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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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For Jobless Over 50, A Challenging Search For Work

OCKFORD, Ill. (AP) -- When Charlie Worboys lost his job, he feared searching for a new one at his age might be tough. Six years later, at 65, he's still looking.

Luanne Lynch, 57, was laid off three times in the past decade and previous layoffs brought jobs with a lower salary; this time she can't even get that.

They're not alone. A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds many people over 50 reporting great difficulty finding work and feeling that their age is a factor.

After Worboys was laid off and his hunt for another teaching job was fruitless, he sought counseling positions. When those leads dried up, he applied for jobs in juvenile detention centers, in sales and elsewhere. He finally settled for part-time work, all the while still scouring online listings and sending out applications each week.

"They're looking for the younger person," he said. "They look at the number 65 and they don't bother to look behind it.



AP EXCLUSIVE: Nuclear Missile Officers Were Twice Caught Leaving Blast Door Open While Napping

WASHINGTON - Twice this year alone, U.S. Air Force officers entrusted with the launch keys to nuclear-tipped missiles have been caught leaving open a blast door that is intended to help prevent a terrorist or other intruder from entering their underground command post, Air Force officials have told The Associated Press.

The blast doors are never to be left open if one of the crew members inside is asleep — as was the case in both these instances — out of concern for the damage an intruder could cause, including the compromising of secret launch codes.

Transgressions such as this are rarely revealed publicly. But officials with direct knowledge of Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile operations told the AP that such violations have happened, undetected, many more times than in the cases of the two launch crew commanders and two deputy commanders who were given administrative punishments this year.

The blast door violations are another sign of serious trouble in the handling of the nation's nuclear arsenal. The AP has discovered a series of problems within the ICBM force, including a failed safety inspection, the temporary sidelining of launch officers deemed unfit for duty and the abrupt firing last week of the two-star general in charge. The problems, including low morale, underscore the challenges of keeping safe such a deadly force that is constantly on alert but is unlikely ever to be used.

The crews who operate the missiles are trained to follow rules without fail, including the prohibition against having the blast door open when only one crew member is awake, because the costs of a mistake are so high.



Netanyahu to Prod Kerry on Iran After Vatican Visit Scrapped

By Jonathan Ferziger - Oct 22, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mistrustful of warming ties between world powers and Iran, flies to Rome today to discuss Iranian nuclear talks and Middle East peace efforts with Secretary of State John Kerry.

While Netanyahu had planned to meet Pope Francis, he had to scrap the visit after the Vatican said busy schedules wouldn’t permit it this time. Kerry’s travels through Europe still allow the Israeli leader to express his opposition to easing sanctions against Iran and doubts about resolving Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

“He will remain the skeptical observer on the Obama administration’s warming to Iran while seeking to relieve some of the pressure Kerry is exerting to make concessions to the Palestinians,” said Benedetta Berti, a research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

In Moscow yesterday, Russia’s chief negotiator at the talks said Iran and world powers may strike an accord allowing the Islamic republic to continue enriching uranium up to 5 percent purity. That level would require more time to turn into weapons-grade material than the 20 percent enriched uranium Iran is also producing. A Netanyahu spokesman, Mark Regev, said the Israeli leader would comment on that in Rome.



FDA Releases Progress Report on Jerky Pet Treat Investigation

October 22, 2013

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released today an update on its investigation into pet illnesses and deaths associated with jerky pet treats from China. The update includes a description of the extent of the agency’s testing and current findings, as well as a “Dear Veterinarian” letter and Fact Sheet for pet owners.

The “Dear Veterinarian” letter to veterinary professionals explains how they can provide valuable assistance to the agency’s investigation, requests that veterinarians report to FDA any cases of jerky pet treat-related illness that come to their attention and, when requested, that they also provide samples for diagnostic testing by the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a network of veterinary laboratories affiliated with FDA. The Fact Sheet for pet owners lists steps they can take to prevent or detect illness related to the treats.

As of September 24, 2013, FDA has received more than 3000 complaints of illness related to consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. The reports involve more than 3600 dogs, 10 cats and include more than 580 deaths.

FDA continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet. The agency encourages pet owners to consult with their veterinarian prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets.

The rate of complaints associated with jerky pet treats dropped sharply after several well-known brands were removed from the market in January 2013, when a study conducted by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Marketing (NYSDAM) detected low levels of antibiotic residues in those products. FDA believes that the drop in complaints is linked to a decrease in the availability of jerky pet treats rather than the low levels of antibiotics found in January, which FDA believes are unlikely to be the cause of the illnesses. However, FDA is performing an evaluation to determine the possibility for low levels of the antibiotics to cause illness in dogs when fed over a length of time. This process involves review of the scientific literature, as well as any adverse event reports and consumer complaints sent to the FDA in connection with dogs and sulfonamide drugs, and may take many months to complete. In the meantime, our investigation continues to evaluate all potential causes for illness from the jerky pet treats.

While FDA has not yet identified a cause for the reported illnesses, the agency, together with our Vet-LIRN partners, continue to perform testing to help identify cases and examine both animal tissue and product samples associated with the cases. FDA also continues to work with the manufacturers and distributors of the treats and China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to investigate potential sources of contamination or causes of illness in pets.


Thunderbirds and Blue Angels to Resume Air Shows, But No More Flyovers

Oct 22, 2013 6:00am

The Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels air demonstration teams will once again fly in America’s air shows next year after being grounded by sequestration cuts earlier this year, Pentagon officials said.

The Pentagon has decided to resume its military community outreach programs, but pared down the number of events significantly in light of new budget realities.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the resumption of the activities in a memo issued to the chiefs of the military services last Friday. In a copy of the memo obtained by ABC News, Hagel said, “community and public outreach is a crucial Departmental activity that reinforces trust and confidence in the United States Military and in its most important asset — people.”

“It is our obligation to sustain that trust well into the future,” he added.
The sequestration cuts earlier this year led to the cancellation of 2,800 military outreach events nationwide. In his memo, Hagel outlined a resumption of appearances by the military’s jet and jump demonstration teams, military band concerts, ceremonial unit appearances, port visits, service weeks, and nonprofit and corporate leader outreach.



Richard Cohen's Reverse On Snowden: Not A 'Traitor', But A Whistleblower

Besotted fans of the regularly published Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen will know that he has reversed himself on whether Edward Snowden, the source of leaks about NSA surveillance activity in the United States and abroad, is a traitor.

In June, Cohen wrote that Snowden would go down in history not as a whistleblower but "as a cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood" who is "ridiculously cinematic" and "narcissistic".

On Monday, Cohen retracted that view (although without returning specifically to the Little Red Riding Hood insight):

As time has proved, my judgments were just plain wrong. Whatever Snowden is, he is curiously modest and has bent over backward to ensure that the information he has divulged has done as little damage as possible. As a "traitor", he lacks the requisite intent and menace

I am sure, though, that he has instigated a worthwhile debate. I am sure that police powers granted the government will be abused over time and that Snowden is an authentic whistleblower …



Job-Creation Weakens, But Unemployment Rate Down

September saw the U.S. economy add just 148,000 jobs, significantly worse than expected, according to a report delayed more than two weeks by the government shutdown.

The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 7.2 percent, the lowest since November 2008, as the labor-force participation rate held near 35-year lows, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Private payroll creation stood at just 122,000, with state and local governments adding 28,000 positions and the federal government cutting by 6,000.

(Read more: More young people are out of school...and out of work)

Economists had been expecting 180,000 new positions and a steady jobless rate.

"This kind of report adds to the sense of foreboding about our economy," said Claire McKenna, policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.



AFL-CIO: Here's a Law Walmart Doesn’t Want You to Know About

We already know CEOs of major corporations took home 354 times more pay than the average rank-and-file U.S. worker in 2012. Now, we have the opportunity to see what CEOs make compared with the typical worker in their own companies.

A rule proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would require companies to disclose the ratio of total compensation between CEOs and the pay of the typical worker. The SEC rule is part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Major corporations like Walmart really don't like this, which is why we need your help.

If you want more transparency when it comes to what CEOs are paid compared with the people that make those companies run, please send a letter to the SEC supporting this rule. The comment period ends Dec. 2.

Tell the SEC companies must disclose CEO-to-worker pay ratios.

If you are an investor, make sure you identify yourself as one in the letter.


Shutdown Specter: US Fumbling Puts China at Risk

The whole world looked on as the United States embarrassed itself for three weeks with its government shutdown. China, the only other superpower, profited from the domestic dispute -- but as Washington's largest creditor, it also has cause for concern.

By Marc Hujer and Daniel Sander

A little before 11 a.m. last Wednesday, a newly crowned Miss America announced her presence at the White House via Twitter. At the time, most US politicians had nothing on their minds except their country's budget conflict, with Democrats and Republicans in Congress unable to agree on a new national debt limit for nearly three weeks.


In the preceding weeks, however, Obama seemed to find it difficult to multitask, cancelling meetings with a number of important, influential allies and investors and even calling off a trip to Asia during which he had planned to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Global Embarrassment

The United States had embarrassed itself on the global stage when Republican members of Congress blocked President Obama's healthcare reform, also known as "Obamacare," by refusing to approve an increase to the country's debt limit necessary to fund the reform. This forced the government to shut down its administration, making 800,000 government employees take unpaid mandatory leave, and amounted to the US voluntarily inflicting damage on itself. The political opponents didn't manage to reach an agreement -- and even then, only a temporary one -- until last Wednesday, under enormous pressure and at the last minute. Is this how a superpower behaves?

Those weeks during which the US feared for its financial solvency showed just how vulnerable the country is. Yet at the same time, the episode showed America's strength. No other country could afford to engage in such drama without being punished by financial markets, creditors and trade partners.



Wikipedia Declares All-Out War On PR Sock Puppets

Wikipedia editors are actively engaged in a wide-ranging battle against PR firms attempting to edit the crowdsourced encyclopedia’s entries to reflect their clients’ best interests.

Over the past couple weeks, those Wikipedia editors have isolated several hundred user accounts linked to people “paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products,” according to Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia’s operations. Those users’ accounts violate Wikipedia’s guidelines, “including prohibitions against sockpuppetry and undisclosed conflicts of interest.” Some 250 suspicious user accounts have already been nuked.

“Our readers know Wikipedia’s not perfect, but they also know that it has their best interests at heart, and is never trying to sell them a product or propagandize them in any way,” Gardner added. “Our goal is to provide neutral, reliable information for our readers, and anything that threatens that is a serious problem. We are actively examining this situation and exploring our options.”

The idea of “pay for play” is a contentious one among Wikipedia’s editors, many of whom pride themselves on a high standard of impartiality when it comes to managing content. But the platform’s crowd-sourced nature often works against them in that regard, with pages about controversial subjects often turning into battlegrounds as multiple parties attempt to edit and re-edit content to fit a particular vision—unless Wikipedia opts to lock a page down, as it does with George W. Bush or Scientology. No matter how hard the editors work, though, Wikipedia’s gargantuan size also means they can’t eliminate every single vanity page set up by insecure and ambitious types.

Indeed, correcting biased text is a thankless job for those Wikipedia editors—the literary-world equivalent of killing endless hordes of zombies approaching your protective fence.


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