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FTC: 15 Skin Care Companies Offering 'Bogus' Free Trials
Agency obtains restraining order against skin care marketers who it alleges repeatedly charged consumers
 
Consumers who handed over their credit card information to receive free trials of Auravie, Dellure, LéOR skin care products and Miracle Face Kit were instead charged full price and hit with recurring fees each month under terms that were hidden in fine print, according to the FTC, which obtained a restraining order against 15 online companies marketing the products. 
 
The FTC alleged in its complaint in California federal court that the companies marketed and sold the products on a variety of websites, such as mymiraclekit.com and aurviefreetrial.com and advertised “risk free trial” offers for the products in pop-up advertisements, banner ads and in ads on Amazon and The Huffington Post, among other websites.
 
But instead of getting free products, consumers were typically charged more than $97 per month and had difficulty canceling orders or obtaining refunds.
 
“Companies need to give clear, honest information about charges,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If a company advertises a ‘risk free trial,’ then that’s what it must provide.”
 
The agency charged the companies with violations of the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA).
 
For more information on free trials that aren’t free and negative option offers, click here
 

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California’s Drought Is Part of a Much Bigger Water Crisis. Here’s What You Need to Know
Most of California is experiencing 'extreme to exceptional drought,' and the crisis has now entered its fourth year. Explosive urban growth matched with the steady planting of water-thirsty crops – which use the majority of the water – don't help. Water use policies—perhaps more than nature—have caused the water crisis in the West
 

Why do I keep hearing about the California drought, if it's the Colorado River that we're "killing"?

Pretty much every state west of the Rockies has been facing a water shortage of one kind or another in recent years. California's is a severe, but relatively short-term, drought. But the Colorado River basin — which provides critical water supplies for seven states including California — is the victim of a slower-burning catastrophe entering its 16th year. Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California all share water from the Colorado River, a hugely important water resource that sustains 40 million people in those states, supports 15 percent of the nation's food supply, and fills two of largest water reserves in the country.
 
The severe shortages of rain and snowfall have hurt California's $46 billion agricultural industry and helped raise national awareness of the longer-term shortages that are affecting the entire Colorado River basin. But while the two problems have commonalities and have some effect on one another, they're not exactly the same thing.
 

Just how bad is the drought in California right now? 

 

 

Most of California is experiencing "extreme to exceptional drought," and the crisis has now entered its fourth year. This month, signaling how serious the current situation is, state officials announced the first cutback to farmers' water rights since 1977, and ordered cities and towns to cut water use by as much as 36 percent. Those who don't comply with the cuts will face fines, but some farmers are already ignoring the new rules, or challenging them in court.
 
The drought shows no sign of letting up any time soon, and the state's agricultural industry is suffering. A recent study by U.C. Davis researchers projected that the drought would cost California's economy $2.7 billion in 2015 alone.
 
In addition to the economic cost, the drought has subtle and not-so-subtle effects on flora and fauna throughout the region. This current drought may be contributing to the spread of the West Nile virus, and it's threatening populations of geese, ducks and Joshua trees. Dry, hot periods can exacerbate wildfires, while water shortages are making firefighters' jobs even harder.
 
And a little bit of rain won't help. NOAA scientists say it could take several years of average or above-average rainfall before California's water supply can return to anything close to normal.
 

What about a lot of rain? Couldn't that end the drought in California and across the West?

 

Not necessarily. A half-decade of torrential rains might bail California out of its crisis, but the larger West's problems are more structural and systemic. "Killing the Colorado" has shown that people are entitled to more water from the Colorado than has flowed through it, on average, over the last 110 years. Meanwhile much of the water is lost, overused or wasted, stressing both the Colorado system, and trickling down to California, which depends on the Colorado for a big chunk of its own supply. Explosive urban growth matched with the steady planting of water-thirsty crops – which use the majority of the water – don't help. Arcane laws actually encourage farmers to take even more water from the Colorado River and from California's rivers than they actually need… Continue Reading…

 
Courtesy: ProPublica

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Will market regulator's plan to simplify start-ups' listing help?
The spirit of entrepreneurship got a shot in the arm as India's market regulator decided to simplify the framework for raising of capital by technological startups. But how much will it help them? While most of them feel it will open up opportunities, others feel the traditional route was better.
 
"In the last two years, the majority of the funds raised by startups have gone to three to four big companies. It was difficult for the smaller entrepreneurs to get attention of the funding companies. But now with the SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) rules, it will open up opportunities for smaller entrepreneurs," Mandeep Manocha, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder ReGlobe, told IANS.
 
Earlier smaller startups would only get funds from angel investors and venture capitalists (VC). Now with SEBI's simplified rules, tech startups can also raise money from the public.
 
According to reports, ReGlobe raised $1 million from a venture capital firm almost two years ago. The Gurgaon-based company has 60 employees across 40 cities in India and plans to expand its business in Southeast Asia and the UAE after a year. It is planning to raise a second tranche of funds in the next three-four months.
 
ReGlobe is a re-commerce market-place, which offers an online platform to sell old, or used electronic gadgets such as laptops, mobile phones, gaming consoles, tablets and air-conditioners.
 
In a statement issued on June 23, SEBI said: "The Board undertook a review of the extant regulatory framework in the primary market and noted the suggestions of market participants on making the existing avenues for capital raising amenable for accommodating a larger number of start-up companies."
 
"In a country like India, which is ranked fifth globally in terms of the combined size of the start-up industry, this announcement by SEBI is extremely positive for entrepreneurs and domestic investors alike, Aamir Jariwala, secretary, E-Commerce Coalition of India, and co-founder, Karma Recycling, told IANS.
 
"India may emerge as the preferred choice for listings instead of overseas markets and qualified domestic investors can more easily benefit from the phenomenal growth promised by some of these enterprises," he added.
 
The stakeholders, however, said it is a welcome move by SEBI, but clarity about the process will come with time.
 
"In private markets fund raising was easier. Tech startups need times to prove themselves and their business models keep changing. So, it was easier to take funding from angel investors and VCs. If one is going the IPO way, then the public's expectations are much higher as they expect the company to perform well," Bipin Preet Singh, founder and CEO of Mobikwik, told IANS.
 
"We have no current plans for an IPO. We are focussing on growth. We are adequately funded. We first raised $2.5 million and then $25 million six months ago," he added.
 
Started in 2009, MobiKwik is a mobile wallet company with over 17 million users. The company witnesses 400,000 unit transactions a day and employs 220 people. It soon plans to set up offices in Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru, where it sees more traction.
 
"This move by SEBI is likely to create an exit ecosystem for both investors and entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs will be able to draw greater funding from investors," Raju Vanapala, founder of LearnSocial, told IANS.
 
"Most start-ups so far were keen on listing in the foreign stock exchanges, given the current restrictions, but with the current move by SEBI, more investors will be willing to invest in India and more startups will also list in the country in the future," he added.

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