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6 March 2008

Why A Billion People Need a Stronger U.S.-UN Partnership


Why A Billion People Need a Stronger U.S.-UN Partnership
Posted by John Boonstra at 12:53 PM

Last week, former UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland penned a column in The Huffington Post arguing that, while the living situations of most human beings in the world have been improving over the last two decades, an impoverished underclass of one billion people still lives in deplorable conditions. Egeland, a veteran of disaster and war areas from Colombia to Darfur, issues a call to arms for the world's richest countries: make combating global poverty a priority, or risk not only moral hypocrisy, but also the danger of antagonizing an entire substratum of the global population.

To address this festering problem, Egeland proposes a renewed commitment to international cooperation, with an emphasis on improving the relationship between the UN and the United States. As we have noted here and elsewhere, the U.S. has significantly shortchanged humanitarian and peacekeeping imperatives in favor of beefing up its defense spending. Egeland puts the contrast in these priorities in stark terms:

Every year since the invasion in 2003 America has spent six times more in Iraq alone than the United Nations system has had to invest on all peace, human rights, relief, development and environmental efforts around the globe. The annual 120 billion dollars spent in Iraq is nearly twenty times more than the cost of all the successful UN humanitarian and peace-making operations in Angola, the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Northern Uganda, the Middle East and East Timor combined. The cost of unilateralism and effectiveness of multilateralism is not known to the American tax-payer, or to UN member states.
To strengthen Egeland's last point, it bears reminding that UN peacekeeping has been shown to be eight times cheaper -- as well as more effective -- than comparable U.S.-led missions.

Barrington Irving-Youngest Person in History to do Round-The-World Solo Flight

You may have come across this event a while ago. Barrington flew around the world on his own in Spring of 2007, and set the record as the youngest person in history to accomplish that. In keeping with Black History Month, here's some info on the record setting flight. There are less than a 100 people in history that have done it. In the whole history of aviation!! Only 73 people who have done a solo! ...MORE

5 March 2008

Videos of Bill Strickland


Working from Home-Not!


Although working from home has been expanding steadily, some chinks are appearing in the trend. A few big promoters of home-based and mobile-office work arrangements, including AT&T, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and parts of the federal government, have called some home-based workers back to the office, causing some to quit. The callbacks are small and don't reflect a full retrenchment, but the factors at work -- a push to consolidate operations, and the notion that teamwork improves when people work face-to-face -- suggest other employers might follow suit as recession clouds loom...MORE

China’s Killer “Yellow Dust” Hits Korea, Japan, Schools Closed

China's Killer "Yellow Dust" Hits Korea, Japan, Schools Closed
By Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, March 3, 2008-
SEOUL, March 3 (Reuters) - South Korea closed schools on Monday and its factories producing memory chips stepped up safeguards, as a choking pall of sand mixed with toxic dust from China covered most of the country and other parts of Asia.
The annual "yellow dust" spring storms, which originate in China's Gobi Desert before sweeping south to envelop the Korean peninsula and parts of Japan, are blamed for scores of deaths and billions of dollars in damage every year in South Korea.
It issued a yellow dust warning at the weekend. On Monday, school districts in southeastern regions urged parents to keep kindergarten and elementary school children at home...MORE

Pop City - Pittsburgh Innovates


CMU, Pitt and Black Colleges Collaborate to Promote Robotics and Computer Sciences
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: David Touretzky, CMU
CMU, University of Pittsburgh and five other research universities have joined forces with eight historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in a collaborative project to promote robotics and computer science education for African-American students.

The Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact (ARTSI) Alliance grew out of an earlier successful collaboration between Andrew Williams, associate professor at Spelman College, and David Touretzky, research professor of computer science at CMU, which established robotics education labs at Spelman and three other HBCUs.

The alliance is funded by a $2 M grant from the National Science Foundation. The program will provide research quality robots to some of the schools for the first time, as well as develop programs, research workshops, conferences and a web portal to encourage African American students at both the K-12 and college level to pursue careers in the sciences.

“ARTSI is an incredibly exciting project,” explains Touretzky. “It's not just about teaching robotics to a small number of HBCU students; it's about demonstrating to the entire nation that there is an African American computer science community doing fun and interesting work with robots and inviting more African Americans to join them.”

ARTSI Goals:
  • Increase the number of African Americans who study computer science and robotics in college, and encourage them to pursue advanced training in graduate school.
  • Increase the number of HBCU faculty who educate students in robotics and involve students in robotics research.
  • Recruit K-12 and HBCU students to pursue computer science and robotics education.
  • BROADER IMPACTS of the ARTSI Alliance
  • Promoting role modeling and mentoring for HBCU faculty and students in robotics education and research.
  • Creating a nation-wide resource and learning community of African Americans involved in robotics, and increasing public awareness of their work.
  • Enlarging the audience of students who find robotics computing careers attractive.

African-Americans now account for just 4.8 percent of almost two million U.S. computer and information scientists, a job category that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will be among the fastest growing occupations over the next decade.

Let this be a Lesson to...?


Since last July, Federal authorities have boarded planes at Houston's
Bush Intercontinental Airport and removed and arrested at least five
people as illegal immigrants. Nice work, you say? Well, it seems these
five had boarded planes in order to get out of the U.S. and go back home
to Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador. Federal public defenders in
Houston are calling it a waste of money and resources. But U.S. attorney
Don DeGabrielle said that if authorities allowed illegal immigrants to
leave without punishing them, it would undermine government efforts to
control the border. He described the five as repeat violators of U.S.
immigration laws. "We feel it's definitely worth the resources to hold
these people accountable," he said. But assistant federal pubic defender
Michael Herman said, "They are self-deporting, but they wind up in
shackles and chains when these people have . . . heeded the cry of the
public for them to leave."
Source: The Houston Chronicle 2/25/08

4 March 2008

Vocational Training v. College Degrees


Vocational Training v. College Degrees

Although vocational training can be completed in less time than it takes to finish a college degree, in some fields the earnings of vocational training grads rival those of degree holders.

In a press release for the U.S. Census Bureau, Robert Bernstein states, “Workers who held vocational certificates in engineering averaged about $3,880 a month, which is nearly the same as those with bachelor’s degrees in natural science.”

As for time commitments, "On average, students took more than a year to complete vocational programs, more than four years to complete associate’s degrees and more than five years to complete bachelor’s degrees." Source: More Education Pays Off, As Do Certain Fields of Training.

The bottom line: if you're thinking of returning to school and don't have a lot of time or money, vocational training is worth considering...More

3 March 2008

Study Finds Sharp Math, Science ,Skills Help Expand Economy

Study Finds Sharp Math, Science ,Skills Help Expand Economy
SOURCE:  Wall Street Journal
March 3, 2008; Page A2
The U.S. "has had this very naive assumption that if you just pour more inputs into education then you'll get more output," said William Easterly, an economics professor at New York University who wasn't involved in the study. But he said it could be a leap to conclude that cognitive skills could yield a specific level of economic growth.

Because so many macroeconomic factors affect GDP, it is difficult to determine the precise impact of any one of them, he said. In the U.S., nearly every state develops its own curriculum, and while math curricula tend to be more standardized, science varies greatly. In some school districts, children rarely encounter science in elementary school, said Gerald Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, which is based in Arlington, Va...MORE

NPR: Offshoring Doubles, But Political Focus on Retraining Workers


Offshoring Doubles, But Political Focus on Retraining Workers
Listen Now
Morning Edition, March 3, 2008 · As the presidential candidates talk about trade and the economy, U.S. businesses continue to send jobs overseas. Offshoring has doubled since the last election, but political concern seems to have waned. NPR's Renee Montagne talks to Kate O'Sullivan, CFO Magazine senior writer.

BBC NEWS| Tories planning new prison places


"A criminal goes to court - they are told they have got a four year sentence and they are let out after two, so everybody feels cheated.
"We are going to change that and say the judge should read out what we call the 'min-max'.
"And then the prisoner has to earn release through good behaviour, through hard work, through making reparations to their victims."
He added: "The real emphasis on it is actually turning prisons into places not where we just warehouse prisoners and bang them up for 23 hours a day in their cell.
"But they should be places of work, of rehabilitation and of reparation, so that the work prisoners do do, means that they can pay money back to their victims - these are really important policies."

2 March 2008

Marginal Revolution: Is federalism unfair to urbanites?


Is federalism unfair to urbanites?
Ed Glaeser writes:

Poor people come to cities because urban areas offer economic opportunity, better social services, and the chance to get by without an automobile. Yet the sheer numbers of urban poor make it more costly to provide basic city services, like education and safety, and those costs are borne by the city's more prosperous residents. Taking care of America's poor should be the responsibility of all Americans. When we ask urban residents to pick up the tab for educating the urban poor, then we are imposing an unfair tax on those residents. That tax artificially restricts the growth of our dynamic cities...MORE

Gun Crazy - New York Times


A short, smart public safety agenda would include:
¶ Requiring background checks for every gun purchase. That means closing the egregious loophole that permits unlicensed dealers to sell firearms at gun shows without conducting any background check.

¶ Limiting purchases to one gun a month in order to defeat traffickers who use straw purchasers to buy weapons in bulk and then resell them on the street.

¶ Once again banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used by the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University killers. These magazines would have been outlawed under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, but President Bush and the Republican Congress recklessly let it expire in 2004 to please the gun lobby...MORE

Russians Vote for New President - New York Times

Published: March 2, 2008
MOSCOW (AP) -- Vladimir Putin congratulated his hand-picked successor on his
apparent presidential election victory Sunday and said the win would guarantee the
continuity of the course Putin set for Russia...MORE

T-Bone "To Da River" from Fighting Temptations


Get your Glory on!


SOURCE:  Wired News - AP News
"To live among people, robots need to handle complex social tasks,"
said project leader Junichi Takeno of Meiji University. "Robots will need
to work with emotions, to understand and eventually feel them.

BBC NEWS | UK |Double backing for ban on airguns


The mother of two-year-old Andrew Morton, who was shot in Glasgow, has presented a 11,000 name petition in support of Tommy Sheridan's bill.
It proposes to ban airguns except for specific and licensed use.
Mr Sheridan welcomed the support of the family and the FBU, whose members have been targets for airgun misuse...MORE

Guns are Our Friends

Who'da thunk? Guns best crime deterrent after all.
SOURCE:  Posted: February 28, 2008
9:53 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

"Guns save lives," the brief said. "In the hands of law-abiding citizens, guns provide very substantial public safety benefits. In all 50 states – but not the District – it is lawful to use firearms for defense against home invaders. The legal ownership of firearms for home defense is an important reason why the American rate of home invasion burglaries is far lower than in countries which prohibit or discourage home handgun defense."...MORE


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