Day: June 8, 2017

The Latest: Top Dem, GOP Intel Senators Say They Trust Comey – U.S. News & World Report

Politics

The Latest: Top Dem, GOP Intel Senators Say They Trust Comey – U.S. News & World Report

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U.S. News & World Report
The Latest: Top Dem, GOP Intel Senators Say They Trust Comey
U.S. News & World Report
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., right, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., confer as former FBI director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) The …
Republican talking points: James Comey testimony proved 'there was no obstruction'USA TODAY
Comey Testimony: Republicans Ready Talking Points Ahead of HearingNBCNews.com
White House reportedly demanded GOP pols defend Trump on TV after damning Comey testimonyNew York Daily News
WPXI Pittsburgh -CNN -Sacramento Bee -Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
all 7,790 news articles »

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Spektral raises $2.8 million for development of AI-powered green screen technology – TechCrunch

Technology

Spektral raises $2.8 million for development of AI-powered green screen technology – TechCrunch

The augmented reality acquisition space is hot — Facebook, Snap, Apple and others are throwing money at teams and technologies that promise to increase user engagement. Spektral, a Danish startup, is the latest venture-backed visual effects company setting its sights on the massive space. Spektral is announcing a $2.8 million round today from Litecap and Amp Ventures to continue development of its machine learning-powered, real-time, green screen technology.

Spektral, unlike 99 percent of venture-backed startups doesn’t have a product or at least not in the traditional tech sense. Instead of spending time on a go-to-market, Spektral has been investing heavily in research and development and racking up patents. After first pursuing still frames under the name CloudCutout, the team is moving into real time video — combining machine learning with spectral graph theory to separate people and objects from their original backgrounds and overlay them in a new stream.

It’s quite easy to imagine this technology being implemented into Snapchat or Messenger, but just because it’s obvious doesn’t make it statistically likely. This is probably why Spektral is making the effort to show how its technology could be useful in other use cases, like production and advertising.

Other research groups have been exploring how machine learning could open up new design possibilities for separating objects from their backgrounds. Adobe, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign worked together to publish research on automating that process. That said, video and pictures are two entirely different monsters.

Hair strokes have long been a key criteria for judging cut outs. Toke Jansen, founder and CTO of Spektral, explained to me just how easy it is to underestimate the difficulty of cutting around hair. Equipped with scissors, a human can cut around complex shapes without thinking about it. But even with the latest deep learning models trained on over a million images, machines struggle.

Spektral, as the name implies, is experimenting with spectral clustering for image segmentation within a video frame. This additional information can be added in as a prior to augment more traditional models. In the future, this technology could pave the way for more complex video editing. The team alluded to object manipulation, perhaps moving your friends hand wave with your own, as a natural next step.

To get the company and its technology to the next phase, it’s brining on a number of domain experts. Most notably, Danny Lange, the head of machine learning at Unity, is joining the startup’s Board of Directors. Lange was formerly the leader of machine learning efforts at Uber.

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How Jeremy Corbyn Moved Past the Politics of 2016 – The New Yorker

Politics

How Jeremy Corbyn Moved Past the Politics of 2016 – The New Yorker

Many people were blamed, last summer, after the citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, but the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had been a squishy and tepid opponent of Brexit, was blamed more than most. “Absent from the battle,” Peter Mandelson, once a strategist for Tony Blair, complained of him. Two-thirds of Corbyn’s leadership team resigned after the Brexit vote, and of the two hundred and twelve Labour members in Parliament, a hundred and seventy-two joined a no-confidence vote against the leader. But Corbyn held on, and turned his attention to the party’s grassroots. This spring, he has so adeptly navigated an election campaign that once seemed a likely rout that he stands an outside chance of ending Thursday as the presumptive Prime Minister. On the stump, Corbyn has always been a first-rate yeller, with a nicely calibrated sense of grievance. On Tuesday, he spoke to a big crowd assembled in the Birmingham drizzle, clutching Labour’s red-bound policy manifesto in his left hand, with a late-appearing rainbow providing a background. “Well, I’ll tell you what,” Corbyn yelled. “They underestimated us, didn’t they?”

They probably did. The latest polls suggested that the Conservative Party, headed by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, leads by somewhere between one and twelve points; interviews with Labour backbenchers suggested that they still thought victory was very unlikely. But the election campaign has suited Corbyn—sixty-eight years old, white-haired, an avowed socialist—far more than the Brexit campaign ever did. While the Conservatives kept a low profile, the new debates over nativism and isolationism receded, and Corbyn was able to campaign against older enemies: austerity, privatization, and the gap between the rich and poor.

Slowly, the campaign seemed to bend to these themes. After the Conservatives proposed the so-called dementia tax—under whose provisions sick and elderly patients who needed treatment in nursing facilities might be compelled to sell their homes so that the state could recoup the costs of their care—May, Corbyn’s main opponent, suddenly looked vulnerable. Last week, she declined to show up for a debate, leaving the Labour leader to accost her deputy, Amber Rudd. “I would just say this to Amber: If you think this is a country at ease with itself, have you been to a food bank?” Corbyn said. “Have you seen people sleeping around our stations? Have you seen the levels of poverty that exist because of your government’s conscious decisions on benefits?” The image lingered: not the external menace of the immigrant, but the internal decrepitude of the food bank, the homeless huddling around the depot.

Corbyn remains an uncommitted internationalist, but he no longer seems to be a bad politician. For more than a year, the orienting question in the U.K. has been whether the country ought to look outward or inward. Corbyn’s tactic has been to ask different questions—about who has how much. “We’re socialists,” Corbyn’s great ally and would-be Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, told the Guardian recently. “We want to create a socialist society.”

Last month, Corbyn sat for an interview with the preening but effective TV journalist Jeremy Paxman, during which the host reiterated three-decades worth of tabloid outrage at the excesses of the left. Hadn’t McDonnell once been photographed holding a letter that called for the abolition of M.I.5, the U.K.’s equivalent of the F.B.I.? Hadn’t Corbyn called the terrorist group Hamas “friends”? Hadn’t he said that the Falklands War was a Tory plot? Didn’t he want to get rid of the Queen?

Corbyn, wearing a red tie, sat opposite Paxman and blinked. “As a matter of fact, I had a very nice chat with the Queen,” he said, smiling. “I’m fighting this election, Jeremy, on something very important, which is the levels of poverty in our society.” He added, “I don’t want to live in a nation of food banks.”

The political madness of 2016 was so deep and destabilizing that it left liberals on both sides of the Atlantic wishing for a do-over, a way to refight the battles that they lost last year. In the U.S., this is part of the reason that the special elections in Georgia and Montana, and the investigations into Russia’s election meddling, have been especially tense and urgent. But elections create new conditions. There are no do-overs—things change too quickly.

On Wednesday night, Corbyn gave the final speech of his campaign, in the stunning Union Chapel, in Islington, his own constituency. Near the end, he took out his reading glasses and gave a dramatic performance of a few melodramatic lines from Shelley. “Rise, like lions after slumber / In unvanquishable number! / Shake your chains to earth like dew / Which in sleep had fallen on you: / ye are many—they are few!” Corbyn was standing in front of a red background emblazoned with Labour’s slogan: “For the many, not the few.” He said that he and his audience had stood together in places like this for countless protest meetings over the decades—“protect this, defend that, support this person.” “Tonight is different,” Corbyn said. “We’re not defending. We’re asserting our view that a society that cares for all is better than a society that cares for few.” This morning, the Blackpool Gazette ran an advertisement from the Conservatives that covered half its front page. The other half was a news story: “Poverty-hit families are forced to rely on food banks.” The election was being argued on Corbyn’s terms. That isn’t the same as winning, but it is something.

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Making Technology Startups Successful Through Vertical Slicing – Forbes

Technology

Making Technology Startups Successful Through Vertical Slicing – Forbes

15 Stocks To Buy On Market Weakness – Cramer's Mad Money (6/7/17)

Finances

15 Stocks To Buy On Market Weakness – Cramer's Mad Money (6/7/17)

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV Program, Wednesday, June 7.

The upcoming elections in the UK, James Comey’s testimony and the ECB meeting are what the bears are waiting for. “I bet the same people who told you to sell the last time Trump was in trouble; the ones who think this rally is predicated on total Trump policies will tell you to sell again. I’m sure the same people who bolted when Brexit occurred already have one foot out the door. I can promise you there are people who will genuinely flip out if the ECB indeed does remove stimulus,” said Cramer.

This can also lead to the Fed not raising the interest rates. But the bulls are waiting for good stocks to go lower so they can buy them. The bulls see these events as an opportunity to buy high quality stocks. “In their heads, they have fifteen or so stocks that need to be bought even if we get a triad of terrible headlines, and their biggest fear is that saner heads will prevail and therefore you won’t get the kind of buyable pullback that they’ve been praying for,” he added.

Cramer gave his shopping list of 15 stocks to buy when headlines lead to the market going lower.

  • In the chip makers group, he would buy Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO) and Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) as they have nothing to do with the interest rate or the policies from Washington. These chip makers are everywhere, be it self-driving cars, graphics or the machines that make these chips.
  • To take advantage of growth in cloud computing, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) and Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) are the ones to buy.
  • In the consumer goods and services group, the high quality names to buy on lower prices are Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), MasterCard (NYSE:MA) and Visa (NYSE:V) as money from bank stocks will flow into these along with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).
  • He recommended buying General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) from the defense group and the medical device maker Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) as they don’t rely on Washington for growth.
  • In other groups, he recommended buying Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and stocks of video game makers like Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI).

Start preparing your list for the next downturn. There are many more stocks and the list is arbitrary.

Headlines generate fear

“This morning we wake up to a starkly negative headline in the Wall Street Journal: ‘Markets Rise in Lockstep, Raising Worries of Reversal’,” said Cramer. The concern is that since stocks, bonds, gold and bitcoin are all rallying together which makes the market vulnerable to sharp reversals. Cramer said the market is vulnerable every day.

It is true that historically stocks and bonds have traded in opposite directions. But Cramer said that low interest rates are good for the companies. “But we’ve never had such an incredible fluidity in fixed income globally, nothing like this. You want to own an Italian 10-year bond at the same rate as a U.S. one? That’s insane if you do. So that money’s coming here, not staying over there. How about a German 10-year where you literally make nothing? That money’s coming here, too,” he added.

Then there’s the movement in gold. Gold goes up whenever things go bad in the market. In the current scenario, gold has been going up on demand from India and China rather than investor fears.

Lastly, Bitcoin has been rallying as it is an untraceable way to move money. “It’s invisible to the taxman so those countries in Europe that raised taxes? They provide a ready market for Bitcoin. It’s the answer for the Chinese because gold’s too easily confiscated. You can’t confiscate Bitcoin,” said Cramer.

Bitcoins are also used to pay hackers with a sharp rise in cyber-attacks. “But the fact that stocks, bonds, gold and Bitcoin are all rising at once likely won’t be the cause of any reversal. You know what I think it is? I think it’s an evergreen headline that generates a lot of fear but, frankly, not much else,” concluded Cramer.

Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU)

The stock of Intuit is up 25% YTD on top of a 19% gain in 2016. “Look, I’m not complaining. I’ve been a big fan of Intuit and its terrific CEO, Brad Smith, for a long time. But if you believe that the Trump administration can pass some kind of major tax reform bill, something that could simplify the tax code dramatically, then Intuit’s one of the last stocks that should be roaring here. This is an anti-Trump stock. Yet it keeps going higher,” said Cramer.

He dug deeper to find out why the stock is moving higher. The company has three main businesses – Tax producing arm with program like TurboTax; small business ecosystem with software like QuickBooks for streamlining accounting, payroll and payment solutions; and a tax software for professional accountants.

As unemployment is at a historic low, it means more people are filing taxes which means more business for Intuit. This applies to the largest tax preparation firm in the US, H&R Block (NYSE:HRB), as well. While the stock of H&R Block is up YTD, Inuit is leading the competition by embracing the cloud.

“Unlike their top rival, Intuit focuses on online tax filings. They don’t have any of the pesky, expensive brick-and-mortar locations. Consider it the Amazon of tax returns and they’re the No. 1 player in the tax software space, with a massive market share of around 65%,” said Cramer. The software QuickBooks is also in the process of moving to the cloud with a SaaS model. This will produce recurring revenue.

“Not only does this give Intuit a more predictable revenue stream, it also gives them many more opportunities to cross-sell their customers on other products,” said Cramer. Despite the chatter of Trump simplifying the tax code, the stock of Intuit is rallying. “I don’t care whether you see this plan as the triumph of free market economics or a ridiculous giveaway to rich people that could explode the deficit. What matters here is that Trump’s bare-bones tax plan would absolutely make it simpler and easier to file your taxes and a simpler tax code would be very bad news for Intuit, because more people could just do the paperwork themselves without any help from their software,” he added.

The dysfunction in Washington is turning out to be a gift for Intuit. The company is more than just tax preparation as its small businesses arm is growing by transitioning to the cloud. Cramer said he’d be a buyer of Intuit on weakness.

Drug makers

The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology is coming to an end, which means some companies emerged as winners and some as losers.

The ASCO conference’s biggest gainer was Loxo Oncology (NASDAQ:LOXO) which rallied 46% from $49 to $71. The company released positive data for two major drugs. The stock has rallied a lot and it should cool off before investors can buy it.

Bluebird Bio (NASDAQ:BLUE) rallied from $75 to $108 on immunotherapy drug data in partnership with Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG). Puma Biotechnology (NYSE:PBYI) rallied and gave back all its gains.

Incyte (NASDAQ:INCY) fell after the conference because expectations got ahead of themselves. “Personally, I’d view this weakness as a chance to do some buying as Incyte has a very deep pipeline with excellent prospects,” said Cramer.

Viewer calls taken by Cramer

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR): They have missed lots of quarters but are turning around now.

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Xerox Has No Positive Catalysts – Cramer's Lightning Round (6/7/17)

Finances

Xerox Has No Positive Catalysts – Cramer's Lightning Round (6/7/17)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Wednesday, June 7.

Bullish Calls

Alere (NYSE:ALR): Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) is buying them. Cramer thinks Abbott will rally.

Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX): It’s an inexpensive stock which will be taken over. CEO Moshe Gavrielov has turned around the company. It’s a buy.

Bearish Calls

Xerox (NYSE:XRX): “I just don’t think Xerox has any catalysts. I just can’t recommend the stock. I thought that there was more to it. It’s a value play, but not more than that.”

Huntsman Corporation (NYSE:HUN): It’s being taken over. Forget it.

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Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS: Check out Cramer’s multi-million dollar charitable trust portfolio and uncover the stocks he thinks could be HUGE winners. Start your FREE 14-day trial now!

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GOP and Dem Senators Share the Spotlight With Comey – U.S. News & World Report

Politics

GOP and Dem Senators Share the Spotlight With Comey – U.S. News & World Report

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U.S. News & World Report
GOP and Dem Senators Share the Spotlight With Comey
U.S. News & World Report
There are potential presidential candidates past and future, senators up for re-election in a tough political climate and a couple veteran GOP lawmakers, including committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, who were re-elected last year against
Republican strategy at Comey hearing? It's complicatedUSA TODAY
Twitter Has No Time For The GOP's Weird GIF Response To Comey StatementHuffPost
Republicans to Trump: No TV or tweeting during Comey hearingCNN International
Sacramento Bee -Newsmax -Mother Jones -Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
all 3,292 news articles »

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