Sony has inked deals with several smart TV manufac

first_imgSony has inked deals with several smart TV manufacturers and its online TV channel Crackle will launch on LG, Samsung and Vizio connected sets. It will also launch on Samsung Blu-ray players.The streaming service and channel is already available via Sony Internet TVs and Blu-ray players.“The penetration of IP-connected TVs and Blu-ray players in the living room is rapidly growing and these devices are fast becoming the new standard,” said Phil Lynch, senior VP, digital networks and games, Sony Pictures Television.Crackle is now available on LG Smart TVs in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia; Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray players in the U.S., Canada, UK and Australia; and Vizio Smart TVs in the US and Canada.last_img

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Games providers face a number of challenges in add

first_imgGames providers face a number of challenges in addressing the connected TV market but there are huge opportunities if they approach the market in the rights way, according to Richard Hilleman, chief creative officer at games provider Electronic Arts (EA). The key is for games providers to respect the time and money available to this consumer segment, and to develop games features that appeal to the market, said Hilleman, giving the opening keynote at the TV Connect event in London. He said EA will build games that have cross-platform appeal, with the ability for devices such as tablets and TVs to interact.Games can be delivered to connected TVs via apps, browsers and streaming. Streaming delivery is currently the primary route to market for connected TV games, said Hilleman. He said the use of HTML5 would also help transform the gaming experience on TVs. However, gaming companies would have to make the software stack on connected TVs work to its maximum capability to deliver a compelling experience, he said.While delivering games via dedicated apps is another route to the connected TV, the problem with apps is that “TVs are not iPhones”, said Hilleman. “Apps are rarely updated on TVs. The majority of the games we have today are client-server games. If you don’t update your app for three and a half years it’s very difficult to keep you in my [gaming] family,” he said.Delivering games via apps was to some extent inhibited by TV manufacturers’ choice of operating systems, said Hilleman. “I like Linux but I don’t have any games on it. It’s a problem for me. LG has changed onto WebOS which we have done some [games] on [but] Android is becoming a more important part of the ecosystem,” he said.Hilleman said Android would be the central platform because there were many Android set-tops as well as TVs, and Android would increasingly become ubiquitous across multiple device types, while walled garden systems such as iOS would have limited penetration. “The good thing is that this is a market with explosive growth. Chinese TVs with Android are coming to the US and that’s good news for us. We are optimistic about that change,” he said.Consuming games on the web is more flexible than delivering them via apps, Hilleman added. However, he said the problem is that browsers on TV are not high-performing enough for EA’s products.Currently, streaming offered the best means of delivering a compelling gaming experience, Hilleman said. “The good thing about streaming is that it can produce fidelity magic. It looks as good as we can make things look. We can transfer PC derivative products to it easily. The challenge is bandwidth,” he said.He claimed that in the US, low average bandwidth presented a significant hurdle to streaming games. A partial solution could be if games providers compressed their products at a different stage of the delivery cycle than they currently did.With streaming, a high cost-per-user was also problematic for games providers, said Hilleman. “I think there will be improvements in [bandwidth] bringing down average cost per user. Server cost per-user is an issue. As penetration grows, there will be improvements,” he said. He added that many of the games favoured by users in the connected TV market were more akin to mobile games than “triple A console games” and these had a smaller bandwidth footprint.Addressing differences between the connected TV market for games and the console market, Hilleman said that a return to the principles of “coin-op” games rather than high-concept console games would point the way. “The typical player on these platforms will not be typical of console gamers,” he said. However, many mobile gamers play as much as console gamers, but play more often in smaller time segments. The same customer can also behave differently in different environments. Mobile and social gaming are the dominant platforms in the market today, he said.“I don’t think this audience is going to spend US$60 a time for games,” he said. “We’re going to get less money from them but more often.” Previously, he said, games companies had asked for much too much “controller skill” for users. Touch-based tablets have changed people’s expectation, however. “This device has changed expectations for those non-console players,” he said. Using an iPad can help educate users, for example through the use of video “walk-through” tutorials. However, game design had to be based on more “granular” principles than triple-A concept games, just as tablet and mobile games required different times to resolution, said Hilleman.last_img read more

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Russian service provider MTS saw its number of pay

first_imgRussian service provider MTS saw its number of pay TV subscribers dip in Q4, though revenues were up year-on-year. In the quarter, pay TV numbers dropped to 2.938 million, from 2.952 million the quarter before and 2.987 million for the same period a year earlier.However, the firm said its number of both broadband and pay TV customers were impacted by the retrospective reclassification of subscribers of acquired companies with those of MTS.At the same time the firm named the acquisition of Pilot and TVKiK, providers of fixed broadband and pay-TV services in the Kursk Oblast region of Russia, among its highlights of Q4.For the quarter, revenue came in at $3.168 billion, up 6.2% year-on-year and 1.1% compared to the previous quarter. Net income was $547.3 million in the quarter, up 39.1% year-on-year.However, full-year revenues were only up 0.9% to $12.4bn, while net income for the year fell 30% to $1 billion.“Overall, we saw strong operating dynamics in our core Russian and Ukrainian markets, yet our group top line performance was limited by a significant weakening of the Russian ruble versus the US dollar and the mid-year suspension of our operations in Uzbekistan,” said MTS president and CEO Andrei Dubovskov.last_img read more

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Sky Deutschland said it reached record audience le

first_imgSky Deutschland said it reached record audience levels in Q1 2013, helping it to swing to a profit and record a 14% increase in revenues. Over the course of the quarter, Sky Deutschland said its customer base grew by 42,100 to 3.4 million and claimed that more than 12 million unique viewers in Sky homes tuned in to its content.Sky Premium HD customers were up 99,300 to 1.61 million, while Sky+ customers increased by 136,000 to 1.06 million. Sky also said that it recorded 15.2 million Sky Go customer sessions, up by 3.2 million over the quarter.“Sky had a great start to 2013, with strong subscriber and product growth, record viewership, and a significant improvement in our financial performance, including a positive EBITDA result. We also continued to position the business for the long term, completing agreements with key content partners and major network operators, as well as concluding our new long-term financing structure,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO of Sky Deutschland.For the quarter, the firm’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation came in at €5.8 million, compared to a loss of €40.6 million in the same quarter last year. Revenues reached €364.0 million, up from  €318.4 million last year.In terms of future expansion, Sky is set to launch a new HD Sport Multifeed service this summer and will show every Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League match live in HD. A new Sky Sport News HD App will also launch this summer, offering 24/7 sport news on-the-go.Sky Deutschland’s HD channel line-up currently includes 65 channels following the recent additions of Syfy HD, 13th Street HD and “E! Entertainment HD.last_img read more

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Ash Vs Evil Dead Virgin Media has acquired firstr

first_imgAsh Vs Evil DeadVirgin Media has acquired first-run rights to comedy-drama Ash Vs Evil Dead, a move that creates a “step-change” in the battle for exclusive programming in the UK.The pay TV service has acquired on-demand rights to the zombie series from Starz Digital, the on-demand licensing arm of the US premium pay firm Starz.This takes Virgin into the original content game for the first time, and was described by the firm’s chief digital entertainment officer David Bouchier as “a step-change in our TV programming strategy” that “demonstrates the true potential of video on-demand”.“By investing in original series and bringing more exclusive TV shows to VirginMedia customers, we are unlocking the power of the boxset once again,” he said. “Ash Vs Evil Dead is just the start for Virgin Media customers.”The UK pay TV market has long been dominated by Sky, though its control has been challenged by SVOD players Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, both of which are commissioning and acquiring exclusive content, and BT, which surprised the industry last year by taking exclusive rights to Fear the Walking Dead channel AMC Global.The first indication Virgin was upping its content game came in June when it hired former Sky Italia programming chief Bouchier to run its digital entertainment unit.The first five 30-minute episodes of the series, set in the same universe as the schlocky Evil Dead movies, will be available to Virgin customers exclusively from today via Virgin’s on-demand service for those subscribed to the More TV package or above and for HD to TV XL subs. New episodes will be added as they go out in the US.The series was unveiled to journalists at a screening in London last night.“Fans throughout the world have been thirsting for the return of Ash,” said Mara Wintour, senior VP, digital, Starz.“Starz is thrilled to partner with Virgin Media and honoured that the truly ‘groovy’ new hit series, Ash Vs Evil Dead was selected to kick off its new on demand programming initiative for UK audiences.”For Starz, the deal comes after Ash debuted in the US to strong critical acclaim. A second season was ordered after just one episode.The show sees Bruce Campbell reprising his role as the titular Ash, now an ageing lothario and monster hunter, who is forced to battle a ‘Deadite’ plague threatening humanity.Speaking to DTVE‘s sister title TBI from the US this week, Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik said Ash was “a unique property that can attract who grew up on the original and the next generation alike. The fact it broke new ground as a mash-up of comedy and horror made it unique from the start”.last_img read more

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Video will account for roughly 70 of mobile data

first_imgVideo will account for roughly 70% of mobile data traffic in 2021 after growing by some 55% annually over the next five years, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report. The study noted a “significant increase” in video traffic share on smartphones and tablets and said that “viewing is gradually switching from traditional TV to streaming video on smartphones”.In the four-year period 2011-2015, the time teenagers spent watching TV or video on a TV screen dropped by 50%, while viewing on smartphones increased by 85%. Meanwhile, cellular data use for smartphone video grew by 127% in 15 months between 2014-15, according to the report.While Ericsson said that the change in viewing habits is most clearly seen by teen behaviour, the change in screen preference from the traditional TV set can be “observed across age groups”.The research said that mobile data traffic grew by around 10% quarter-over-quarter and by 60% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016 and that mobile video traffic is “increasingly dominant”.Social networking is forecast to grow by 41% over the coming six years, but its relative share of traffic is expected to decline from 15% in 2015 to around 10% in 2021 due to “the stronger growth in the video category”.“YouTube still dominates video traffic in most mobile networks and accounts for between 50–70% of total video traffic for almost all measured networks,” said the report. “In markets where Netflix has launched services, its share of video traffic can reach 10–20% of total mobile video traffic.”However, Ericsson noted that as a lot of mobile device viewing time is spent indoors, more than 85% of data traffic generated by the use of smartphone video apps goes over WiFi.The research also predicted that the Internet of Things (IoT) will overtake mobile phones as the largest category of connected device by 2018.Between 2015 and 2021, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to grow 23% annually. Of the 28 billion total devices that will be connected by 2021, close to 16 billion will be IoT devices, according to Ericsson.“IoT is now accelerating as device costs fall and innovative applications emerge. From 2020, commercial deployment of 5G networks will provide additional capabilities that are critical for IoT, such as network slicing and the capacity to connect exponentially more devices than is possible today,” said Rima Qureshi, Ericsson’s senior vice-president and chief strategy officer.last_img read more

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Finnish commercial broadcaster MTV has doubled its

first_imgFinnish commercial broadcaster MTV has doubled its budget for local content and it refocuses its programming grid on domestic fare.The broadcaster said the new local focus will start becoming evident in its autumn schedules, as part of a move to transition its primetime to entirely Finish programming, which it said will give it a cutting edge in its home market.The new Finnish primetime strategy comes as Jarkko Nordlund puts his stamp on MTV, having taken on the CEO role of the Bonnier-owned broadcaster in January.“The revamp of our mindset and methods is underway,” Nordlund said. “A television company must adapt to its viewers’ requirements and create and maintain experiences and phenomena that people can share.“As our viewers are in Finland, we want to offer them the best domestic content that appeals to the broadest number of viewers. By autumn, all prime time programmes on MTV3 will be made in Finland.”The broadcaster said the local-only primetime will bolster its ad sales business as well as giving viewers a strong line-up of local content. it added that it will also revamp its MTV Katsomo online service, allowing viewers to watch the Finnish shows on all connected devices and platforms.“It is MTV’s job to be a trailblazer among the Finnish providers of fantastic audience experiences,” Nordlund said. “This way we can ensure that the production of well-made Finnish programs continues, and these programs will be broadcast on the best channel to the widest audiences in Finland.”The autumn line-up includes local drama series Ex-Onnelliset and weekend entertainment show Take the Money and Run. Existing local shows Posse and The Ultimate Entertainer will also feature.The local push will also extend to MTV’s Sub and AVA channels, both of which will air more local fare. AVA will focus on lifestyle programming and Sub on reality and unscripted.last_img read more

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French broadcaster M6 has named Stéphane Sallé de

first_imgFrench broadcaster M6 has named Stéphane Sallé de Chou as head of acquired light entertainment and magazine programming.Sallé de Chou joined the broadcaster’s advertising sales arm M6 Publicité in 2006, before becoming project chief for acquired light entertainment and magazine programming in 2012. In this role he was responsible for a number of key shows including Les Reines du Shopping (Queens of Shopping), E=M6 and Qu’est-ce que Je Sais Vraiment? (What do I Really Know?).In his new role he will report to Matthieu Bayle, and will be tasked with acquiring and developing an enlarged portfolio of programmes created by external producers for M6.last_img

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The combined home video and pay TV market totalled

first_imgThe combined home video and pay TV market totalled US$251.5 billion globally last year, according to Futuresource Consulting.The research firm said that the market rose by 3% year-on-year in 2016 and tipped digital video, pay TV and DVD and Blu-ray combined to continue expanding at the same compound annual growth rate for the next few years.“Overall video entertainment spend is set to rise to US$280 billion by 2020,” said Futuresource Consulting market analyst Tristan Veale.While pay TV still accounted for 86% of global video entertainment spend in 2016, Veale said “SVOD was the standout performer of 2016 and momentum is expected to continue well past 2020.”FutureSource estimated that the global SVOD market reached 236 million subscriptions at the end of 2016 and projected this would almost double to 485 million by 2020.“Netflix’s dominance in the sector is now facing a significant challenge from Amazon, with this space also being targeted by global entertainment companies including content producers, hardware manufacturers and telcos who are attracted by the significant revenues,” according to the report.In 2016 digital video spend reached an estimated US$22 billion and exceeded that of physical which fell to US$18 billion.last_img read more

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Telefónicas global pay TV base dipped slightly du

first_imgTelefónica’s global pay TV base dipped slightly during the first three months of this year, dropping 1.7% to 8.2 million. The company’s DTH satellite base dropped by 8% to 4.2 million.In Spain, pay TV numbers declined by 3% thanks to a decline in the satellite base offset to some extent by growth in IPTV. The company said that its Movistar Fusión converged base grew by 4% and now represents 84% of the broadband base and 77% of the company’s mobile contract base, with Movistar Fusión’s penetration of pay TV rising significantly.Telefónica España’s pay TV base overall at the end of the period was 3.616 million, of which 2.97 million were Fusión customers, up 7.3% year-on-year.On the downside, the Spanish operation’s supplier costs increased by 3.6% in the quarter, in part driven by increased TV content costs.Elsewhere, in Brazil, Telefónica saw its pay TV base slide by 7% to 1.7 million despite growth in IPTV subscribers. In Spanish-speaking America, the pay TV base rose 3% to 2.9 million.Overall, Telefónica posted first quarter revenues of €13.1 billion, up 5%, and operating income before depreciation and amortisation of €1 billion, up 4.8%.last_img read more

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A minority investor in Seachange has blasted the T

first_imgA minority investor in Seachange has blasted the TV technology provider’s business decisions and called for a board reshuffle and ultimately a sale, in an open letter to the company.Roumell Asset Management, which owns an approximate 3.3% stake in Seachange, said it is “critical that the company’s Board hear our views” in light of its past performance, and backed a strategy that will “ultimately position the company for a successful sale”.“Over the past several years, we’ve witnessed the company’s poor operating results and weakening balance sheet, which in no small part resulted from decisions in which several current board members participated,” said Roumell Asset Management.“The recent vote by shareholders to not re-elect long-time director Tom Olson should impress upon the board that shareholders are finished with the company’s ‘business as usual’ culture. The decisions of the past several years – dismal capital allocation, a disastrous acquisition, and continued operating losses – will no longer be accepted by shareholders.”The letter urged “further reconstitution” of the Seachange board, and said that individuals who “participated in some of these glaringly inept decisions” should consider stepping down.“It’s clear to any independent observer that new blood is needed in the boardroom. Legacy directors should cede their personal agendas to the strong will of the company’s shareholders and step aside,” said the letter.Edward TerinoRoumell praised current Seachange’s current CEO Ed Terino and his decision to streamline operations, exit the company’s Milpitas operation, and build a tech team in Poland, and said that the chief exec had the trust of shareholders.“It should be obvious to the board that SeaChange’s small, sub-US$100 million revenue base is insufficient to warrant remaining an independent going-concern. We have talked to industry participants and believe the demand for SeaChange’s assets would provide shareholders a meaningful premium to the company’s current share price,” said the letter.“We believe Mr. Terino’s approach of protecting the company’s balance sheet by reducing expenses, while focusing on discrete market opportunities, is the correct one and will ultimately position the company for a successful sale.”SeaChange had not responded to a comment request at the time of going to press.Update: A spokesperson for Seachange said: “We have received Mr. Roumell’s letter, and have shared it with our board of directors. While we appreciate the input and perspectives of our shareholders, we find this type of communication distracting to our shared goals of enhancing the company’s operating performance and long-term value. We will continue to engage in active discussion with all our shareholders, including Mr. Roumell.”last_img read more

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Channing Dungey has resurfaced at Netflix as vice

first_imgChanning Dungey has resurfaced at Netflix as vice president of original content one month after departing her role as ABC Entertainment president.Channing DungeyDungey, who was with ABC for 14 years, will start work at Netflix in February 2019. She will report to Cindy Holland, VP of original content.Currently Holland’s original series team manages a packed slate of programming, and in this newly created role, Dungey will partner with her in setting strategic direction as well as in overseeing a large and crucial portion of the slate.Dungey will also oversee some of the company’s overall deals with prolific producers including Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris, who she worked with on a range of projects at ABC, Jenji Kohan, Steven DeKnight, Marti Noxon, and Higher Ground Productions.As ABC Entertainment president, Dungey shepherded a wide range of award-winning programming including The Good Doctor, The Rookie, Rhimes’ series Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder and Designated Survivor.More recently, Dungey played a key role in cancelling Roseanne at the peak of its ratings on ABC earlier this year, after its star Roseanne Barr sent a controversial tweet about a former staffer under President Obama, Valerie Jarrett.Dungey’s successful career in entertainment has spanned both television and film. She partnered with Pamela Post, and formed Dexterity Pictures, a production partnership focused on making both studio and independent films, as well as developing television series.She also served as president of Material, a film production company with a first-look deal at Warner Bros. Prior to that, she served for five years as a Warner Bros. production executive, helping to develop and supervise a diverse range of commercially successful, critically acclaimed films.“Channing is a creative force whose taste and talent have earned her the admiration of her peers across the industry. She’s a risk taker and ground-breaker and talent love working with her. I couldn’t be happier to welcome her to Netflix,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer.Dungey added: “I’m drawn to the forward-thinking, risk-taking and creative culture at Netflix, and the deeply talented people there, especially Ted and Cindy, with whom I’m excited to partner on setting the strategy for original content.“Given that ABC, the place I’ve called home for nearly 15 years, represents the gold standard of traditional broadcast, it feels like the perfect next step for me to join Netflix, the unparalleled leader in streaming. I’m invigorated by the challenges ahead and the opportunity to forge new relationships, and excited for the very welcome reunion with incredible talent.”last_img read more

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first_imgShareTweet ALEXANDRINA MCCAUSLAND STEWARTDERRY’S ‘FIRST LADY OF MUSIC’ TO BE HONOURED WITH BLUE PLAQUEULSTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY THE ‘first lady of music’ in Derry is to be honoured with a blue plaque.Alexandrina McCausland Stewart is credited with bringing the hugely popular annual Feis to the City.The Ulster History Circle is to unveil the blue plaque at her former home in Derry’s Crawford Square. She was the found of the Derry Philharmonic Society in Derry in 1899,A year later the Feis Ceoil was set up.The Ulster History Circle said: “We are delighted to commemorate this leading lady of music.“We would like to thank Derry City and Strabane District Council for their financial support towards the plaque.” DERRY’S ‘FIRST LADY OF MUSIC’ TO BE HONOURED WITH BLUE PLAQUE was last modified: April 1st, 2016 by John2John2 Tags:last_img read more

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BALLYCOLMAN ESTATEFOUR MALES HUNTED BY POLICE OVER

first_img BALLYCOLMAN ESTATEFOUR MALES HUNTED BY POLICE OVER ASSAULTPSNI STRABANEVIVO SHOP FOUR MALES HUNTED BY POLICE OVER ASSAULT was last modified: February 13th, 2018 by John2John2 Tags: POLICE are currently investigating an assault involving four males which happened at the front of a Vivo shop.The PSNI in Strabane say the attack took place on the Ballycolman estate on January, 28, 2018 at around 8.30pm.A police spokesperson said: “If anyone has been witness to this assault or has any knowledge that could assist the investigation, please contact police on 101 quoting ref 1244, 28/01/18.”center_img ShareTweetlast_img

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Previous PostNew patrol officer being assigned to

first_img Previous PostNew patrol officer being assigned to Turnpike Pinterest Linkedin Local NewsNewsWatchTop Stories How to stay safe with Holiday Shopping this year By Daniella HankeyNov 26, 2018, 11:39 am 552 0 BECKLEY, WV (WOAY)- As the holiday shopping season is upon us, please take time to ensure you have a safe and happy holiday season. Next PostGeneral Motors to lay off 15 percent of workers, shutter 5 plants in North America Facebook Mailcenter_img Tumblr Google+ Twitter Home NewsWatch Local News How to stay safe with Holiday Shopping this year As you find time to shop, please be mindful of the following safety tips:• Be aware of your surroundings. Look for suspicious persons, vehicles, etc. when you are on the parking lots and inside of a store or shopping mall. Criminals often travel throughout these areas looking for potential targets and/or victims. Report suspicious activity to your local police as well as loss prevention officers at the store/shopping mall.• If shopping late in the day or after dark, park in a well-lighted areas. Keep in mind, if you are shopping at a mall, the time the store closes from which you enter the mall, as some stores close earlier than others. This may keep you from having to walk unnecessary distances to your vehicle if you find the store has closed earlier than you expected.• Shop in pairs at the very least. Take a friend or family member shopping with you. There is something to be said for safety in numbers.• As you return to your car, make sure to keep your car key in your hand and use a remote if available to unlock your vehicle. Don’t hesitate to ask a store associate to walk you to your vehicle.• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with checks, credit, charge or debit cards. Carry cash and wallets in a front pocket to reduce your chances of having your pocket picked. Keep purses secured to your person and not left unattended in a shopping cart.• Don’t leave cell phones, purses, CD cases, GPS devices or any other item of value in your parked car where they can be seen. Always conceal these items.• Don’t leave purchased merchandise in your parked car where it can be seen. Conceal these items in the trunk, under a cargo cover or make multiple trips if at all possible. Leaving large or bulky items in your vehicle for even a short amount of time increases your chances of becoming a victim.• Remember where you parked your car. While this may seem obvious, many shopping areas are spread out over large areas. Being unable to locate a car can cause you undue confusion and stress that may present you as a better target to a criminal.• While these steps don’t guarantee you will not become the victim of crime, they will hopefully reduce your chances of falling prey to a criminal. Daniella Hankeylast_img read more

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In This Issue   Euros As Gold attempt to

first_imgIn This Issue. *  Euros & A$’s & Gold attempt to rally. *  Sweden, U.K. and ECB meet this week. *  Asians like loonies! *  Update on CFC  And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Fed Heads Shuffle Around Their Take On QE.  Good day. And a Marvelous Monday to you! Another weekend filled with rain. I was sitting outside, under cover, yesterday, and it was downright chilly! It was the last day of June for heaven’s sake! I know out west their getting baked, but here, no one from my family would sit outside with me because it was “too cold”. UGH!  Oh well, It’s July 1st, and keeping with Pfennig Tradition, this is how I begin each July. There I was on a July morning, I was looking for love. With the strength of a new day dawning and the beautiful sun.  (special credit if you know who did this great rock song, and no checking on Google!) Well. It appears to be a quiet day in the currencies this morning. The euro and Aussie dollar (A$) are both up 1/2-cent , Gold is higher by $8, and the yen is weaker, as it heads back to 100..  There are a ton of data prints before we get to Friday’s Jobs Jamboree, which will be fielded by just a handful of junior traders, as most boys and girls will have taken the opportunity to make the 4th of July a 4-day holiday weekend, and head to the Hamptons. OK. So, there I was on Friday morning, our little Christine had brought us in breakfast sandwiches, and I was sipping my coffee and reading news stories, when a story came across the screen that caught my eye.   But first, I had just mentioned to the desk that the euro was having a “good day” so far, and it was about to re-touch 1.31, when the rug was pulled from under the single unit.   So, it was falling like a rock from a cliff, and this story came across talking about how the Eurozone’s record Current Account Surplus and slowing inflation was giving the euro the kind of strength that has made the yen a safe haven in times of financial economic turmoil.   It made it all very strange, because I’m reading this story about why the euro is strong, and on the screens it’s dropping like a rock! I do want to point out that the euro, while weaker than it was before the FOMC announcement two weeks ago, still is ahead of where most forecasters had circled the euro a few months ago.  Most forecasters had the euro trading at 1.28 at the end of the quarter.  Instead the euro posted its biggest quarterly gain since 12/08. not too shabby for a currency that was supposed to collapsed or not even around, according to a TON of analysts and researchers a couple of years ago. Yes, I could begin listing these fellows right here, but. what good would that do? Other than to imagine them with egg on their collective faces! OK. now that’s tempting. But I think I’ll pass. Later on Friday morning, I saw what had caused the damage to the euro, but didn’t explain why Gold bounced from $1,188 to $1,215 while the euro dropped. A Fed Head, Jeremy Stein, made a speech and delivered his thoughts on why he believes the Fed will begin tapering Quantitative Easing (QE) in Sept. just two short months away.  He believes that the cumulative amount of progress in the economy since last September was giving the Fed a feeling that they needed to begin to provide concrete guidance to the markets.. And that it’s not a matter tracking data up to September either. so I guess we can ditch our “data journals”. No, he said that the current data when the FOMC meets in September will dictate if tapering can begin, and then each month going forward would provide guidance as to how much tapering each month can be done. You know, with each Fed Head, comes a different idea on what we can expect, or look at. last week it was Dudley saying that the unemployment rate was the key. and so on.  So, that’s their plan folks. The Fed Heads are going to all go in different directions, in an attempt to confuse us, so that when they do get around to whatever it is they decide to do, they can explain it by saying, “we told you on “x” date that we were going to do, blah, blah, blah”  I’m going to continue to keep my data journal going though, it’s a good exercise in keeping track of this stuff, because, as you know, a lot of data is printed long after the water passed under the bridge, and even though they are lagging indicators, they at least confirm what I see in the economy. I told you all that I was going to be meeting with our fave local professor of economics on Friday, and it was quite an entertaining meeting. I did get a couple of my points across, but the professor was steadfast that the Gov’t is doing the right thing, and that things aren’t as black as I paint them every day. One thought I’ve been carrying around was confirmed as right, by the professor, but. was quickly dismissed as anything “significant” when considered against the “size of the economy”. And that was simply that I thought that the Gov’t was subsidizing GDP in a covert way. My thought was simply that with spending or consumption a large part of GDP, one way to boost GDP would be to get spending up. Ahhh, let’s see, we currently have 47 million people on food stamps, and when they get the money in their account what do they do with it? No, I’m not talking about “the fringe stuff” , I’m just talking about spending it.  And, any questions now why the Gov’t is still “recruiting” individuals to sign up for food stamps? OK. Time to go on to other things! The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will meet tonight, and the consensus forecast is for the RBA to keep rates unchanged at this meeting. But, I’m not “buying the consensus forecast”. The RBA has been a thorn in my side for months now, and I’m pretty sure they will want to remain a thorn in my side by implementing another rate cut!  But, this morning the traders are buying the consensus forecast and marking up the A$ by 1/2-cent. The euro is getting its boost this morning from better than the average bear manufacturing index prints from Spain and Italy. As the day goes on, the euro will also have to deal with May unemployment data from the Eurozone, and the June Inflation reports. So, this could be a volatile day for the single unit. So. remember last week when I wrote about the price of Gold getting close to its production costs and when if it slipped below its production costs that it could cause mining companies to shut down, and thus causing a supply problem. Well, there I was Saturday, reading stuff between the wedding of a neighbor’s daughter, and the reception, and saw this story on Gold from CNBC.com. “Gold fell to its lowest level since 2010 on Friday to under $1,200, which is what it costs many miners to produce an ounce of Gold.” There are reports of quite a few gold mines closing in Australia, with some companies actually going bust and a significant amount of job cuts by big miners.” For those of you new to class, Australia is the second leading Gold Producing nation in the world, so what happens to Aussie miners is not good for the supply. And the price of Gold did briefly slip below $1,200 on Friday, but then was like a rubber band shot back above that $1,200 level, and hasn’t looked back since. We have a few Central Bank meetings this week. I already told you about the RBA meeting tonight. On Wednesday Sweden’s Riksbank will meet, and as we’ve discussed the past couple of weeks, the economic data in Sweden is strong enough to make the Riksbank pass on a rate cut at this meeting. Then on Thursday when here in the U.S. we will be flying our flags, heating up the charcoal, and shooting off fireworks, the Bank of England (BOE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) will meet. The only thing going on in the BOE meeting is that it will be the first one under the leadership of Mark Carney, former Bank of Canada Gov.  The ECB will probably not even mention the modest recovery going on in the Eurozone, for it’s just too soon to get all lathered up about. So, the Central Banks in Europe will most likely keep their rate cut powder dry this week, besides, the markets will be very thin, come Wednesday. Shoot Rudy, there weren’t many cars on the road when I came to work today, so maybe this is going to be a volume thin holiday week! I haven’t talked about Canada yet today, so this seems to be a good place for me to highlight that Canada’s April GDP printed with another rise, this time being a small .1%, and although it was smaller than the previous month’s gains, it did keep the momentum in the economy going, as this marked the 4th consecutive month of GDP gains.  The Canadian dollar / loonie is basically flat today, with the Canadians on holiday today, as they celebrate their “Canada Day”. OK. Remember all the hoopla I tried to place on the fact that the A$ and loonie were now going to be accounted for separately in the IMF’s accounting of Central Bank reserves?  Well, it appears to be have been warranted! The IMF’s data showed that both the A$ and loonie accounted for 1.6% of global reserves. Which in real numbers is 98.6 Billion worth of A$’s (in dollar terms) with a good spread around the world. The loonie’s reserves are lower in Europe, but more than make up for that lower % in Europe with a huge increase in Asia. Now. Knowing this data, gives me a thought about the loonie. I always associate Asian people as knowledgeable investors, knowing that precious metals are a store of wealth, and not just a commodity, saving and the list goes on. If the Asians see something in the loonie as something they should own, well. I guess that speaks for itself, eh? Here in the U.S. this week, we’ll see quite a bit of data for a holiday shortened week, starting today with the June ISM Manufacturing Index. Remember that May’s Index showed that manufacturing had slipped to the contraction side of ledger (49). The forecasts are for the June index to climb back above 50, but not by much. The regional reports haven’t been very strong, as a whole, with some regions stronger and others weaker. Which tells you about the economy in the U.S. very uneven.  All the data in the U.S. this week will just be the opening act for Friday’s Jobs Jamboree.  I see the calls for June job creation to be around 165,000, with the unemployment rate remaining at 7.6%, but don’t forget what I explained to you about last Friday, regarding how the unemployment rate could begin to slip at a quicker pace, due to the lower labor participation rate. Shoot Rudy, like I always say about Gov’t data. If they don’t like the results they just change the way they account for them. Speaking of the U.S. I saw where the DOW ended June on a down note, but still posted the best half year since 1999! The year-to-date increase in the DOW was up 13.78% in the first 6 months of this year.  I wonder what the news from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on the soaring health insurance costs will do to the DOW as we go forward.  According to a report in the WSJ, “healthy consumers could see insurance rated double or even triple when they look for individual coverage und the federal health law later this year, while premiums paid by sicker people are set to become more affordable.”   OK. a few years ago, I told you all this would come to fruition, and I had one reader blast me saying that it was untrue, and wanted me to issue a correction. Hmmm, I wonder who should issue the correction now? And while we’re on the subject of Gov’t mingling. Remember the Cash for Clunkers program? Well, it turns out that many cash-for-clunkers (CFC) buyers have higher repo, and late payment rates. I know, this is not amazing to us that saw the CFC for what it was. 1in 5 CFC participants said they regret buying a new vehicle, and admit they didn’t think past the new car smell.  They also bought into the idea that the economy was improving and would make their purchase look like a good idea. I guess not! Alrighty then. Let’s talk about something else! Oh, I guess it’s time to head to the Big Finish! Let’s go! For What It’s Worth. You know for the past few years, I’ve given you quotes and snippets of articles from Silver Analyst, Ted Butler (no relation that I know of, and each time he says stuff that people should really be listening to. Today is no different. I took this from Ed Steer’s letter, and it’s Ted Butler talking about Silver. Being around the markets for as long as I have, I have resisted the temptation to flat-out state that silver prices can’t possibly go lower than any certain level; although it is just as true that I have thought the bottom has been put in on many recent occasions. Right now we are caught between unreasonably low prices that must adjust to the upside at some point…and an historic deliberate manipulation to the downside of unprecedented proportion that must end. Accordingly, I feel it is way too late to even think about selling…and the only reasonable thoughts should be of where to buy at the lowest possible price.” Chuck again. Did you see my Sunday Pfennig & Pfriends article about Silver? I thank those that sent me notes telling me it was good article. I really don’t like writing for the Sunday issues, I don’t want Pfennig Readers to get too much of Chuck that grow tired of hearing from me. One thing I learned from my days of performing on stage with my guitar. “leave them wanting”. To recap. The currencies are mixed today, with the A$ and euro both up ½-cent, while the yen heads south again toward 100. Gold is up $8 this morning, after experiencing a rubber band shot higher on Friday, after the slip below $1,200. Gold’s price is very near its cost to produce it, and miners in Australia are feeling the pinch, just as Chuck predicted they would a week ago. And Chuck gives us the update on two Gov’t mingling projects. Currencies today 7/1/13. American Style: A$ .9205, kiwi .7780, C$ .9510, euro 1.3045, sterling 1.5220, Swiss $1.0575, . European Style: rand 9.9120, krone 6.0590, SEK 6.6685, forint 225.25, zloty 3.32, koruna 19.9215, RUB 32.88, yen 99.60, sing 1.2676, HKD 7.7555, INR 59.52, China 6.1805, pesos 12.92, BRL 2.2310, Dollar Index 83.10, Oil $97.03, 10-year 2.52%, Silver $19.51, Platinum $1,355.99, Palladium $ 677.33, and Gold. $1,238.77 That’s it for today. Sad new out west, eh? 19 firefighters died fighting the Arizona wildfires. My beloved Cardinals are not playing so well these days, and need to shake out of this funk they are in.  They play this week in Anaheim, which means I won’t see or hear the games, as they start so darn late!  We had a nice family dinner celebration for Alex’s 18th birthday on Friday. Then he had some of his friends come over. I guess as Alice Cooper said, he’s 18, and he likes it! Alex will be traveling later this month with the St. Louis Junior Olympics Water Polo Team to California for games, it will be his first trip without a parent. Thanks to Lisa for our meeting on Friday, and my trip to the Center for Advanced Medicine was fine, a much better experience than when I used to go there a couple of years ago for my other eye.  And with that. Let’s go out on this July morning, with a beautiful sun (not here of course! UGH!) and make it a Marvelous Monday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837last_img read more

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Whether or not this sort of outcome unfolds the c

first_img Whether or not this sort of outcome unfolds, the completion of the present market cycle appears likely to wipe out more than half of the market’s gains from the 2009 lows, as even run-of-the-mill bear market declines have regularly done in market cycles throughout history. Last week, much was made of a remark by Warren Buffett that he was having difficulty finding any bargains in the current market. In our view, he did not go far enough, because even his more recent comments about valuation seem inconsistent with his own very accurate observations in the past. For example, Buffett noted in 1999 that “In my opinion, you have to be wildly optimistic to believe that corporate profits as a percent of GDP can, for any sustained period, hold much above 6%.” That assertion was clearly demonstrated by the clearly cyclical behavior of margins in the years that followed. It’s an assertion that deserves particular attention today. Likewise, Buffett observed in 2001 that the ratio of equity market value to national output is “probably the best single measure of where valuations stand at any given moment.” On that front, the chart below shows the value of nonfinancial corporate equities to GDP (imputed from March to the present based on changes in the S&P 500). On this measure, the likely prospective 10-year nominal total return of the S&P 500 lines up at somewhere less than zero. Suffice it to say that our estimates using both earnings and non-earnings based measures suggest a likely total return for the S&P 500 over the coming decade of less than 2.9% annually, essentially driven by dividend income, and implying an S&P 500 that is roughly unchanged a decade from now—though undoubtedly comprising a volatile set of market cycles on that course to nowhere. Dan Steinhart Managing Editor of The Casey Report Psychological Ether John P. Hussman, Ph.D. “It’s quite possible that even a small taper will be too much for investors, but the alternative to tapering is to make an already precarious situation more precarious, while damaging the Fed’s credibility in the process.” —Hussman Weekly Market Comment, “Baby Steps,” September 16, 2013 Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided to go the alternative route. The Fed’s decision does not seem intended to be a “reset” of perpetual quantitative easing. Instead, it appears to reflect the Committee’s belief that QE has real economic effects, but that these economic benefits have not gained sufficient momentum. Notably, one member of the FOMC who voted in favor observed on Friday that the decision not to reduce the pace of quantitative easing was a “borderline decision.” Another voiced concerns that the Fed now faces “challenges that come with issues of credibility” and that the inaction “discounts the potential costs of the policy tool with which we have limited experience.” In my view, the problem with quantitative easing is that its entire effect relies on provoking risk-taking by those who would otherwise choose not to do so; that the FOMC has extended and amplified financial market distortions without regard to the rich valuations and dismal prospective returns that financial assets are most likely priced to achieve; and that this distortion of financial asset prices has precious little to do with the presumptive goal of Fed policy, which is greater job creation and economic activity. Unfortunately, even though the equity market has been rising on what we view as nothing but noxious psychological ether, the FOMC has—perhaps unintentionally—released another tank of the stuff. Quantitative easing only “works,” however, to the extent that investors have no immediate desire to hold short-term, risk-free assets. In any environment where investors become eager to hold currency and other low-risk, default-free assets despite their low yield, I expect that both investors and the Fed will discover that quantitative easing is wholly ineffective in supporting the prices of risky assets. This is an experiment that has not yet run its course, and we have no intention of being the guinea pigs in that study. The challenge at present is that last week’s Fed decision does make an already precarious situation more precarious. So the question is how to respond. From the experience of the past few years, the risk is that enthusiasm that the Fed is “all in” could prompt a surge of further speculation and even greater financial distortions. At the same time, examining market cycles over a century of market history, present conditions cluster among the most negative 2-3% of data points in terms of average return and downside risk. It’s sometimes assumed that the views I express in these weekly comments are simply based on my personal inclinations toward the financial markets, but I exert far less discretion than one might imagine. The notable exception was the period between 2009 and early 2010, when I insisted on making our approach robust to Depression-era data as a fiduciary matter: though our existing estimation methods had proved successful, they were also based solely on post-war data, and events at the time were inconsistent with outcomes observed during that period. With that exception, our investment approach is generally driven by a full-cycle discipline of aligning our outlook with the expected market return/risk profile that we estimate at each point in time, based on well-defined methods and historical evidence (see “Aligning Market Exposure with the Expected Return/Risk Profile“). We pursue this approach because we are convinced of its long-term effectiveness and have a century of evidence to support that view, despite challenges that we’ve experienced in the unfinished half of the present extraordinary cycle. Some investors might trade by intuition or faith in the Fed that goes beyond anything that can be quantified historically. I have no idea how one could possibly test that approach over time. Given the objective and unusually negative market return/risk estimates we observe at present, it follows that I continue to believe that present conditions warrant a generally defensive outlook. Still, the Fed’s decision last week creates the possibility of a dangerous contingency over the next 6-8 weeks that a tapering decision might have avoided: the possibility of a short-lived but spectacular speculative blowoff (which would in turn add to the conditions for a fairly steep market collapse). My impression is that a slight amount of insurance against a speculative blowoff could be helpful in easing concerns on that front. Inexpensive, out-of-the-money call options can be useful instruments for that purpose. From the standpoint of long-term stock market returns, the most important feature of valuations to note at present is the extreme level of profit margins, which are more than 70% higher than historical norms. This is well explained by the fact that the deficits of one sector must, in equilibrium, emerge as the surplus of another sector. As has been consistently evident in US economic data across history, large deficits in the combined government and household sectors are invariably reflected in mirror-image surpluses in corporate profits, as a share of GDP. This is not only true in terms of levels but in terms of changes. That is, the change in combined government and household savings over periods of, say, 3-4 years, is also closely mirrored by changes in corporate profits in the opposite direction. This isn’t even a theory—it’s largely driven by accounting identities and economic equilibrium. Again, the difficulty with valuing stocks on the basis of raw price/earnings ratios is that corporate profits as a share of GDP are presently over 70% above their long-term historical norm. Though the actual course of corporate profits will be affected by numerous factors, including the extent to which extraordinary fiscal deficits normalize, we would expect corporate profits over the coming 3-4 year period to contract at a rate of somewhere between 5-15% annually. The practice of valuing stocks on the basis of current earnings or Wall Street’s projections of “forward operating earnings” (which embed assumptions of even more extreme profit margins) has never in history been more reckless and misleading. The PE ratio of the S&P 500 is lying to you. At 18.3x—about 14% above its historical average of 16x—it’s saying: stocks are a fair deal. They’re not cheap, but they’re not expensive, either. They’re certainly nowhere near the lofty heights of the dot-com bubble, when the PE ratio reached a sky-high 28x. Don’t believe it. As John Hussman, President of Hussman Funds will explain, the PE ratio is merely one data point. And in this case, it’s wildly misleading. The rest of the data is nowhere near as rosy. For example, corporate profit margins are a mind-numbing 70% above their historical norms. Profit margins are cyclical—meaning they will decline and undercut earnings. Margins can only go down, and it’s a long drop back to the mean. You’ll read about that and several other sobering stock market statistics in today’s guest article, which is part of John Hussman’s Weekly Market Comment series. You’ll also find John’s well-reasoned projection for stock market returns for over the next 10 years. Fair warning: it’s not pretty. If you’re not familiar with John, he’s a fund manager with a penchant for parsing and explaining unfathomable amounts of data in easy to understand terms. If you’d like to read more of his material, visit Hussman Funds’ website. See you next week. On the possibility (not expectation) of a speculative blowoff With our longer-term valuation concerns on the table, let’s move to the more immediate risks of the Fed’s decision last week—the potential to extend an already strenuously overvalued market by triggering a speculative blowoff. This would only make the subsequent completion of the present market cycle that much worse. I should note that this near-term possibility does not significantly affect our broader investment outlook, and nothing discussed below represents a material basis of our general market analysis. Keep in mind that our discipline is based on aligning our investment outlook with the return/risk profiles that we estimate on the basis of a century of evidence. In contrast, my view about the potential for a short-lived speculative blowoff is more tentative, best viewed as a hypothetical possibility instead of a data-driven estimate. This isn’t a forecast—it’s simply a near-term possibility that we’re forced to consider because the Fed has suddenly created conditions that could support it. My impression is this. Based on numerous past speculative episodes in the financial markets, we know that financial bubbles have often proceeded in an oscillating pattern featuring increasingly frequent cycles of advance, punctuated by gradually shallower declines reflecting an accelerating eagerness to buy dips. This can produce what Didier Sornette has called “log-periodic” oscillations (see “Increasingly Immediate Impulses to Buy the Dip“). Given the negative return/risk estimates we observed in April and early May, I believed that this series of oscillations was ending several months ago. In order to preserve a log-periodic pattern, further oscillations needed to exhibit an even faster alternation between steeply sloped advances and shallow declines. Yet despite the strongly negative return/risk estimates we already had in April and May, this is unfortunately what has unfolded. With the Fed’s decision last week, we can’t rule out one particularly extreme version of a log-periodic bubble that is consistent with price fluctuations to date. That version is pictured below, and would comprise an advance above 1,800 in the S&P 500 over a period of about six weeks. Again, this is emphatically not a forecast, but the conditions for a final wave of speculation may have been created by the Fed’s decision last week, and it leaves us unable to rule out this admittedly hypothetical possibility—particularly in the context of what has been a classic Sornette-type bubble to date. One hardly needs to accept any of these concerns to recognize that current equity valuations are consistent with the likelihood of dismal long-term returns. The historical record of reliable valuation measures should be sufficient. The chart below illustrates the relationship between the S&P 500 price/revenue ratio and subsequent 10-year nominal annual total returns for the S&P 500.last_img read more

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The West Alabama State Fair is back in town WEST

first_imgThe West Alabama State Fair is back in town.WEST ALABAMA STATE FAIR HOURSTues.: 6 p.m. to closeWed.: 6 p.m. to closeThurs.: 6 p.m. to closeFri.: 6 p.m. to closeSat.: 1 p.m. to closeHosted by United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama, the fair opened Wednesday and runs through Saturday.This year, prices aren’t based on age. Instead, they’re based on how tall you are.Children 29 inches (2 feet, 4 inches) and under get in for free. Children between 30 (2 feet, 5 inches) and 41 inches (3 feet, 4 inches) pay $4 for a ticket. Anyone taller than 41 inches will pay $7 for a ticket.Event coordinator Keith Hamby said the money raised is going to a great cause.“This is the primary fundraiser for United Cerebal Palsey of West Alabama,” he said. “They have put a lot of leg work into this event. This time of the year, it’s one of the best opportunities for people to come out. They can have a good time and know their money is going to a great organization.”To see a full list of times, attractions and events, visit westalabamastatefair.com.last_img read more

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Tuscaloosa Police say theyve arrested the man res

first_imgTuscaloosa Police say they’ve arrested the man responsible for dozens of recent burglaries at homes and businesses in the Tuscaloosa and Northport areas.Rodney Tyrone Bertrand, 49, was arrested early this morning after he was found in possession of property later reported stolen. The Tuscaloosa Criminal Investigation Division and the Northport Police Department have been investigating a series of burglaries in both cities since February.Bertrand was arrested on four counts of third-degree burglary and placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail, where he’s being held pending a $60,000 bond. He’s also facing charges related to more than 40 Tuscaloosa business break-ins, and additional burglaries in Northport.Tuscaloosa Police Lt. Teena Richardson said Bertrand is no stranger to the department, and has arrests and convictions spanning nearly 30 years. His most recent burglary conviction was in August 2015, and was released from prison on parole Dec. 16, 2017.last_img read more

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On Tuesday in Pickens County a group of K9s he

first_imgOn Tuesday, in Pickens County, a group of K-9’s helped police officers find Tammy Vail.According to investigators, Vailed started following a vehicle with four people inside of it down John road in Ethelsville, rammed it several times and tried to run it off the road.Deputies said Vail ditched her vehicle on Mocking road and fled the scene, but it didn’t take long for Daisy, Duke and Bill to pick up her trail. The dogs led Deputies along a railroad track for about a quarter-mile to a briar thicket Vail was hiding inside.She faces multiple charges, including attempted assault.last_img

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