Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Get the Most from Your Airline Points (Before They're Completely Worthless) (BusinessWeek)

Get the Most from Your Airline Points (Before They're Completely Worthless)

One of my largest assets is about to take a hit, and there’s nothing I can do about it. In January, my United Airlines (UAL) points will fall in value and I’ll lose my elite status. Even if I kept it, it’d be worth less.
Reward points, it turns out, are a lousy investment. Airline and credit card companies constantly redefine how and when you can use your points, and point inflation is rampant—larger and more pervasive than dollar inflation. Credit cards regularly offer tens of thousands of points for signing up, leaving the 1,300 miles accrued on a New York-to-Florida flight practically worthless. As airlines consolidate, they also devalue what your points can buy. My United points have been hit particularly hard: According to estimates by Brian Kelly, aka the Points Guy, they are worth an estimated 1.5¢ a mile, down from 2¢ a mile two years ago. After nearly 20 years of reward-point hoarding and four years of cross-country commuting, I am rich in points but getting poorer by the minute.
If my points were cash, I’d invest them in stocks or inflation-linked Treasuries to fight inflation. If they were my apartment, I’d update my kitchen to maintain resale value. Is there really nothing I can do to protect the value of my points? I put this question to Kelly. He offered me the following three strategies:
Stop hoarding. I’ve been squirreling away my points for years. Kelly told me to quit it. ”You have to feel good about using them,” he said. “They only go down over time, especially as airlines consolidate and offer fewer flights.”
Diversify. You want to be able to use points on the largest variety of goods possible, Kelly says. That means ditching airline credit cards, because their points can be used only for air travel on one carrier, in favor of credit cards whose the points can be used different ways cheaply: hotels, a choice of airlines, and entertainment. He estimates that Starwood (HOT) Preferred Guest points offer the most flexibility. He recently treated his father to a Knicks game in a luxury box at Madison Square Garden for just 45,000 Starwood points, normally worth between $9 to $30 per thousand.
Watch the exchange rate. Just because you can use your points on different goods doesn’t mean you should. Different point-to-dollar exchange rates exist, depending on how you use your points. Points used for airfare are worth between 1.5¢ and 2¢ a point. If you use the points to buy food in Newark Airport, they areworth less than half that. Exchanging points for cash also yields a lower return. There are times when you still might want to buy a coffee with your points—particularly, Kelly says, if you are “point rich and cash poor.”
Talking to Kelly, I realized that just like investing in markets, a successful point risk strategy requires setting clear goals and time horizons. When I flew for work all the time, my sole objective was maintaining my elite status. The benefits were worth it: international upgrades, mileage bonuses, and a better flying experience, which matters when you spend half your life on planes. Now that I fly less, I should adjust my strategy and focus on spending rather than saving.
Schrager is an economist and writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter: @AllisonSchrager.

Monday, December 29, 2014

E N M I O P I N I O N: Por qué no he de llorar?

Por: Ricardo Tribín Acosta

Esta frase me acuerda mucho de una bella canción interpretada por Fernando Valadés en los setentas en la que el agregaba “Si lo que más quería, se acaba de marchar”. Contrapongo esto a lo que pasa cuando los pequeños varones lloran por algo y sus progenitores los regañan diciéndoles “Deje de berriar que los hombres no lloran”

Llorar, la verdad es que no es malo, trátese bien que se trate de un hombre o de una mujer. Es un desahogo bastante bueno cuando se pasa por una pena o se vive algún tipo de angustia manifestada en exceso, y por ello no es pertinente criticar su ocurrencia ni tampoco considerar que se sea invulnerable. Vaya, vaya, ni que uno fuera Superman.

Sin embargo pasar de tener dolor a permanecer en el sufrimiento es otra cosa, puesto que lo primero es inevitable y lo segundo opcional y como tal pertenece al libre albedrio de cada persona. Insistir sin embargo en el dolor, después de sentirlo y experimentarlo, no vale la pena, entendiéndose que esto de salir de él no es automático y que por tanto, como muchas cosas en la vida, tomara un tiempo superarlo.

Miami, Diciembre 27 de 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Santa Claus reveals what kids want most for Christmas this year: An interview with SANTA

What sort of presents are children asking for this year?
 A lot of them want iPhones and computers – things like that. A lot of the girls are asking for Anna and Elsa dolls (characters from the animated film, "Frozen"). They're pretty popular.
A lot of the boys want monster trucks and ATV's. Some of the bigger kids want clothes.
Trains are always popular with both girls and boys.
I ask them if they've been good, but I tell them "We'll see what we can do. I don't know if the elves have made that many (of the requested item) but we're working on it."
Do you have a lot of elves helping you make all those toys?
Yes, we have a lot of elves, and they are a pretty jolly bunch. They make fun out of the work, actually wondering who is getting what.
 Do all the requests involve toys or clothes?
Sometimes I hear about a family member who doesn't have good health, and the children ask that they be made better -- make their grandpa not have cancer. And I tell them we will pray for them.
Also, a lot of their family members are overseas in the military and they'd like to have them home. They're missed.
What about that list of who's naughty and nice? Do you actually keep track?
Certainly! The elves help me to keep track, and the Elf on the Shelf helps to make sure the children are being good.
Sometimes children leave you some cookies and milk. Which cookie delights you the most?
Chocolate chip because that's everybody's favorite. I usually ask the children what their favorite cookie is, and I say, "That sounds good to me." That way, if Santa can't eat them all, they'll have some for themselves.
You rely heavily on the reindeer to get you to your destinations. Which one is your favorite?
Rudolph because he's the lead reindeer. He's been with me the longest, but they're all very important to me. They are very eager to get hooked up to the sleigh. There's nine, including Rudolph.
Does Rudolph actually have a glowing red nose?
Certainly – it comes in handy on foggy nights.
What do you do during the year when you aren't visiting with children? Do you ever take some time off?
We're very busy making toys and getting new ideas for the children. We also take care of the reindeer there at the North Pole.
We get started on making new toys after the first of the year. The elves get a little vacation. Mrs. Claus and I take some time off, too. Mrs. Claus works pretty hard and her job is just as hectic as mine.
How is Mrs. Claus doing? What does she do when you are out delivering presents?
Mrs. Claus is pretty healthy – and busy, too.   When I take off with the reindeer, we communicate and keep an eye on the weather and everything.
What would you most like to tell the children of the world?
I'd like them to just be good and respect their elders – their parents and grandparents and to help make the world a better place for everybody.
Linda Kinsey at lkinsey@cleveland.com.
To read more profile stories, visit www.cleveland.com/faces-of-the-suns.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Doctors Will Get Less Money for Treating Medicaid Patients Starting in January (BusinessWeek)

Doctors Will Get Less Money for Treating Medicaid Patients Starting in January

Sandhills Pediatrics, a group practice near Fayetteville, N.C., recently hired a child psychiatrist and a psychiatric nurse practitioner. It also expanded a satellite office in Hoke County, where almost a third of children live in poverty. About half of Sandhills’ 20,000 patients are covered by Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, and the practice was able to add the services thanks to a boost in the reimbursement rates Medicaid pays primary-care doctors under the Affordable Care Act.

The 2010 law guaranteed federal funding to cover the higher rates only in 2013 and 2014. President Obama’s proposed 2015 budget would have continued the higher payments, but that provision never made it into the $1.1 trillion spending bill Congress passed on Dec. 13. As a result, federal reimbursements will drop to 2012 levels starting in January. Sandhills expects its Medicaid revenue to fall 26 percent next year. “It means a tremendous loss,” says Sandhills managing partner Christoph Diasio.

Treating Medicaid patients is usually a money loser for doctors, which is why many physicians refuse to do so. The Affordable Care Act, which extended coverage to poor Americans by widening eligibility for Medicaid, added 9 million people to the program rolls. To encourage doctors to see them, Congress offered a carrot: Medicaid would pay the same rates as Medicare, the federal health insurance program for Americans older than 65. Medicare fees are generally higher than Medicaid fees.

Only half of family doctors accepted Medicaid in 2013, down from 65 percent four years earlier, according to a 15-city survey by physician staffing firm Merritt Hawkins. About half the providers listed by privately run Medicaid managed-care plans aren’t taking new patients, according to a report published in December by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Of those offering appointments, more than a quarter were booked for at least a month.

The bump in Medicaid reimbursements cost the federal government $5.6 billion for the first 18 months of the program. The program spent $449 billion last year, more than half of that funded by Washington. Medicare spent $586 billion in 2013, almost all of it from the federal government.

With about 63 million enrollees, Medicaid serves more patients than Medicare, which has about 54 million beneficiaries. (Some people are eligible for both.) But Medicaid doesn’t have the same political clout. Medicare is a top priority for the influential AARP lobby, and its older beneficiaries are more reliable voters than generally younger and poorer Medicaid recipients. “The program is marginalized,” says Mark Gallant, an attorney at Cozen O’Connor who represents Medicaid providers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees the programs, requires states to pay only enough to ensure “adequate access” for patients. It could set the minimum reimbursement rates for Medicaid without congressional approval if too many patients can’t find doctors to care for them, Gallant says.

At least 15 states plan to keep paying doctors at higher rates even without federal subsidies, according to the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. Michigan’s Republican-led statehouse is one. Payments from Medicaid would have dropped by more than half if the state hadn’t agreed to make up the difference, according to the Urban Institute. Cheryl Gibson Fountain, an obstetrician-gynecologist on the board of the state medical society, says Michigan has seen the consequences of paltry Medicaid payments.

St. John Detroit Riverview hospital, where she worked for 20 years, closed in 2007, partly because so many of its patients were on Medicaid. Detroit now has no ob-gyns in private practice, she adds—they’ve moved to the suburbs in search of patients with better insurance, they’ve retired, or they’ve gone to work for hospitals, because they can’t afford to stay in business. “If it costs you a dollar to care for a patient and you’re only getting paid 60¢,” she says, “you’re actually paying to take care of a patient.”

The bottom line: A cut in funds used to pay physicians taking Medicaid patients may make it harder for enrollees to find care.

Tozzi is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sony debacle shows how not to handle a hack (ZDNet)

Summary:The Sony take-down didn't provide many new lessons for IT, but did emphasize the fact that even those with plenty to lose still have a blind eye

By for Identity Matters

In some debates it may matter whether North Korea was involved in the Sony hack, but from an IT and corporate perspective it has little bearing on what lessons there are to learn.
Sony Pictures Entertainment seems to have mishandled its situation from the start including poor security standards and sloppy IT procedures, bad public relations judgment, and ultimately a panned decision to cave into hacker demands.

All that and the hack and its fallout are far from a conclusion.

It also reeks because another hack under the Sony umbrella, the PlayStation data breach, reached a preliminary $15 million settlement in a class action lawsuit shortly before this latest horror began brewing inside Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Leaked documents and statements from ex-employees show that Sony wasn't running a competent IT operation. The Associated Press reported Sony had suffered previous technology outages the company blamed on software flaws and inept IT staff even as the most recent hackers were mucking around.

Also, encryption was missing on sensitive documents containing salary and revenue date, strategic plans and personal employee information. Passwords were stored in electronic folders succinctly marked "passwords."

These are the sorts of oversights and rookie mistakes seen often but nonetheless are reckless at best and damning during a breach (and subsequent legal action).

A contractor who worked for Sony was more blunt, telling Business Insider, "The security team has no f---ing clue."

That was mistake one, disregard for industry best-practice security measures and poor staffing decisions.

Once the hack was revealed, Sony's damage control began to look as inept as its network skills.

The company brought in reputable cybersecurity firm Mandiant, but things went south when Sony CEO Michael Lynton issued a memo, picked up by media, saying the firm had told him the hack was "unprecedented" and "neither Sony Pictures Entertainment nor other companies could have been fully prepared."

Other cybersecurity firms panned that conclusion and Sony was left looking like it paid for a positive assessment that might possibly win it public favor as a bullied victim.

When public sentiment didn't come and the story got out of control, Lynton struck out at the media, hiring high-powered lawyer David Boies, who represented the Justice Department in the case against Microsoft, to tell media outlets they were in possession of stolen information and they should destroy it.

Media refused, cited responsible reporting, and again left Sony looking like the bad actor in its own personal Armageddon.

That was mistake two, trying to hang a veil in front of the media instead of being transparent and sticking to reasonable disclosure processes.

The third strike came when Sony pulled "The Interview" movie from release, touching off a national debate around the First Amendment and setting off an outcry from entertainment luminaries and others artists devoted to free expression.

The Sony hack now is generating a storm of hype around cybersecurity, cyberwarfare and Hackivism that is likely to touch off new rounds of lengthy legislation that will further burden overworked corporate security architects and keep Sony in the spotlight.
For enterprises, it's time to shut out the noise. The bulk of the lesson here has been served and the message isn't much different than it was pre-hack.

Security architects need to work on correcting their obvious weaknesses and work toward tightening the screws around security technologies already deployed. Email and document storage policies and procedures need to be revisited. Corporate communications needs to think before it acts, prevent executives from doing the same and shore up (or create) crisis plans.

And the executive suite needs to listen, to comprehend risk, and fund IT work that minimizes the possibility of a breach or lessens the damage if one occurs.

These are familiar refrains that are often addressed with lip service. But there is a company out there storming toward becoming the next Sony Pictures Entertainment. Will it be yours

Friday, December 19, 2014

Russia's Economy Is Really Sick, but It's Probably Not Contagious (BusinessWeek)

Russia's Economy Is Really Sick, but It's Probably Not Contagious
As Moscow takes increasingly desperate measures to stem the collapse of its currency, is it time for the rest of the world to start worrying about Russian contagion?
Even as the ruble strengthened on Wednesday following new government actions to defend it, there were signs of alarm elsewhere:
• Emerging-market currencies and shares worldwide are getting hammered as investors seek safety in more-developed markets. A Bloomberg index that tracks 20 of the most-traded emerging-market currencies is at its lowest level in more than a decade.
• Foreign companies that depend heavily on Russian sales are taking a painful hit. Danish brewer Carlsberg (CARLB:DC), which is Russia’s biggest beer maker, has seen $2 billion wiped off its market value over the past month.
• Investors who bet big on Russia are reeling. Just look at Pimco’s $3.3 billion Emerging Markets Bond Fund, which held 21 percent of its assets in Russian corporate and sovereign bonds and has lost 8 percent of its value over the past month.
Even so, global damage from Russia’s misery is likely to be limited. In 1998, Moscow’s sovereign debt default triggered major upheaval in emerging markets. Now, though, most of those markets have much stronger foreign-currency reserves—about $8.1 trillion today, compared to less than $700 million 15 years ago—to cushion them against financial volatility. And governments in emerging economies now mostly raise money in local currency, limiting their foreign-debt exposure. “The differences between now and 1998 are much more important than the similarities,” says Kit Juckes, global strategist at Société Générale in London.
What about multinationals’ exposure to Russia? Apart from a few extremely vulnerable players such as Carlsberg, most foreign companies are likely to suffer little or no distress from the ruble’s plunge, says Otilia Dhand of Teneo Intelligence in London. One reason is that U.S. and European sanctions have already put a damper on exports to Russia. Even before sanctions, most multinationals’ sales in Russia weren’t all that big. “The Russian economy looks huge on the map, but in fact, it’s only the size of Italy’s,” Dhand says.
For now, the Kremlin seems to have slowed the ruble rout, which worsened on Dec. 16, even after an emergency interest rate increase by the central bank. The currency gained 11.2 percent on Wednesday, to 60.70 against the dollar, after the Finance Ministry bought rubles and the central bank took steps to ease pressure on companies with large foreign debts coming due.
The outlook for Russia remains grim, though. With oil near $60 a barrel, the economy is contracting and foreign reserves are shrinking, just as companies face hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign debt repayments and sanctions have choked off access to global capital markets. “The direct economic and financial linkages between Russia and much of the rest of the world [are] relatively small,” analysts at Capital Economics in London wrote in a research note. However, “the devastating consequences that the current oil price will have on Russia’s economy and its dollar-debt laden financial system suggest calm may not be fully restored anytime soon.”
Matlack is a Paris correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

CAMACOL: Entrega de Cenas de Navidad 2014


Testimonio de una persona que recibió la Cena:

Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 6:51 PM
To: lgarcia@camacol.org
Subject: Thank You!

Mr. Garcia:

I would like to thank you, your staff and all the sponsors for the bag of food that I was able to get today.  Thanks to all the volunteers that made the process smooth.  I would like to let you know that because of this, my family will be able to enjoy a wonderful Christmas dinner. 

I wish you and your family and all the staff at your corporation, a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Years.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Migdalia Cato

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Businesses not hiring IT apprentices despite skills shortage claims (TechRepublic)

By Nick Heath in European Technology, December 15, 2014
Despite claims the UK and US are in the grip of an IT skills shortage, the number of people being accepted for IT apprenticeships has fallen by one third - with less one in 10 applicants securing places. 
A perennial complaint is that businesses are suffering from a shortage of IT skills in both the UK and the US.
However, the number of people securing IT apprenticeships has fallen by one third in the past year, according to official figures. While 13,060 people started IT apprenticeships in 2013/14, that number was down from 2011/12, when 19,520 students undertook such roles.

During a similar period the number of applications for IT apprenticeships almost trebled, from 48,350 in 2010/11 to 133,800 in 2013/14. There are more than 10 applicants for every IT apprenticeship, compared with 2.5 in 2010/11.
The number of IT apprenticeships awarded compared with the number of applications.
 Figures from the UK Skills Funding Agency

"The government has made apprenticeships a policy focus for a number of years, but despite us noticing an upward trend in the number of roles for IT contractors, the number of apprentices in the IT sector is on a worrying downward trend," said Simon Curry, CEO of SJD Accountancy.
"The UK tech sector has been one of the star performers of the economy in recent years and has created significant demand for fresh talent.
"It is therefore vitally important that we continue to bring young talent into the industry. The jump in apprenticeship applications shows that there is growing appetite among candidates for careers in ICT.
"The concern is that employers are not being provided with the right encouragement to take on and train young professionals."
In response to the low uptake, the government cited its investment in various schemes, as well as changes in regulations, aimed at encouraging firms to take on apprentices.
"We are committed to raising not just the number of apprenticeships, but also driving up quality, and have insisted that all apprenticeships are jobs, have a minimum duration of a year, include off the job training and meet the needs of employers," said a spokesman for the UK government's Skills Funding Agency.
The whole notion there is an IT skills shortage has been called into question in both the UK and the US, by commentators pointing out relatively high levels of unemployment among graduates who studied computing.
SJD Accountancy is hopeful employers maybe willing to take on more IT apprentices from April 2016, when the government will scrap employer contributions on earnings up to the upper limit for people aged 25 and under.
The firm also recommends government helps senior IT workers update their skills and increase their employability by making training a tax-deductable business expense.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Google News Shuts Down in Spain (PCMagazine)

Google News

Rather than pay to include content from Spanish publishers on Google News, Google will close up shop there instead.

Google News is shutting its doors in Spain to avoid a new set of fees being imposed in the country.
Starting in January, new legislation will require every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even a snippet of their articles. But Google will pull Spanish publishers from Google News and shut down the service in the region effective Dec. 16.
"As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable," Google News head Richard Gingras wrote in a blog post.
"For centuries publishers were limited in how widely they could distribute the printed page. The Internet changed all that," Gingras said. "Creating tremendous opportunities but also real challenges for publishers as competition both for readers' attention and for advertising Euros increased."
"We're committed to helping the news industry meet that challenge," he added, "and look forward to continuing to work with our thousands of partners globally, as well as in Spain, to help them increase their online readership and revenues."
Google's News service launched in September 2002, following an increased interest in news after the Sept. 11 attacks a year earlier. At the time, the tech giant invested in technology to help people search for and browse news items from various sources. In the 12 years since its launch, Google News has grown to include 72 different editions, presented in 30 languages, which draw from more than 50,000 news sources.
Google faced a similar battle in Germany this year, though inclusion in Google News there is at the discretion of the publisher. On Oct. 9, pages associated with certain media groups—namely Axel Springer, one of the largest digital publishers in Europe—started appearing only with a headline and direct link. Other German publishers not ensnared in the fight, like Der Spiegel, continued to have the usual blurbs and thumbnail images accompany their search results.
About a month later, though, Axel Springer was back, since removing snippets from Google News prompted a big drop in traffic to its newspapers' sites.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

With $2 Gas, the Toyota Prius Is for Drivers Who Stink at Math (BusnessWeek)

With $2 Gas, the Toyota Prius Is for Drivers Who Stink at Math

There’s a big discount on driving these days, thanks to the drill-baby-drill refrain at OPEC that's echoed in Texas and North Dakota. The savings are most concentrated for those driving cars with old-fashioned combustion engines. A road trip in a Ford F-150 pickup from New York to Los Angeles costs about $292 at the moment, roughly $84 less than it did just two years ago. A stop for gas in the middle of the country will cost less than $2 per gallon.
All this is a major problem for anyone trying to sell hybrid and electric vehicles. Electric engines and their massive batteries have never been cheap. A big part of the sales equation—savings at the fuel pump—has virtually vanished.
To get a sense of just how much the market for efficient vehicles may be crimped by falling gas prices, we did some hypothetical comparison shopping. The contenders included: the Chevrolet Cruze, a fairly efficient gas-powered compact car; the Toyota Prius, the most popular hybrid in the country; and the Nissan Leaf, the most popular all-electric car in the country. All these cars have four doors, little trunks, and not much else. Our analysis was based on the cost of each car, its federal “combined” mileage rating, and the annual miles logged by the average U.S. driver (13,476 by the Federal Highway Administration's count). We also factored in federal tax credits for the Prius ($2,500) and the Leaf ($7,500).
The takeaway: Toyota should hope that Prius-curious shoppers don’t pull out a calculator.
It would take almost 30 years of fuel savings from the hybrid Prius to cover its price premium over the little Chevy Cruze, although that doesn't account for the Chevy buyer making savvy investments with her savings in the meantime. It doesn't matter, since we will all be flying around in futuristic Teslas before the Prius pays off. The all-electric Nissan gets a lot closer: The Leaf, without any gas stops, takes just 3.8 years on the road to beat the cheaper sticker price of the Cruze.
The Cruze gets a respectable 30 miles per gallon of combined highway and city driving, but its real strength is relative affordability. Without a second engine and a massive battery, the average Cruze had a $21,322 sticker price last month, compared with almost $31,973 for a Prius and $32,933 for a Leaf. Even after federal tax breaks, Cruze buyers start with an advantage of $8,151 over the Prius and $4,111 over the Leaf. That’s a lot of gas money.
For the 13 states with no hybrid incentives, this is where the equation stops. The electric engines can catch up a bit more in places that have state and local incentives for efficient vehicles. Car shoppers will have to do some homework because the range on incentives is quite broad. Arizona gives a $75 tax break to drivers who install a charging outlet in their home. At the other end of the spectrum, Colorado offers up to $6,000 in tax credits via a formula that takes into account the purchase price of the vehicle and its battery size.
A Leaf in the Rocky Mountains, for example, is cheaper than the Cruze before it even leaves the lot. The Prius, however, still has trouble keeping up. Its tax credit in the state of Colorado would cover onlyabout a year’s worth of gas in a similar nonhybrid vehicle.
Of course, several factors were left out of this analysis: the cost of replacing an electric engine battery, the possibility that gas prices may climb again, and the value one puts on simply burning less carbon. Plenty of people will quibble with whether the Cruze is a worthy comparison, and there are still the weighty questions of how much governments will sweeten incentives for electric engine customers and how fast the cost of high-tech batteries will fall in the not-to-distant future.
But most people weighing a small car purchase at the moment are likely doing just this kind of back-of-the-envelope calculations. The Leaf makes a compelling argument, even if it can  go only 84 miles between charges. The Prius math, on the other hand, is particularly unappealing while gas is cheap. And that Dodge Challenger Hellcat, with its 707 horses burning 16 miles-per-gallon? That muscle car is looking more prudent than ever.
Stock is an associate editor for Businessweek.com. Twitter: @kylestock

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Uber Faces Bans in Spain, Thailand as Portland Sues (PCmagazine)

Portland has filed suit against Uber, just as the app-based car service is banned in Spain and Thailand

Uber Logo
Uber's lawyers will certainly be busy this week.
After the app-based car service launched illegally in Portland last week, the city has hit back with a lawsuit. And today, officials in Spain and Thailand banned Uber.
All that, meanwhile, follows a suspension of service in New Delhi, India after a female passenger accused her Uber driver of rape.
In Spain, a judge today said that Uber drivers "lack the administrative authorization to carry out the job, and the activity they carry out constitutes unfair competition,"according to the BBC. The move came after complaints from the Madrid Taxi Association.
In Thailand, meanwhile, the country's Department of Land Transport took issue with the fact that drivers did not have the proper registration to operate commercial vehicles, as well as Uber's payment-processing system, Al Jazeera America said.
Back in the U.S., the City of Portland on Monday filed suit and requested that the judge ban Uber until it is in compliance with local laws.
"Our main concern is public health and safety, because the state invested in the cities the responsibility to do that," Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said in a statement. "Beyond that, though, is the issue of fairness. Taxi cab companies follow rules on public health and safety. So do hotels and restaurants and construction companies and scores of other service providers. Because everyone agrees: good regulations make for a safer community. Uber disagrees, so we're seeking a court injunction."
Uber attempted to launch legally in Portland, but when it could not come to an agreement with officials, it started offering service illegally. The city's Transportation Bureau has since issued two civil penalties: one for operating without a company permit and another for operating without a vehicle permit.
It appears city officials are trying to catch Uber in the act, as a press release mentioned that Uber drivers accepted and then cancelled two rides requested by Portland Bureau of Transportation enforcement officials on Friday night.
In a Friday blog post, Uber said that it was "time to try and bring Uber everywhere – even the cities where we know it's going to be a tough challenge, but where residents have made their voices heard loud and clear – they want job generation, they want choice, they want competition."
"We're eager to work with City and State leaders to bring the impact of the Uber platform to Portland and cut down on drunk driving, serve underserved communities, increase transit to small business and help drive the local economy," Uber concluded.