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25 марта, 04:54

An Open Letter to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

(Don Boudreaux) TweetGov. Doug Ducey R-Arizona Mr. Ducey: In George Will’s recent column you come across as a politician genuinely committed to free markets (March 26).  Excellent!  I warmly applaud your support, for example, of the freeing of trade made possible by NAFTA. Yet I urge you to reconsider your opposition to the legalization of marijuana. As […]

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25 марта, 04:41

How 'Beauty And The Beast' Is Blowing The Doors Off 2017 Box Office

After bowing to a blockbuster $352 million global opening, Disney's live-action fairy tale remake Beauty and the Beast continues to devour the box office. It's stunning first-week performance puts it on pace to reach $500 million as it enters it's second weekend, all but assuring a $1+ billion cume.

25 марта, 04:39

Inside the GOP’s Health Care Debacle

Eighteen days that shook the Republican Party—and humbled a president.

25 марта, 03:17

What's next after Obamacare's latest brush with death?

Republican options include sabotage or deciding to own the law and fix it.

25 марта, 02:17

Here Are Some Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About D.C.'s Missing Teens

WASHINGTON ― Last week, The Huffington Post and other news outlets published stories about the number of missing black and Latinx teenagers in the nation’s capital. In the time since, Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department has tried to address concerns about the rate of missing teens. During a March 16 press conference, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the yearly rate of people reported missing in the District has remained constant since 2014, meaning the latest reports don’t constitute an uptick. She added that there’s no evidence to suggest the recent missing-person reports are somehow related to human trafficking. Bowser’s remarks didn’t do much to reassure D.C. locals or social media users. On Wednesday, tensions between the police and the predominantly black residents of Ward 8 flared during a town hall held to further address concerns. D.C.’s interim police Chief Peter Newsham, who at times seemed slightly dismissive of residents’ concerns about trafficking, was interrupted several times by attendees who wanted more concrete answers from the department. One woman told the panel that while the current cases of missing teens may not be linked to human trafficking, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening in general. In truth, this is a complicated issue. MPD’s stance is that more kids aren’t being reported missing, there’s no evidence of human traffickers taking these teens and police are actively doing their best to make sure all the teens come home safely. But some members of the community aren’t convinced that the police are as concerned about the missing teens as them. There are also questions about which missing kids get Amber Alerts, what the department is doing to combat the stigma surrounding runaways and why no one seems to know the precise number of missing teens. The Huffington Post is going to answer some of these questions for you. If you have any questions not addressed here that you’d like answered, please submit them using this Google form. We’ll update this post if we can provide an answer. How many juveniles are missing in D.C. right now? Twenty-two as of March 22, according to MPD. Is that number going to change? Almost certainly ― the number fluctuates quite a bit. MPD closes 95 percent of missing-person cases, and there’s no minimum waiting period if someone wants to report a kid missing. So the department might tweet about a missing child on Tuesday, for example, but by Wednesday the child will have been located. At least 501 out of 774 people reported missing in D.C. this year are juveniles. MPD has closed 95 percent of missing persons cases this year, Newsham said, and he assured the public that most teens reported missing are ultimately located or returned home. The department is also making an effort to publicize information about every missing person deemed “critically missing.” MPD has faced criticism for not updating the public in a timely manner once a missing kid has been found. They have begun taking steps to change this, including launching a webpage with the most recent missing-persons information. And Bowser is expected to announce a task force to help find missing juveniles and determine what social programs runaway teens have a need for. Why aren’t Amber Alerts issued for all of these teens? According to federal activation criteria, in order for an Amber Alert to be issued, an abduction of a person under the age of 18 must be confirmed. Law enforcement officials have to make the case that the juvenile is at risk of serious bodily harm or injury. Sufficient descriptive information ― such as what the child was wearing or a license plate number for the abductor ― must also be available. Most missing-person cases don’t fit these criteria. But some people argue that the criteria should be expanded to include runaways. A teen who technically left home willingly, but who was actually lured away by a trafficker, wouldn’t fall under the heading of a “confirmed abduction” ― and thus the case wouldn’t get the same police or media attention as a full-fledged Amber Alert. “When you have a teenager who is groomed by a potential trafficker, who’s lured away, that would fall under the runaway category because they were not physically abducted,” said Mary Graw Leary, a law professor at the Catholic University of America and a co-author of Perspectives on Missing Persons Cases. “But I think we’d all agree that that has a different scenario to it than the child who doesn’t like home and runs away.” Why do kids run away from home? And what about human trafficking? Human trafficking remains a huge community concern. The current missing-person cases haven’t been confirmed as evidence of trafficking, but speaking generally, it does go on in the District. Confirmed sex trafficking victims are overwhelmingly female, and 40 percent of them are black, based on data from a 2013 Justice Department report. Meanwhile, Latinx people account for 56 percent of confirmed labor trafficking victims. Juveniles are reported missing for a number of reasons. It’s typically because they failed to check in at home, work or school for innocuous reasons. But there are cases that revolve around conflicts at home. When a younger child is reported missing, they could have been taken by a relative during a custody battle. Missing teenagers are more likely to be running away from physical or sexual abuse. Black and Latinx teens are more susceptible to the type of abuse that causes a teen to run away from home because they’re more likely to live in a high-risk environment. Risk factors that could lead to a child being trafficked for sex include parental substance abuse and physical or sexual abuse at home. Teens in the LGBTQ community and kids in foster care are at an even greater risk, Leary said. Some kids run away because they have a behavioral or mental illness. April, a mom who spoke at Wednesday’s town hall, told the crowd that her daughter is a chronic runaway due to a mental illness. She claims she didn’t hear from MPD for 72 hours after filing a missing-person report for her daughter. April eventually found her daughter on her own in an abandoned building. What does MPD do when a kid is returned home? When a missing juvenile is found, MPD completes an evaluation of his or her family circumstances once he or she returns home. “If there’s any indication that the child could be in any kind of danger, then we’ll take appropriate action,” Newsham said. “If necessary, we will get social services involved.”   What role have the stereotypes of black and Latinx girls played in the media coverage? A huge one. This is evident in the case of Relisha Rudd, an 8-year-old who went missing in D.C. in 2014. The only major national news outlet to cover her disappearance extensively was The Washington Post. Cable news shows did not aggressively cover Relisha’s disappearance like they did for Natalee Holloway, Elizabeth Smart and Caylee Anthony. The media suffers from what is often called “missing white woman syndrome,” meaning that when a story concerns a missing person of color, most news outlets give it only a fraction of the attention they would give a story about a missing white woman. Hillary Potter, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, says this disparity in mainstream media coverage is rooted in the idea that black and brown girls are inherently less valuable. This would explain why MPD appears to use mug shots for missing persons who have arrest records instead of using family photos. (MPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its use of mug shots.) The relative lack of coverage also helps perpetuate the myth that black and brown girls aren’t victimized. And when these cases are covered, it’s not uncommon for news outlets to incorporate one or more common stereotypes about black and Latinx girls (that they’re angry, promiscuous, lawbreaking, etc.).   “We have to consider how, generally, blackness is devalued,” Potter said. “There doesn’t seem to be as much of a care if something happens to us.” If you're always angry about politics, sign up for bruh., a sporadic newsletter by Julia Craven.powered by TinyLetter -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

24 марта, 23:00

We Must End TB By 2030

“From the Indian Prime Minister to the Russian President, from the Indonesian Vice President to the First Lady of Nigeria, from Ministers of Health from South Africa, Thailand and Belarus to people asking for their rights to diagnosis and treatment ― is TB finally getting the political attention and visibility it needs and deserves?” Ending TB by 2030 is one of the SDGs and an ambitious goal that the world must achieve. It will not be easy as the burden is huge: an estimated 2 billion people infected globally, 10.5 million new TB cases every year with just a bit more than 6 000 000 detected and treated with proper care, an increasing drug resistant burden and just one in nine people affected by MDR-TB being diagnosed, treated and cured. A pathetic and slow decline of 1.5% per year of TB incidence versus the 7-10% decline needed. No vaccine, no point of care diagnosis, no lean and short treatment regimen without side effects. Declining investment in research and development. So, where do I get the hope and belief that we will end TB? Where do I see the silver lining in all this? I see it in the fact that if we – as human beings – really want to achieve something, nothing can stop us and we will do it. And now is the first time ever that I feel that we really, really want to end this disease. I feel it in the continuous amazing and long standing leadership of Minister Motsoaledi of South Africa who dared and pushed away all boundaries and challenges in making the South African people healthier and stronger with regards to TB. South Africa is rolling out all the new drugs and diagnostics for all people, is integrating services for TB/HIV, and women and children have the biggest number of people on TB prevention treatment. I see it in Minister Motsoaledi calling on his peers to do more for TB and in his vision of bringing TB to the UN High Level meetings. I feel it in the commitments of the Minister of Health of Thailand who has called for a strong health system to be able to end TB, and in the desire of the Minister of Health of Belarus who has worked to secure quality assured TB treatment and diagnosis to all his citizens. I feel it in the voice of the First Lady of Nigeria who decided to be a champion for TB in her country and globally and encouraged Nigeria’s Minister of Health to declare 2017 the year for accelerated TB case detection. We have a long way to go and it will be difficult – but, we have to agree that we now have a great momentum for TB that we have never had before. It is there when the Vice President of Indonesia, supported by the Stop TB Partnership of Indonesia holds a meeting with the Minister of Health and other ministers to discuss the TB situation and actions in Indonesia. Of course we have hope that we will end TB when Prime Minister Modi of India asked for a plan to End TB in India by 2025 and the Ministry of Health team developed and costed one of the most progressive National Strategic Plans to End TB the world has by 2025. How can we not be strong when the Russian Federation will host the Global Ministerial Conference on TB in Moscow in November 2017 and President Putin is discussing TB with his teams? This is an important milestone on the road to the UN High Level Meeting on TB in September 2018. Of course there is light at the end of the tunnel as we have more and more Zero TB cities and now countries like Maldives and Sri Lanka are planning to go for Zero TB as well. And more light in a different way, as Mayors of 30 cities in 13 countries agreed in the blink of an eye to light up their most important landmarks in red for this World TB Day. Of course there is hope as we now have more than 2,300 Parliamentarians in more than 100 countries that are pushing TB on the political agenda. But more than anything, I feel it in the voices of people affected by TB that are becoming more and more united asking for their rights have access to the newest and most efficient diagnosis, treatment and care. I feel it in the voices of people from communities, civil society and NGOs that are scaling up their work on TB and in TB programs working towards putting people affected by TB at the center of their efforts. We have a long way to go and it will be difficult – but, we have to agree that we now have a great momentum for TB that we have never had before, something so strong from the high burden countries: a desire, and an energy to end TB! Let’s do it! This post is part of the ‘Tuberculosis Today’ series produced by The Huffington Post highlighting the challenges of combatting TB. Tuberculosis is now back in the top ten causes of death globally, and it is the world’s leading infectious disease killer despite being curable and preventable. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

24 марта, 21:38

10 Ways Your Health Can Get Better With Age

Getting old sucks, but there just may be some things to look forward to. Here are 10 ways your health can get better with age.

24 марта, 19:10

Some Links

(Don Boudreaux) TweetHere’s the opening paragraph of Tim Worstall’s calling-out of Dan DiMicco for endorsing protectionism for the U.S. steel industry: I’ve been guilty of more than my fair share of brazen chutzpah over the years but this sally into the form from Dan DiMicco still has the ability to take even my breath away. For DiMicco […]

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24 марта, 17:57

Arthur J. Gallagher Adds Farallone Pacific, Boosts Portfolio

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG) recently acquired Farallone Pacific Insurance Services, LLC. to further enhance its already strong portfolio.

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24 марта, 17:16

Graham: 'No other option' than to use nuclear option if Dems block Gorsuch

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday the Republicans would have “no other option” than to use the so-called nuclear option to confirm Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch if the Democrats block him. “If they filibuster this man, we'll have no other option but to change the rules because if we don't that means President Trump can never make a selection to the Supreme Court and I will not allow that to happen,” Graham said during an appearance on Fox News. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the Democrats will block Neil Gorsuch from receiving the 60 votes he needs for confirmation, all but assuring a showdown with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.If Gorsuch does not get the at least eight Democratic votes he needs to get confirmed, McConnell will have to decide whether the Republicans will lower the standard for Supreme Court confirmations from 60 votes to 50. “What Sen. Schumer is doing is changing 200 years of precedent in the Senate because he cannot stand the pressure from the left,” he said. “And that is sad and I hope some members of the conference will not allow this happen.”Graham voted for Obama nominees Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor because he thought they were qualified, even though they are liberal, he said. “I'm telling my Democratic friends I took a beating for doing what I thought was best for the body and for the judiciary,” he said. “I will not allow you to set aside this election. I didn’t vote for President Trump, but he won and he’s picked a home-run nominee in Neil Gorsuch.” He added that Schumer was a “destructive force” to the Senate as an institution. “This is about the left taking over the Democratic Party,” Graham said. “This is why Trump won. This man is as mainstream a judge as you’ll ever find on the conservative side. “

24 марта, 17:11

Historian: Human History 'Will End When Men Become Gods'

Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian and the internationally best-selling author of Sapiens, has a new book out about the future of humanity, called Homo Deus. He recently sat down with The WorldPost at a Berggruen Institute salon in Los Angeles. In the following interview, he discusses the new authority of “dataism” and godlike powers of science to redesign humanity and create an inorganic, new species ― artificial intelligence. WorldPost: In your previous book, Sapiens, you observed that humans are the only species that can organize themselves around abstract ideas or codes ― myth, religion, ideology. In your new book, Homo Deus, you argue that a new ideology has arisen ― “dataism” ― that is the new organizing principle of humanity. When big data is married to biology ― happening as we speak ― you worry that it will reduce the biological organism to a set of information that can be organized by programmed algorithms to seek a desired outcome. Those who subscribe to this view that “the organism is an algorithm” believe that the genome of humans and other species can be designed to order and that, if computers can process and place into patterns more information than the human brain can, then we can also create a new non-biological species ― artificial intelligence. To be sure, deciphering a deadly virus to stem a spreading plague is something humanity would welcome. But what does it mean to be human in the age of the algorithm if all that it means to be human ― love, empathy, creativity, agony ― falls between lines of code? Are such godlike powers then a great benefit to humanity, or do they portend a dark future? Yuval Noah Harari: Like every major invention, it has both a good and bad potential. But the scale is completely different. I titled the book Homo Deus because we really are becoming gods in the most literal sense possible. We are acquiring abilities that have always been thought to be divine abilities ― in particular, the ability to create life. And we can do with that whatever we want. You talked earlier about how humans create networks of cooperation around abstractions. I don’t like the word “abstractions” very much because most people don’t think in abstractions. That is too difficult for them. They think in stories. And the best stories are not abstract; they are concrete. If you think about the great religions that have united large parts of humankind, people believe gods are very concrete ― there is an angry old man in the sky, and if I do something wrong, he will punish me. In the book, I use the term “fiction,” not abstraction, because what really unites humans are fictional stories. That is also the case with the new revolution that is now unfolding. It is not going to be an abstract revolution but a very concrete one. 'If you have a problem in life, you don’t ask God, you ask Google or Facebook.' The basic idea of dataism is a shift in authority. Previously, authority resided above the clouds and descended down to the pope, the king or the czar. Then for the last two or three centuries, authority came down from the clouds and took up residence in people’s hearts. Your feelings became the highest source of authority. The emotions of the voters in a democracy, not his or her rationality, became the number one authority in politics. In the economics of the consumer society, it is the feelings of the customer that drive every market. The feelings of the individual are the prime authority in ethics. “If it feels good, do it” is the basic ethical ideal of humanism. So authority came down from the clouds, moved to the human heart and now authority is shifting back to the Google cloud and the Microsoft cloud. Data, and the ability to analyze data, is the new source of authority. If you have a problem in life, whether it is what to study, whom to marry or whom to vote for, you don’t ask God above or your feelings inside, you ask Google or Facebook. If they have enough data on you, and enough computing power, they know what you feel already and why you feel that way. Based on that, they can allegedly make much better decisions on your behalf than you can on your own. WorldPost: Is that the ultimate objectivization of reality ― that which reduces your identity to only what data is known or collected? Or is it the opposite: subjectivization as the pure reflection of personal choices and preferences fed back to you? Or, compounded by the subjective bias of the algorithm inputs, is it both: subjective objectification? Harari: Do you mean is it true? WorldPost: What I’m getting at is that there seems to be a double movement going on simultaneously. Data-absorbing, peer-driven social media enables the collection of massive information on a person organized into the ultimate objectification of reality through mathematical algorithms. At the same time, we are seeing an explosion of the “subjectivization of facts” ― alternative facts, fake news ― that is unmoored from any objective reality other than the likes or dislikes of your very similar peers. Harari: I don’t think the “subjectivization of facts” is anything new in what is happening now. This has been going on for thousands of years. All the big religions have been organized around fake news. Just think of the Bible. Fake news lasts forever in some cases. WorldPost: Eternal fake news… Harari: In big historical struggles, history does not go to the truth. It goes to the most effective story. And very often, the most effective story is not true. The idea that people sooner or later will discover that something is untrue usually doesn’t happen, as in the case of all the big religions. With regard to the algorithms, there is a good chance, too, that this will be just a myth that they are the highest source of authority with all the answers. But people will believe that. They will voluntarily, consensually, give the algorithm that kind of authority. And that will be the reality in which we live. We see it happening all around us. If you apply to the bank for a loan or for a job at a big corporation, very likely your application is being processed by an algorithm and not by a human being. Let’s say the algorithm refuses you, and you are not hired. You go to the company and ask why, and they say, “Because the algorithm said no.” And then you ask, “Why did it say no?” And they will say, “We don’t know. If we thought we could get a good reading by ourselves, we wouldn’t need an algorithm.” The thing about the new generation of computer algorithms is that machines are now able to learn by themselves. They sift through immense piles of data and they, at least allegedly, find patterns that humans are unable to find, including whether you are a good fit for that job. And we trust that more and more. There are some very good things about this, but also some big dangers. In the 20th century, we had this big fight over statistical discrimination against entire groups of people ― African Americans, women, gays or Jews ― based on faulty information. People now look back to those days and say, “We must refight those battles.” Yes, perhaps some of them need to be refought. But as a military strategist, I know that people tend to prepare themselves for the previous war, and they miss the coming war. The much bigger danger in the coming decades won’t be this group discrimination, but something far more Kafkaesque ― discrimination against individuals. It doesn’t give you a loan. It doesn’t hire you. The algorithm doesn’t like you. The algorithm is not discriminating against you because you are Jewish, Muslim or gay, but because you are you. There is something about your data that the algorithm doesn’t like. It is not about some category you fall into you. It is only you. There is something that is different about you versus everyone else that raises some warning sign. And you don’t even know what it is. And even if you know what it is, you can’t create a political movement around it because there is no one else in the world who suffers from this particular discrimination. The other side of the coin that is being talked about widely these days is the capacity to individualize. You can write a book for one person. You can compose music or a movie just for one person. So we are developing the capacity to create for one person but also the capacity to oppress just one person. The Israeli military is extremely excited about the potential of having the first total surveillance system, to be used in the occupied territories. They will actually be able to follow each and every person instead of relying on statistics.  'We are developing the capacity to create for one person but also the capacity to oppress just one person.' WorldPost: Here, too, we have the same dialectic: by missing all those intangibles that make each of us a person, all those things that fall between lines of code that don’t fit into the pattern being searched, individuation by an algorithm is actually a form of depersonalization. Doesn’t this kind of depersonalization ― particularly when big data and the algorithm merge with biology to reduce being to nothing more than an immune system ― prepare the way for a “Brave New Biocracy” that will manage human life from “sperm to worm, womb to tomb?” In short, individuation by an algorithm diminishes, not advances, human autonomy, no? Harari: Yes. But again, there is both a danger and a promise. There are many good things about these medical algorithms. Today, you have hundreds of millions of people around the world who have no health care. They don’t have a doctor to diagnose a disease and to recommend treatment. Within a very short time, you will be able to have a much better AI doctor on your smartphone in a village in Colombia than the president of the U.S. has today from human doctors. The big battle in this regard in the 21st century will be between privacy and health. And health will win. Most people will be willing to give up their privacy in exchange for much better health care, based on 24-hour monitoring of what’s happening inside their bodies. Very soon people will walk around with biometric sensors on or even inside their bodies and will allow Facebook, the Chinese government or whomever to constantly monitor what’s happening in their bodies. The day the first cancer cell starts to multiply and spread, someone at Google or at the health authority will know and will be able to very easily nip the cancer in the bud. The day a flu epidemic starts, they will immediately know who are carrying it, and they can take very effective, quick and cheap action to prevent it. So the promises are enormous. The dangers are also enormous. Just think of a place like North Korea. People will be walking around with biometric bracelets. If you see a picture of Kim Jong Un on a wall and your blood pressure elevates, which the algorithm correlates with some emotion like anger, then that is the end of you. WorldPost: China already is developing a system of “social credit” that correlates all your observable behavior ― what you buy, who you talk to, whether you throw trash on the ground ― and gives you a score that will follow you through your life as you apply for college or a home loan. It will also be used to assess political loyalty and monitor official corruption. Harari: We will see more and more of that everywhere. With all the genuine objections and worries that you have expressed, what will ram such a future through the wall is health. People will voluntarily give up their privacy. WorldPost: Health care is the idol that confirms belief in the god of dataism. Harari: Exactly. 'The big battle of the coming century will be between privacy and health. And health will win.' WorldPost: How does your idea of dataism relate to the notion of the “singularity”? Do you see singularity as a kind of scientific Tower of Babel of hubris, a kind of Anthropocene surge, an algorithmic imperialism over all life? Ecology, on the other hand, proposes an equilibrium between nature and human potential. Where does your idea fit within that matrix? Harari: Dataism is very close to singularity. I see singularity as the point beyond which our imagination completely fails because our imagination itself is only the manipulation of what we so far know. There are many things that can bring about the shift to singularity. It could be advances in bioengineering, in machine intelligence or a combination of the two. It could be some completely new technology not yet on the horizon. The key point is that you reach a certain level of technological development that renders all of our assumptions about everything we know about humans and the world irrelevant, because all that can be changed. WorldPost: The ecological perspective is more about the equilibrium it would seek to balance the promise and perils of dataism so we get more of the benefit and less of the darker downside. You seem to be saying we ought to just go with the flow and commit to our mutation. Harari: I’m not saying singularity or dataism are good. I am only looking at the long trajectory of human history. Humans have been getting more and more out of equilibrium as we advance in time. When you try to manipulate the system even more to bring back balance to an earlier state, you solve some of the problems, but the side effects only increase the disequilibrium. So you have more problems. The human reaction then is that we need even more control, even more manipulation. Go back to the 19th century and read Marx and the Communist Manifesto ― he says, “All that is solid melts into air.” His reading of history is that the key characteristic of modern society is that it requires constant change and disruption. The implication is that you cannot live in equilibrium. For modern society, equilibrium is death. Everything collapses if you reach a point of equilibrium. In the case of the economy, it depends on constant growth. If we reach a point of zero growth and continue with that for more than a few years, the entire system will probably collapse. WorldPost: Your book Homo Deus, it seems to me, is really a brilliant update of Goethe’s Faust. In that masterpiece of literature, the Earth Spirit puts down Faust’ hubris as a great achiever of earthly accomplishment by saying, “You are equal to the spirit you understand,” meaning human’s limited understanding is not at the level of the gods. Do you agree? Harari: Not really. Faust, like Frankenstein or “The Matrix,” still has a humanist perspective. These are myths that try to assure humans that there is never going to be anything better than you. If you try to create something better than you, it will backfire and not succeed. The basic structure of all these morality tales is: Act I, humans try to create utopia by some technological wizardry; Act II, something goes wrong; Act III, dystopia. This is very comforting to humans because it tells them it is impossible to go beyond you. The reason I like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World so much is that it plays with the scenario: Act I, we try to create a utopia; Act II, it succeeds. That is far more frightening ― something will come that is better than before. WorldPost: But success is a failure that destroys human autonomy and dignity? Harari: That is an open question. The basic humanist tendency is to think that way. But maybe not. WorldPost: But all of history up to this point teaches that lesson. You are saying it is different now? Harari: Going back to the Earth Spirit and Faust, humans are now about to do something that natural selection never managed to do, which is to create inorganic life ― AI. If you look at this in the cosmic terms of 4 billion years of life on Earth, not even in the short term of 50,000 years or so of human history, we are on the verge of breaking out of the organic realm. Then we can go to the Earth Spirit and say, “What do you think about that? We are equal to the spirit we understand, not you.” Human history began when men created gods. It will end when men become gods. This interview has been edited for clarity. Earlier on the Berggruen Institute: -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

24 марта, 16:30

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Financial Select Sector SPDR

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Financial Select Sector SPDR

24 марта, 14:00

NOAH FELDMAN: Democrats’ Misguided Argument Against Gorsuch. I’m not sure who decided that the…

NOAH FELDMAN: Democrats’ Misguided Argument Against Gorsuch. I’m not sure who decided that the Democratic critique of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch would be that he doesn’t side with the little guy. It’s a truly terrible idea. Like other liberals, I’m still shocked and upset that Judge Merrick Garland never got the vote […]

24 марта, 12:12

The Man Who Would Beat Bibi

Donald Trump wants to team up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make the deal of the century between Israel and the Palestinians. But what if a Trumpian TV star-turned-politician gets Netanyahu first?

24 марта, 12:05

How to Make Employment Fair in an Age of Contracting and Temp Work

Every day, many of us eat at restaurants, stay at hotels, receive packages, and use our digital devices with the assumption that the company we pay for these services — Hilton, Amazon, Apple, etc. — also employs the people who deliver them. This assumption is increasingly incorrect: Our deliveries are often made by contractors and our hotel rooms are cleaned by temporary employees from staffing agencies. This phenomenon is what I call the fissured workplace, the cracks upon which today’s economy largely rest, and it leaves so many without fair wages, a career path, or a safe work environment. And while it’s true that low wage workers — an estimated 29 million people in just 10 industries, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Chief Economist — have been hard hit by the consequences of fissuring for some time, those with college and graduate educations, even in professions once regarded as protected from the ups and downs of churning labor markets, are being affected as well. My exposure to this seismic shift in our economy is not just via my research as an academic. I saw its negative consequences first-hand as President Obama’s head of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the agency responsible for enforcing our nation’s most basic labor standards (minimum wage, overtime, child labor, etc.). What I’ve learned can help both policymakers and business leaders understand why and how this is happening — and what steps we must all take to make work a fair deal for all. First, a quick look at how we got here. Over the past few decades, major companies throughout the economy have faced intense pressure to improve financial performance for private and public investors. They responded by focusing their businesses on core competencies — that is, activities that provide the greatest value to their consumers and investors— and by shedding less essentially activities. Firms typically started outsourcing activities like payroll, publications, accounting, and human resources. But over time, this spread to activities like janitorial work, facilities maintenance, and security. In many cases it went even deeper, spreading into employment activities that could be regarded as core to the company: housekeeping in hotels; cooking in restaurants; loading and unloading in retail distribution centers; even basic legal research in law firms. Like a fissure in a once-solid rock that deepens and spreads, once an activity like janitorial services or housekeeping is shed, the secondary businesses doing that work are affected, often shifting those activities to still other businesses. A common practice in janitorial work, for instance, is for companies in the hotel or grocery industries to outsource that work to cleaning companies. Those companies, in turn, often hire smaller businesses to provide workers for specific facilities or shifts. Because each level of a fissured workplace structure requires a financial return for their work, the further down one goes, the slimmer are the remaining profit margins. At the same time, as you move downward, labor typically represents a larger share of overall costs — and one of the only costs in direct control for satellite players further from the mothership, so to speak. That means the incentives to cut corners rise — leading to violations of our fundamental labor standards. At my former agency, we saw violations related to fissuring in the form of failure to pay janitors, cable installers, carpenters, housekeepers, home care workers, or distribution workers the wages and overtime they had rightly earned — losses typically equivalent to losing three to four weeks of earnings. For a family struggling to get by, that translates to more than five weeks of groceries, a month of rent, or five weeks of child care. Being split off from the main firm doesn’t only affect labor standards compliance, however. It can lower wages and access to benefits. When you work as an employee for a major business, decades of research shows your wages and benefits tend to increase over time, regardless of whether that large employer is a union shop or not. But earnings fall significantly when a job is contracted out —even for identical kinds of work and workers. Opportunities for “climbing the ladder” fade because the person in the mail room (or, more likely, at the IT service desk) is now a subcontractor without a pathway. That not only means lower wage growth and reduced access to benefits, but also diminished opportunities for on-the-job training, protections from social safety nets like unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, access to valuable social networks, and other pathways to upward advancement. Taken together, the fissured workplace contributes to growing earnings inequality. However, there remains a critical paradox for the companies that shed so many activities to other organizations. If the mothership provides the satellite businesses upon which they depend exquisite detail in the timing, specifications, quality, and of course price for their contracted services — and my research and experience say they do — shouldn’t the company have some responsibility for compliance with laws? Shouldn’t they provide opportunities for advancement for “temporary workers” who may work within their company on a full-time basis, often for years? At the Wage and Hour Division, our view was yes, they should. You can’t shirk your responsibility for employees within your establishment if you also dictate how that work is undertaken at the same time. As a result, we focused our efforts — drawing on the laws we enforced and subsequent court rulings on them — to address the impacts of fissuring using multiple approaches. We sought to make sure that independent contractors were truly that and not simply misclassified employees. We conducted investigations of businesses that sought competitive advantage through misclassification, often taking them to court and negotiating major settlements insuring that they would correctly classify employees in the future. We worked with state agencies (in both red and blue states) in charge of workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and tax revenue to fight misclassification by sharing information on problematic employers and industries, and coordinating enforcement on companies that misclassified workers. We also aimed to make sure that all parties affected by the fissured workplace understood their roles in assuring compliance. In many circumstances, for example, we used the law and well-established court opinion to assert joint employment, ensuring that both motherships and satellites had responsibilities for their workers. We did so with staffing agencies and the companies that hired them, and in rapidly growing industries like fracking where — in keeping with its name — fissuring practices quickly spread. In these and many other industries we sought to get the businesses that determined much of the working relationship (e.g. shipbuilders hiring staffing agencies, retailers using logistics companies to run their distribution centers) to play their role in compliance. We also observed that many highly successful businesses were embracing their responsibilities. They chose partners in their supply chains, contracting networks, and franchise systems that complied with the law, and often exceed legal requirements. These firms may benefit from the flexibility afforded by fissured relationships, but they also understand their responsibilities as the center of gravity within those relationships.  The Wage and Hour Division had numerous partnerships with major companies who stood up and accepted their important roles in setting the table for all that happens around them, providing compliance assistance, providing training opportunities, and setting business relationships that allow all parties to do well — and do right by workers. Take the case of Subway. In an industry characterized by low-wage work and widespread non-compliance, Subway entered into a voluntary agreement with the Wage and Hour Division to raise compliance among its system of 27,000 franchisees.  The agreement involves a combination of training, outreach, information sharing, and joint problem solving to let new franchisees understand their responsibilities — and workers their rights under the law. It also provides both parties with information to identify and address continuing compliance issues, particularly among franchisees with significant and persistent problems. We also worked with companies in the agricultural sector, sometimes arising out of enforcement actions and litigation, to find and keep supply chain business partners who obeyed the law. These examples demonstrate that common interest in compliance can exist between business and the government. But because those players’ good behavior can be undermined by competitors who choose not to participate, there’s a continuing need for vigilance by government agencies in our fissured world. This brings me back to the people left behind by the long economic recovery — and well before. If the Trump administration truly cares about those people and hopes to help them, it must address the fissuring forces that helped create today’s inequality. While we can’t roll back economic history, we can seek ways to balance the benefits of new working arrangements with the interests of millions of workers who create enormous value each day for major businesses, their investors, and their customers. Otherwise, a growing part of the labor force will be left further behind. We can start by honestly recognizing the fissuring that has occurred right under our noses — and beneath the feet of imperiled workers — before the growing divide becomes an unbridgeable chasm.

24 марта, 11:55

15 of the Best Children’s Stories of All Time

It can be a challenge finding the right book to read your children. We gathered the best children's stories together to create a must-have list.

24 марта, 03:10

Trump Is Done Negotiating On Health Care, Demands Vote On Friday

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― The Trump White House is done negotiating over repealing and replacing Obamacare, senior officials said Thursday night, and Republicans are moving ahead with a vote on their bill Friday, even though they seem to lack enough support for passage and recalcitrant conservatives and moderates continued talking. Tension boiled over in a meeting between top administration officials ― including top strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus ― and Republican lawmakers hours after House leadership delayed a scheduled vote on their health care legislation Thursday. President Donald Trump, according to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, is done negotiating, and House Republicans are scheduled to vote Friday. If the vote fails, Mulvaney said, the president was prepared to leave Obamacare in place. In calling the bluff of on-the-fence lawmakers, Trump runs a massive risk of violating a primary campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare and suffering a major legislative defeat in his first effort to pass major legislation. While many Republicans have been arguing that failure to repeal Obamacare would sink the president’s entire agenda ― and likely hand Congress to the Democrats in 2018 ― Mulvaney signaled that the administration didn’t intend to give up on other plans, and would move onto an ambitious tax reform effort if the repeal bid failed. Chances are fairly high that Trump will have his bluff called, as the conservative bloc of House members continued to insist the bill fell short of the promised full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, left the meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and administration officials saying that negotiations continue precisely because his group was not yet on board with the final product. And then Mulvaney said the time for deals was over. That looked to be a clear signal of failure, but there are, at least, some indications that Freedom Caucus conservatives could be split. Meadows reported Thursday night that, while he was still leaning no, there are a number of conservative wins in the new legislation, including the elimination of “essential health benefits” that require insurers to cover basic health care services. There also were certain “assurances” that the president and his staff made that could persuade conservatives, he added, though he wouldn’t elaborate. When Meadows was asked about Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, and how walking away from a negotiation was textbook Trump, Meadows said that in order to get the best deal, “you always have to be ready to walk away from any negotiation.” “Yeah, I read his book too,” Meadows said, acknowledging that “the bill has improved.” What conservatives view as improvements, however, are clear losses for moderates. A large bloc of rank-and-file Republicans could flee from the bill, especially if it’s clear by Friday afternoon that Republicans, as is likely, don’t have the votes for passage. The Freedom Caucus is meeting late Thursday night to discuss where members stand, but if they follow through on promises to oppose it without more of their demands being met, they can sink the bill and motivate moderates to oppose it as well. There are still a number of Republicans sitting on the fence, but once it’s clear the bill would lose, more members may decide to vote no. In a sign of just how deep the uncertainty in the GOP ranks runs, Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) told HuffPost Thursday night after the special conference meeting that he was undecided. The legislation that was to be put to a vote Thursday was said to be a take-it-or-leave-it, final offer from the White House. It contained clear conservative wins, including the elimination of essential benefits such as maternity care and mental illness treatment. It also was meant to appease those centrist Republicans concerned too many people will be tossed from the health insurance rolls, by keeping a 0.9 percent Medicare surcharge tax from the Affordable Care Act on high-income earners for six years. That would add about $15 billion to a fund to help states defray costs. Despite the bill’s dire straits, the mood Thursday night in the GOP conference meeting was positive, and many members left hopeful, even confident. “We didn’t even discuss votes,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), one of the biggest boosters for the repeal and Trump’s first supporter in Congress. “This was a plea, one-on-one-on-one, for the entire conference to come together as a team, to look in the mirror, understand we are the governing body.” A procedural vote was expected at 10 a.m. Friday, followed by a vote on passage of the bill in the afternoon. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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24 марта, 01:05

Valeant: The End Of The Michael Pearson Era

Authored by Roddy Boyd via The Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, the corporate poster-child for price-gouging, tax-inversion and hedge-fund manager wealth destruction quietly severed all ties with J. Michael Pearson, its former chief executive officer and longtime guiding light, in January according to its annual proxy statement filed this morning. While Pearson stepped down from Valeant in May 2016, and struck a wide-ranging separation agreement that paid him $83,333 per month for consulting–especially the much-touted and at least temporarily disastrous Walgreens contract–his primary job was to cooperate with the seemingly eternally expanding roster of civil and criminal investigations. The deal with Pearson was supposed to last through this December and the use of the word “initial” in the contract’s wording was a suggestion it might be renewed. Valeant, in the Proxy, says it last paid him in October, and in December its board of directors determined no more payments would be made: “In December 2016, the Board determined that we are not in a position to make any further payments to Mr. Pearson, including in connection with his then-outstanding equity awards with respect to 3,053,014 shares.” Pearson’s agreement was terminated in January, for unspecified reasons. Assuming that Valeant’s language isn’t implying that the company simply doesn’t have the cash available to pay Pearson, then a legitimate question becomes whether he did anything to violate the terms of his agreement through non-cooperation. Given that it paid him $1 million annually with full-benefits, allowing him to have an office, an assistant and legal fees paid for, this doesn’t seem to be in his best interests. Also of note is the timing of the cessation of payments to Pearson in October given that charges against Philidor Rx Services were filed on November 17. While it is highly unlikely that Valeant’s board would have a sense of when–or even if–additional charges might be brought, their own counsel was assuredly aware that federal prosecutors have a long-standing practice of refusing to negotiate settlements with companies where they are actively pursuing indictments against current leadership. (Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation readers will recall our investigative work from October 2015 that began an ongoing re-examination of the company’s ethics and business practices that has forced its share price to $10.86 in recent trading, down from over $257 in July, 2015.) A call to Scott Hirsch, Valeant’s Communications chief, seeking comment was not returned.

24 марта, 00:35

The NCAA Will Keep Events Out Of North Carolina Unless HB2 Is Repealed

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); The NCAA will not hold any of its college sports championship events in North Carolina for at least the next five years if the state’s legislature fails to repeal an anti-transgender law it passed last year, the NCAA said Thursday. Last year, the NCAA moved seven championship events ― including men’s NCAA Tournament games ― out of North Carolina after the passage of HB2, a law that prohibited localities from enacting laws to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and required that students at North Carolina schools use bathrooms matching their gender assignment at birth. Next week, the NCAA will begin selecting the hosts of championship events that will be held between 2018 and 2022. North Carolina cities have submitted bids for many of those events. But if the state doesn’t repeal HB2 soon, it won’t win hosting rights for any of them. “Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state,” the NCAA said in a statement Thursday, citing the need to “assure a safe, healthy, discrimination free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events.” NCAA reaffirms North Carolina championship stance. pic.twitter.com/2XqPodlQUP— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 23, 2017 Lawmakers filed legislation to repeal HB2 in the state Senate earlier this week. The repeal bill passed its first procedural hurdle Wednesday. A previous attempt to repeal HB2 after the election of Gov. Roy Cooper (D) ― who ran on his opposition to the law ― failed after a compromise fell apart at the last minute. Cooper renewed calls for the law’s repeal on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of HB2’s passage. His statement referenced sporting events the state had lost; in addition to NCAA events, the Atlantic Coast Conference relocated its championships from the state, and the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans. “Today marks a dark anniversary for our state. For one year now, HB 2 has harmed our reputation and cost our economy thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars,” Cooper said in a statement. “I have offered numerous compromises and remain open to any deal that will bring jobs and sports back to North Carolina and begin to repair our reputation.” “North Carolinians have spoken clearly that HB 2 does not reflect our values and must be repealed,” he continued. “Legislative Republicans have been all too happy to use their supermajorities to pass damaging partisan laws. It’s time for them to step up, meet halfway, and repeal HB 2.” North Carolina’s two most prominent college basketball coaches renewed their previous criticisms of the law during the NCAA Tournament last week, after Duke lost its second-round game to South Carolina. The game would have been played in Greensboro, but the NCAA moved it to Greenville, South Carolina, because of HB2. “It would be nice if our state got as smart and also would host not just basketball tournaments but concerts and other NCAA events. But maybe we’ll get there in the next century,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the loss. “Look, it’s a stupid thing. That’s my political statement. If I was president or governor I’d get rid of it.” “It shouldn’t just be about athletic events,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said this week. “It should be about what’s right and wrong. And what we have now is wrong.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

23 марта, 23:09

How the GOP could still salvage the Obamacare repeal

Leaders have at least a half dozen options to get to 215 votes.