Students Loan Act for 2018 for new loans granted during the budget year. Financial support consists of guaranteeing principal and interest on credit obligations.

On the basis of the decision, the Minister of Education and Science signs on behalf of the Government the agreements for issuing a state guarantee for granting loans under the LCF in 2018 with the five banks signing the standard contract – “DSK Bank” EAD, “Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria)” EAD, Allianz Bank Bulgaria AD, Eurobank Bulgaria AD and First Investment Bank AD.

The contracted credits under the law of the Bulgarian Insurance Supervisory Commission during the previous years are guaranteed by the state till their full repayment.


Bulgarian Citizen Arrested in Germany for Human Trafficking

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

A Bulgarian citizen was apprehended in Germany for involvement in a trafficking group. This was done during a police operation in Berlin, Bremen, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony, BNT reported.

Two people are arrested in the capital – one is a 53-year-old Bulgarian citizen, the other 43-year-old Turkish citizen. The two are suspected of being part of an international group that moves migrants in trucks on a so-called Balkan route to Germany. More than 200 representatives of the order and law took part in the action.


Zoho Transactions Approval Aims to Reduce Mistakes in Purchase Orders

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Zoho Transactions Approval Workflow Aims to Reduce Mistakes in Purchase Orders

A new feature called Transactions Approval from Zoho will lower or get rid of mistakes made during sales and purchase transactions within the Zoho Finance apps, the company says.

With this new feature, you and your employees will be able to verify and approve transactions within Zoho Books, Zoho Invoice and Zoho Inventory apps. Having an approval workflow in place will translate into fewer mistakes and more efficient operations.

For small business owners who count on different employees to carry out more than one task, the chances of making mistakes become that much higher. With a manual process, sales and purchase transactions can have conflicting information on them. And often times the mistakes are not recognized until they are further down the pipeline.

By the time the discrepancy has been identified, you might’ve already sent invoices to your customers. This will not only result in more work for your company when trying to repair the damage, but it could also negatively affect the relationships you have with your customers.

Enabling Zoho Transactions Approval Features on the Apps

When you enable the Transactions Approval on the Zoho apps, every transaction can be set up to require approval before it is sent out to customers, suppliers or vendors. Individuals who have been designated to make the approval will be able to verify the transactions and make any corrections if they are needed before they are approved.

Catching mistakes early in the process delivers a more accurate inventory, accounts receivable and overall delivery of products and services to customers and business partners.

Zoho Transactions Approval Workflow Aims to Reduce Mistakes in Purchase Orders

Once the feature has been enabled and a transaction is sent for approval an in-app notification is sent to the designated individual. This means you don’t have to make phone calls, send emails or physically locate the contact person to get a signature. They can sign into the app, verify the transaction and make the approval.

Approval Workflow for Your Business

Having an approval workflow in place should improve the productivity of your company and increase the efficiency of the processes you have in place. While in the past this meant physically tracking down the necessary individuals for their signatures, digital technology has eliminated the different pain points associated with the procedure.

If you implement an automated approval system for your business, it can move projects along faster, reduce late payments, ensure deliveries and improve customer service. The Transactions Approval from Zoho does this for your books, invoices and inventory.

If you want to start using Transactions Approval, you can go to the help documentation page of Zoho Books, Zoho Invoice, and Zoho Inventory to get started.

Images: Zoho

This article, “Zoho Transactions Approval Aims to Reduce Mistakes in Purchase Orders” was first published on Small Business Trends


Rape-Accused Oxford Professor Tariq Ramadan ‘Questioned by Police in Paris

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Oxford University professor and government adviser Tariq Ramadan has been detained for questioning months after two women filed rape charges against him, according to a legal source.

The prominent Swiss Islam academic was summoned for questioning with Paris judicial police and taken into custody “as part of a preliminary inquiry in Paris into rape and assault allegations”, the source said, confirming a report by RTL radio.

He can be detained for questioning for a maximum of 48 hours after which he could be simply freed, placed under formal investigation or made an “assistant witness” – a status suggesting there is less reason to suspect he committed a crime.

Prof Ramadan has previously strongly denied all allegations against him and has claimed he is being targeted by “a campaign of slander clearly orchestrated by my longtime adversaries”.

In October, Henda Ayari, a former Salafist turned secular feminist author, alleged Mr Ramadan had raped her in a hotel room in 2012. She had mentioned the rape in a book published in 2016 but said she had not named Mr Ramadan after receiving “threats”.

She said she had decided to “name and shame” Prof Ramadan as a “pervert guru” following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.


Referring to the alleged rape, she said he had “pounced on my like a wild animal” after she went to tell him she admired his work.

“He kissed me really hard… then for a few seconds he choked me, I really thought I was going to die”.

She said that in his eyes, “either you’re veiled or you are raped”, adding that he “uses Islam to satisfy his sexual urges”.

The second complainant – a 42-year old convert to Islam – has alleged that she was raped by Prof Ramadan in the Hilton hotel in Lyon in 2009.

Once inside, she said he had kicked away crutches she was using due to an injured leg and “jumped on me”.

“You kept me waiting now you will pay dear,” she alleges he said before subjecting her to “very brutal scenes of sexual violence”, including being raped with “an object”. He then dragged her to the bathroom by her hair and urinated on her, she alleged in an interview with Le Monde. She went straight to a doctor and has medical evidence of her assault, she alleges.

The unnamed complainant said she later received a text message from Prof Ramadan asking to see her again “as if we had spent a wonderfully romantic and tender evening together”. After she refused she alleged she was subjected to “months of harassment and threats from men who followed me in the street; one threatened to kill me”.

Prof Ramadan also faces accusations from four Swiss women who say he made sexual advances to them when they were studying under him as teenagers in Geneva.

One of the women told Tribune de Geneve newspaper that the academic made unsuccessful sexual advances to her when she was 14 years old.

Another alleged he had sexual relations with her in the back of his car when she was 15 years old.

The other two women said they were 18 when they had sexual relations with him, but accused him of abusing his position of power as their teacher.

Currently Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford, the university put him on leave after the rape allegations first surfaced.

He was chosen by Tony Blair to work on a task force to help tackle extremism in the UK following the 7/7 attacks in London in 2005.

Prof Ramadan has also worked with the Foreign Office’s Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, chaired by Tory Peer Baroness Warsi.  He is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, Hassan al-Banna.


GERB and BSP Quarreled Because of Communism in History School Books

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

GERB and BSP entered a dispute at the beginning of today’s plenary session on the study of communism in history textbooks in Bulgaria.

The ruling party condemned with a declaration the resignation requested by the Bulgarian Socialist Party to the Minister of Education Krasimir Valchev because he was firm about the decision students to “study the bloody history of communism in Bulgaria”.

“Mr. Minister, the comrades on the left can not forgive you, in Bulgaria the BSP accepts with pride all the history of the Bulgarian Communist Party, massacres, mass killings and concentration camps, destroying the elite,” said Galya Zaharieva from GERB, quoted by Darik Radio. According to her, BSP obviously has problems with democracy.

On behalf of GERB, Zaharieva declared full support to Minister Valchev and his team. “We will not let cover the criminal past, history must be taught as it is, no balance can be found between the victims and their executioners,” the statement said.

Valeriy Zhabljanov of the BSP advised GERB to go through internal catharsis to reach the democratic purity that all MPs are calling for, as the leadership of both the parliamentary group and the GERB party itself are involved with the former Communist regime.

“The BSP has not resorted to, and did not tolerate, a violation of the constitution as a way of imposing democracy,” Zhablyanov said, then returned to Delyan Dobrev’s unresolved resignation and the yesterday’s opinion of the Constitutional Court on the case.


The Times: Wildlife Pays Price for Budget Breaks in Bulgaria

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Skiers are unwittingly contributing to the destruction of one of Europe’s last wildernesses, home to brown bears, grey wolves and the lesser spotted eagle, according to a conservation charity.

About 150,000 Britons a year ski in the relatively cheap resort of Bansko in Bulgaria’s Pirin National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site whose glacial lakes, ancient forests and alpine meadows support an array of wildlife, including 45 species of mammals. It costs about ?2,000 for a family of four to ski in Bansko for a week, compared with ?5,500 in Courchevel in France.

WWF, the conservation group, says that the Bulgarian government is planning a major expansion of the resort, including 333km of new slopes and 113km of ski lifts.

Bulgaria’s environment ministry says that the expansion is needed to boost winter tourism and amounts to construction in only two per cent of the 400sq km park.

WWF, however, claims that there would be a 12-fold increase in the area covered by skiing infrastructure. It says that more than 3,000 hectares of forest would need to be felled for lifts, pistes and buildings.

“The expansion would take place in some of the most pristine and valuable areas within the park, and would require cutting down old Macedonian and Bosnian pine trees,” a WWF report says. It adds that the plans would permit logging over 60 per cent of the national park.

WWF is urging members of the Unesco World Heritage Committee to include Pirin on its list of world heritage sites in danger if the Bulgarian government presses ahead with its plans. The charity is also calling for the International Ski Federation and other ski governing bodies to exclude the resort from the race calendar if the construction continues.

WWF accepts the need for development but says that the government should focus on year-round sustainable tourism, including wildlife tours and spa holidays.



Business news