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J Balvin enters the digital wellness space with the launch of a bilingual mental health app

J Balvin, the Prince of Reggaeton, has been candid with his fans about his mental health struggles and healing journey. Now, he’s productizing some of…



J Balvin, the Prince of Reggaeton, has been candid with his fans about his mental health struggles and healing journey. Now, he’s productizing some of his journey by launching OYE, a Spanish/English wellness app.

The app, which seeks to support those struggling with mental health issues, was built by Balvin and his two co-founders Mario Chamorro, a creative wellness activist and acting CEO; and Patrick Dowd, a creative strategist, and the company’s COO.

“This is one of my biggest dreams because it comes from my heart,” Balvin told TechCrunch in an interview. “I’m human just like anyone else and I felt I had this mission to make the world a better place starting with mental health.” The company says that, while a co-founder, Balvin will be chief dream officer, or CDO. While it’s a creative title, it’s unclear how much Balvin will have in day to day operations or if he will largely be used for marketing and distribution efforts. The company told TechCrunch Balvin’s role, other than being a co-founder, is to help push the team to “dream bigger.”

According to an internal study conducted by OYE, 92% of respondents in Latin America have a negative understanding of mental health and mental health services. TechCrunch requested to view the study but was told by a spokesperson they could not share it because it was “proprietary information” to the company. However, the statistic provided shares similarities with a report published by the American Medical School Association. The AMSA report noted there is a cultural mental health stigma within the Latino community and little knowledge of what it means to access mental health services. Additionally, Latinos in the U.S. access mental health services 50% less than their white counterparts, according to a study published in Hispanic Health Care International.

For the reasons above, Balvin and his co-founders said they found it crucial to make sure OYE was offered in a bilingual manner.

“[We’re] transforming the way that we talk about mental and emotional wellness, from something that is seen as a private burden to something that is a creative opportunity to exercise to create new aspects of your life,” Dowd, who used to be the head of brand innovation & collaborations at PayPal said. “We’ve actually built two versions of our app that we’re launching this month. One of them is entirely in Spanish, the other is entirely in English, and our team is also bilingual and spread across the Americas.”

Oye, a Spanish word, translated to English means listen, which has become a driving goal for the team.

Image Credits: OYE

The app will provide users with bilingual wellness practices and daily feeling check-ins. Users can also go through creative wellness exercises, such as guided training on how to understand their emotions better. Daily wellness practices can last between 30 to 45 minutes.

Users who download the app before October 31 will have access to a one-month free trial. Following that trial period, users will have to pay $4.99 every month to access OYE and its resources.

As OYE hits the international market for iOS and Android, it will have to prove that it can do more than leverage Balvin’s reputation.

Balvin is the latest of many celebrities adding startups to their careers: Serena Williams and her journey into venture capital; Kim Kardashian being a private equity dealmaker; and “Selling Sunset” star Christine Quinn working on her crypto-based brokerage. Though for the Grammy-nominated artist, being the CDO of a wellness app seems and will probably remain more of a side gig, for the time being.

“We all dream and have big dreams,” Balvin said “[At OYE] we put together our strength, talent and capacities to create this beautiful app.”

However, Oye is entering a space where wellness apps and digital therapy have oversaturated the market. BetterHelp, TalkSpace, Headspace and Calm are just some platforms that come to mind. Wellness apps boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but have since been questioned for their practicality and effectiveness.

One thing was made apparent to TechCrunch: OYE wants partnerships to effectively serve marginalized communities.

“[JBalvin] is the person in reggaeton who has the largest number of collaborations in his music, and that’s how he has been able to become a rising artist and the Prince of Reggaeton by collaborating,” Chamorro said. “We have been developing very mindful partnerships around us, and we are operating in that way to amplify the voice of OYE.”

The company claims to have partnerships with Apple and Google to better optimize its app on their respective platforms.

The road to breaking down mental health stigma is a long one, but Balvin hopes this initiative will help break down those stigmas and “make the world a better place.”

OYE has been able to garner support in the form of a $4.1 million pre-seed round led by MasterClass and co-founder Aaron Rasmusen, with participation from Collab Fund, 17Sigma, Expa, GreyMatter, Propeller Ventures, Gaingels, Alley Corp CEO Kevin Ryan, former Amazon executive Jeff Wilke, Future Ventures co-founder Maryanna Saenko and Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda.

This round’s funds will be used to further develop content, enhance marketing, upgrade the app based on user feedback and begin promoting B2B offerings, which the team explained they plan on offering next year.

J Balvin enters the digital wellness space with the launch of a bilingual mental health app by Andrew Mendez originally published on TechCrunch

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MENA Region Faces Another Threat: Water Wars

MENA Region Faces Another Threat: Water Wars

Agricultural water withdrawal way beyond the limit of renewable freshwater resources is most…



MENA Region Faces Another Threat: Water Wars

Agricultural water withdrawal way beyond the limit of renewable freshwater resources is most common today in countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Statista's Katharina Buchholz reports that, according to the FAO Aquastat database where the latest available year for the data is 2020, several other nations, with Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Pakistan and India all sticking out for using up a higher share of their freshwater resources in agriculture than their neighbors.

You will find more infographics at Statista

Desert climates like on the Arabian peninsular make countries there overextend their annual water budgets by agriculture alone.

This has led to studies concluding that the United Arab Emirates, for example, could run out of groundwater by 2030. In Pakistan and Iran, between 63 and 70 percent of renewable freshwater resources were dedicated to agriculture in 2020, rising to 68 and 77 percent including all freshwater uses. Extensive and water-intensive agriculture, including cotton crops, is also driving up freshwater use in the semi-arid climates of Central Asia. Here, Uzbekistan used 111 percent of renewable water resources per year, followed by Turkmenistan at 65 percent (106 percent when counting all freshwater use). The only other country extending its freshwater budget only when combining agriculture and other freshwater uses was Jordan.

Agriculture accounts for 72 percent of all freshwater withdrawals globally, including a lot of overuse. According to the FAO, global freshwater resources per person have declined by 20 percent in the past decades, while water availability and quality have also deteriorated. Additional factors playing a role in this are pollution and climate change, stretching the precious resource even thinner.

October 16 marks World Food Day, which this year has the motto: Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind.

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/16/2023 - 22:15

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Lido on Solana wind down ‘deemed a necessity’ after low fees, says staking firm

Unsustainable financials and low fees generated by Lido on Solana were two of the main reasons for the sunsetting.
Decentralized liquid…



Unsustainable financials and low fees generated by Lido on Solana were two of the main reasons for the sunsetting.

Decentralized liquid staking protocol Lido Finance has announced a decision to cease operations on the Solana blockchain following a community vote in Lido’s decentralized autonomous organization.

The proposal to sunset Lido on Solana was first put forward by Lido’s peer-to-peer team on Sept. 5, citing unsustainable financials and low fees generated by Lido on Solana. Voting commenced on Sept. 29 and finished a week later on Oct. 6.

“After extensive DAO forum discussion followed by community vote, the sunsetting of the Lido on Solana protocol was approved by Lido token holders and the process will begin shortly,” Lido explained in an Oct. 16 post.

Lido will not be accepting staking requests as of Oct. 16. Voluntary node operator off-boarding will begin on Nov. 17 and Lido users will need to unstake on Solana’s frontend by Feb. 4.

“After this date, unstaking will need to be done using the CLI,” Lido added.

The earlier proposal saw Lido seeking $20,000 per month from Lido DAO to support technical maintenance efforts involved with sunsetting operations on Solana over the next five months.

Lido’s statement on terminating services on Solana. Source:

Lido’s P2P team has been working on the Lido on Solana project since acquiring it in March 2022 from Chorus One.

Since the takeover, the P2P team has invested about $700,000 into Lido on Solana and made $220,000 in revenue, resulting in a net loss of $484,000, according to the mediakov, the author of the proposal.

The alternative in the Sept. 5 proposal was to provide more funding to Solana from Lido DAO — however 65 million (92.7%) of the 70.1 million LDO tokens (voted by token holders) were in favor of sunsetting operations on Solana instead, according to open-source voting platform Snapshot.

Lido explained the decision was a difficult but necessary one to make:

“Whilst this decision was difficult in the face of numerous strong relationships across the Solana ecosystem, it was deemed a necessity for the continued success of the broader Lido protocol ecosystem.”

Lido confirmed that staked-Solana (stSOL) token holders will continue to receive network rewards throughout the sunsetting process.

Related: Lido Finance discloses 20 slashing events due to validator config issues

Lido’s staking services are now only supported on Ethereum and Polygon, where $14 billion and $80 million are staked, respectively, according to Lido’s website.

Lido launched on Solana on Sept. 8, 2021, when SOL was priced at $189 — an 87% fall from its current price of $24, according to CoinGecko.

Despite the news, SOL is up 8.6% over the last 24 hours.

SOL’s price movements over the last seven days. Source: CoinGecko

Magazine: DeFi Dad, Hall of Flame: Ethereum is ‘woefully undervalued’ but growing more powerful

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New York Supreme Court Upholds Ban On COVID Vaccine Mandate For Health Workers

New York Supreme Court Upholds Ban On COVID Vaccine Mandate For Health Workers

Authored by Benjamin Kew via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),




New York Supreme Court Upholds Ban On COVID Vaccine Mandate For Health Workers

Authored by Benjamin Kew via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

New York's Supreme Court has upheld its previous ruling invalidating the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers, a decision that will have ramifications on the power of the state's executive.

A health care worker prepares a dose Pfizer/BioNTEch COVID-19 vaccine at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Dec. 14, 2020. (Carlos Osorio/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The ruling came from the Supreme Court's Appellate Division, Fourth Department, which dismissed the state's appeal to have the mandate reinstated.

"4th Dept dismissed state’s appeal as moot, and declined to vacate lower court win," attorney Sujata Gibson wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"The mandate is over and declared unconstitutional," she continued. "[Thank you] [Children's Health Defense], [Robert F. Kennedy Jr.], and [Medical Professionals For Informed Consent], and everyone who helped in this fight.

"Doesn’t make up for the harm [New York] Inflicted, but will help protect us from more."

The health care worker vaccine mandate was first implemented in September 2021, resulting in the departure or termination of about 34,000 medical professionals from their positions.

That mandate was originally struck down by the state's Supreme Court in January, although the state's executive branch chose to appeal the decision.

In his opinion in Medical Professionals for Informed Consent vs. Bassett, Justice Gerard Neri wrote that the state's Department of Health was "clearly prohibited from mandating any vaccination outside of those specifically authorized by the legislature" and that it had "blatantly violated the boundaries of its authority as set forth by the legislature.”

Justice Neri added that the mandate was “arbitrary and capricious” given that the COVID-19 vaccines failed to prevent transmission of the virus, meaning the policy had no rational basis.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, had previously explained her opposition to rehiring health care workers who lost their jobs as a result of the vaccine, saying that this was "not the right answer."

“I think everybody who goes into a health care facility or a nursing home should have the assurance and their family member should know that we have taken all steps to protect the public health," she said at the time. "And that includes making sure those who come in contact with them at their time of most vulnerability, when they are sick or elderly, will not pass on the virus."

In April, the state agreed to unilaterally drop the mandate of its own accord, although it still contested the decision for the sake of maintaining executive authority.

"Due to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving vaccine recommendations, the New York State Department of Health has begun the process of repealing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for workers at regulated health care facilities," the state health department stated.

Last October, the New York Supreme Court also struck down a mandate enforced specifically by New York City on all public employees, with Justice Ralph Porzio arguing there was no evidence to "support the rationality of keeping a vaccination mandate for public employees, while vacating the mandate for private sector employees or creating a carveout for certain professions, like athletes, artists, and performers."

In January 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court similarly blocked an attempt by President Joe Biden to enforce a mandate on large private companies that their employees either get the vaccine or face regular testing. However, it did allow the mandate to continue in medical facilities that took funding from Medicare and Medicaid.

"Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” the court wrote in its unsigned opinion. "Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category."

Margaret Florini, a spokesperson for Medical Professionals for Informed Consent, told The Defender that the latest decision was a "historic" win that would help prevent such abuses of power in the future.

"I think we will see many new lawsuits come about because of this historic win," Ms. Florini said. "There is still plenty of work to be done. We lost so much, not just money but relationships, marriages, friends, and homes. We cannot forget what was done to us, and we must continue to shed light on it and make impactful changes that will truly prevent this from happening again."

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/16/2023 - 21:15

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