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+ - Ken Ham's Ark torpedoed with charges of religious discrimination->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Back on February 4, "Science Guy" Bill Nye debated Creationist Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Ham (http://science.slashdot.org/story/14/02/04/1731233/watch-bill-nye-and-ken-ham-clash-over-creationism-live). That high-profile debate helped boost support for Ham's $73 Million "Ark Encounter" project, allowing Ham to announce on February 25 that a municipal bond offering had raised enough money to begin construction. Nye said he was “heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky” after learning that the project would move forward. Nye said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham’s ministry, which preaches that the Bible’s creation story is a true account, and as a result, “voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest.” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/creation-museum-kentucky-noahs-ark-museum-ken-ham)

In July, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority unanimously approved $18.25 million worth of tax incentives to keep the ark park afloat. The funds are from a state program that allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of as much as 25 percent of the investment in the project. (http://www.kentucky.com/2014/07/29/3356998_noahs-ark-theme-park-gets-preliminary.html) Since then, the Ark Park's employment application has became public:

Nestled among the requirements for all job applicants were three troubling obligatory documents: “Salvation testimony,” “Creation belief statement,” and a “Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG statement of faith.” (AiG is Answers in Genesis, Ham’s ministry and Ark Encounter’s parent company.)

That caused the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to halt its issuance of tax incentives for the ark park. Bob Stewart, secretary of the cabinet, wrote to Ham that “the Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC.” Before funding could proceed, Stewart explained, “the Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring.” (http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/07/ark-park-hiring-issue-jeopardizes-tax-incentives/16854657/)

The ark park has not yet sunk. It is "still pending before the authority" and a date has not yet been set for the meeting where final approval will be considered."

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+ - Steve Ballmer gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off for being Basketball Baron->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "According to a report published by The Financial Times (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/67215cd2-5d00-11e4-9753-00144feabdc0.html), ex-Microsoft CEO Billionaire Steve Ballmer will be able to write about a Billion dollars of his Basketball Team's purchase price off from the taxable income he makes over the next 15 years:

"Under an exception in US law, buyers of sports franchises can use an accounting treatment known as goodwill against their other taxable income. This feature is commonly used by tax specialists to structure deals for sports teams. Goodwill is the difference between the purchase price of an asset and the actual cash and other fixed assets belonging to the team."

NBC Los Angeles has a non-paywalled summary here: www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Report-Steve-Ballmer-Could-Claim-1B-in-Tax-Write-Offs-For-Buying-Clippers-280466752.html?die/.betadiediediedie"
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Comment: Re:Awesome (Score 2) 283

by McGruber (#48112847) Attached to: Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

I save more than $10k a year even with those payments. How would that make me financially irresponsible?

If you are a US worker making $80k, you can put $17,500 a year into your 401K and another $5,500 into a Roth IRA..... so your saving $10k/year is less than 1/2 the money you could be putting into your retirement accounts for the year.

If you are over age 50, you could be putting in $23,500 (401K) and $6,500 (Roth IRA)..... so your saving $10k/year would be only a third of what you could be saving, in your retirement account alone.

+ - No Charges filed after SWAT team throws grenade into Baby Bou Bou's crib.-> 1

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Another new low for police state America: a grand jury in Habersham County, Georgia has declined to indict any of the officers involved in a botched SWAT team drug raid that permanently disfigured 19-month-old Bounkham “Baby Bou Bou” Phonesavanh (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/no-charges-for-officers-in-botched-drug-raid-that-/nhc2N/).

When the SWAT team raided Baby Bou Bou's parents home at 3 a.m. on May 28, they lobbed a flash-bang grenade into the house. That grenade landed in the crib where little Bou Bou was sleeping. It exploded, tearing open the boy’s face, severing his nose and severely burning his face and chest (http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/no-charges-in-sloppy-swat-raid-that-maimed-baby/). The SWAT team searched inside the house, but failed to find either guns or drugs. Wanis Thonetheva, who didn’t even live at the house, was arrested later that day without incident and charged only with possession of methamphetamine.

The Habersham County, Georgia Government refuses to pay Baby Bou Bou's medical bills, which now total more than $800,000 (http://www.accessnorthga.com/detail.php?n=279243)."

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+ - US Transportation Dept. considering license plate readers for "traffic safety"->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, a unique federal agency that is part of the US Department of Transportation (http://www.volpe.dot.gov/), is conducting market research on using automated license plate readers (ALPRs) as a potential countermeasure to improve traffic safety.

According to USDOT Solicitation Notice DTRT5714SS00007 that is posted on FedBizOpps (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=2df765acc2f0788ae1bc40ff0d70fe30&tab=core&_cview=0)

The Notice says "While ALPRs are deployed for a variety of purposes (i.e., homeland security, locating and recovering stolen vehicles, etc.), the purpose of this study is to focus on the use of ALPRs for traffic safety purposes. Within traffic safety, the emphasis will be on license offenses, including revoked, suspended, or restricted licenses; however, the study should reveal whether ALPRs are being used for any other type of traffic safety function (e.g., speed enforcement).""

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+ - USPTO says fraud by patent examiners will be met with 'disciplinary action'->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "After Slashdot reported "Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office" (http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/08/11/1519201/every-day-is-goof-off-at-work-day-at-the-us-patent-and-trademark-office), US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee left a morale-boosting voicemail to all USPTO employees. She told them "All of your efforts are critical to creating new jobs and growing businesses" and affirmed her support for a telework program she said made the agency a “sought-after place to work.”

Six weeks later --and umpteen media reports about patent examiners lying about their hours (http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/09/13/2146240/us-patent-office-seeking-consultant-that-can-stamp-out-fraud-by-patent-examiners)-- Deputy Director Lee has done an about face. In an email sent to thousands of employees, Lee wrote “Simply put fraudulent time and attendance recording is unacceptable and must be met with appropriate disciplinary action." Her message then cited a number of steps the USPTO is taking to address the an internal USPTO investigation that determined patent examiners repeatedly lied about their hours and received bonuses for work they didn’t do. (www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/09/20/patent-official-says-fraudulent-time-is-unacceptable-and-will-be-met-with-disciplinary-action/)

Deputy Director Lee is the USPTO's defactor leader because the USPTO lacks a permanent director."

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Comment: Court Testimony described HD's developers workdays (Score 2) 80

by McGruber (#47945071) Attached to: Home Depot Says Breach Affected 56 Million Cards

When I watched Justin Ross Harris' Preliminary Hearing, I was stunned by how little work Home Depot's developers seem to do.

Harris worked for Home Depot's ".com business" per a quote from the Home Depot Corporate Communications Manager in this CNN article. The Preliminary Hearing did an amazing job of describing his typical workday: After watching cartoons with his child, then taking him out for breakfast, Harris eventually arrived at his office at about 10 AM. About 90 minutes later, he went out for a long lunch, with a carload of coworkers. After eating, the group stopped at a store to puchase some items. After lunch, Harris is at his desk for a few hours, but then he was out the door at 4 PM, off to watch a movie with some of his coworkers.

The hearing documented that he put in, at most, about five hours of work. During those five hours, he was IMing women on dating sites and also IMing a couple coworkers about a small startup/consulting business they had.

+ - Duo driving across the US in a Tesla Model S->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Lita Elbertson and Michael Fritts have spent the last few weeks driving across the country in a Tesla Model S. According to the Durango, Colorado Herald newspaper, (http://durangoherald.com/article/20140914/NEWS01/140919759/0/FRONTPAGE/On-an-electric-road-trip) the duo are apparently the first to attempt to drive across America in a vehicle using no gas.

As of Sunday, the duo and their Model S had visited 40 states. They are following a Supercharger network – a map that shows all the Tesla charging stations nationwide – and were disappointed that Durango, Colorado did not have a Tesla station. Maybe they rode the steam train (http://www.durangotrain.com/) while waiting for a charge?

In May, Fritz took his Tesla on a solo drive from New York City to Miami and back, making the trip in 58 hours and 15 minutes (http://www.wktv.com/news/local/Local-man-drives-to-Miami-and-back-with-no-money-no-gas-258220901.html)."

Link to Original Source

+ - US Patent Office seeking consultant that can stamp-out fraud by patent examiners->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "A month after Slashdot reported Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office (http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/08/11/1519201/every-day-is-goof-off-at-work-day-at-the-us-patent-and-trademark-office), the USPTO issued a statement that it is “committed to taking any measures necessary” to stop employees who review patents from lying about their hours and getting overtime pay and bonuses for work they didn’t do. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/09/13/patent-office-to-hire-outside-consultant-to-review-telework-program/)

USPTO officials also told congressional investigators that they are seeking an outside consulting firm to advise them on how managers can improve their monitoring of more than 8,000 patent examiners.

The Patent Examiners union responded to the original Washington Post report with a statement (http://popa.org/2523/) that includes these lines:

To claim that the USPTO has “thousands” of examiners not doing their work is simply ridiculous on its face. It represents poor journalistic rigor on the part of a well-respected newspaper like the Washington Post. If “thousands” of USPTO employees were not doing their work, it would be impossible for this agency to be producing the best performance in recent memory and, perhaps, in its entire 224 year history.

In related news, USPTO Commissioner Deborah Cohn (http://www.uspto.gov/about/bios/cohn_bio.jsp) has announced plans to resign just months after a watchdog agency revealed that she had pressured staffers to hire the live-in boyfriend of an immediate family member over other, better-qualified applicants. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/8/patent-office-head-step-down-amid-nepotism-charge/) An agency spokesman declined to say whether Cohn's decision to resign was tied to the nepotism probe. The live-in-boyfriend was among more than 700 people applying for the job, but he failed to qualify as one of the 250 candidates to advance to the first round of screening. When he finished 75th out of 76 applicants in the final round of screening, Cohn "intervened and created an additional position specifically for the applicant," wrote Inspector General Todd Zinser in a statement on the matter."
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Comment: Re:So what exactly is the market here. (Score 1) 730

by McGruber (#47866745) Attached to: Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

A gigantic set of the population is no longer even used to the concept of wearing a watch, because they have their phone. This device doesn't replace their phone. What exactly is the reason to have this as well, as opposed to pulling your phone out of your pocket?

You're thinking about it wrong: People wear watches because they are in fashion, not because wearing a watch is a necessary thing to do.

I noticed that they showed several different styles of watches -- that means every fashionista will have to buy several. Ker-ching $$$$$$

Comment: Re:...like dash cams. (Score 1) 455

by McGruber (#47771231) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

How to let officers pee without also letting them turn off cameras at every "inconvenient" time presents a challenge...

I don't see why it would necessary to turn the camera off when using the restroom -- the camera is looking forward, not downward, so it would be recording a close-up view of the top of the urinal.

+ - Amazon sold fewer Fire phones than Jack White sold VINYL records->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Marketwatch reports that Amazon likely had sold fewer than 35,000 Amazon Fire phones in the device's first 25 days on the market. In comparison, American musician Jack White sold 40,000 copies of his Lazaretto album on VINYL in the first week after its release in June.

Amazon's Fire phone made up just 0.02% of market share in July, according to online ads network Chitika, which analyzed tens of millions of smartphone-based online ad impressions generated within the Chitika ad network from July 25, the day the Fire was launched, through Aug. 14. When comparing that against recent data from comScore, which put total U.S. smartphone penetration at 173 million people in June, Fire sales would not have exceeded 35,000 in its first three weeks, assuming U.S. smartphone penetration remained relatively flat month-over-month.

"While the Fire Phone was listed atop Amazon's Best Seller list for several days in early August, North American usage of the device has grown only incrementally, rather than exponentially," Chitika said in a report."

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+ - The comfy part of long-haul jetliners that you never get to ride in->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Interior design publication Core77 has an article about Crew Rest Compartments (CRCs) (http://www.core77.com/blog/interiorexhibition_design/the_part_of_the_plane_you_never_get_to_see_what_do_cabin_crews_chillaxation_spots_look_like_27476.asp) installed in long-haul jetliners. These CRC accommodations include the 8 Best Beds on a Boeing 777, a pimpish loft space nestled above the passenger compartment on the Boeing 787, and bunkbeds stacked 3-high on the Airbus A380.

A pilot commented that the CRCs are not as glamorous as they look: "You generally enter a very dark claustrophobic space with your phone light not to disturb anyone. You're surrounded by all the most synthetic materials of the planet, overheated (25 to 30 c), very smelly (shoes, BO, bad breath etc...) and if you are in the tail noisy and shaky! Lol. But guess what you still sleep as you are exhausted!""

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Comment: Re:Accuse me a being materialistic whore but... (Score 1) 136

I'm not having a serious problem with this.

Did you know that Politics and Prose is the best independent bookstore in Washington and, IMHO, one of the best bookstores in the country? The Politics and Prose wikipedia page says it original co-owners "became known as literary tastemakers."

Consider that as you re-read the example I choose for the summary:

At Politics and Prose, the traditional [AMAZON BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [AMAZON BUY IT NOW] cover.

Do you see the problem now?

I'll end with a shout-out to the NPR program On The Media - I look forward to hearing OTM cover this issue!

(This post not edited by Brooke.)

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