National / International News
Nasdaq announced on Monday that it's launching an "enterprise-wide initiative" to use the blockchain—the distributed ledger that makes Bitcoin possible.
The first application will be as a service for privately-held companies to allow their shareholders to buy and sell shares on a system based on the blockchain. Instead of the transactions being recorded in the separate ledgers of various lawyers, Nasdaq CIO Brad Peterson says transactions will be recorded in a form that anyone in the market can see.
"The best argument against using the Bitcoin blockchain is that it's new," says Jim Harper, senior fellow at the Cato Institute. "It's only been around for a few years and hasn't had the real testing that it probably needs."
Harper says the Nasdaq experiment could be just such a test.
We look at what happened with German bonds; calm today after a wild ride last week. Plus, we examine the effect Fox's hit show "Empire" has had on the TV advertising game by cutting the amount of commercial time it sets aside per episode. And government contractors come in all shapes, as evidenced by a new effort from the National Park Service to hire border collies to chase geese off the National Mall.
The small town of Van, Texas, was badly hit and two people died in Nashville, Arkansas, after a tornado raked through a mobile home park.
The National Mall in Washington, D. C., has a fowl problem: Canada geese, and lots of them. These large migratory waterfowl are increasingly non-migratory thanks to relocation and hunting efforts. The roughly 3 pounds of droppings each can produce in one day can cause fish kills in ponds, and could even clog the newly-renovated reflecting pool.
"There's times of the year, when you walk over the Washington Monument grounds, there's not a place for you to put down a picnic blanket without feeling disgusting," says Michael Stachowicz, the National Park Service's turf management specialist.
That's why the government is asking for bids on a contract to have border collies (and their handlers) patrol the Mall.
Stachowicz used to work for golf courses, and that's where he first witnessed how effective border collies are for humane goose population control. "They go in this crouch," Stachowicz explains, "it's really amazing to watch these border collies transform from a great dog into something that looks really predatory and wolf-like."
That stance, according to Doug Marcks, is called "the eye." The eye is basically the border collies' trade secret. It's part of the whole pantomime these dogs like to play with geese. And play is the key word—border collies are happy without ever actually grabbing the geese. They just enjoy terrorizing them.
Doug Marcks runs Geese Police DC, which is a franchise of the larger Geese Police company, based in Illinois. He and his two border collies Max and Bell drive around the D.C. area every day and make pit stops at clients—usually large, grassy corporate campuses and the like. After enough harassment, the geese fly away at the sight of Marcks's white pickup truck. And eventually they find a new place to live.
The NPS says the dogs will likely become a permanent fixture on the National Mall.
This week, at the annual "Upfronts," TV networks will be showing off for advertisers. Among other shows, Fox will promote "Empire," which was the breakout hit last season. But "Empire" may get attention for another reason: An unusual advertising strategy.
There are more than 14 minutes of ads on the average hour of network television. But "Empire" had closer to 10 minutes, thanks to a strategy of "limited commercial interruption."
Billie Gold, VP of TV programming research at Carat, says this strategy makes the available ads more valuable—especially for launching a new product.
Why isn't this strategy used more often?
"Well, you can't do it all the time is the short answer," says Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research. "Because there's only so many advertisers willing to pay so much of a premium."
He says it's like the gold-plated Apple Watch of advertising—and there are only so many companies willing to pay that luxury price.