News Week Round Up [April 14, 2017] - P.O.W. Report

Friday, April 14, 2017

News Week Round Up [April 14, 2017]

[Editors Note: I was almost done editing the news week round up but then I pressed the wrong button and deleted everything! Now I have to start over, Ahhh! This news stuff can be frustrating sometimes! Anyway, enjoy:

Built atop of Marpo Ri(the "Red Hill"), Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet has been the home of 10 Dalai Lama's until the 14th was forced to flee to India in 1959. 13 stories high, it has over 1000 rooms

Real ID debate prompts fears about disclosure of Alaskans' Social Security numbers

Alaska Dispatch News by Nathaniel Herz

JUNEAU — Gov. Bill Walker's administration this week said it's trying to pull back its participation in a multistate driver's license database that critics fear could expose Alaskans' Social Security numbers if it were hacked.

The state Division of Motor Vehicles has been sending the last five digits of residents' Social Security numbers to the multistate agency that runs the database, which is used to ensure applicants don't have licenses in more than one state.

But with the Walker administration pressuring lawmakers to bring the state into compliance with the federal Real ID Act, it's run into questions about its collaboration with the agency on its existing licenses and what could happen if the database was breached.

Until 2011, the Social Security Administration issued the same three-digit prefix — 574 — for all Alaska applicants' Social Security numbers.

That would leave only one unknown digit — a 1-in-10 chance — if a hacker stole the contents of the driver's license database, maintained by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, a consortium of U.S. and Canadian DMVs that includes Alaska.

"I think it's a legitimate concern," Fisher said in an interview Wednesday. "We think that's a fair point and we will work to try to change that."

But security-concerned lawmakers are asking for more than a switch from five digits to four, which would still leave an Alaska Social Security number vulnerable, with a hacker facing a 1-in-100 chance in uncovering the actual ID number. Encryption keys typically have tens of thousands to millions of possible combinations.

The current deadline is June 6 for military bases and restrictions at airports kick in January 2018.

The Alaska Legislature passed a bill in 2008 barring state agencies from spending money to comply with Real ID, with the sponsor, Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski, calling its requirements the start of a "surveillance society."

Now, with deadlines for compliance just months away, Walker's administration — along with organized labor and contractors that do business on military bases — is pressing lawmakers to repeal the 2008 law.

"We live in a sort of brave new world in which cybersecurity as a concern is going to compound with each passing year — and to any extent you can minimize risk makes sense," said Sitka Democratic Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, the committee's chair. [Read the full story]

Alaska House votes to restructure Permanent Fund and slice dividends

Alaska Dispatch News by Nathaniel Herz

The House approved its substitute version of Senate Bill 26 in a 22-18 vote, with all members of the largely-Democratic majority in favor and the full Republican minority opposed.

The legislation would set dividends at $1,250 for the next two years, up from $1,000 in the version of SB 26 passed by the Senate last month.

That and other differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will most likely be taken up in negotiations between the two chambers. The Senate hasn't voted on the House version of its bill, but if it doesn't accept the changes — a likely outcome — the bill would be negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee.

The $1,250 dividend proposed by the House version of SB 26 is close to last year's $1,022, which came after Gov. Bill Walker vetoed about half the money set aside for the payments by the Legislature.

But the House's proposed payment is down from recent dividends of roughly $2,000 in 2014 and 2015.

Majority members described the $58 billion Permanent Fund as the most important tool lawmakers have to fill the state's deficit of nearly $3 billion. They also said that relying on the fund alone wouldn't be fair to poor Alaskans who would be hit harder by reduced dividends than rich residents because it's a larger portion of their total income.

"I can't vote for a Permanent Fund-only plan," said Anchorage Democratic Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, during her speech in support of the bill. "A Permanent Fund-only plan is incredibly regressive."

Republican minority members said they weren't opposed to the idea of using Permanent Fund investment earnings to help pay for government, though they wanted tighter controls on spending to be included in the bill. [Full Source]

Low oil prices hit Sealaska dividends

KRBD by Ed Schoenfeld
Lower North Slope oil prices are taking a bite out of Native corporation dividends 1,100 miles away.

Sealaska, Southeast’s regional corporation, just announced it will pay out $10.6 million to its more than 22,000 members mid-month. That’s a third less than last year’s spring distribution.

Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott said it’s dropped because of lower payouts from a pool of natural-resource earnings from all regional Native corporations.

This month’s Sealaska payments will range from $133 to $609 per 100 shares, depending on membership in other Native corporations and other factors. [Read the rest]

What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017?

DEREK THOMPSON

From rural strip-malls to Manhattan’s avenues, it has been a disastrous two years for retail.
There have nine retail bankruptcies in 2017—as many as all of 2016. J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s, and Sears have each announced more than 100 store closures. Sports Authority has liquidated, and Payless has filed for bankruptcy. Last week, several apparel companies’ stocks hit new multi-year lows, including Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, and American Eagle, and Ralph Lauren announced that it is closing its flagship Polo store on Fifth Avenue, one of several brands to abandon that iconic thoroughfare.

So, what the heck is going on? The reality is that overall retail spending continues to grow steadily, if a little meagerly. But several trends—including rise of e-commerce, the over-supply of malls, and surprising effects of a restaurant renaissance—have conspired to change the face of American shopping.

1. People are simply buying more stuff online than they used to.
The simplest explanation for the demise of brick-and-mortar shops is that Amazon is eating retail. Between 2010 and last year, Amazon’s sales in North America quintupled from $16 billion to $80 billion. Sears’ revenue last year was about $22 billion, so you could say Amazon has grown by three Sears in six years. Even more remarkable, according to several reports, half of all U.S. households are now Amazon Prime subscribers.

2. America built way too many malls.
There are about 1,200 malls in America today. In a decade, there might be about 900. That’s not quite the “the death of malls.” But it is decline, and it is inevitable.

3. Americans are shifting their spending from materialism to meals out with friends.
Even if e-commerce and overbuilt shopping space conspired to force thousands of retail store closings, why is this meltdown happening while wages for low-income workers are rising faster than any time since the 1990s?

First, although rising wages are obviously great for workers and the overall economy, they can be difficult for low-margin companies that rely on cheap labor—like retail stores. Cashiers and retail salespeople are the two largest job categories in the country, with more than 8 million workers between them, and the median income for both occupations is less than $25,000 a year. But recently, new minimum-wage laws and a tight labor market have pushed up wages for the poorest workers, squeezing retailers who are already under pressure from Amazon. [Source]

Device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun


Imagine a future in which every home has an appliance that pulls all the water the household needs out of the air, even in dry or desert climates, using only the power of the sun.
That future may be around the corner, with the demonstration this week of a water harvester that uses only ambient sunlight to pull liters of water out of the air each day in conditions as low as 20 percent humidity, a level common in arid areas.

quarts) of water from the air over a 12-hour period, using one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of MOF. Rooftop tests at MIT confirmed that the device works in real-world conditions.
"One vision for the future is to have water off-grid, where you have a device at home running on ambient solar for delivering water that satisfies the needs of a household," said Yaghi, who is the founding director of the Berkeley Global Science Institute, a co-director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute and the California Research Alliance by BASF. "To me, that will be made possible because of this experiment. I call it personalized water."

The system Wang and her students designed consisted of more than two pounds of dust-sized MOF crystals compressed between a solar absorber and a condenser plate, placed inside a chamber open to the air. As ambient air diffuses through the porous MOF, water molecules preferentially attach to the interior surfaces. X-ray diffraction studies have shown that the water vapor molecules often gather in groups of eight to form cubes.

Sunlight entering through a window heats up the MOF and drives the bound water toward the condenser, which is at the temperature of the outside air. The vapor condenses as liquid water and drips into a collector.

"This work offers a new way to harvest water from air that does not require high relative humidity conditions and is much more energy efficient than other existing technologies," Wang said. [Full Story]

The White House is asking for your input on what programs to reform or eliminate


On March 13th, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order that will make the Federal government more efficient, effective, and accountable to you, the American people. This Executive Order directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to present the President with a plan that recommends ways to reorganize the executive branch and eliminate unnecessary agencies.

President Trump wants to hear your ideas and suggestions on how the government can be better organized to work for the American people.

[Share your ideas below by June 12th!]

Infants show racial bias toward members of own ethnicity, against those of others


Two studies by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and their collaborators from the US, UK, France and China, show that six- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate racial bias in favour of members of their own race and racial bias against those of other races.

In the first study, "Older but not younger infants associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music," published in Developmental Science, results showed that after six months of age, infants begin to associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music.

In the second study, "Infants rely more on gaze cues from own-race than other-race adults for learning under uncertainty," published in Child Development, researchers found that six- to eight-month-old infants were more inclined to learn information from an adult of his or her own race than from an adult of a different race.

(In both studies, infants less than six months of age were not found to show such biases).

"The findings of these studies are significant for many reasons," said Dr. Kang Lee, professor at OISE's Jackman Institute of Child Study, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and lead author of the studies. "The results show that race-based bias already exists around the second half of a child's first year. This challenges the popular view that race-based bias first emerges only during the preschool years." Hear Dr. Lee discuss the research results.

Researchers say these findings are also important because they offer a new perspective on the cause of race-based bias.

"When we consider why someone has a racial bias, we often think of negative experiences he or she may have had with other-race individuals. But, these findings suggest that a race-based bias emerges without experience with other-race individuals," said Dr. Naiqi (Gabriel) Xiao, first author of the two papers and postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University. [Read the full study]

Muslim women say domestic violence is a 'beautiful blessing' and show how men should hit wives in Facebook video


An Islamic group has been accused of condoning domestic violence after it described hitting wives as "a beautiful blessing" in a video that has triggered uproar.

The social media video says Muslim men can hit their "obedient" wives but only gently with short sticks known as "sivaaks" and pieces of fabric or scarves instead of fists.

The teacher says “hitting” was "symbolic in nature" and must be done in a “managed way”.

The pair then demonstrate using a sivaak, a folded handkerchief, fabric scrap or coiled scarf on each other.

The pair then agree committing sin is an act requiring disciplinary sin such as disobedience to the husband, immoral acts or cheating or admitting someone to the home the husband does not like.

The women say discipline can be required to “promote tranquillity” in a family home.[Source]

An example of a Muslim man giving his wife a 'beautiful blessing' because she joined in his singing:


"

Lawyer says man dragged off United plane has concussion, lost teeth; legal team files motion


CHICAGO — The passenger forcefully removed from a United Airlines flight this week has a concussion and broken nose, his attorney told reporters Thursday, adding that the 69-year-old physician will file a lawsuit.

Already, attorneys have filed a chancery motion asking that all evidence in the case be preserved. David Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, would not provide a timeline for filing the lawsuit other than to say he had two years to do so, and “I promise you it won’t be that long.”

“If you’re going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence. That’s the law,” he said. “For a long time, airlines — United, in particular — have bullied us. … We want respect and we want dignity. That’s it. Not a big deal.”

The lawsuit will be filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois, the lawyer said, indicating it would target both the airline and the city of Chicago, whose Department of Aviation was involved in removing Dao from the plane. [Source]

[100+ Amazing and Graphic Images From the Eastern Front (WW2)]


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Read More: Massive AC "Tax Relief" Meat Sale Saturday April 15th!


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