Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fwd: taxes

'During a speech on the Senate floor in the summer of 2012, Reid said:

"Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't."

According to CBS News, Romney responded:

"Let me also say, categorically, I have paid taxes every year — and a lot of taxes."

Romney's estimated tax returns from 2010 and 2011 back up his response.

The media latched onto Reid's baseless comments. And as CNN's Dana Bash put it, many Republicans blame Reid for the "highly-partisan" environment Washington has become under Reid's leadership…


When Bash asked Reid if he really doesn't regret lying on the Senate floor, when some called him a "McCarthyite," he doubled down:

"Well, they can call it whatever they want. Romney didn't win, did he?"

Although Reid's comment about Romney's taxes shaped the public view of the candidate, and possibly even the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, PolitiFact called Reid's statement a complete lie. And now, of course, we know the truth.'




Gov. Pence: Religious Freedom Law Not Discriminatory, 'Long Overdue'


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Science advisor

'John Paul Holdren (born March 1, 1944) is the senior advisor to President Barack Obama on science and technology issues through his roles as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)..


Overpopulation was an early concern and interest. In a 1969 article, Holdren and co-author Paul R. Ehrlich argued, "if the population control measures are not initiated immediately, and effectively, all the technology man can bring to bear will not fend off the misery to come."[28] In 1973, Holdren encouraged a decline in fertility to well below replacement in the United States, because "210 million now is too many and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be much too many."[29] In 1977, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Holdren co-authored the textbook Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment; they discussed the possible role of a wide variety of means to address overpopulation. These included some extreme measures, none of which Ehrlichs and Holdren advocated, such as forced sterilization, compulsory abortion, contraceptives in the food and water supply, reproductive licenses, and more.[20][30][31]

Other early publications include Energy (1971), Human Ecology (1973), Energy in Transition (1980), Earth and the Human Future (1986), Strategic Defenses and the Future of the Arms Race (1987), Building Global Security Through Cooperation (1990), and Conversion of Military R&D (1998).[22]'


​In my view, population growth is still a problem.  It may not be a doomsday scenario, but it does stretch resources.  High cost of housing, problems in the middle east, urban blight and shortages of water can be at least partially attributed to too many people living in specific areas.  Why do people concentrate in specific areas?   For economic and political reasons, but also because the population is larger and keeps growing.

Ask yourself at what point do we stop, or does the United States keep growing its population forever?  Do we stop at 500 million, or do we keep going to a billion

​ ​
people?  What will the country be like when we have 500 million or a billion people?

​People say that we have plenty of land, but the most desirable land is already taken.  Are we all going to be forced to live in apartments, like Al Gore wants, because there is no room?  Will we be forced to ride public transportation, like in New York, because the roads are too clogged with cars?  Will houses sell for $800,000 like in California?  All these seem like realistic scenarios. ​

​John Coffey​

Fwd: Yemen

Fwd: Chechnya

'Chechnya's Parliament has threatened to send armaments to Mexico, in response to a US congressional resolution calling for "lethal aid" to be sent to Ukraine.

If the US were to supply "lethal military assistance" to Ukraine, the semi-autonomous region in southern Russia would send "the most modern weapons to Mexico" to prompt the resumption of negotiations on "US-annexed territories that now house […] California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and a part of Wyoming," reports the Moscow Times, citing a statement released by the speaker of the Chechen Parliament.

Mexico ceded the region to the United States in an 1848 treaty, ending the Mexican-American War.

In exchange, the United States paid Mexico $15m (£10m), as well as taking on $3.25m in debt the Mexican government owed US citizens.

In the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, the United States bought the remaining areas of what are now New Mexico and Arizona for $10m.'


Fwd: Shock wave deflector

'Tillotson's invention is a device that would heat the air in front of the spot where the bomb goes off. In one version, a detector "sees" an explosion before the shock wave hits. The detector is connected to an arc generator, basically two ends of a circuit connected to a large power source. When the system generates enough current, an arc of electricity jumps between the two ends of the circuit, like a bolt of lightning.

That arc heats and ionizes, or charges, particles of air. The heated air would work as a shield by changing the speed at which shock waves travel, and therefore bending them around a protected soldier, Tillotson said.'


Fwd: Warning

'First he comes for the banks and health care, uses the IRS to go after critics, politicizes the Justice Department, spies on journalists, tries to curb religious freedom, slashes the military, throws open the borders, doubles the debt and nationalizes the Internet.

He lies to the public, ignores the Constitution, inflames race relations and urges Latinos to punish Republican "enemies." He abandons our ­allies, appeases tyrants, coddles ­adversaries and uses the Crusades as an excuse for inaction as Islamist terrorists slaughter their way across the Mideast.

Now he's coming for Israel.

Barack Obama's promise to transform America was too modest. He is transforming the whole world before our eyes. Do you see it yet?

Against the backdrop of the tsunami of trouble he has unleashed, Obama's pledge to "reassess" America's relationship with Israel cannot be taken lightly. Already paving the way for an Iranian nuke, he is hinting he'll also let the other anti-Semites at Turtle Bay have their way. That could mean American support for punitive Security Council resolutions or for Palestinian statehood initiatives. It could mean both, or something worse.

Whatever form the punishment takes, it will aim to teach Bibi Netanyahu never again to upstage him. And to teach Israeli voters never again to elect somebody Obama doesn't like.

Apologists and wishful thinkers, including some Jews, insist Obama real­izes that the special relationship between Israel and the United States must prevail and that allowing too much daylight between friends will encourage enemies.

Those people are slow learners


Sam Harris Vs Noam Chomsky

Check out this video on YouTube:


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fwd: Russia

Recent statements by Russian ambassador Mikhail Vanin that Danish warships could become the target of Russian nukes, should the country participate in NATO's missile defense, have drawn a sharp reaction from NATO.

"Denmark is a staunch NATO ally and NATO will defend all allies against any threat," NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told BT. "We have made it clear that NATO's missile defense is not directed against Russia or other countries, but is intended as defense against missile threats."

Good thing that President Obama is -- eh, you can see the punchline coming a mile away. Obama's blowing off NATO's leadership at a really, really bad moment:

President Barack Obama has yet to meet with the new head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and won't see Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week, even though he is in Washington for three days. Stoltenberg's office requested a meeting with Obama well in advance of the visit, but never heard anything from the White House, two sources close to the NATO chief told me.

The leaders of almost all the other 28 NATO member countries have made time for Stoltenberg since he took over the world's largest military alliance in October.

"It is hard for me to believe that the president of the United States has not found the time to meet with the current secretary general of NATO given the magnitude of what this implies, and the responsibilities of his office," said [Kurt Volker, who served as the U.S. permanent representative to NATO under both President George W. Bush and Obama].'

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Danger for Republicans in Balancing the Budget

Fwd: Japan

'Compared to relations with Israel, Washington's ties with another key ally, Japan, remain strong, though some of the same personal dynamics come into play. As far as can be known, Barack Obama feels little of the antipathy he is known for harboring for Benjamin Netanyahu towards Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister. Sources inside his government instead reveal a general distrust on the part of America's very liberal president for Japan's very conservative prime minister. Despite this, the White House just announced that Abe will arrive in the United States on April 28 for an official visit that will include an official dinner (not a state dinner, since Abe is not the head of state), and an address to a joint session of Congress that Obama will not try to derail'

Fwd: Israel

'White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonoough earned raucous cheers from the left-wing activists gathered at J Street's fifth annual conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday when he attacked Israel's occupation of the West Bank. "An occupation that has lasted almost 50 years must end," he said..

Rabbi Jonathan Greenberg, reporting from the J Street conference, noted that the J Street crowd was considerably less enthusiastic about McDonough's boilerplate commitment to support Israeli security and help it maintain its qualitative military advantage over neighboring states...

Also addressing the J Street conference is former Secretary of State James A. Baker III'


'For some Jewish leaders, however, meeting with McDonough at the White House was a contentions event. During a May 21 meeting of members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations with several Obama administration officials, a tense debate erupted between the group's executive vice president Malcolm Hoenlein and McDonough. Hoenlein tried to ask about differences between a policy of preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons, as opposed to stopping it from getting "nuclear capabilities." McDonough, according to participants, replied angrily, calling the issue a "made up controversy" and a "red herring."


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fwd: Inflation

'The currency's strength affects the economy in two main ways: It holds back economic growth by reducing the competitiveness of U.S. exports while depressing inflation by pushing down import prices.

Economic Headwind

Not only is the dollar's rise reducing price pressures, making it harder for the Fed to tighten, it's also acting as an "economic headwind reducing the need to tighten," said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The FOMC made a nod to the dollar's impact on the economy in its policy statement, noting that export growth has weakened. Yellen was more explicit in her press conference, saying that exports would be a "notable drag" on growth this year and tying that to the strength of the dollar, which she said partly reflected the strength of the U.S. economy.

Yellen said the currency's rise was also "holding down import prices and, at least on a transitory basis at this point, pushing inflation down."

"The Fed sees the stronger dollar as effectively tightening conditions in the U.S.," said Jonathan Wright, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a former economist at the Fed's Division of Monetary Affairs. "They are worried about what will happen to the dollar and financial markets when the Fed starts tightening with much of the rest of the world at negative interest rates." '




Fwd: e-mails

'Ray Maxwell, a former assistant secretary of state for North Africa, has told reporters that Mills was one of several Clinton aides who on a Sunday afternoon "separated" out Benghazi-related documents that might put Clinton or her team in a "bad light." These documents were kept out of the pile that the State Department turned over to the Accountability Review Board that was investigating Benghazi. When Maxwell stumbled upon the operation, which was taking place in a "basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington," he questioned whether it was above-board. "Isn't that unethical?" he asking the office director in charge of the weeding-out process. "Ray, those are our orders," she answered. A few minutes later, Mills entered the room and challenged Maxwell over his presence, asking him, "Who are you?"'

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fwd: Yemen

'Four suicide bombers hit a pair of crowded mosques in Yemen's capital of Sanaa on Friday, killing at least 137 people and injuring more than 300 others, officials told NBC News.

The ISIS affiliate in war-torn Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant. It was the first large-scale attack claimed by the Sunni militants in Yemen, which has been in a state of chaos since Shiite Houthi rebels launched a violent power grab.

Dr. Alia Saria, head of emergency services at Yemen's Ministry of Public Health and Population, confirmed the death toll to NBC News and said "hundreds" were injured. Mohammed Albasha, Yemen's spokesperson in Washington, put the number of injured above 300. Albasha said the bombers struck Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques during Friday prayers — traditionally the busiest time of the week. Both mosques were hit by two bombers using similar tactics: one would detonate explosives inside the building while the second waited outside for people to flee before blowing himself up, Albasha explained. '

 Muslims attack muslisl in mosques during prayer,

then bombs rescue workers




Fwd: Israel

'Florida Sen. Marco Rubio accused President Barack Obama of "making a historic mistake" in his treatment of Israel, warning in a fiery floor speech the tension could endanger the safety of the nation.

"This President is making a historic mistake," he said on the Senate floor Thursday night.

"Allies have differences, but allies like Israel, when you have a difference with them and it is public, it emboldens their enemies to launch more rockets out of southern Lebanon and Gaza, to launch more terrorist attacks, to go to international forums and de-legitimize Israel's right to exist. And this is what they're doing."

Obama waited two days to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to wish him congratulations on his win this week, and during the call warned the U.S. would "reassess" its relationship with the nation after a notably tense period between the two leaders, during which Netanyahu spoke to Congress without alerting the White House to his visit.

Rubio, a potential Republican presidential contender, said he would be "even angrier" if a Republican president were acting the same way, and called Obama's shift "outrageous," "irresponsible" and "dangerous."

"No people on Earth want peace more than the people of Israel. No people have suffered more at the hands of this violence and this terrorism than the people of Israel. And they need America's support, unconditionally," he added.'


McConnell Fires Up His Battle Against Obama's 'War on Coal'

Petraeus: The Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem in Iraq

Fwd: Self-Driving

'Elon Musk Says Self-Driving Tesla Cars Will Be in the U.S. by Summer

Tesla is not alone in pushing the envelope. Chris Urmson, director of self-driving cars at Google, raised eyebrows at a January event in Detroit when he said Google did not believe there was currently a "regulatory block" that would prohibit self-driving cars, provided the vehicles themselves met crash-test and other safety standards.'




Fwd: U.S.

Fwd: Inflection

'it's necessary to go back a decade to 2005, when the production-maximizing strategy was first adopted. At that time, Big Oil faced a critical juncture. On the one hand, many existing oil fields were being depleted at a torrid pace, leading experts to predict an imminent "peak" in global oil production, followed by an irreversible decline; on the other, rapid economic growth in China, India, and other developing nations was pushing demand for fossil fuels into the stratosphere..

A "Brave New World" of Tough Oil

No one better captured that moment than David O'Reilly, the chairman and CEO of Chevron. "Our industry is at a strategic inflection point, a unique place in our history," he told a gathering of oil executives that February. "The most visible element of this new equation," he explained in what some observers dubbed his "Brave New World" address, "is that relative to demand, oil is no longer in plentiful supply." Even though China was sucking up oil, coal, and natural gas supplies at a staggering rate, he had a message for that country and the world: "The era of easy access to energy is over."

To prosper in such an environment, O'Reilly explained, the oil industry would have to adopt a new strategy. It would have to look beyond the easy-to-reach sources that had powered it in the past and make massive investments in the extraction of what the industry calls "unconventional oil" and what I labeled at the time "tough oil": resources located far offshore, in the threatening environments of the far north, in politically dangerous places like Iraq, or in unyielding rock formations like shale. "Increasingly," O'Reilly insisted, "future supplies will have to be found in ultradeep water and other remote areas, development projects that will ultimately require new technology and trillions of dollars of investment in new infrastructure."

For top industry officials like O'Reilly, it seemed evident that Big Oil had no choice in the matter. It would have to invest those needed trillions in tough-oil projects or lose ground to other sources of energy, drying up its stream of profits. True, the cost of extracting unconventional oil would be much greater than from easier-to-reach conventional reserves (not to mention more environmentally hazardous), but that would be the world's problem, not theirs. "Collectively, we are stepping up to this challenge," O'Reilly declared. "The industry is making significant investments to build additional capacity for future production."

On this basis, Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and other major firms indeed invested enormous amounts of money and resources in a growing unconventional oil and gas race, an extraordinary saga I described in my book The Race for What's Left. Some, including Chevron and Shell, started drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico; others, including Exxon, commenced operations in the Arctic and eastern Siberia. Virtually every one of them began exploiting U.S. shale reserves via hydro-fracking.

Over the Cliff

By the end of the first decade of this century, Big Oil was united in its embrace of its new production-maximizing, drill-baby-drill approach. It made the necessary investments, perfected new technology for extracting tough oil, and did indeed triumph over the decline of existing, "easy oil" deposits. In those years, it managed to ramp up production in remarkable ways, bringing ever more hard-to-reach oil reservoirs online.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy, world oil production rose from 85.1 million barrels per day in 2005 to 92.9 million in 2014, despite the continuing decline of many legacy fields in North America and the Middle East. Claiming that industry investments in new drilling technologies had vanquished the specter of oil scarcity, BP's latest CEO, Bob Dudley, assured the world only a year ago that Big Oil was going places and the only thing that had "peaked" was "the theory of peak oil."'






Friday, March 13, 2015

Re: CO2

Now if you could just take the exhausts of a power plant and pump that into a large tank of algae...  Maybe a mile long glass tube full of glass beads and algae in the same way they use bacteria to clean water...

On Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 10:44 AM, <larry wrote:

'UC Berkeley chemists have made a major leap forward in carbon-capture technology with a material that can efficiently remove carbon from the ambient air of a submarine as readily as from the polluted emissions of a coal-fired power plant.

The material then releases the carbon dioxide at lower temperatures than current carbon-capture materials, potentially cutting by half or more the energy currently consumed in the process…

"It would work great on something like the International Space Station," Long said.…

Power plants that capture CO2 today use an old technology whereby flue gases are bubbled through organic amines in water, where the carbon dioxide binds to amines. The liquid is then heated to 120-150 degrees Celsius (250-300 degrees Fahrenheit) to release the gas, after which the liquids are reused. The entire process is expensive: it consumes about 30 percent of the power generated, while sequestering underground costs an additional though small fraction of that.

The new diamine-appended MOFs can capture carbon dioxide at various temperatures, depending on how the diamines are synthesized, and releases the CO2 at only 50 C above the temperature at which CO2 binds, instead of the increase of 80-110 C required for aqueous liquid amines. Because MOFs are solid, the process also saves the huge energy costs of heating the water in which amines are dissolved.'



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fwd: Maternity Hotel

'Southern California apartment complexes that doubled as "maternity hotels" for Chinese women who want made-in-America babies were raided early Tuesday, capping an unprecedented federal sting operation, officials said.

NBC News was on the scene as Homeland Security agents swept into The Carlyle, a luxury property in Irvine, California, which housed pregnant women and new moms who allegedly forked over $40,000 to $80,000 to give birth in the United States.




  'I recounted this story at the charity dinner simply to make the point that American exceptionalism in the world had as much to do with the largesse of our character as with our great wealth and power, and that causes like the one at hand only enhanced our reputation in the world as a fundamentally decent nation — a beacon, as it were, of human possibility. I thought this would be the easiest of points to make. And things were in fact going smoothly until I uttered the words "American exceptionalism." Instantly — almost before I could get the words out of my mouth — quiet boos erupted from one side of the banquet room. Not loud ugly boos, but polite remonstrative boos, the kind that respectfully censure you for an impropriety. I was shocked. This was a young, bright, prosperous American audience reproaching me for mentioning the exceptionalism of our nation. It was as if they were saying, "Don't you understand that even the phrase 'American exceptionalism' is a hubris that evokes the evils of white supremacy? It is an indecency that we won't be associated with."


   In booing, these audience members were acting out an irony: They were good Americans precisely because they were skeptical of American greatness. Their skepticism was a badge of innocence because it dissociated them from America's history of evil. To unreservedly buy into American exceptionalism was, for them, to turn a blind eye on this evil, and they wanted to make the point that they were far too evolved for that. They would never be like those head-in-the-sand Americans who didn't understand that American greatness was tainted by evil. And you could hear — in the spontaneity of their alarm, like a knee jerking at the tap of a rubber hammer — that their innocence of this evil was now a central part of their identity. It was reflex now; they didn't have to think about it anymore.



Fwd: boat

'Prosecutors have said Tsarnaev scrawled the motive for the attack inside the boat. They say he referred to U.S. wars in Muslim countries and wrote, among other things, "Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop."'




Fwd: M855

'The ATF says it wants to ban M855 ball ammunition, a .223 (or 5.56 mm) rifle bullet that has been used by American citizens for decades. The ATF says it wants to ban this popular bullet because it is "armor piercing."

The law at the basis of this debate is the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). As amended, the GCA prohibits the import, manufacture and distribution of "armor piercing ammunition" as defined by a few terms Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice (DOJ) is attempting to broaden.

The definition for what constitutes "armor piercing" reads: "a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely … from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium."

Now, to be as nitpicky as the law, the M855 ball ammunition the ATF wants to ban as "armor piercing" doesn't have a core made of the metals listed in what legally makes a bullet "armor piercing." The M855 actually has a lead core with a steel tip. Also, the M855 is traditionally a rifle cartridge and the ban only covers handgun ammunition. The DOJ argues this doesn't stop them because the law stipulates they can ban a bullet that "may be used in a handgun." And, after all, any cartridge may be used in a handgun.

Still, the definition has another condition. According to law, when ammo is made for "sporting purposes" (hunting, recreation shooting and so on) it is exempt from this ban. According to the DOJ the "GCA exempts ammunition that would otherwise be considered armor piercing if the Attorney General determines that the specific ammunition at issue is 'primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.'" So, according to the DOJ, they simply get to decide on this condition.

The "sporting purposes" caveat is an important exemption, as every bullet designed to ethically kill a deer or other big-game animal (whether from a pistol, rifle or shotgun) will also shoot through a bulletproof vest. If all bullets that could potentially shoot through a cop's bulletproof vest were banned, then hunting—at least ethical hunting with firearms—would cease..


'Also, you can't blame people for questioning the politics behind this move when the attorney general behind this proposed ban has said his failure to further restrict Second Amendment rights is his greatest failure.'


This approval process, of course, isn't new. In 1986, the ATF actually exempted the .223 ammo it now wants to ban. Also, in 1992, the ATF exempted .30-06 M2AP cartridges (the .30-06 is a widely used and highly regarded big-game hunting round and has also long been used by the U.S. military)…

Given that this seems to be a solution in search of a problem, it doesn't seem conspiratorial to wonder if this is a political move orchestrated to make it more expensive to shoot AR-15s, which are traditionally chambered in .223. In its argument for this rule change, the ATF is clearly justifying expanding the ammo ban to traditional rifle calibers. So then, might the ATF's next move be to ban ammo for other popular military/civilian calibers like the .308 and .30-06?'




Fwd: not a viable negotiating position

'Susan Rice, the face of the Obama administration, in a fierce debate with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over nuclear negotiations with Iran, broadly defended US President Barack Obama's approach on Monday night.

Speaking to thousands of gathered delegates at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference in Washington, Rice, the president's national security advisor, repeatedly underscored Obama's commitment to Israel's security.

But on Netanyahu, who is in Washington without a single meeting on his schedule with administration officials, Rice chose fighting words to address both the politics of the moment surrounding his highly anticipated address to Congress on Tuesday, as well as the substantive differences separating their governments concerning Iran.

"The question now is whether we can achieve a comprehensive deal – a good deal," Rice stated. "We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal."

A good deal, according to the White House, will expand Iran's breakout capacity – the amount of time required to acquire the necessary materials and assemble a nuclear weapon – for a decade or more.

They seek a comprehensive agreement by the end of June, and a political framework agreement by the end of this month that "cuts off every single pathway" Iran may have towards adequate fissile material, she told the crowd of roughly 16,000 gathered.

The US also seeks to trace the entire supply chain of Iran's program, starting with the mining of raw materials, in order to best ensure visibility into possible covert activity through the syphoning of that material.

"We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal," Rice stated.

"I know that some of you will be urging Congress to insist that Iran forego its domestic enrichment capacity entirely. But as desirable as that would be," she said to dissenting applause, "it is neither realistic nor achievable. Even our closest international partners in the P5+1 do not support denying Iran the ability ever to pursue peaceful nuclear energy – if that is our goal, our partners will abandon us."

"Simply put, that is not a viable negotiating position," she continued. "Nor is it even attainable. The plain fact is, no one can make Iran unlearn the scientific and nuclear expertise it already possesses."

Rice said the US stands behind Israel come hell or high water. But doing so, she said, means supporting a good deal, as currently defined by the administration.

A collapse in the talks, she warned, would likely lead Tehran to rapidly ramp its nuclear program back up.

"Soundbites won't stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Rice continued, in an apparent swipe at Netanyahu's pending address. "Strong diplomacy backed by pressure can."

From the start, Israel has argued that more pressure during the negotiations may have resulted in greater concessions from Tehran. Netanyahu says a nuclear-threshold Iran is a threat to the very survival of the Jewish state.'




Fwd: Test

'This exam, given in 23 countries, assessed the thinking abilities and workplace skills of adults. It focused on literacy, math and technological problem-solving. The goal was to figure out how prepared people are to work in a complex, modern society.

And U.S. millennials performed horribly.

That might even be an understatement, given the extent of the American shortcomings. No matter how you sliced the data – by class, by race, by education – young Americans were laggards compared to their international peers. In every subject, U.S. millennials ranked at the bottom or very close to it, according to a new study by testing company ETS.

"We were taken aback," said ETS researcher Anita Sands. "We tend to think millennials are really savvy in this area. But that's not what we are seeing."

The test is called the PIAAC test. It was developed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, better known as the OECD. The test was meant to assess adult skill levels. It was administered worldwide to people ages 16 to 65. The results came out two years ago and barely caused a ripple. But recently ETS went back and delved into the data to look at how  millennials did as a group. After all, they're the future – and, in America, they're poised to claim the title of largest generation from the baby boomers.

U.S. millennials, defined as people 16 to 34 years old, were supposed to be different. They're digital natives. They get it. High achievement is part of their makeup. But the ETS study found signs of trouble, with its authors warning that the nation was at a crossroads: "We can decide to accept the current levels of mediocrity and inequality or we can decide to address the skills challenge head on."

The challenge is that, in literacy, U.S. millennials scored higher than only three countries.

In math, Americans ranked last.

In technical problem-saving, they were second from the bottom.

"Abysmal," noted ETS researcher Madeline Goodman. "There was just no place where we performed well."'



Fwd: Wages

'consider the Congressional Budget Office estimates of actual median household income. Measured in 2013 dollars, after-tax median income rose briskly from $46,998 in 1983 to $70,393 in 2008 but remained below that 2008 peak in 2011. The sizable increase before 2008 is partly because the average of all federal taxes paid by the middle fifth has almost been cut in half since 1981—from 19.2% that year to 17.7% in 1989, 16.5% in 2000, 13.6% in 2003 and 11.2% in 2011.

Census Bureau estimates of median "money income," on the other hand, do not account for taxes, so they miss a major source of improved living standards. They also exclude realized capital gains, public and private health insurance, food stamps and other in-kind benefits. Even so, the Census Bureau's flawed estimate of median income rose 13.7% from 1984 to 2007 before falling 8% from 2007 to 2013.

Both CBO and Census estimates show only six years of middle-class stagnation…




In their original 2003 study, Messrs. Piketty and Saez mentioned one rapidly expanding source of missing income—disappearing dividends in tax-return data. These were "due mostly to the growth of funded pension plans and retirement savings accounts through which individuals receive dividends that are never reported as dividends on income tax returns."

The same is true of interest and capital gains accumulating inside such tax-free savings accounts. These have grown to nearly $20 trillion, according to a 2014 report by Tax Foundation economist Alan Cole.

Messrs. Piketty and Saez shrink the total income numbers further by subtracting all transfer payments, such as Social Security and unemployment benefits, and excluding all health and retirement benefits provided by private employers or government agencies. The result, as Brookings Institution's Gary Burtless noted, is that, "The Piketty-Saez measure [of total income] excluded 24% of NIPA [National Income and Product Accounts] 'personal income' in 1970, but it excluded 37% of 'personal income' in 2008." It excluded 40% of personal income by 2011. '







Sunday, March 1, 2015

Re: Neutrality

The people who have been campaigning against Net Neutrality are the cable companies under the guise that Big Brother is going to control everything.  These companies are charging Netflix for access that I have already paid for, so the real issue is about them being able to extort money from other companies.  Now the cable companies are going to decide which content is fast and which is not.  This seems to give them a lot of power.   If Netflix is faster then something else I might want will be slower.

Technology might make that a non-issue as the internet gets faster.

On the other hand, the free market person in me thinks that if two companies want to make a deal, why should the government interfere?  If I don't like Comcast's policy, then I should choose a different internet provider.  But what if my choice of providers is limited?  Comcast controls the streaming to tens millions of people giving them the power to demand money from content providers. 

Liberals, Stop Lying About Everything