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1 ☆ 22,254 shares, 1,350 trendiness, 470 words and 4 minutes reading time

Why Jacinda Ardern Matters

Like its ex­cep­tional prime min­is­ter, New Zealand has a na­tional cul­ture un­like any other in Europe or the Americas. Its iso­la­tion and dis­tance makes its dis­tinc­tive­ness pos­si­ble, and the dif­fer­ence is pal­pa­ble. It is a spec­tac­u­larly beau­ti­ful coun­try with a pop­u­la­tion of five mil­lion oc­cu­py­ing an area larger than Britain. Though an ur­ban­ized coun­try with a sta­ble de­vel­oped econ­omy, it has a pace and an out­look of life that seem at odds with the ex­trac­tive de­mands of moder­nity.

Migrants from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries re­late eas­ily to friendly Kiwis and are of­ten sur­prised to see chil­dren and adults walk the streets bare­foot. There are su­perb pub­lic li­braries and in­nu­mer­able pub­lic spaces in the form of beaches, bays and parks. Community ties are cru­cial, work-life bal­ance mat­ters, long week­ends are sa­cred.

Public-funded ad­vice bu­reaus help mi­grants set­tle in. The streets are safe, schools are free and uni­ver­sity costs are rel­a­tively mod­est. Kiwis com­plain about lack of pub­lic in­vest­ment in spe­cial­ized health care but it is al­ready im­pres­sive for a for­eigner: a full course of pre­scribed an­tibi­otics costs $3.43. New Zealand grap­ples with ne­olib­eral pres­sures but is at­tempt­ing to hold on to its so­cial democ­racy.

Of course, the coun­try has its prob­lems. Lack of hous­ing is a se­ri­ous con­cern, at­trib­uted to a prop­erty mar­ket spiked re­port­edly by Chinese in­vestors over the years. Maori com­mu­ni­ties seek com­pen­sa­tion for his­tor­i­cal dis­pos­ses­sion, which is be­ing ad­dressed by a tri­bunal and con­scious pro­mo­tion of in­dige­nous cul­ture. Mental health comes up as an un­der­dis­cussed is­sue and pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture needs more in­vest­ment.

Cities like Auckland grew rapidly in the last decade ow­ing to thou­sands of for­eign stu­dents and work­ers, which in­creased pres­sure on ser­vices in ways that Kiwis did not ex­pect. Many New Zealanders are still get­ting used to di­ver­sity and of­ten re­gret that the coun­try has changed.” This yields re­sent­ment among some that right-wing fig­ures seek to stoke. Muslims have been sub­ject to racial slurs and hate speech since the Sept. 11 at­tacks in the United States, but as Mohamed Hassan, a Kiwi jour­nal­ist put it, not in ways that one’s life would be on the line.”

But there is a vi­brant po­lit­i­cal de­bate on im­mi­gra­tion and about the need to im­port skilled la­bor with­out pro­vok­ing do­mes­tic ten­sions — all con­ducted with­out ran­cor or vit­riol. Migrants will not deny sens­ing sub­tle forms of ex­clu­sion in se­cur­ing jobs or pro­mo­tions at work, but the in­grained com­mit­ment to every­day ci­vil­ity among New Zealanders is some­thing an im­mi­grant ap­pre­ci­ates the most.

Ms. Ardern has a tough road ahead to en­sure that the coun­try’s profile” does not change. The chal­lenges she faces res­onate with those in other democ­ra­cies. It re­mains to be seen if in her case nor­ma­tive habits and de­lib­er­a­tive prac­tice can pre­vail over nasty right-wing sub­cul­tures that are am­pli­fied by tech­nol­ogy, so­cial me­dia and weapons.


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2 18,402 shares, 29 trendiness, 478 words and 5 minutes reading time

W.S. Merwin, Poet of Life’s Damnable Evanescence, Dies at 91

Mr. Merwin’s ar­dor for the nat­ural world took fre­quent root in his po­etry. But while for many po­ets na­ture begets odes, for him it was far more likely to in­spire ele­gies. In For a Coming Extinction,” part of his ac­claimed 1967 verse col­lec­tion, The Lice,” he wrote:

Gray whale

Now that we are send­ing you to The End

That great god

Tell him

That we who fol­low you in­vented for­give­ness

And for­give noth­ing

I write as though you could un­der­stand

And I could say it

One must al­ways pre­tend some­thing

Among the dy­ing

When you have left the seas nod­ding on their stalks

Empty of you

Tell him that we were made

On an­other day

Stylistically, Mr. Merwin’s ma­ture work was known for met­ri­cal promis­cu­ity; stark, some­times epi­gram­matic lan­guage; and the fre­quent use of en­jamb­ment — the po­etic de­vice in which a phrase breaks over two con­sec­u­tive lines, with­out in­ter­ven­ing punc­tu­a­tion.

It is as though the voice fil­ters up to the reader like echoes from a very deep well, and yet it strikes his ear with a raw en­ergy,” the poet and critic Laurence Lieberman wrote, dis­cussing The Lice,” a col­lec­tion whose bit­ter con­tents were widely un­der­stood as a de­nun­ci­a­tion of the Vietnam War. He added:

The po­ems must be read very slowly, since most of their un­canny power is hid­den in over­tones that must be lis­tened for in si­lences be­tween lines, and still stranger si­lences within lines.”

The themes that pre­oc­cu­pied Mr. Merwin most keenly were those that haunt nearly every poet: the earth, the sea and their myr­iad crea­tures; the cy­cle of the sea­sons; myth and spir­i­tu­al­ity (he was a prac­tic­ing Buddhist); per­sonal his­tory and mem­ory; and, above all, life and its damnable evanes­cence.

Yet there was about his work an in­ten­sity of pur­pose — height­ened by a for­mal style not quite like any­one else’s — that, his cham­pi­ons main­tained, gave it a fer­vor of­ten de­scribed as orac­u­lar. A post-Presbyterian Zen poet and chan­neler of an­cient para­doxes,” The Los Angeles Times called him in 2007.

In Leviathan,” from his 1956 col­lec­tion, Green With Beasts,” Mr. Merwin evokes the epic verse of old through his strate­gic use of al­lit­er­a­tion, the cen­tral or­ga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse po­etry:

The hulk of him is like hills heav­ing

Dark, yet as crags of drift-ice, crowns crack­ing in thun­der,

Like land’s self by night black-loom­ing, surf churn­ing and trail­ing

Along his shores’ rush­ing, shoal-wa­ter bod­ing

About the dark of his jaws; and who should moor at his edge

And fare on afoot would find gates of no gar­dens,

But the hill of dark un­der­foot div­ing,

Closing over­head, the cold deep, and drown­ing.

Some crit­ics in­dicted Mr. Merwin’s later work for traf­fick­ing in a level of ab­strac­tion bor­der­ing on the ob­scure. It was ren­dered even less ac­ces­si­ble, they com­plained, by the fact that by the late 1960s he had jet­ti­soned punc­tu­a­tion al­most en­tirely. (Mr. Merwin had his rea­sons, which spoke to the very heart of his life­long po­etic pro­gram.)


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3 ☆ 17,919 shares, 590 trendiness, 1015 words and 9 minutes reading time

Massive U.S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade

LIGO Gravitational Wave Detectors That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Upgraded The twin sites in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory are about to go back on­line. New hard­ware should make them able to sense more col­lid­ing black holes and other cos­mic events.

Massive U. S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade

Massive U.S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade

Massive U. S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory is made up of two de­tec­tors, this one in Livingston, La., and one near Hanford, Wash. The de­tec­tors use gi­ant arms in the shape of an L” to mea­sure tiny rip­ples in the fab­ric of the uni­verse.

Scientists are about to restart the two gi­ant fa­cil­i­ties in the United States that reg­is­ter grav­i­ta­tional waves, the rip­ples in the very fab­ric of the uni­verse that were pre­dicted by Albert Einstein more than a cen­tury ago. Einstein re­al­ized that when mas­sive ob­jects such as black holes col­lide, the im­pact sends shock waves through space-time that are like the rip­ples in wa­ter cre­ated by toss­ing a peb­ble in a pond. In 2015, re­searchers made his­tory by de­tect­ing grav­i­ta­tional waves from col­lid­ing black holes for the first time — and this was such a mile­stone that three U.S. physi­cists al­most im­me­di­ately won the Nobel Prize for their work on the pro­ject.

This artist’s an­i­ma­tion shows the merger of two black holes and the grav­i­ta­tional waves that rip­ple out­ward dur­ing the event.

LIGO Lab Caltech : MIT via


Since then, physi­cists have de­tected grav­i­ta­tional waves from other ex­otic smashups. The grand to­tal is 10 pairs of black holes col­lid­ing and a pair of neu­tron stars crash­ing to­gether. Now they’re get­ting ready to dis­cover more of these cos­mic events. On April 1, the twin fa­cil­i­ties in Louisiana and Washington state that make up the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory will start do­ing sci­ence again af­ter be­ing shut down for more than a year so that work­ers could in­stall hard­ware up­grades. The pro­ject is funded by the National Science Foundation and the im­prove­ments should dra­mat­i­cally in­crease the de­tec­tor’s abil­ity to sense some of the most mys­te­ri­ous and pow­er­ful events in the uni­verse. So far, we’ve seen 11 things. Maybe we’ll see twice that many this year,” says Joseph Giaime, head of the LIGO Observatory in Livingston, La. Researchers will also be helped by the fact that a third de­tec­tor in Italy, called Virgo, will be up and run­ning. It was only on­line for the very end of LIGOs last ob­ser­va­tion pe­riod. Having more de­tec­tors work­ing to­gether makes it eas­ier for re­searchers to lo­cate the source of grav­i­ta­tional waves in the sky. What’s more, a new de­tec­tor in Japan called KAGRA is ex­pected to join in at some point.

A vi­su­al­iza­tion of the 10 merg­ing black holes that LIGO and Virgo have ob­served so far. As the hori­zons of the black holes spi­ral to­gether and merge, the emit­ted grav­i­ta­tional waves be­come louder (larger am­pli­tude) and higher pitched (higher in fre­quency).

SXS Collaboration via


Being able to sense grav­i­ta­tional waves is new for as­tron­omy, which has spent cen­turies study­ing light. But black holes don’t emit light, and these de­tec­tors of­fer a new way to probe their se­crets. Galileo in­vented the tele­scope or used the tele­scope for the first time to do as­tron­omy 400 years ago. And to­day we’re still build­ing bet­ter tele­scopes,” notes Gabriela González, pro­fes­sor of physics and as­tron­omy at Louisiana State University. I think this decade has been the be­gin­ning of grav­i­ta­tional wave as­tron­omy. So this will keep mak­ing progress, with bet­ter de­tec­tors, with dif­fer­ent de­tec­tors, with more de­tec­tors.”

She worked on grav­i­ta­tional waves for years be­fore they ac­tu­ally were de­tected and says friends now con­fess that they wor­ried about her ca­reer be­cause the task was so hard that it seemed the waves might never be de­tected. Now, she says, they are jeal­ous that she works in such a cut­ting-edge field.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in physics lau­re­ates (from left) Barry C. Barish, Kip S. Thorne and Rainer Weiss, pose dur­ing a joint news con­fer­ence in December 2017 at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science in Stockholm.

Each LIGO de­tec­tor in the U.S. is made of two long, con­crete pipes that come to­gether in what looks like a huge let­ter L.” Each arm stretches out for more than 2 miles. I’ve spo­ken with pi­lots who fly over this who won­der why there is a pipeline that starts nowhere, trav­els a cou­ple miles, turns right and then also goes nowhere,” Giaime says. Inside the pipeline is a pow­er­ful laser beam that bounces back and forth be­tween mir­rors. Scientists use this laser to pre­cisely mea­sure the length of each arm of the L. When a grav­i­ta­tional wave passes through and dis­torts space, the lengths change by a tiny, tiny bit — a frac­tion of the width of a sub­atomic par­ti­cle. Giaime says some of the re­cent up­grades to the de­tec­tors in­clude types of hard­ware that boost laser power and re­duce cer­tain kinds of noise” in their mea­sure­ments. We re­placed some op­tics, which is a lot of work,” he says.

This time around, if LIGO de­tects grav­i­ta­tional waves, the team will send out pub­lic alerts so that any­one can point a tele­scope at the right spot in the sky in case, like the neu­tron star col­li­sion, the event sends out any ob­serv­able fire­works. We’ve only seen this hand­ful of black holes out of all the pos­si­ble ones that are out there. There are many, many ques­tions we still don’t know how to an­swer,” says Nergis Mavalvala, a grav­i­ta­tional wave re­searcher at MIT. Plus, she says, there’s al­ways the pos­si­bil­ity that some­thing com­pletely un­ex­pected will go boom and leave per­plexed re­searchers scratch­ing their heads. That’s how dis­cov­ery hap­pens,” she says. You turn on a new in­stru­ment, you point it out at the sky, and you see some­thing that you had no idea ex­isted.”


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4 17,080 shares, 205 trendiness, 593 words and 5 minutes reading time

Stress Mess: 3 In 5 Millennials Say Life More Stressful Now Than Ever Before

NEW YORK — Smartphones and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy are sup­posed to make our lives eas­ier, but for young adults, it seems that things may only be get­ting tougher — and for a slew of rea­sons. According to one re­cent sur­vey, about 3 out of 5 mil­len­ni­als (58%) feel life is more stress­ful right now than ever be­fore.

In fact, the sur­vey of 2,000 American mil­len­ni­als, com­mis­sioned by CBD oil com­pany Endoca, re­veals that one-third of mil­len­ni­als be­lieve their lives are more stress­ful than the av­er­age per­son’s life.

The sur­vey also pointed to nu­mer­ous causes of the frus­tra­tion for this young seg­ment. Many feel their over­all stress level is caused by the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of daily mi­cro-stres­sors — seem­ingly triv­ial ex­pe­ri­ences — such as be­ing stuck in traf­fic, wait­ing for ap­point­ments, or var­i­ous smart­phone is­sues.

For ex­am­ple, al­though los­ing one’s wal­let or credit card ranked as the top source of stress for re­spon­dents, 1 in 5 say they’d be even more apoplec­tic if their smart­phone screen broke. For more than 2 in 5 mil­len­ni­als (41%), a dam­aged phone screen is worse than see­ing their check en­gine” light flash on in the car.


Meanwhile, get­ting into an ar­gu­ment with a part­ner was the sec­ond great­est source of stress for par­tic­i­pants over­all, but nearly 1 in 5 agreed that get­ting zero likes” on a so­cial me­dia post is a more stress-in­duc­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. One-third feel that hav­ing their phone die is a more mis­er­able sce­nario than see­ing a fraud­u­lent charge on their credit card bill. (For good mea­sure, the re­searchers found that the av­er­age re­main­ing-bat­tery per­cent­age for when mil­len­ni­als be­gin to feel stress is 23%.)

And while grid­lock was the third most com­mon cause of stress for young adults, 30% of those sur­veyed agreed that slow WiFi was even more stress­ful than slow traf­fic.

About half of the sur­vey re­spon­dents said they don’t feel they deal with stress well in gen­eral, and two-thirds said they’d like to find more cop­ing meth­ods.

Stress is­n’t an ab­stract is­sue — it’s a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem and does­n’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be caused by one large in­cit­ing in­ci­dent,” says Henry Vincenty, CEO of Endoca, in a state­ment. No mat­ter what’s caus­ing our stress, we should take care to be proac­tive about find­ing so­lu­tions be­fore it be­gins af­fect­ing our health.”

Researchers com­piled the top 20 list of stres­sors for mil­len­ni­als (see be­low), and though ar­riv­ing first to a party did not make the list, 22% of par­tic­i­pants find that ex­pe­ri­ence to be more bru­tal than a job in­ter­view. Another 35% find that stick­ing to plans is more stress­ful than miss­ing out on them.

As for how all this stress is af­fect­ing mil­len­ni­als, the sur­vey found that par­tic­i­pants strug­gled to fall asleep nearly three nights per week — about 138 nights each year — be­cause of the var­i­ous is­sues.

Here are the top 20 stress­ful sce­nar­ios re­ported by mil­len­ni­als:

1. Losing wal­let/​credit card

2. Arguing with part­ner

3. Commute/traffic de­lays

4. Losing phone

5. Arriving late to work

6. Slow WiFi

7. Phone bat­tery dy­ing

8. Forgetting pass­words

9. Credit card fraud

10. Forgetting phone charger

11. Losing/misplacing keys

12. Paying bills

13. Job in­ter­views

14. Phone screen break­ing

15. Credit card bills

16. Check en­gine light com­ing on

17. School loan pay­ments

18. Job se­cu­rity

19. Choosing what to wear

20. Washing dishes

The sur­vey was con­ducted by the mar­ket re­search firm OnePoll.


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5 16,670 shares, 493 trendiness, 0 words and 0 minutes reading time

Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

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6 11,903 shares, 60 trendiness, 483 words and 4 minutes reading time

Volk Fi

Volk One is a smart­phone that does­n’t need car­ri­ers. The Volk Fi net­work is se­cure, cen­sor­ship re­sis­tant, and avail­able to every­one.

Does this sound fa­mil­iar to you?

Jess was on an in­ter­view with her dream com­pany in Silicon Valley, but the call dropped…

Ryan was on a road trip when his car broke down. There was no sig­nal…

Ben just came back from his va­ca­tion in Asia where he was billed $280 for data us­age…

We won’t let this hap­pen ever again

Volk Fi brings to you the first dis­trib­uted net­work smart­phone.

al­lows you to stay con­nected any­where and any­time.

Enjoy free ac­cess to the Internet like never be­fore.

Unlike old net­works that be­come slower, Volk Fi gets faster with more users us­ing the net­work.

Our net­work is every­where our users are.

Volk One con­nects to the Internet via other de­vices on the Volk Fi net­work.

Volk One de­vices can con­nect to each other, from sev­eral miles away.

They can also hop, to reach de­vices far­ther away.

And with enough de­vices around…

Volk Fi crowd­sources the Internet!


We en­cour­age pre-or­der cus­tomers to openly share their in­vite with friends and fam. Reminders and nudges can’t hurt. Sharing is car­ing.

And there is more

A 3700 mAh bat­tery keeps you con­nected all day long.

We don’t in­stall bloat­ware on your phone and we won’t de­lay up­dates.

Volk Fi net­work goes where you go.

…Whether you are trav­el­ing 8000 miles away from home

…Or go­ing to Hawaii for a hon­ey­moon

When will Volk One be shipped?

Does it work in my coun­try?

Internet ac­cess is avail­able in North America, South America, Australia, and Pacific Islands. Voice & SMS to other net­works is avail­able in USA, Canada, and Mexico. We will be adding more coun­tries to this list in the fu­ture.

Can I make and re­ceive calls from legacy phones?

Yes! Your Volk One has a phone num­ber, and can make and re­ceive calls and SMS to old, legacy phones. Even land­lines!

How do I port my num­ber?

We cur­rently sup­port port­ing US tele­phone num­bers. To port num­bers in UK, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, please email us at port­ing@volkfi.com.

Volk Fi net­work does­n’t re­quire SIM cards, but you may use one on sup­ported car­ri­ers

Unlimited data, how is that pos­si­ble?

Volk Fi counts data us­age and bytes shared via WiFi. Every user gets the amount they share, un­lim­ited. If a Volk user con­sumes more data than they share in a month, there is a 5GB data cap. After that, the user can pay the su­per cheap price of $1/GB for ad­di­tional data.

Volk One has new, long-range ra­dio hard­ware. This means de­vices can be very far apart, and the net­work needs many fewer de­vices for great cov­er­age.

Have a ques­tion that’s not on the list?

Send us an email at con­tact+web@volkfi.com.


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7 9,443 shares, 439 trendiness, 1112 words and 10 minutes reading time

The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee

A new class-ac­tion law­suit takes aim at real es­tate agents and the tools they use to do busi­ness, and hous­ing in­dus­try watch­ers say it could rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way Americans buy and sell the biggest as­set they’ll ever own.

The suit was filed in Chicago on be­half of any­one who sold a home through one of 20 of the largest list­ing ser­vices in the coun­try over the past five years. It charges that the mighty Washington-based lobby National Association of Realtors, as well as the four largest na­tional real es­tate bro­ker­ages, and the Multiple Listing Services they use, have con­spired to re­quire any­one sell­ing a home to pay the com­mis­sion of the bro­ker rep­re­sent­ing their buyer at an in­flated amount,” in vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral an­titrust law.

Homeowners who are ready to sell their prop­er­ties usu­ally hire a real-es­tate agent to rep­re­sent them by stag­ing the home, pho­tograph­ing it, adding it to the MLS, mar­ket­ing it, and show­ing it to prospec­tive buy­ers. Sellers agree to pay that per­son a com­mis­sion on the sell­ing price of the home. That com­mis­sion has tra­di­tion­ally been known as the 6%,” but it’s a lit­tle more com­pli­cated than that.

Sellers can re­ally only ne­go­ti­ate with the agent they’ve hired, while agents rep­re­sent­ing buy­ers are gen­er­ally as­sured of a stan­dard 3% com­mis­sion. That means that a sell­er’s agent who’s will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate, or one that works for a dis­count bro­ker­age like Redfin


, will be paid less than a buy­er’s agent.

Buyers can choose to be rep­re­sented by an agent, or to go with­out one — but in any case, all com­mis­sion money for both sides of the deal is al­ways paid by the seller, thanks to a 1996 NAR rule known as the Buyer Broker Commission Rule.”

In or­der to list a prop­erty on one of the many re­gional data­bases known as Multiple Listing Services, agents must abide by the Buyer Broker Rule. Listing on the MLS is es­sen­tial for mak­ing a sale, and most MLSs are con­trolled by lo­cal NAR as­so­ci­a­tions.

The con­spir­acy has sad­dled home sell­ers with a cost that would be borne by the buyer in a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket,” the law­suit says. Moreover, be­cause most buyer bro­kers will not show homes to their clients where the seller is of­fer­ing a lower buyer bro­ker com­mis­sion, or will show homes with higher com­mis­sion of­fers first, sell­ers are in­cen­tivized when mak­ing the re­quired blan­ket, non-ne­go­tiable of­fer to pro­cure the buyer bro­kers’ co­op­er­a­tion by of­fer­ing a high com­mis­sion.”

As MarketWatch has pre­vi­ously re­ported, many hous­ing ob­servers call Realtors a cartel” for the way they pur­posely steer clients to trans­ac­tions in which tra­di­tional ways of do­ing busi­ness are ob­served.

See: Meet the tech-savvy up­starts who think they can fi­nally give Realtors a run for their money

Rob Hahn is founder and man­ag­ing part­ner of 7DS Associates, a real es­tate con­sul­tancy. In a blog posted shortly af­ter the law­suit was filed, Hahn called it a po­ten­tial nuclear bomb on the in­dus­try.” And in an in­ter­view with MarketWatch, he said that he’s tak­ing it very se­ri­ously.”

In large part, that’s be­cause of the heft of the law firms be­hind the suit. Both Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro have a long his­tory of pre­vail­ing over weighty en­ti­ties like Volkswagen, for its emis­sions scan­dal, Apple, for its e-book col­lu­sion, and Exxon , af­ter the Valdez spill.

In re­sponse to a re­quest for com­ment, NAR said, The com­plaint is base­less and con­tains an abun­dance of false claims. The U. S. Courts have rou­tinely found that Multiple Listing Services are pro-com­pet­i­tive and ben­e­fit con­sumers by cre­at­ing great ef­fi­cien­cies in the home-buy­ing and sell­ing process. NAR looks for­ward to ob­tain­ing a sim­i­lar prece­dent re­gard­ing this fil­ing.”

Still, as Hahn put it, past law­suits have mostly been filed by what he calls ambulance-chasers,” not the firms be­hind some of the biggest civil set­tle­ments in American his­tory.

That view is shared by Cohen Milstein part­ner Daniel Small, who called the way Realtors do busi­ness a long­stand­ing prob­lem.” What’s dif­fer­ent now, Small told MarketWatch, is that deep-pock­eted law firms had done a substantial in­ves­ti­ga­tion” that con­vinced them that there was merit to the case.

Small de­clined to elab­o­rate on what had prompted the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the first place. It’s worth not­ing, how­ever, that the suit was filed roughly four months af­ter the ex­pi­ra­tion of a Department of Justice con­sent de­cree against the National Association of Realtors. That set­tle­ment was struck in 2008 af­ter the fed­eral gov­ern­ment spent sev­eral years un­suc­cess­fully try­ing to rein in what it called anti-com­pet­i­tive be­hav­ior from NAR, which felt un­der at­tack from in­ter­net up­starts.

Read: Realtors will soon be free of 10-year-old Justice Department de­cree — so what hap­pens to hous­ing now?

Hahn thinks it’s ironic that an in­no­va­tion that tried to pro­tect buy­ers, by pro­vid­ing them with rep­re­sen­ta­tion in a com­plex and deeply emo­tional trans­ac­tion, has soured the mar­ket so badly. Many hous­ing watch­ers have long ar­gued that real es­tate ser­vices should be paid for a la carte, or in a slid­ing-scale fee struc­ture, rather than a flat com­mis­sion, whether that’s 6% or 1%. But, Hahn said, there’s no chance what­so­ever that the in­dus­try goes that way vol­un­tar­ily.”

What’s more likely, he thinks, is that the American sys­tem will come to re­sem­ble real es­tate mar­kets in Australia or England, where sell­ers and buy­ers each pay their own bro­ker — or don’t. After all, buy­ers are usu­ally cash-strapped,” Hahn noted: sav­ing every nickel for a down pay­ment, clos­ing costs and mov­ing ex­penses. While the en­trenched in­ter­ests in the American real es­tate in­dus­try will ar­gue that’s not con­sumer-friendly, Hahn says he’s never seen a study that says buy­ers get screwed” with­out rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

A for­mer lawyer him­self, Hahn is­n’t sure how to hand­i­cap this case. But if it pre­vails, he thinks enor­mous changes are in store for the in­dus­try. The ranks of buy­ers’ bro­kers will likely be dec­i­mated, and the in­fra­struc­ture be­hind the MLSs and the lo­cal as­so­ci­a­tions will wither away too.

A spokesper­son for Realogy


said, We be­lieve this case has no merit and will not be com­ment­ing fur­ther.”

A spokesper­son for Keller Williams said, It’s not our pol­icy to com­ment on pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.” A spokesper­son for RE/MAX Holdings


de­clined to com­ment, and a re­quest for com­ment by Berkshire Hathaway-held


HomeServices of America, Inc. was not re­turned.

This is an im­por­tant case for many rea­sons,” Daniel Small said. Among them is that this is the biggest trans­ac­tions of most peo­ples’ lives. There is a lot at stake.”


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Google unveils Stadia cloud gaming service, launches in 2019

Google is launch­ing its Stadia cloud gam­ing ser­vice at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco to­day. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who says he plays FIFA 19 quite a bit,” in­tro­duced the Stadia ser­vice dur­ing a spe­cial keynote at GDC this morn­ing. Describing it as a plat­form for every­one, Pichai talked up Google’s am­bi­tions to stream games to all types of de­vices. Stadia will stream games from the cloud to the Chrome browser, Chromecast, and Pixel de­vices, and it will launch at some point in 2019 in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe.

Phil Harrison, a for­mer Sony and Microsoft ex­ec­u­tive, joined Pichai on­stage to fully un­veil Stadia in his role at Google. Harrison says Google will am­plify this game stream­ing ser­vice by us­ing YouTube and the many cre­ators that al­ready cre­ate game clips on the ser­vice. Google pre­vi­ously tested this ser­vice as Project Stream in re­cent months, al­low­ing Chrome users to stream games in their browser. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was the first and only game to be tested pub­licly us­ing Google’s ser­vice, and the pub­lic tests fin­ished in January.

Of course, Google won’t limit Stadia to just one game. Google demon­strated a new fea­ture in YouTube that lets you view a game clip from a cre­ator and then hit play now” to in­stantly stream the ti­tle. Stadia of­fers in­stant ac­cess to play,” says Harrison, with­out the need to down­load or in­stall any games. At launch, games will be stream­able across lap­tops, desk­tops, TVs, tablets, and phones.

Google demon­strated mov­ing game­play seam­lessly from a phone to a tablet and then to a TV, all us­ing Google-powered de­vices. While ex­ist­ing USB con­trollers will work on a lap­top or PC, Google is also launch­ing a new Stadia Controller that will power the game stream­ing ser­vice. It looks like a cross be­tween an Xbox and PS4 con­troller, and it will work with the Stadia ser­vice by con­nect­ing di­rectly through Wi-Fi to link it to a game ses­sion in the cloud. This will pre­sum­ably help with la­tency and mov­ing a game from one de­vice to an­other. You can also use a but­ton to cap­ture and share clips straight to YouTube, or use an­other but­ton to ac­cess the Google Assistant.

To power all of this cloud stream­ing, Google is lever­ag­ing its global in­fra­struc­ture of data cen­ters to en­sure servers are as close to play­ers around the world as pos­si­ble. That’s a key part of Stadia, as lower la­tency is a ne­ces­sity to stream games ef­fec­tively across the in­ter­net. Google says it ex­pects to sup­port up to 4K at 60 fps at launch over an in­ter­net con­nec­tion with ap­prox­i­mately 25Mbps of band­width, and it’s plan­ning to sup­port up to 8K res­o­lu­tions and 120 fps in the fu­ture.

Google is part­ner­ing with AMD to build a cus­tom GPU for its dat­a­cen­ters. It’s a chip that Google claims will de­liver 10.7 ter­aflops of power, which is more than the 4.2 ter­aflops of the PS4 Pro and the 6 ter­aflops of power on the Xbox One X. Each Stadia in­stance will also be pow­ered by a cus­tom 2.7GHz x86 proces­sor with 16GB of RAM.

One of the first games to launch on Google’s Stadia ser­vice will be Doom Eternal, which will sup­port 4K res­o­lu­tion, HDR, and 60 fps game play. Doom Eternal does­n’t have a firm launch date just yet, but it will also be avail­able on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. Stadia will also em­brace full cross-plat­form play, so de­vel­op­ers can en­able cross-plat­form mul­ti­player and game saves and pro­gres­sion.

Focusing on de­vel­op­ers, Google also un­veiled an im­pres­sive way for game de­vel­op­ers to ap­ply their own de­sign style to ti­tles on Stadia. It’s a ma­chine learn­ing-based style trans­fer tool that de­vel­op­ers can use to sim­ply drop an im­age into the video frames of games and have it mimic the style through­out. Google is also us­ing some­thing called State Share to let play­ers eas­ily share mo­ments, so you can even share an ex­act link to a part of a game, chang­ing the way games are typ­i­cally shared. Q-Games founder Dylan Cuthbert is even build­ing an en­tire game all around this new State Share fea­ture.

YouTube is a gi­ant part of Stadia, and Google ap­pears to be re­ly­ing on it to push gamers to its cloud ser­vice. More than 50 bil­lion hours of gam­ing con­tent was watched on YouTube dur­ing 2018, so Google is let­ting Stadia users high­light, cap­ture, and share straight to YouTube or even let view­ers play along­side cre­ators. A Crowd Play fea­ture of Stadia is de­signed to fa­cil­i­tate this, and it in­cludes a lobby sys­tem to let you match up with YouTube con­tent cre­ators.

Google is even cre­at­ing its own game stu­dio for Stadia-exclusive ti­tles, Stadia Games and Entertainment. Jade Raymond, who re­cently joined Google as a VP is lead­ing Google’s push for its own games. Raymond is an in­dus­try vet­eran who has pre­vi­ously worked at Sony, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft. Google says more than 100 stu­dios al­ready have dev kits for Stadia, and more than 1,000 cre­atives and en­gi­neers are al­ready work­ing on ti­tles that will work on the ser­vice.

While Google un­veiled Stadia to­day, it had no de­tails on ex­actly when the ser­vice will be avail­able other than 2019. Google did­n’t re­veal pric­ing or even how many games the ser­vice will have at launch, but is promis­ing more de­tails in the sum­mer.

Google will nat­u­rally face com­pe­ti­tion from a num­ber of ri­vals that you’d typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ate with games and gam­ing ser­vices. Microsoft is plan­ning its own xCloud game stream­ing ser­vice, which it demon­strated re­cently, with pub­lic tri­als set to start later this year. Amazon also ap­pears to be ready­ing a sim­i­lar ser­vice, and both Nvidia and Sony are al­ready stream­ing games over the in­ter­net. Even Valve is ex­pand­ing its Steam Link game-stream­ing fea­ture to al­low you to stream your Steam games from a PC to any­where through the Steam Link hard­ware or the Steam Link app.

Update, 8:40 PM ET: Added info from Google spokesper­son that Stadia will re­quire approximately” 25Mbps down­load speeds to de­liver 4K, 60fps stream­ing. More specif­i­cally, the Project Stream beta could do 1080p 60fps on a 25Mbps con­nec­tion, and Google says re­cent im­prove­ments mean 4K 60fps will need approximately the same band­width re­quire­ments” at launch.


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