Saturday, April 17, 2010

Libertarians dont have it figured out either...

Want to live in one of the richest counties in the US? Move to Virginia or Maryland? What makes them so special?

If you want to live in the one of the Top Ten richest counties in America then you should move to a Washington D.C. suburb in Virginia or Maryland...Hmmm...I wonder why there is such a concentration of wealth in that area?  When political power and taxpayer money are vast and concentrated, the rent-seekers (lobbyists/corporations/other do-gooders for my welfare) will be vast and concentrated too...Only pointing out a symtom, not the illness...(via Newmarks Door)

Shakira for Presdent--I have NO doubt it will happen someday...

I have a bold prediction: Shakira will be Presdent of Columbia someday...I have read other things about her from time to time and am impressed with how she runs her business, her seriousness in her causes and relative humbleness (perhaps the thing I MOST respect)...This article and selected comments (VIA Aidwatch) illustrate what I think MORE celebrities should model...
(1) Shakira is concentrating on a place she knows well — her native coastal Colombia, including her hometown of Barranquilla. Points for local knowledge compared to Africa-touring celebrities who wouldn’t know a fufu stick from a groundnut. When she visits her projects, she’s visiting people she knows.

(2) She’s starting to work with impoverished Latino kids in the US — another group she knows well from her own life experience. More points for local knowledge.

(3) she’s focusing on primary and secondary education, which apparently she again feels strongly about from her own experience. Points for specialization.
Shakira’s latest contribution went to our hometown. In February 2009, the Barefoot Foundation inaugurated a $6 million K-12 mega-school. El colegio de Shakira, as it is known locally, gets only praise. A friend described it to me as an American institution, by which she meant state-of-the-art. The complex includes an auditorium, chemistry labs and even air conditioning. “Parents receive English classes and computer skills,” Shakira says, “and the entire neighborhood can play soccer there.” Families look for every possible way to move close to the school.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"Badgers! Badgers! I dont need no stinkin' Badgers!!"

From WSJ: Queen Guitarist Digs Badgers Even If the Farmers Loathe Them
On Queen guitarist Brian May's blog, the hottest topic isn't his searing solo on "We Will Rock You" or the operatic ambition of "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's the badger "genocide" Mr. May fears is headed to the Welsh countryside. Mr. May is part of a large badger-loving community trying to block government plans to kill up to 1,000 of the furry creatures in coming months. Farmers blame the animals for spreading tuberculosis to cattle. A group called Badger Trust has spent close to £100,000 ($154,000) on a legal battle to try to stop the planned killing....

Is there a "world community"? Really?? If so, WHERE IS IT???

Sometimes I REALLY hate the world... :(  To learn more about this issue and more about Human Rights in Africa this site ENOUGH is GREAT...

From BBC: DR Congo gang rape crisis 'spreading', new study says
More than half of the victims of rape in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo were gang raped by armed men, a report says.  For years rape has been used against women in the region but the report reveals the scale of the problem. More than 4,000 rape victims were interviewed over a four-year period. The authors of the report, commissioned by Oxfam, say there is also evidence suggesting a dramatic rise in the number of rapes by civilians. It comes at a time when there is debate over how long the United Nations peacekeeping force should remain in DR Congo. The extensive research, carried out by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, in the eastern South Kivu province produced shocking findings.  It shows that 60% of the rape victims were gang raped by armed men and more than half of the assaults took place in the victims' homes.

UN impact

There was also evidence of a large increase in the number of rapes carried out by civilians.  Back in 2004, 1% of rapes were committed by civilians, the report says. Four years later they were responsible for more than a third of these attacks. The researchers say this proves that the scale of rape during years of war in DR Congo has made this crime seem more acceptable. Oxfam says given the insecurity in DR Congo, it is imperative the UN peacekeepers stay. The UN troops have been backing efforts to defeat rebels linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. However research shows that when these UN-backed offensives are carried out, women become even more vulnerable. The rebels and the government troops use rape as a weapon of war to punish civilians. The victims face terrible stigma and this new study reveals that more than half of the women waited at least a year before seeking treatment. War-torn South Kivu is home to five million people but there is just one hospital which can offer suitable help to victims of rape. Oxfam wants the world's richer countries to help increase the medical services available for survivors of sexual violence in Congo. Last year alone the UN says more than 5,000 people were raped in South Kivu.

Keynan Flowers and the Volcano---The interconectedness of International Trade...

The inter-connectedness of international business....
From  BBC: Kenya flower industry hit by flight cancellations
Kenya's flower industry has been badly hit by the cancellation of flights across Europe because of the ash cloud caused by a volcano in Iceland. 
The head of the Kenya Flower Council told the BBC it was costing growers between $1.5m and $2m a day.
She said about 500 tonnes of flowers were currently being kept in cool storage at Nairobi's airport.
Flowers are the East African country's biggest export earner, accounting for about 20% of all exports.
Flower trucks arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Friday morning were being turned away.
"On the flower farms we have to continue harvesting the flowers," Kenya Flower Council chief executive Jane Ngige told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
Every day we deliver about 12 to 15 tonnes of roses and that translates to about 6m to 7m [Kenyan] shillings, Sian Roses manager Haroun Koimur "Even if this cargo was to be lifted we have a problem of eroded quality so it would fetch much less than if it had left fresh," she said. 
The manager of Sian Roses near the capital, Nairobi, told the BBC the business was incurring loses of up to $80,000 a day because of the cancelled flights. 
"Every day we deliver about 12 to 15 tonnes of roses and that translates to about 6m to 7m [Kenyan] shillings," Haroun Koimur said.
He said some staff had already been sent home until it became clear when flights would resume again.
The BBC's Anne Waithera in Nairobi says the industry has recovered from the post-poll violence in 2008, which particularly hit farms in the Rift Valley. 
But she says this could prove a bigger blow if it continues as it affects growers countrywide.
According to the Kenya Flower Council, 97% of all Kenya's flower exports are sent to the European Union.
About 300 growers employ an estimated 100,000 people, with about 1.2m people deriving their livelihood from the flower export industry.
The Eyjafjallajokull volcano system began erupting on Wednesday for the second time in a month, hurling a plume of ash 11km (seven miles) into the atmosphere.
Scientists say the volcano is still erupting but producing less ash and flights are likely to be disrupted into the weekend.

I-PAD runs Norway! I underestimated it...

Nice publicity for Norway, not so much for Israel...

Norway Uses iPad to Run the Government During Icelandic Volcano
Thousands of travelers are stranded throughout Europe as ash continues to rain down from an erupting volcano in Iceland this week. Among them is Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg who, according to his press secretary, is “running the Norwegian government from the United States via his new iPad.” 
CNN reports that the Norwegian prime minister was in New York this week for President Obama’s nuclear summit and has been left stranded on American soil thanks to the widespread closure of most of European airspace. The volcanic eruption sent a cloud of ash toward mainland Europe that could take up to 48 hours to dissipate, resulting in over 6,000 canceled flights across the E.U.
The people of Norway, however, can rest easy knowing all political affairs will be safely and soundly resolved via Apple’s latest gadget wunderkind. Meanwhile, Israel has apparently rejected the potential diplomatic utility of the iPad, considering the country has banned all imports of the device. Maybe Steve Jobs can hire Stoltenberg to do some outreach. 
The obvious question here is: Should Obama get an iPad?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How much Salt is in YOUR food? Fast Food? All Food???

Salt levels in our food
The amount of salt consumed by most people has been a worry for many years. In fact, it's estimated that of the salt we consume, an astonishing 75 percent of it is already present in our food. 
Most foods contain some salt, but it's the foods that are naturally high in salt we need to watch out for because eating these can push our salt intake over the edge. This is why it's important to choose foods that are lower in salt, when you can. 
Some foods are almost always high in salt because of the way they are made - you can still enjoy them, but try to have these in smaller amounts, or eat them less often. 
It's not expected, but some of the common food in our diets, such as bread, cereals and salt, are in actual fact our worst enemy when it comes to the amount of salt we consume. In the UK, 26 million adults eat too much salt, above the six grams recommended. While in America, the average American eats almost double the recommended amount of sodium every day, which is 2400 milligrams. 

US Trade Bans Graphic---Excellent Resource...

The US imposes unilateral trade bans on other countries, mostly for human rights violations.  This graphic shows the major ones and what is banned and a very short reason of the why.  I was not aware of some of these myself...Good resource...

Nice Graphic on Water use/abuse...

Happy Federal Tax Day---I ALMOST put a pen through my head!!

(NOTE: I forgot to cite this entry and have forgotten where it came from...)
IT IS that time of year again, when the cherry trees are blooming and Americans are stuck indoors wrestling with their taxes. Forget, for a moment, whether marginal rates are too high or too low. The most serious problem facing taxpayers is complexity, says Nina Olson, who is the national taxpayer advocate—the head of a watchdog service created by Congress in 1996 and ignored ever since.

The federal tax code, which was 400 pages long in 1913, has swollen to about 70,000. Americans now spend 7.6 billion hours a year grappling with an incomprehensible tangle of deductions, loopholes and arcane reporting requirements. That is the equivalent of 3.8m skilled workers toiling full-time, year-round, just to handle the paperwork. By this measure, the tax-compliance industry is six times larger than car-making.
Every year, the national taxpayer advocate issues a report begging Congress to simplify the system. In her most recent one, published on December 31st, Ms Olson frets that she is repeating herself. She refers Congress to what she said the previous year. An incredible 82% of taxpayers are so flummoxed that they pay for help. Some 60% hire an accountant or tax preparer, while another 22% use tax software. She might have added that even the head of the Internal Revenue Service, Douglas Shulman, gets someone else to do his taxes.
President Barack Obama says he wants to simplify the tax code. But he has just added a ton of health-care-related provisions to the system. And even if he were zealous about simplification, he would find it hard.
Every wrinkle in the tax code represents a favour to some group. It could be a small group, such as loggers, or a huge one, such as homeowners. Politicians use the tax code to encourage things they like, such as driving hybrid cars, and to discourage things they don’t like, such as work. A typical loophole has passionate defenders but no opponents. Those who benefit from it, benefit a lot. Those who would gain from its repeal (ie, taxpayers in general), have never heard of it. So the mess gets ever messier. Happy April 15th.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rising Middle Class in China---Problem or Opportunity???

Two articles in ONE day in the same paper that refer to the rising middle class in China and the potential pent-up and/or new demand for not only domestic Chinese goods and services, but foreign goods and services as well (US goods/services??).  Where many see problems with China, I ask: Are there opportunities for American businesses to sell American made goods to them? Are smart companies doing this already?  Read below to find out...What do you think? Good, Bad, Indifferent??
WSJ: Diamond Traders See Sparkly Sales in China
ANTWERP, Belgium—This city's diamond district is recovering some of the shine it lost during the financial crisis thanks to a hungry new customer: China.  Exports of polished diamonds from Europe's diamond capital to China, including Hong Kong, increased 55% to $737 million in the first three months of 2010, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre said Tuesday.  That makes China the biggest buyer of diamonds from Antwerp, knocking the U.S., traditionally its largest customer, into second place.  The booming Chinese market, fueled by the world's fastest-growing middle class, is proving a strong antidote to slipping sales in more established markets like the U.S. and Europe. A recent report by consultants KPMG forecasts China will become the world's largest diamond market next year
WSJ: Starbucks Plans Big Expansion in China

 —Starbucks Corp. Chief Executive Howard Schultz said China is set to usurp Japan as its biggest market outside North America, as the coffee titan plans to open "thousands of stores" in China over time. He also said the Seattle-based chain was eager to crack the potentially lucrative Indian and Vietnamese markets, where it doesn't yet have a presence.  "Asia clearly represents the most significant growth opportunity on a go-forward basis," said Mr. Schultz, in an interview.  Starbucks has searched for new areas of growth following a deep retrenchment in the U.S. during the past year, which involved Starbucks closing hundreds of underperforming stores and shaving nearly $600 million of costs.  Mr. Schultz says the company has turned its fortunes around, allowing it to now shift its attention to international markets. In January, Starbucks reported its first quarter of same-store sales growth since the end of 2008.  But he said the company would plan its China growth carefully. "Over time there will be thousands of stores in China," said Mr. Schultz. "But it's a complicated market that requires significant discipline and thoughtfulness."  Despite its long presence in the Chinese market—Starbucks opened its first shop in Beijing in 1999—the coffee company has only 376 stores on the China mainland, compared with 878 in Japan. The retailer has more than 11,000 outlets in the U.S,

If you are a Musician---How many online plays do you need to make minumim wage..

I have NO knowledge of this issue, but thought it was interesting...Source: VisusalEconomics

Not using your cash? Well most others are not either...

Is Cash King?  This is British data, but I am supposing the American dollar would at least mirror the trend to a "cash-less", meaning less cash , used in basic transactions.  I know this would reflect my own hapits...How about you???

From ChartPorn: Coins and notes will be used in less than half of all transactions within five years after payments made by cash slumped from 73% to 59% over the past decade, according to new research.  The Payments Council says cash is "king no more" after a study of payment trends between 1999 and 2009 found debit card spending was now the most popular - quadrupling to £264bn last year. The council predicted in 1999 that just over one billion cheques would be used by individuals in 2009, but the figure in fact fell to 577m.  Cheques are proposed to be phased out completely by October 2018, although the council said even if no action was taken, the volumes would more than halve to just 248m in that time, making up just 0.8% of all personal payments made.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cat attacks stop mail in Britain!! Really, cat attacks stop mail delivery in Britain...

Can't make this up---Real live LOL cat!! Link also contains video of owner talking about it on TV...Cant understand a word she says... :)

From BBC: Leeds postal workers boycott house over cat attacks
Royal Mail has stopped deliveries to a house in Leeds after postal workers came under attack from an elderly cat.
Tiger is said to have scratched postal workers and chased them down the garden path at his home in High Bank Street, Farsley, over the past few weeks.
Owner Tracy Brayshaw, who must now pick up mail from the nearest sorting office, said the ban was "a bit silly".
She added: "We're talking about a 19-year-old geriatric cat here who likes lazing out in the sun."
Mrs Brayshaw, 43, a pharmacy dispenser, said the black-and-white cat slept for 20 hours a day but was always ready to pounce on unsuspecting staff.

'Not a monster'

She said: "There have been three incidents where Tiger's jumped through the cat flap and is said to have scratched a postie, so they've decided to suspend our post.
"He's never done anything like this before."
Mrs Brayshaw's daughter, Amy, 17, said: "Tiger sleeps, he drools when he sleeps and he likes climbing trees, but in the space of three weeks we've had our post banned because he has attacked the postman.
Tiger is said to like lying in the sun and climbing trees "Apparently he attacked one postman on the leg and on the arm and chased him down the garden path.
"He is very territorial but he's just an average cat really. We are all saying it's health and safety gone mad.
"He wakes up in the middle of the night meowing because he just wants some attention. He's not a monster."
In a statement Royal Mail said: "We are sorry for the inconvenience to Mrs Brayshaw and, as we want to resume delivery of mail to her address as quickly as possible, we're trying to agree a way to do this and avoid our employees suffering further nasty injuries, as has happened three times already."

Facebook Panic Buttons---Is this a good idea???

Is this a good idea???

Facebook urged to add panic button at meeting with Ceop
Facebook has been urged to add "panic buttons" to its pages by the head of a British child protection agency at a meeting in Washington DC.  Facebook has been criticised by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre for not having "panic buttons" on every page.  Ceop's director Jim Gamble said the matter was urgent after the murder of a teenager by a man she met on the site. Facebook has said it takes the issue seriously and welcomed the meeting.  Speaking after the four-hour meeting, Mr Gamble said Facebook was "one small step from doing the right thing" but had not agreed to his demands outright.  

Who possess Nukes and in what quantities??

Nice graph of the estimate of nuclear weapons and which countries possess them. Stay informed on this important issue!
• All numbers are estimates because exact numbers are top secret.
• Strategic nuclear warheads are designed to target cities, missile locations and military headquarters as part of a strategic plan.

Shortage of Doctors projected...Demand and Supply---It is taught in Introductory Econ classes...

Medical Schools Can't Keep Up
As Ranks of Insured Expand, Nation Faces Shortage of 150,000 Doctors in 15 Years
The new federal health-care law has raised the stakes for hospitals and schools already scrambling to train more doctors. 
Experts warn there won't be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the law. At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
That shortfall is predicted despite a push by teaching hospitals and medical schools to boost the number of U.S. doctors, which now totals about 954,000. 
The greatest demand will be for primary-care physicians. These general practitioners, internists, family physicians and pediatricians will have a larger role under the new law, coordinating care for each patient....A shortage of primary-care and other physicians could mean more-limited access to health care and longer wait times for patients.
However, there is some help on the way...
Proponents of the new health-care law say it does attempt to address the physician shortage. The law offers sweeteners to encourage more people to enter medical professions, and a 10% Medicare pay boost for primary-care doctors.

What is inside??? Cost of Component Parts of an I-PAD...

 Click HERE forNYTIMES interactive on the omponent parts of an I-PAD ...Interesting breakdown of cost to make an I-PAD...Cited are variable costs of producing an I-PAD and not fixed costs and Opportunity Costs.  They note many costs (see yellow bold) incurred in production are not included in their estimates, but are costs of producing none-the-less.
What’s an iPad Cost to Build?


What satisfies serious techies more than taking a brand-new iPad out of its box?
Taking it apart.
The techies at iSuppli make a living out of doing just that, and they’ve determined that your $499 Apple tablet has components that are worth about $260.
The priciest part of the iPad is its touch-screen display and assembly, which they estimated costs $95. The 9.7-inch display is supplied by a number of vendors, including LG Display of South Korea. The processing chip, manufactured by Samsung under Apple’s direction and known as the A4, is $26.80 and the customized aluminum case for the back of the device added another $10.50.
As is usual with estimates by the market research company, R.&D. costs, distribution, advertising, packaging and software aren’t factored in.
iSuppli estimated that the 32GB iPad, which sells for $599, includes $289.10 in materials, while the $699, top-of-the-line 64GB Wi-Fi iPad has $348.10 worth.
Andrew Rassweiler of iSuppli, who supervised the tear-down of the product, wrote that the iPad “represents a new paradigm” in the way that electronics are produced.
“Conventional notebook PCs are ‘motherboard-centric,’ with all the other functions in the system — such as the display, the keyboard and audio — peripheral to the central microprocessor and the main Printed Circuit Board (P.C.B.) at the core,” he wrote. “With the iPad, this is reversed. Everything is human-machine-interface-centric, with the P.C.B. and Integrated Circuits (I.C.’s) all there to facilitate the display of content as well as user inputs.”
In other words, it’s user-friendly.

KFC has gone TOO FAR---Even for me...

I have to think that KFC will re-think this when the negative publicity catches on...Even for ME, this is too much and I have some low standards when it comes to ridiculusly fattening food...
Instead of the expected chicken filling, the Double Down sticks two different kinds of cheese—pepper jack and a mystery variety created by the devil himself to win souls and punish humanity by inciting a massive wave of gluttony-induced heart attacks—bacon (yes, bacon), and something called “The Colonel’s Sauce” between two fried, breaded chicken-breast patties. (The Colonel’s Sauce, incidentally, only sounds like a crude euphemism for ejaculate.) [Editor’s note: The mystery second cheese claims to be Swiss.]

College Degrees earned by Males and Females---Who majors in different fields...

Interesting data from Mark Perry...
New data were recently released by the Department of Education for college degrees awarded for the 2007-2008 academic year by sex and field of study, and those data are summarized in the two tables above. Some interesting points:
1. Engineering and computer science remain the two most male-dominated fields, at all levels (bachelor's, master's and doctor's).

2. Women earn almost as many degrees in mathematics as men at the undergraduate (44.1%) and master's level (42.6%), but earn significantly fewer 31% at the doctoral level.

3. At the Master's level, women earn more degrees than men in 10 out of the 17 fields.

4. At the First Professional Level, women earn significantly more of the degrees in Optometry (66%), Pharmacy (66%), veterinary medicine (77%) and naturopathic medicine (80%).

5. Medicine, dentistry, osteopathic medicine, podiatry, and law degrees are pretty balanced between men and women, and men earn significantly more chiropractic degrees than women.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Most innovative companies?? Anyone left out??

Does this reflect YOUR budget at College?? Inquiring minds want to know..

A nice graphic for a teacher, parent or student to get some idea as to the cost of college. I cant attest to the accuracy of this chart, but seems about right...What do you think
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