Saudi women no longer need male permission to start business

“No need for a guardian’s permission. Saudi women are free to start their own business freely,” the ministry’s spokesperson Abdul Rahman Al-Hussein tweeted. He also used a hashtag which translates from Arabic as “No Need.”

Women in Saudi Arabia have traditionally been banned from working outside the home but rules have been relaxed in recent years. To start their own businesses, travel or enroll in classes, they had to ask permission from a male “guardian” – a husband, father or brother.

Hiring women is now a key part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to overhaul the oil-dependent economy, known as Vision 2030. The reform also aims to raise the proportion of Saudi women that are active in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent. Female unemployment in the kingdom stands at around 33 percent, compared to an overall rate of 12 percent.

“I believe this new approach will open the door to [women] in our homeland to highlight their talents and ideas and translate them into a realistic business with a worthy financial return,” Saudi law consultant Dima Al-Shareef told the Arab News.

“We are witnessing a new era in the empowerment of Saudi women, in the commercial sphere in particular,” she added.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s passport office announced 140 jobs for women at airports and border crossings. It received 107,000 applications within a week while the job posting has been viewed more than 600,000 times.

Last year, the Saudi king issued a royal decree allowing women to drive cars and attend sports events. The move has been strongly opposed by some of the kingdom’s prominent clerics.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Smiths Falls, Ont., funeral business dissolves the dead, pours them into town sewers

In a small town outside of Ottawa, a funeral company- the first of its kind in Ontario- uses an alkaline solution to dissolve human remains. From there it’s quite simple: the dead are dissolved and then simply drained into the sewer system. While it might sound disgusting and totally irreverent, according to Aquagreen Dispositions it’s a great alternative to the “energy-using flame-based cremation process.”1

The owner, Dale Hilton, who is from a family of funeral home operators, says,

“It brings your body back to its natural state. It’s the same way as being buried in the ground, but instead of taking 15, 20 years to disintegrate, it does it in a quicker process. And it’s all environmentally friendly.”2

The traditional cremation process takes three to four hours to complete and releases about 250 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But at Aquagreen Disposition, potash, salt, and water break down the body in a heated, pressurized vessel that resembles an MRI machine- and it takes less than two hours to do it. Once most of the body’s “organic material” is dissolved in the alkaline solution, “the dark-colored, caustic fluid goes through two filter systems”3 on the premises and then it’s sent into the sewage treatment system.

In order to dissolve an average-sized human body, about 74 gallons of alkaline water solution is needed. The heated, pressurized vessel uses the electricity equivalent of a refrigerator.

All that’s left is the skeleton which is then “dried in a convection oven, pressed into a fine white powder and finally returned to the loved one’s family to be scattered.”4 If the person had any artificial hip joints, surgical plates, screws, heart stents or other pieces of surgical hardware, the process leaves them intact so they can be donated to hospitals in developing countries.

Ted Joynt, the superintendent of facilities at Smiths Falls water treatment says the process is totally safe. In fact, he says that the liquid mixes with all the other wastewater so it tends to be quite diluted before it even gets into their pipes.

But, he also acknowledges that processing large numbers of bodies could be challenging and that’s why they monitor so closely. To date, there have been no issues.

Hilton believes this is the wave of the future; good for families and good for the environment. He says “You come in by water, and you leave by water. It’s green, all the way around.”

What do you think?

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Super Fracking Sparks Protest, God Punched on New Anti-Business Comedy

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‘Kremlin List’ randomly targets Russian business competition – Finance Minister Siluanov

“I don’t even understand on which criteria this list could be formed,” said the minister, who has also been included on the US Treasury’s blacklist.

According to Siluanov, none of the American sanctions, including the latest ones, look meaningful. “We’ll see how the events will develop but I think neither me nor my colleagues will feel any consequences,” he said.

“As we already said, all these sanctions are supposed to make (American) business more competitive,” Siluanov said, adding that Washington aims to push back against Russian business competition, including Kaspersky Lab.

The Russian cybersecurity company’s products are used by Western firms and someone does not like that and is trying to get rid of it, he explained.

In December, Kaspersky Lab sued the Trump administration over a software ban. The US government’s Department of Homeland Security had earlier banned federal agencies from using the Russian company’s antivirus products, citing national security concerns.

The founder of the company, Eugene Kaspersky, who was also included in the ‘Kremlin List,’ took to Twitter to discredit it. 

Copied indiscriminately from a Forbes Russia list, the Treasury list shows that the Trump administration isn’t serious about sanctions, said Leonid Bershidsky, a former editorial director and publisher of Forbes Russia.

“I’m flattered that the US government chose it as an unassailably authoritative source on who counts as an oligarch in Russia. I also know that Forbes Russia has never pretended that its rich list was complete or that the wealth estimates were accurate,” he wrote in a column for Bloomberg View.

Bershidsky said he’s “willing to give the US administration the benefit of the doubt, though.”

President Donald Trump signed the sanctions legislation only reluctantly, and perhaps the Treasury was never serious about compiling the lists, he wrote. 

“It’s fine if the Trump administration doesn’t believe in sanctions. But if Congress still demands sanctions – and it does – the administration should do a better job of selecting targets.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Corporate Employees Suicidal on Anti-Business Comedy Central Show

Grace: As you all know, profits for Hampton Deville are at an all-time high. Unfortunately, the well-being of our employees is at an all-time low. Let’s take a look at the average Hampton Deville employee. The average life expectancy for a Hampton Deville employee is 57.1 years. They get 5.2 hours of sleep a night…

Matt: I’m so tired. I wish I could be asleep all the time.

Jake: You just described death.

Matt: Hmm. Yeah, I guess I want to be dead. 

Jake: I can’t wait to die. It sounds so relaxing. 

Grace: The average employee is half man, half woman. They have one testicle, one breast, and half a vagina. Every year, the average employee consumes 561 cups of coffee…

Matt: I feel nothing when I drink coffee.

Jake: Coffee is a scam. Be an adult. Take an Adderall. 

Grace: The average Hampton Deville employee strongly agrees with the following phrase. “If I see a pill, I eat a pill.” They smoke 275 cigarettes annually, 97 marijuana cigarettes, and due to some statistical outliers, the average employee does heroin.

Jake: I would never do heroin. Unless I was dying, or someone just offered it to me.

Matt: I don’t have a 401(k), so as of now, my retirement plan is to overdose on drugs.

Jake: Smart.

Grace: The average employee has 7.8 suicidal thoughts per day, 18 panic attacks a year, and wonders once an hour, every hour, why this is happening to them. And that concludes my presentation on how Hampton Deville employees cope with the pain of being alive.

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Amazon is a thriving business – thanks to your taxpayer dollars

The tech giant has received more than $1 billion in tax breaks. The government is also funding food stamps for many of its workers.

Jeff Bezos


As Amazon builds up its distribution network, it’s hit on a trick long practiced by the likes of Walmart: using the federal government to help pay its workers. A new study by Policy Matters Ohio found that more than 700 Amazon employees receive food stamps, or more than 10 percent of the tech giant’s 6,000-strong workforce in the state. Some of those recipients may be part-time help, but the fact that they need federal aid to survive suggests that they would be happy to work more. “Why is this giant, successful company offering such limited pay and hours of work that many of its workers need help buying food?” asked Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters.

Amazon ranks nineteenth among Ohio businesses in number of employees on food stamps, behind Walmart, McDonald’s, and Kroger. But Amazon is only the fifty-third-largest employer in Ohio, suggesting a higher rate of employees on food stamps than its counterparts. More important, Amazon has obtained at least $123 million in state tax incentives to place warehouse and data center locations in Ohio. This reflects a perverse form of double-dipping: Amazon gets a bounty to create jobs in Ohio, and then a good chunk of the jobs are so low-paying that workers have to seek federal assistance, providing a second subsidy for the e-commerce giant.

Cities and states are offering Amazon eye-popping tax subsidies to win its second headquarters. But smaller, existing tax incentives have already made Amazon the leading recipient of so-called “economic development” subsidies in the country. According to Good Jobs First, a non-profit that tracks state tax breaks, since 2000 Amazon has received $1.115 billion in 129 communities in the U.S., rocketing past the previous leader in this category: Walmart.

This was the result of a concerted strategy by Amazon. In 2012, the company hired Michael Grella, a specialist in economic development tax credits. The company created an entire team just to seek out these subsidies, in a continuation of its strategy to work the tax code to its advantage-first by not collecting sales tax and offering an effective discount on every product, and more recently to lower the cost of building new shipping facilities.

If a city or state shells out millions of dollars to attract Amazon, the least it can do is ensure that the resulting jobs lift people out of poverty. When Ohio gave Amazon $17 million for two distribution centers in Licking County, Amazon promised to hire at least 2,000 employees with a payroll of $60 million. That comes out to $30,000 per worker, barely above the $26,208 poverty line. Amazon subsequently hired many more employees than that baseline, but payroll has remained so low that a healthy number have to turn to food stamps, as the Policy Matters Ohio report shows.

The famously grueling jobs in Amazon warehouses have also created strains on local services. Bloomberg reported in October that emergency responders visit the Amazon warehouse in Licking County at least once a day to attend to an injured worker. Local residents have to fund those forays because Amazon pays no property tax in Licking County under their subsidy deal. Voters approved a $6.5 million property tax levy in November to keep the Fire Department operational.

The largesse bestowed on Amazon in Ohio is incredible. A deal for three Amazon data centers netted Amazon a 15-year exemption on property and sales taxes worth $77 million, a $4 million offset to payroll costs, and $1.4 million in cash, and only committed the company to 1,000 full-time jobs. A sorting facility in Twinsburg, Ohio, would only have ten full-time jobs, with the rest part-time or seasonal. No matter: Twinsburg gave a partial property tax exemption worth $600,000. Another warehouse opening in Euclid, outside of Cleveland, has yet to yield details on what the state kicked in.

Most of these deals go through a privatized economic development agency called JobsOhio, which doesn’t require as much transparency as a public agency about what taxpayers are getting for their money. JobsOhio continues to defend the Amazon deals as good for the state, claiming that full-time warehouse workers receive 30 percent higher compensation than the national retail worker average. That figure doesn’t bear out compared to independent data reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which puts Amazon wages 15 percent below the average wage in 11 metro areas, at only $11.96 an hour, a number roughly equivalent to the average retail wage.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a net worth of about $100 billion. Take that down to $99.5 billion and nobody working at any Amazon facility in America would need assistance to eat. But this is as much a problem with state and local governments who feel the need to give a fantastically wealthy corporation incentives to build facilities that are critical to its business model.

Amazon’s model of two-day or even same-day delivery of tens of thousands of products through its Prime service demands a large footprint across the country. If Amazon wants to live up to its shipping promises, they need to build warehouses virtually everywhere, beyond the roughly 140 fulfillment centers in operation today. “It requires at least one and sometimes multiple facilities in or near every major consumer market in the U.S.,” notes Good Jobs First in a report on Amazon subsidies.

So it’s not clear why any state or local government would pay Amazon to build something it already must build. Communities seeking jobs may feel the need to compete with neighbors to attract an Amazon warehouse. But to be as convenient as the neighborhood store, Amazon has to physically exist in the neighborhood. Any city with decent roads and a lot of Prime members will eventually become a candidate for a warehouse; they don’t need to top it off with a corporate handout.

If taxpayer dollars do keep flowing, governments have a duty to impose stringent standards for the number of jobs and the level of salaries and benefits that will result-and threaten to claw back the subsidies if those parameters are not met.

Economic development incentives don’t create jobs as much as they shift them around, pitting communities against one another for who can pony up the most corporate welfare. Companies rely on desperation in these communities, knowing they can win valuable incentives just by dangling a few low-wage jobs. But why aren’t they demanding that companies, in exchange for job-creation tax incentives, pay those new workers a livable wage?

David Dayen is the author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud.

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BALTIMORE Business owners say crime is out of control and scaring customers away….so they’ve hired private security officers to patrol the streets

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore City has passed the 300-homicide mark for the third year in a row, from 2015-2017, and business owners are taking matters into their own hands.

Business owners in Fells Point say the crime is out of control and is scaring customers away, so they’ve hired private security officers to patrol the streets.

Last year, 343 people were murder in the city. The violent spike in crime also found its way to the downtown and Inner Harbor areas.

The small business community has vowed to stop the bloodshed and keep residents and visitors safe. The Downtown Partnership shelled out a staggering $30,000 during the holiday season for extra security.

The money came from business owners and retailers who paid for more than a dozen private officers, who roamed downtown Baltimore for about two weeks, including the Inner Harbor for the New Year’s fireworks show.

“I don’t feel safe. I feel like they need to do more,” Brittney Johnson said.

Uniformed guides and security officers have been on guard, while maintenance crews have been tending to the district.

“It is the way we need to move forward for ourselves and for our businesses, because we can’t keep going the same direction that we’re going and not getting results,” said Points South Baltimore owner Bryson Keens.

Zelda Zen owner Beth said as the murder rate climbs, sales drop.

“The customers are not coming downtown,” Beth said.

The hired personnel have been also walking employees to their cars at night.

Some of the guards are armed, according to officials. The Downtown Partnership said they have ended the holiday security program but it will resume later in January.

Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook

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How to operate a one-man customer service department and still have time to run your business


In order for your small company to succeed, you need to have a firm grasp over all aspects of running a business – from accounting and marketing, all the way to manufacturing and distribution.

And while it’s definitely possible for you to handle all of those tasks on your own, there seems to be that one thing all business owners struggle with – customer service. It’s in your best interest to keep your customers happy and coming back, but the sheer number of requests, inquiries and questions is often overwhelming even for a team counting five or more members.

So, how do you approach this seemingly unsolvable problem? Easy. Hear us out.

1. Create a website for your business

You’re probably aware of how important having a website is, but you probably didn’t give much thought to how important having a responsive and reliable website is.

SITE123 is amazing website builder that allows its clients to create beautifully designed, fully responsive websites in minutes. As beautiful and easy to make they are, it’s not even their best feature. What we love about SITE123 is how safe and reliable it is. It also doesn’t hurt that it seamlessly integrates with dozens of third party apps that make your life much easier.

2. Add a custom contact form

Enabling your clients a fuss free way to contact you will, contrary to popular belief, make managing all of your customer service inquires much easier.

123ContactForm and JotForm are both incredibly easy to use online form builders you can find in SITE123’s App Market. They fit perfectly into any design you choose for your website, and you can customize it as much as you’d like.

That way, all of the requests and questions you receive will be stored in one place and easily accessible. Answering those inquires won’t take any longer than answering any of the emails you get, but having it all centralized will make all the difference.

3. Add a live chat

As great as contact forms are, sometimes people just need a super quick answer to a very specific question. When filling out a contact form and waiting for an answer just won’t do, that’s where live chats step in.

Live chat apps such as Intercom Live Chat make answering those kinds of customer inquires a breeze. Find them in SITE123’s App Market and add them to your website with a single click. You can create a custom greeting message and an automated response for when your customers reach out to you. Answering questions is as easy as texting, and the responsiveness and dedication will make your customers love you more.

Just by using these two simple tools and adding them to your website will enable you to manage your customer service department – on your own. Having everything centralized on your website means you won’t be spending hours on end answering customer messages, and you’ll be left with more time to focus on what’s important – growing your business.


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