US Capitol On Lockdown Following Suicide, Suspicious Package

Moments ago NBC and various news wires reported that the US Capitol was on lockdown following reports of a suicide on the west front of the building.

According to NBC, the U.S. Capitol and the Capitol Visitors Center is on lockdown amid police activity on the scene, according to the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms Office.

Allegedly man shoots himself on west terrace of the capitol building. What an interesting walk in DC today. #news pic.twitter.com/tClE7h7lqj

— Chelsie Taddonio (@Chels_Taddonio) April 11, 2015

The suspected shooter was “neutralized,” police said, adding that they were investigating a suspicious package found on the lower West Terrace of the Capitol Building.

Officials told NBC News that it appears a man killed himself on the West Front of the Capitol Building, and the suspicious package was his suitcase. “There are no indications at this point of terrorism,” said one federal official. The investigation is in its early stages as authorities work to find the man’s car.

Frank Thorp, a NBC News producer and reporter, said Capitol staff has been instructed to shelter in place after reports of a man shooting himself in the vicinity of the Capitol. A DC Alerts notification said police were conducting a suicide investigation in the 100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.

AP quotes Kimberly Schneider of the Capitol Police says in a statement that the suspected shooter has been “neutralized,” but there is no immediate explanation what that means.

She also says the Capitol Police are investigating a suspicious package on the lower west terrace of the building.

No one is being allowed to enter or exit the Capitol and the visitors center.

Don’t worry about the inhabitants of the Capitol though: Congress has been on spring break for two weeks because life is difficult when US legislators tell the Fed “to get to work”.

What is unclear is how if the man who allegedly shot himself, and who according to Breaking News was a protester, was also subsequently “neutralized” by police.

Police report shots fired on west front of US Capitol http://t.co/0Ej2Ygm8Iw #FOX25 #breaking pic.twitter.com/q1JmkpdzRq

— FOX 25 News Boston (@fox25news) April 11, 2015

URGENT: Protester shoots himself in front of Capitol Hill – reports (pic by @Chels_Taddonio) http://t.co/VTMVnpWYqM pic.twitter.com/ugHGdJCAKB

— RT (@RT_com) April 11, 2015


Internet Rules

NEVER TRY TO CORRAL THE CUSTOMER

People balk at being controlled. Once you place limits, the public abandons you or finds a way to circumvent what you are doing. Give people the opportunity to do more, to expand their horizons, to share. Once you tell them what they cannot do, you’re screwed.

This is why no free tier music services will not dominate in the short run. The public has options. Whether it be YouTube or piracy. Trying to convince people that stealing is immoral doesn’t work, the RIAA already tried that. Don’t demonize your customers, EMBRACE THEM!

COHERENCE NOT CONFUSION

When it’s all said and done there’s going to be a ton of dough in recorded music. But the rights holders are doing their best to forestall this result. They believe competition is key, not understanding that online one service dominates and the rest carve up tiny slices. You want to have one service win. Otherwise, there’s customer confusion. No one wants to embrace what everybody else does not. That’s the lesson of the Tower of Babel society. Nitwits speak about a long tail, human beings want to belong, feel connected, they don’t want to be down in the niche alone, but together, with everybody else. Which is why there is only one Facebook, one is enough, you don’t want to build your digital home in multiple locations. And you want a good chance of being seen. Balkanization is death.

COMPETE ON SELECTION AND SERVICE, NOT EXCLUSIVES

That’s positively brick and mortar. The labels gave exclusives to Best Buy, indie retailers screamed, but it’s the indie retailers who remain. You think you’re getting a leg up by offering exclusives. You’re just pissing people off.

EVERYONE HATES BITCHING AND ENTITLEMENT

We live in a nation of vast income inequality. We don’t want to hear winners complain. Ever. And we don’t want to hear how a product benefits you, but how it benefits US!

PRODUCT FIRST, PUBLICITY LAST

Word of mouth built Google, Facebook and Amazon. In a world where it’s impossible to reach everybody via marketing, your only hope is you gain users and have them spread the word. People will listen to their friends, they ignore advertising. The key is to build something so cool, so utilitarian, that others will spread the word. And when you do publicity, it’s about explaining the growth. You don’t LEAD with the publicity, you FOLLOW with it.

This is about to whipsaw the music industry, which believes in frontloading. But no one can garner enough streams in the first week to make their numbers. The key is to get people to stream for years. How do you tell the story then? Awareness is important, but it’s all about the sustained build and the story. And the story isn’t who you worked with and what TV outlets you’re appearing on, but how people have embraced the tunes.

PEOPLE PAY LAST

They believe it’s their god-given right to check something out for free. And they eventually pay, but way down the line, because of CONVENIENCE!

The mobile industry did not force everybody to give up their flip phones for smartphones. Rather, users adopted them and convinced others to get them. And then everybody signed up for a data plan so they could play!

Mobile didn’t eliminate the flip phone, it came up with something better. And you had to pay, handsomely, to get one and play. And you could not play without one, there was no free tier/competition.

However, people ARE cheap. Which is why T-Mobile and wi-fi calling are making inroads. Tell someone all day long that Verizon has a larger LTE footprint and they don’t care, they focus on price. Proving that some people will pay for quality, the others have to gradually get there. Kind of like cable television. There were early adopters, then everybody else came aboard and cable raised the price.

Once everybody subscribes to a music service, then you can raise the price, as did SiriusXM.

The convenience may come via bundling, i.e. with a cable or cell phone contract, or it may be about functionality, but that’s what closes users.

Right now, Spotify has learned that giving mobile away for free creates new subscribers. Don’t ignore the data. Your intellect is not always right. This is one thing tech understands and the entertainment business does not. When you’re talking about the internet, ignore your gut and go with the data.

DON’T LIE!

The truth is there to be found online. And sure, some might not Google it, but once someone does, the word spreads like wildfire. Jay Z says Tidal pays more. There is no evidence of this and it is contrary to the standard label contract. This is blowback just waiting to happen.

DON’T CONFUSE INDIVIDUALS WITH MASS SERVICES

No one person is as strong as a service. Evan Spiegel could kill someone, but it would not kill Snapchat. Taylor Swift cannot kill Spotify. Once something reaches critical mass the only way it dies is if the service itself screws up or something superior appears and supersedes it. Never yell about behavior, never complain, create something better, ahead of the marketplace, that will draw people to it.

PEOPLE DON’T RETREAT

We’re not going back to dialup and we’re not going back to flip phones. Never base your play on taking something away, that’s never ever gonna work. You always want to deliver MORE!

PAYWALLS ARE ONLY FOR THE HARD CORE

Most people don’t even know the “New York Times” has a soft paywall. Because they don’t care enough about the “Times.” Then again, Facebook users far exceed subscribers to the “Times.” If your service can sustain on the payment of a few, create a paywall. If you want everybody, start free and figure out a way to add desirable features and functionality to get those people to pay.

Furthermore, value can be unlocked in unforeseeable ways. The aforementioned Snapchat was a free messaging service, now it’s an entertainment hub. Create mass, then evaluate opportunities and pivot. If you don’t think audience size is key, you were never in a rock and roll band. Audience is everything. It will follow you and support you as long as you respect it and treat it right.

THE INTERNET IS FOR US

Especially with net neutrality. The public believes it OWNS the internet. Forget the truth, the backbone, the last mile. They see it as a democratic village where they have a voice. Impinge upon this at your peril.

DATA IS VALUABLE

It’s a fine line between privacy and data collection, but the truth is what you learn about user behavior has incredible value. Once again, this only comes from mass.

ARTISTS ARE NOT WEBSITES

Amazon is inert. Artists live and breathe. Artists are separate from services. Artists have an identity. Artists don’t just accept, they question. Tie yourself up with a service at your peril. The service functions 24/7, you don’t come to bat that often. If you’re seen as a tool, even of a good service, it will come back to haunt you. Don’t always say yes, artists gain traction by saying no.

Meet The Secretive Group That Runs The World

Over the centuries there have been many stories, some based on loose facts, others based on hearsay, conjecture, speculation and outright lies, about groups of people who “control the world.” Some of these are partially accurate, others are wildly hyperbolic, but when it comes to the historic record, nothing comes closer to the stereotypical, secretive group determining the fate of over 7 billion people, than the Bank of International Settlements, which hides in such plain sight, that few have ever paid much attention.

This is their story.

First unofficial meeting of the BIS Board of Directors in Basel, April 1930

* * *

The following is an excerpt from TOWER OF BASEL: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the World by Adam LeBor.

Who Will Control The World’s Water: Governments Or Corporations?

Submitted by Michael McDonald via OilPrice.com,

Water is perhaps the world’s most important resource, and one of the most common resources. For decades water was regarded as a common good, and it was plentiful enough that in most parts of the world there was little money to be made off of it. Now as the world’s population continues to grow, all of that is changing. Late in March, Tetra Tech was awarded a $1B five year contract to help support the US Agency of International Development (USAID) and its water development strategies. Tetra Tech will help USAID by collecting data related to water use, develop water management strategies, and help improve access to water in select areas.

This contract is far from the first in the area of water management. Today there are numerous companies focused on earning a profit based on water management, water provision, and water remediation. There are at least ten major corporations working in the area including three that between them supply water to 300 million people in 100 countries. These three corporations, RWE/Thames, Suez/ONDEO, and Veolia control vast swaths of water systems in Europe and are now looking at a less saturated market; the United States. The US has its own share of large water companies including American Water Works, ITT Corp, and GE Water, but most Americans are still served by publicly owned utilities and this presents a new opportunity for corporations in the space.

Water is so critical a resource that any discussion of privatizing water resources predictably draws a frequent public outcry as the fight over a water infrastructure bill in Congress last year showed. The truth is though, that water access is no more or less safe in the hands of corporations than in the hands of governments. There are certainly cases of corporations abusing their customers, but there are equally many cases of governments using their considerable power to oppress their citizens. Corporations are often owned by and responsible to shareholders (i.e. the general public). Further, while government objectives are often murky and depend on the people in office, corporate objectives are more straightforward – earn a profit.

None of this is to say that people should be racing to sell off water rights, but the realities of the 21st century will require hard choices. The world’s population is growing most in countries which are less developed and have less infrastructure. Rich nations like the US, Europe, and Japan are seeing slow or no population growth while under-developed nations like India and Indonesia continue to see booming growth. This will lead to challenges that unstable governments are ill-equipped to handle, but which require serious investment efforts.

Even in the United States, the on-going drought in California is taxing the ability of the government to handle the problem. Perhaps what is needed is a system of interstate pipes to enable the transfer of water resources between areas of the country in the same way that the interstate highways facilitate traffic flow. Such a system would enable the movement of water from say, the water-soaked northeast (which had a very wet winter) to the parched southwest. Traditionally major projects like this have always been the purview of the government. But in today’s dysfunctional political environment, it is unclear if the US government is even remotely prepared for the challenges that would accompany building a national canal system.

Regardless of one’s views on the efficiency of government or the effectiveness of corporations, it is clear that the world is entering a new era where water is now fair game as an economic resource. And that is a scenario that presents both major risks and major opportunities for mankind.


Deutsche Bank Upgrades “Full Throttle” Hong Kong Exchange, Crazed Housewife Day Traders Cheer

As documented here extensively, the big news last week was the Hang Seng, which surged nearly 10% amid new regulations in China which allow mutual funds to invest in Hong Kong-listed shares. The buying frenzy was supercharged by “bargain” hunting Chinese investors who have been pouring into the mainland market by the millions recently and are now searching for “relative” value. In other words, China’s world-beating, margin debt-fueled, equity mania has now made its way to Hong Kong much to the delight of local housewives and security guards who have recently decided to become day traders. Here’s a bit more color:

MiB: Rick Ferri, Portfolio Solutions

This week, our Masters in Business radio podcast features Rick Ferri, founder and CIO of Portfolio Solutions.

Ferri is a retired Marine Corps officer fighter pilot who spent the first decade of his finance career working as a traditional retail stock broker. At Smith Barney, he proposed to the company’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, an idea for a low cost, ETF based portfolio.

Ferri is also the author of 7 books on investing, including The Power of Passive Investing: More Wealth with Less Work, and All About Index Funds: The Easy Way to Get Started.

Listen to the show live on Bloomberg radio 10-11am today, 6-7pm, and check out the podcast at Bloomberg, on Apple iTunes or SoundCloud. All of our prior podcasts are now available on iTunes.

Next week, we speak with Alan Kreuger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University.