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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
Number of posts: 47,953

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Beyond coal miners, America's real jobs crisis

Situated just off Interstate 70 in Ohio’s Belmont County, between Pittsburgh and Columbus, the Ohio Valley Mall is well positioned for attracting drive-by shoppers and motorists in need of a pit stop. “We have a lot of people traveling through,” says Mark Thomas, the president of the county’s board of commissioners.

That geographical advantage hasn’t spared it from a wave of store closures, however. This year, Ohio Valley Mall has lost K-Mart, an Elder-Beerman department store, appliance dealer HHGregg, and MC Sports, a sporting goods chain that declared bankruptcy in February.

There’s some good news. The mall so far has kept both its Macy’s and its Sears, despite those two chains shuttering hundreds of stores nationwide. Replacements, including a Marshalls and a Levin Furniture, are moving in. Still, as a result, several dozen jobs in the suburban county have disappeared in the space of a few months. “We were hit pretty hard in the spring,” says Mike Schlanz, the director of Ohio Means Jobs, an occupational training and placement program in Belmont County. But he says that some of the surrounding areas, without highway access, have fared even worse.

A similar phenomenon is happening all across the country. An estimated 5,300 retail locations have closed through June 20, according to one estimate – nearly triple the rate from a year ago. That makes 2017 poised to surpass the number of closings in 2008, in the depth of the Great Recession.



Democratic campaign arm mocks GOP for 'spectacular failure' of 200-day agenda

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in a memo mocked the House Republicans' "spectacular failure" to accomplish their 200-day agenda.

"After 100 days of unified control of Washington, there were already early signs of Speaker Ryan’s out-of-touch priorities and failed leadership," said the memo, from Tyler Law, DCCC national press secretary.

"At the time, the Speaker argued repeatedly that a 200-day evaluation was more appropriate."

But the DCCC argued that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has "achieved almost nothing since" President Trump assumed office.


Republicans Gearing Up for Third Financial Crash in 3 Tries

“This is the third time in 100 years we’ve had this alignment of government that we’ve got to get it done or else I [am] really worried our country will continue down a bad path,” said Paul Ryan this weekend. “This alignment of government” means conservative Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the presidency. The previous two times Ryan is describing are the 1920s, when Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover presided over a Republican-controlled Congress, and the George W. Bush administration. (Ryan is omitting 1953–1954, when Republicans narrowly controlled both chambers, presumably because Dwight Eisenhower governed as a moderate deeply at odds with conservatives.)

The Republican government of the 1920s ended when a wave of loosely regulated stock speculation produced a crash in the financial system. The Republican government of the 2000s ended the same way. It’s not clear what lessons Ryan has absorbed from these prior episodes, but he does not seem to be especially concerned about repeating those policy errors.


Monday Toon Roundup 2- The Rest




N. Korea


Pharma Bro


Monday Toon Roundup 1 - Lazy Boy

Tesla Model S Sets New Record For Distance Traveled On One Charge

On Friday, a Tesla club in Italy announced that they had driven a Tesla Model S 100D 670 miles on a single charge — a new record distance.

Tesla Owners Italia tweeted the news Friday with a photo of the vehicle display and a small explanation: “1078 km - 669.83 miles with Tesla ModelS 100D in a single charge by Tesla Owners Italy-Ticino-San Marino #teslarecord.”

Based on the photo of the display, it took 98.4 kWh of energy to go 670 miles, nearly double the usual efficiency of a Model S, which is 300 Wh/mi. For a watts per mile explanation, check out this forum.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk celebrated the accomplishment on Twitter Saturday, announcing that it was a new record for electric cars. “Congratulations Tesla Owners Italia!!” he said.


Three reasons why taxpayers should question the Foxconn deal


But that isn't even the biggest problem.

3) The state of Wisconsin, which has had a series of high-profile budget battles over the past few years, is promising a $3 billion incentive package for the plant. That is $3 billion paid to Foxconn over a 15-year period.

To put that into perspective, Wisconsin is promising to pay Foxconn the equivalent of $66,600 per employee, based on having 3,000 workers in the plant, for each of the next 15 years, while Foxconn is promising pay of less than $54,000 a year. By comparison, the much-touted deal last November to save 800 jobs at a Carrier factory in Indianapolis is costing Indiana $7 million over 10 years—or $875 a year.

There are many questions about this deal, but one thing is certain. This incentive package surely offsets any labor-cost issues Foxconn might face since Wisconsin taxpayers are essentially paying Foxconn's wages.

In a market economy, companies taking risk and hiring workers is a necessary ingredient to prosperity. That is not what is happening here. Foxconn bears no meaningful risk in this deal. All the risk and all the labor costs for the next decade and a half are borne by the beleaguered taxpayers of Wisconsin.

the rest

Maybe the A.I. dystopia is already here

You know the scenario from 19th-century fiction and Hollywood movies: Mankind has invented a computer, or a robot or another artificial thing that has taken on a life of its own. In “ Frankenstein,” the monster is built from corpses; in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it’s an all-seeing computer with a human voice; in “Westworld,” the robots are lifelike androids that begin to think for themselves. But in almost every case, the out-of-control artificial life form is anthropomorphic. It has a face or a body, or at least a human voice and a physical presence in the real world.

But what if the real threat from “artificial life” doesn’t look or act human at all? What if it’s just a piece of computer code that can affect what you see and therefore what you think and feel? In other words — what if it’s a bot, not a robot?

For those who don’t know (and apologies to those who are wearily familiar), a bot really is just a piece of computer code that can do things that humans can do. Wikipedia uses bots to correct spelling and grammar on its articles; bots can also play computer games or place gambling bets on behalf of human controllers. Notoriously, bots are now a major force on social media, where they can “like” people and causes, post comments, react to others. Bots can be programmed to tweet out insults in response to particular words, to share Facebook pages, to repeat slogans, to sow distrust.

Slowly, their influence is growing. One tech executive told me he reckons that half of the users on Twitter are bots, created by companies that either sell them or use them to promote various causes. The Computational Propaganda Research Project at the University of Oxford has described how bots are used to promote either political parties or government agendas in 28 countries. They can harass political opponents or their followers, promote policies, or simply seek to get ideas into circulation.



States ramping up defenses against election hacks

States across the nation are ramping up their digital defenses to prevent the hacking of election systems in 2018.

The efforts come in the wake of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, which state officials say was a needed wake up call on cybersecurity threats to election systems and infrastructure.

“We’ve upgraded all of our security,” said Michele Reagan, the Arizona secretary of state. “Some of the things I can’t talk about because, of course, we don’t want to give the bad guys a road map.”

Arizona was one of several states whose election systems Russian hackers are believed to have targeted ahead of the presidential election. The state was forced to shut down its voter registration system for several days last summer, after a hacker gained access to a computer connected to the database.



Tillerson, Russian foreign minister meet in Manila

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Sunday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, for the first time since President Trump signed legislation imposing sanctions on Moscow, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Tillerson wanted details on the Russian response to the sanctions bill, Interfax reported.

Tillerson, Lavrov and other diplomats are meeting in Manila for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum.

Trump last Wednesday signed legislation that imposes sanctions on Moscow and limits his ability to lift penalties, but he also lashed out at Congress, which overwhelmingly approved the measure.

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