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How internet marketing helped propel Obama to the White House

All of us in the online marketing business have to admire the Obama Team’s mastery of the internet as a campaigning tool for the USA 2008 Elections.

“From day one of his bid for the White House, the President-Elect grasped the potential of the web to spread his message and organise party activists in a way that no other medium could achieve.

As well as sending out millions of emails to potential Democratic voters, in particular first-time voters, the Obama camp created its own social networking site, my.barackobama.com, after Chris Hughes, the co-founder of Facebook, was brought onto the campaign team.

The website attracted more than 1.5 million members who organised themselves into 35,000 separate activists’ groups, each of which could be contacted instantly from the Obama campaign headquarters to be given specific tasks in drumming up support.”

Read full article “How the internet helped propel Barack Obama to the White House”

George Soros: rocketing oil price is a bubble

Speculators are largely responsible for driving crude prices to their peaks in recent weeks and the record oil price now looks like a bubble, George Soros has warned.

The billionaire investor’s comments came only days after the oil price soared to a record high of $135 a barrel amid speculation that crude could soon be catapulted towards the $200 mark.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Soros said that although the weak dollar, ebbing Middle Eastern supply and record Chinese demand could explain some of the increase in energy prices, the crude oil market had been significantly affected by speculation.

Speculation… is increasingly affecting the price,” he said. “The price has this parabolic shape which is characteristic of bubbles,” he said. ‘We face the most serious recession of our lifetime’

The comments are significant, not only because Mr Soros is the world’s most prominent hedge fund investor but also because many experts have claimed speculation is only a minor factor affecting crude prices.

Oil prices stalled on Friday after their biggest one-day jump since the first Gulf War earlier in the week. Continued….

Source: Edmund Conway, Economics Editor, Telegraph

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Free enterprise in Europe hangs on Ireland’s EU vote

For 700 years Ireland was Britain’s outer defence – nolens volens – against the great powers of continental Europe.

By a twist of fate, the Irish must now cast the ballot on the EU constitution for both islands, since Labour has defaulted on its pledge for a British referendum.

Our shared Anglo-Celtic culture has long been a well-spring of free enterprise (with Dutch, Swedish, and Hanseatic help in fighting European absolutism along the way), and that is what is so threatened by the Lisbon Treaty, the treaty to end all EU treaties.

The text strikes the words “free and undistorted competition” from the core objectives of the Union. Corporatist aims will enjoy a higher legal status at the European Court (ECJ) and must prevail if the two clash. The Rhineland Model has locked in a permanent advantage.

Euro-creep is already eviscerating the Common Law that underpins the British and Irish way of doing business. Lisbon quickens the pace. It upgrades the ECJ to a de facto supreme court, with broader jurisdiction. It will have the last say on a raft of new economic and social rights. Who can stop them imposing a Colbertist agenda by court rulings, if they so choose? The ECJ is beyond appeal. Continued…

Source: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor, Telegraph

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, now the Telegraph’s International Business Editor, was the Telegraph’s EU Correspondent in Brussels from 2000 to 2005. He covered the original drafting of the EU Constitution.

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New rules to protect consumers against firms

New rules to protect consumers against unfair business practices will come into force today, opening the door for companies to be prosecuted if they treat their customers unfairly.

The so-called Consumer Protection Regulations will make it illegal to omit important information from their trading documents, and to make misleading statements. Furthermore, it will ban 31 specific practices, such as falsely claiming to be a signatory on a code of conduct, or advertising a special offer but claiming it is not in stock.

Other things covered by the rules include a crackdown on scare tactics, “closing down” sales when stores are not actually closing, and pyramid schemes.

Businesses that fall outside the new laws can be prosecuted by both the Trading Standards Authority and the Office of Fair Trading.

Commenting on the introduction of the regulations, Carl Belgrove, a senior policy advocate at the National Consumer Council, which has spent 20 years campaigning for the legislation, said: “These new laws represent a big boost to consumer protection, particularly for vulnerable people who are targeted by rogue traders.

“The one thing missing is a way for consumers to claim compensation when businesses act unfairly and we hope that will be remedied soon.”

Similar regulations in Ireland allow consumers to also pursue civil redress against businesses which treat them unfairly. However, the UK laws have no such provision. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has asked the Law Commission to look into the possibility of introducing a civil redress mechanism, but it is not expected to even start work on the project until 2010 at the earliest.

Chris Warner, an in-house lawyer at Which?, the consumers’ association, also welcomed the new regulations, but warned that it was crucial that the new landscape was properly policed. “Rogue traders are a nuisance for the most part, but in the worst cases they’ve ruined people’s lives,” he said.

“Doorstepping and aggressive selling are unacceptable and we are delighted that many of these practices are now rightly considered to be criminal offences. However, the devil is in the detail and this will only work if the OFT and Trading Standards enforce it firmly.”

Source:James Daley Personal Finance Editor, Independent

Look ahead, not back when investing

Many investors are drawn to buy funds that sit at or near the top of the performance league tables. But as the small print of adverts warns, performance can be a poor guide to prospects.

Investors who flocked to buy technology funds in 1999 and 2000 suffered badly as the bubble burst.

More recently, savers pumped billions of pounds into commercial property funds in 2006 and early 2007 on the back of strong growth, only to join the party too late and see the value of their investments slump.

Juliet Schooling, head of research at national investment adviser Chelsea Financial Services, says: ‘It is worrying that so many investors look only at what has performed well in the past year and decide that is where to head for their latest investment.’

Adrian Shandley, who runs independent adviser Premier Wealth Management in Southport, Merseyside, agrees. ‘You wouldn’t try to drive a car using just the rear view mirror, but many investors focus too much on past performance and not enough on looking ahead,’ he says.

Source: This is Money

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Help end water poverty

Please sign the End Water Poverty petition. It’s really quick to sign but incredibly important and urgent – we’ve only got six weeks to go before the G8 meet in Japan!

http://www.endwaterpoverty.org/action

Dear Friends,

Help end water poverty:

The End Water Poverty campaign, which WaterAid supports, has been targeting the G8 to agree a global action plan for sanitation and water since 2007, but we now need to build even more pressure in the lead-up to the summit in July.

We need more signatures targeted at the Japanese Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, who is this year’s G8 host. Click below and become one of almost a million action-takers!

We need to show it’s time for change! Sanitation and safe water are basic human rights. Everyone in the world should have access to them. But without these services thousands will continue to die each day. The solutions are simple but the G8 need to commit to this action plan. Please tell them: it’s time for change.

To take action today, go to http://www.endwaterpoverty.org/action

Thank you so much for your help – please forward this to friends!

Barbara Frost,
Chief Executive,
WaterAid

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