talking TRASH

THERE ARE NO MOUNTAINS IN SOUTHwest Florida, unless you count mountains of trash: landfills that rise up to 13 stories above the ground. Here, an intimate and complete history of who we are is buried every day. The endless stream of refuse reflects birthday parties and dream homes; graduation dinners and heart surgeries; tech gadgets and teddy bears; grade school math problems and porcelain thrones. An occasional diamond ring ends up here by mistake.

An increasing amount, too, is being turned into commodities instead of buried. Environmental concerns and efforts to streamline the recycling process have dramatically slowed the growth of landfills, lest the region straddle one massive heap of detritus in some distant, dystopian future. Florida is also pushing counties to recycle at least 75 percent of their solid waste by 2020, a goal the legislature enacted as a statute in 2008.

"So many people aren’t aware - they just throw it at the curb and it goes away. But there’s a whole world that happens to it after that," said Molly Schweers, Lee County solid waste coordinator.

For a glimpse into this epic world of rubbish, Florida Weekly visited the solid waste hubs in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. They process close to 2 million tons of material every year, the facilities reported. The coastal stretch is home to an estimated 1.1 million people, a population that could grow to 1.8 million residents by 2040, a University of Florida projection shows. We each produce four to five pounds of garbage per day by the federal government’s average.

When Southwest Florida landfills began operating in the mid-1970s, nearly everything was buried. Officials recalled that smelly methane gas produced by decomposing trash amassed in huge bubbles. It rolled underneath tarps stretched over the surface of landfills before leaking out of the furnace heart of gold into the air. The process was called “whaling” because the gas bubbles looked like “a Goodyear blimp or a whale on its side,” said Dan Rodriquez, Collier County’s solid waste management director. Now, gas wells trap methane and it’s used to generate electric energy that goes back into the grid.

Each county now also offers “single stream” recycling. Residents toss recyclables in one container and they’re separated by machine elsewhere. Charlotte County was the most recent to start using the method.

"It’s so much easier to recycle now," said Charlotte Commissioner Tricia Duffy. "Just in our own home, it’s cut our trash in half. And that just happened in the last four or five months."

The system requires that people separate trash - such as plastic bags or wrapping, and loose or shredded paper - from recyclables like water bottles, junk mail, and tin cans.

Waste-to-energy programs and efforts to reuse and recycle help counties keep the cost low for this most basic of government services. In unincorporated Charlotte County, that’s $148 per year for one residence; in Lee, $178; and in Collier, $173. That’s the same for each household no matter the appraised property value or the number of people living there. What other essential service can you buy for less than $15 a month?

"It’s a real bargain," said Lindsey Sampson, the long-time director of Lee County’s solid waste division.

Recovering waste

Lindsey Sampson kicked a small, filthy cabbage back into a larger pile of garbage from which it had rolled.

"A soccer cabbage," he commented, smiling good-naturedly.

It was in a dim, dusty warehouse-like space in east Lee County. Residential and commercial garbage trucks, which begin picking up trash before sunup, pull in here 12 hours a day. Among our multi-faceted garbage, this is a destination for things we can’t recycle. About 1,800 tons of it per day is burned here at temperatures topping 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Generators harness the energy that creates, enough electricity to power about 36,000 homes. Steam is released through a 275-foot flue outside that juts up into the sky, a monument to municipality.

There is a sour, complex aroma inside that at first makes it impossible to take a deep breath without gagging a little. As trucks unload refuse in staggering volumes, a front-end loader pushes it ever forward into the pit, a 30-foot deep concrete bunker lit by pale orange bulbs that bring to mind parking lots at night. Blackbirds and egrets search for scraps in the gloom.

As in a classic arcade game, two enormous grapple claws reach into the pit. But instead of goofy stuffed snakes or bags of pirate’s gold, they grab somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds of garbage and drop it into an incinerator that never stops burning, day or night.

Outside this room at Lee County’s rural 300-acre central waste processing site, which opened in the early 1990s, the air is fresh and clean. Abutting the property is Buckingham Community Park and Little League fields.

The county’s active landfill, where ash from the incinerator is shipped, actually sits elsewhere. Lee long ago agreed to process Hendry County’s trash in exchange for building a landfill there.

After the burning process, machines also separate out useable metals, such as aluminum, that are melted down.

"The idea is to recover in a practical way either material or energy," said Mr. Sampson.

In all, the county with its 643,000- some residents processes more than 900,000 tons of material per year in a number of different ways. For instance, mulch is turned to compost, much of it sold in Hendry County and deposited at citrus groves.

It’s all weighed in at the scale house. Much also ends up at a vast recycling facility filled with bales of different materials such as aluminum cans or paper. Lee County is consistently ranked in the top five of the state’s 67 counties for recycling, which Mr. Sampson attributes to a combination of the system he runs and private businesses (including big box stores) that handle their own recycling.

Officials expect Lee’s landfill to last another 15 years as it operates now, before filling up. After that, the county will likely need another landfill, and to look at options such as building another waste-to-energy facility, Mr. Sampson said. He adds that projections are always subject to change.

Keeping it clean

Michael Stark sat in a white pickup truck at the top the landfill in south Collier, an observation point for tours of the facility. It was a blustery day but the smell of garbage wasn’t on the wind or anywhere else.

"This is one of the cleanest landfills you’ll see in the state of Florida," pointed out Mr. Stark, manager of solid waste operations. The county uses the services of Waste Management to operate the facility.

Far off to the left, dump trucks unloaded their haul on a lower hill. It’s kept relatively smell free by spraying it with Posi Shell, an environmentally friendly concrete mix that hardens over the top. A column of birds dominated by turkey vultures - but including a wide variety such as bald eagles and egrets - rose and swirled above this central scavenging site.

Among other wildlife here are deer and “raccoons the size of Rottweilers,” Mr. Stark added.

Meanwhile, trucks arrived at the scale house at the entrance to the property. Everything coming in is weighed and cameras there monitor the entire property. Trucks or vendors dropping off other types of garbage - construction material, for instance, or concrete used to build artificial reefs - are directed to specific areas of the landfill.

Off to the right of Mr. Stark, another hill was filled to capacity. And in the middle was a long low basin where heavy equipment shaped horticulture waste into Twinkie-shaped rows designed to allow the material to heat up enough in the middle to properly break down.

"Eventually this will be one big hill," Mr. Stark explained, with everything filled, left, right and center.

The 312-acre site started accepting solid waste in 1976. About 203,000 tons of it was disposed of in the landfill last year, while more than 711,000 tons were diverted for other uses or recycled.

In the mid-2000s, Collier projected the landfill would run out of room by 2017. Now that projection is 2070, a much longer time frame that leaves officials optimistic that changing technology could by then help them divert even more materials from any future landfill.

Two things changed. The landfill got bigger while the county aggressively expanded recycling efforts, doubling its rate of reprocessing materials in the last 12 years.

"We’ve had a dramatic reduction with the amount of material that’s been going to the landfill," said Mike Bosi, planning and zoning director in Collier.

In general, residents in Southwest Florida have reached Florida’s 75 percent recycling goal, while businesses lag behind.

Unlike people at home, businesses may hire their own private companies or haul their recyclables to Collier facilities themselves instead of using the county system. That makes it easier for some to cut costs or hassle by skipping that step and tossing everything in the dumpster, explained Mr. Bosi.

In Collier County, residents recycle close to 80 percent of their waste products; businesses, 41 percent.

Too, Collier was permitted to build its landfill close to double its current height, to 200 feet, or nearly 20 stories above the ground.

Elsewhere in the facility, wells collect methane gas that is burned by generators, creating enough electricity to power about 28,000 homes.

Storm water runoff or other liquid that seeps through the landfill called leachate, or landfill “gravy,” is funneled out to a wastewater treatment facility.

And a hazardous waste facility processes millions of pounds each year; including 54,000 pounds of florescent bulbs in 2013.

The birds

The sky above the Charlotte County landfill is so full of birds as to actually seem ominous, as if Alfred Hitchcock were directing them. Most of the ground close to where the garbage is dumped, pulverized and buried is also covered by them: a field of seagulls here, another of blackbirds there. Most of all, there are turkey vultures. It’s not uncommon for the birds themselves to attract wildlife photographers, confirms Richard Allen, the county’s solid waste operations manager.

Driving a truck up a dirt road toward the spot where semi-trucks stop to unload non-recyclable garbage, Mr. Allen identifies a number of bald eagles among the crowd.

At the top of this section of the landfill, about 80 feet up from the ground, the high-rise condos of downtown Fort Myers are just visible on the southern horizon. Here, a bulldozer with metal cleats helps tear, shred and pulverize what the semi-trucks are unloading. A fence behind it catches stray litter.

With an estimated 163,000 residents, Charlotte has about half the population of Collier and a little more than a quarter the size of Lee. The facility processes some 350 to 400 tons of material per day that come through the scale house. The entire one-square mile property sits just past the Lee County line off U.S. 41. About a third is conservation lands.

While some of the trash is buried, other items brought to the landfill are sorted into piles that can be reused for something else, such as tires that might be shredded to ultimately make a playground surface. Some debris is turned into woodchips and used during the rainy season, scattered on the landfill’s muddy roads to give trucks easier passage. A new facility that opened about a month ago, run by a company called Synagro, mixes sludge with yard waste to create compost.

The site also includes wells that collect methane gas released by decomposing garbage. It is funneled to two engines that burn it and convert the energy to electricity, enough to power about 3,500 homes.

An adjacent green hill, 130 feet tall, is a closed landfill that contains only construction debris.

And about 190 acres are reserved for future expansion. That would likely include another landfill and possibly a larger waste-to-energy system. The current dump is projected to last until 2030, and look like a tiered cake once complete.

But a recent switch to “single stream” recycling and developing technologies could help it last longer, officials say. Starting last year, residents were able to put all their recyclables in one container. A company that contracts with Charlotte County, Waste Management Inc., processes them at a facility in Tampa.

"If the county and the citizens are doing a really good job on recycling that could extend that (landfill’s) life," Mr. Allen said.

Creating a new landfill will likely be necessary. But it’s a time consuming, expensive process that can cost between $500,000 and $700,000 per acre to build, he pointed out. &;

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The European Union’s foreign policy chief says there is “no guarantee” world powers will reach a final Promo Code with Iran.

Catherine Ashton was in Tehran on Sunday for meetings with Iranian officials on negotiations over the country’s nuclear program.

Under an interim deal in November, Iran agreed to limit a key nuclear activity, uranium enrichment, in return for easing sanctions by the West.

Negotiations for a final deal are ongoing. Ashton leads the six-nation group - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - in talks with Iran.

"There is no guarantee we’ll succeed," she told reporters in a joint briefing with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Zarif said Iran will only accept a deal that respects its “rights,” a reference to uranium enrichment on its soil.

Police help senior citizen couple steer clear of sweepstakes phone scam: North Royalton Police Blotter

Fraud, W. 130th: Police were dispatched at 11:33 a.m. Feb. 27 to a home on W. 130th. The day before the elderly couple had reported receiving harassing phone calls from someone saying they won money in a sweepstakes.

The calls had been coming for a few weeks. While the wife viewed the calls as suspicious, her husband often entered sweepstakes and felt it could be legitimate. As luck would have it, while the officer was there a sweepstakes call came to the home.

The officer listened via speaker phone as the woman on the line told the man he won $2.5 million that was going to be delivered to his home in 45 minutes. That’s when the officer introduced himself.

He asked what company she was with. She replied International Check Clearing House. He asked for her address but she wouldn’t give it. The husband asked the woman not to call back again.

The officer checked on the phone numbers used for the calls and discovered it was a national scam. The winner has to pay a fee to cash the winning checks. Because the calls were coming from out of state, the officer suggested the couple get in touch with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Identity theft, Silverleaf Drive: A North Royalton woman, 41, came to the police station at 5:23 p.m. Feb. 28 to report two macy’s credit card credit cards had been fraudulently opened in her name.

When the woman talked to Macy’s headquarters, she was told in addition to the store credit card an American Express card had also been opened in her name; however, no money had been charged to either account.

Drunk driving, Royalton Road: A speeding blue Ford Focus caught the attention of police at 2:53 a.m. March 2 on Royalton Road. The officer smelled alcohol while talking to the driver and passenger.

When asked why she was driving so fast, the woman driver said she thought driving fast would help her car get up the hill in the snow. She admitted to having one beer to drink.

The woman, who talked with mumbled speech, gave the officer her driver’s license and a credit card. After failing a field sobriety test, during which she said, “I think this is [expletive], I mean this is a violation of my rights,” the woman was arrested for drunken driving.

When asked if she was under the influence of alcohol, she said, “Yes I am. Am I drunk? No.” The woman was also cited for speeding.

Theft, Bennett Road: A North Royalton woman, 19, came to the police station at 2:51 p.m. Feb. 22 to report her friend, a Broadview Heights woman, 21, was responsible for stealing a gun case.

Police talked to a North Royalton man, 22, who said last September his gun case was stolen from his Albion Road home. When the North Royalton woman found out who took the case, she questioned her friend who said she had planned on selling it.

However, the Broadview Heights woman was arrested for drunken driving in November. It turned out she had the gun case when she was arrested. It was in the evidence locker at the police station.

The police tracked down the Broadview Heights woman, who was charged with receiving stolen property.

Drug paraphernalia, W. 130th: Police pulled over a speeding car at 1:16 am. Feb. 23 on W. 130th. There were four men in the car. They were headed to Strongsville. The officer could smell a faint scene of marijuana.

The driver consented to a search of the vehicle, which yielded a pipe with burnt residue that smelled like marijuana. One of the passengers, 20, said the pipe was his. Another passenger, 18, showed the officer a cigarette pack filled with marijuana.

The driver was issued a warning for speeding, while the passengers were respectfully cited for drug abuse and paraphernalia.

Marijuana possession, York Road: A speeding silver Honda Accord caught the eye of a police officer at 2:39 a.m. Feb. 24 on York Road. When the officer approached the car, he noticed not only a baggie in the backseat but also a green leafy substance on the gearshift.

The Parma Heights driver, 18, appeared lucid but also nervous. He said he was headed home. The man said he didn’t know anything about the baggie or leafy substance.

While searching the car, police discovered additional green residue, a grinder, a pipe, rolling papers and silver screens. The driver was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and drug abuse. He was also cited for speed.

Marijuana possession, Walnut Hill Drive: Police were dispatched at 1:33 a.m. Feb. 26 to a Walnut Hill Drive apartment regarding a disturbance complaint. When the officers arrived, the car with arguing adults had left.

However, police did notice a Ford 150 drop off a resident with prior drug and theft arrests. The police followed the truck, which was pulled over on Royalton Road for not having a working rear license plate light.

The officer talked to the driver, who smelled like air freshener. He appeared disoriented and nervous. When the driver opened up his glove compartment to get out his registration, police saw a baggie.

When the officer searched the truck he found marijuana all over the glove box. The driver admitted he had been smoking marijuana earlier. He was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and drug abuse.

He was also cited for not having a working rear license plate light.

Coupon Code Cards support July 4th fireworks

Rhea-Frances Tetley
Staff Writer

The fireworks over Lake Gregory last July 4th were beautiful and this years hope to be even more spectacular, said Cookie Cook, this years Crestline Jamboree Days Fireworks Fundraising Adventure chairwoman.
We have already begun raising the funds to pay for July 4th fireworks and at the same time were offering discounts to those purchasing Jamboree Days Discount Cards, Cookie told The Alpenhorn News. The 2014 cards offer many and varied discounts at over 25 local merchants and contractors. The $10 cards are on sale now at participating merchants and at the Crestline-Lake Gregory Chamber of Commerce office at 24385 Lake Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
The money raised from the sale of the discount cards goes completely to the purchase of the fireworks, which usually exceeds $5,000. The merchants donate the discount or service as their part in support of the fireworks fund. The fireworks will be shot off over Lake Gregory on Saturday, July 5 after a day jam-packed with Jamboree Days activities, starting that day with a parade through town.
Those who purchase the cards get discounts on food bills from many of the areas restaurants. Other restaurants offer free food items such as drinks and or donuts with purchase of a food item. Other restaurants offer a flat 10 percent off an entre or the bill. Services are also available on the cards. How about a discount on poured cement or investigative services? There are discounts on car repairs, labor on tire installation and smog inspections plus free installation of batteries and wiper blades. All these and more are available with the discount card, which could save the purchaser over a thousand dollars if used throughout the Crestline and Twin Peaks communities. Even those who are visitors could save money at local motels and recreational facilities.
The discount cards are good throughout the year and are on sale now. The sooner you purchase your card, the sooner you can begin saving. If you have any questions, call the Chamber office during office hours at 338-2706

CHICAGO (AP) &; The Chicago Bulls and former BYU sensation Jimmer Fredette have tentatively agreed to a contract after he parted with the Sacramento Kings earlier in the week, a person familiar with the situation said Saturday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Coupon has not been announced.

The sharp-shooting guard was bought out by the Kings on Thursday and cleared waivers on Saturday. Now, he’s getting a second chance with the Bulls.

Fredette is averaging just 5.9 point and 11.3 minutes in his third season. But the Bulls are hoping “Jimmermania” will take off in Chicago after staying grounded with the Kings &; or that he will at least give them the outside touch they were seeking.

Chicago is making a playoff push despite losing former MVP point guard Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury and trading away one of its best players in Luol Deng. The Bulls were second in the Central division at 32-26 after beating Dallas on Friday night for their eighth win in nine games.

As well as they’re playing, though, they were still last in the NBA in scoring, 28th in overall shooting and tied for 26th in 3-point percentage.

That’s where Fredette, who turned 25 on Tuesday, could help.

Even though he hasn’t developed into a consistent contributor, Fredette is shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and 49.3 percent from 3-point range.

Fredette dazzled at BYU, leading the nation in scoring at 28.5 points per game and guiding the Cougars to the final 16 in the NCAA tournament as a senior. He was the Associated Press’ player of the year and the 10th pick in the 2011 draft, but he never lived up to his billing in Sacramento. The constant chatter about moving not to mention the fact that he played for three coaches and two ownership groups probably didn’t help, and it was clear his time with the Kings was coming to an end when they decided not to pick up his option for 2014-15 before this season.

Chicago could be a good fit for him, given his ability to stretch the floor even if he’s not exactly a top-tier defender.

Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson weren’t, either, but they flourished under Thibodeau last year and parlayed their success into contracts with other teams. D.J. Augustin is excelling this season, averaging 13.3 points since he signed with the Bulls in December after being waived by Toronto.

If Fredette can knock down shots and show some improvement on defense, he could find a role with the Bulls at least for the rest of the season.

Stacking Coupons with the Crazy Coupon Chick

Stacking Coupons with the Crazy Deal Now Chick

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 10:25 AM ESTUpdated: Friday, February 28, 2014 4:00 PM EST

Coupon inserts: 3 inserts this weekend! 1 SmartSource, 1 RedPlum and 1 P&G!

HOT Target deal! starting Sunday, text the word STOCKUP1 to 827438 and get a mobile coupon for $20 off a $50 household purchase at Target!

HOT deal on gas at Stop & Shop! If you buy 6 participating items, you can earn 40 cents off per gallon of gas! This week, Stop & Shop canned tomatoes are 5/$3 so buy 6 of them which will cost you only $3.60 and save 40&; off per gallon of gas up to 35 gallons!!!

-Friday Feb 28 th at KidsPlay Museum in Torrington at 6 pm!

-And, another class this Saturday March 1st at Savers in Newington at 4:30pm!

Make sure to head to for all of this week’s best deals as well as a list of my upcoming classes!

Ireland could do better: Former Intel head Barrett


Illustration by Jon Berkeley

THE former head of one of the world’s biggest companies, a global game changer and influencer, is sampling a packet of Tayto Cheese and Onion flavour. “They’re not bad,” he concedes politely.

A crisp is dwarfed in the big, rancher hand of Craig Barrett, ex-Intel boss and current part-time cowboy and fulltime education and innovation evangelist.

It has to be the most statesmanlike, dignified consumption of a packet of Tayto ever.

When he lived in Finland (from where he commuted to Silicon Valley at one point) he visited a crisp-making factory to see how potatoes were converted into flavoured snacks. It says much about him - wanting to find out what’s inside everything and how it works.

He looks tired. He’s a linchpin participant in the two-day Silicon Valley Global Technology Forum organised by ITLG, a group of influential Irish and Irish American global tech leaders that Barrett chairs.

It’s been a long day, I suggest. “Days are meant to be long,” he responds sternly.

His passion is education and what he sees as its critical role in economic competitiveness. He is solicitous and slightly shy, very tall and rangy, and it’s easy to picture him in a Stetson on horseback riding across the plains at one of his Montana ranches. He grew up in San Francisco but lives in Arizona from where, for most of 30 years, he commuted to Silicon Valley. He’s wearing a smart corporate blazer, a shirt and tie, but he sounds like John Wayne.

His Triple Creek Ranch business card gives his occupation as “cowboy and fisherman”. Barrett’s grandmother hailed from Co Tyrone and he has an interest in Ireland’s development. He was chief executive of Intel, the world’s biggest silicon chip maker, when the decision was made to locate a plant in Ireland in 1989. At one point, half of the world’s Intel pentium processors - the nerve centre part of computers - were produced in Leixlip.

Barrett is as busy as ever, having stepped down as chairman of Intel in 2009.

Along with former Fianna Fail TD Conor Lenihan, he is involved in a massively ambitious and sometimes controversial project to build a Russian Silicon Valley.

At home in the US, Barrett pioneers a programme of nonprofit, high-achieving schools. You can bet there’s not much slacking off smoking behind the bike sheds or cogging your homework at the 11th hour on his watch.

Last week at the Limerick event where we met, he made powerful pronouncements on education and its place in Ireland’s future competitiveness. (You can watch his speech exclusively online at from tomorrow).

"I think Ireland’s making progress," he says. But Barrett does not do congratulatory backslapping. Our report card would say ‘could do better’.

"It was interesting to go to the event [the ITLG Young Innovators event at Shannon airport where 600 children got to hang out with mentors from Disney, Google, Dell, Intel and more and explore entrepreneurship], and we all kind of said the same thing to them, you know: ‘Technology’s the future, it’s moving faster than ever before, you kids have to be able to accommodate and assimilate this and to work in this environment and to take advantage of this opportunity.

"The thing I find kind of interesting is, we’re telling the kids that this is their future. But are we as adults, doing everything possible that we could do to allow these kids to be successful?"

The answer, you can tell, is: not so much. “We’ve talked a lot about Irish education and its attempts to improve its primary and secondary and university system.

"Now the question is: is Ireland doing enough, fast enough and setting the benchmark that ‘hey my kids have to be as smart as the kids in Shanghai, or Seoul, or someplace like that. And I think the answer is that you could be doing more." And investing more.

"There’s a general correlation between the economies that invest a percentage of their GDP back into R&D tending to do better in technology."

Countries like Israel and Finland put more than five per cent of their GDP into R&D. “Now that’s a combination of private and public sector so it’s not all public money, but the point is the economy has to invest that amount.”

Nowhere near that now at 1.17 per cent, Ireland aims to spend 2.5 per cent of GDP on R&D by 2020, less than the European three per cent target, and to add further business expenditure on research incentives.

"It’s incumbent on us to say, okay, money where our mouth is, I’ll invest to be consistent with where you, the next generation needs to be. The US kind of dabbles around two or three per cent. If it were really serious they’d be investing more."

Barrett wears a vivid blue tie with an R pattern on it. It’s the ‘Romney Victory’ tie, given to supporters of the allegedly magical underwear-wearing US presidential race candidate, businessman and Harvard grad Mitt Romney.

"I wear it daily to remind me of what the United States did, what might have been," he says.

"It’s kind of back to your earlier questions about Ireland and what’s important and what the future is. I’ve been a critic or interested in US competitiveness, the US education system, investment in research and what the US needs to do to be competitive in the 21st century and I just don’t see that understanding in government."

Romney would have been different, Barrett feels, because unlike Barack Obama he has run businesses.

"Our president effectively has never had a job, until he became president. He hasn’t been a businessman, an entrepreneur, made a payroll - hasn’t done any of those things I think are necessary to achieve an understanding of how the economy works.

"I’m not a particular fan of the president. Nor am I a particular fan of Republican politicians, but that’s besides.

"The world’s changing, you’ve got three billion new capitalists in India and China, technology’s going a gazillion miles an hour - is the economy doing everything it needs to accommodate that? It’s very easy for the established economies - Europe, US, Japanese, to get complacent. You’re in a strong position but as a point of fact your position is eroding on a daily basis."

Five years on Barrett, like many of the world’s computers, is still ‘Intel inside’ and closely follows the company and the whole tech sphere.

Looking at the massive disconnect in some cases between value and revenue at some superstar tech companies, does he think there could there be another bubble inflating towards a pop?

"The real valuation issue if a dotcom bust comes along is what is Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn worth? What’s the next social media thing worth? Is Facebook really worth as much as IBM? That valuation probably is a little bit skewed to the aggressive side.

"What I’d call mature accepted companies: the Intels, the IBMs, the Ciscos and so forth - those guys are probably pretty fairly valued at this time."

What about Stripe, founded by Limerick’s Collison brothers? Why is it suddenly worth nearly $2bn following a recent funding?

"Well, probably a lot of people have asked the same question - why? All those guys are in the same category. Snapchat worth $3bn!

"I don’t think the whole market’s skewed, but you could probably make an argument that people being enamoured with the new latest social media type thing, that valuation gets skewed. Can that get corrected?

"Sure, that can get corrected. But it probably won’t bring down the whole market down as it did before."

Despite plummeting computer sales and an admission by Intel’s current leader that the company was too “insular” about the smartphone and tablet revolution, Barrett thinks it is in pretty good shape.

He references Intel’s visionary co-founder Andy Grove’s motto - ‘Only the paranoid survive’. “Intel is paranoid enough that it’s moving into tablets, smartphones and other aspects of computer technology, automobiles and things of that sort.”

Barrett is co-chairman of Skolkovo, Russia’s incredibly ambitious $1.5bn Silicon Valley rival technology business hub, headed by a Russian oligarch and a pet project of Russian prime minister Dimitry Medvedev, where Microsoft and Intel are among the partners and Conor Lenihan is a vice president.

Last year, Skolkovo hit the headlines over suggestions of financial irregularities involving key members of staff. Is Barrett perturbed by the accusations of money not going where it should?

"I think the great bulk of the resources are going where they’re intended to go, to support entrepreneurs, create a university, support entrepreneurs to convince multinationals to come in, I think that’s happened," he says.

Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave recently challenged Google to hire “even one” high level R&D engineer in Dublin.

Could Ireland attract the really valuable Google and Twitter type R&D and innovation function here as well as supplying hewers of wood and drawers of water?

"No," Barrett says succinctly. "I think to a degree it’s a matter of numbers. You can have an Intel invested here as a creator of jobs but it’s primarily a manufacturing investment.

"Those are good paying jobs and I think the Irish are very happy to have them and Intel is happy to be here. Intel also has engineering applications here with 300 employed in Shannon.

"But that’s small compared to the engineering base it has in Santa Clara or Portland or Arizona, for example, and that’s just a matter of numbers.

"The multinationals are going to go where the resources are. And the bulk of resources are not in Ireland because it’s a small country of four or five million people.

"Look at it on the positive side, at least they’re putting their HQs here."

Quoting an adage from a chinese free happy new year cards fortune cookie, he adds: “One of my favourite fortunes is ‘You can’t win unless you choose to compete.’ Unless the United States decides to compete, it will continue to lose economic prominence and economic power and world influence. There’s no other answer.”

Irish Independent

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New Website Designed to Help Investors Compare Prices

A new website has been made available that will help those interested in buying physical gold coins and/or bullion compare the prices of many of the top gold dealers around the country.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) January 31, 2014 

We are all aware of the current economic issues that are facing us as a nation as well as globally. Many financial experts have agreed that it is prudent to invest in physical gold as a form of wealth preservation or financial insurance. The problem is finding the right gold dealer to purchase your physical gold from. How does one know who is actually offering the best rate? It’s a lot of work and research to find the gold dealers with the best prices. That is until now. The Gold Spotter presents gold Amazon Deal Online comparison website. is a new website that takes a bulk of the work off your shoulders. Statistics are showing individual physical gold ownership is and has increased over the years as many investors are wising up to the game the Federal Reserve and other central banks are playing with the dollar.

Gold investors and/or those interested in buying physical gold have a reason to smile with the launch of a website that will save you time and money!, is a new gold price comparison website that takes care of all the research and analysis of gold prices for investors and/or those looking to buy gold. With fluctuations experienced throughout the day, gold investors need a reliable source of information before making purchasing decisions. is that source.

The concept is simple, compares the prices of various the gold coins and bullion as sold by various gold dealers on one webpage so to allow a side by side comparison of over a dozen gold dealers across the country.

It would take someone hours to find and access each individual website, note the prices on the coins/bullion you desire, etc…Such work is exhaustive if one is to do it on their own, and clearly comes to the rescue. This could go without saying, however, we all know that any investment must be done with careful thought and diligence, and offers one the chance to perform their due diligence in part, in a fraction of the time.

"As an avid investor in gold I got tired of spending hours trying to find the best prices, writing down gold dealers’ information, the website address, and the prices for each site, and then finally comparing them all. is the one stop site that does all this work for you, and also updates constantly to keep track of price fluctuations," says James G., an investor who’s already happy with the results he achieved by using

There’s no arguing that one of the best investments one can make is to buy gold, physical gold. However, to do this, one must have the right information before making any purchases.’s ultimate goal is simply to help investors save money, time, energy and effort to assist those who know the value of owning gold by helping to find the right gold dealer with the right price. Like with any investment, there are risks associated with gold trading, as they say the more you know the more you grow. is a free to use site, and investors aren’t charged for the information provided. The details for every individual dealer are shown in table format, click on the name of the particular coin and the table is sorted cheapest to most expensive, click the name twice and rearranges to show the most expensive down to the cheapest dealer for that specific coin. This is so very convenient.

With ever-fluctuating gold prices, a comparison site like is a sure headache-reliever; it allows you to make good decisions based on regularly updated data. With one will have more of an advantage for buying your gold coins and bullion being able to seeing the best rates of numerous dealers in one location, it’s really that simple.

One benefit of trading in gold is that it is one of the few investments that inflation doesn’t affect adversely. Gold is a good protection against inflation and the devaluing dollar, which makes gold popular with investors seeking to protect their savings, protect their retirement and protect their financial future. Gold’s prices might fluctuate now and again, but overall, owning physical gold is a solid investment over time. With the information you get from, you are in a much better position when it comes to making a purchase decision.

Friday is the first day of chinese happy new year cards New Year, a multi-day celebration marked by money-stuffed red envelopes, dragon imagery and, in the Southland, a flood of tourists from Asia.

For the first time, many local shopping centers are greeting the surge in potential customers with fanfare and parades dedicated to the Year of the Horse, festooning their courtyards with paper lanterns and hiring experts in traditional Chinese arts.

The hullabaloo over the holiday - also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year - is a calculated move at many of those retail properties, designed to attract the region’s vast and growing Asian presence into stores after a lackluster year for retail sales.

The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles’ Fairfax district has erected a towering totem of red cloth and bamboo poles guarded by glittering representations of mythical Chinese beings. Through Sunday, the Sprinkles store there will sell red cupcakes with the image of a horse stamped onto a sugar medallion.

On Thursday, Annie Chow, 35, brought her son Michael Jacob, 2, and daughter Olivia, 4, to the shopping center specifically to see the calligraphy demonstration, drummers and lion dances planned for the day on the lawn. Dozens of adults and children crowded around a stage ringed by strollers.

Chow, a homemaker in the nearby Larchmont neighborhood, was pleased because the events were being held in a safe, confined space. The Grove benefited as well: Chow spent $50 on sweaters and a scarf from the Gap when the weather got chilly. And she said she planned to eat at the adjoining Farmer’s Market.

"Part of the appeal is heritage, and it’s also a fun thing to do," said Chow, who hopes to teach Mandarin and Cantonese to her children. "And it gets their peers who aren’t Chinese to learn about the culture."

A six-day festival kicks off Friday at the Santa Monica Place mall with Chinese dragon dances, ribbon dancers, stilt walkers and food tastings. Musicians will play the bamboo flute, butterfly harp and long zither. Chinese henna tattoo artists will be at the ready.

A centrally placed wishing tree will be hung with red envelopes stuffed with wishes written by shoppers. Participating retailers will hand out free fortune cookies. The shopping center, which has never celebrated the holiday before, has also hired Mandarin-speaking staff members for the festivities.

Some 10% of tourist foot traffic into Santa Monica Place comes from Asian tourists, according to the mall’s senior marketing manager Shoshana Puccia. The local Asian community is also substantial, she said.

"The hope is that by driving traffic, we ultimately attract sales," Puccia said.

A large God of Prosperity statue will stand guard through Feb. 16 at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale. Each night, the fountain there will be colored red - considered a lucky hue in Asian cultures - and will spew water choreographed to “Give Me a Kiss” by Taiwanese pop singer Wan Fang.

On Saturday, the shopping center will host a parade with Chinese and Korean folk dancers and drummers. Children can make lanterns at free craft stations and have their faces painted. Calligraphy artists will give away paintings of horses and lucky Chinese characters on red diamond paper.

From Friday through Feb. 28, the Beverly Center mall is running an inaugural program of festivities and decorations, which include a wishing tree that’s 16 feet tall and 14 feet wide. Customers who spend more than $500 in a day can get red envelopes stuffed with cards with more than $8,000 total in awards. Shoppers who make purchases with a China UnionPay bank card can get up to $50 in gift cards.

The Beverly Center estimates that 30% of its customers are tourists. General Manager Ralph Barnes said employees “continue to see growth within that number from Asian visitors, specifically Chinese.”

"We’ve spared no expense," he said of the Chinese New Year plans, though he declined to say how much was spent. "It’s not just something we’re throwing together - it’s a substantial investment."

And for good reason. During a 40-day period that began in mid-January, Chinese natives will take more than 3.62 billion trips, according to the Chinese government. That will involve more than 400,000 flights.

In the first four months of 2013 - the most recent data available - the Commerce Department said that 497,288 visitors from China traveled to the U.S. - a 23.6% increase from the same period a year earlier. From Taiwan, 104,933 headed to America, up 22.9%.

The Commerce Department predicts that the number of visitors into the country from Asia will boom 59% from 2012 by 2018. Travelers from China will boom 219% over the period - or 29% of total visitor growth.

But malls and retailers are also targeting the large group of Asians who reside in Southern California.

Best Buy scores a major win for Muslim Americans in their new TV advert

A seemingly typical Promo Code commercial aired in early January may have signified much more for Muslim Americans.

The ad features a young salesman named Mustafa talking about a Sharp 60-inch television, showing him in his home with woman, presumably his wife, and his friends, watching a football game, The Huffington Post reported on Monday.

Best Buy spokesman Jeffrey Shelman said their ads feature actual company employees and ‘Mustafa’ is actually Mustafa Hakami, an Afghanistan native who works once a week at the electronics store while applying to medical school.

While Mustafa is never explicitly labeled as a Muslim to viewers, many believe the idea is implied. For many Americans, Muslim figures on TV are rarely depicted by the likeable, clean shaven and seemingly all-American Best Buy employee shown in the commercial spot.

"I thought the people watching the commercial in their living room would see me like I could have been them," said Hakami, whose girlfriend in the spot is his wife, Amber. "I see the same things they do, we run into the same issues, we’re all Americans here. So I did the commercials Mustafa from America."

Shahed Amanullah, an Internet entrepreneur and former State Department adviser on diplomacy to global Muslim communities, said the commercials don’t promote acceptance of Muslims so much as they point to an acceptance of Muslims that already exists a dozen years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Advertisers would not be doing this if the idea of a Muslim being a normal American would not play in Peoria," said Amanullah. "The market is telling us that it isn’t weird anymore to see Muslim consumers behaving like any other Americans."

The 31 second advertisement was premiered during the American Football Conference championship game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.

The commercial is set to run through February 1st.