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Environmental Scientist

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Monday Toon Roundup 1- Boehner and the Budget

'60 Minutes': NSA Good, Snowden Bad


As if that whole retracted Benghazi report and the Amazon commercial/drone reveal didn't undermine 60 Minutes' credibility enough in the last few weeks, here's another gem: a report on how the NSA has simply been misunderstood by all those Snowden leaks and is a good guy, really.

The segment was presented by John Miller (who is rumored to be up for a "top counterterrorism or intelligence role" in the NYPD, which has a fine track record when it comes to not infringing on our civil liberties), who opened with:

Full disclosure: I once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence, where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates.

Because as long as you tell us up front about your huge conflict of interest, it's totally fine that you have one, right?

Anyway, that should give you a pretty good idea of what came next



This was telling:
As the behind-the-scenes report tells us, Alexander came to 60 Minutes and asked them to do the segment. Miller and his crew were supervised at all times by a team of "minders" -- as were their interview subjects. When one analyst says something an off-camera minder thinks might be classified, Miller quickly volunteers to change the subject. Alexander asks for "time outs" before he answers certain questions.

Snowden stole 'keys to the kingdom': NSA official

Washington — US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden effectively stole the "keys to the kingdom" when he swiped more than 1.5 million top secret files, a senior National Security Agency official said in an interview aired Sunday.

Rick Ledgett, who heads the NSA taskforce in charge of assessing the impact of Snowden's leaks, told CBS televisions's "60 Minutes" that the contractor possessed a "roadmap" of the US intelligence community's strengths and weaknesses.

NSA chief General Keith Alexander meanwhile said that suggestions the agency was routinely eavesdropping on the phone calls of Americans was false, insisting that less than 60 "US persons" were currently being targeted worldwide.

Ledgett said of particular concern was Snowden's theft of around 31,000 documents the NSA official described as an "exhaustive list of the requirements that have been levied against the National Security Agency."



In Press-Rights Battle, Reporter Says Accountability's At Risk


Freedom of the press is considered an essential ideal of American democracy.

President Obama acknowledged as much last month, when he draped a Presidential Medal of Freedom around the neck of former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee.

"With Ben in charge, The Post published the Pentagon Papers, revealing the true history of America's involvement in Vietnam, exposed Watergate unleashed a new era of investigative journalism," Obama said, "holding America's leaders accountable and reminding us that our freedom as a nation rests on our freedom of the press."

But New York Times reporter James Risen says that, in terms of transparency and attitude toward the press, the Obama administration "is the worst."

"I think it's worse than the Bush administration, which I never thought I would say," Risen tells NPR's Arun Rath.



The Miracle of Profit-Sharing: Year 65 and Still No Layoffs

When Canadian journalist and friend of Making Sense Frank Koller published his book "Spark", about the profit-sharing model pioneered at Cleveland's Lincoln Electric, it encouraged Making Sense to return to the manufacturer after first reporting on them back in 1992. You can watch our update from 2011 above. (And here is a response to those who thought we were too easy on Lincoln.) Two years later, Koller now updates us on yet another profitable year for Lincoln.

Frank Koller: The annual profit-sharing bonus ceremony was held Friday in Lincoln Electric's Cleveland cafeteria, which Making Sen$e has covered extensively over the years on the NewsHour and on the Business Desk. Here are the latest numbers for the Ohio-based multinational welding manufacturer, now 118 years old:

80: uninterrupted years of paying an employee bonus (i.e. profitable every year since 1934)

$33,029: average 2013 bonus per U.S. employee (roughly 3,000 employees)

$81,366: average 2013 total earnings per U.S. employee (wages or salary + bonus)

$100.7 million: total pre-tax profit shared with employees, Lincoln's largest bonus pool ever

0: number of layoffs in 2013 (that makes 65 years without any layoffs)

#1: Lincoln Electric remains number one in the global marketplace in its industry. (As "LECO" on the Nasdaq exchange, its stock is currently at an all-time high.)



Wonder what the USA would be like if all companies were run this way.....

Here’s How the Military Wasted Your Money in 2013

Matthew Gault

Broken ships. Millions spent replacing a rifle that doesn’t need to be replaced. More tanks than it would take to beat Godzilla. Billions of dollars worth of wasted … stuff.

Any large organization can have trouble managing its accounts. But few organizations are as humongous as the U.S. military, so the money problems multiply.

With a $614 billion budget in 2013—expected to decline by $62 billion in 2014—there’s plenty of opportunity for waste. Six hundred billion dollars means bloat that floats a lot of needless projects. Some are badly managed, others the result of political pork-barrel spending.

There’s ample evidence that the Pentagon has little idea where billions of taxpayer dollars are going. The five-sided building is awash in corruption and claims that an audit is impossible.

Many examples of waste are relatively unknown. And with the New Year approaching—a time of reflection and account taking—we’ve drawn up a short list of military cautionary tales from the past year.



except the budget won't decline, either.

Think again, men

THIS week’s Lexington column is on the “marriage gap” in American politics. There are 53m unmarried women of voting age in America, and they are spectacularly loyal to Democrats. In the 2012 presidential election, unmarried women accounted for nearly a quarter of all votes cast. Their votes went decisively to Barack Obama, by 36 percentage points.

You might not think that a group that runs from not-yet-married college students to inner-city single mothers and divorced professionals had much in common. Yet strategists and pollsters report that—even after controlling for such variables as race, age, religiosity and income—marital status is a powerful predictor of Democratic voting (whereas married women and older widows lean slightly Republican). The key to the puzzle appears to involve attitudes to government safety nets, and a shared sense among unmarried women that they are trying to survive without any back-up in a harsh, increasingly insecure economy (unmarried women are disproportionately likely to work in jobs which do not offer health cover, for instance). Put another way, the conservative battle-cry of “Leave me the Hell alone” sounds different when you are literally on your own.

Regrettably, your columnist did not have room in the column for a brilliant polling anecdote that came up during interviews for the piece. It comes from Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has done a lot of work on unmarried women, and what makes them tick. Ms Lake described a survey she conducted of married couples, asking whether both spouses always voted the same way. Oh yeah, said 73% of married men (chests swelling as they answered, it seems safe to assume, shoulders back, and thumbs jammed in their belts). The wives' response? Just 49% said yes.


This Chart Shows How Rich People Make Their Money Totally Differently From Everyone Else

Last night, Justin Wolfers Tweeted a chart from Visualizing Economics' Catherine Mulbrandon showing Lorenz curves by income source: labor, capital, business and capital gains.

It basically shows that different parts of the population get their income way differently than others — and that the top 20% gets at least half of all income types. It also shows that the rich account for the overwhelming majority of all capital gains income in the country, and that everyone else fights for the scraps.

Here's what we're looking at:


The bottom 60% of the population has access to about 25% of all income generated through labor
The next 20% gets it's own slice of about 25% of labor income
And the top 20% of the population owns 50% of labor income

Next up is business and capital, which have about the same curve shape:

The "bottom" 80% of the population has to fight over 20% of income generated through business and capital
The top 20% of the population enjoys the "remaining" 80% of business and capital income
The top 20% of the population owns about 95% of income generated through capital gains
80% of the population gets the rest

Here's the chart:

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/americas-insane-gini-coefficients-2013-12#ixzz2naAxG7Fz

Into The Atmosphere

from Michael Shainblum

A special thanks to Vice and The Creators Project for filming an awesome behind the scenes video and finally letting me tell my story about my learning disability and how art has helped me find my path in life.

*The "3 Suns Rising" In 2 of the Milky Way clips are off shore oil rigs.*

“Into The Atmosphere,” is my tribute to the state of California and the beautiful deserts, mountains and coastlines that exist there. This video showcases a variety of national/state parks as well as less recognized natural areas. The video also focuses on clouds, fog and interesting atmospheric conditions. Although California is known for blue sunshine skies, seeing a colorful storm cloud over Half Dome or an incredible sunset at the La Jolla Coves is really a sight to see. The goal of this video is to show these environments in their best possible light.

Living in California all my life, I had as much time as I needed to really capture the essence and beauty it provides. This video was an ongoing project for about a year with an estimated 75,000 images taken, and about 12,400 made it into the 3.5 minute piece.

White House delayed enacting rules ahead of 2012 election to avoid controversy

By Juliet Eilperin, Saturday, December 14, 6:35 PM

The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials.

Some agency officials were instructed to hold off submitting proposals to the White House for up to a year to ensure that they would not be issued before voters went to the polls, the current and former officials said.

The delays meant that rules were postponed or never issued. The stalled regulations included crucial elements of the Affordable Care Act, what bodies of water deserved federal protection, pollution controls for industrial boilers and limits on dangerous silica exposure in the workplace.

The Obama administration has repeatedly said that any delays until after the election were coincidental and that such decisions were made without regard to politics. But seven current and former administration officials told The Washington Post that the motives behind many of the delays were clearly political, as Obama’s top aides focused on avoiding controversy before his reelection.


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