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Amsterdam plays Spot the Christmas Streetcar

Remember #bikeinbloom, when Capital Bikeshare dressed one of its bikes up in cherry blossom regalia? Every Christmas, Amsterdam does the same thing with one of its famous streetcars.

Amsterdamers call it the “kersttram”, or “Christmas tram.”

Photo from Alexander Meijer on Flickr.

Amsterdam isn’t alone. Other cities around the world partake in the same fun with their own trams. Among them: Budapest, Zurich, and San Francisco.

How about it, DDOT? Maybe next year, when H Street is fully up and running?

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for Arlington County, but his blog posts represent only his own personal views. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives car-free in Washington. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post

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Richelle Carey is an anchor for Al Jazeera America. She is an advocate for women’s rights. She wants to increase the confidence of women and help men understand the power they have to stop domestic violence.

Carey said, “I wanted to be more than someone that just shows up to events and speaks at events because anyone that is an anchor, whether you are a local anchor or a network anchor, part of what we do is host events or MC, so I think we all do that. Then you may develop a more personal connection to certain causes, and that’s what happened to me.”

Carey’s work as an anchor and investment in the news helped her find a huge flaw within society and young adults. She vowed to make efforts to make a change. She uses her influential role as a news anchor to make a difference.

Said Carey, “I use to MC events for this group called Men Stopping Violence out of Atlanta. After doing it for a few years, the Chris Brown and Rihanna thing happened and it really affected me. What affected me the most was the dialogue around it. There were a lot of young people that didn’t really grasp the severity of what happened to her, and even more than that, I found that the dialogue blamed her. I found that really, really troubling.

“I reached out to Men Stopping Violence and I said, ‘I’d like to more than just show up at events because I was angry about this and that’s when they asked me to join the board.”

Carey’s involvement in Men Stopping Violence helped her become more than just another anchor. She found a deeper purpose and feels a duty to try to stop domestic violence before it occurs. She shared, “Fighting for certain causes can’t always be about the victim. The victim needs allies. Just because I haven’t been in a physically abusive relationship, that doesn’t mean I can’t be just as invested in trying to help them in domestic violence, because it takes allies. I feel like this is important.”

Although Carey isn’t personally involved in a domestic dispute, she respectively wants to help those affected by domestic violence. For more information on women’s rights and Carey’s support, visit

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Amsterdam festival calendar

Check out what’s in store on I amsterdam’s festival agenda below.

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Amsterdam RAI reveals insights into how events will have changed by 2017


Category: Venues Events

Created on Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:15

Amsterdam RAI has published a new trend report analysing the ways in which events will have changed by 2017. The RAI Insights report is created to inspire event organisers, exhibitors and all who have a stake in the future of events and their exciting opportunities.
Scenario: events in 2017?
The RAI Insights report summarises trends and their impact on events. In addition, a scenario for events in 2017 is identified, as well as ideas for event professionals to create value for visitors. The insights are based on input from event organisers, exhibitors and partners, discussions by a cross-functional RAI-team and desk research. The year 2017 was chosen as it is far enough ahead to see the changes, yet close enough to take action accordingly.
?Investing in value
The physical encounter remains crucial to building trust between people, engaging in or strengthening relationships. This generates a strong brand experience, inspiration, innovation and knowledge exchange. Virtual applications enrich this and the offline-online combination provides unrivalled value. The report highlights ten ways and twenty ideas to create value for event visitors and zooms in on matchmaking, experience, personal, authenticity, smart choices, co-creation, event science, cross-border, well-being and balance.

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Alumni Ívar Helgason, María Rúnarsdóttir, and Gauti Reynisson founded Mint Solutions to commercialize the pill-scanning device they began developing at MIT.

On a winter day in 2013 at the Admiraal De Ruyter Hospital in Vlissingen, the Netherlands, a veteran nurse named Bastian Teichert was about to administer a dose of medicine to a patient with epilepsy. But when he used a bedside pill-scanning device that the hospital’s psychiatric ward was piloting, he got a warning that something was amiss, even though nurses had checked—and double-checked—the medication.

At first, Teichert chalked it up to a technical error. But upon closer examination, he discovered that the pharmacy had given the hospital 500-milligram tablets when the prescription called for a 300-­milligram dose. “The pills looked really alike,” he says. “So the patient had been getting the wrong dosage for a few days.”

Teichert estimates that in the two years his hospital has been using the bedside pill scanner, known as MedEye, he’s seen it flag about 40 errors. Its inventors, Ívar Helgason, SM ’08, María Rúnarsdóttir, MBA ’08, and Gauti Reynisson, MBA ’10, say that in hospital pilot tests in the Netherlands, the device has caught errors—some critical—in roughly one out of every 10 scans. “There are too many mistakes,” says Teichert. “The MedEye is an extra control on medication, so you give the right medications to the right person, at the right time, in the right doses.”

According to the 2008 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey, about 6 percent of chronically ill adults in Dutch health-care facilities reported being given the wrong medication or dosage while being treated. A 2002 study found errors in 19 percent of doses given to patients at 36 U.S. hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. And a 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine noted that a U.S. hospital patient, on average, is subject to at least one medication error each day, with most errors occurring during the prescribing and administering stages. The report estimates that these errors lead to about 400,000 preventable cases of injury or death each year, resulting in roughly $3.5 billion in extra medical costs.

Such troubling statistics are what prompted the three Icelandic alumni to develop their portable medication verification device, which relies on computer vision technology. “It’s a complicated chain of events that leads up to medication mistakes. But the bedside is the last possible place to stop these mistakes,” says Helgason, who cofounded Mint Solutions with his partner, Rúnarsdóttir, and Reynisson to develop and commercialize MedEye.

To use the device, nurses scan a patient’s wristband with a handheld scanner to access electronic records and then push the prescribed pills into ­MedEye’s sliding tray. Inside, a small camera quickly scans the pills, recognizing size, shape, color, and markings (such as letters, numbers, and logos). Algorithms then seek out a match for the pills in ­MedEye’s database—which has descriptions of nearly all pills in circulation—and cross-reference the scanned pills with the patient’s medical records. Within seconds, results pop up on software that runs on a connected laptop. Green or red boxes appear next to the medication names to indicate whether they’re right or wrong.

“We want the device to be the nurse’s best friend,” says Reynisson, 38, who is Mint’s CEO and oversees the startup’s Amsterdam headquarters. (­Helgason and Rúnarsdóttir live in Reykjavík, where ­Helgason, 43, runs the startup’s research and development efforts; Rúnarsdóttir, 36, now serves on Mint’s board.)

Helgason, who has an MD, and Reynisson, a software developer, met in the early 2000s as employees of the Reykjavík-based biopharmaceutical company deCode Genetics. Both went on to work at TM Software, where they helped Dutch and German hospitals set up electronic prescription systems and other ways of making medication errors less likely.

They found that although hospitals depend on nurses to catch errors caused by such things as illegible handwriting or confusion between similarly named drugs, mistakes slip through because nurses are busy and often overburdened, and there’s a lot to keep track of. Patients at the Admiraal De Ruyter Hospital, for instance, sometimes get up to 10 different pills at once, and their prescriptions can change daily.

Systems that require nurses to scan both a patient’s wristband and the bar codes on each pill container were lauded as solutions; in the United States, the FDA ruled in 2004 that certain drugs must have such codes. But the major hurdle, Reynisson says, was—and still is—implementing the systems. It’s especially difficult (and expensive) for small and medium-size hospitals to get the necessary software and scanners to work together, he says: often they’re made by different companies. And bar codes on pill bottles are sometimes difficult to scan, frustrating nurses and forcing them to bypass the system.

Eager to tackle such problems, Helgason quit his job in 2007 to enroll in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology master’s program. He and Rúnarsdóttir, who had begun her MBA at Sloan the year before, were two of about six Icelandic students on campus. “Per capita, though, we may be the biggest international group,” he jokes, noting that Iceland’s population is little more than 320,000. The couple further expanded the local Icelandic ranks when their daughter was born during Helgason’s first semester at MIT.

That fall, one of Helgason’s classes took him to MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where he became convinced that 3-D object recognition could be used to minimize drug errors. If computers could identify objects on the basis of various characteristics, he reasoned, they ought to be able to discern pills, which are, by law, all required to look different.

Rúnarsdóttir was just as excited about the idea as Helgason was. Inspired by MIT’s entrepreneurial culture, they found time between studying and caring for their newborn to brainstorm about how a pill-scanning device might work. “There wasn’t much sleeping that semester,” Helgason says.

Helgason also persuaded his former colleague Reynisson to join their quest to make such a device a commercial reality. “Ívar called me one day and said, ‘Gauti, you have to come to MIT: everyone’s starting companies,’” Reynisson says. Reynisson, who would write the early object-recognition code for MedEye, had been programming since childhood, and when he was growing up in the small coastal village of Ísafjörður in northwest Iceland, he had dreamed of attending MIT. By the time he moved his family to Boston so he could begin at Sloan in 2008, he was fully focused on starting a tech company. “I knew MIT would give me a push to do that, even if traveling with a wife and four kids wasn’t exactly what I had planned as a teenager,” he says.

Leaving a career behind was an economic risk that was soon exacerbated by Iceland’s financial crisis. About a month after Reynisson arrived at MIT, all three of Iceland’s major privately owned banks collapsed, leading, among other things, to the dramatic decline of the króna. “I was in a finance class and the lecturer started the class by showing a graph of the exchange rate of the Icelandic króna to the euro. By the end of the class it had gotten significantly worse,” Reynisson says. “Watching the crash live was a strange experience.”

It also increased his determination to get the business background he’d need to make the MedEye a success. His classes on sales, marketing, and customer service proved especially helpful, he says, in spinning medical hardware from the lab.

In 2009, Reynisson entered Mint Solutions in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition while Helgason and Rúnarsdóttir were back in Reykjavík designing a prototype. Although the team didn’t win any prizes, Reynisson recalls the competition, which emphasized strong collaboration among classmates, as a defining moment at MIT. Carter Dunn, MBA ’10, a fellow competitor and friend, took such a shine to MedEye that he helped the Mint team refine their pitch and business model and “seemed to spend more time on our project than his own,” Reynisson says. Today, Dunn is Mint Solutions’ chief operating officer.

By 2010, the team was ready to test a MedEye prototype they’d constructed with off-the-shelf parts. They visited a Dutch hospital that needed to identify about 250 small, white pills that all looked similar. “We tried them all in our prototype … and it worked,” Reynisson recalls. Five years later, MedEye has been refined into a product that’s ready to hit the market.

With $6 million from its most recent funding round, Mint Solutions is now working with a Dutch health insurance company to expand MedEye beyond the two hospitals in the Netherlands in which it is now being used. The startup also plans to introduce the device at 15 hospitals across Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany. And Reynisson expects that MedEye’s U.S. debut won’t be far behind: “We’re in conversations now with U.S. hospitals on how to best implement the device there,” he says.

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Anthony Oathout won the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke for the Sea Dragons, while Nick Herrlett posted wins in the 1-meter diving competition and the 100 breaststroke.

Jerame Cole (50 freestyle) and Chris Town (200 individual medley) also posted wins for Gloversville.

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Amsterdam’s Jake Busseno swims the freestyle during Tuesday’s Foothills Council meet against Gloversville at Gloversville Middle School. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

The Sea Dragons also won the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.

Thomas Knack picked up wins in the 200 and 500 freestyle for the Rams, while Reyers Brusoe won the 100 butterfly.

Amsterdam also won the 400 freestyle relay.

Gloversville is off until Jan. 7, when it will travel to Canajoharie-Fort Plain for a 4:30 p.m. meet.

Amsterdam will return to action Jan. 8, when it travels to Glens Falls for a 4:30 p.m. meet.

Gloversville 101, Amsterdam 48

200 Medley Relay: Gloversville (Oathout, Town, Helou, Cole), 2:00.32

200 Freestyle: Knack (A), 2:04.98

200 Individual Medley: Town (G), 2:30.52

50 Freestyle: Cole (G), 25.57

Diving: Herrlett (G), 268.25

100 Butterfly: Brusoe (A), 1:08.27

100 Freestyle: Oathout (G), 57.50

500 Freestyle: Knack (A), 5:41.30

200 Freestyle Relay: Gloversville (Persch, Weil, Rutauskas, Mace), 1:54.34

100 Backstroke: Oathout (G), 1:16.18

100 Breaststroke: Herrlett (G), 1:23.68

400 Freestyle Relay: Amsterdam (Mercado, Brusoe, Rivera, Knack), 4:18.86

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You can’t separate successful mobile application development from either data or analytics. Consumers demand immediate insight into their “mobile moments” — exact points in time where context and real-time data fuels decision-making, prompts a buyer to purchase, and allows companies to present brand consistency across devices. Meanwhile, enterprises need immediate data from a wide array of sources in order to fuel processes by means of the combination of big data and analytics. We will focus on global supply chain management (“SCM”) in this piece in order to demonstrate how  relationship between big data and analytics results in more efficient business processes. (For helpful background, see these pieces to look at how big data is changing industries such as healthcare and manufacturing, albeit not in the context of mobile app development.)

I have written at length about the scope of big data, as well as the challenges it presents. For the purpose of this piece, I will limit that discussion to just a few points.

  • First, the size of big data alone is overwhelming. While we speak of petabytes and zettabytes, we are approaching the era of the yottabyte (10 raised to the power of 24 bytes).
  • Second, this data avalanche consists overwhelmingly of unstructured data that cannot be stored in a traditional database. Examples include videos, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and telecommunications. Unstructured data has surpassed in only the past few years all data ever created before it.
  • Third, the so-called Internet of Things (“IoT”) contributes more big data than another source. With sensors around the world embedded in our wristbands, cars, street corners, and geolocation systems, the IoT is growing exponentially. This has benefits. As MIT Professors Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson point out in their superb book, The Second Machine Age (Norton 2014), the genius of apps such as Waze is the ability to recognize third-party or external conditions and to inform users of meaningful data points, as well as collect data from them. From there, Waze uses this information to turn all the smartphones running its program into sensors that upload data continuously — speed and location, for example — to the company’s servers. Social participation and input is also critical so that users know where policemen are or that an accident took place just before an upcoming bridge, for example. This is then processed and returned to users in the form of intelligence that matters — what is going on around them and how can they respond to it — so that they make informed driving decisions. That was impossible before the IoT and analytics, and the give and take (use) of data contributed by actors is equally critical to predictive analytics and SCM.

Business Intelligence And Global Supply Chain Management

As an example of the premise set forth in the title of this piece, we will examine big data and mobile app development in the context of SCM. The challenges that it faces; its myriad, globally dispersed actors; and the need for data worldwide and immediately make it a strong use case.

We hear stories about pre-CEO Tim Cook mastering Apple’s supply chain such that Cupertino could build and deliver any product within four days, not to mention Cook’s inspired and exclusive bilateral relationships that control the supply of key parts to competitors. Cook got it right, and Apple profited immensely.

Yet his story is rare. Most business line managers of SCM are not even remotely similarly empowered as was Cook. That’s an understatement. Yet what they do now have is actionable business intelligence derived from big data. To find the nuggets of wisdom held therein, they require tools such as predictive analytics to mine them and answer the question: “What is going to happen given everything we know?” This question is distinct from the question: “What should we do?” The latter goes to the heart of what Gartner calls prescriptive analytics, which is beyond the scope of this post.

Intelligent predictions of the future can occur within predictive analytics platforms — a highly competitive market that includes Oracle, IBM, Tibco, and Esri, as well as a host of companies that specialize in geospatial analysis and data visualization. Business analysts apply algorithms to the company’s data sets in order to yield granular, real-time predictions. This is a recursive process. For example, predictive analytics — using Open Data (government) sources, no less — can consistently predict Federal Aviation Administration airport ground stoppages before they occur.

Mobile App Dev

With the power of predictive analytics in mind, consider the follow SCM scenario.

Company X, based in Sacramento, manufacturers airplane parts. For the sake of this example, let’s assume that (X) realizes tremendous savings by transporting its parts only by train, trucks, or cargo ships. In order to shorten its delivery cycle and inventory carry, it sends Europe-bound shipments via train and its own trucks across the United States, and then by cargo ship to Hamburg, Germany, one of the world’s largest ports. From there a third-party German trucking company delivers parts to (X)’s clients.

Every shipment presents challenges. Railways can break down or be delayed during inclement weather. The American port from which (X) sends its cargo may have a strike on its docks that have nothing to do with (X), but impact it tremendously. This results in idle trucks, excessive inventory, and increased storage costs. Clients in Europe may second guess their choice of supplier before the cargo touches dry land.

Yet assume the parts clear the dock on the East Coast of the United States and proceed to the high seas. One hundred miles from Hamburg, the ship contends with gale force winds and waves. The Captain of the freighter needs to know precisely how strong the storm (i) is now and (ii) will be 8 hours from now. Without analytics, he does not have that visibility. Should he proceed through the storm or unload instead at Amsterdam with all the downstream effects that may entail for his customer, (X)?  If so, alternative arrangements need to be made for the third-party European trucking company, which is looking at enough demand for trucking from other companies on the docks that it considers breaching its contract with (X).

You can see all the dependent variables at play. And you may ask: Is such a series of events realistic? The answer is yes, and pound per pound, its not overly serious compared to fleets that merge cargo in transit on the high seas or face piracy. Even so, our friends at (X) face challenging circumstances.

Mobile applications fueled by big data and analytics provide the solution.

Company (X) knows that it will have to rely on analytics. But then what? In our scenario, the foibles go around the world quickly and raise serious questions along the way. How does one convey that information throughout the supply chain? What of the company’s business intelligence? How does (X) create transparency so that its workers around the world know what’s happening? How do we provide the company’s men on the Hamburg docks the information to convey to the third-party trucking fleet? With proper information and alerts — e.g., the cargo will be here in 36 hours — the trucking fleet may wait. There are costs incurred, but they pale in comparison to the alternative. And (X) can be proactive about its customer relations management with its European clients.

Analytics-powered mobile applications can transmit this data worldwide and in real time. Yet it’s insufficient to say that app dev is a panacea. Enterprise apps need to be able to share information on smartphones and tablets, especially as the latter replace the old-fashioned clipboard among field workers such as truckers or men on the docks. Mobile app triggers can be built into business intelligence based on present and future conditions (e.g., the storm above). They can also relay information about delays, dock conditions, proximity of the cargo freighter to military naval exercises in the North Sea — all in real time. The accumulation and distribution of this data is not a one-way street. The fidelity of the data and analytics also depends on inputs from workers. The presence of political unrest in Hamburg is an example. The third-party trucking fleet being stuck on the Autobahn is another. These are subjective points of data that need to make their way to (X). All of this information can be uploaded through a mobile application on a tablet or smartphone in the field so that Company’s X’s analytics can immediately recalibrate its predictions, and thereby its outgoing messages, trigger alerts, halts to production in Sacramento, and information to assuage antsy partners, etc.

This is a really big deal.

An interview with

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The St. Paul City Council voted 6-to-1 to approve a five-year contract with the owners of the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in downtown St. Paul and the 331 Club in Minneapolis to take over management of the Como Lakeside Pavilion.

Operating under the name Como Dockside, the vendors are expected to bring a full menu, water-based and wheeled rentals, outdoor performances, farmers markets and other amenities to the pavilion, which previously housed Black Bear Crossings on the Lake.

City Council Member Amy Brendmoen, who represents the Como area, said hundreds of community surveys and in-person interviews with residents helped inform the request for proposal process, which drew three bids. A 14-member community evaluation committee reviewed the proposals.

“This process was really uncharted, and it’s significant in how we went forward,” Brendmoen told the council. “I really like the part about the ongoing capital investments in the space. … I love that the contract includes annual performance goals.”

Black Bear closed this winter after 14 years following a lease dispute with the city.

Following some $200,000 in building improvements, the facility will be operated year-round beginning in May and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. The contract calls for 100 pavilion events, including 20 “Music in the Parks” concerts scheduled by city officials.

“We’ve heard clearly from the city they want a broader and more diverse line-up of music,” said Parks and Rec Director Mike Hahm.

“Next year, 2015, will likely be a transition year.”

Some musical groups, such as the St. Anthony Park Community Band, have expressed concern that they already feel a bit crowded out of the music series. For a decade or more, the community band performed on two Tuesday evenings each summer, but in recent years that’s been reduced to one performance.

“The Como Pavilion is the very best outdoor performance venue in the metro area,” said band director Paul Husby, in an email. “Lake Harriet will draw larger crowds and some more prestigious performers, but it does not have the quality acoustics nor a roof that guarantees the performance will go on and the audience will stay dry pretty much whatever the weather.”

Brendmoen called choosing performers “a balancing act” but said surveys showed that many residents want musical acts that are more diverse and reflective of different cultures.

She acknowledged that some neighbors expressed concern about the possibility of increased noise and traffic.

From October 2015 onward, Dockside is required to make monthly lease payments equivalent to 9 percent of gross revenues, or at least $100,000 per year. That adds up to at least $500,000 over five years, in addition to $200,000 in capital improvements. In peak sales months, Como Dockside will also pay a commission into a capital investment account for future building improvements.

The overall benefit to the city could range from $780,000 to $1 million in cash and capital improvements, officials said.

City Council Member Dan Bostrom, who voted against the new contract, said that after five years of payments, the city will do little more than break even with the $800,000 being paid to settle the legal dispute with Black Bear Crossings.

“It’s just a shame,” Bostrom said. “I think we, and the mayor’s office, and the city council, could have done a whole lot better.”

Hahm told the council on Wednesday that performance standards will be reviewed by the city on an annual basis, and public input will play a role in determining whether to extend the contract in five years.

Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at

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By 2017, events will have changed as people’s needs and the way they connect change. An event is about more than bringing people together at a specific time in a given physical place. The scope of events is greater than ever before. For event professionals, it is crucial to invest in both the value of the physical encounter and its impact outside the event. Today, Amsterdam RAI has published a new trend report analysing the ways in which events will have changed by 2017.

The RAI Insights report is created to inspire event organisers, exhibitors and all who have a stake in the future of events and their exciting opportunities.

Scenario: events in 2017

The RAI Insights report summarises trends and their impact on events. In addition, a scenario for events in 2017 is identified, as well as ideas for event professionals to create value for visitors. The insights are based on input from event organisers, exhibitors and partners, discussions by a cross-functional RAI-team and desk research. The year 2017 was chosen as it is far enough ahead to see the changes, yet close enough to take action accordingly.

Investing in value

The physical encounter remains crucial to building trust between people, engaging in or strengthening relationships. This generates a strong brand experience, inspiration, innovation and knowledge exchange. Virtual applications enrich this and the offline-online combination provides unrivalled value. The report highlights ten ways and twenty ideas to create value for event visitors and zooms in on matchmaking, experience, personal, authenticity, smart choices, co-creation, event science, cross-border, well-being and balance.

Inspiration for the future
The RAI Insights report can be downloaded here:

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Your daily look at late-breaking California news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:


Latest round of rain hammers Southern California overnight, snarling traffic with freeway mudslide, but no region-wide problems.


Sony Pictures Entertainment hack escalates beyond corporate espionage to threats of violence against moviegoers.


Royal Philips NV of Amsterdam to acquire San Diego medical equipment maker Volcano Corp. for $1.2 billion.


$741 million improvement project slashes wait times at San Diego-Tijuana border crossing.


Napster co-founder Sean Parker, lifelong sufferer of allergies to nuts, shellfish and other foods, donating $24 million for allergy research at Stanford.

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