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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Daily Drift

Gonna be one of those days ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 192 countries around the world daily.

A tall one ...

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Today in History

1190   Frederick Barbarossa drowns in a river while leading an army of the Third Crusade.  
1692   Bridget Bishop is hanged in Salem, Mass., for witchcraft.  
1776   The Continental Congress appoints a committee to write a Declaration of Independence.  
1801   Tripoli declares war on the U.S. for refusing to pay tribute.  
1854   The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, holds its first graduation.  
1861   Dorothea Dix is appointed superintendent of female nurses for the Union army.  
1864   At the Battle of Brice's Crossroads in Mississippi, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest defeats the numerically superior Union troops.  
1898   U.S. Marines land in Cuba.  
1905   Japan and Russia agree to peace talks brokered by President Theodore Roosevelt.  
1909   An SOS signal is transmitted for the first time in an emergency when the Cunard liner SS Slavonia is wrecked off the Azores.  
1916   Mecca, under control of the Turks, falls to the Arabs during the Great Arab Revolt.  
1920   The Republican convention in Chicago endorses woman suffrage.  
1924   The Italian socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti is kidnapped and assassinated by Fascists in Rome. 1925   Tennessee adopts a new biology text book denying the theory of evolution.  
1940   The Norwegian army capitulates to the Germans.  
1942   Germany razes the town of Lidice, Czechoslovakia and kills more than 1,300 citizens in retribution of the murder of Reinhard Heydrich.  
1943   The Allies begin bombing Germany around the clock.  
1944   The U.S. VII and V corps, advancing from Normandy's beaches, link up and begin moving inland. 1948   The news that the sound barrier has been broken is finally released to the public by the U.S. Air Force. Chuck Yeager, piloting the rocket airplane X-1, exceeded the speed of sound on October 14, 1947. 1963   Buddhist monk Ngo Quang Duc dies by self immolation in Saigon to protest persecution by the Diem government.
1970   A 15-man group of special forces troops begin training for Operation Kingpin, a POW rescue mission in North Vietnam. 1985   The Israeli army pulls out of Lebanon after 1,099 days of occupation. 1999  Serb forces begin their withdrawl from Kosovo after signing an agreement with the NATO powers.

Non Sequitur


How Do You Move An Entire Bridge?

When the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Oregon, was built in 1925, it wasn't designed to carry 30,000 vehicles a day. But by the 1980s, cracks were forming in the bridge's supports, leading inspectors to ban heavy trucks, buses, and fire engines.

So county engineers decided it was time for a new bridge, and the least expensive option was to move the existing structure over to serve as a detour while a new one was built in its place. But the bridge's rare design - a one-piece, 1,100-foot, 3,400-ton truss - posed an unusual problem. How do you move a whole bridge at once?

Did you know ...

About how the repugican cabal lost young voters

Is MSNBC's devotion to political coverage the reason for its bad ratings?

That if we changed the smoking culture we can change the gun culture

About the real scandal? the repugican cabal

Faux News Cuts The Mic Of A Liberal Who Tells The Truth About the Obama Scandals

What happens when a liberal tries to discuss the facts of the Obama scandals on Faux News? He gets his mic cut off.
Watch what happened to Julian Epstein when he insisted on having a discussion centered around the facts of the Obama scandals with Faux exec Neil Cavuto.

Cavuto: Julian, but i guess what I’m asking is what part of Custer don’t you understand here where you’re surrounded and you see one incident after another the comes up and add it all it comes back to the same basic issue privacy is invaded were potentially invaded institutions of all sorts doing pretty much the same thing. There is a pattern.
Epstein: If you want to conflate and combine all these issues and make a general statements, you can do that. I just don’t think that is a very thoughtful way of approaching it.
Cavuto: Why don’t you think about what I just said, Julian? To think and connect, Julian, Julian don’t play the politics game. Julian, I’m telling you drop the liberal thing and focus on the reality thing! You have one entity after another going after American people. You have one system of government, one agency after another essentially doing the same thing. You can call that conflating; I am telling you there’s a pattern and you’re just shrugging your shoulders. But I can guarantee you, Julian if it were George Bush doing it, you’d be all over it.
Epstein: That’s actually incorrect. You want me to respond? So look, you can’t conflate all of these issues. You have to speak about them seperately because they’re different. In the case of the IRS, I agree with you. The targeting was wrong. There was never any connection to the White House. Nobody has proven that. In the case of the AP case, nobody was criminalizing investigative reporting. Nobody in the Justice Department ever spoke of prosecuting Rosen, that was simply a method to get a subpoena. That was not targeting. Secondly, on the emails.

Cavuto: Julian, Julian!!
Epstein: Because I want to talk facts, and you want to make these general broadsides, Neil.
Cavuto: Julian, you’re saying nothing and it’s offensive!
Epstein: Okay, why don’t we speak about them specifically?
Cavuto: Julian, why don’t you talk facts? It’s annoying how obnoxious you can be on the reality. I’m not going to play this game with you, Julian. You play the same damn game dismissing.
(Epstein tried to talk.)
Cavuto: Cut his mic! Cut his mic!

That liberal thing that Cavuto was accusing Epstein of doing is called using facts. Faux News has no interest in the facts relating to these “Obama scandals.” Anyone who persistently tries to inject facts into the Obama scandal fantasy will be shouted down, and have their mic cut off. That’s just how they do it over at fair and balanced Faux News.
Since these scandals have puttered out due to a lack of evidence, Cavuto was trying to create something that was greater than the sum of its weak parts by trying to tie all of the conspiracies into a pattern of behavior. It should be noted that Cavuto isn’t just a host. He is also a Faux News executive. Apparently, the executive policy of Faux News is to cut the mics of people who try to use facts in their conversations.
Cavuto’s behavior illustrated why these “scandals” are bad for the repugican cabal. The right is obsessing over these scandals. Just like with all of the other Obama conspiracies that they’ve gotten hung up on, they don’t understand that the rest of the country doesn’t care. Obama scandal mania pushes repugicans more into their delusions, and isolates them from mainstream America.
Obama scandals have always been the right’s emotional crutch and comfort food. The economy is improving regularly. Many of their beloved tea party governors look to be headed for defeat in 2014. Things are generally looking up for the country. Their plan to ruin the Obama presidency has been a total failure, so these “scandals” are the only thing that repugicans have left to hold on to.
As if there was ever any doubt, Neil Cavuto has proven once and for all that there is no room for reality on Faux News.

Petulant Oklahoma Rep. Throws Embarrassing Tantrum About Obama On House Floor

From Americans Against the Tea Party

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the latest newbie repugican lawmaker who seems to believe his best chance of attaining political stardom in today's bigoted and paranoid repugican cabal is by promulgating fake scandals about President Obama and appealing to the ugliest elements of today's repugican cabal.

During a bizarre speech on the House Floor Monday, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a freshman congressman from the ultra-wingnut State of Oklahoma, became unhinged and spouted just about every delusional anti-government conspiracy imaginable, in a tactic that looked like it came straight out of the Roger Ailes' Playbook.

Remember his name, because he's either dumb enough to actually believe these twisted lies about President Obama and our government, or he's evil enough to spread falsehoods in order to divide our country, spread anti-government paranoia, score political points and upgrade his standing in an increasingly out-of-touch and extreme repugican cabal.

Showing blatant disrespect for the President, an all too familiar characteristic of modern-day repugicans, Bridenstine went one-by-one listing off the biggest manufactured repugican cabal and Faux "News" scandals:  the Fast and Furious operation, Obama's response to the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the Justice Department's seizure of journalists' phone records.

But he wasn't done there, he went on to accuse Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sibelius, of basically running around the country personally forcing every pregnant woman to have an abortion, and even found the time to assert that Vice President Joe Biden is "not fit to lead," saying,
    Mr. Speaker, the President's dishonesty, incompetence, vengefulness and lack of moral compass lead many to suggest that he is not fit to lead.

    The only problem is that his vice president is equally unfit and even more embarrassing

Glenn Beck Compares IRS Doing its Job to the Holocaust

Yesterday, we saw Lush Dimbulb disgrace himself with his remarks, that the IRS scandal can be compared to the holocaust, which saw 6 million Jews and, conservatively, an equal number of gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, Russians, French, and others, killed by the Nazis.
Some recent estimates put the total number of people murdered by the Nazis as high as 20 million.
Nobody was killed by the IRS.
Glenn Beck chimed in, right on cue, with his claim that America is on its way to becoming a totalitarian state. Worse, he says, America will “dwarf what Germany did.”
Dwarf killing 20 million people. Really? We won’t even get into the annexation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, or the invasions of Poland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, France, Russia, and so forth. the shrub invaded Iraq for no more reason than Hitler had to invade Poland. But so far, Barack Obama has invaded nobody.
And look, ma. No death camps.
If you’re wondering who we liberals will be killing in our imaginary (presumably FEMA-run) extermination camps – and with squads of soldiers knocking on doors and marching down the street picking people out to kill – Beck is comparing the tea party to the Jews.
Yes, according to Glenn Beck, Obama will have the tea party “shut down” and “rounded up.”
“If we don’t stop this right now,” he says, “we will be remembered as the most evil nation in the history of the world. We will dwarf what Germany did.”
Referring again to the IRS “scandal” Beck says, “This is the way totalitarian states are created.”
Totalitarian states are created by forcing tax exempt organizations to stay out of politics?
Is that where Hitler and Stalin got their starts?
It is hard to know where to begin when you hear things like this.
Sarah Palin’s “blood libel” fiasco apparently taught repugicans nothing. The memory of the holocaust should not be bandied about in so cavalier a fashion.
“You wanna shut down the tea party?” Beck asks. “They can do it over night.” Of course, he’d do ominous better if he’d take of that silly hat.
“You wanna scoop up everybody who was ever been a part of the tea party, ever visited any website…who ever had any connections at all to anything, all they have to do is put the connections in, hit ‘print’ and round them up.”
Which, of course, takes us right to six million dead Jews: “There wouldn’t be a Jew left alive on the planet today if Hitler had this technology. Not one.”
Again the hat…oh the hat. But I digress.
Yes there would be Jews alive, Glenn. Hitler would have had to defeat the United States and Great Britain, as well as the Soviet Union and other countries, to kill all the Jews on the planet. The rest of the world didn’t show much love for Jews but they also weren’t rounding them all up and killing them, with the exception of Stalin, who loved killing his own people. But Jews even fought in the Soviet armed forces.
Or does Hitler’s magic button make people drop dead wherever they are?
Beck has another problem: getting us to believe there are 20 million tea partiers available to be rounded up and executed.
But bombast has no limits. Nor do martyr fantasies. Nor, apparently, does Glenn Beck’s idiocy.

Ronald Reagan No Different Than Today’s tea party

Bill Maher started his New Rule with a quote from a Bob Dole interview. Dole said the repugican cabal had become a party of idea free ideologues who obstructed too much. He also stated that Ronald Reagan himself could not have made it as a repugican. Bill Maher took exception to that statement. In fact Maher laid out a pretty detail factual observation that would lead anyone to come to the conclusion that in fact Reagan was pretty much the pre-incarnation of the tea party.
Bill Maher Ronald Reagan Tea Party
Bill Maher: Ronald Reagan was an anti-government, union busting, race bating, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-intellectual who cut rich people’s taxes in half, had an incurable case of the military industrial complex, and said Medicare was socialism that would destroy our freedom. It sounds to me like he would fit in just fine. …
Even though Reagan did a few things today’s GOP would not like, he wrote the playbook for them for every issue of consequence. Sure he raised taxes a few times, but when you look at where he started with taxes and where he ended, this is where our income inequality problems began. He invented voodoo economics. …
On race his ideas could not be more ‘Tea Party’. He ran on states’ rights. He invented the notion that black people get all the breaks. …
He described the New Deal as Fascism, Medicare recipients as waiting for handouts, unemployment insurance as prepaid vacation for freeloaders. When they hold up signs that say no socialized medicine, where do you think they got it from? …
Ronald Reagan: And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free. …
Bill Maher: Worst of all Reagan inspired a whole generation of people who hate government to get into government. …
Stop agreeing he was a saint especially when his two miracles were turning water into polluted water and walking on the poor.

The truth be told

Sunday, June 9

US Inequality Now Literally Off the Chart

by Salvatore Babones

Dollars and change.Among the world’s major nations, documents the UN agency dedicated to labor matters, only one currently has a level of inequality both high and rising.
It is well known that the level of income inequality stretches much higher in the United States than in the other developed countries of Europe and North America. Now a report from the International Labour Organization shows that U.S. inequality has literally gone off the chart.
Income inequality in the United States is soaring so high, in fact, that the authors of the ILO’s new 2013 World of Work report couldn’t even place the United States on the same graph with the other 25 developed countries their new study examines.
060813-6 chart
Income inequality reflects the sum total of all the differences between the incomes enjoyed by different households in a country. Differences between rich and poor households, rich and middle-income households, middle-income and poor households all enter into total income inequality.
Researchers usually measure income inequality using a statistic called the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient runs from a minimum of 0 (perfect equality in incomes across all households) to 100 (one rich household gets all the income for an entire country).
The ILO report places the US Gini coefficient at 47.7, or almost half way toward the extreme where one rich household gets everything and everyone else gets nothing.
By comparison, the levels of inequality in the other 25 developed countries studied all fall in a band between 20 and 35.
Even worse, in America inequality is not only high but rising. The Unites States is one of only three developed countries where income inequality rose during the recession of 2008-2009, then continued rising through the lackluster recovery of 2010-2011.
The other two: Denmark and France. Both these countries had much lower levels of inequality to start with. By 2011, Denmark’s inequality had risen into the high 20s and France’s inequality into the low 30s.
In the United States inequality sat at 46.3 before the recession, moved to 47.0 in 2010, and rose further to 47.7 in 2011.
Rising inequality has hit the American middle class particularly hard. But America’s middle class decline began well before the recession hit in 2008. Every year fewer and fewer Americans qualify as middle class, and those who do have lower and lower incomes.
The share of U.S. adults living in middle-income households, the new ILO report notes,  dropped from 61 to 51 percent between 1970 and 2010, and the median incomes of these  households fell 5 percent.
Where has the middle class held its own in recent decades? Well, in Denmark and France, among other countries. The country with the largest middle class according to the ILO’s calculations is Norway, where about 70 percent of the population rate as middle class.
In the United States today only about 52 percent of the population can claim middle class status.
The World of Work report concludes that the middle class in the United States and around the world is suffering from “long-term unemployment, weakening job quality, and workers dropping out of the labour market altogether.” Things have been bad for a long time, but the recession has made them far worse.
The ILO, founded in 1946, now operates a specialist agency of the United Nations. The world’s employers and workers are equally represented on its governing board, alongside the representatives of 28 governments, including the United States government.
Different international organizations use different data sources for comparing inequality levels across countries. The ILO World of Work report uses raw data from the Census Bureau for the United States and from Eurostat for European countries.
All these sources agree that income inequality has widened more in the United States than in other developed countries. The ILO report finds a much larger difference than other organizations, such as the OECD. One reason for the difference: As a UN organization, the ILO is committed to using data from official sources like the U.S. Bureau of the Census and published, peer-reviewed scientific journal articles.
Other organizations like the OECD and private think tanks make their own estimates of national inequality levels using data that may not be publicly available and methodologies that may not be transparent or audited.
According to the official data compiled by the ILO and documented in the World of Work report, only South Africa and about a dozen Latin American countries have higher levels of inequality than the United States.
In nearly all of these countries inequality appears to be either stable or falling. Out of a total of 57 countries studied by the ILO, 31 developing and 26 developed, only one — the United States — has a level of income inequality both high and rising.
This simple fact — that only one nation has inequality both “high and rising” — shows that high and rising inequality is not inevitable. The rich are not winning everywhere, just as the rich have not always won in the United States.
We can have sensible policies that reduce inequality and bolster the middle class. The ILO suggests that we prioritize employment growth over budget cuts, increase public investment to make up for a lack of private investment, and raise taxes on unearned income from financial transactions.
The folks at the ILO are smart enough to understand that the reasons our governments don’t give us good, pro-people policies are not technical or economic, but political and ideological.
“Against mounting evidence,” the ILO concludes, “a fundamental belief persists in some quarters that less regulation and limited government will boost business confidence, improve access to international financial markets, and increase investment, although these results have not been evident.”
The empirical evidence says that we can reduce inequality and bolster the middle class by putting people back to work. But that will take government action. And government action is the one thing we don’t seem to have.

In nation's breadbasket, Latinos stuck in poverty

This photo taken Saturday June 1, 2013, in Fresno, Calif. shows farmworker Cristina Melendez posing for a photo in front of her mother's apartment. A Mexico native who came to the U.S. at age 13, Melendez and her seven U.S. citizen children have for years struggled with poverty in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)  
On a warm spring day, farmworker Cristina Melendez was bedridden and unable to make her way back into the asparagus fields of central California for the kind of backbreaking work she's done since childhood.
The 36-year-old mother of seven was desperate. Her bank account had been at zero for months, the refrigerator was nearly empty, and she didn't have enough to cover the rent. Lacking health insurance, Melendez couldn't see a doctor or afford medication, so her illness dragged on — and another day came and went without work or pay.
A native of Mexico who was smuggled into the United States as a child, Melendez had once dreamed big: to be a bilingual secretary, to own a house and a car, to become a U.S. citizen. Agriculture, she hoped, would be the springboard to a better life — for her and her U.S.-born children, the next generation of a family whose past and future are deeply rooted in the fertile earth of America's breadbasket.
California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, with Fresno County farmers receiving a record $6.8 billion in revenues last year. But the region also consistently ranks among the nation's most impoverished. Sometimes called "Appalachia of the West," it's where families, especially Hispanic immigrants and their children, live year after year in destitution.
This divide causes concern because of what it may foretell as the nation's Hispanic population explodes and the U.S. moves toward becoming a majority minority nation. Census data show that non-Hispanic whites will cease to be a majority somewhere about the year 2043. The shift is largely driven by high birth rates among Hispanics as well as by declines in the aging white population.
Already there are a record number of Hispanics living below the poverty line nationwide, and the number of Hispanic children in poverty exceeds that of any other racial or ethnic group. Largely less educated, Hispanic workers are concentrated in relatively low-skill occupations, earning less than the average for all U.S. workers.
"America's communities have become divided between economic winners and losers," said Daniel Lichter, a Cornell University sociologist and past president of the Population Association of America. "Increasingly, Hispanics begin life's race at a decided disadvantage, raising the specter of new Hispanic ghettos and increasing isolation."
As poor working Latinos settle across the country, fueling local economies in industries such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture, some are left with little room to climb the job ladder.
That holding pattern leads to a cycle of poverty that shows up in the next generation of U.S. citizens. With poverty stunting childhood development and stymieing educational attainment, experts say many Latino children are on track to remain stuck in low-skilled, underpaid jobs.
Harvard economist George Borjas projects that the children of today's immigrants will earn on average 10 percent to 15 percent less than non-immigrant Americans, with Latinos in particular struggling. The trend could have broad repercussions.
"Much of the nation's labor force growth, its future growth, will come from the Hispanic community," said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center, pointing to research showing that childhood poverty affects education and jobs. "This not only has implications for Latino families, but for the nation as a whole."
The cycle is especially evident in the fields, vineyards, orchards and groves of the San Joaquin Valley, which stretches about 250 miles between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Thousand-acre farms dominate, thriving on a system of dammed rivers, drained lakes, advanced fertilizers and pesticides. Despite agriculture's modernization and its steadily growing revenues, surprisingly little has changed for the workers themselves.
Farmers have always relied on hiring racial or ethnic minorities ranked at the bottom of society. Valley crops once were harvested by Chinese, Japanese, Punjabis, Filipinos, Mexican braceros, southern Europeans, African-Americans and the white American Dust Bowl arrivals that were an exception to the immigrant mold. Today's crops are picked primarily by Hispanic immigrants like Melendez or their American-born children.
Hispanics account for half the population in Fresno County, and one-third of them live in poverty. Nationally, 1 in 4 Latinos lives below the poverty line, the second-highest percentage of all ethnic and racial groups, after blacks. That compares with an overall national rate of 15 percent and a rate for whites of about 10 percent.
Nowhere are these differences more apparent than in Fresno, California's fifth-largest city and the state's unofficial agricultural capital.
Fresno's north side — home to bankers, doctors and teachers — is dotted with gated communities and McMansions with manicured lawns. It boasts newly paved streets, bike lanes, generous sidewalks, a popular mall and parks.
Melendez's neighborhood in southeast Fresno is a world away. Children on bikes crisscross cracked streets, their gutters strewn with trash. Shabby apartment complexes stretch for blocks. Melendez's three-bedroom home sits on the bottom floor of one such complex, shared by Latino immigrants and Hmong refugees.
Melendez's journey here began with her father, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in the late 1970s to pick oranges. He returned to Mexico within a year, but Melendez's mother, Maria Rosales, then came to pick grapes, almonds and peaches.
"People told me I would be sweeping dollars with a broom in California, but what I swept were only pennies," said Rosales, 60, who is now a U.S. citizen and still lives in Fresno.
At 13, Melendez, along with two of her sisters, joined her mother in California, having trekked with a smuggler across the border. The family settled in a small farmworker town in Fresno County. After school and on weekends, Melendez and her sisters picked the grapes that surrounded them.
"It was loneliness. It was sadness," Melendez said. "I hated grapes."
Melendez dropped out of high school to get married and to get away from working the vineyards, but she and her husband soon separated. Though she spoke good English, she still lived in the country illegally and lacked a high school diploma, barring most employment. She again turned to the fields.
When Melendez can work, she picks every type of crop, from asparagus and grapes to chili peppers. In the offseason, she ties vines and trims branches.
Paid by the hour, Melendez generally receives California's minimum wage of $8. But whenever possible she works "piece rate," getting paid a set amount per box or bucket picked. Running through the fields to pick as much as she can, she once grossed about $3,000 for a few weeks of work.
But lean months with no work inevitably follow such windfalls. Without legal status, Melendez can't file for unemployment. She obtains food stamps for her U.S.-citizen children, but otherwise receives little government help. To make ends meet, she sometimes peddles barbecued beef, tamales and beauty products door to door and rents a room to a friend.
"That's what I have, and that's what I make do with," she said, "because the process of doing something else is difficult."
Her children know this, too. Her eldest sons, age 18 and 21, have high school diplomas but no jobs. The oldest, Cristian, started attending Fresno City College's automotive technician program with the help of a loan but then dropped out. Last winter, with help from a local employment program, he got a two-month job at a bakery. He's also filled temporary positions in maintenance and at a vacuum cleaner company.
Now a parent himself, with a 3-year-old son to support, Cristian said he's desperate to find something permanent. He worked as a farmworker in high school and last year picked peaches, nectarines and grapes. He eventually hopes to get a business degree and open a tattoo parlor and smoke shop, but still fears following in his mother's footsteps — never finding a way out of the fields.
"I don't want to work in the fields, busting my ass for low pay. That doesn't make sense," he said. "But if I don't find work soon, we're low on income, so I'm going to have to go to the fields."
In Fresno, advocates and experts for years have noticed the inextricable relationship between agriculture, the Hispanic community and poverty, and sounded the alarm. But little has been done to tackle the root of the problem.
"The number of working people in poverty is increasing, and we're falling further behind in education and health. We need to reverse that trend. Otherwise we'll continue to be seen as a poor area with bad statistics," said Caroline Farrell, executive director of the Valley-based Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. "And it will get worse. ... We won't have a sustainable community."
Fresno's mayor, Ashley Swearengin, hopes to reverse the trend and last year led a citywide program called Learn2Earn, which helps residents earn their high school diplomas and encourages them to pursue higher education and job training.
"We're talking about changing the mindset of people who think this is their lot in life, this is all they are ever going to do," said Linda Gleason, who leads Learn2Earn. "It's about tapping into people's internal motivation — and showing them education and a better job are not impossible dreams."

American auto industry about to go on hiring spree

In this Wednesday, May 8, 2013, photo, Jeff Caldwell, 29, right, a chassis assembly line supervisor, checks a vehicle on the assembly line at the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit. The auto industry is on a hiring spree as car makers and parts suppliers race to find engineers, technicians and factory workers to build the next generation of vehicles.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The auto industry is about to go on a hiring spree as car makers and parts suppliers race to find engineers, technicians and factory workers to build the next generation of vehicles.
The new employees will be part of a larger, busier workforce. From coast to coast, the industry is in top gear. Factories are operating at about 95 percent of capacity, and many are already running three shifts. As a result, some auto and parts companies are doing something they've been reluctant to consider since the recession: Adding floor space and spending millions of dollars on new equipment.
"We're really bumping up against the edge," says Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive, which forecasts auto production. "So it really is brick-and-mortar time."
The auto industry's stepped-up hiring will help sustain the nation's job growth and help fuel consumer spending. On Friday, the government said U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs in May, roughly the monthly average for the past year and a sign of the economy's resilience.
At 7.6 percent, U.S. unemployment remains well above the 5 percent to 6 percent typical of a healthy economy. Growth is still modest, in part because of higher taxes and government spending cuts that kicked in this year and weak overseas economies. But the housing market is strengthening, and U.S. consumer confidence has reached a five-year high.
The auto industry's outlook is bright. Vehicle sales for 2013 could reach 15.5 million, the highest in six years. To meet that demand, automakers must find more people. Hundreds of companies that make parts for automakers have to hire, too, just to keep up.
"As volume goes up, we will really need to add heads," says Mel Stephens, a spokesman for Lear Corp., which makes automotive seats.
From January through May, automakers and parts companies hired 8,000 workers, a relatively slow rate. But the pace is picking up. The Center for Automotive Research expects the industry to add 35,000 over the full year.
The hiring plans are widespread. Chrysler Group LLC, Honda Motor Co., General Motors Co., Mercedes-Benz and Ford Motor Co. plan to add more than 13,000 people this year.
Large parts companies such as Lear, BorgWarner Inc. and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. are hiring at factories and research centers. Smaller suppliers are adding jobs as well.
The auto business has helped keep the economy afloat while Americans wait for the rest of the business world to start hiring. Since 2009, 1 in every 4 manufacturing jobs added in the U.S. came in the auto industry, says Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, a manufacturing trade group. The auto industry is just under 7 percent of U.S. manufacturing jobs.
Car companies and parts makers created 167,500 jobs from the end of the recession in June 2009 through May. At the same time, U.S. auto sales rose from a low point of 10.4 million in 2009 to an annual rate of more than 15 million so far this year.
Chrysler's comeback gave Jeff Caldwell the confidence to leave a human resources consulting firm. Caldwell joined the company in February as an assembly line supervisor at a Jeep Grand Cherokee factory in Detroit. He supervises 100 workers who build the SUV's chassis.
"I knew Chrysler was moving in the right direction," says Caldwell, 29, who was born in Detroit and always had an interest in cars. "They kind of reinvented themselves, and I really wanted to get in while I could."
Among the hiring planned for this year:
— Chrysler will add more than 3,500 workers this year at factories in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan to make transmissions and to build Jeeps and Ram pickups.
— Ford expects to hire 2,200 salaried workers in information technology, product development and manufacturing. Plus the company is hiring 1,400 factory workers and recalling another 2,000 laid-off employees, in Michigan and Missouri.
— GM is hiring 4,000 engineers and computer professionals at four technical centers in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Texas to develop software and other innovations.
— Honda is adding at least 500 jobs this year at factories in Ohio, Indiana and Alabama as it moves more production to North America.
— At TRW Automotive, recruiters are looking for 50 engineers in the Detroit area to work on new safety features such as a system that warns drivers when large animals are in their path.
Smaller companies also are joining in. Automotive business at Waukesha Metal Products in Sussex, Wis., is so strong that the company is near its capacity to make metal parts for axles, drive shafts and interiors. It's adding $1 million worth of equipment near Milwaukee and building a plant in Mexico to be closer to companies it supplies.
Most industry analysts predict that U.S. auto sales will rise gradually during the next five years. Estimates for this year range from 15 million to 15.5 million, compared with 14.5 million a year ago. LMC Automotive, a Troy, Mich., forecasting firm, predicts that sales will gradually increase to 17 million in 2017. That level would be almost equal to the boom years of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Analysts say sales will climb as more people reach driving age. Also, many consumers and businesses still have cars and trucks they bought last decade, if not earlier. The average vehicle on U.S. roads is now a record 11.2 years.
The improving economy also helps lift sales. As the housing and construction sectors have come back to life, pickup sales have risen faster than the rest of the market. That has meant a job for Curtis Enkey of suburban Kansas City.
Enkey was laid off in April of last year when Ford moved production of the Escape SUV from his factory near Kansas City to Louisville, Ky. He wasn't supposed to come back until Ford started making a commercial van at his plant in July or August. But higher sales of the F-150 pickup, which also is made at his factory, brought an early call to return.
Now Enkey is happily working 50-hour weeks. A Ford worker since 1995, he makes about $29 per hour plus benefits.
Even with the added hiring, the auto industry isn't the job creator it once was. In 2005, before huge cuts began, more than 1.1 million people made motor vehicles and parts. Today, 798,000 do, according to the latest government statistics.
For engineers and many white-collar jobs, auto companies pay salaries that are competitive with the rest of the country. But wages and benefits in the factories have declined.
Most new hires will start around $16 per hour, a little over half the pay that longtime workers get. The lower wage was a concession made by the United Auto Workers union to cut costs as the companies ran into financial trouble six years ago. New hires receive health care but get 401K plans instead of pensions, and they don't get health care in retirement like longtime workers do. Still, their wages are better than most other factory workers, who make $13 to $14 per hour in the U.S.
The industry would be adding even more workers if not for productivity gains made since the boom years, says Kristin Dziczek, head of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research.
In 2004, the nation had 70 auto-assembly plants. Now there are only 55. But the industry will make 10.7 million vehicles in those plants this year, only 850,000 fewer than in 2004, according to Ward's Automotive.
Executives are being forced to rethink hard lines they've drawn against adding space — and costs — since they closed factories during the economic downturn.
For instance, General Motors is building a 500,000-square-foot addition to its plant in Wentzville, Mo., to handle expected sales of the next generation of midsize pickup trucks due out next year.
But at Ford, executives want to keep costs down by squeezing as many cars and trucks as possible out of existing factory space, mostly by increasing line speeds and breaking up equipment bottlenecks.
"We are running a number of our plants pretty full," says Joe Hinrichs, the company's president of the Americas. "But we have more upside if we need it."
The recent hiring binge is even causing worker shortages in some areas. Skilled workers such as engineers, machinists, software developers and welders are hard to find, especially in the Detroit area. Entry-level factory jobs, which start around $15 per hour, are filled quickly.
"We're having some pretty good success finding people," said Ken Kaiser, vice president of engineering for TRW Automotive. "But we'd like to find more, faster."

No Shorts? No problem!

Roslagbanan train in SwedenIt can get really hot inside the train cab, but male employees are forbidden by management to wear shorts. Thankfully, they've figured out a way to, ahem, skirt around the ban:
"Of course people stare at you a little when you are on the platform, but you just have to put up with it," train driver Martin Åkersten told the local Mitti newspaper.
Åkersten is one of a group of 13 male employees who have been wearing skirts in order to keep cool while working the Roslagsbanan commuter train services.
"It can be over 35 degrees Celsius in the train cab on hot summer days," he said.
Åkersten's employers Arriva have meanwhile responded positively to the move and have given their approval to the men in skirts.
"To say anything else would be discrimination," communications head Thomas Hedenius told the newspaper.

Male train drivers wear skirts after shorts ban

It gets warm working on the railways around Stockholm, Sweden, in the summer and in recent weeks male employees have been revolting against a ban on shorts by going to work clad in skirts. "Of course people stare at you a little when you are on the platform, but you just have to put up with it," train driver Martin Åkersten said.

Åkersten is one of a group of 13 male employees who have been wearing skirts in order to keep cool while working the Roslagsbanan commuter train services. "It can be over 35 degrees Celsius in the train cab on hot summer days," he said. Åkersten's employers Arriva have meanwhile responded positively to the move and have given their approval to the men in skirts.

"To say anything else would be discrimination," communications head Thomas Hedenius said. The company's uniform regulations state skirts or long trousers and the male drivers would prefer to be able to wear shorts. At a staff meeting in the autumn the Arriva hierarchy however reiterated the uniform regulations and told the drivers that shorts were not acceptable.

Hedenius explained that the idea behind the regulations is that staff should look neat and tidy, claiming that shorts appeared "more relaxed" than a skirt. The firm has recently taken over the running of the Roslagsbanan service and Hedenius said that there is a further meeting arranged for September where the issue of uniforms will be back on the agenda.

Dialect Maps of the United States

North Carolina State University grad student Joshua Katz has gone beyond the classic "do you say soda or pop" to map the dialects of American English. Katz took the data collected by Burt Vaux from a survey of American speech patterns and projected the results onto a map of the nation: More | The Interactive Map
See if you agree with the results:
View more over at Katz' project page over at North Carolina State University: Herek.

Link Dump

You can now view a 4 billion pixel panoramic image of Mars taken by the Curiosity rover.

Three hundred members of a German (flea) circus froze to death.

Britain's youngest grandparents are 29 years old.

How to enjoy America's national parks without strenuous hiking.

The Atlantic has a set of portraits of Jahrhundertmensch (centenarians).

A video explains how to make blueberry pancakes in which the blueberries are embedded and properly distributed.

Details about the recent discovery of thousands of Roman artifacts in London: 700 boxes of pottery fragments, 100 fragments of writing tablets, the largest quantity of Roman leather ever to have been found in the capital.

A glossary of English language idioms derived from baseball.

23 photos of "unbelievable places."


Britain’s weirdest support group says 1,500 people are abducted by aliens each year
Anomalous Mind Management Abductee Contactee Helpline gives support and counselling to those who believe they have had extra-terrestrial contact

Space oddity: Miles Johnston
Space oddity: Miles Johnston
by Philip Coburn
Have you been abducted by aliens? Got an ET wife and kids? Something strange in your neighborhood?
Who you gonna call? You’re in luck as the Ammach organization, Britain’s weirdest support group, reckons there’s a lot of you – about 1,500 a year.
It was set up in 2011 to help people unfortunate enough to have had a very close encounter with an alien. They get up to five calls a week and 25 emails.
Among them is a woman who says aliens fitted implants to monitor her, a man who visits his alien wife and child several times a year, and a woman who was abducted more than 1,000 times.
At the end of the helpline Ammach co-founders Joanne Summerscales and Miles Johnston offer emotional support to traumatized “abducted” people.
Joanne said: “Many people experience ridicule, vilification, isolation besides what they’re going through. We offer non-judgmental interviews and an opportunity to talk about it.”
Ammach – Anomalous Mind Management Abductee Contactee Helpline – gives support and counselling to those who believe they have had extra-terrestrial contact.
Joanne and Miles set up and funded Ammach after meeting at a UFO conference. They hold meetings, workshops and a conference for people to meet, swap encounter tales and have their testimony videoed and posted online to encourage others to come forward.
Miles said: “We aim to get information out so people can think and talk about it and know it’s OK.” Trained therapist and part-time secretary Joanne takes the calls while Miles runs the website, featured in Thursday’s Channel 4 documentary Alien Abductee.
His house on London’s outskirts is the tech hub, where he edits video and tests people for implants, radiation or alien substances.
The former broadcast engineer uses metal detectors and more unusual gizmos to give “experiencers” answers. He explained: “A stud detector for finding nails in walls we can use to find implants. We also use magnetic field meters. I have a UV mineral lamp which shows up residues on skin.
“If you’ve been to another dimensional reality, that leaves a signature on your skin’s atoms. You can see that under UV light.”
Abductee Marie Kayali, 52, also had DNA analysis and a lie detector test to find what happened to her. Neither proved fruitful. But she said: “I’m getting close. I don’t think I’ll have too long to wait. I want to know why my life is being controlled and what's their interest.”
Sadly in November 2012 Marie’s daughter killed herself. Marie believes she returned to her “alien family” who abducted her shortly before her death.
Miles explained that the aliens are a malevolent force. He said: “People have been taken, had things stuck into them and they’re being monitored. This is a violation of people’s lives. We are under the threat of termination as a species if we do not get this sorted out.”
Joanne said: “We had someone whose child was taken off them because social services think they are nutty. A lot of people are afraid of losing friends and family if they speak out. They’re afraid people will think they’re cuckoo. ”
If you’ve been abducted by aliens, ring 07951 752 813 or go to the website

Actor John Malkovich Saves a Bleeding Man in Toronto

John MalkovichActor John Malkovich may have saved the life of an American tourist in Canada. Jim Walpole, 77, and his wife Marilyn of Defiance, Ohio were in Toronto when Mr. Walpole tripped and cut his throat on a piece of scaffolding:
Marilyn, who is a retired nurse, was concerned that her husband might have been cut on the carotid artery or the jugular vein and yelled for help.
Malkovich acted quickly and knew just what to do to stop the flow of blood until paramedics arrived, Walpole said.
Chris Mathias, a doorman from the King Edward Hotel, also sprinted to help the man when he fell on Thursday night. He said he found Walpole lying on his back in a pool of blood.
“I believe (Malkovich) was having a cigarette and witnessed the whole thing happening, he placed his hand and started applying pressure to the man’s neck didn’t let go until the ambulance arrived,” Mathias said. [...]
After his frightening experience, Walpole said he definitely plans on watching Malkovich’s movies.
“I never had the opportunity to see him and thank him after the incident. I asked him what his name was and he said it was John.”

Random Photo

Prosthetic Fingers for Ex-Yakuza Members

In the Japanese mafia, failure often comes at the price of a finger:
In Japan, a stunted pinkie signifies membership in the yakuza, or Japanese mafia. In a ritual known as "yubitsume," yakuza members are required to chop off their own digits to atone for serious offenses. The left pinkie is usually the first to go, though repeated offenses call for further severing. As a result, those who get out, have a hard time finding work because of the stigma attached to those missing fingers.
If you can get out of the yakuza alive and want to live a normal life, how can you avoid the stigma of missing fingers and all that they imply? Dr. Shintaro Hayashi's solution was to construct highly realistic prosthetic fingers:
The doctor molds silicone prosthetic pinkies, made to seamlessly mask the amputation, making for a smoother transition to the outside world. Priced at nearly $3,000 each, the fingers are carefully painted, to match the exact skin color of the client. Former yakuza members, who make up 5 percent of Hayashi's business, often keep several sets of fingers for different seasons – the light skinned version for winter, and a tanned look for summer.
One client, Shigeru Takei, described his fake fingers as essential to his post-yakuza success:
Takei's current wife convinced him to turn his life around after years spent in jail, but his missing fingers prevented him from landing a job.
"The first time I applied for a job, I got cut after the interview. I couldn't write the truth in my resume because I had been in the yakuza for 20 years," he said. "If you don't have fingers, there's no way to get a sales job."
Takei sought out Hayashi eight years ago after an extensive web search for a prosthetics maker, and credits his fingers for helping him turn his life around. He now works for a home makeover company and says he's only been questioned about his fake fingers once.

How Humans May Look Like 100,000 Years in the Future

Artist Nikolay Lamm collaborated with computational geneticist Alan Kwan of Washington University to come up with the sketch of what us humans may look like 100,000 years in the future:
As our understanding of the universe increases, I predict that the human head will trend larger to accommodate a larger brain. But instead of some orthogonal evolutionary path that ends up with the 210th century human a la Futurama’s Morbo the anchor-alien, the rule of viable human biology will still apply and so the entire head will trend larger, though with a bias for a greater cranium growth than facial growth; the human 20,000 years from now would look to us like someone today except we would notice the forehead is subtly too large. [...]
While evolution in space is only beginning to be explored today, I would hazard a guess that millennia of human space colonization of Earth-orbit and other solar system space colonies will also select for…
1. Larger eyes in response to the dimmer environment of colonies further from the Sun than Earth.
2. More pigmented skin to alleviate the damaging impact of much more harmful UV radiation outside of the Earth’s protective ozone.
3. Thicker eyelids or a more pronounced superciliary arch to alleviate the effects low or no gravity that disrupt and disorient the eyesight of today’s astronauts on the ISS.
Read the rest over at Lamm's blog: Here.

Vegetable Oil IS Good for You

A typical American consumes approximately 3 or more tablespoons of vegetable oil each day. Vegetable oils, like those from soy, corn and canola, are a significant source of calories and are rich in linoleic acid [...]

Can People Live on Only Sunlight and Water?

A Seattle woman believes she can survive without eating for months, and she's not the only one.

Our Sun Lives in a Glitzy Galactic Boulevard

We've always thought we live in a ho-hum back-ally neighborhood of the galaxy -- but life in Orion's Arm could be a lot more glamorous than we ever realized.

Map Shows Antarctica Without Ice and Snow

A new detailed map shows Antarctica stripped down to bare rock.



Newborn baby rescued by dog from roadside rubbish dump

A dog in Ayutthaya Province, Thailand, has been rewarded after carrying a plastic bag containing a newborn girl from a roadside rubbish dump back to its home.

The male Thai Bangkaew dog named Pui took the white plastic bag from a dump site in tambon Sala Loi in Tha Rua district to his master Gumnerd Thongmak's house and barked loudly to get attention. Mr Gumnerd's niece, Sudarat, 12, said she went downstairs after hearing Pui barking and found the bag on the patio. She opened it and was shocked to find a newborn baby inside.

Sudarat ran to get her mother and they took the baby to Tha Rua Hospital. She weighs 2.2kg, hospital officials said. They believed she was born prematurely, at around seven and a half months. She was later transferred to Phranakhon Sri Ayutthaya Hospital. Tha Rua district chief Withit Pinnikorn said Pui regularly wanders around the community.

The district has asked village and tambon chiefs to look for the baby's mother. Pui received a leather collar and a medal from Tha Rua district Red Cross Chapter as a token of appreciation for his clever rescue. The Miracle of Life Foundation chief volunteer also gave Mr Gumnerd 10,000 baht (£215, $330) as a reward for Pui's actions.

Duckling dropped by seagull has lucky escape after falling into dog run at animal sanctuary

A duckling has had a lucky escape after being dropped from the beak of seagull into an animal sanctuary. The animal was found in the dog run at the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home on Wednesday.
The kennel manager was letting a Jack Russell terrier was let out into the run for some exercise when she spotted the duckling and managed to get to it before the dog. It is thought the bird had been plucked off the beach at Portobello by a seagull before being dropped into the center.

The bird is being cared for at the Scottish SPCA’s wildlife center in Fishcross before being let out back into the wild. Steph Grant from the charity said: "This little duck is very lucky and I think he must have nine lives. He's too young to be able to fly so it's likely a gull picked him up from Portobello Beach before dropping him into the dog run.

"The kennel manager was letting a Jack Russell terrier out for some exercise when she noticed the duckling. Thankfully, she was able to quickly catch him before the dog did. We'll care for this duckling until he's old enough to fend for himself and then we'll release him back into the wild at a much safer spot."

Dog remained with dead owner in Australian bush for five weeks

A silky terrier who remained by the side of his dead master in the Western Australian bush for almost five weeks has been found alive and is being cared for by his owner's friends.

In the ultimate act of loyalty, the dog called Mitzi, was found alive next to the body of a man police believe is missing Bridgetown bushwalker Wayne Cornelius Coughlan. Mr Coughlan, 64, was reported missing on May 4 after a friend visited his home and could not find him. One of his dogs, a Jack Russell named Chester, was found on Peninsular Road, Bridgetown, five days later.

Police said a pig hunter discovered Mr Coughlan's body on Thursday night about 6km north of where he was last seen. Mitzi has been reunited with Chester and is being cared for by friends. "All of the circumstances indicate the deceased is the missing man from Bridgetown - Wayne Coughlan, however formal identification will need to be completed - most likely by DNA analysis which may take a number of weeks,'' spokeswoman Susan Usher said.

"The body was located approximately 6km north of where Mr Coughlan was last seen. Mitzi is being cared for by friends and has been reunited with (the Jack Russell) Chester.'' Police don't believe foul play was involved in the man's death.

Animal Pictures