Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Business: Myers Rum among Drinks Brands Offloaded by Diageo

British drinks giant Diageo announced Monday the sale of Seagram's VO whisky and 18 other brands to US firm Sazerac for US$550 million, to focus on premium US labels.

The deal, worth 488 million euros, will also see Diageo offload Seagram's 83 and Seagram's Five Star, as well as Goldschlager schnapps, Myers's rum, Peligroso tequila, Popov vodka and Romana Sambuca.
Net proceeds of £340 million (US$440 million), after tax and transaction costs, will be returned to shareholders via a stock repurchase.

“Diageo has a clear strategy to deliver consistent efficient growth and value creation for our shareholders,” said chief executive Ivan Menezes in a statement.

“This includes a disciplined approach to allocating resources and capital, to ensure we maximise returns over time. The disposal of these brands enables us to have even greater focus on the faster-growing premium and above brands in the US sprits portfolio.”

The deal, subject to regulatory approval, is set to be completed early next year.

Diageo also produces Guinness stout, Smirnoff vodka, Baileys liqueur and Johnnie Walker whisky.
In 2017 the London-listed giant bought Casamigos, an upscale super premium tequila brand co-founded by Hollywood star George Clooney.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Business: NYC and "suburban D.C" are Amazon's picks for new HQ

New York City and Northern Virginia will be the homes for Amazon's second and third headquarters, according to people familiar with the matter, ending a more than yearlong public contest that started with 238 candidates and ended with a surprise split of its so-called HQ2.
The imminent announcement is expected as soon as Tuesday, according to the people. Other cities may also receive major sites, some of the people said.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Celebrity: Stan Lee, "Real-Life" Superhero" behind Iconic Comic titles, dies, Age 95

-Hollywood Reporter
Stan Lee, the legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics whose fantabulous but flawed creations made him a real-life superhero to comic book lovers everywhere, has died. He was 95. 
Lee, who began in the business in 1939 and created or co-created Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among countless other characters, died early Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a family representative told The Hollywood Reporter.
Kirk Schenck, an attorney for Lee's daughter, J.C. Lee, also confirmed his death.
Lee's final few years were tumultuous. After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, he sued executives at POW! Entertainment — a company he founded in 2001 to develop film, TV and video game properties — for $1 billion alleging fraud, then abruptly dropped the suit weeks later. He also sued his ex-business manager and filed for a restraining order against a man who had been handling his affairs. (Lee's estate is estimated to be worth as much as $70 million.) And in June 2018, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department had been investigating reports of elder abuse against him.
On his own and through his work with frequent artist-writer collaborators Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others, Lee catapulted Marvel from a tiny venture into the world's No. 1 publisher of comic books and, later, a multimedia giant.
In 2009, The Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, and most of the top-grossing superhero films of all time — led by Avengers: Infinity War's $2.05 billion worldwide take earlier this year — have featured Marvel characters.
"I used to think what I did was not very important," he told the Chicago Tribune in April 2014. "People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes. But I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed."
Lee's fame and influence as the face and figurehead of Marvel, even in his nonagenarian years, remained considerable.
“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created," Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. "A superhero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain and to connect. The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart."
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige also paid tribute. “No one has had more of an impact on my career and everything we do at Marvel Studios than Stan Lee," Feige said. "Stan leaves an extraordinary legacy that will outlive us all. Our thoughts are with his daughter, his family and the millions of fans who have been forever touched by Stan’s genius, charisma and heart.”
The Manhattan-born Lee wrote, art-directed and edited most of Marvel's series and newspaper strips. He also penned a monthly comics column, “Stan's Soapbox,” signing off with his signature phrase, “Excelsior!” 
His way of doing things at Marvel was to brainstorm a story with an artist, then write a synopsis. After the artist drew the story panels, Lee filled in the word balloons and captions. The process became known as “The Marvel Method.”
Lee collaborated with artist-writer Kirby on the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Silver Surfer and X-Men. With artist-writer Ditko he created Spider-Man and the surgeon Doctor Strange, and with artist Bill Everett came up with the blind superhero Daredevil.
Such collaborations sometimes led to credit disputes: Lee and Ditko reportedly engaged in bitter fights, and both receive writing credit on the Spider-Man movies and TV shows. "I don't want anyone to think I treated Kirby or Ditko unfairly," he told Playboy magazine in April 2014. "I think we had a wonderful relationship. Their talent was incredible. But the things they wanted weren't in my power to give them."
Like any Marvel employee, Lee had no rights to the characters he helped create and received no royalties.
In the 1970s, Lee importantly helped push the boundaries on censorship in comics, delving into serious and topical subject matter in a medium that had become mindless, kid-friendly entertainment.
In 1954, the publication of psychologist Frederic Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent had spurred calls for the government to regulate violence, sex, drug use, questioning of public authority figures, etc., in the comics as a way to curtail "juvenile delinquency." Wary publishers headed that off by forming the Comics Code Authority, a self-censoring body that while avoiding the heavy hand of Washington still wound up neutering adult interest in comics and stereotyping the medium as one only kids would enjoy.
Lee scripted banal scenarios with characters like Nellie the Nurse and Tessie the Typist, but in 1971, he inserted an anti-drug storyline into "The Amazing Spider-Man” in which Peter Parker's best friend Harry Osborn popped pills. Those issues, which did not carry the CCA "seal of approval" on the covers, became extremely popular, and later, the organization relaxed some of its guidelines.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922, he grew up poor in Washington Heights, where his father, a Romanian immigrant, was a dress-cutter. A lover of adventure books and Errol Flynn movies, Lee graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project, where he appeared in a few stage shows, and wrote obituaries.
In 1939, Lee got a job as a gofer for $8 a week at Marvel predecessor Timely Comics. Two years later, for Kirby and Joe Simon's Captain America No. 3, he wrote a two-page story titled "The Traitor's Revenge!" that was used as text filler to qualify the company for the inexpensive magazine mailing rate. He used the pen name Stan Lee.
He was named interim editor at 19 by publisher Martin Goodman when the previous editor quit. In 1942, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Signal Corps, where he wrote manuals and training films with a group that included Oscar-winner Frank Capra, Pulitzer-winner William Saroyan and Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss). After the war, he returned to the publisher and served as the editor for decades. 
Following DC Comics' lead with the Justice League, Lee and Kirby in November 1961 launched their own superhero team, the Fantastic Four, for the newly renamed Marvel Comics, and Hulk, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil and X-Men soon followed. The Avengers launched as its own title in September 1963. 
Perhaps not surprisingly, Manhattan's high-literary culture vultures did not bestow its approval on how Lee was making a living. People would “avoid me like I had the plague. … Today, it's so different,” he once told The Washington Post
Not everyone felt the same way, though. Lee recalled once being visiting in his New York office by Federico Fellini, who wanted to talk about nothing but Spider-Man.
In 1972, Lee was named publisher and relinquished the Marvel editorial reins to spend all his time promoting the company. He moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to set up an animation studio and to build relationships in Hollywood. Lee purchased a home overlooking the Sunset Strip that was once owned by Jack Benny's announcer, Don Wilson.
Long before his Marvel characters made it to the movies, they appeared on television. An animated Spider-Man show (with a memorable theme song composed by Oscar winner Paul Francis Webster, of "The Shadow of Your Smile" fame, and Bob Harris) ran on ABC from 1967 to 1970. Bill Bixby played Dr. David Banner, who turns into a green monster (Lou Ferrigno) when he gets agitated, in the 1977-82 CBS drama The Incredible Hulk. And Pamela Anderson provided the voice of Stripperella, a risque animated Spike TV series that Lee wrote for in 2003-04.
Lee launched the internet-based Stan Lee Media in 1998, and the superhero creation, production and marketing studio went public a year later. However, when investigators uncovered illegal stock manipulation by his partners, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2001. (Lee was never charged.)
In 2002, Lee published an autobiography, Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee.
Survivors include his daughter and younger brother Larry Lieber, a writer and artist for Marvel. Another daughter, Jan, died in infancy. His wife, Joan, was a hat model whom he married in 1947.
"J.C. Lee and all of Stan Lee's friends and colleagues want to thank all of his fans and well-wishers for their kind words and condolences," a family statement read. "Stan was an icon in his field. His fans loved him and his desire to interact with them. He loved his fans and treated them with the same respect and love they gave him."
"He worked tirelessly his whole life creating great characters for the world to enjoy. He wanted to inspire our imagination and for us to all use it to make the world a better place. His legacy will live on forever."
Like Alfred Hitchcock before him, the never-bashful Lee appeared in cameos in the Marvel movies, shown avoiding falling concrete, watering his lawn, delivering the mail, crashing a wedding, playing a security guard, etc.
In Spider-Man 3 (2007), he chats with Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker as they stop on a Times Square street to read news that the web-slinger will soon receive the key to the city. “You know," he says, "I guess one person can make a difference … 'nuff said.”

Friday, November 9, 2018

Biz Tech: Tech Beach Returns Nov 29- Dec 1

Building a Technology and Innovation Ecosystem for the Caribbean – Tech Beach Retreat Returns!

Tech Beach Retreat will return to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Nov 29-Dec 1 2018.The 2017 staging of the event was considered a massive success on a global scale with speakers including Jack Dorsey, Founder and CEO of Twitter and Square as well as Lloyd Carney, Former CEO of Brocade, which was sold for US$6 billion 1 week before the conference. With just 2 stagings, Tech Beach has emerged as the dominant force driving conversations on technology and innovation in the region and the world, with many in Silicon Valley, associating tech in the Caribbean with Tech Beach Retreat.

Dorsey was visiting Jamaica for the first time, shared the story of Twitter’s growth from a simple idea shared by friends into a massive global enterprise, which has driven numerous global shifts and played a huge role in discourse on matters of significant consequence. He also revisited the evolution of Square, which was designed to empower people around the world to be more enterprising through the easier acceptance of payments anywhere in the world. He expressed future interest in the Caribbean.

Mr. Dorsey alsodid not shy away from controversial topics as many had expected.He was especially passionate about blockchain technology and bitcoin as the tool millennials will use to change the world and he also touched on the matter of politics, defending Twitter’s unbiased stance and the refusal to silence any single political voice.

The global community will convene at the luxurious Iberostar Grand Rosehall Resort at the event aimed atconnecting wealth and resources with ideas and opportunity. In 2017, Tech Beach gathered 250 tech entrepreneurs, investors and innovators from around the world. Over 60% of the participants were international and over 60% reported doing business with another Tech Beach participant within 6 months after the event. Tech Beach has yielded significant collaboration amongst participants resulting in partnerships, investment and new enterprise reaching as far as Dubai, easily dismissing the typical talk shop reputation held by many conferences around the world. Participants represent companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Linkedin and Paypal.

 “We are working to spark an entrepreneurship and innovation revolution in the Caribbean. Our goal is to connect the best in the Caribbean with the best in the world, driving a paradigm shift in the economic outlook of the Caribbean. Our summits are designed to serve as catalysts for big ideas, innovation and investment positioning organizations with the right resources to make their visions happen” said Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, Co-Founder and Curator of Tech Beach Retreat.

Since inception, the event has evolved into an innovative platform - connecting people, ideas and opportunities with the ultimate goal: through entrepreneurship and engagement - to unlock the full economic potential of the Caribbean region. The hope is to inspire a culture that embraces innovative new ideas, spurring disruptive start-ups into large enterprise.

The 2018 theme is Disruptive Innovation – Exploring the Technological Transformation of Industries. Focus areas continue to include fin tech, health tech and consumer tech, with special attention being paid to emerging technologies including digital payments, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, cyber security, big data and blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Co-Founder Kyle Maloney shared,“These are some of the areas which we believe are ripe for adaption in our market and they present the opportunity for the Caribbean to ride waves of new innovation. It’s very difficult for us to jump on the bandwagon of far advanced technologies, but these emerging areas have massive wealth creation potential for the region.”

This year’s staging features Michele Ramanow, Co-Founder and CEO of Clearbanc and a star on Canada’s popular TV show Dragon’s Den, the inspiration for Shark Tank. Other featured speakers include Jeff Pulver, the Founder of Vonage; Arquay Harris, Director of Growth at Slack, the world’s fastest growing startup; Danielle Feinberg, Director of Lighting at Pixar; Erin Teague who leads VR for YouTube and Jason Mars, Founder and CEO of Clinc, considered one of the top ten innovators in the Banking Industry for his cutting edge AI solution. They will be joined by local stalwarts including Nadeen Matthews Blair, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer, the largest bank in the region and one of the most profitable in the world, Matthews has been charged with leading the banks digital transformation by majority shareholder, Jamaican born billionaire Michael Lee-Chin.

Tech Beach Retreat is activated as a partnership with involvement from a number of entities including the Iberostar Resorts, Development Bank of Jamaica, JAMPRO, The ICD Group, Massy Technologies, Regus, Lucid Works from San Francisco, Polymath and Ample Organics from Toronto amongst others.

Tech Beach Retreat offers an interactive masterclass like no other offering participants an all-inclusive non-hierarchical experience. The organizers have created an experience specifically targeted for the global community of entrepreneurs, investors and influencers to engage and build relationships with the local and regional captains of industry and the most promising start-ups. The forum is designed for relationship building, communication and organic business development. It is a catalyst for change, which exposes business leaders to the challenges and opportunities presented in our increasingly complex technology driven, multi-dimensional global economic environment. Tech Beach’s positive results are based on its core framework: Innovate, Connect, Transform:

Innovate The successful businesses of tomorrow will look nothing like today. The Caribbean needs to create the enabling environment for her citizens, especially the youth and start-ups, to innovate and catch up with the rest of the tech-developed world. Tech Beach is an early stage reflection of the environment necessary.

Connect - Connect for synergy and to consolidate! The second area of focus is to emphasize on the synergy required between the various stakeholders in the innovation chain of the tech ecosystem, i.e., Startups, Mentors, Investors, etc. for any meaningful impact of innovations to be felt in the society. We connect the best in the region with the best in the world. Tech thrives on frequent idea exchange and collaboration. A more global ecosystem will foster new ideas and greater access to resources and markets.

Transform - It is one thing to innovate and, yet, another to utilize the innovations to transform the lives of the Caribbean people for the better. This is why Tech Beach 2018 will also focus on how to transform innovations to positive life-changing effects on the Caribbean population. We are empowering the next generation to positively shift the region’s economic outlook through entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.

Tech Beach Retreat is a fast emerging and widely celebrated global community of tech entrepreneurs, investors, influencers, enthusiasts and innovators meeting under the idyllic backdrop of the Caribbean sun, sand and sea. The platform offers a deal makers' paradise where the best in the world come together. 

Music: Two Women, and More; the RIFFS this Week

 THE RIFF 11/9/18: “ My Angel” Winston McAnuff and Fizi from their new album “Big Brothers” “Bless My Soul” Bunny  Wailer and drummer “Style”  Scott. Some “King Size Dub” by Dubmatix. The Malian Queen Fatoumata Diawara. “Unbroken” a song for Women by JC Lodge “Take You There” Kelissa’ remake of Sizzla’ “Give Me A Try.” “ Danger Zone” Itaweh’ new song dedicated to Br Sam Clayton of the Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari. An acoustic version of PeterTosh’ “Pick Myself Up” by Sadiki. More songs from “To My Relations” a new album by Taj Weekes.

‘THE SUNDAY RIFF’ 11/11/18: Salutes Suzanne Couch. Featuring her two albums “Lifeline” and “In The Rhythm” and personal tributes.

hear the SUNDAY RIFF

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Business: Google, Moving Big into the Big Apple

Google is gearing up for an expansion of its New York City real estate that could add space for more than 12,000 new workers, an amount nearly double the search giant’s current staffing in the city, according to people familiar with the matter.
The plan, which hasn’t been previously disclosed, would give Google room for nearly 20,000 staff in the city, including those it has now—rivaling the approximately 25,000 jobs Amazon is projected to add if it completes plans for a major new office in New York.
Amazon has also been casting for a 2nd HQ, with reports suggesting that northern Virginia/suburban DC might be the front-runner

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cannabis: Canada's Atlas Bio Takes Stake in Jamaican Med Cannabis Firm

Atlas Biotechnologies Inc. (“Atlas”) is pleased to announce closing of a 20% strategic investment in Flavocure Biotech, Inc. (“Flavocure”), in exchange for $7.5 million (USD $5.75 million). Flavocure has developed an impressive pipeline of oncology research, with patent pending status on two therapeutic molecules which use cannabis flavonoid derivatives in the treatment of three aggressive forms of cancer - AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia), pancreatic, and glioblastoma (brain) cancer.

Maryland, USA based Flavocure aims to be a leader in the transformation of the medicinal properties of natural products into new cures for mankind. This investment by Atlas is in line with its goal to be a global leader in the development of proven pharmaceutical drugs, derived from cannabis for medicinal use.

Flavocure is collaborating with some of the world’s most prestigious cancer research institutions and has discovered ground-breaking cannabis derived molecules with preliminary data indicating activity against therapeutically validated kinase mutation targets.  One of Flavocure’s two proposed therapeutics, Cresorol, has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) with an orphan-drug designation, which, following planned short-term toxicology studies, is anticipated to permit fast-tracking of advancement to Phase 1 and subsequent studies.  Flavocure is also undertaking the development of a new drug for the treatment of both pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma. 

Atlas plans to develop a breeding program dedicated to isolating additional molecules in the flavonoid spectrum and identifying further cannabinoids for potential research and supply for future drug commercialization.

“Flavocure is an excellent fit for Atlas Biotechnologies, as our business philosophy is built around curing disease and illness using cannabis derivatives. Their FDA orphan drug designation for the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia, combined with their attractive oncology pipeline, made them an obvious choice for collaboration with Atlas.  We intend to jointly develop specialized cannabis cultivars to further unlock the potential of targeted flavonoids in medical research,” said Sheldon Croome, Atlas CEO.

Atlas will hold a 20% interest in Flavocure, which expects to soon undertake a new equity financing, which combined with expected research grant funding in 2019, will be used to accelerate research efforts on their current three target cancers.

Dr. Henry Lowe, an industry pioneer of cannabis phytopharmaceuticals and Flavocure’s founder and Executive Chairman, added, “Our early success in finding cannabis derived molecules for new therapeutic cancer discoveries attracted the interest of a great partner in Atlas. We are very much looking forward to collaborating with them on our genetics program and other drug research programs in the field.” 

The Atlas 20% investment in Flavocure is in the form of USD $500,000 cash, and the issuance of Atlas common shares at a value of $6 CAD per share.

As part of the integral future collaboration, Atlas will hold one seat on Flavocure’s initial 7-member Board of Directors – Jeffrey R. Gossain, P. Eng, VP of Operations and one of Atlas’ founding Directors, who will aid in the development of the operational and corporate structure at Flavocure.