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Massive Settlement Awarded to Widow of Chain Smoker

In a fascinating ruling, a Florida jury has just awarded the widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer 18 years ago more than $23 billion against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. These are punitive damages and represent the largest award given in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a single plaintiff.

Cynthia Robinson sued RJ Reynolds in 2008 saying that the company conspired to conceal the health dangers of their product. Her husband died of lung cancer in 1996 at the age of 36, having smoked one to three packs a day for more than 20 years.

The jury awarded $7.3 million to the widow and the couple’s child and $9.6 million to another son of Johnson’s. They then awarded $23.6 billion in punitive damages.

Of course, J. Jeffery Raborn, vp and assistant general counsel for RJ Reynolds, said that they plan to challenge “this runaway verdict.”




Facebook Acquires LiveRail

In a desire to make video ads a larger part of their business, Facebook Inc. is acquiring the video advertising company LiveRail. LiveRail’s technology pairs video ad with videos that appear on websites such as sites for ABC, Major League Baseball and others.

Facebook won’t discuss its own plans for the technology. Learn more about LiveRail and about Facebook’s acquisition.


Mine for Sale in Dawson City

Clearly, gold has dropped a great deal recently, and one mine owner has felt this personally. The owner of a mine in Canada’s Yukon gold belt is selling his property for $2 million in bitcoin. The minor hasn’t made his name known, but he is selling the property on BitPremier, a bitcoin marketplace for “luxury items and opportunities”.

The mine in Dawson City can product as much as 4000 ounces of gold a year. This is worth $5.9 million at the current market rate. The sale also includes $1 million worth of equipment.

As the ad says,

“A well-respected, fully compliant and profitable company, any new buyer could recoup their initial investment in as little as two mining seasons.”

See the full story here.

Real Estate Investment Strategies

real-estate-investment-strategiesFor those with excess money to invest, today, real estate can be a viable option. The market is currently not as volatile as it once was, and thus it is becoming more popular. Indeed, according to Jake Adger, a Forbes contributor and chief economist at RealtyTrac, as the recession takes a bad seat, real estate can be “a good addition to [one’s] investment portfolio. At the end of last year he pointed out that:

“Investors need to think about all aspects of real estate investment including rental income, expenses, home price appreciation, and taxes…Investors looking for rental income will look for high rental yields now and in the future.”

Steven P. Rosenthal, President and CEO of Northland Investment Corporation, is responsible for the firm’s “strategic direction.” In terms of real estate investment the company seeks to “identify value creation opportunities….acquiring real estate assets diversified by markets, sectors and lines of business—and balancing the acquisition of high quality, lower risk assets with higher yielding, valued added assets and development opportunities.”

Real estate as an investment potential definitely has its benefits. CPA Mark J. Kohler is “convinced more entrepreneurs should consider rental real estate as an important part of their portfolio.” He lists five reasons why this is the case and then concludes: “The far majority of us will never get rich overnight. It takes long-term investing and a diverse portfolio to build true wealth. Don’t forget real estate as an important part of the equation.”

For those looking at possible options for investment, in a stable economy, real estate might be a good idea.

Apple Inc. Entering the Wearable Items Market?

Apple Inc. is set to sell its first wearable item this coming October with the goal of producing 3-5 million smartwatches a month in their first run. This is reported by Nikkei. The devices are probably going to have curved OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays and sensors that will collect health data from blood glucose and calories consumed.

The industry has just been waiting, assuming that Apple would produce a smartwatch at some point after Samsung released its Galaxy Gear watches. CEO Tim Cook has promised “new product categories” for 2014.

Developers Doronin and Colombo Breaking Ground on Luxury Condos in Miami


Vladislav Doronin

Ugo Colombo and Vladislav Doronin

Vladislav Doronin, founder and chairman of Moscow-based Capital Group, is partnering with Ugo Colombo’s CMC Group Inc., to build two major projects in the downtown Brickell area of Miami, Florida.

Ugo Colombo is recognized by many as one of Miami’s most ambitious developers of high-end condos. Vladislav Doronin has established himself as an international real estate developer with a focus on superior quality and cutting edge innovation. Doronin has developed some of Moscow’s most sought-after properties, including 70 million square-feet of luxury residential space, retail footage, and mixed-use properties.

The new development which the partners are about to embark on consists of two high-rise buildings located on a triangular shaped piece of land they own jointly. The first building going up will be the “Brickell Flatiron.” It will be architecturally unique, reaching 65 stories, a 750-foot soaring structure. Within its curvaceous walls will be 550 luxury residences, 40,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, a rooftop swimming pool, and a health/fitness center with a panoramic view of the surrounding Miami expanses.

Mr. Colombo said,

“Vladislav Doronin brings to our partnership over 20 years of proven development experience and a global perspective on real estate investment. All of his projects have been distinguished by a combination of outstanding design and flawless execution, creating environments that appeal to luxury buyers. Working with such a strong and capable partner has already been highly productive and I look forward to a long and successful relationship.”

The project is located at South Miami Avenue and Brickell Plaza, and is expected to break ground by the end of 2014. The second tower will be situated at Brickell Plaza and Eighth Street. Ground breaking there should take place sometime in 2015.

Vladislav Doronin stated,

“Ugo is simply the best in class and I am very pleased to be working with the recognized leader in Miami development. We both see tremendous opportunity in Miami and in the Brickell area particularly. We also share a commitment to innovative aesthetics and relentless attention to detail, so I am especially pleased to partner with Ugo on these exceptional new projects, with more ideas in the pipeline.”

G.I. Joe Action Figure Creator Dies at 86

gi joeThe G.I. Joe action figure it probably one of the most popular of all times. Donald Levine, the Hasbro executive who designed this figure, the world’s first action figure, recently died at 86. As head of Hasbro’s research and development team, Levine took the toy through the design and development stages.

Levine, who served in the Army in Korea, said that he got the idea for the figure as a way to honor veterans. The G.I Joe figure hit the shelves in time for Christmas in 1964 and it sold for $4. It was popular until the late 1960s, when opposition to Vietnam intensified and parents started to move away from military related toys.

In the 1970s, to revive the love for G.I Joe, Hasbro added “lifelike hair” and a “kung-fu grip” to the figures and outfitted them with scuba gear to save oceans and with explorer’s clothes.

Today, the G.I. Joe figure has a following that includes comic books, cartoons, two movies, a G.I. Joe Collector’s Club, an annual convention and more.


Workers Demonstrate Against McDonalds and Wages

happymealThe happymeal is apparently not making everyone happy. More than 100 demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday as they protested the fast-food chain’s corporate campus near Chicago. They were demanding that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour and that they have the right to unionize.

The protest came the day before the shareholder vote on executive pay was set to take place. Chief Executive Don Thompson earned a total compensation of $9.5 million in 2013, and this flies in the face of the struggles that many middle to low income Americans are experiencing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for the approximately 3.5 million fast-food and counter workers is $8.83. US President Barack Obama has been pushing for Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhm said, “$15 is unrealistic, but we know that the minimum wage will increase over time.”

Time will tell how the controversy gets settled.


Coca Cola’s Perez Joins Board of Primerica

Primerica Gains New Board Member Beatriz Perez

New Primerica Board Member, Beatriz Perez

The Chief Sustainability Officer at Coca Cola, 44-year-old Beatriz R. Perez, joined the board of directors at Primerica Inc.

Peres has been the CSO of the Atlanta-based giant beverage company since July 2011. From April 2010 until she took the job as CSO Perez was the chief marketing officer for the North American Division of Coca Cola.

Primerica, headquartered in Duluth, Georgia, is a financial services company which sells insurance and investment products to a wide variety of individuals and families in America and Canada.

“I’m pleased to join Primerica’s Board of Directors because I believe in what they’re doing to help bring financial security to their Main Street clients,” Perez said. “This type of economic empowerment is helping people and families realize their potential and fulfill their dreams.”

Developing Company Strategy

strategyCompanies and heads of corporations take different approaches when it comes to leadership, management and strategic development. According to Keith McFarland, a growth strategy has to be one that “brings you the most results from the least amount of risk and effort.” Such strategies should be like a ladder – lower rungs representing lower risk and higher rungs, higher risks. Small businesses should steer towards the lower rungs. In addition, if strategy is not a priority, market forces are likely to interfere with overall business development. Irrespective of the level of risks a company is going to take, it needs to be strategized.

Sometimes, the ability of a company leader to develop strategy is simply a case of experience. Steven Rosenthal, Northland Investment Corporation, has been with the firm since October 2007. Sustaining the firm’s development, whilst developing its future strategic direction, Rosenthal was hired for these roles partly because of his experience. Indeed, he brought to the firm a history of entrepreneurial experience, having previously managed a much larger firm. As co-managing partner at Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C., Rosenthal drove growth, doubling the number of attorneys from 250 to 500 and opening an additional four offices for the firm.
Rosenthal’s strategic development capacity comes from his experience and according to Lawrence R. Gottesdiener – the firm’s founder – Rosenthal was able to “see the big picture and execute on the details. He is an outstanding strategic thinker and knows how to develop and maintain relationships.”

Focusing on strategic development of a firm is one major way forward for companies trying to progress. And, it’s a very common and effective way. According to a recent article by Robert Kabacoff, countless studies continuously show that “strategic thinkers are found to be among the most highly effective leaders…a true strategic leader thinks and acts strategically every day.” Further, a study conducted by Management Research Group (MRG) in 2013 found that strategic leaders in general have a much broader, longer-term approach to problem-solving and decision making using “objective analysis, thinking ahead and planning.”

In other words, strategic planning in business has a greater chance of creating effective growth than leadership that is not strategy-based.

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