Author Archive

Study: Stonehenge might have been “ancient calculator”

August 22, 2016
posted by

AOL News    

"The mystery behind the fascinating standing circle of Stonehenge has intrigued scientists and tourists alike for ages. But in a new study, researchers believe that Stonehenge may have been an 'ancient calculator' used to track the movements of the sun, moon and stars thousands of years ago. Australian Scientists compared the ancient ruins to those of other stone structures in the UK and found the stones were placed in relation to celestial bodies." (08/21/16)

http://www.aol.com/article/2016/08/20/study-finds-stonehenge-might-have-been-an-ancient-calculator/21455664  

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DEA wins battle but losing the war on cannabis

August 21, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Gabrielle Gurley  

"The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s refusal to decontrol marijuana has raised the hackles of doctors, patient advocacy groups, cannabis entrepreneurs, and potheads almost everywhere. Under the agency’s recent directive, marijuana remains an illegal, controlled substance like heroin and LSD that has no medical value. But unlike most federal regulations, the DEA move will have little to no effect on state-level marijuana politics. Since Colorado and Washington state green-lighted recreational marijuana in 2012, the DEA has gotten swamped by a tidal wave of legalization campaigns across the country for recreational and medical marijuana." (08/19/16)

http://prospect.org/article/dea-wins-battle-losing-war-marijuana  

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Is “Big Marijuana” inevitable?

August 21, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Ryan Stoa  

"In November, voters in as many as 12 states will see a marijuana legalization initiative on their ballots. Marijuana is already legal for recreational use in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. Another 25 states have legalized medical marijuana. The era of marijuana prohibition is rapidly coming to a close. Unfortunately, lawmakers lack easy answers to tough questions facing the marijuana industry. Legalization presents challenges on a number of fronts, including distribution, taxation, consumption, security and public health. In a recent article, I argue that the agricultural sector of the marijuana industry also presents a number of challenges. One paramount question looms over the rest: Will marijuana agriculture become consolidated, with 'Big Marijuana' companies producing vast quantities of indistinct marijuana? Or, will small-scale farmers thrive by producing unique and local marijuana strains? My research shows that Big Marijuana is not inevitable. On the contrary, a local, sustainable, small-scale farming future is entirely within reach." (08/19/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/136172/big-marijuana-inevitable  

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Report: Trump companies owe $650 million

August 21, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"Companies belonging to Donald Trump have at least $650 million in debt, more than twice the amount shown in public filings made by his presidential campaign, the New York Times reported Saturday. The paper employed a property information firm to search publicly available data on more than 30 US properties connected to the Republican candidate, including offices and golf courses. In addition to the $650 million liabilities, “a substantial portion of his wealth is tied up in three passive partnerships that owe an additional $2 billion to a string of lenders,” the Times said about debt that could significantly affect Trump’s wealth. The billionaire tycoon campaigns on what he says is his spectacularly successful real estate record, claiming to be worth $10 billion and citing his business acumen as his major qualification for the presidency. However, he has dismissed mounting pressure even from within his own party to disclose his tax returns or allow an independent valuation of his assets." (08/20/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/08/trump-companies-owe-650-million-ny-times  

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CT: High court sides with employee fired for smoking pot at work

August 21, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"A Connecticut state worker fired after he was caught smoking marijuana on the job was punished too harshly and should get his job back, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday. Gregory Linhoff was fired from his maintenance job at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington in 2012 after a police officer caught him smoking pot in a state-owned vehicle. He had no previous disciplinary problems since being hired in 1998 and had received favorable job evaluations, according to his union. He was arrested, but the charges were later dismissed. State officials said firing the New Hartford resident was the only appropriate penalty for his conduct and not doing so would send a bad message to other employees. An arbitrator disagreed and overturned the firing, saying Linhoff instead should be suspended without pay for six months and be subject to random drug testing for a year after he returned to work." (08/20/16)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Court-reinstates-state-worker-fired-for-smoking-9173096.php  

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Who fears the lady in the burkini?

August 21, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by John Lloyd  

"In Europe, however beset by the continued weakness of the euro, Britain’s vote to defect from the European Union and the rise of the far right, a vacation is a right for oneself, a duty to one’s family. In Italy, especially, the beach doesn't just beckon -- it commands attendance. On the beach, Italians and tourists doze, chat, leaf through magazines, minister to the old folks, play with, or shoo away, the kids, and at times take a dip in an almost-warm sea. But, as Corriere della Sera's commentator Beppe Severgnini observed, it's a summer composed of sun and insecurity, fun and fear. Italy's peninsula isn't just seductive for natives and visitors; it is also for the migrants who continue to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean to get to a country that has, till now, remained relatively calm about the influx. It even welcomed them -- perhaps heeding Pope Francis' passionate plea for tolerance toward immigrants. That toleration is breaking down now, however, out of a growing fear that agents of Islamic State lurk among the migrants, ready to unleash more terror on a European state that has suffered relatively little." (08/19/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-terrorism-burkini-commentary-idUSKCN10U1XE  

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UK: Mother & children nearly charged $10,000 for Burger King meal

August 21, 2016
posted by

AOL News    

"When you go to a fast-food chain, you expect that the meal won't break the bank. One family in the U.K., however, received a huge shock when their meal at Burger King cost more than even one at a high-end restaurants: the bill reportedly came out to $10,000. 51-year-old mother Elbie Todd says she was at the Luton Airport in London, England, seeing her son off for a trip. She and her two children ordered burgers, fries, chili bites and drinks -- which should have come to around £10, or $13. Todd's card declined the purchase, however, which embarrassed her. ... The Burger King employee redid the transaction, but Todd did not want to risk using her card. She and her two children, 29-year-old Wendy and 28-year-old Robbie, scrambled together £10 cash for the purchase. She then asked for the receipt of the declined transaction; the cashier scrunched it up, but she demanded it. When Todd got home, she discovered that she was not charged £10 for the meal, but £10,000, or $13,000. 'I went ice cold,' she said. She then called her bank, who told her that they declined the charge because it was unusually large." (08/20/16)

http://www.aol.com/article/2016/08/19/mother-and-children-charged-over-10-000-for-burger-king-meal/21455041/?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000058&  

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Free speech of the 21st century

August 18, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds  

"What is the status of free speech in the 21st Century? I'd say that speech is freer, but people are not. On the one hand, it's easier than ever for people to share their thoughts. I started my blog, InstaPundit, over 15 years ago, when new online platforms made it really easy to run a weblog (we still mostly called them 'me-zines' back then) without having to fiddle with things like DreamWeaver and FTP. Now, while lots of people still have blogs, other platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, InstaGram, etc. make it even easier to express yourself. (And if hyperlocal expression is your thing, there's always YikYak.) So the old gag line that 'freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one' is out of date. Or, maybe it's a case of back-to-the-future here: In Colonial times, a printing press was a comparatively inexpensive investment before newspaper publication became an industrial scale operation." (08/18/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/18/free-speech-citizens-united-obama-twitter-glenn-reynolds/88893556  

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Trump gives himself a new nickname: Mr. Brexit

August 18, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"The king of nicknames has given one to himself. On Thursday, Donald Trump cryptically tweeted that soon people will be calling him 'Mr. Brexit!' ... Brexit is an abbreviation for 'British exit' and refers to the referendum that was approved by voters in June for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The approval of the referendum (which Trump supported) came as a surprise to many. While it is not immediately clear what Trump is referring to in his tweet, he could be talking about a comeback of sorts. Trump is currently behind Hillary Clinton in every national poll and in polls of battleground states." (08/18/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/08/18/trump-gives-himself-new-nickname-mr-brexit/88947110  

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So who fact-checks the fact-checkers?

August 18, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders  

"In 2009, the fact-checking organization PolitiFact, run by the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times), won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the 2008 election. But I don't think PolitiFact is likely to emerge from 2016 with its credibility intact. A recent NBC News poll shows that a mere 11 percent of voters would describe Clinton as 'honest and trustworthy.' Yet in a complete repudiation of public sentiment, PolitiFact's rating for Hillary Clinton finds her statements are true or mostly true half the time, half-true 22 percent of the time and false or mostly false 26 percent of the time -- but 'pants-on-fire' false 2 percent of the time. Donald Trump did not fare so well. PolitiFact rated 19 percent of his statements 'pants-on-fire' false. Given Trump's cavalier approach to facts, I assume he earned the bad rating. But I cannot say the same for Clinton and PolitiFact's generous assessment of her veracity." (08/18/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/08/18/so-who-factchecks-the-factcheckers-n2206793  

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ID: Antlers taken by Hunter S. Thompson return to Hemingway home

August 18, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson went to Idaho to write about literary icon Ernest Hemingway and decided to take a piece of his hero home with him — a set of trophy elk antlers. More than half a century later, the antlers have been returned. 'One of the stories that has often been told over the years is the story of Hunter S. Thompson taking the antlers,' said Jenny Emery Davidson of Ketchum Community Library. 'These are two great literary figures who came together over the item of the antlers.' Davidson was there on Aug. 5 when Thompson's widow, Anita Thompson, gave back the antlers she says her husband regretted taking. Hemingway's house in Ketchum is owned by The Nature Conservancy, which has an agreement with the library to help catalog and preserve items in the residence where the author took his life." (08/18/16)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Antlers-taken-by-Hunter-S-Thompson-return-to-9170664.php  

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The anti-democratic urge

August 18, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Astra Taylor  

"Not all that long ago, everybody seemed to be cheering the rowdy resurgence of democracy. Social media was hailed for making our politics more inclusive and participatory. Opinion makers were praising “the wisdom of crowds” and the creativity of the 'hive mind.' Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party uprising had unleashed a flowering of political protest, from left and right, that America hadn’t seen in decades. We were entering a fascinating, albeit messy, new age of political contestation -- of protesters, hackers, whistle-blowers, rioters, and radical challenges to both Republican and Democratic politics as usual. But over the past few months, this revival of democratic spirit appears to have worn out its welcome. The crowd is quickly being reconfigured back into its historical double, the mob. And the hive is increasingly viewed, by liberals and conservatives alike, as a hornet’s nest, a threat to democracy itself." (08/18/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/135757/anti-democratic-urge  

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Harley-Davidson to pay $12 million fine over motorcycle emissions

August 18, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"Harley-Davidson Inc agreed to pay a $12 million civil fine and stop selling illegal after-market devices that cause its motorcycles to emit too much pollution, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday. The settlement resolves government allegations that Harley sold roughly 340,000 'super tuners' enabling motorcycles since 2008 to pollute the air at levels greater than what the Milwaukee-based company certified to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the government, the sale of such 'defeat devices' violates the federal Clean Air Act. Harley was also accused of selling more than 12,600 motorcycles that were not covered by an EPA certification governing clean air compliance. The settlement calls for Harley to stop selling the super tuners by Aug. 23, and buy back and destroy all such tuners in stock at its dealerships. EPA said the modified settings increase power and performance, but also increase the motorcycles’ emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides." (08/18/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-harley-davidson-lawsuit-idUSKCN10T1JP  

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Will the “Fix the Debt” manipulators ever reform themselves?

August 18, 2016
posted by

Richard Eskow Our Future
by Richard Eskow  

"I’ll say this for them: The Wall Street billionaires and corporate CEOs behind the 'Campaign to Fix the Debt' have a lot of nerve. Once again they’re using cheap scare tactics, along with some manipulative 'nudging,' to drum up support for cutting Social Security benefits. The money behind the latest scare campaign ('How Old Will You Be When Social Security’s Funds Run Out?') also funds a TV ad that shows jobs, teachers, and roads and bridges vanishing, supposedly because the national debt wasn’t brought under control. That’s pretty cynical, since their own ideas have led to lost jobs, teacher layoffs, and a lack of funds to repair roads and bridges." (08/18/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160818/will-the-fix-the-debt-tricksters-ever-reform-themselves  

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Scientists: Bronze Age “brain surgeons” used cannabis, ‘shrooms & dancing as painkillers

August 18, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"Evidence of ancient surgery found in Siberia is causing feverish speculation about the nature of Bronze Age painkillers. This article was originally published by The Influence, a news site that covers the full spectrum of human relationships with drugs. Follow The Influence on Facebook or Twitter. A 3,000-year-old skull (found in the 'Nefteprovod 2' burial ground at the Anzhevsky archeological site near the city of Kansk in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region) shows markings that indicate some form of brain surgery. The individual was aged between 30 and 40, a fairly decent age by Bronze Age standards, when he died. What makes the skull remarkable is that though the man probably died from eventual complications of surgery, he did live long enough afterwards for the bone to start healing and for skin to cover the hole." [editor's note: I'm not sure how they came to this conclusion, since evidence of the substances would be long gone ... and how do they get "dancing" on the list? - SAT] [additional editor's note: Maybe they found pairs of tap shoes and leg warmers near the drug residue? - TLK] (08/18/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/08/scientists-think-bronze-age-brain-surgeons-used-cannabis-shrooms-and-dancing-as-painkillers  

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Want to expand Social Security? Look north

August 18, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Daniel Block  

"To American progressives, this retirement story should sound familiar. After decades of pension cutbacks and declining unionization, many retiring seniors depend increasingly on underfunded government-run programs. Amid rising inequality, some wealthy seniors can afford to retire, while others must keep working lest they lose their toehold in the middle class. The notion that seniors are entitled to a comfortable retirement is fading, and fast. But this retirement security saga is unfolding not in the United States, but in Canada. The difference is that Canada, which confronts virtually all the same problems that plague the U.S., has decided to act. On June 20, Canada’s federal and provincial governments agreed to expand what’s known as the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), a program analogous to American Social Security and one of three in Canada that supports retirees. The agreement, which officials expect to finalize by the end of the summer, could add thousands of dollars to the yearly retirement incomes of Canadian workers." [editor's note: No, look to a "floor" on FICA, as part of a true reform - SAT] (08/18/16)

http://prospect.org/article/want-expand-social-security-look-north  

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CA: Gun rights advocates file suit challenging open carry restrictions

August 18, 2016
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"Gun-rights advocates filed a sweeping new legal challenge Wednesday to California’s open-carry restrictions -- arguing a recent court decision effectively denies residents 'their fundamental rights to bear arms' and contradicts a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment. Plaintiffs say the case, Flanagan v. Harris, is a 'direct response' to a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that preserved a California county sheriff’s restrictive policies on carrying a concealed weapon. Considering the state’s additional restrictions on carrying a gun openly in public, plaintiffs argued in their new lawsuit that they have been 'completely barred from exercising their right to bear arms, in any manner.' The suit contends, 'the Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms cannot be completely foreclosed.' The plaintiffs include gun owner and resident Michelle Flanagan as well as the California Rifle & Pistol Association." (08/18/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/18/gun-rights-advocates-file-suit-challenging-california-open-carry-restrictions.html  

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Report: US to end federal use of private prisons

August 18, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The US Justice Department will phase out use of privately owned prisons, citing safety concerns. Contracts with 13 private prisons will be reviewed and and allowed to expire over the next five years. 'They do not save substantially on costs and ... they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,' Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said explaining the decision. The majority of US prisoners are held in state-run prisons. On Wall Street, the stocks of private prison companies declined sharply after the news was announced. By Thursday afternoon, Corrections Corp stock had plunged by nearly 50%." (08/18/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37124183  

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Can there be a party of the Left in Britain?

August 18, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Jane Miller  

"We may be watching the Labour Party’s death throes. It gets harder by the day to recall that heady time less than 20 years ago when Labour won the General Election (after 18 years of Tory rule) with a huge majority. So what’s happened? Paradoxically, given its title, Richard Seymour’s Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics charts a history of the party’s decline. It’s a long story of successful efforts by the Labour Party establishment to keep its left wing under control and as far as possible from power. Under Tony Blair, the party was firmly centre-right. Yes, there were a few improvements on welfare and taxation, but Blair was in thrall to Thatcherism, and his government did little to reduce inequality and nothing to return privatised industries and utilities to public ownership. Manufacturing had taken an enormous blow under Thatcher, as had unions. Neither revived under Blair. Some say it was Blair’s 2003 decision to join Bush in invading Iraq and the war’s disastrous aftermath, followed by 'the expenses scandal' (MPs were caught getting fat at the public trough) that inspired this country’s current scepticism about politics, as demonstrated by the fact that the electorate has shrunk across all parties." (08/18/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19368/can-there-be-a-party-of-the-left-in-britain  

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Hillary Clinton, the silly putty of American politics

August 18, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"Hillary Clinton entered the 2016 primaries as both the Democratic Party's likely next president and, incongruously enough, the living symbol of a past that liberals were eager to relegate to history's dustbin. She was the Wall Street Democrat facing the rise of economic populism; the tough-on-crime stalwart amid an invigorated movement for criminal justice reform; the gung-ho free trader at a time when nearly two-thirds of Americans think trade deals need to be restricted. She was just so '90s. Sixteen months later, Clinton has been reborn as a paragon of twenty-first-century liberalism. She's the Democratic nominee running on the boldest platform the party has put forth since 1972. And after their made-for-TV display of party unity in Philadelphia, the Democrats are stuck with her, for better or worse, in scandal or in health. But as happens in all marriages of convenience, the second thoughts are beginning to set in." (08/16/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/135756/hillary-clinton-silly-putty-american-politics  

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The myth of the surgical strike

August 18, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Vijay Prashad  

"From Afghanistan to Libya, the adversaries of the West seem undaunted by Western bombardment. The Taliban advances towards Lashkar Gar in Helmand Province (Afghanistan), while groups such as the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries and even ISIS hold their ground in central and eastern Libya. The advantage of the West and its allies (Saudi Arabia and Israel) is its dominance of the skies. None of the groups (neither the Taliban nor ISIS) has an air force or serious ground-to-air capacity. They are at the mercy of the high-altitude bombers (including drones) that can fly over their terrain and hit them at will. But this aerial advantage has a limited ability. It can destroy identifiable targets: what its people on the ground or its eyes in the sky can see. This is possible. What is less possible is to obliterate (without major civilian casualties) the guerrilla fighters on the ground." (08/17/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19394/the-futility-of-air-strikes-in-the-war-on-terror  

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Liberals have wrong fears about Hillary’s #NeverTrump outreach

August 18, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Brian Beutler  

"Conservative efforts to portray Hillary Clinton as unusually nefarious have steered the GOP into political cul-de-sacs, from Vince Foster to the Benghazi Committee. Republicans have built up such a vast anti-Clinton hate debt that they’ve become incapable of acknowledging that Clinton is a largely conventional, mainstream politician. Doing so, after all, would reveal the underlying fraud to their voters. Donald Trump is changing all that. For the first time since Clinton was secretary of state, and members of both parties spoke of her admiringly, Republicans are once again able to praise her, or at least vouch for her competence. In fact, more and more Republicans with real clout in conservative politics are announcing they will support Clinton in November, to guard against Trump’s becoming president as a kind of side effect of Clinton derangement syndrome." (08/17/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/136102/liberals-wrong-fears-hillarys-nevertrump-outreach  

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Why voting systems must be as secure as the US power grid

August 18, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Karen Hobert Flynn & Pamela Smith  

"Every American has the right to have their vote counted. The Department of Homeland Security is weighing steps to help safeguard that right. The agency is considering actions to secure the voting process against cyber-threats by designating voting systems as 'critical infrastructure.' In a democracy, our voting systems are critical infrastructure like our power grids, hospital systems and nuclear power plants. The U.S. government maintains its authority based on the consent of the governed. The revelation that hackers, possibly sponsored by Russia, illegally entered the computer system of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as well as that of the Democratic National Committee, and monitored email activity for more than one year shows the vulnerability of the U.S. political infrastructure. Emails of members of Congress were also hacked." [editor's note: This one's only concerned with who hacked the game, and not how the DNC stole their nomination, so the voters never got to support the candidate they wanted - SAT] (08/17/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-security-internet-voting-commentary-idUSKCN10S08G  

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San Jose’s “Opportunity to Work” initiative gets big endorsement

August 17, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted this week to endorse Silicon Valley Rising‘s City of San Jose Opportunity to Work Initiative. If passed by voters, the initiative would require employers to offer additional work hours to their part-time employees before hiring more part-time or temporary workers. This enables workers to earn enough to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families. (Or as George W. Bush once said, to 'put food on your family.') It looks like the initiative will pass. A poll released by EMC Research says the initiative is supported by more than three-quarters of San Jose voters." [editor's note: The downside for some smaller companies is pretty obvious - SAT] (08/17/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160817/san-joses-opportunity-to-work-initiative-gets-big-endorsement  

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Fed minutes show rate hike could come “soon”

August 17, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"The Fed's minutes from its July 26-27 meeting revealed a subtle shift in the central bank's stance indicating a hike in short-term interest rates is increasingly likely. 'They (members of Federal Open Market Committee) judged that another increase in the federal funds rate was or would soon be warranted,' according to the notes. If the Fed were to make a move in its upcoming September meeting, that would be its first hike to short-term interest rates this year. Stocks were stable on the news as investors focused on the Fed's increased faith in the strength of the economy, but also the fact that the Fed still seems torn on taking an interest rate move. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 4.89 to 18547, which was an improvement from earlier in the day." (08/17/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2016/08/17/fed-minutes-show-rate-hike-could-come-soon/88895726  

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