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+ - Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Jennifer Medina reports at the NYT that the the city council of nation’s second-largest city voted by a 14-1 margin to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, in what is perhaps the most significant victory so far in the national push to raise the minimum wage. Several other cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland, Calif., have already approved increases, and dozens more are considering doing the same. In 2014, a number of Republican-leaning states like Alaska and South Dakota also raised their state-level minimum wage by referendum. The impact is likely to be particularly strong in Los Angeles, where, according to some estimates, more than 40 percent of the city’s work force earns less than $15 an hour. “The proposal will bring wages up in a way we haven’t seen since the 1960s," says Michael Reich. "There’s a sense spreading that this is the new norm, especially in areas that have high costs of housing.”

It's important to remember that the minimum wage hike comes at a significant direct cost to business — well over a $1 billion a year, according to the mayor's analysis — and it would be foolish to pretend that it won't lead to some job losses and business closures. Critics say the increase will turn the city into a “wage island,” pushing businesses away into nearby places where they can pay employees less. “They are asking businesses to foot the bill on a social experiment that they would never do on their own employees,” says Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a trade group that represents companies and other organizations in Southern California. “A lot of businesses aren’t going to make it. It’s great that this is an increase for some employees, but the sad truth is that a lot of employees are going to lose their jobs.”

+ - Men's Rights Activists Call for Boycott of "Mad Max: Fury Road"

Submitted by ideonexus
ideonexus writes: Aaron Clarey, author of the blog Return of Kings and prominent figure in the Men's Rights Movement, is calling for a boycott of George Miller's new edition to the Mad Max franchise "Mad Max: Fury Road," calling the film a "Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things..." and citing the fact that "Vagina Monologues" author Eve Ensler was brought in to coach the actresses on playing sex slaves who escape a warlord's possession. Critics have been applauding the film, which currently scores 98% on RottenTomatoes.

+ - What IS this strange sound from the sky? -> 1

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: Noise heard across the globe for nearly a DECADE — but nobody has an explanation. A mysterious noise from the sky is continuing to baffle people all over the world — as well as giving those who hear it sleepless nights.

Sounding like a trumpet or a collective from a brass section of an orchestra, a selection of videos shot from the Canada to Ukraine, via the U.S., Germany and Belarus show strange goings on above us.

Link to Original Source

+ - Wind Turbines With No Blades->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Wired has a profile of Spanish company Vortex Bladeless and their unusual new wind turbine tech. "Their idea is the Vortex, a bladeless wind turbine that looks like a giant rolled joint shooting into the sky. The Vortex has the same goals as conventional wind turbines: To turn breezes into kinetic energy that can be used as electricity." Instead of relying on wind to push a propeller in a circular motion, these turbines rely on vorticity — how wind can strike an object in a particular way to generate spinning vortices of air. Engineers usually try to avoid this — it's what brought down the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. But this Spanish company designed the turbine computationally to have the vortices occur at the same time along its entire height. "In its current prototype, the elongated cone is made from a composite of fiberglass and carbon fiber, which allows the mast to vibrate as much as possible (an increase in mass reduces natural frequency). At the base of the cone are two rings of repelling magnets, which act as a sort of nonelectrical motor. When the cone oscillates one way, the repelling magnets pull it in the other direction, like a slight nudge to boost the mast’s movement regardless of wind speed. This kinetic energy is then converted into electricity via an alternator that multiplies the frequency of the mast’s oscillation to improve the energy-gathering efficiency."
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+ - Goatse.cx on a Digital Billboard offends local assholes->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber writes: Atlanta, Georgia police are investigating how Goatse.cx (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G...), "an image of an impossible-to-fig-leaf potential member of the pornography community", was posted on a digital billboard at the corner of Peachtree and East Paces Ferry roads. The Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper described a "digital picture of a bent over man, mooning, and he was also exposing other parts that usually remain more private...is impossible to adequately describe or show the enormity of the offense without possibly violating laws and certainly the boundaries of good taste."

The scene drew a lot of attention Saturday after Atlanta Police Officer T. Martin rolled up at 5:50 p.m. after getting complaints. Atlanta's Department of Homeland Security, Georgia Power and Atlanta Fire also sent units to the scene. The building landlord and the billboard’s owner Monumedia also responded, cut the power, deleting the images, Officer Martin reported.

Billboard owner Monumedia and the City of Atlanta are currently involved in a legal dispute over whether the digital billboard violates Atlanta's outdoor advertising law.


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+ - The CIA and The White House Lied about bin Laden's Assassination->

Submitted by Nicola Hahn
Nicola Hahn writes: The journalist who broke the story of the CIA's MHCHAOS program back in 1974 has just dropped another bombshell in the London Review of Books. According to a retired senior intelligence officer the CIA's narrative about torture playing a key role in the capture of Osama bin Laden is a fabrication fed to the public with the assistance of Hollywood executives (Zero Dark Thirty). Here's an excerpt of assertions:

"That bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false."

This puts the CIA's stance on the torture report in a whole new light. Doesn't it? Also note the role played by the Saudis, and how worried they were that bin Laden might "start talking to us about what the Saudis had been doing with al-Qaida. And they were dropping money – lots of it."

Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists Find Alarming Deterioration In DNA of the Urban Poor

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Nico Pitney reports that the urban poor in the United States are experiencing accelerated aging at the cellular level, and that chronic stress linked both to income level and racial-ethnic identity is driving this physiological deterioration. Researchers analyzed telomeres, tiny caps at the ends of DNA strands that protect cells from aging prematurely, of poor and lower middle-class black, white, and Mexican residents of Detroit and found that low-income residents of Detroit, regardless of race, have significantly shorter telomeres than the national average. "There are effects of living in high-poverty, racially segregated neighborhoods — the life experiences people have, the physical exposures, a whole range of things — that are just not good for your health," says Nobel laureate. Dr. Arline Geronimus, the lead author of the study, described as the most rigorous research of its kind examining how "structurally rooted social processes work through biological mechanisms to impact health." White Detroit residents who were lower-middle-class had the longest telomeres in the study. But the shortest telomeres belonged to poor whites. Black residents had about the same telomere lengths regardless of whether they were poor or lower-middle-class. And poor Mexicans actually had longer telomeres than Mexicans with higher incomes. Geronimus says these findings demonstrate the limitations of standard measures — like race, income and education level — typically used to examine health disparities. "We've relied on them too much to be the signifiers of everything that varies in the life experiences of difference racial or ethnic groups in different geographic locations and circumstances."

One co-author of this new study is Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn who helped to discover telomeres, an achievement that won her the Nobel Prize in physiology in 2009. Blackburn ticked off a list of studies in which people's experiences and perceptions directly correlated with their telomere lengths: whether people say they feel stressed or pessimistic; whether they feel racial discrimination towards others or feel discriminated against; whether they have experienced severely negative experiences in childhood, and so on. "These are all really adding up in this quantitative way," says Blackburn. "Once you get a quantitative relationship, then this is science, right?"

+ - FWD.us to Laid-Off Southern California Edison Workers: Boo-Hoo 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp writes: Speaking at a National Journal LIVE event that was sponsored by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us and Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective, FWD.us "Major Contributor" Lars Dalgaard was asked about the fate of 500 laid-off Southern California Edison IT workers, whose forced training of their H-1B worker replacements from offshore outsourcing companies sparked a bipartisan Senate investigation. "If you want the job, make yourself able to get the job," quipped an unsympathetic Dalgaard (YouTube). "Nobody's going to hold you up and carry you around...If you're not going to work hard enough to be qualified to get the job...well then, you don't deserve the job." "That might be harsh," remarked interviewer Niharika Acharya. Turning to co-interviewee Pierre-Jean Cobut, FWD.us's poster child for increasing the H-1B visa cap, Acharya asked, "Do you agree with him?" "Actually, I do," replied PJ, drawing laughs from the crowd. In August, Zuck's close friend and college roommate Joe Green, then President of FWD.us, drew fire after arguing that Executive Action by President Obama on tech immigration was needed lest his billionaire bosses have to hire 'just sort of OK' U.S. workers.

+ - Ebola Lurked In Cured Patient's Eye->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: During the Ebola outbreak last year, Dr. Ian Crozier was infected with Ebola. He was eventually airlifted to Emory University for treatment, and a couple months later he was cured of the disease — or so physicians thought. Not long after he was released, his left eye began bothering him. His sight faded, and he felt intense pressure and pain in his eye. Examination of the eye found it teeming with Ebola. His doctors were surprised. Cured patients frequently deal with health issues long after the virus is gone, but this adds a new dimension to the course of the disease. Doctors say Crozier posed no threat to others through casual contact; the virus did not exist in his tears or on the surface of his eye. But in addition to the new symptoms, his eye turned from blue to green. And doctors had to rush to disinfect the exam area used for what they thought was an Ebola-free patient. Research is ongoing to determine whether and how to protect from this lingering ebola infection. One theory suggests the virus survived, but was damaged somehow. Crozier was treated with antiviral drugs, and his eye improved, but doctors aren't sure whether the drug actually helped. Either way, it's made the medical community realize this is a longer battle than they had thought.
Link to Original Source

+ - The World's Most Wasteful Megacity

Submitted by merbs
merbs writes: The world’s most wasteful megacity is a densely populated, steadily aging, consumerist utopia where we buy, and throw away, a staggering amount of stuff. Where some faucet, toilet, or pipe, is constantly leaking in our apartments. Where an armada of commerce-beckoning lights are always on. Where a fleet of gas-guzzling cars still clog the roadways. I, along with my twenty million or so neighbors, help New York City use more energy, suck down more water, and spew out more solid waste than any other mega-metropolitan area.

+ - Wells Fargo charged with opening accounts without customers' permission->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Wells Fargo is accused of opening up accounts and credit cards in customers' names without their authorization.

The accounts are being opened by Wells Fargo employees under pressure to meet unrealistic sales goals and quotas, according to the civil complaint filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney.

The complaint charges that bank employees opened new accounts for existing customers without their authorization, in order to meet sales quotas. The employees also allegedly transferred money from customers' authorized accounts to pay fees on the unauthorized accounts.

When fees on unauthorized accounts went unpaid, some customers were placed into collection. Others had negative information placed on their credit reports as a result.

The complaint, filed in California Superior Court on Monday, seeks a $2,500 fine for every unauthorized account, and seeks to have all of the money taken from customers returned. It did not estimate how much those penalties could cost the bank.

Wells Fargo said it would "vigorously defend" itself from the suit. But the statement it issued did not deny or even address whether its employees opened unauthorized accounts as charged.

Link to Original Source

+ - Nuclear waste: Bury nuclear waste down a very deep hole, say scientists->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists at the University of Sheffield calculate that all of the UK's high level nuclear waste from spent fuel reprocessing could be disposed of in just six boreholes 5km deep, fitting within a site no larger than a football pitch.

The concept — called deep borehole disposal — has been developed primarily in the UK but is likely to see its first field trials in the USA next year. If the trials are successful, the USA hopes to dispose of its 'hottest' and most radioactive waste — left over from plutonium production and currently stored at Hanford in Washington State — in a deep borehole.

Link to Original Source

+ - Notorious "Patent Troll" to be the Commencement Speaker at UCLA

Submitted by onproton
onproton writes: This week Nathan Myhrvold, widely criticized for his industry role as a “patent troll,” was announced as the commencement speaker at UCLA’s graduation ceremony. The UCLA student newspaper quickly responded with a piece protesting the selection, describing Myhrvold’s company, Intellectual Ventures, as “the most hated company in tech.” Intellectual Ventures has purchased more than 70,000 patents, many of which are either sold to other identified patent trolls, or used by its shell corporations in litigation to extort companies actually involved in product development. These kinds of predatory organizations have resulted in a major decline in venture capital investment in startups, and as the “Daily Bruin” points out, make a mockery out of the legal processes involving intellectual property.

+ - Disney replaces longtime IT staff with H-1B workers->

Submitted by Lucas123
Lucas123 writes: Disney CEO Bob Iger is one of eight co-chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a leading group advocating for an increase in the H-1B visa cap. Last Friday, the partnership was a sponsor of an H-1B briefing at the U.S. Capitol for congressional staffers. The briefing was closed to the press. One of the briefing documents obtained after the meeting stated, "H-1B workers complement — instead of displace — U.S. Workers." Last October, however, Disney laid off at least 135 IT staff (though employees say it was hundreds more), many of them longtime workers. Disney then replaced them with H-1B contractors that company said could better "focus on future innovation and new capabilities." The fired workers believe the primary motivation behind Disney's action was cost-cutting. "Some of these folks were literally flown in the day before to take over the exact same job I was doing," one former employee said. Disney officials promised new job opportunities as a result of the restructuring, but the former staff interviewed by Computerworld said they knew of few co-workers who had landed one of the new jobs. Use of visa workers in a layoff is a public policy issue, particularly for Disney. Ten U.S. senators are currently seeking a federal investigation into displacement of IT workers by H-1B-using contractors. Kim Berry, president of the Programmer's Guild, said Congress should protect American workers by mandating that positions can only be filled by H-1B workers when no qualified American — at any wage — can be found to fill the position."
Link to Original Source

+ - ITC rules Microsoft handsets violate patents->

Submitted by Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson writes: Microsoft could face a ban on importing handsets into the US after a ruling by the International Trade Commission. The ITC found that Microsoft had used technology for which InterDigital owns the patents without obtaining the relevant permission.

Microsoft plans to challenge the ruling, saying "we have a successful track record challenging patent assertion entities that misuse industry standards". It is not the first handset manufacturer to have been hit with legal action from InterDigital, and it could severely hamper future handset sales.

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