XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 31 December 2012

UK Criminals to be tracked from SPACE and monitored 24 hours a day -

UK Criminals to be tracked from SPACE and monitored 24 hours a day - 
GPS tracking for criminals


DANGEROUS criminals are to have their every move tracked thanks to new tags that use satnav technology.

GPS tags will let probation officials monitor paedophiles and violent ex-prisoners 24 hours a day.

The device has already been used to follow hate preacher Abu Qatada — and justice chiefs aim to roll it out nationwide by the end of 2013.

It will mean paedophiles can be banned from areas where children gather — with an alarm being triggered if they go too near a school.

The tags — which are tracked by satellites orbiting Earth — mean dangerous ex-lags can be monitored round-the-clock for the first time.


1. Alarm triggered if offender strays too close to 'excursion' zones
2. Satellites above the Earth track position of the offender
3. Information sent to control centre, tracking offender in real time
Officials will be able to track offenders simply by following dots across a map on their computer screens.

Read more - 


Sunday, 30 December 2012

Dognapping Cases Are Up By Almost 70 Percent -

Dognapping Cases Are Up By Almost 70 Percent - 


Dogs are being stolen out of cars, yards, off sidewalks and even out of shelters at an alarming rate, according to the American Kennel Club.

“It only takes a minute for a theft to occur,” American Kennel Club spokeswoman Lisa Peterson told CBS 2′s Dave Carlin on Friday.

Making any pet owner think twice is surveillance video from last week that showed “Marley” the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel being menaced by a stranger, who picked up the frightened dog and walked off with him, leaving 7-year-old Mia Bendrat heartbroken the day before Christmas.

“You knew that was somebody’s dog and it was Christmas Eve. I mean really?” Bendrat said.

Marley was sold to a woman in Greenwich Village, who thought the situation was fishy.

Marley was checked for a microchip and Mia and her best friend were reunited.

But happy endings are rare as dognapping cases rise nationwide by almost 70 percent, according to the American Kennel Club.

“Last year for example we tracked more than 432 pet thefts and that’s just scratching the surface,” Peterson said. “For the first time ever we’ve seen a trend now where shelters are being broken into and purebred and mixed breed dogs are being stolen.”

Dognappings from stores, shelters and backyards and off sidewalks are preventable.

Experts say to safeguard your pet as you would a child.

“Don’t leave it unattended,” Peterson said.

Read more - 

Comet ISON Could Outshine Moon, Create Stunning Tail Visible In Night Sky In 2013 -

Comet ISON Could Outshine Moon, Create Stunning Tail Visible In Night Sky In 2013 - 



A comet blazing toward Earth could outshine the full moon when it passes by at the end of next year - if it survives its close encounter with the sun.

The recently discovered object, known as comet ISON, is due to fly within 1.2 million miles (1.9 million km) from the center of the sun on November 28, 2013 said astronomer Donald Yeomans, head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

As the comet approaches, heat from the sun will vaporize ices in its body, creating what could be a spectacular tail that is visible in Earth's night sky without telescopes or even binoculars from about October 2013 through January 2014.

If the comet survives, that is.

Comet ISON could break apart as it nears the sun, or it could fail to produce a tail of ice particles visible from Earth.

Celestial visitors like Comet ISON hail from the Oort Cloud, a cluster of frozen rocks and ices that circle the sun about 50,000 times farther away than Earth's orbit. Every so often, one will be gravitationally bumped out from the cloud and begin a long solo orbit around the sun.

On September 21, two amateur astronomers from Russia spotted what appeared to be a comet in images taken by a 16-inch (0.4-meter) telescope that is part of the worldwide International Scientific Optical Network, or ISON, from which the object draws its name.

"The object was slow and had a unique movement. But we could not be certain that it was a comet because the scale of our images are quite small and the object was very compact," astronomer Artyom Novichonok, one of the discoverers, wrote in a comets email list hosted by Yahoo.

Read more -
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/30/comet-ison-moon_n_2377883.html

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The internet is leaving children brain-dead: Inventor warns -

The internet is leaving children brain-dead: Inventor warns - 


One of Britain's leading inventors has warned that  a 'Google generation' who rely on the internet for  everything are in danger of becoming 'brain-dead'.

Trevor Baylis, who invented the wind-up radio, said children are losing creativity and practical skills because they spend too much time in front of screens.

The 75-year-old said he fears that the next generation of inventors is being lost, with young people often unable to make anything with their hands.

Read more - 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2253170/Inventor-warns-Google-generation-spend-life-screens-losing-creativity-skills.html

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A 'dad' is tenth most popular Christmas list request for children -

A 'dad' is tenth most popular Christmas list request for children - 


A 'dad' is tenth most popular Christmas list request for children with youngsters happy to forgo the latest iPad, toy or new pet, a survey has found.


When it comes to Christmas, it might be safe to assume children will ask Santa for an extensive list of toys, games and treats.
But a survey of their typical lists for Father Christmas has shown many have more serious concerns, requesting "a dad" instead.
A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list, closely followed by a request for a real-life reindeer.
A "pet horse" was the third most popular choice, with a "car" making a bizarre entry at number four.
Despite their material requests, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a "Dad".

Read more - 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/9764688/A-dad-is-tenth-most-popular-Christmas-list-request-for-children.html


Halloween decorations carry haunting message of forced labor -

Halloween decorations carry haunting message of forced labor - 
Letter.jpg

The letter came in a box of Halloween decorations purchased at Kmart, but for a year Julie Keith never knew. It gathered dust in her storage, a haunting plea for help hidden among artificial skeletons, tombstones and spider webs.
Keith, a 42-year-old vehicle donation manager at a southeast Portland Goodwill, at one point considered donating the unopened $29.99 Kmart graveyard kit. It was one of those accumulated items you never need and easily forget. But on a Sunday afternoon in October, Keith pulled the orange and black box from storage. She intended to decorate her home in Damascus for her daughter's fifth birthday, just days before Halloween.

She ripped open the box and threw aside the cellophane.

That's when Keith found it. Scribbled onto paper and folded into eighths, the letter was tucked between two Styrofoam headstones.

"Sir:

The letter describes conditions at a forced labor camp in China.
  "If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever."
The graveyard kit, the letter read, was made in unit 8, department 2 of the Masanjia Labor Camp in Shenyang, China.

Chinese characters broke up choppy English sentences.

"People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month)."

Ten yuan is equivalent to $1.61.

"People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment). Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people only because they have different believe to CCPG. They often suffer more punishment than others."

The letter was not signed.

Shocked, Keith sat down as her mind reeled.

Wow, that's daring, she thought. She imagined the desperation the writer must have felt, the courage he or she must have mustered to slip the letter into that box. If caught, what would happen?

Like a message in a bottle, the letter traveled more than 5,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean. It could not be ignored.

This package contained a letter folded into eighths and tucked between styrofoam headstones.
  Unsure of where to start, Keith turned to Facebook.
"I found this in a box of Halloween decorations" she typed beneath a photo of the letter. She wanted to spread the message.

The Facebook post sparked a slew of responses. Her friends had heard of labor camp horrors. But a letter from one of those camps? Never.

"I'm sure that person feared for his/her life to include that letter in the products, but it was a chance they were obviously willing to take," one friend wrote. "We take our freedom for granted!"

"What's weird to me is someone is actually thinking about, and praying something comes of this ... every day of their life since they sent it out," another wrote. "Makes me sad this even happens"

Some friends offered help, others asked for updates.

The anonymous letter evoked skepticism, too. Written largely in English scrawl, it was almost too bold of an act to seem plausible. Still, U.S. authorities on China took note.

"We're in no position to confirm the veracity or origin of this," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. "I think it is fair to say the conditions described in the letter certainly conform to what we know about conditions in re-education through labor camps."

China's re-education through labor is a system of punishment that allows for detention without trial. Various reports allege followers of the banned spiritual group, Falun Gong, are sent to the reform camps – claims supported in the letter – but the facts are difficult to confirm.

Masanjia labor camp is located in the industrialized capital of the Liaoning Province in northeast China. A Google search of the camp yields pages of grim results.

"If this thing is the real deal, that's somebody saying please help me, please know about me, please react," Richardson said. "That's our job."

If truly created in a forced labor camp, the Halloween graveyard kit from Kmart's "Totally Ghoul" product line could bring a blow to the U.S. chain of discount stores.

Title 19, section 1307 of U.S. Code generally prohibits the importation of all items "mined, produced or manufactured" in any foreign country by convict labor, forced labor and/or indentured labor.

After the Oregonian informed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the letter, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations began looking into the case, public affairs officer Andrew Munoz confirmed.

Sears Holdings Corporation, which operates Kmart, released a statement on the matter:

"Sears Holdings has a Global Compliance Program which helps to ensure that vendors and factories producing merchandise for our company adhere to specific Program Requirements, and all local laws pertaining to employment standards and workplace practices. Failure to comply with any of the Program Requirements, including the use of forced labor, may result in a loss of business or factory termination. We understand the seriousness of this allegation, and will continue to investigate."

Daniel Ruiz, section chief of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center's commercial fraud unit, said it would be difficult to predict the length of an investigation like this, which would involve American and Chinese authorities. Investigative findings would be released, he said, only if the agency takes action.

Julie Keith now checks the label of everything she buys, down to the Gingerbread house she purchased for the holidays. Her friends, she said, do the same.

"If I really don't need it, I won't buy it if it's made in China," she said. "This has really made me more aware. I hope it would make a difference."

Read more - 
http://www.oregonlive.com/happy-valley/index.ssf/2012/12/halloween_decorations_carry_ha.html


Monday, 24 December 2012

Security officials at Logan Airport find cocaine in wheelchair tires -

Security officials at Logan Airport find cocaine in wheelchair tires - 



A Christmas season traveler was held on high bail Friday after State Police and Homeland Security officials found almost four kilograms of cocaine in the tires of a wheelchair he was reportedly using for no apparent medical purpose.

Emmanuelli Rojas-Moraza, of Carolina, Puerto Rico, was arrested Friday at Logan International Airport and arraigned Monday in East Boston District Court on one count of trafficking in more than 200 grams of cocaine.

A judge set his bail at $45,000 cash.

Assistant District Attorney Janine D'Amico told the court that state troopers assigned to the airport were called to the Terminal E customs hall Friday morning after Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents requested their assistance in a narcotics investigation.

Customs officials had detected an anomaly while X-raying the wheelchair Rojas-Moraza was using during entry screening, D'Amico said.

Agents drilled a hole in one of the chair's tires and found a white substance that field-tested positive for cocaine.

Troopers and federal agents disassembled the wheelchair and found within its tires and frame numerous blue pellets containing more cocaine. The total weight of the substance was 3.74 kilograms.



Read more: http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/20419421/2012/12/24/airport-security-finds-cocaine-in-wheelchair-tires

McDonald's @McDonalds serving up 'restructured meat technology' - you want fries with that? -

McDonald's @McDonalds serving up 'restructured meat technology' - you want fries with that? - 


Well, it's that time of year again when McDonald's rolls out its venerable McRib sandwich. Tens of millions of Americans will purchase one - or, judging by the nation's ever-widening belt line, several - but most will do so without knowing all they should know about this popular sandwich.

Besides high caloric content, there are several other reasons why you should avoid the McRib, a boneless pork product smothered in BBQ sauce that famously resembles a rack of ribs, as much as you avoid most of the other "delicacies" served by this fast-food behemoth. In addition, The Blaze reports, there are several "fun facts" about the sandwich you may not have known:

A sandwich 'built' from scratch?: The McRib is a product of Rene Arend, who came up with the idea and design of the sandwich. That said, Richard Mandigo, a professor from the University of Nebraska, who developed the "restructured meat product" that the McRib is actually made of.

According to Chicago magazine, citing a 1995 article by Mandigo, "restructured meat product" is described thusly:

Restructured meat products are commonly manufactured by using lower-valued meat trimmings reduced in size by comminution (flaking, chunking, grinding, chopping or slicing). The comminuted meat mixture is mixed with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins. These extracted proteins are critical to produce a "glue" which binds muscle pieces together. These muscle pieces may then be reformed to produce a "meat log" of specific form or shape. The log is then cut into steaks or chops which, when cooked, are similar in appearance and texture to their intact muscle counterparts. ... Such products as tripe, heart, and scalded stomachs are high in protein, completely edible, wholesome, and nutritious, and most are already used in sausage without objection.

Still hungry?

Packed with calories - and ingredients: In a time of labeling, when government entities and the public are pushing for more disclosure, the package for the McRib would have to grow just to list all of its ingredients.

According to the current box labeling, the sandwich consists of just five basic components - a pork patty and BBQ sauce with pickle slices, onions and a sesame bun.

But, as Time magazine points out, a closer examination of McDonald's own list of ingredients reveals that the sandwich contains a total of 70 ingredients, including azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching component that is often used to produce foamed plastics (think gym mats and the soles of shoes). In fact, "the compound is banned in Europe and Australia as a food additive," says Time. Other ingredients include ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80.

Besides, the sandwich itself contains an incredible amount of calories - 500 at least - along with 26 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrates and 980 milligrams of sodium, nearly half the recommended daily amount of about 2,400 milligrams.

Not a good choice for your heart: The ingredients, combined with a dose of 10 mg of saturated fat (nearly half of the recommended daily allowance), make the McRib an enemy of a healthy heart, say the experts.

"Think about that for a second: When you eat a McRib, you're eating the same chemical ingredients and compounds in those disgusting yoga mats at the gym. And that's on top of the fact that it tastes terrible in the first place," writes Rick Paulas, food editor for KCET, a public television network in southern California. "Which means it's time to ask: Why are we still eating this?"

Read More - 
http://www.naturalnews.com/038442_McDonalds_McRib_sandwich_restructured_meat_technology.html

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Philly schools installing free condom dispensers over Christmas break... -

Philly schools installing free condom dispensers over Christmas break... - 

Condom dispensers are going into 22 city high schools. The protection is free to students, except those whose parents signed opt-out forms.

Coming over the holiday break to about a third of Philadelphia high schools: clear plastic dispensers chock-full of free condoms.

The dispensers will be placed in the 22 high schools whose students had the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and condoms will be available to any student - so long as their parents did not sign a form opting them out of the program.

It's a pilot designed to address "an epidemic of sexually transmitted disease in adolescents in Philadelphia," said Donald F. Schwarz, the deputy mayor for health and opportunity. Since April 2011, the city has given away about four million condoms, and now, STD rates are falling.

But, Schwarz pointed out, 25 percent of new HIV infections in Philadelphia are teens, and that's a major worry.

Some city high schools - the dozen that have "health resource centers" - already dispense free condoms. And the Health Department also provides them at city high schools when they go in to test teens for STDs, as they do every year voluntarily with a parent's consent.

The pilot is the next logical step, Schwarz said.

"I support the policy strongly," said Mayor Nutter. "This is a serious public health matter."

Peg Devine, school nurse at Lincoln High - which is not a participant in the pilot program - said she supported making condoms available to sexually active students. But she worries about the ability of already-stretched nurses to juggle one more task.

Two of the schools in the pilot - Dobbins and High School of the Future - do not have full-time nurses.

In an e-mail to nurses, Philadelphia School District officials said that the dispensers would be installed "just inside the doorway near the entrance to your office" and that nurses were not to be charged with managing access.


"Opt-out letters are to be maintained by the school office," Assistant Superintendent Dennis W. Creedon wrote. "Students are to honor the wishes of their parents. If a student disrespects their guardian's directive, that is an issue of the home."

Still, Devine said, "I just can't imagine the parents of a 14-year-old being happy with this."

Nutter, himself the parent of a Philadelphia School District high schooler, said it was a necessary move.

"The reality is: Many of our teenagers, regardless of what adults think, are engaged in sexual activities," the mayor said. "Discussion about whether or not they should be sexually active is an appropriate discussion, but if they are, then we need to make sure they're engaged in safe sexual practices."

Or, as Schwarz said, "if a teenager wants to use a condom, they should have access to a condom."

Yes, it has occurred to officials that teenagers with access to free condoms might use them in a manner for which they were not intended.

"We don't want kids to either not use them - have the dispensers and no one touches them - or to have hundreds of condoms taken and used inappropriately, for water balloons or something like that," Schwarz said. "But they'll be supervised."

Karen Lynch, the district's chief of student services, said that when the city Health Department approached Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. soon after his arrival in Philadelphia, it was an easy decision to sign off on the condom dispensers.

"It's always a good idea to partner when it's in the best interest of children," said Lynch.

Schwarz said there would be no campaign to make teens aware of the availability of condoms.

"We're going to allow word of mouth and the Internet and social media to start this off," Schwarz said. "We don't want to make kids uncomfortable in any way, but we think it's an important intervention. We have a good track record here, and we're hoping to build on that, in a measured way."

Read more - 
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20121223_Philadelphia_High_Schools_With_Condom_Dispensers.html

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Did CIA tip lead to Nelson Mandela's 1962 arrest? -

Did CIA tip lead to Nelson Mandela's 1962 arrest? - 



On a gently sloping road leading out of the town of Howick, South Africa, a Ford V-8 full of police waved over a car carrying a tall black man wearing a white chauffeur's jacket. The sight wasn't so unusual during the country's apartheid era, except the would-be chauffeur was in the passenger's seat.
That day, Aug. 5, 1962, Nelson Mandela's life as an underground revolutionary came to an end.
He would spend 27 years as a venerated political prisoner. Somehow, the police had known in advance that one of the nation's most wanted men would be posing that day as a driver delivering his employer to Johannesburg. The question that lingers is, who tipped them off? Some South Africans remain convinced that it was the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Just outside of Howick, there is now a massive steel sculpture of South Africa's first black president. It marks the 50th anniversary of the apartheid regime's most important arrest—and a turning point for the country's people. "This is where you could say South Africa's history changed," says Brendan Grealy, manager of the Mandela Capture Site and its newly opened museum. "Here he went to jail. When he came out of jail, we became a democracy."
The fading health of Mandela—recently hospitalized for a recurring lung infection—has spurred a rush to better understand his 94-year life. Google has been digitizing his papers and photographs in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory, part of the ex-president's foundation. But there is still no definitive answer to how the police knew to wait for Mandela.
The person actually driving the car, Cecil Williams, was posing as a wealthy white businessman. Only his skin color was authentic. He was really a well-known theater director and South African Communist. Mandela had recently returned from military training elsewhere in Africa and had sneaked back into the country to lead a band of saboteurs targeting public utilities.
Frustration with the limits of peaceful protests had led the African National Congress, banned by the apartheid regime in 1960, to create a military wing.
As they drove to Johannesburg from the city of Durban that afternoon, Mandela and Williams were scouting for sites to strike. When the police car swerved in front of them and stopped the car, Mandela initially stuck to his alias—David Motsamayi, chauffeur—according to his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom." But the unshaven police sergeant didn't buy it and delivered his arrest warrant.
A judge sentenced Mandela to five years in prison—three for inciting people to strike and two for leaving the country without a passport. That was extended after a 1964 trial, in which he and seven others were given life sentences for sabotage and other acts.
Who gave him up?
Denis Goldberg, a fellow activist who was also found guilty in the 1964 trial, believes a CIA agent got wind that Mandela was in Durban and shopped the tip to South African security in order to extract an informant from jail. The intelligence community was cozy in those days, he says: "They all knew each other; they all drank together."
Those who believe a CIA informant betrayed Mandela point to media reports, decades later, about a junior U.S. diplomat at the Durban consulate who allegedly boasted at a party of steering the police to Mandela. South African and British newspapers identified the diplomat as Donald Rickard.


Read more:  
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/12/22/did-cia-tip-lead-to-nelson-mandela-162-arrest/

75 Economic Numbers From 2012 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe -

75 Economic Numbers From 2012 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe - 



What a year 2012 has been!  The mainstream media continues to tell us what a “great job” the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class.  It is imperative that we educate the American people about the true condition of our economy and about why all of this is happening.  If nothing is done, our debt problems will continue to get worse, millions of jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be suffocated, the middle class will continue to collapse, and poverty in the United States will continue to explode.  Just “tweaking” things slightly is not going to fix our economy.  We need a fundamental change in direction.  Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic “adjustment” that America has ever gone through.  We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done.  Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that I have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.

The end of the year is a time when people tend to gather with family and friends more than they do during the rest of the year.  Hopefully many of you will use the list below as a tool to help start some conversations about the coming economic collapse with your loved ones.  Sadly, most Americans still tend to doubt that we are heading into economic oblivion.  So if you have someone among your family and friends that believes that everything is going to be “just fine”, just show them these numbers.  They are a good summary of the problems that the U.S. economy is currently facing.

The following are 75 economic numbers from 2012 that are almost too crazy to believe...

#1 In December 2008, 31.6 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, a new all-time record of 47.7 million Americans are on food stamps.  That number has increased by more than 50 percent over the past four years, and yet the mainstream media still has the gall to insist that “things are getting better”.

#2 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#3 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#4 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all Americans have received money from a safety net program run by the federal government at some point in their lives.

#5 For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

#6 Median household income in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#7 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#8 The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been under 59 percent for 39 months in a row.

#9 In September 2009, during the depths of the last economic crisis, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed.  In November 2012, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed.  It is more then 3 years later, and we are in the exact same place.

#10 When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job in America today, it comes to more than 100 million.

#11 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all small business owners in America “say they would not start a business today given what they know now and in the current environment.”

#12 The number of jobs at new small businesses continues to decline.  According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration…

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

#13 The U.S. share of global GDP has fallen from 31.8 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#14 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#15 There are four major U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.

#16 In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.

#17 According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are.

#18 The Pew Research Center has also found that 85 percent of all middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.

#19 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

#20 Right now, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.

#21 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

#22 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

#23 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percentof all men in the United States have jobs.

#24 The average amount of time that an unemployed worker stays out of work in the United States is 40 weeks.

#25 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#26 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government.  Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.

#27 Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.  Overall, there are almost 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.

#28 When you account for all government transfer payments and all forms of government employment, more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government.

#29 Barack Obama has been president for less than four years, and during that time the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has increased by nearly 8.5 million.  Something seems really “off” about that number, because during the entire decade of the 1980s the number of Americans “not in the labor force” only rose by about 2.5 million.

#30 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#31 According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.

#32 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#33 Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.

#34 As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages.  According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.

#35 At this point, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States are good jobs.

#36 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#37 Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.

#38 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

#39 One survey of business executives has ranked California as the worst state in America to do business for 8 years in a row.

#40 In the city of Detroit today, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty, and close to 50 percent of all adults are functionally illiterate.

#41 It is being projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.

#42 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#43 If you can believe it, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.

#44 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#45 Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion.  That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.

#46 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

#47 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

#48 The U.S. tax code is now more than 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

#49 According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands.

#50 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#51 2012 was the third year in a row that the yield for corn has declined in the United States.

#52 Experts are telling us that global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years.

#53 One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

#54 If you can believe it, one recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.

#55 Medical costs related to obesity in the United States are estimated to be approximately $147 billion a year.

#56 Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high.  Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP are near an all-time low.

#57 Today, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.

#58 The wealthiest 400 families in the United States have about as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of all Americans combined.

#59 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percentof all Americans combined.

#60 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#61 Nearly 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.

#62 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year.  Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.

#63 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.

#64 Nearly 15,000 retired federal workers are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  The list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#65 U.S. taxpayers spend more than 20 times as much on the Obamas as British taxpayers spend on the royal family.

#66 Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

#67 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

#68 During fiscal year 2012, 62 percent of the federal budget was spent on entitlements.

#69 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#70 It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#71 Medicare is also growing by leaps and bounds.  As I wrote about recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

#72 Thanks to our foolish politicians (including Obama), Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#73 Amazingly, the U.S. national debt is now up to 16.3 trillion dollars.  When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.

#74 During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated about as much debt as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

#75 Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was originally created back in 1913.

Read more - 
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-12-21/75-economic-numbers-2012-are-almost-too-crazy-believe

Friday, 21 December 2012

Bosses Can Fire Hot Workers For Being 'Irresistible' -

Bosses Can Fire Hot Workers For Being 'Irresistible' - 




A dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant that he found attractive simply because he and his wife viewed the woman as a threat to their marriage, the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court ruled 7-0 that bosses can fire employees they see as an "irresistible attraction," even if the employees have not engaged in flirtatious behavior or otherwise done anything wrong. Such firings may be unfair, but they are not unlawful discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act because they are motivated by feelings and emotions, not gender, Justice Edward Mansfield wrote.

An attorney for Fort Dodge dentist James Knight said the decision, the first of its kind in Iowa, is a victory for family values because Knight fired Melissa Nelson in the interest of saving his marriage, not because she was a woman.

But Nelson's attorney said Iowa's all-male high court, one of only a handful in the nation, failed to recognize the discrimination that women see routinely in the workplace.

"These judges sent a message to Iowa women that they don't think men can be held responsible for their sexual desires and that Iowa women are the ones who have to monitor and control their bosses' sexual desires," said attorney Paige Fiedler. "If they get out of hand, then the women can be legally fired for it."

Nelson, 32, worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her a stellar worker. But in the final months of her employment, he complained that her tight clothing was distracting, once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing, according to the opinion.

He also once allegedly remarked about her infrequent sex life by saying, "that's like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it."

Knight and Nelson – both married with children – started exchanging text messages, mostly about personal matters, such as their families. Knight's wife, who also worked in the dental office, found out about the messages and demanded Nelson be fired. The Knights consulted with their pastor, who agreed that terminating Nelson was appropriate.

Knight fired Nelson and gave her one month's severance. He later told Nelson's husband that he worried he was getting too personally attached and feared he would eventually try to start an affair with her.

Nelson was stunned because she viewed the 53-year-old Knight as a father figure and had never been interested in starting a relationship, Fiedler said.

Nelson filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, arguing she would not have been terminated if she was male. She did not allege sexual harassment because Knight's conduct may not have risen to that level and didn't particularly offend her, Fiedler said.

Knight argued Nelson was fired not because of her gender, but because her continued employment threatened his marriage. A district judge agreed, dismissing the case before trial, and the high court upheld that ruling.

Mansfield noted that Knight had an all-female workforce and Nelson was replaced by a woman.

He said the decision was in line with state and federal court rulings that found workers can be fired for relationships that cause jealousy and tension within a business owner's family. One such case from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a business owner's firing of a valued employee who was seen by his wife as a threat to their marriage. In that case, the fired employee had engaged in flirtatious conduct.

Read more - 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/bosses-irresistible-workers_n_2348381.html?utm_hp_ref=canada&ir=Canada

GOOGLE Watching What You Do OFF the Internet Too... -

GOOGLE Watching What You Do OFF the Internet Too... - 



The most powerful company on the Internet just got a whole lot creepier: a new service from Google merges offline consumer info with online intelligence, allowing advertisers to target users based on what they do at the keyboard and at the mall.
Without much fanfare, Google announced news this week of a new advertising project, Conversions API, that will let businesses build all-encompassing user profiles based off of not just what users search for on the Web, but what they purchase outside of the home.
In a blog post this week on Google’s DoubleClick Search site, the Silicon Valley giant says that targeting consumers based off online information only allows advertisers to learn so much. “Conversions,” tech-speak for the digital metric made by every action a user makes online, are incomplete until coupled with real life data, Google says.
“We understand that online advertising also fuels offline conversions,” the blog post reads. Thus, Google says, “To capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online world, we’re announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for uploading offline conversion automatically.”
The blog goes on to explain that in-store transactions, call-tracking and other online activities can be inputted into Google to be combined with other information “to optimize your campaigns based on even more of your business data.”
Google is all but certain to ensure that all user data collected off- and online will be cloaked through safeguards that will allow for complete and total anonymity for customers. When on-the-Web interactions start mirroring real life activity, though, even a certain degree of privacy doesn’t make Conversions API any less creepy. As Jim Edwards writes for Business Insider, “If you bought a T shirt at The Gap in the mall with your credit card, you could start seeing a lot more Gap ads online later, suggesting jeans that go with that shirt.”
Of course, there is always the possibility that all of this information can be unencrypted and, in some cases, obtained by third-parties that you might not want prying into your personal business. Edwards notes in his report that Google does not explicitly note that intelligence used in Conversions API will be anonymized, but the blowback from not doing as much would sure be enough to start a colossal uproar. Meanwhile, however, all of the information being collected by Google — estimated to be on millions of servers around the globe — is being handed over to more than just advertising companies. Last month Google reported that the US government requested personal information from roughly 8,000 individual users during just the first few months of 2012.
“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google admitted with their report.

Read more - 
http://rt.com/usa/news/google-internet-online-offline-500/

A 3-year-old Australian boy was uninjured after a collection of eggs he found hatched into a tangle of deadly snakes -

A 3-year-old Australian boy was uninjured after a collection of eggs he found hatched into a tangle of deadly snakes - 
The newly-hatched snakes and their eggs


A 3-year-old Australian boy was lucky to escape uninjured after a collection of eggs he found in his yard hatched into a slithering tangle of deadly snakes.

Reptile carer Trish Prendergast said Friday that young wildlife enthusiast Kyle Cummings could have been killed if he had handled the eastern brown snakes — the world’s most venomous species on land after Australia’s inland taipan.

Kyle found a clutch of nine eggs a few weeks ago in the grass on his family’s 1.2-hectare (3-acre) property on the outskirts of the city of Townsville in Queensland state, Prendergast said. He had no idea what kind of eggs they were.

He put the eggs into a plastic takeout food container and stashed them in his bedroom closet, where his mother, Donna Sim, found them Monday. Seven had hatched, but the snakes remained trapped under the container’s lid. The remaining two eggs were probably infertile and were rotten, Prendergast said.

"I was pretty shocked, particularly because I don’t like snakes," Sim told the Townsville Bulletin newspaper.

Prendergast, who is the Townsville-based reptile co-ordinator of the volunteer group North Queensland Wildlife Care, was handed the container on Tuesday and released the snakes into the wild that night.

She was relieved that no one had handled the snakes.

"Their fangs are only a few millimeters long at that age, so they probably couldn’t break the skin, but they’re just as venomous as full-grown snakes," Prendergast said.

"If venom had got on Kyle’s skin where there was a cut of if he put it in his mouth, it could have been fatal," she added.

Eastern brown snakes — which can grow to more than 2 metres (6 1/2 feet) long — usually stay with their eggs but sometimes leave for short periods to feed.

"He’s very lucky he didn’t encounter the mother while he was taking her eggs. That also could have been fatal," Prendergast said.

The snakes were 12 to 15 centimetres (5 to 6 inches) long and had probably hatched around five days before they were released, she said, adding that they were thirsty but otherwise healthy.

Australia averages around three fatal snake bites a year, and eastern browns are responsible for 60 per cent of the country’s fatalities.

Read more - 
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/world/Aussie+escapes+unscathed+after+collection+hatches+into/7731598/story.html

UPS guy steals Xmas gift left by Fed-Ex guy! -

UPS guy steals Xmas gift left by Fed-Ex guy! -

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Girl, 8, accused of taking packages from neighbors' doorsteps -

Girl, 8, accused of taking packages from neighbors' doorsteps - 



Authorities say an 8-year-old girl caught on camera stealing a package off the doorstep of her Clermont neighbor's home has prompted an investigation into a string of thefts.

When residents on Briar Run Drive noticed the missing packages, Tim Lebede told Local 6 he put a camera in his office window and another neighbor put decoy packages on their front porch to catch the culprit.

The video shows a child taking the boxes off the doorstep.

"Nobody would ever question a little girl walking around the neighborhood with packages in her hand," said Lebede.

Jessia Araujo runs a small business from her home and says she constantly receives packages for her online store. She said since September, she has had packages with more than $1,000 worth of merchandise vanish.

"We just thought maybe it just didn't get here it (or it) got lost, "she said. "Never did we ever dream someone was taking them off our porch."

She said once they caught a child on camera taking the planted box, she called police. 

Clermont police said some stolen items were found at an abandoned house.

Local 6 tried to speak to the 8-year-old's parents but received no response.

"We want there to be some kind of discipline action in the form of trying to curb her behavioral problems right now," one neighbor told Local 6.

Another neighbor says the child's parents should be held accountable.

"That will make them understand that their children's actions are part of them and,  until they're 18, you have to take care of them," the neighbor said.

Clermont police say they will be forwarding the information to the juvenile division of the Florida state attorney's office.

Read more - 
http://www.clickorlando.com/news/Video-Girl-8-accused-of-taking-packages-from-neighbors-doorsteps/-/1637132/17836842/-/13mj5p9/-/index.html

Jobless to be remotely monitored by Government -

Jobless to be remotely monitored by Government - 



From the beginning of next year, the unemployed will have to look for work through the Coalition's new Universal Jobmatch website or potentially risk losing their benefits.
The website will scan the CVs of benefit claimants and automatically match them up with job openings that suit their skills.
It will also allow employers to search for new workers among the unemployed and send messages inviting them to interviews.
However, the activities of benefit claimants can also be tracked using devices known as "cookies", so their Job Centre advisers can know how many searches they have been doing, suggest potential jobs and see whether they are turning down viable opportunities.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said the scheme would "revolutionise" the process of looking for work.


The tracking element of the programme will not be compulsory as monitoring people's behaviour online without their consent would not be allowed under EU law.
But job advisers are able to impose sanctions such as compulsory work placements or ultimately losing benefits if they feel the unemployed are not searching hard enough.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “If you choose not to take a job that matches you, then the adviser will look at your reasons, and if the adviser thinks ‘actually, these are pretty specious reasons’, he may call you in and say ‘I think you really need to be applying for these jobs’.”
He said the website will mean Job Centre advisers are able to target their help at jobseekers with problems, while letting capable candidates get on with their searches.
"For the very small percentage that have a real problem - maybe they have absolutely no skills - we want them in front of the adviser," he said.
"And if they're just not playing ball, they will be in front of the adviser. These are little trip wires, if we think they're not applying for it. There are lots of things the adviser can do.”
The Work and Pensions Secretary said jobseekers can be hauled in every day if advisers "think they're not up to the activity” they are meant to be doing.
“We have some interesting programmes like mandatory work activity if the [advisers] think they're having trouble getting out of bed, if they're not playing the game.”
Around 690,000 people have signed up to it so far, with more than half giving their Government job adviser access to their profile and activities.
The website has already signed up 370,000 employers and jobseekers are conducting about five million searches a day.

Read more - 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9757895/Jobless-to-be-remotely-monitored-by-Government.html

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

eBay will stop running ads in its mobile apps next year, says 'it's not worth it' -

eBay will stop running ads in its mobile apps next year, says 'it's not worth it' - 



eBay is planning to banish mobile ads from its apps sometime next year, according to a report from All Things D. In an interview, eBay's president of global marketplaces Devin Wenig indicated that the ads the company rolled out in its iPhone app this year were distracting, cluttered up the iPhone's small screen, and failed to deliver significant revenue. "It's not worth it," Wenig said. "We aren't happy with the user experience, and we don't need the money."

While eBay may be turning its back on a revenue stream, the company's primary business of selling goods online is healthy enough that it seems it can make this choice to improve the user experience instead. Mobile ads aren't a focus for the company anymore, but mobile is definitely a major part of eBay's business — the company says its iPhone has been downloaded more than 100 million times, and it launched a new eBay Now app for same-day delivery at an event back in October.

Read more - 
http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/19/3785074/ebay-will-stop-running-mobile-ads-next-year

Ontario man says he's cracked WW II carrier pigeon code -

Ontario man says he's cracked WW II carrier pigeon code - 



An Ontario man says he has solved something that's stumped even Britain's top spy agency. He says he's cracked the code of a secret message dating back to the Second World War that was attached to the skeletal remains of a war-time carrier pigeon.

Before satellites, before computers, before cellphones — there was the pigeon.

Highly trained, incredibly skilled carrier pigeons delivered messages between allied troops in Europe.

A quarter of a million pigeons were deployed during the Second World War.

But sometimes even pigeons became casualties of war.

One ended up in a chimney in Surrey, England, and was never found until David Martin and his wife Anne recently started restoring their house.

"Down came the leg with a red capsule on it with a message inside," said Martin. "Unbelievable. Unbelievable. It was like Christmas. We couldn't believe it"

Inside the red capsule was an encoded message: 27 blocks of five letters each.

Code breakers at Britain's top spy agency haven't been able to figure out what it means.

But Gord Young of Peterborough, Ont., believes he has.

And even though Young is sick with the flu, he was anxious to interpret the first block of letters in the message.

It says, "artillery observer/spotter at K-sector Normandy."

Young is a history buff. He deciphered the message using a book of codes from the First World War. He says the message is written in simple military shorthand.

"This is shorthand. The acronyms are shorthand," he told CBC News.

The message is all about German troops and artillery locations in Normandy and Young says he figured it out in less than 20 minutes.

So why couldn't the British spy service?

Young says it was probably fooled into trying to crack a sophisticated super-spy type code when the one in front of them was really very simple.

"I suspect they were looking for Sir William Stevenson-type of coding rather than simple basic artillery [code] so they can drop shells on the Panzer tanks that are charging the British line."

The British government remains doubtful that Young has cracked the code.

But it is interested in looking at his findings.

Read more - 
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/12/18/toornto-carrier-pigeon.html