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Gender: Male
Hometown: City of Angels
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 6,358

Journal Archives

Venezuela Drifts Into New Territory: Hunger, Blackouts and Government Shutdown

The courts? Closed most days. The bureau to start a business? Same thing. The public defenderís office? Thatís been converted into a food bank for government employees.

Step by step, Venezuela has been shutting down.

This country has long been accustomed to painful shortages, even of basic foods. But Venezuela keeps drifting further into uncharted territory.

In recent weeks, the government has taken what may be one of the most desperate measures ever by a country to save electricity: A shutdown of many of its offices for all but two half-days each week.


Venezuela extends shortened workweek decree for public sector

Venezuela's government on Saturday extended by two weeks a decree reducing the public sector workweek to Mondays and Tuesdays in a bid to tackle the oil-rich country's electricity crisis.

The enforced leave was first announced in late April, a drastic move for a government also grappling with an economic crisis that has Venezuelans queuing for hours to buy scarce supplies.

President Nicolas Maduro's administration blames the power shortage on a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, which it says has caused water used by the country's hydroelectric plants to run low.

The authorities had hoped rain would replenish reservoirs while the restrictions were in place.


SpaceX lands another rocket after satellite delivery

Source: AP

SpaceX pulled off another rocket landing Friday, the third in just under two months.

The first-stage booster of the unmanned Falcon rocket settled vertically onto a barge 400 miles off Florida's east coast, eight minutes after the late afternoon liftoff. Cameras on the barge provided stunning, real-time video.

"Falcon 9 has landed!" said a SpaceX flight commentator.

The touchdown occurred after the rocket launched an Asian communications satellite. Like the last successful landing, this one was especially difficult given the speed and heat of the incoming 15-story booster.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/spacex-lands-another-rocket-satellite-delivery-220330967.html

Every man's worst nightmare



Nearly half of U.S. households would struggle with an unexpected $400 expense, Fed study finds

Source: LA Times

Shedding light on the precarious economic state of many American families, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday that nearly half of U.S. households reported they would have trouble meeting emergency expenses of just $400.

In addition, the Fed found that 22% of workers were juggling two or more jobs last year, higher than what government jobs data would suggest. And nearly one out of three Americans said that they have no retirement savings or pension.

These findings were part of the Fed's "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. households in 2015." Overall, the survey-based study said the financial health of families continued to show mild improvement last year, with 69% of respondents saying they are "living comfortably" or "doing OK." That is up 4 percentage points from 2014 and up 6 points from 2013, when the survey began.

But those gains belie the wide gap among households based on differences in education, race and parental wealth -- and the fragile nature of many households' financial situation more than six years after the end of the Great Recession.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-fed-report-struggling-households-20160525-snap-story.html

Pretty disturbing report.

The work of Neanderthals: Ancient ring-like structures date from 176,000 years ago

Deep in a dark cave in southwestern France lie half a dozen mysterious structures that scientists believe were built by Neanderthals 176,000 years ago -- more than 130,000 years before the first modern humans arrived in Europe.

The structures, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, are located in what is known as the Bruniquel Cave. They are made of roughly 400 pieces of stalagmites, all roughly, almost eerily, the same size.

Archaeologists say these mineral formations were probably broken off the cave floor by ancient hands and then deliberately arranged into two large ring shapes and a series of four round piles up to 15 inches high.

If all the pieces were gathered up and placed on a scale, they would weigh 2.4 tons.


There's still a lot to discover out there.

Donald Trump has done the unthinkable: Unite Silicon Valley

In a place normally preoccupied with drafting code and dazzling investors, suddenly everyone in Silicon Valley has an opinion about the presidential election. And it tends to be the same opinion.

The innovation economy has a serious distaste for Donald Trump. The masters of this world complain that his ignorance about their work and its relationship to the global economy is horrifying. Rank-and-file programmers are quick to call him a clown, or worse. The unity is notable in an environment where groupthink is frowned upon and nobody ever seems to color inside ideological lines.

Trump has practically written a playbook on how not to court this well-heeled group that other politicians seem desperate to shower with affection.

Ambitious start-up CEOs who swore off talking politics for fear of offending investors are enlisting in campaigns to discredit Trump. Longtime valley Republican stalwarts who have voted for every GOP nominee for decades say they canít do it this year. The libertarian-minded innovators who just want to get government out of their way have less faith in Trump than they do in even Hillary Clinton, the Democrat with big plans to grow the bureaucracy.


Can Bernie Sanders actually hurt Hillary Clinton on his way out?

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are now in an extended process of negotiating the terms of his surrender. But Iím beginning to wonder if Sanders understands just how few cards he has left to play.

Yesterday, the DNC announced the makeup of the committee that will decide the partyís platform, with Clinton choosing six members, Sanders choosing five, and party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz choosing four. Clinton chose the kind of people you might expect, covering bases with the partyís key constituencies ó a union leader, a prominent Latino congressman, the chief of a liberal think tank ó while Sanders picked mostly activists who could be considered outsiders (although his inclusion of Cornel West, among the harshest African-American critics of President Obama, could be seen as a rather curious middle finger to the Democratic Partyís leader and most popular figure).

So now thatís settled, and even if the committee has some spirited arguments, most Democrats, not to mention most Americans, arenít going to be all that concerned with whatís in the platform, an almost entirely symbolic document. We can ask what else Bernie Sanders wants, and the answer is less than clear. Heíd obviously like to influence Clintonís eventual presidency, with input on appointments and policy choices. The problem is that at this point, he has almost nothing left to bargain with.

We tend to talk in vague terms about things like ďunity,Ē so itís helpful to get as specific as we can. Sanders can no longer beat Clinton. So letís say he feels that heís not getting what he wants out of this negotiation. What can he do to force her to be more accommodating to him? There are really only two things: Cause some kind of disruption at the convention, which will look bad for Clinton. Tell his supporters not to vote for her.


Argentina and Brazil agree to mediate in Venezuela crisis

Brazil and Argentina will work together to help find a solution to Venezuela's political crisis, Brazil's acting foreign minister said Monday.

Venezuela is facing a severe economic crisis, with the world's highest inflation and shortages. Polls indicate most Venezuelans want President Nicolas Maduro out of office.

"We're on alert when it comes to Venezuela. Brazil and Argentina have an interest that includes mediation," Brazilian Foreign Minister Jose Serra said at a news conference after meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

It was Serra's first official trip since being appointed after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was suspended pending an impeachment trial.


Why Is Clinton Disliked?

I understand why Donald Trump is so unpopular. He earned it the old-fashioned way, by being obnoxious, insulting and offensive. But why is Hillary Clinton so unpopular?

She is, at the moment, just as unpopular as Trump. In the last three major national polls she had unfavorability ratings in the same ballpark as Trumpís. In the Washington Post/ABC News poll, they are both at 57 percent disapproval.

In the New York Times/CBS News poll, 60 percent of respondents said Clinton does not share their values. Sixty-four percent said she is not honest or trustworthy. Clinton has plummeted so completely down to Trumpís level that she is now statistically tied with him in some of the presidential horse race polls.

There are two paradoxes to her unpopularity. First, she was popular not long ago. As secretary of state she had a 66 percent approval rating. Even as recently as March 2015 her approval rating was at 50 and her disapproval rating was at 39.


I think Brooks will be voting for Clinton this November.
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