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As technology matures — which it seems to be doing constantly
these days — our way of life changes. Sometimes, these changes are
radical, or at least potentially so. For example, meet Siri, the
artificial intelligence (AI) program built into Apple’s new iPhone
4S. Siri is essentially a personal assistant. Users speak to it, it
interprets their words using speech recognition technology, and
then it attends to their requests.
As the “Occupy” protests spread throughout the country, Wall
Street is no longer the only place where the action is heating up.
Members of the movement participating in “Occupy Santa Cruz” got to
have their own moment in the sun earlier this week when two female
protestors walked into a Bank of America and ended up embroiled in
a confrontation. The women asked to close their accounts with the
bank, and in response the manager of the branch threatened to call
the police on them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, yet another teacher has gotten herself
in trouble because of her conduct on the Internet. Union High
School special education teacher Viki Knox wrote on her Facebook
last week that homosexuality was both a “perverted spirit” and a
“sin.” These comments have sparked outrage among many members of
Knox’s community, as is to be expected in a case like this.
Herman Cain, Republican presidential nomination hopeful and
former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, has lately been throwing around the
idea of scrapping the current tax system and replacing it with his
own. The proposed 9-9-9 plan, as he calls it, would cut down
corporate taxes (now close to 40 percent) to 9 percent, federal
income taxes (now around 35 percent) to 9 percent and make
consumers pay a federal sales tax of, you guessed it, 9 percent on
top of any other state tax.
The Senate blocked President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act on
Tuesday, as Democrats barely mustered a majority and the GOP voted
against the act. Obama may have lost, but his new plan of cutting
up the bill and trying to pass it in parts may just work. The
president will chop up the bill and bring each of its conditions to
Congress for a vote.
Insider trading sentencing is getting tougher, the Wall Street
Journal reported, following an analysis of prison sentences and
fines given out to some of the business’s biggest criminals. We
agree with the current trend, and hope it warns others who try to
take advantage of Wall Street and correspondingly, the government
and people involved in the fraudulent cases.
Recently obtained White House materials describe in detail how
senior members of President Barack Obama’s administration used
Republican party presidential nomination candidate and former
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s landmark health care law as a
blueprint for the federal law Romney himself called “Obamacare.”
Some of Romney’s own advisers even helped devise the plan, often
scorned by Republicans.
Sporting a gold chain and two bodyguards at his sides, Kanye
West visited “Occupy Wall Street” on Monday afternoon to voice his
support for the protests. Russell Simmons joined West to fight the
power of Wall Street brokers and what their practices have done to
the American economy. The question is — how much of a publicity
stunt and how much of a true support for a socio-economic movement
The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is a team of
27 handpicked individuals whom President Barack Obama chose to act
as his advisers on issues of job creation. While the idea of a
panel of business and economic experts seems good in theory, some
have raised objections to the particular individuals Obama has
chosen to serve as experts. These contested advisers all have one
thing in common: Far from being beacons of hope in the dimness of
the recession, their companies have actually been cutting jobs
while posting record profits.
Prison inmates have access to few comforts during their time in
jail, and rightfully so. Connecticut’s Department of Correction is
looking to limit these comforts even further, now that it has
banned “pictorial depictions of sexual activity or nudity” in
prisons. In other words, the prisoners will no longer be allowed
access to pornography. This decision has spurred a group of
prisoners to launch a letter-writing campaign in opposition to the
decision, but the DOC staunchly stands behind the ban.
As the old adage goes, desperate times call for desperate
measures. But that bit of folk wisdom does not justify every
instance of desperate action. Take, for instance, the situation in
Topeka, Kan. As is the case with every city in the United States
right now, the economy is taking a severe toll on the city’s
budget, prompting cuts all across the board. To make matters worse,
the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office decided last month to
stop prosecuting misdemeanors.
One of the most important goals of Gov. Chris Christie’s time in
office has been balancing New Jersey’s budget by any means
necessary. But in taking such sometimes extreme austerity measures,
Christie has had an interesting affect on the N.J. state government
staff levels — the number of personnel across all the departments
of the state government has been dwindling rapidly.
Tea party favorite and semi-politician Sarah Palin announced
earlier this week that she would not be making a bid for the
Republican Party’s presidential nomination in the upcoming 2012
election, much to the delight of many. All those spectators waiting
up to this moment with bated breath can now take a sigh of relief.
Throughout most of her time in the limelight, Palin has done very
little to make herself seem like a good choice to lead the nation —
sure, she seemed serious, but not good.
There is a lot of controversy over whether cellphones are
actually dangerous to users. While the World Health Organization
(WHO) considers them “possible carcinogens,” it also recognizes
that more studying needs to be carried out on cellphone radiation
before a definite link is established between mobile communication
devices and cancer.
Say what you will about former President George W. Bush, but the
initiative he began in 2003, the President’s Emergency Plan for
AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has been a resounding success. To date,
PEPFAR has given billions in AIDS relief to 15 developing nations
by relying on the distribution of generic medications to help treat
those who cannot afford treatment on their own.
Yet again, members of the GOP are on the offensive against
government-sponsored family planning programs. The latest threat
comes from Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., whose proposed budget bill
for 2012 aims to ax 79 programs he considers “wasteful.”
Unsurprisingly, this includes Title X, which funds family planning
services for low-income citizens. There is, however, a fatal flaw
in the GOP’s attacks against Title X.
Starbucks already has a reputation as a company committed to
social change — see, for example, the line of Ethos Water that they
carry — so it comes as no surprise that the company is throwing its
hat into the philanthropic ring yet again. This time, Starbucks is
focusing on stimulating the economy. By pairing up with the
Opportunity Finance Network, a nonprofit organization that aims to
give loans to small businesses, Starbucks hopes to help spur
economic growth, something that our country dearly needs these
Social networking sites are veritable goldmines for advertisers.
Drawing on the personal information people readily offer on
websites like Facebook and Twitter, advertisers create and deploy
personalized ads in the hopes that consumers will be drawn in more
readily than ever. A new website, Shopularity, takes the
partnership between social media and advertising to the logical
extreme by doing away with even the facade that users are on the
site to do anything but sell themselves.
Americans are familiar with the high taxes on items such as
cigarettes and alcohol — conversationally referred to as “vice
taxes.” Taxes of this type serve a twofold purpose. On one hand,
they raise revenue for the state, like any other tax. On the other,
they attempt to deter the abuse of such substances, which are or
can be dangerous to the body. Denmark levied a similar new tax on
saturated fats on Saturday, which the country hopes will bring in
revenue and make unhealthy foods a less attractive item to
In a drone attack in Yemen this past Friday, U.S. forces
succeeded in killing al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Unlike the
death of Osama bin Laden, which evoked nearly universal
celebration, al-Awlaki’s death sparked a bit of controversy. That’s
because there’s a major difference between al-Awlaki and bin Laden,
in that the former was a U.S. citizen. As such, it is thought this
is the first time in history when a U.S. citizen was killed because
of intelligence collected on him and the president’s command to do