Steps are being taken to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon, and we want to know: what would you pack for a trip to the Moon?
We will be conducting our last in a series of Green Run tests for the core stage of our Space Launch System (SLS) — the most powerful rocket ever built.
The series of tests is designed to gradually bring the rocket stage and all its systems to life for the first time. The Green Run test campaign will validate the SLS core stage design and ensure it’s ready for missions to the Moon through the agency’s Artemis program.
This is a critical time in the history of American spaceflight as NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.
Excited too? Share your excitement by thinking about what you would pack for the Moon! What can’t you leave the planet without? Is it your camera? Your drawing pad? Or maybe your musical instrument? How would you organize everything you need for your next giant leap?
Show us what’s in your suitcase with the hashtag #NASAMoonKit! https://bit.ly/3lLMm1S
Expert Mode: Realistically, astronauts have pretty tight constraints when it comes to their “personal preference kit.” Each astronaut is allowed a 5” by 8” by 2” (12.7 cm x 20.32 cm x 5.08 cm) volume when they travel to the International Space Station. Try to make your #NASAMoonKit fit into this tight space and show us how you did it with a picture or video!
Each astronaut is allowed a 5” by 8” by 2” (12.7 cm x 20.32 cm x 5.08 cm) volume when they travel to the International Space Station. Try to make your #NASAMoonKit fit into this tight space and show us how you did it with a picture or video!
How to Show Us What’s In Your #NASAMoonKit:
There are three social media platforms that you can use to submit your work.
• Instagram: Use the Instagram app to upload your photo or video, and in the description include #NASAMoonKit
• Twitter: Share your image on Twitter and include #NASAMoonKit in the tweet
• Facebook: Share your image on Facebook and include #NASAMoonKit in the post
If a #NASAMoonKit post catches our eye, we may share your post on our NASA social media accounts or share it on the Green Run broadcast.
• Terms and Conditions
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In the past months, we’ve seen a breakthrough in searches for terms such as “online graduation,” “staycation” and “virtual classroom.” As people form new consumption habits, a strong brand is more valuable than ever. It allows you to stand out in the marketplace at a time when customers are on the lookout for the products and services that will be part of their new routines.
Today, we’re introducing a series of tools in Display & Video 360 and Campaign Manager to help you grow your brand and navigate the connected TV and digital video boom—including improved reach forecasting and measurement capabilities, more TV and video ad placements, and a solution to reach new engaged audiences on connected TV.
Real time reach forecasting that takes your deals into account
With most TV production shut down for parts of the spring and summer months, and the upfronts heavily disrupted, you may be approaching show premieres seasons with less visibility into your media plans than in years’ past. While forecasting ad spend has been more difficult than ever, planning tools that are tightly connected to your media buying platform can help you assess your media plans on the go and quickly optimize your ad strategy.
We’re further improving Display & Video 360’s forecasting tool by adding support for programmatic deals. In a few weeks, you’ll be able to include deals in your deduplicated reach estimate, which already includes open auction and YouTube. This is particularly helpful for media planners working with brands that want to connect with TV viewers because most connected TV ads are secured via deals. With this added functionality, planners will be able to more easily answer questions such as, “How much incremental reach could I get by combining a network CTV deal with YouTube reservation and open auction video ads?”
Forecasting the combined reach of a connected TV deal, a YouTube lineup and in-stream video ads in Display & Video 360.
New streaming opportunities to reach your7 audiences where they are
Brands that can connect with their audiences as their interests and needs evolve have a head start on driving brand awareness for the long term. Buying media with a platform that gives you access to a large and varied portfolio of streaming content helps you reach these audiences in a more flexible way.
Today, Display & Video 360 provides access to the top 50 most watched ad supported connected TV apps in the US, according to Comscore. And to give you even more options to find your audience, we’re making more popular YouTube inventory available in Display & Video 360. For example, we integrated YouTube TV into the list of YouTube content you can reserve and manage – accessible via the streaming TV lineup. We’ve also just opened up access to Masthead ads, the prominent space in YouTube’s Home feed. This beta feature includes the YouTube Masthead on TV screens.
Lastly, we’re exploring other innovative canvases for brands to increase awareness. For instance, media and entertainment marketers in the US are currently testing a new cinematic teaser format that fits the look and feel of Android TV’s home screen.
Find new engaged connected TV audiences
Life in the new normal includes more connected TV watch time than before. To help marketers make the most of this extra reach opportunity, we’ve recently extended our similar audience functionality to connected TV devices in Display & Video 360. This feature allows you to find new connected TV viewers who share similarities with the audiences you already know.
For example, if you’re an auto brand who has seen success in reaching “Truck & SUV Enthusiasts” with Google affinity audiences, you will now be able to easily reach additional connected TV viewers who have similar attributes to this group. Or if you know that people who use your mobile app are more likely to schedule a test drive, you can show your ads to connected TV viewers who have similarities with your app users.
Similar audiences can be used to extend your reach across connected TV inventory sources in Display & Video 360.
Durable reach measurement in Display & Video 360 and Campaign Manager
Marketers are on the hook to connect marketing spend with tangible results. This includes being able to provide a clear picture of any ad campaign’s reach and frequency performance. To give marketers an accurate and durable view of how they reach people across Display & Video 360 and Campaign Manager, we’re increasing our investment in Unique Reach solutions.
First, we’ve launched Unique Reach Audience reporting. This report further extends unique reach measurement to include demographic insights. So while you could already answer the question ‘How many unique users did my ad reach?’, you can now also answer the question ‘How many unique users within a particular demographic did my ad reach?’
Second, using the IAB’s Identifier for Advertising (IFA) standard, we’ve added Unique Reach support for connected TV devices. This capability gives brands a more precise understanding of the impact of ads on connected TVs and better articulates their contribution to the overall reach and frequency performance of digital advertising.
Building for the future, we’re continuing to replace cookie-based reach with Unique Reach across our products. Next up, frequency distribution and viewable reach measurement will soon be based off of Unique Reach. This will help you report on these metrics even when cookies aren’t available.
To learn more ways to build your brand in this new world, check out this new collection of resources on our Advertising Solutions Center
So far, permanent moves are relatively flat. But short-term moves did spike in March and April, with people mostly leaving big cities.
Real Estate Is Experiencing a Rebalancing, Says Redfin CEO
The anecdotal evidence of temporary moves during the coronavirus pandemic has been building: tourist towns overrun with newcomers, elite Manhattan neighborhoods emptied by those who left for vacation houses, young people across the U.S. living with their parents.
Now new data from the U.S. Postal Service puts a figure behind the people who may have made short-term moves: Temporary moves were up 27% between February and July 2020 in the U.S. compared to the same period last year. The data, obtained and analyzed by moving tools and resources company MYMOVE, also shows that permanent changes of address increased by just 1.9% year over year.
Together, these figures likely represent the most comprehensive snapshot yet of migration patterns during coronavirus — capturing more than 15 million moves. And they provide some insight into the departures and destinations for some of these Americans.
Every year, millions of Americans file a change of home address with USPS to get their mail forwarded when they won’t be living in their home. This change can be either temporary — six months or less — or permanent. As the month-by-month chart below shows, temporary moves were higher than 2019 in every month between March and July, but spiked most dramatically in March as the pandemic hit in the U.S. and stay-at-home orders began.
More Temporary Moves
The number of temporary change of address requests peaked during Covid
Source: MYMOVE analysis of USPS data
MYMOVE also provided some but not all data on where people moved from and to. Among temporary and permanent movers combined, the places that saw the greatest net loss in movers were big cities, and the places that saw the greatest net gains were smaller and midsized towns and cities, several of which are in Texas.
A major caveat on this data is that it is not broken out between temporary and permanent moves, and several of the cities on these lists likely reflect the migrations of temporary movers. East Hampton, for example, became a popular destination for wealthy city-dwellers with access to vacation homes.
As Pew analyst D’Vera Cohn told MYMOVE for their analysis, “Among those who moved due to the virus, 13% [of respondents] told us they moved to a second home or vacation home, many of which probably are outside of cities,” according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
Cities that gained the most movers between February and July 2020
Source: MYMOVE analysis of USPS data
Note: Net losses obtained by subtracting the number of moves in from the number of moves out, both temporary and permanent
Other cities on the list could represent more permanent moves to primary residences. Frisco, Texas, for example, a midsized city on the edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, is among the communities that have seen jumps in home sales. Amy Herzog, a listing agent with Century 21 in Frisco, says she’s mostly selling to families who are interested in moving to the “country.”
“I’ve never had so many clients in my life.” said Herzog. “Internet’s the big factor, that’s the question I get: Make sure they have good internet.”
Among those cities that saw more people move out than move in, Manhattan and Brooklyn together saw the greatest number of movers by far. Most of the places on this list were indeed America’s largest cities, but some midsized Florida locations such as Naples and Fort Myers also saw net losses.
Cities that lost the most movers between February and July 2020
Source: MYMOVE analysis of USPS data
Note: Net losses obtained by subtracting the number of moves in from the number of moves out, both temporary and permanent
Because the data represent temporary and permanent moves together, it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions, as the two phenomena represent distinct trends that could have very different implications for cities. It’s not yet clear how much temporary moves could affect the long-term fates of cities, or how many total moves will turn out to be permanent.
One big question has been whether people are “fleeing” cities on a more permanent basis. As CityLab has previously reported, there has not been clear evidence — yet — to support a pattern of people permanently moving nationwide. But among the people who are making permanent moves, the patterns so far seem to be diverse, and vary by location.
Data from national moving company United Van Lines found that among people who used its moving service, some of the top destinations for those leaving New York City and San Francisco were other big cities, including Seattle, Austin and Atlanta. While these figures are not comprehensive enough to show any widespread migration patterns, they do suggest that people leaving these cities may be going to a variety of destinations — including other big metropolitan areas.
The numbers of people moving out of large cities in the USPS data may raise some new cause for concern among cities, even though many of those moves may turn out to be temporary. But one caveat in MYMOVE’s analysis was that these moving patterns largely follow — and in some cases accelerate — pre-pandemic trends.
“When you take a look at 2020’s 10 most moved-out-of cities and compare them to the previous year, you see that the list remains relatively consistent. Eight of the 10 cities make both lists,” wrote MYMOVE editor Jessa O’Connor, who spearheaded the study. The difference, she said, is that the numbers of people leaving these cities increased — dramatically in the case of Manhattan, which lost almost six times the number of movers in 2020 as in 2019. This could mean, for example, that some people who were already planning to move to the suburbs expedited their plans.
The USPS figures on nationwide permanent moves also add more detail to the story. Data previously reported by CityLab from several national moving companies suggested that permanent moves actually decreased year over year during the height of shelter-in-place orders. Moving company Hire a Helper reported that people requesting their moving services dropped in all U.S. states between March 11 and June 30. The change of address filings, while still likely excluding or miscategorizing some moves, is a far more comprehensive dataset, and it also looks at a longer period of time. As the the chart below shows, overall moves did decrease during the similar period, especially in May and June, but started to increase again in July.
Permanent Moves Slowed Down Slightly
The number of permanent changes of address spiked in March, then decreased slightly in May and June
Source: MYMOVE analysis of USPS data
O’Connor and her team plan on revisiting the data in the coming months to see how many of those temporary moves might become permanent, or vise versa.
COMPASS, the Compass logo, and other various trademarks, logos, designs, and slogans are the registered and unregistered trademarks of Urban Compass, Inc. dba Compass in the U.S. and/or other countries.
When we talk about contemporary design, we immediately think about design with simple clean lines, strong colours, sometimes with minimalist decorations. Contemporary design is very popular nowadays, because of its simplicity and beauty. Elegance and simplicity must come to the fore. In addition to well-chosen material for building and making furniture, it is very important and the layout of the rooms, then good lighting and the large windows.
POne user said the Robinhood said it would investigate and respond within ‘a few weeks.’ Now her money is gone
Robinhood says the issue of lost money for some users doesn’t stem from a breach of its systems. PHOTO BY ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG FILES
It took Soraya Bagheri a day to learn that 450 shares of Moderna Inc. had been liquidated in her Robinhood account and that $10,000 in withdrawals were pending. But after alerting the online brokerage to what she believed was a theft in progress, she received a frustrating email.
The firm wrote it would investigate and respond within “a few weeks.” Now her money is gone.
Expecting a pay raise next year? Don’t count on it.
Bagheri is among five Robinhood customers who recounted similar experiences to Bloomberg News, saying they’ve been left in limbo in recent weeks after someone sold their investments and withdrew funds. Because the wildly popular app has no emergency phone number, some said they tried in vain to intervene, only to watch helplessly as their money vanished.
“A limited number of customers appear to have had their Robinhood account targeted by cyber criminals because of their personal email account (that which is associated with their Robinhood account) being compromised outside of Robinhood,” a spokesman for the company said in an email. “We’re actively working with those impacted to secure their accounts.”
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The issue didn’t stem from a breach of Robinhood’s systems, the spokesman said.
‘This is addicting’: How the new retail investor mania is changing the stock market game
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Bagheri, a Washington attorney, and three other Robinhood users said they also contacted authorities including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Two of those customers said they have heard back from an official at the SEC seeking more information.
Finra and the SEC declined to comment.
Robinhood, founded seven years ago and based in Menlo Park, California, has exploded in popularity this year as millions of Americans stuck at home — including throngs of millennials — look to make some money during a pandemic that has sent stock prices swinging. But the no-fee brokerage app has also attracted consumer complaints, with novice investors confused by the vagaries of stock options and margin loans.
Now, even though the firm said this year that it has more than doubled its customer-service team, clients complain they’re struggling to get quick help when their funds are disappearing.
“They don’t have a customer service line, which I’m quite shocked about,” Bagheri said.
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Pruthvi Rao, a Chicago software engineer, said his account was hit on Oct. 6. His bet on Netflix Inc. was liquidated and US$2,850 was soon withdrawn. He said he’s sent more than a dozen emails to Robinhood’s customer support address, and that he even tried messaging some of the brokerage’s executives on LinkedIn.
“I’m in tremendous mental stress right now because this is all of my savings,” said Rao, 32, whose account was frozen by Robinhood in response to the fraudulent activity.
I’m in tremendous mental stress right now because this is all of my savings
He showed Bloomberg the same emailed response from Robinhood that Bagheri received. “We understand the sensitivity of your situation and will be escalating the matter to our fraud investigations team,” Robinhood customer service agents wrote them. “Please be aware that this process may take a few weeks, and the team working on your case won’t be able to provide constant updates.”
Rao said he had previously set up two-factor authentication to access his account, and Bagheri said she’s certain her Robinhood password is unique from all others, including her email. Neither believed they had been duped by phishing scams or malware. Both said they use the same email for Robinhood and other accounts, and that only Robinhood has been affected.
They also said Robinhood’s online portal showed their money went to a recipient at Revolut, another popular financial-technology startup. London-based Revolut, which offers a money transfer and exchange app, expanded to the U.S. this year.
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“Revolut has been made aware of the issue and is investigating urgently,” spokesman Kiran Wylie said Friday in an email.
Bill Hurley, who owns a metal-fabrication shop in Windsor, Connecticut, said he received notifications that stock and Bitcoin had been sold from his account on Sept. 21, and that US$5,000 was transferred to Revolut accounts in two transactions. He said he emailed Robinhood for assistance while the transactions were pending but received none.
“They’ve had more than enough time to deal with this,” he said.
Hurley, 56, said he reached out to the SEC and heard back from a lawyer for the regulator, who asked for additional information on what had happened.
After more than two weeks of emails seeking help from Robinhood, a customer support representative called him on Thursday, he said.
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How the merger bid for a small, Shariah-compliant REIT became the subject of confrontational shareholder capitalism.
Singapore loves REITs. Photographer: Maverick Asio/SOPA/LightRocket/Getty
There’s a glitzy side of Singapore property: the cavernous shopping malls; the tall office buildings; the pricey condominiums; the luxury hotels; and the hospitals where rich Indonesians and Bangladeshis seek treatment and five-star customer service.
But there’s also a vibrant market at the non-sexy end of the spectrum: the warehouses, the factory sheds and, increasingly, the data centers. Their owners are industrial real estate investment trusts, which collect rent and pass it on to unitholders. It’s something that appeals to an aging population that values the certainty of dividends more than the headiness of growth.
Some landlords, like Mapletree Industrial Trust, command market prices twice their net asset values. Others, like Sabana Shari’ah Compliant Industrial REIT, or Sabana REIT, trade at a chronic discount. This column is about Sabana, and how it became a vehicle in a Swiss value investor’s campaign to make confrontational shareholder capitalism work in polite and obedient Singapore.
Sabana is among the smallest of Singapore REITs: Its 18 properties across the island-state add up to a little more than 4 million square feet. But it has historically had big problems of governance and performance. In 2017, Sabana scrapped a property purchase from its then sponsor under pressure from unitholders; the REIT manager’s chief executive officer quit.
Still, performance remained lackluster. In September 2018, Sabana agreed to sell a factory site for less than half its book value, but the buyer couldn’t secure regulatory approvals and abandoned the deal. The factory spent all last year earning nothing. A warehouse also became tenantless in the fourth quarter of 2019, shaving a few percentage points off the property owner’s low occupancy rate.
Some REITs Get All The Love
Singapore’s Sabana, a factory landlord, could never make a mark, either with tenants or with investors.
It was relief to unitholders when in June last year control passed to to ESR Cayman Ltd., a Hong Kong-based logistics firm that owned another industrial landlord in Singapore. ESR-REIT is nearly four times as big as Sabana. The change in ownership perked up the interest of Jan Moermann, a Swiss who’s acquired a reputation as an activist investor in Singapore. Assisted by its Malaysian-born, Singapore-citizen research head Havard Chi, Moermann’s Quarz Capital Management Ltd. was already building a stake because it believed Sabana had good properties that could be managed better.
Toward the end of last year, Moermann called on ESR Cayman to merge its two Singapore real-estate trusts. Both Sabana and ESR-REIT were competing in the same market for industrial property. Conflict was a possibility, even though the managers of the two trusts say they don’t share information on strategy or operations.
Moermann put a value of 54.5 Singapore cents ($0.4) apiece on Sabana shares in a cash-plus-stock deal. But when the all-stock merger with ESR-REIT was finally announced in July, each Sabana unit was implicitly judged to be worth less than 38 Singapore cents, way below the book value of 51 cents. “We’re not here to fight over who gets one more piece of salami on the pizza,” said Adrian Chui, chief executive officer of ESR-REIT. “We want the pizza to become bigger.”
The Sabana management has publicly said that swapping 100 units for 94 units of ESR is a fair deal. That’s nearly 12% more than what the trust’s investors would have got from the market on average in the two years prior to the announcement.
Swapping 100 shares of Sabana for 94 of ESR is more than what unitholders would have got on average in the stock market — not of late, though
The question for unitholders isn’t so much whether ESR is a good home, but whether they can move in on better terms or aspire for a different sanctuary. Donald Han, the Sabana manager’s CEO, is right: Small in his business is unsexy. Even with low debt, the landlord can’t grow because most assets are already pledged. However, if ESR can secure cheaper refinancing for those properties, so can another strong owner. Now that Sabana is adding a 35,000-square-feet retail and F&B component to its flagship property, dropping the Shariah compliance tag to allow tenants that deal in alcohol or pork could also be of modest help.
Scouting for suitors from around the world after the Covid-19 travel restrictions end might throw up alternatives. Conversely, it’s also possible that the pandemic dislocation, combined with Singapore’s tightening restrictions on foreign workers, will erode the value of industrial properties, hurting Sabana unitholders if they hold out. Their portfolio is too small to afford the downtime involved in costly redevelopment.
Quarz and Hong Kong-based Black Crane Capital, which own 11% of the Sabana stock between them, are prepared to vote against the current offer when a shareholders’ meeting is called. They’re also asking the current Sabana management to leave if the merger fails.
In Singapore’s West-meets-East culture, people in positions of authority are rarely challenged so openly. Yet someone needs to do it. The chief of city’s Securities Investors Association invited the managers of the two merging entities and an analyst to discuss the deal. The moderation was courteous, and the participants agreed on everything.
How can there be a market without disagreement? Thanks to Moermann’s activism, the Monetary Authority of Singapore got involved to give its views on resolving conflict in situations where competing REITs are under single control. Mak Yuen Teen, a Singapore business professor, questioned the independence of a director on the Sabana manager’s board, drawing a reply.
“We try to make our criticism as constructive as possible,” says Moermann. “From the point of view of unitholders, this merger is not a necessity at all.”
The pandemic will leave a long shadow on rents and interest rates. This matters for Singapore, where every third dollar changing hands on the local exchange is because of buying or selling in a REIT. With all the uncertainties of the post-Covid economy, the least investors expect is that someone shine a light on their behalf, not just in gleaming storefronts and condominiums, but in gloomy warehouses and factory yards. For now, that job has gone to a foreigner.
(For more on the Quarz-Black Crane campaign, and the Sabana manager’s response, click here and here.)
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
A living room with a view. Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg
Something big is missing from Singapore’s picturesque and impeccably maintained highway linking downtown with Changi A¬irport: traffic.
The collapse in international travel has hit the city-state especially hard. Borders are shut to tourists and much of Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s proud fleet is mothballed. The idea of “flights to nowhere” had even been floated — effectively three-hour sight-seeing trips that would be bundled with staycations, shopping vouchers and limousine services. Now that has been scrapped for a plan to serve lunch aboard a grounded jumbo jet, a tour of the carrier’s training facilities and home delivery of first- and business class meals.
The ability to get in and out of a nation that takes about 30 minutes to traverse has been a big draw for the more than one million expatriates who live here. Non-Singaporeans make up more than half of senior management roles in financial services. The idea of being stuck flying in circles has many rethinking the informal bargain they’ve struck with the city they call home. A big part of that was the opportunity to work in a dynamic region and experience diverse cultures and nations for a few years. In return, Singapore got talent, industrialization and unique ties to global networks, vital for a country without a hinterland or natural resources.
Singapore’s modus operandi has been to make itself a base camp for global capitalism and the people who make it tick. Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s first leader, laid out the welcome mat for multinational corporations: first for textiles, ship maintenance and petrochemicals, then for electronics, tourism and finance. Changi Airport, top-notch public transport, a commitment to education, and political stability made the city an appealing place to live. Relatively low tax rates only sweetened the deal (except for Americans, who need to pay income tax no matter where they live).
Now Lee’s vision is running into the wall of Covid-19. Singapore’s economy shrank a record 42.9% on an annualized basis in the second quarter from the previous three months, the deepest economic contraction since independence in 1965. While data point to a bounce before year-end, the government projects gross domestic product to decline as much as 7% in 2020. This has sharply refocused public discourse. Opportunities for locals are the priority.
When companies do pare headcount, they are prevailed upon to keep Singaporeans at the core of their staffing. Local press reports of legislative proceedings highlight references to a closely held list of firms on a watch list for their hiring practices. Banking and finance has fallen under heightened scrutiny. The government, which lost seats to the opposition in July’s general election, has tightened rules around employment visas for foreigners by raising minimum salaries twice this year. Figures released last week showed Singapore’s population fell slightly to 5.69 million in the year through June, the first drop since 2003. Work permit holders saw the largest decrease.
“We cannot sustain our openness if we do not provide enough opportunities for our own people,” Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told the Singapore Summit on Sept. 14. “It is not socially or politically sustainable. No society can be blindly open.”
Singapore is slowly cranking back to life after a strict lockdown. Throngs pulse through malls and hawker centers in suburbs of central Singapore. Subway trains are often full. A pilot scheme for international executives to travel in the region — under a strictly controlled itinerary and subject to Covid testing — is in the works. Children under six are no longer required to wear a mask.
But while the government will allow more people into their offices, work-from-home remains the default. As long as that’s the case, and the airport remains effectively a no-go zone, the more folks realize they don’t actually need to be in Singapore to do their jobs. If teams across Asia can be managed by Zoom from the living room, then that living room could be anywhere.
This realization is crystallizing as the headlines splashed across Singapore’s major English-language newspaper, the Straits Times, openly debate the role foreigners play in the economy. Far from feeling welcome, expats now spend a lot of time looking over their shoulders. Employers are quietly urging them to avoid anything that might attract attention.
That’s left many wondering whether uprooting their families has been worth it. You don’t have to come to Singapore for the privilege of getting laid off. Schools fret about families packing up. And those regional offices executives are sent here to run? They need to be able to get into them.
The caricature of the European sipping a gin and tonic under a shady tree with rent and school fees taken care of, pampered by maids, is woefully out of date. Relatively few employers these days pick up the tab for housing and tuition. Relocation company staff say the glory days of the expat packages ended with the global financial crisis. With economic warfare raging between China and the U.S., and fashionable talk about the world dividing into rival blocs, is an Asian experience still the resume booster it once was? A gig here feels no more secure than one at home.
As a 10-year-old boy, the flight returning to Australia from a family vacation in Europe stopped at the old Paya Lebar airport; I remember taking in the exotic night smells and marveling at the lights of hundreds of ships anchored just offshore. As a newly minted college graduate, Singapore was my first stop on a cross-Asia trip. Living in Malaysia in the late 1990s, visits to the city-state were a balm for the haphazardness of Kuala Lumpur. I returned with a young family last year. We pay taxes, live in a middle-class neighborhood and, through our spending, try to support the economy. I hope the shatter zone of the pandemic isn’t the end of our journey together.
Microsoft will accelerate digitization of the public sector and businesses with access to local cloud services and skill a minimum of 100,000 people in Greece in digital technologies
ATHENS, Greece – October 5, 2020 – Microsoft Corp. announced today its “GR for GRowth” initiative, a significant technology commitment to support the people, government and businesses of all sizes in Greece with technology and resources to create new opportunities for growth. As part of the plan, Microsoft announced its intent to build new datacenters that will establish a Microsoft Cloud region in the country, adding Greece to the world’s largest cloud infrastructure footprint and delivering access to low-latency, enterprise-grade cloud services. To support citizens in both professional and personal ambitions, Microsoft also announced its plan to skill approximately 100,000 people in Greece in digital technologies by 2025.
Microsoft President Brad Smith made the announcement at the New Acropolis Museum alongside Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece Prime Minister, and Theodosis Michalopoulos, General Manager of Microsoft Greece, Cyprus and Malta.
“Today’s commitment to the people and businesses of Greece will position the country among the digital leaders of Europe. A Microsoft datacenter region provides a competitive advantage to our digital economy. At the same time, it is a long-term investment and a vote of confidence in our country’s potential. The cloud is transforming every industry and sector. The investment in skilling 100,000 citizens will empower today and tomorrow’s Greek workforce,” said Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“By a substantial margin, this is the largest investment Microsoft has made in Greece in the 28 years we have been operating here. In part, this reflects confidence that our world-leading datacenter technology can help enable innovation and growth across Greece’s economy. In addition, this large investment reflects our optimism about Greece’s future, its forward-leaning government, and the country’s ongoing economic recovery,” said Brad Smith, President, Microsoft.
“Microsoft has a rich 28-year history in Greece with a growing ecosystem of 3,000 partners and customers, including startups, enterprises and NGOs. Today, with plans for Microsoft’s first datacenter region in the country and the holistic ‘GR for GRowth’ plan, we are building on this work, leveling up our contribution to the country’s economy. Our commitment is to be a technology ally in driving growth, now and for the generations to come for our country,” said Theodosis Michalopoulos, General Manager of Microsoft Greece Cyprus and Malta.
Delivering the Microsoft Cloud in Greece
Today’s announcement will pave the way for local companies, startups and institutions to fully utilize the potential of cloud computing, while maintaining the highest cybersecurity, data residency and compliance standards.
The Greece datacenter region will join Microsoft’s global footprint of cloud regions, now totaling 63 regions announced, with Microsoft Azure available in over 140 countries, and will provide companies local access to Microsoft’s full set of cloud services, all built on a foundation of trust:
• Microsoft Azure: An ever-expanding set of cloud services that offers computing, networking, databases, analytics, AI and IoT services.
• Microsoft 365: The world’s productivity cloud that delivers best-of-breed productivity apps integrated through cloud services and delivered as part of an open platform for business processes.
• Dynamics 365 and Power Platform: The next generation of intelligent business applications that enable organizations to grow, evolve and transform to meet the needs of customers and capture new opportunities.
• Compliance, security and privacy: Microsoft offers more than 90 certifications and spends $1 billion every year on cybersecurity to address security at every layer of the cloud. Microsoft’s Greece datacenter region will help companies comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and will also help customers store data at rest in Greece.
• Sustainably operated: As part of Microsoft’s global commitment to be carbon negative by 2030, the company will shift to 100 percent supply of renewable energy for its datacenters by 2025.
Accelerating digital transformation and innovation
Leading companies of Greece are already using Microsoft’s cloud to ensure their seamless operation, optimize their processes and increase customer satisfaction through advanced collaboration and cloud development services. Today, we are proud to announce that Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank of Greece, OTE Group, Piraeus Bank, Public Power Corporation (DEI) have all expressed their intent to use the Microsoft Cloud services when available from the new region in Greece.
In addition, Microsoft’s cloud services will play a key role in creating new ways to digitally preserve, celebrate and experience the culture of Greece. As part of Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage program, the company is collaborating with the Ministry of Culture and Sports to bring the Ancient City of Olympia to life using artificial intelligence and other technologies. The immersive, 3D presentation of the monuments and artifacts will give people around the world the opportunity to experience them as they were nearly 3,000 years ago. The project has been approved by the Archaeological Council (KAS) and will be available in 2021.
Skilling Greece’s workforce of tomorrow
The final pillar of today’s announcement is Microsoft’s plan to expand employment opportunities for local professionals and youth over the next five years. Microsoft aims to boost the digital competencies of an estimated 100,000 public sector, business and IT professionals, educators, and students to support the digital transformation of public and private organizations. This ambitious goal will be achieved over the next five years, through a three-pronged skilling program that includes online and physical courses and workshops:
• The broad and dedicated upskilling of Microsoft’s customer and partner ecosystems.
• The launch of a new skilling initiative in collaboration with the government especially designed for the civil servants covering the public-sector needs of modernization and digitization.
• Expansion and further investment in the existing programs with ReGeneration focusing on youth, unemployed and underserved communities, leveraging LinkedIn Learning, MS Learn and GitHub training programs.
Microsoft’s “GR for GRowth” initiative is a significant step for Greece, with technology as a catalyst for growth, providing people and businesses the tools and expertise to thrive and innovate in the digital era
While all of us are focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to forget about the world’s longest-running pandemic—cholera. Over the last 200 years the deadly diarrheal disease, which thrives in areas without safe water and sanitation, has killed millions of people. The current cholera pandemic—the world’s seventh—started in 1961, spreading from South Asia to Africa and the Americas. Every year, cholera outbreaks around the globe affect about 4 million people and lead to as many as 130,000 deaths.
An affordable, effective, and safe oral cholera vaccine, however, is proving to be a game changer in the fight against this often-forgotten disease. Thanks in large part to recent cholera vaccination campaigns, the number of cholera cases decreased globally by 60 percent in 2018, according to the World Health Organization. Though 2019 saw an increase in cases, the total number of cholera deaths fell by 36 percent.
This breakthrough has been the life’s work of Dr. Firdausi Qadri, an immunologist and infectious disease researcher in Bangladesh. For the last 25 years, Dr. Qadri has been one of the few people advocating for an affordable vaccine to protect entire communities from cholera epidemics.
While there have been several cholera vaccines since the late 19th century, they were expensive and in short supply. In the early 2000s, the main cholera vaccine available was largely used by travelers from rich countries and was not practical for use in vaccination campaigns of poor communities at risk of the disease.
In 2011, Dr. Qadri and her team at the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease and Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) led a feasibility study on a newer, more affordable oral cholera vaccine, Shanchol. The study, which was done in partnership with our foundation, showed that the inexpensive vaccine could be an effective tool in stopping the spread of cholera in poor, urban environments, giving people more than 50 percent protection against the disease.
Dr. Qadri’s study—the largest trial of its kind—helped lead to a complete change in thinking about how the world could tackle the challenge of cholera. “You can have very good water, sanitation, education, good homes and people won’t have cholera. But until that happens, you need to stop the misery. You need to control the disease,” Dr. Qadri said. “And the vaccine is a one-stop solution.”
To be sure, access to clean water and sanitation are still critically important for controlling cholera in the long-term. During the 19th century, as cholera spread around the world from its original reservoir in India, outbreaks were eventually brought under control in America and Europe through huge investments in water and sewer systems. And work continues to improve access to clean water and sanitation in low-income countries. But infrastructure improvements can be expensive and take time to build and maintain. Cholera vaccination campaigns provide an important tool to save lives immediately and buy time for communities to pursue longer-term water and sanitation solutions.
In 2013, the WHO helped create an oral cholera vaccine stockpile, to contain and prevent outbreaks. Since then, more than 60 million doses have been shipped worldwide. In addition to Shanchol, a second affordable cholera vaccine, Euvichol, is now available, helping to increase vaccine supplies. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is supporting countries to use the cholera vaccine to target cholera “hotspots”—areas at highest risk—to prevent outbreaks before they happen.
This preventive approach will be even more critical in the years ahead because climate change, urbanization, and population growth create ideal conditions for the spread of cholera. Humanitarian crises are also a breeding ground for the disease. The civil war in Yemen, for example, has led to the largest and fastest-spreading cholera outbreak in modern history, infecting millions and killing more than 3,000 people since 2016.
Still, progress is being made. In Bangladesh, the arrival in 2017 of nearly one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar into overcrowded camps raised concerns about a cholera epidemic. Working with the government, Dr. Qadri led a vaccination program that has helped prevent an outbreak.
“If this vaccination was not carried out, there would be chaotic conditions,” Dr. Qadri said. “We were able to prevent a major, major epidemic and deaths.”
Successes like this have helped fuel new optimism in the fight against cholera. The Global Task Force on Cholera Control, hosted by the World Health Organization, is a partnership of more than 50 institutions all working together to end cholera. The task force’s strategy aims to reduce cholera deaths by 90 percent by 2030, and eliminate cholera in 20 countries, targeting areas where the disease is endemic and shifting from outbreak response to outbreak prevention.
Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Qadri, the world is making progress toward this goal. And maybe someday cholera will be a disease that can truly be forgotten.