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  1. Americans would receive $2,000 stimulus check each month through COVID-19 crisis under proposed legislationOHIO (WJW) — Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced legislation Tuesday that would provide a $2,000 monthly payment to qualifying Americans until employment returns to pre-COVID-19 levels. According to a press release, the Emergency Money for the People Act would mean $2000 monthly payments for those over the age of 16 who make less than $130,000 annually. The release states that while the CARES Act was “an important first step” to help those impacted by the pandemic, “it does not provide nearly enough support for American families.” The release said the act also fixes a “bug” in the CARES Act to ensure college students and adults with disabilities can still receive the payments even if claimed as a dependent. The release also states: “The Emergency Money for the People Act additionally recognizes that not everyone has a bank or a home address to receive a check – so it allows individuals to get this money through direct deposit, check, pre-paid debit card, or mobile money platforms such as Venmo, Zelle, or PayPal.” “The economic impact of this virus is unprecedented for our country. As millions of Americans file for unemployment week over week, we have to work quickly to patch the dam – and that means putting cash in the hands of hard-working families,” Ryan said in the release. “Many Ohioans are just receiving – or about to receive – the first cash payment we passed in the CARES Act. Now it’s time for Congress to get to work on the next step to provide relief for those who have been hardest hit in this pandemic.” Eligibility factors would include: Every American adult age 16 and older making less than $130,000 annually would receive at least $2,000 per month. Married couples earning less than $260,000 would receive at least $4,000 per month. Qualifying families with children will receive an additional $500 per child – families will receive funds for up to three children. For example, a married couple making under $260K with 3 kids would receive $5,500 per month. Those who had no earnings, were unemployed, or are currently unemployed would also be eligible. Those who were not eligible in 2019 or 2018 but would be eligible in 2020, could submit at least two consecutive months of paychecks to verify income eligibility. The Emergency Money for the People Act also expands the program to millions more Americans who were excluded from the CARES cash rebates – such as college students and adults with disabilities who are still claimed as a dependent. The individual will receive the payment and their parent or guardian will receive the dependent credit. Source: https://fox8.com/news/americans-would-receive-2000-stimulus-check-each-month-through-covid-19-crisis-under-proposed-legislation/
  2. How a mystery man produced thousands of the ugliest counterfeit $1 bills ever made — and eluded federal agents for more than a decade. In 1938, a New York cigar shop owner went to the bank to cash his daily profits. As the teller sifted through the haul, she spotted an unusual $1 bill. It felt like cheap paper in her hands, the lettering was askew, and George Washington looked more like an animated corpse than a noble head of state. It was, no doubt, the worst counterfeit she’d seen in all her years. The bill was sent to the United States Secret Service. Soon, thousands more just like it came pouring in, each more abysmal than the last. For 10 years, agents searched far and wide for the source, launching the most extensive (and expensive) counterfeit investigation in American history. The culprit was deemed to be “the most successful counterfeiter of modern times” — a mastermind. But the bills were made by no master: They were the work of a 73-year-old junk collector. The beginning Back in 1890, a 13-year-old boy named Emerich Juettner boarded a ship in Austria and set off through choppy seas for the promise of a better life. He settled in New York City and soon found work as a picture frame gilder. But his true passion was the art of invention: Throughout his 20s, he spent late nights in a tenement apartment concocting various blueprints — everything from a new type of camera (rejected by Kodak) to specially engineered Venetian blinds (rejected by a window shade manufacturer). Eventually, Juettner settled into life as a family man. By 1918, he was happily married with two children, and employed as a maintenance man at an Upper West Side apartment complex. For several decades, he enjoyed a modest and uneventful life. Juettner at the age of 73 But when his wife unexpectedly passed away in 1937, Juettner, then 61, found himself alone, “too old” to work in maintenance, and in financial peril. His children had long moved out and started lives of their own, and the US was in the throes of a recession that saw a 30% decline in industrial production and sky-high unemployment rates. He was jobless with nowhere to turn. So, the sexagenarian began collecting junk. He bought a used, two-wheel pushcart and spent long days ambling about the streets of New York picking up the discarded goods of city dwellers and selling off the occasional find to a wholesale dealer. But it soon became clear that this wasn’t going to cut it: He had to find a way to make money — fast — or he’d soon be out on the streets with the bric-a-brac. The scheme Juettner assessed his skills: In his youth, he’d acquired an “elementary knowledge” of metal engraving. During his time as an aspiring camera inventor, he’d also dabbled in photography. What could he make of that? As it so happened, this was just the résumé for a career in counterfeiting. At the time, replicating the look and feel of US currency was considered an expensive and difficult craft, reserved for criminal cartels with deep pockets. It was a technical process involving masterful artistry and specialized tools — and it was “nearly impossible” to elude authorities. But Juettner would not be deterred. A dramatization of Juettner’s counterfeit operation, as seen in the 1950 film, Mister 880 One morning in November of 1938, he snapped pictures of a $1 bill, transferred the images to a pair of zinc plates (using, among other things, a bath of acid), then meticulously filled in small details of the bill by hand. On a small hand-driven printing press in the kitchen of his brownstone flat at 204 W. 96th Street, he began minting fake $1 bills. The search The day after Juentter began his operation, the Secret Service, which handled counterfeiting cases at the time, received a curious $1 bill that had been passed off at a cigar shop on Broadway and 102nd Street. It was like nothing they’d ever seen. First off, no self-respecting counterfeiter had ever taken the time and trouble to replicate $1 bills (usually, it was higher denominations). Secondly, counterfeiters usually took great pride in their work: They were masters of their craft and vied to create currency so artistically sound that it was indistinguishable from the real deal. But this bill was so poorly done that the Secret Service thought the perpetrator was intentionally mocking them. It was printed on cheap bond paper that could be found at any stationary store. The serial numbers were “fuzzy” and misaligned, the Secret Service later said. George Washington’s likeness was “clumsily retouched, murky and deathlike,” with black blotches for eyes. And just for good measure, the ex-president’s name was misspelled “Wahsington.” A recreation of a 1938 memorandum from the Secret Service’s counterfeit inspection lab (text via “Old Eight-Eighty,” St. Clair McKelway, 1948) Within the month, 40 more of the very same $1 bills, used to buy goods at shops all over the city, showed up at the crime lab. By mid-1938, the tally grew to 585. The Secret Service dubbed the mystery man “Mister 880,” after his case file number. For James J. Maloney, the supervising agent of the Secret Service’s New York bureau, the hunt was an “unbearably provoking” experience. Under his tutelage, the Secret Service had seized millions in counterfeit bills, oftentimes before they even went into circulation. The demise of most of these counterfeiters was greed — but Mister 880 was different. He seemed to use his bills just enough to survive, never passing off more than $15 per week. He also never spent money in the same place twice: His “hits” spanned subway stations, dime stores, and tavern owners all over Manhattan. Investigators set up a map of New York in their office, marking each $1 counterfeit location with a red thumbtack. They handed out some 200,000 warning placards at 10,000 stores. They tracked down dozens of folks who’d spent the bills. Top: A real US dollar (1935); Bottom: A $1 counterfeit made by Emerich Juettner But 10 years came and went, and the search for Mister 880 turned into the largest and most expensive counterfeit investigation in Secret Service history. By 1947, the Secret Service had documented some $7,000 of the distinctively terrible fake $1 bills — about 5% of the $137,318 of fake currency estimated to be in circulation nation-wide. As it turned out, the worst counterfeiter in history was also the most elusive. And it would take a fire (and a crew of 12-year-old kids) to smoke him out. The tip On a chilly afternoon in January of 1948, 7 schoolboys were rustling around in a vacant lot in the Upper West Side and uncovered something strange. Buried in the snow, among a pile of car tires, old bird cages, and a rusty baby carriage, were two zinc engraving plates and “30 funny-looking dollar bills.” While shopkeepers all over the city had accepted the bills without hesitation, the gaggle of 12-year-olds immediately identified them as fakes. A week later, one boy’s father caught him playing poker with a strange bill and turned it into the police, who handed it over to the Secret Service. After some investigative work, they determined the plates were in the hands of one John Canning, an industrious 10-year-old who’d acquired them through the trade of a Japonese bayonet. The plates, they determined, were the work of their mystery man, Mister 880. A Secret Service agent gives a presentation on how to detect counterfeit bills (The Marshall News Messenger; Marshall, Texas; 1949) They soon tracked down the lot where the boys found the plates and learned that a few weeks earlier, there had been a fire in a bordering apartment; the firefighters had entered to find the place full to the brim with junk, and had thrown them out the window into the alley to make room. The Secret Service had their guy. “Mister 880” was about to get a name. The capture Agents busted into the brownstone, expecting to find a criminal mastermind. Instead, they were greeted by a jovial 73-year-old — “5’3” tall, [with a] lean hard muscled frame, a healthy pink face, bright blue eyes, a shiny bald dome, a fringe of snowy hair over his ears, a wispy white mustache, and hardly any teeth.” It was Emerich Jeuttner, the old junk collector. Juettner seemed unfazed and endearingly aloof. When answering questions, he’d pause and offer a toothless grin. Nonchalantly, he admitted to his crimes: “How long have you been making these bills?” “Oh, 9 or 10 years — a long time.” “You admit it?” “Of course I admit it. They were only $1 bills. I never gave more than one of them to any one person, so nobody ever lost more than $1.” All this time, their man wasn’t trying to hide at all. In an examination of the apartment, agents found a printing press, ink, photo negatives, and a drawer full of $1 bills that didn’t meet his bar of quality. The news of Juettner’s arrest made for some salacious headlines in NYC (various papers; 1948) Shortly thereafter, Juettner — also known by the aliases “Edward Mueller” and “Edward Miuller” — was arrested and escorted downtown. On September 3, 1948, Juettner’s case came before judge John W. Clancy in US District Court in New York City. He faced 3 counts, all bearing possible 10-year sentences: Possession of counterfeit plates, the passage of counterfeit bills, and the manufacturing of said bills. Adorned in a frayed gray suit and a wrinkled felt hat, Juettner sat quietly in the hot seat, flashing the occasional grin to the court stenographer. The man’s age (73) and likeability did a number on the judge: Juettner was given a dramatically reduced prison sentence of 1 year and 1 day — a duration that allowed for parole after 4 months. And, for good measure, he was made to pay a fine of $1. The payoff Shortly after the trial, St. Clair McKelway, a New Yorker reporter, covered Juettner’s saga in a 3-part series (1, 2, 3). This drew international attention to the case and led to an Academy Award-winning film (“Mister 880”) in 1950. Through the optioning of his life rights, Juettner ended up making more money from the film than he had in his 10 years as a counterfeiter. He returned to a life of normalcy, and lived out the rest of his days in the suburbs of Long Island, where he died in 1955, at the age of 79. Years before his death, a reporter at the New York Daily News asked Juettner if he’d ever considered returning to a life of counterfeiting, the craft to which he’d so unskillfully devoted more than a decade. “No,” he responded. “There wasn’t enough money in it.” Source
  3. For years, the number of Americans who have reported using the internet, social media, and smartphones has been on a meteoric rise. But that rate has slowed to a near-stall. New data published this week by the Pew Research Center show that, since 2016, that number has plateaued, indicating those technologies have reached a saturation point among many groups of people. The percentage of Americans using smartphones (77%), the internet (88% to 89%), and social media (69%) has remained virtually unchanged during the last two years. “Put simply, in some instances there just aren’t many non-users left,” the report states. More than 90% of adults younger than 50 report they use the internet or own a smartphone. This number squares with some of the trends noticed earlier this year by Gartner, a global research firm. The fourth quarter of 2017 marked the first time since 2004 that the market for smartphones declined globally compared to the prior year. People are less frequently buying new phones. “While demand for high quality, 4G connectivity and better camera features remained strong, high expectations and few incremental benefits during replacement weakened smartphone sales,” the firm reported. That’s already posed significant challenges for foreign companies looking to break into the US market. The Chinese brand Xiaomi is the fourth-largest seller of smartphones in the world. But as CNBC reported earlier this year, any goals it has for getting its products into American hands will be tough, with market saturation being a big reason why. Of course, there are segments of the US population that represent room in which to expand the use of smartphones and the internet. About 60% of Americans living in rural zones complain they have internet speeds so slow that it inhibits use. There’s also the population over 50 years old, which often complains that learning a new technology isn’t worth their time, according to the Pew report. In 2015, a Pew survey showed 34% of people over 65 said they had no confidence in their ability to perform tasks online. So for companies looking to make inroads, some of the challenges are clear: Invent products that make usability improvements to what’s already offered by Apple or Samsung that can be applied across a broad age range of people. It’s a tall order, but a tighter market could just pave the way for a newer, better wave of technology. Source
  4. Analysis The US Senate reauthorized a controversial NSA spying program on Thursday – and then, because it's 2018 and nothing matters any more, embarked on a partisan battle over a confidential memo that outlines Uncle Sam's alleged abuse of surveillance powers. The so-called section 702 FISA snooping system, renewed this week, has been the focus of a multi-year campaign by a minority of lawmakers who are upset it has mutated from a foreign intelligence-gathering tool into a domestic spying program. Despite numerous appeals, press conferences, competing legislation and speeches outlining abuse of the program, on Thursday a majority of senators ignored pleas for a proper warrant requirement to be added to the program – that would require the Feds to always go to a judge before searching the communications of a US citizen – and voted to continue the surveillance for a further six years. With both the Senate and the House of Reps happy with the reauthorization, it's now set to be signed off by President Donald Trump. As it stands, the NSA can snoop on foreigners' communications and internet activity abroad as usual, and the FBI can request access to a database of that collected information. If the Feds need to pull up chatter and other records on American citizens – "incidentally" collected as part of that foreign intelligence gathering – they'll need a warrant approved by a judge. However, the agents won't need a warrant if they are looking into... ...which are basically the crimes the FBI investigates. Ergo, it's unlikely the Feds will seek warrants to search the NSA's section 702 data stores for stuff on American citizens. Politics Just hours after the section 702 program was given the final green light before the president can sign on the dotted line, the Senate's intelligence committee approved the release of a confidential four-page memo alleging previous abuse of the FISA spying program to the rest of Congress. The public is unable to see it. The mysterious missive was drafted by House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), and of course it could be looney-tunes nonsense. Regardless, a number of lawmakers who only now just read the memo have said that had they been aware of the misconduct detailed in the memo, they would not having voted for the reauthorization of section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Republican lawmakers in particular, having seen the report, embarked on a fiercely partisan campaign accusing the Obama administration of snooping on the Trump presidential campaign using the foreigner-targeting FISA laws. Here we go "I have read the memo. The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump and #alwaysHillary #releasethememo," tweeted Representative Steve King (R-IA). "I read the classified #FISAmemo today & this needs to be released immediately as well as all of the relevant material that is sourced in the doc. The American public must be given the opportunity to view ALL of this right away! #ReleaseTheMemo," tweeted Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY), later taking the floor of the House and declaring: "The American public deserves the truth. We should not hide the truth from them, they've waited too long. Do not pull wool over their eyes. Show them the facts. They deserve nothing less." At the heart of the argument is the allegation that the FBI used foreign-intelligence-gathering FISA laws to tap the communications of key Trump campaign staff who were in touch with Kremlin officials. Said Putin aides were likely on the NSA's foreign targets list. That eavesdropping fits very squarely within the remit of FISA, which allows US spies to intercept the communications of American citizens if they are seen to be communicating with foreign intelligence targets. Not news This is not news to those that have closely followed the use of FISA spying powers. Ever since Michael Flynn was fired as a national security advisor for lying about his discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, people have concluded that the Trump campaign was subject to a FISA Title I warrant. How else would the FBI have known he was lying to the White House? But rather than dig into the events and question the potential abuse of the NSA's surveillance networks, the majority of Congress actively ignored the uncomfortable reality for months. Until that is, they reauthorized the section 702 mass surveillance system for another six years. And then the fact that the Obama-era FBI listened in on the campaign of now-president Donald Trump has been magically produced like a rabbit out of a hat. The hypocrisy is stunning, even for Congress. One moment, Republicans insist a Big Brother program is needed to foil terrorists abroad, ignoring its ability to pry into the lives of Americans. The next moment, Republicans are upset the same set of laws were indeed used to pry into the lives of Americans – some of the folks working for Team Trump. It is worth noting that the NSA and FBI have publicly denied for years that there has been abuse of the FISA spying programs. There have been occasional, very vague reports of a very small number of personnel misusing the system – but they have been always been painted as either accidental or some sort of personal issues that have been dealt with harshly. The intelligence services have fiercely disputed any suggestion that the extraordinary powers they possess have ever been used in anything but the most honest fashion. You know, cracking down on anti-West terror bad guys, and so on. Congresscriters who now claim to be shocked – shocked! – about FISA's sweeping capabilities – have been willfully ignoring determined efforts in both the House and the Senate in recent weeks to have a full debate about the extent of spying powers that the US government possesses. Last week, an effort to introduce a revised version of the section 702 reauthorization bill in the House was narrowly defeated 233-183, and the unchanged version was passed 256-164. Speeches And this week, an effort to stop a cloture vote on section 702 – which prevented debate and amendments being discussed in the Senate – only just passed, with proceedings held up for an hour while the Republican leadership scrambled to find enough senators to get it to the 60-vote threshold. Just yesterday, as the Senate voted on approved the program without significant change, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) gave an impassioned 50-minute speech about how section 702 was being used unlawfully to spy on American citizens. In one part of that speech, he even went into great detail over how the Director of National Intelligence had publicly denied that Uncle Sam was able to intercept communications between US citizens on US soil – and then, when challenged subsequently, claimed to have heard a different question. When Wyden asked the same question again, the director refused to answer, claiming that it was classified. "How can a topic in which the director of national intelligence has already given an answer in public suddenly become classified?" asked Wyden in his speech. But if all that wasn't enough, we will all likely be subject to one more head-holding display of hypocrisy when President Trump signs the reauthorization bill into law – despite the fact congressfolk are railing against the same set of FISA laws being used to spy on his campaign. Welcome to 2018. source
  5. The PlayStation Vita TV has been on sale in Japan and Asia since last year, but Sony will be bringing it to North America and Europe under the name PlayStation TV. The gadget has the PS Vita hardware inside and can play Vita, PlayStation Portable and PS One games using the bundled DualShock 3 controller. It can also stream a game running on a PlayStation 4 in a different room thanks to its Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. The PlayStation TV will also support PlayStation Now as soon as the service is available in Europe. Now is a streaming service that lets you play PlayStation 3 games by streaming them from Sony services. The mini console will cost $99 in the US and Canada and €99 in Europe. It comes with one DualShock 3 controller (but supports DS4 if you have them too), 8GB a memory card and an HDMI cable. Source
  6. by Jon Brodkin - Jan 29 2014, 9:21am AUSEST Average speed improved in nearly every state (sorry, Ohio). Despite Internet speed improvements in nearly every state, most US residents are still surfing the Web at less than 10Mbps, according to Akamai's latest State of the Internet Report. Drawing data from Akamai's globally distributed network of servers, the report covering Q3 2013 put the US in 9th place worldwide in the proportion of residents with "high broadband," or at least 10Mbps average download speeds: Regular broadband is defined as 4Mbps—75 percent of US connections hit that mark. Akamai's data from its Internet content delivery network includes 158.5 million unique IP addresses in the US, and many millions more in countries around the world. "The global average connection speed continued its upward trend in the third quarter of 2013, climbing 10 percent over the previous quarter to 3.6Mbps," Akamai said in a press release. "A total of 122 countries/regions that qualified for inclusion saw average connection speeds increase during the third quarter, with growth ranging from 0.5 percent in Namibia (to 1.1Mbps) to a 76 percent increase in Nepal (to 3.6Mbps)." Akamai measured both the average speed of Internet connections and the average peak speed, which may not be representative of typical experience but is "more representative of Internet connection capacity." "Global average peak connection speeds showed a slight decline in the third quarter of 2013, dropping 5.2 percent to 17.9Mbps," Akamai said. "Seven of the top 10 countries/regions saw increases in average peak connection speeds during the quarter, ranging from 0.5 percent in Hong Kong (to 65.4 Mbps) to 19 percent in South Korea (to 63.6 Mbps). Meanwhile, Romania, Latvia and Belgium saw declines of 4.4, 3.3, and 3.6 percent to 45.4, 43.1, and 38.5Mbps, respectively." Average connection speed in the US was 9.8Mbps, while average peak speed was 37Mbps. Globally, just seven countries have average (not peak) speeds over 10Mbps. Massachusetts, it turns out, is home both to the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and the highest broadband speeds of any state in the US: Massachusetts and New Jersey led the way in the percentage of residents with high broadband speeds: There's good news for nearly all states, though. "Across the whole country, average connection speeds were up in all states but Ohio, which saw a surprisingly large 20 percent quarter-over-quarter decline to 7.5Mbps," Akamai said. Average peak connection speeds rose in 44 states. Akamai analyzed mobile connection speeds separately. "Average connection speeds on surveyed mobile network operators during the third quarter of 2013 ranged from a high of 9.5Mbps to a low of 0.6Mbps, while average peak connection speeds ranged from 49.8Mbps to 2.4Mbps. Eighteen operators showed average connection speeds in the broadband (>4 Mbps) range," Akamai said. The 9.5Mbps average was achieved by a Russian provider. In the US, four mobile carriers were measured at average speeds of 2.1Mbps to 8.4Mpbs, and average peak speeds of 6.3Mbps to 24.5Mbps. Akamai did not identify which carrier was which, listing them only as "US-1," "US-2," and so on. An Akamai spokesperson told Ars that "we aren't permitted to identify the carriers listed in the report." Akamai also provided an update on IPv6 adoption and Internet attacks. Romania led the way in IPv6 adoption with 7.3 percent of traffic attributed to IPv6. The US was fifth at 4.2 percent. Regarding security, China was the leading source of traffic Akamai was able to identify as "attack traffic." "China, which originated 35 percent of observed attacks, returned to the top spot this quarter after having been unseated by Indonesia in the second quarter," Akamai said. "Indonesia, meanwhile, dropped back to second place after originating 20 percent of observed attacks—slightly more than half of the volume seen in the second quarter. The United States remained in third place as it originated 11 percent of observed attacks during the third quarter, up from 6.9 percent in the previous quarter." http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/01/two-thirds-of-americans-surf-the-web-at-less-than-10mbps
  7. By Matthew O'Brien Jan 26 2014, 9:00 AM ET The top 1 percent aren't killing the American Dream. Something else isif you live in the wrong place. Here's what we know. The rich are getting richer, but according to a blockbuster new study that hasn't made it harder for the poor to become rich. The good news is that people at the bottom are just as likely to move up the income ladder today as they were 50 years ago. But the bad news is that people at the bottom are just as likely to move up the income ladder today as they were 50 years ago. We like to tell ourselves that America is the land of opportunity, but the reality doesn't match the rhetoricand hasn't for awhile. We actually have less social mobility than countries like Denmark. And that's more of a problem the more inequality there is. Think about it like this: Moving up matters more when there's a bigger gap between the rich and poor. So even though mobility hasn't gotten worse lately, it has worse consequences today because inequality is worse. But it's a little deceiving to talk about "our" mobility rate. There isn't one or two or even three Americas. There are hundreds. The research team of Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Herndon, Patrick Kline, and Emmanuel Saez looked at each "commuting zone" (CZ) within the U.S., and found that the American Dream is still alive in some parts of the country. Kids born into the bottom 20 percent of households, for example, have a 12.9 percent chance of reaching the top 20 percent if they live in San Jose. That's about as high as it is in the highest mobility countries. But kids born in Charlotte only have a 4.4 percent chance of moving from the bottom to the top 20 percent. That's worse than any developed country we have numbers for. You can see what my colleague Derek Thompson calls the geography of the American Dream in the map below. It shows where kids have the best and worst chances of moving up from the bottom to the top quintileand that the South looks more like a banana republic. (Note: darker colors mean there is less mobility, and lighter colors mean that there's more). So what makes northern California different from North Carolina? Well, we don't know for sure, but we do know what doesn't. The researchers found that local tax and spending decisions explain some, but not too much, of this regional mobility gap. Neither does local school quality, at least judged by class size. Local area colleges and tuition were also non-factors. And so were local labor markets, including their share of manufacturing jobs and those facing cheap, foreign competition. But here's what we know does matter. Just how much isn't clear. 1. Race. The researchers found that the larger the black population, the lower the upward mobility. But this isn't actually a black-white issue. It's a rich-poor one. Low-income whites who live in areas with more black people also have a harder time moving up the income ladder. In other words, it's something about the places that black people live that hurts mobility. 2. Segregation. Something like the poor being isolatedisolated from good jobs and good schools. See, the more black people a place has, the more divided it tends to be along racial and economic lines. The more divided it is, the more sprawl there is. And the more sprawl there is, the less higher-income people are willing to invest in things like public transit. That leaves the poor in the ghetto, with no way out for their American Dreams. They're stuck with bad schools, bad jobs, and bad commutes if they do manage to find better work. So it should be no surprise that the researchers found that racial segregation, income segregation, and sprawl are all strongly negatively correlated with upward mobility. But what might surprise is that it doesn't matter whether the rich cut themselves off from everybody else. What matters is whether the middle class cut themselves off from the poor. 3. Social Capital. Living around the middle class doesn't just bring better jobs and schools (which help, but probably aren't enough). It brings better institutions too. Things like religious groups, civic groups, and any other kind of group that keeps people from bowling alone. All of these are strongly correlated with more mobilitywhich is why Utah, with its vast Mormon safety net and services, is one of the best places to be born poor. 4. Inequality. The 1 percent are different from you and methey have so much more money that they live in a different world. It's a world of $40,000 a year preschool, "nanny consultants," and an endless supply of private tutors. It keeps the children of the super-rich from falling too far, but it doesn't keep the poor from rising (at least into the top quintile). There just wasn't any correlation between the rise and rise of the 1 percent and upward mobility. In other words, it doesn't hurt your chances of making it into the top 80 to 99 percent if the super-rich get even richer. But inequality does matter within the bottom 99 percent. The bigger the gap between the poor and the merely rich (as opposed to the super-rich), the less mobility there is. It makes intuitive sense: it's easier to jump from the bottom near the top if you don't have to jump as far. The top 1 percent are just so high now that it doesn't matter how much higher they go; almost nobody can reach them. 5. Family Structure. Forget race, forget jobs, forget schools, forget churches, forget neighborhoods, and forget the top 1or maybe 10percent. Nothing matters more for moving up than who raises you. Or, in econospeak, nothing correlates with upward mobility more than the number of single parents, divorcees, and married couples. The cliché is true: Kids do best in stable, two-parent homes. It's not clear what, if any, policy lessons we should take from this truism. As my colleague Jordan Weissmann points out, we don't really have any idea how to promote marriage. We can try telling people how great it is to get hitched. We can even get rid of the marriage penalties some low-income couples face. But these won't, and haven't, been making more people exchange till-death-do-us-parts. And should we even want to? Steve Waldman points out that poor women know better than upper-middle-class people yelling at them to get married whether they should or not. They know whether their boyfriend would make a good husband, a good father, a good teacher. And they know that marriage is important. That they're not getting married tells us something. Sometimes no match is better than a bad match. *** Flat mobility is the defining Rorschach test of our time. Conservatives look at it, and say, see, we shouldn't worry about the top 1 percent, because they're not making the American Dream any harder to achieve. But liberals look at it, and say see, we should care about inequality, because it can make the American Dream harder to achieveand it raises the stakes if you don't. But both want to increase upward mobility. It's not enough to keep it where it was 50 years ago. We need to actually become the land of opportunity. The American Dream is alive in Denmark and Finland and Sweden. And in San Jose and Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh. But it's dead in Atlanta and Raleigh and Charlotte. And in Indianapolis and Detroit and Jacksonville. Fixing that isn't just about redistribution. It's about building denser cities, so the poor aren't so segregated. About good schools that you don't have to live in the right (and expensive) neighborhood to attend. And about ending a destructive drug war that imprisons and blights the job prospects of far too many non-violent offendersfurther shrinking the pool of "marriageable" men. Because the American Dream is dead in too much of America. http://m.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/why-is-the-american-dream-dead-in-the-south/283313 Also see NYT Interactive Map of Poverty in US with video in this link: http://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/202059-nyt-interactive-map-of-poverty-in-us/?hl=%2Bpoverty+%2Bmap#entry720410
  8. Published time: January 20, 2014 22:58 The overwhelming majority of Americans said that President Obama’s recent speech regarding changes to the National Security Agency had little to no effect on their opinion on the surveillance programs, according to a poll released Monday. In a highly anticipated speech last Friday, Obama said that the NSA would continue to collect metadata on millions of Americans, but the agency would need a judge’s approval and would also have to turn the information over to a third party instead of storing it in the NSA’s databases. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and USA Today has found that Obama’s speech, which came after an intelligence review board recommended the NSA discontinue the collection of phone metadata immediately, did little to change their opinion. Of the 1,504 adults polled between January 15 and 19, half said they had heard nothing about the President’s proposed changes and another 41 percent said they only heard “a little bit.” A mere eight percent said they heard a lot about potential changes. Researchers also found that fewer US citizens are in favor of the agency’s mass surveillance than when Edward Snowden first leaked classified documents in June of last year. In July, just weeks after the first Snowden documents were published by the Guardian and the Washington Post, 50 percent of Americans said they were in favor of the measures, believing they were necessary to fight terrorism. Now, though, 40 percent approve of the far-reaching programs and 53 percent disapprove. The NSA review board previously suggested in December that the intelligence agency turn over the phone metadata to a phone company or other third party to reduce the risk of government abuse. It also recommended that the NSA be required to seek approval from a judge in order to sift through that information. Obama said Friday that those suggestions will be the new basis for his NSA reforms. But nearly half of the citizens polled, 48 percent, say there are still not sufficient safeguards on what internet and phone data the government is permitted to collect. Even fewer, just 41 percent, said that there are adequate limits on the data collection as a whole. Support for the NSA program was clearer when researchers examined party lines. In June 2013 45 percent of Republicans approved of the surveillance while 51 percent disapproved. Seven months later, 37 percent approved and 56 percent disapproved. Democrats, perhaps out of loyalty to the Obama administration, said in June that they approved of the NSA by 58 percent, with only 38 percent speaking against the policies. By January, the number who approve had fallen to 46 percent while the number who disapproved jumped to 48 percent. “Among those that did hear about the proposals, large majorities of Republicans (86%) and independents (78%) say these changes will not make much difference when it comes to protecting people’s privacy,” the Pew Research Center wrote Monday. “Among Democrats who have heard of the changes, 56% say they won’t make much difference.” http://rt.com/usa/obama-nsa-speech-trust-doubt-917 :)
  9. By Veit Medick and Annett Meiritz 15 Jan 2014 Berlin wants a deal with the US that prohibits trans-Atlantic spying, but Washington seems uninterested. DPA Last summer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised her citizens a pact which would prohibit US spying on German citizens. But since then, Washington has shown little interest in pursuing such a treaty. Now, officials in Germany fear the deal is dead. Failed talks? Hardly. The negotiations "are continuing," says Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). "We are still talking," says the German government. In other words, nothing has yet been decided. The No-Spy deal is still alive. But the statements coming out of Berlin and Pullach, where the BND is headquartered, reek of forced optimism. Nobody wants it to look as though efforts have been abandoned toward a deal which would see the US agree to swear off spying operations in Germany. Yet despite the assertions, most of those involved are slowly coming to the realization that a surveillance deal between Washington and Berlin isn't likely to become reality. The US government is still digging in its heels. On Tuesday, the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted one source who is familiar with the talks as saying "we won't get anything." The paper also reported that the US is refusing to promise that it won't monitor members of the German government and other politicians in the future. Interactive Graphic: The NSA Spy Catalogue The current gloominess is a stark shift from the confidence on display in the middle of last year. To be sure, Germany was in the middle of a general election campaign. But in the summer of 2013, National Security Agency head Keith Alexander had told his German counterpart, BND chief Gerhard Schindler, that a far-reaching deal was possible, though he also acknowledged that it was ultimately up to the White House to give the green light. German officials began speaking of the treaty as though it were a done deal. Legal Action? Since then, however, news broke that the US had monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone and that the US undertakes far-reaching surveillance activities from the roof of its embassy in Berlin. Washington has thus far refused to tell Berlin exactly when it tapped into Merkel's phone and has denied German experts access to its roof-top spying operation. The German government has informed Washington that it considers the surveillance post to be a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and it is considering taking legal action. The mood, in short, has dramatically worsened, and US stonewalling on a No-Spy deal isn't helping. "The Americans lied to us," one high-ranking official told the Süddeutsche in reference to the treaty. It is an extremely uncomfortable situation for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. For months, her staff, together with high-ranking officers within German security agencies, have sought to move the project forward. Sources in the government now believe that a thin declaration of intent, in which both countries pledge to obey the laws of the other, is the most that can be hoped for. Merkel will have to take charge of the issue if she wants to achieve anything at all. She will have the opportunity to speak personally with US President Barack Obama in Washington next week. It seems likely that the chancellor will do all she can to return with something concrete. Should the two NATO allies not be able to reach agreement on a treaty preventing them from spying on one another, it would be the clearest indication yet that trans-Atlantic relations are in trouble. And it would be embarrassing for her domestically. After all, her pledge to work towards a No-Spy deal was key to ensuring that the swelling debate over the American National Security Agency's mass surveillance practices didn't derail her re-election campaign last year. It was a message to voters that she and her conservatives were doing all they could to protect the data of German citizens. Both her then-chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, and then-Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich used every chance they got to promise as much. Should she fail, it will be a black mark on her credibility and make clear just how little influence Merkel has in Washington. Overstepping Its Bounds The revelations of widespread NSA surveillance in Europe and Germany have already hurt Merkel. Since the affair began last June, the Chancellery has been in the awkward position of not really knowing what is coming next and has seemed helpless. Interior Minister Friedrich, for his part, complained of "anti-Americanism" spoke of a "super basic right of security," and, in an interview with SPIEGEL, seemed extremely eager to counter concerns that the US was overstepping its bounds. German government representatives seeking answers returned home from Washington empty handed and questions sent to Washington have been ignored or returned with unsatisfying responses. Domestically this week, the issue has returned. The opposition has placed NSA surveillance and the No Spy treaty on the parliamentary agenda for Wednesday and difficult questions are sure to be asked. Members of the governing coalition, which pairs Merkel's Christian Democrats with the center-left Social Democrats, are becoming concerned as well. Stephan Meyer, domestic affairs expert for Merkel's conservatives in parliament, has even suggested that economic sanctions should be considered. "It is time," he said. "The US has to be candid." Thomas Oppermann, floor leader for the SPD, also said that "a failure of the treaty would be unacceptable." Still, he insists that he remains optimistic. "I am hopeful that the chancellor's visit to the US will help us achieve a deal in the end." His meaning, though, is clear. Merkel must deliver. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/us-german-no-spy-deal-in-danger-of-failure-a-943614.html
  10. Who would have thunk it: A company that installs slides into its office buildings is a fun place to work? Fortune this week has released its annual list of the best companies to work for, and Google has once again taken the top slot. Fortune says that 2013 was particularly sweet for Google employees because they all own shares in the company’s stock, which saw its price rise to well over $1,000 per share by the end of the year. Google also topped Fortune’s list of best places to work last year due to its extensive employee perks that include free massages, shuffle ball courts and horseshoe pits among many, many others. Source
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