"In national politics, the influence of money is a perennial concern, and the 2012 election cycle has involved a particular frenzy of campaign spending. But to focus exclusively on election spending is to overlook the staggering sums—more than $3 billion every year since 2008—that are devoted to old-fashioned lobbying.
To an outsider, the variety of organizations that seek influence in Washington can be startling. There is the Window Covering Manufacturers Association, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild. There is a lobby for duck hunters and one for motorcyclists. The astonishing diversity of organizations that lobby might give the impression that they represent the full spectrum of American life, from pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce to unions like the AFL-CIO, and from right to left—with plenty of groups, like the National Safety Council, that have no obvious ideological coloration.
But to conclude from this diversity that all Americans have at least some kind of organization looking out for them would be wrong. In decades of researching American political lobbies, we have found that there are huge gaps in who is represented. And, as an old Washington saying goes, 'If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.'"
"The mean net worth (assets, such as a home or retirement account, minus debt) of middle-class families plunged 28% to $93,150 in 2010 from $129,582 in 2001. Meanwhile, the mean net worth of the upper class edged 1% higher over the course of the decade to $574,788. Fry said the upper class was better able to cushion themselves against housing losses because they are more diversified and have much of their wealth in stocks, bonds and other investments.
The middle class also took a bigger hit on the pay front. While incomes across all class levels declined for the first time since World War II, the middle class saw the biggest decline, with a median income for a four person household declining to roughly $70,000 in 2010 from about $73,000 in 2001, the report said. The median income for the lower class is $23,000 and about $113,000 for the upper class. The middle class is also giving up more income to the rich. In 2010, the upper income group took in 46% of all income, up from 29% in 1970. The middle income group took in 45% of income, down significantly from 62% in 1970."
After remaining stable for most of human history, the world's population has exploded over the last two centuries. The boom is not over: The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years.
The Los Angeles Times has produced an in-depth interactive feature centered around the impact of an increasing global population. With videos, population clocks, narrated graphics, maps, photos and articles, this is treasure trove of resources for a population geography unit.
It is both. But that answer requires looking more deeply at the meanings of the words "theory" and "fact."
In everyday usage, "theory" often refers to a hunch or a speculation. When people say, "I have a theory about why that happened," they are often drawing a conclusion based on fragmentary or inconclusive evidence.
The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.
Many scientific theories are so well-established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics). Like these other foundational scientific theories, the theory of evolution is supported by so many observations and confirming experiments that scientists are confident that the basic components of the theory will not be overturned by new evidence. However, like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is subject to continuing refinement as new areas of science emerge or as new technologies enable observations and experiments that were not possible previously."
"Richard Leakey predicts skepticism over evolution will soon be history.
Not that the avowed atheist has any doubts himself.
Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist expects scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that 'even the skeptics can accept it.'
'If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it's solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive,' Leakey says, 'then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges.'
Leakey, a professor at Stony Brook University on Long Island, recently spent several weeks in New York promoting the Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya. The institute, where Leakey spends most of his time, welcomes researchers and scientists from around the world dedicated to unearthing the origins of mankind in an area rich with fossils.
His friend, Paul Simon, performed at a May 2 fundraiser for the institute in Manhattan that collected more than $2 million. A National Geographic documentary on his work at Turkana aired this month on public television."
"Archaeologists working in one of the most impenetrable rain forests in Guatemala have stumbled on a remarkable discovery: a room full of wall paintings and numerical calculations.
The buried room apparently was a workshop used by scribes or astronomers working for a Mayan king. The paintings depict the king and members of his court. The numbers mark important periods in the Maya calendar.
The room is about the size of a walk-in closet. It's part of the buried Maya city of Xultun. There are painted murals on three walls, depicting a resplendent king wearing a feather and four other figures. Maya paintings this old — the site dates to the ninth century — are very rare; tropical weather usually destroys them."
"Live from the TED Stage in Long Beach, the 2012 TED Prize winner – the City 2.0 – spoke through the voices of world leaders, advocates, and visionaries, calling on people around the world to forge a new urban outlook.
In December, for the first time ever, the TED Prize went not to an individual but to an idea on which our planet’s future depends: the City 2.0. This is the city of the future in which more than ten billion people must somehow live happily, healthfully, and sustainably.
Today, the official “wish” of the City 2.0 was unveiled in the form of a film showing the wish’s key phrases on billboards, graffiti and stock market tickers. Its message: “I am the crucible of the future…where humanity will either flourish or fade. Dream me. Build me.”
Accompanying the wish is a new online platform that allows citizens anywhere to participate in the creation of their own City 2.0.
With context and urgency expressed through talks on the city by Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, Harvard professor and economist Edward Glaeser, and Vice Mayor of Long Beach Suja Lowenthal, the words of the City 2.0 wish called for action with these words:
“Imagine a platform that brings you together, locally and globally. Combine the reach of the cloud with the power of the crowd. Connect leaders, experts, companies, organizations and citizens. Share your tools, data, designs, successes, and ideas. Turn them into action.”"
"This classic 25-word definition pares entrepreneurship to its essence and explains why it's so hard. And so addictive.
As an entrepreneur, you surely have an elevator pitch, the pithy 15-second synopsis of what your company does and why, and you can all but repeat it in your sleep. But until recently, I’d never seen a good elevator pitch for entrepreneurship itself—that is, what you do that all entrepreneurs do?
Now I've seen it, and it comes from Harvard Business School, of all places. It was conceived 37 years ago by HBS professor Howard Stevenson. I came across it in the book Breakthrough Entrepreneurship (which I highly recommend) by entrepreneur and teacher Jon Burgstone and writer Bill Murphy, Jr. Of Stevenson’s definition, Burgstone says, 'people often need to say it out loud 50 or 100 times before they really understand what it means.' Here it is:
'Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.'"
A best-selling Swedish writer moves to Africa and learns to listen.
The simplest way to explain what I’ve learned from my life in Africa is through a parable about why human beings have two ears but only one tongue. Why is this? Probably so that we have to listen twice as much as we speak.
In Africa listening is a guiding principle. It’s a principle that’s been lost in the constant chatter of the Western world, where no one seems to have the time or even the desire to listen to anyone else. From my own experience, I’ve noticed how much faster I have to answer a question during a TV interview than I did 10, maybe even 5, years ago. It’s as if we have completely lost the ability to listen. We talk and talk, and we end up frightened by silence, the refuge of those who are at a loss for an answer.
I’m old enough to remember when South American literature emerged in popular consciousness and changed forever our view of the human condition and what it means to be human. Now, I think it’s Africa’s turn.
I found these cartograms from an article in the Telegraph and was immediately impressed. The cartograms originated here and use data from the Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project as to create the int...
This series of cartograms shows some imbalanced populations (such as the pictured Australia) by highlighting countries that have established forward capitals. Question to ponder: Do forward capitals change the demographic regions of a country significantly enough to justify moving the capital?
For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead.
• They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation. • They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.” • The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them. • Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.” • If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube. • Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds. ....."
Where did time-telling come from? What are time zones and why are there so many of them? Get the answers to these questions and more in this journey through the history of time -- from sundials to hourglasses to modern clocks. Lesson by Karen Mensing, animation by Avi Ofer.
"Why it's important to face the truth about U.S. torture tactics as we honor Americans in uniform."
"This summer, it’s believed that the United States Senate’s intelligence committee finally will release a report on 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' that euphemistic phrase for what any reasonable person not employed by the government would call torture. The report has been three years in the making, with investigators examining millions of classified documents. The news service Reuters says the report will conclude that techniques such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation do not yield worthwhile intelligence information.
So here we are, into our eleventh year after 9/11, still at war in Afghanistan, still at war with terrorists, still at war with our collective conscience as we grapple with how to protect our country from attack without violating the basic values of civilization — the rule of law, striving to achieve our aims without corrupting them, and restraint in the use of power over others, especially when exercised in secret.
In future days and years, how will we come to cope with the reality of what we have done in the name of security? Many other societies do seem to try harder than we do to come to terms with horrendous behavior commissioned or condoned by a government. Beginning in 1996, in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission held hearings at which whites and blacks struggled to confront the cruelty inflicted on human beings during apartheid.
And perhaps you caught something said the other day by the president of Brazil, Dilma Roussef. During the early 70′s, she was held in prison and tortured repeatedly by the military dictators who ruled her country for nearly 25 years. The state of Rio de Janeiro has announced it will officially apologize to her. Earlier, when she swore in members of a commission investigating the dictatorship, President Roussef said: 'We are not moved by revenge, hate or a desire to rewrite history. The need to know the full truth is what moves us.'
In other words, 'You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.'"
"What science tells us about the incredible shrinking childhood."
"Family stress can disrupt puberty timing as well. Girls who from an early age grow up in homes without their biological fathers are twice as likely to go into puberty younger as girls who grow up with both parents. Some studies show that the presence of a stepfather in the house also correlates with early puberty. Evidence links maternal depression with developing early. Children adopted from poorer countries who have experienced significant early-childhood stress are also at greater risk for early puberty once they’re ensconced in Western families.
Bruce Ellis, a professor of Family Studies and Human Development at the University of Arizona, discovered along with his colleagues a pattern of early puberty in girls whose parents divorced when those girls were between 3 and 8 years old and whose fathers were considered socially deviant (meaning they abused drugs or alcohol, were violent, attempted suicide or did prison time). In another study, published in 2011, Ellis and his colleagues showed that first graders who are most reactive to stress — kids whose pulse, respiratory rate and cortisol levels fluctuate most in response to environmental challenges — entered puberty earliest when raised in difficult homes. Evolutionary psychology offers a theory: A stressful childhood inclines a body toward early reproduction; if life is hard, best to mature young. But such theories are tough to prove.
Social problems don’t just increase the risk for early puberty; early puberty increases the risk for social problems as well. We know that girls who develop ahead of their peers tend to have lower self-esteem, more depression and more eating disorders. They start drinking and lose their virginity sooner. They have more sexual partners and more sexually transmitted diseases. “You can almost predict it” — that early maturing teenagers will take part in more high-risk behaviors, says Tonya Chaffee, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco, who oversees the Teen and Young Adult Health Center at San Francisco General Hospital. Half of the patients in her clinic are or have been in the foster system. She sees in the outlines of their early-developing bodies the stresses of their lives — single parent or no parent, little or no money, too much exposure to violence."
In the past 50 years, college graduation rates in developed countries have increased nearly 200%, according to Education at a Glance 2011, a recently published report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report shows that while education has improved across the board, it has not improved evenly, with some countries enjoying much greater rates of educational attainment than others. Based on the report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 developed countries with the most educated populations.
The countries with the most highly educated citizens are also some of the wealthiest in the world. The United States, Japan and Canada are on our list and also have among the largest GDPs. Norway and Australia, also featured, have the second and sixth-highest GDPs per capita, respectively. All these countries aggressively invest in education.
The countries that invest the most in education have the most-educated people. All of the best-educated countries, except for the UK, fall within the top 15 OECD countries for greatest spending on tertiary — that is, college or college-equivalent — spending as a percentage of GDP. The U.S. spends the second most and Canada spends the fourth most.
Interestingly, public expenditure on educational institutions relative to private spending by these countries is small compared with other countries in the OECD. While the majority of education is still funded with public money, eight of the countries on our list rely the least on public funding as a percentage of total education spending.
"Finally, Zuckerman argues that the lesson from the Arab spring is that revolutions are touched off by everyday people with everyday grievances – arbitrary detention, corruption and police brutality – and those people will use the tools they are familiar with to get the word out.
The first thing that comes to mind after you capture a mobile phone video of the police murdering a family member isn't
"Let's see, I wonder if there's a purpose-built activist tool that I can use for distributing this clip?"
Rather, the first thing that comes to mind is, "I'd better post this on Facebook/YouTube/Twitter so that everyone can see it.""