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Member since: Sun Jul 31, 2011, 05:36 PM
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Are We Lonelier on Facebook, Online?

A year can’t go by now without some pundit, writer, or researcher weighing in on how the more technology infiltrates our lives, the lonelier we’ve become.

Stephen Marche, a novelist writing in the May 2012 Atlantic, weaves together a bunch of anecdotes to suggest that Facebook is making us lonelier.

Renowned MIT researcher Sherry Turkle, who bases her conclusions on an endless stream of in-vitro interviews with teens and young adults, suggested over the weekend in the New York Times that technology is certainly making us more connected… but those connections are more shallow and less rich that traditional face-to-face connections.

These are interesting observations, but are they offering us a false dichotomy? Or suggesting a causal relationship where none has yet been established?

Marche kicks off the false dichotomy argument by asking questions like:

The question of the future is this: Is Facebook part of the separating or part of the congregating; is it a huddling-together for warmth or a shuffling-away in pain?

Research has some answers to these questions, which Marche explores to some degree in his 5,344 word essay. What the data actually demonstrate is a fairly complicated relationship — one mediated by personality, psychological resilience, social factors, and frequency of use of the technology. It’s not going to be this nice, clean, black-and-white false dichotomy that so many writers yearn for.

In other words, it’s a dumb question to ask because the answer isn’t one that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Facebook has no more power to “make” us lonely than reading a book or watching television does.


Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It?

A bright ball of light traveling east to west was seen over the skies of central/northern California Sunday morning, April 22. The former space rock-turned-flaming-meteor entered Earth's atmosphere around 8 a.m. PDT. Reports of the fireball have come in from as far north as Sacramento, Calif. and as far east as North Las Vegas, Nev.

Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., estimates the object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds (70 metric tons) and at the time of disintegration released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion.

"Most meteors you see in the night's sky are the size of tiny stones or even grains of sand and their trail lasts all of a second or two," said Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Fireballs you can see relatively easily in the daytime and are many times that size - anywhere from a baseball-sized object to something as big as a minivan."

Elizabeth Silber of the Meteor Group at the Western University of Canada, Ontario, estimates the location of its explosion in the upper atmosphere above California's Central Valley.

Eyewitnesses of this fireball join a relatively exclusive club. "An event of this size might happen about once a year," said Yeomans. "But most of them occur over the ocean or an uninhabited area, so getting to see one is something special."

NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them, and establishes their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch .


Southern California Tribes Unite to Show Support for Reinstating the Violence Against Women Act

Roughly 200 Indians from various Southern California Indian tribes held a walk to increase awareness of sexual assault against Native women and to show support for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that Congress has allowed to expire for the first time in more than 15 years, according to a press release from the Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition and the La Jolla Band of Indians Avellaka Program.

The act is expected to hit the senate floor this week. In the past, the legislation has had strong bi-partisan support. Enacted in 1994, the act was subsequently reauthorized in 2000 and 2005 by unanimous consent of Congress.

“We are walking today to raise our voices to members of Congress to support this life-saving legislation,” said Juana Majel, the first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, while speaking to those gathered at the walk. “We send our heartfelt appreciation to our California Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for their defense of the Violence Against Women Act and provisions to protect Native women.”

Tribal leaders at the event expressed outrage that some senators do not support the bill to reauthorize the act. The legislation is crucial to tribal members, because it contains provisions intended to address the epidemic levels of violence committed against American Indian women.

One provision of the bill recognizes the authority of Indian tribes to investigate and prosecute misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, and orders of protection that occur in Indian country. It would not alter the current criminal jurisdiction of the federal or a state government.

“Right now tribes have no authority over an abuser that is a non-Indian even when he lives on tribal land, works for the tribe, and beats or rapes his wife or girlfriend on tribal lands,” said Wendy Schlater, program director for the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians Avellaka Program. “These perpetrators commit these crimes on tribal land knowing nothing will happen.”

According to S.1925, the tribe must prove that any defendant being prosecuted under Section 904 either: resides in the Indian country of the prosecuting tribe, is employed in the Indian country of the prosecuting tribe, or is either the spouse or intimate partner of a member of the prosecuting tribe. “Abusers who live, work, or date tribal women on tribal land should not be allowed to abuse them just because they are of another race. The law leaves Native women wondering not “if” they will be raped, but “when they will be raped,” said LaVonne Peck, the tribal chair of the La Jolla Band.

“It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Justice that 1 of 3 Native women will be raped in their life time and that 5 of 6 will be the victims of domestic violence. This is more than double that of any other population of women. It is unacceptable and must stop,” said Laurie Gonzalez, councilwoman of the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians.


Wells Fargo Turns Away Its Own Shareholders From Its Shareholder Meeting

"I would not want to work for Wells Fargo," one woman on lunch break in downtown San Francisco loudly told her friend.

No kidding. At around noon today, some 2,000 activists launched a blitzkrieg against the bank's annual shareholder meeting at the Merchants Exchange Building, where they blocked entrances, inflated a two-story cigar-smoking rat in the street, and deployed hundreds of shareholder activists to pack the joint.

Citing space constraints, the bank turned away many of the shareholders, a move protesters quickly decried as an illegal attempt to dodge tough questions. A press release from the activist group Cal Organize claimed Wells Fargo packed the meeting with its own employees, and continued to let shareholders who were not part of the protest in through a side door.

A Wells Fargo spokesman did not immediately return my call.

In the building lobby, I ran into Wells Fargo shareholder Andrew Constans, who was wearing a suit and tie and holding a paper copy of his single share of stock. The 19-year-old University of Minnesota student flew halfway across the country to tell Wells Fargo that it should pay more taxes. (Between 2008 and 2010, Wells Fargo paid none, but got $681 million in tax credits.) "I pay taxes, so why can't they?" Constans asked. "I'm not a multinational corporation; I don't have 60 tax shelters."

The Wells Fargo protest is part of an effort on the part of 99% Power, a coalition of dozens of labor and community groups that plans to target some 40 corporate shareholder meetings over the next six weeks. "It's a broader group than normally does shareholders meetings," says Stephen Lerner, an executive board member with the Service Employees International Union. "It's a campaign that's saying, let's gather all the folks who are impacted negatively by these giant corporations and lets figure out ways to illustrate that and challenge them directly at the meetings."


Indian Country’s American Nightmare

If anyone believes the federal government knows what is best for local communities, they should visit an American Indian Reservation. Native Americans are currently immersed in a health care and economic deprivation nightmare that is the consequence of government interference, inefficiency, and inhumane policies. The Native American narrative is one of government creating problems and then, in the name of offering solutions, making matters worse by depriving local communities of their autonomy.

According to research led by Jeffrey E. Holm, professor of psychology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, national data show that American Indians (AIs) have a lower life expectancy than other Americans. In fact, Holm reports, AIs die at higher rates than white Americans and most other ethnic minorities from cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis, alcoholism-related diseases, motor vehicle crashes, diabetes, unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. National data show that AIs have a higher prevalence of many risk behaviors including cigarette smoking, obesity, absence of leisure-time physical activity, and binge alcohol use.

Many of the obesity and diabetes related pathologies have one root correlation: poor diet resulting from government programs. In the mid-19th century, under the Indian Removal Act, Native American tribes turned their lands over to the U.S. Government and relocated to Indian Reservations. This relocation disconnected AIs from their usual diet of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables as well as from an active lifestyle of hunting and gathering. By 1890, the government had banned Native Americans from leaving allocated lands to acquire food. In exchange, government offered rations of commodities such as flour, lard and sugar, which today, thanks to corn subsidies, has expanded to highly processed foods rich in carbohydrates and high-fructose corn syrup. These are not the basics of a healthy diet.

Thanks to government regulations, AIs also suffer from the type of economic deprivation that leaves Reservations with virtually no small businesses, including, for example, grocery stores. Communities lacking flourishing businesses are communities that become trapped in cycles of poverty and dysfunction. In fact, the economic malaise in and around reservations stems from a lack of property rights. Terry Anderson, executive director of the Political Economy Research Center, says that AI property rights were also affected by those 19th century treaties which put millions of acres of tribal and individual Indian land under the trusteeship of the Interior department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. As a result these lands cannot be developed, used as collateral for taking out loans to start businesses, easily inherited, or managed productively. Anderson argues that what AIs need is freedom to develop their own property, borrow against it, and make it productive or order to start businesses that lead to wealth creation. The result of a continuation of current policy, says Anderson, is that “Indian economies are likely to remain enclaves of poverty.”


N. Korea: 'Mobile weapons' capable of striking US

Source: AP

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- A senior North Korean army official says his country is armed with "powerful mobile weapons" capable of striking America.

Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho emphasized the importance of defending the North against the U.S. and South Korea as Pyongyang marked the 80th anniversary of the nation's army Wednesday.

He told officials at the April 25 House of Culture that the weapons could defeat the U.S. "at a single blow."

North Korea made another unusual claim Monday, promising "special actions" that would reduce Seoul's government to ashes.

North Korea is believed to have nuclear weapons but not the technology to put them on long-range missiles. A rocket launch that the U.S. claimed was a North Korean attempt to test missile technology failed this month.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_NKOREA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Peres: Now's the time for peace deal with the Palestinians

In pre-Independence Day interview with 'The Jerusalem Post', president expresses confidence in PA's Abbas, saying he is "constant in his announced position – for peace, against terror, and for a two-state solution."

Israel has never faced a better opportunity to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians than it has today under the leadership of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, President Shimon Peres told The Jerusalem Post in a pre-Independence Day interview on Tuesday.

“I think the Palestinian window is still open,” Peres said. “Everybody makes mistakes in his sayings and doings, but President Abbas is constant in his announced position – for peace, against terror, and for a two-state solution. I think we have never had a wider basis to conclude peace than under his leadership.”

Peres added that the need for a new peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians was “immediate,” and suggested that it could represent “a real contribution to pacify... the stormy Middle East.”

On Iran, he said he believed that US President Barack Obama would not allow “an extreme group of people” to build a nuclear bomb.

“I think Israel owes a great deal of appreciation to its unbelievable friends all over the world, beginning with the United States of America, and her president, Obama,” Peres said. “President Obama, during his tenure as president, did everything he promised to strengthen the security of the State of Israel, deterring the danger of war and helping to advance the chances of peace.”


Baby Dolphin Die-Offs Continue in the Gulf

SCIENCE -- April 24, 2012 at 4:22 PM EDT

An unusually high number of dead dolphins - including stillborn and infant calves - have washed up along the Gulf of Mexico shores in the two years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded into flames, unleashing tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the ocean.

More than 100 dolphin strandings already this year add to a pattern of death and disease among the marine mammals. In a normal year before the spill, about 74 strandings would be reported in the area. That number has increased eightfold in the past two years. Since February 2010, more than 600 have been found on the shores between the Louisiana-Texas border and the western coast of Florida.

And many of these dolphins have serious health problems -- lung disease, liver problems and low blood sugar -- according autopsies on the animals and other research.

Scientists suspect oil as a major culprit, but linking the spill definitively with the dolphin die-offs has been tricky. Decomposition causes tissue to decay, making the animals difficult to study.

"In all of the dolphin deaths... only 17 percent are stranded alive or stranded in fresh-dead conditions," said Jenny Litz, a research fishery biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is studying the die-offs. Decomposition makes it much harder to study tissues during a necropsy.


Netanyahu says backs "contiguous" Palestinian state

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support on Tuesday for the first time for Palestinians to establish a contiguous state, saying their future country should not look like "Swiss cheese".

But only hours earlier, a ministerial committee in his right-wing government granted Israeli legal status to three previously unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, drawing Palestinian and international criticism.

Palestinians fear such outposts and the 130 formal settlements Israel has built in the territory it captured in a 1967 war will deny them a viable state.

Asked on CNN's Erin Burnett Outfront program whether he would accept the Palestinians' belief they should have a country that is contiguous, Netanyahu replied: "Yes."

"Not as a Swiss cheese? No," Netanyahu added, addressing a key Palestinian concern, that the state they seek would be comprised of pockets of villages and towns surrounded by Israeli settlements.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/24/us-palestinians-israel-settlements-idUSBRE83N12920120424

Peres: Now's the time for peace deal with the Palestinians


Ann Romney defends her role as one of the most privileged women in America

Stamford, Connecticut (CNN) - Ann Romney, Monday night, defended her role as a stay-at-home mother and described herself and her presidential candidate husband as a couple in touch with women concerned about the economy.

Appearing at a GOP dinner in Connecticut, Romney acknowledged the controversy stirred up weeks ago by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen who criticized the mother of five for having not "worked a day in her life."

"We are grateful for the response that we got from that and appreciative of recognizing that women have choices in life, and some choices are not all the same, but we value everyone's choice that they make in their profession," Romney said.

She added her husband, Mitt Romney, treats her as "an equal partner" and supports her role in their family.

"He would remind me all the time that my job was more important than his, that his job was temporary, that mine was going to bring forever happiness. And he believed it, he didn't just say it, he believed it," she said.

Romney appeared acutely aware of the perception fueled in part by Rosen's comments that she may be out of touch with American women.


2 homes that the stay at home mom lived in while she was taking care of her family.....



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