Archive for the 'In the news' Category

What SOPA could make the web look like

SOPA is a massively disputed bill being proposed within the United States government that, if passed, would effectively cripple and destroy the web as we know it.  From the Wikipedia page on this topic:

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a law (bill) of the United States proposed in 2011 to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Proposals include barring advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with allegedly infringing websites, barring search engines from linking to the sites, and requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to block access to the sites. The bill would criminalize the streaming of such content, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

In a coordinated protest of this proposal a number of sites went “dark” yesterday (January 18, 2012), and it not only should the overwhelming support against this proposal, but it also gave a glimpse of what the web might come to if this legislation passes. Here are a number of screen captures I took of sites that participated in the “blackout”:

As you can see the sites ranged from Universities to social media sites to personal sites. All of these and many more would be negatively impacted if this legislation goes through! Here is a TED Talk video from Clay Shirky wherein he breaks down the reasons why SOPA is such a bad idea better than I ever could:

You should take a few seconds and help:

Let’s just hope this legislation fails.

Economic Stimulus: Forgive Student Loan Debt

There is a lot of talk going on right now about how to fix the economy and to stimulate spending and get the economy back on track. One proposal that has recently made the news at The Huffington Post is to forgive student loan debt.

The rich get richer, and when they get poorer…well, they get bailed out. That’s how it seems lately. As Congress prepares to spend a trillion bucks (in addition to the $700 billion bailout from last fall), it makes one wonder when the working middle class will get some love. The pending American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R.1) will no doubt help our economy in some form, but it’s not nearly enough and it’s not aimed at all demographics. If we can save the suits, why can’t we save the common man, right?

Robert Applebaum, an attorney from New York, thinks so and has an idea on how to help many in his shoes — and trust me, there are many — while stimulating the economy at the same time. The 35 year old started up an online campaign this month to bail out those “hard-working, educated middle class” suffocating in college loan debt on Facebook. He formed the group “Cancel Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy” because he believes forgiving student loan debt for those making under $150,000 annually would help boost the economy from “the bottom up.”

I personally have a lot of Student Loan debt, and I can testify and agree entirly with a statement that Robert makes in this article:

“I struggle to pay my rent and bills and have never defaulted on my student loans,” he said Feb. 4. But I also don’t spend money on consumer goods anymore — not only because I can’t afford them, but because I’m afraid the situation will only get worse…”

He continued, “One-time tax rebates and meager tax cuts do nothing to stimulate the economy. A recession is as much a psychological phenomenon as anything else. Knowing I’d have an extra $500 per month in my pocket will get me spending again. Multiply that across the country and the economy will start to move again.”

I know I am in this same situation, I no longer spend money on anything that isn’t necessary. The holidays were extremly dificult this past year. There are many things I would like to purchase, but simply cannot afford it. If I didn’t have to paythe amount out each month that I do to Student Loans, i could potentially be able to buy my first house. How many other people across the country are in the same predicament? The idea is a good one

“If nothing else, it warrants a good, hard look and some analysis as to whether it could work… We have an entire class of highly educated poor people. The idea is no crazier than handing over billions if not trillions of additional dollars to the very institutions responsible for the crisis.”

Please read the ariticle and support the cause, and please sign the petition! I did..

5930:

Feb 7, 2009, Edward King, Michigan
The one thing stopping me from buying a house, and adding money into our economy are my student loan bills. How could I possible afford to make a house payment when I have to pay 1/4 of my monthly take home pay to loans?

Postal Delivery: 5 Days A Week

Would you even notice if you only started receiving postal mail only 5 days a week? If you did notice would you care? I know personally I do all of my communication either via email or phone. In addition all of my bills are either delivered electronically or I check them online before I get an actual paper bill anyway. Top that off with the fact that I do all my banking and bill paying online and the loss of one day a week of postal mail doesn’t bother me at all. The majority of all my postal mail is junk mail anyway, so this would just mean one less day I need to throw stuff out.

Where is all this coming from you ask? Well according the Chicago Tribune “the Postal Service had a $384 million loss in the October-December period.” They site the recession as one reason that mail volume has been down so drastically in comparison to years past and state that the “post office lost $2.8 billion last fiscal year and if current trends continue the loss could be much greater this year.” One of the brilliant ideas they have to help increase the money flow is a rate increase on stamps:

A rate increase is scheduled to take effect in May, but the amount has not yet been announced. Because rates are tied to inflation a 2-cent increase in the 42-cent first-class price is likely. Officials could seek a higher rate, citing the extraordinary economic conditions, but they are concerned that could lead to even greater declines in business.

In other words, if you do send out a good amount of postal mail, you may want to stock up on those Forever Stamps. Personally I only tend to send out postal mail around the holidays, but I may even grab a couple of these stamps as they will clearly save money in the long run.

Other ways the Post Office is cutting costs, according to Postmaster General John Potter is by “reducing work hours, and asking Congress to ease requirements for advance funding of retiree benefits and to allow mail to be delivered five days a week instead of six.”

I am sure the 5 day a week mail delivery would upset some, but personally I don’t even receive mail everyday, and like I said, when I do it’s typically junk. As for advanced funding of retiree benefits, shouldn’t that be being handled via 401k’s or some other managed investments of some kind?

{Source}

Measles: A Cure for Cancer?

Well, at least potentially prostate cancer according to a new study.

Prostate cancer is a leading cause death among males in the western world. It is currently the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among American men with 186,320 new cases and 28,660 deaths expected to be recorded in 2008. A sizeable proportion of these patients ultimately relapse, with a 5-year failure rate for treatment ranging from 14 to 34 percent. No curative therapy is currently available for locally advanced or metastatic prostate cancer

However, according to a report in Science Daily there may be a potential cure in the form of virotherapy using certain measles vaccine strains. The full article can be read here.

A Historical Event, A Historical Speech

Full transcript as prepared for delivery of President Barack Obama’s inaugural remarks on Jan. 20, 2009, at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. {Source}

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Obama Inaugural Poster Released

The Barack Obama Inaugural Committee today released this Official inauguration poster. I found this from The Huffington Post. According to the article:Obama Inaugural Poster

Designed by famed street artist Shepard Fairey, the print, created especially for the 2009 Inauguration, boldly declares “BE THE CHANGE.”

It is the next step in the branding of the presidency — a development that is not unique to Obama but one that he has used better than any other politician in recent memory.

Fairey’s initial design — a guerrilla style, dark-colored portrait of the then-candidate — proved to be a political and cultural phenomenon during the campaign. The current edition plays heavily off those themes and it seems likely to be a major symbol during the inauguration festivities.

Apparently there is also an Inaugural Collectibles online store.

National Debt

As we approach the end of Bush error and prepare to enter a time of change, I found myself contemplating the vast waste of money that the Bush administration has caused. According to this graph Debt Historywhich I found at the U.S. National Debt Clock web site, over the last 8 years that the Bush administration has been in office the National Debt has risen by over 50%.

In September 2008, the digital dollar sign was eliminated to make way for an extra digit—the “1” in $10 trillion (the national debt is currently $10.2 trillion). Now, a new clock is in the works that will make room for a quadrillion dollars of debt, according to the Associated Press. Anticipated completion is early 2009.  <U.S. News><Wall Street Journal>

I think, that not only is it obvious, but it is also necessary that this great nation has a change, not just of leadership (though that is extremely needed) but also of focus. I truly hope that Obama brings forth all the change he promised and implied, because we need it now more than ever.

Mlive.com posts article about Thomson Reuters sign

MLive.com has an article today about the sign changing on the 777 building, and can be read here: Thomson Reuters one of Washtenaw County’s largest employers.

History has been made

The results are in, and they are pretty big results. We all knew by the end of the night we would have a new President, and many of us hoped for a historic event, and we got it. For the first time in the history of our nation we have elected an African America as President of the United States of America. With the election of Barack Obama not only have we made history, but with an over whelming voice the people of this country have spoken, and the message is clear; Yes we can! My good friend Joe Stump says it beautifully in his post:

As I type this an African American is the President elect of the United States. Let that sink in a bit. The people of the United States have made a strong stand against the agents of intolerance. They’ve said with resounding thunder that religious zealots, war mongers and ignorant people have no place in our great nation. If you’re against gay rights, against a black President, in favor of endless war for oil, or against renewable energy we’ve risen up and clearly stated your ignorant and bigoted views of the world are not welcome.

I agree with Joe, and I join him and the rest of the majority of this nation in welcoming this change for good.

After 73 years, it ends

The Catskill Game Farm back home in Greene County has announced that it will be closing October 9th after 73 years of hands on petting zoo fun, reports the Daily Freeman:

The Catskill Game Farm, a combination zoo and hands-on animal farm in Greene County, will close for good in the fall, bringing a 73-year tradition to an end.

Owner Kathie Schultz said the Catskill area simply doesn’t have the drawing power it once enjoyed and young people don’t enjoy visiting a farm as much as children of previous decades.

The farm – on Game Farm Road in Catskill, near the Cairo town line – currently is home to about 2,000 animals in 150 different species, including zebras, giraffes, deer and reptiles. It also features circus-style animal acts and children’s rides.

It’s really kind of sad to see a place like this close. I have memories of tacking field trips here when I was in elementary school. It was always fun, and i always seemed to learn something new. I never realized it, but a part of me was hoping to maybe take my kids their someday, now I guess that won’t happen.