Monday, April 30, 2012

Iceland Time-Lapse Video Wins X Prize Foundation Exploration Contest

A few months ago, the X Prize Foundation sponsored a video contest that asked a deceptively simple question: Why do you explore?

Exploration is a distinctively human trait and something that the Foundation has incentivized through large monetary rewards, but it is also a deeply personal endeavor that affects and inspires everyone differently. Nonetheless, many entrants echoed similar refrains: to engage with other cultures, to learn something new, to experience beautiful parts of our planet.

 The submissions ranged in production value, and the judges selected four finalists: dude explorer Ryan Van Duzer, whose narration begins, “I explore because it makes me feel ALIVE!” (emphasis his) and continues to describe his journeys to Honduras and the Himalaya; underdog Samantha Gary, who produced a delightful stop-motion animation; Brit Alastair Humphreys, whose four-man row across the Atlantic Ocean captures the plodding monotony and accents of excitement that characterize many endurance pursuits; and Joe Capra, a time-lapse photography guru.

In the end, public votes crowned Capra the winner for his four-minute video compilation of time-lapse scenes he shot during a 17-day trip around Iceland. The images capture Iceland’s raw power — thundering waterfalls, ice-capped peaks — in a colorful mash-up that may as well have been funded by Iceland’s tourism office.

The Los Angeles-based Capra first became enamored with Iceland after seeing the work of another photographer online. “I had to go,” he recalls, “so I saved up all of my vacation days and bought a ticket.” He went during the summer, when the days never really end and the island is constantly bathed in a flattering light. Photographers often speak reverently of the “golden hour” — the first and last hours of light during the day — as the ideal time to shoot, the time when the light is softer and shadows are longer. But during the Icelandic summer, the golden hour becomes five, six, or seven hours of every day, a photographer’s dream.

For Capra, however, it was a sleepless dream, as the midnight sun allowed him to shoot most of his 38,000 images between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. A typical scene took about a half hour, and the resulting 300 to 900 images would be edited and compressed into a few-seconds clip. Some shots use a stationary vantage point, but Capra prefers “motion control,” which pans or tracks across a landscape in a more natural, engaging way.

“Before this equipment was commercially available,” Capra recalls, “I had to custom make my own tracking device” that moves the camera smoothly and slowly along a track. When the images are compressed and the half hour becomes three seconds, the tracking turns into a naturally paced movement.

Before setting out for Iceland, Capra had done urban time-lapse pieces. “Working in cities is tough,” he says, “because people come up to you, interrupt, knock over your stuff.” But Iceland was an entirely different sort of adventure. “It was almost as if I got picked up and dropped on another planet, all by myself, and I had the opportunity to explore it however I wanted.” Capra would scale volcanoes and drop down into mossy valleys, experimenting with new photographic techniques along the way. He may not have been trekking across continents in the traditional mold of a headstrong explorer, “but hopefully I’ve allowed people to see these places in a new way. And that’s what exploration is all about to me.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chrome OS and #GoogleDrive to join forces in version 20

When Google finally announced its shiny new cloud-based Drive service, many people will have been glad to see an extra bit of storage tacked onto their daily gadget lives.

Some, however, spin out a generally more nebular existence, and that'd be the Chrome OS faithful. If you find yourself amongst their number, you'll be pleased to know that Sundar Pichai, SVP for Chrome, revealed in an interview with Wired that the next iteration of its slight operating system will come with Drive tightly sewn into the fabric.

The idea is that the service will operate as the local file system, and all the core OS functionality will use Drive for storing data. Third party apps like VMware are already baking in Drive functionality, and expect more to follow when it lands in version 20.

By James Trew -Wired

Glocal -There is a Light that Never Goes Out #TheSmiths Cover


Take me out tonight Where there's music and there's people And they're young and alive Driving in your car I never never want to go home Because I haven't got one Anymore

Take me out tonight
Where there's music and there's people
And they're young and alive
Driving in your car
I never never want to go home
Because I haven't got one

Take me out tonight
Because I want to see people and I Want to see life
Driving in your car
Oh, please don't drop me home
Because it's not my home, it's their Home,
and I'm welcome no more

And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten-ton truck
Kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well, the pleasure - the privilege is mine

Take me out tonight
Take me anywhere, I don't care I don't care, I don't care
And in the darkened underpass I thought Oh God, my chance has come at last
(But then a strange fear gripped me and I Just couldn't ask)
Take me out tonight
Oh, take me anywhere,

I don't care I don't care, I don't care

Driving in your car
I never never want to go home
Because I haven't got one, da ...Oh,
I haven't got one
And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die

And if a ten-ton truck
Kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well, the pleasure - the privilege is mine

Oh, There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out

Alcohol-Related Deaths Kill More Than AIDS, TB Or Violence

Alcohol causes nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.
Rising incomes have triggered more drinking in heavily populated countries in Africa and Asia, including India and South Africa, and binge drinking is a problem in many developed countries, the United Nations agency said.

Yet alcohol control policies are weak and remain a low priority for most governments despite drinking's heavy toll on society from road accidents, violence, disease, child neglect and job absenteeism, it said.
Approximately 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol related causes, the WHO said in its "Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health."
"The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world's leading risk factor for death among males aged 15-59," the report found.
In Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), every fifth death is due to harmful drinking, the highest rate.
Binge drinking, which often leads to risky behavior, is now prevalent in Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine, and rising elsewhere, according to the WHO.
"Worldwide, about 11 percent of drinkers have weekly heavy episodic drinking occasions, with men outnumbering women by four to one. Men consistently engage in hazardous drinking at much higher levels than women in all regions," the report said.
Health ministers from the WHO's 193 member states agreed last May to try to curb binge drinking and other growing forms of excessive alcohol use through higher taxes on alcoholic drinks and tighter marketing restrictions.
Alcohol is a causal factor in 60 types of diseases and injuries, according to WHO's first report on alcohol since 2004.
Its consumption has been linked to cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence, and several types of cancer, including cancers of the colorectum, breast, larynx and liver.
"Six or seven years ago we didn't have strong evidence of a causal relationship between drinking and breast cancer. Now we do," Vladimir Poznyak, head of WHO's substance abuse unit who coordinated the report, told Reuters.
Alcohol consumption rates vary greatly, from high levels in developed countries, to the lowest in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and southern Asia, whose large Muslim populations often abstain from drinking.
Homemade or illegally produced alcohol -- falling outside governmental controls and tax nets -- accounts for nearly 30 percent of total worldwide adult consumption. Some is toxic.
In France and other European countries with high levels of adult per capita consumption, heavy episodic drinking is rather low, suggesting more regular but moderate drinking patterns.
Light to moderate drinking can have a beneficial impact on heart disease and stroke, according to the WHO. "However, the beneficial cardio-protective effect of drinking disappears with heavy drinking occasions," it said.
One of the most effective ways to curb drinking, especially among young people, is to raise taxes, the report said. Setting age limits for buying and consuming alcohol, and regulating alcohol levels in drivers, also reduce abuse if enforced.
Some countries restrict marketing of alcoholic beverages or on the industry's sponsorship of sporting events.
"Yet not enough countries use these and other effective policy options to prevent death, disease and injury attributable to alcohol consumption," the WHO said.
Alcohol producers including Diageo and Anheuser Busch InBev have said they recognize the importance of industry self-regulation to address alcohol abuse and promote curbs on drunk drinking and illegal underage drinking.
But the brewer SABMiller has warned that policy measures like minimum pricing and high excise taxes on alcohol could cause more public health harm than good by leading more people to drink homemade or illegally produced alcohol.
Copyright 2010 Thomson Reuters.

Seasonal #flu is making its presence felt

By Susan Frick Carlman - Beacon News

As you may have gleaned from that nagging cough and full-body ache, flu season is in full swing.
The H1N1 strain that took thousands of lives worldwide in 2009 and 2010 is less menacing now, and today it goes by the name influenza A, which also describes its cousin, technically known as H3N2. Neither is the same as influenza B, which is also showing up in hospitals and doctors’ offices.
There is no question the seasonal flu is doing its usual strut, sickening increasing numbers of people with congestion, fever, aches and fatigue as the season plods along.
“People who have flu sometimes refer to it as feeling like they’ve been hit by a bus,” said Mary Anderson, infection control manager at Edward Hospital in Naperville. “It really leaves you feeling quite crummy for a long time.”
The hospital is seeing a usual volume of flu-like complaints for this time of year, and area health departments say there’s been a modest but steady increase during the past few weeks in those showing the symptoms.
“This time of year is the usual peak for the numbers, and it is the same situation here in DuPage as it is all across the state and most likely the nation,” said David Hass, spokesman for the DuPage County Health Department.
In Kane County, 5.5 percent of all those who came into the emergency rooms of reporting hospitals over the last week in January had the signs typical of flu. It’s a larger proportion than the county’s public health people have seen during this period in any of the past few years.
“For this time frame, we are seeing a lot of influenza-like illness,” said Tom Schlueter, spokesman for the Kane County Health Department.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state reached the top tier of flu saturation, labeled widespread activity, in the last week of January and the first week of February. Records kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Illinois is one of 32 states now showing widespread occurrence.
Local schools so far aren’t experiencing unusual numbers of kids out, though.
“Currently, we are not seeing any spike in student absences due to the flu,” Indian Prairie School District spokesman Janet Buglio said. “What we are seeing is typical absences that occur during flu season.”
Numbers don’t tell the whole story. While symptoms are a good indicator of diagnosis, flu is not recorded formally by public health agencies, which describe likely cases with the term “influenza-like illness.” So the ailment is more widespread than official reports indicate. What’s more, not everybody sees a doctor when they fall ill.
“Flu is something that sometimes people have mild case,” Hass said. “We (don’t) get a true picture of what’s going on out there.”
Once it hits, there isn’t much that can be done about it. A doctor may prescribe Tamiflu to address the symptoms, and some literature suggests it can reduce the duration of the illness if it’s taken soon enough, Anderson said, but there’s still no magic bullet.
It can be helpful to see a doctor at the first hint of malaise. The CDC and other public health agencies recommend going in if you’re having trouble breathing or functioning normally.
“With kids, if they’re very lethargic, then it’s time to see the doctor,” Anderson said.
As with most flu, this year’s seasonal strains take special aim at those who have compromised immune systems, babies and elderly people. But H1N1 is still around, and it proved to have a predilection for young adults.
“Those of us who are young and healthy are not necessarily immune,” Anderson cautioned.
It makes sense to take steps to avoid the flu’s wrath. Healthy people need to steer clear of those showing the symptoms. And cleanliness is also key.
“Wash your hands, and use hand sanitizer a whole lot if you’re out,” Anderson said. “You don’t know who has been touching something before you.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Today's GOOG rumor: Will Google buy Sprint?

There is probably a rumor a day about Google picked up in the media. The latest one is that the huge search company will buy No. 3 wireless firm Sprint
Tech industry website TMCNet says that it has heard that Google may just buy Sprint outright.
The story may sound nuts, but there is a tiny chance there is some fact buried in there.
Google could certainly use the blueprints of Sprint's WiMax network, which will be configured to use the LTE 4G standard and fund the $5 billion build-out to create a comprehensive national wireless high speed network. 
by Douglas McIntyre - 

Customers Flee From #Nextel As Shutdown Looms

Sprint activated 1.5 million iPhones in the quarter, down from 1.8 million in the fourth quarter.

Helped by a $10 per month surcharge on smartphones imposed last year, Sprint's wireless service revenue rose 7.4 percent from a year ago, compared to 7.7 percent at Verizon, which has had more time to sell the iPhone. At AT&T, the figure was 4.3 percent.

"Sprint posted easily the most impressive (quarter) in U.S. telecom," said Kevin Smithen, an analyst at Macquarie Securities.

Sprint shares 4 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $2.51 in mid-morning trading. The shares are still close to a three-year low of $2.10 hit in January.

However, Sprint's contract subscriber additions turn into a net loss of 192,000 when the outdated Nextel network is included. Since buying Nextel in 2005, Sprint has struggled with the cost of running two disparate wireless networks, even as Nextel customers have cancelled service in droves. It's scheduled to shut the network down next year.

The depreciation, or drop in value, of the Nextel network widened Sprint's net loss from January through March to $863 million, or 29 cents per share. In the same quarter last year, the Overland Park, Kan., company's loss was $439 million, or 15 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet were on average expecting a loss of 42 cents per share. Sprint beat that with the help of the better service revenues and a one-time benefit from a cancelled network-sharing contract.

Revenue was $8.73 billion, up 5 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting $8.71 billion.

Sprint has already started thinning out the Nextel network, turning off cell towers. Steve Elfman, the head of network operations, said this shouldn't affect service, since there are only 5.4 million Nextel subscribers left. That's 10 percent of the overall number of Sprint Nextel customers.

On the radio frequencies freed up by the Nextel phase-out, Sprint is building a new fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless broadband network using the "LTE" technology AT&T and Verizon are using. It's reducing its reliance on Clearwire Corp.'s 4G network for data service for its smartphones. That means Clearwire 4G, which is based on an older network technology, is no longer a selling point for its smartphones. Sprint will now make Clearwire 4G available on phones for its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile pay-as-you go brands, Hesse said.

Sprint has 15.3 million pay-as-you-go subscribers, making it second only to Tracfone in the U.S. no-contract phone market.


Jack White to compose 'The #LoneRanger score

Walt Disney Pictures has wrangled Jack White to compose the score for “The Lone Ranger.” The studio announced Tuesday that the Grammy-winning rocker will write, produce and perform the score for director Gore Verbinski’s upcoming adaptation of “The Lone Ranger.” “The Lone Ranger” will mark The White Stripes frontman’s first time scoring a feature film. The film stars Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as John Reid. It is set to debut May 31, 2013. White’s first solo album, “Blunderbuss,” was released Tuesday. He previously wrote and performed the theme song to the 2008 James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” with Alicia Keys.

Hands On With Google Drive: Cloud Storage

One of the worst-kept secrets in the technology space, Google Drive, is finally here — live and yours to explore, if you’re game.

But if you’re already using a cloud service, or maybe even a couple of services — I actually use a combination of existing Google products, Dropbox and Apple’s iCloud — the question undoubtedly becomes, Do I really need another cloud platform in my life?

This question gets a bit more complicated when you consider that Google already has a number of cloud services such as Play for music storage, Picasa for photos, YouTube for videos and even Gmail as well. Who hasn’t emailed himself a file before, right?

Google Drive doesn’t seek to replace any of these existing Google services — though it does replace one cloud service (more on that below). Instead, Google Drive seeks to replace the USB thumb drive stuffed into your backpack or purse. And, if you pay up for extra storage, maybe even the portable disk drive on your desk too. You can store all manner of file formats, and Drive gives you the option to convert files into Google-friendly formats as well.

After spending a couple hours using Google Drive on an Apple iMac, a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone, and an Asus Transformer Pad tablet, it’s clear that those who will prefer Google Drive are those who already prefer Google itself.

Indeed, if you’ve ever used Google Docs, you’ll feel immediately comfortable using Google Drive. And if you’re a Google Docs power user, you’ll probably outright love Google Drive.

The service offers an iCloud-matching 5GB of storage for free, which should be enough for most users. If you want more space, it will cost you — 25GB of storage will run $2.50 monthly, 100GB is $5 monthly and 1TB will cost $50 a month. Google will allow users to purchase as much as 16TB of storage, but isn’t yet disclosing pricing beyond 1TB. Upgrading to any increased storage size will boost your Gmail storage up to 25GB.

In the browser, Google Drive works exactly the same as Google Docs. In fact, Drive is replacing Docs and soon all Docs users will be Drive users, on mobile devices and on the web. No need to worry about lost files: All your documents will show up in your Google Drive once you’ve switched over, and the process is painless.

Editing documents — even real-time editing of shared docs with multiple people — works in Google Drive just as it did in Google Docs. Sharing and emailing also works exactly the same as before and, just as Docs did, Drive maintains a revision history of edited files, allowing users to view previous versions as far back as 30 days.

Like Google Docs (and unlike Gmail and, there are no ads to be found in Google Drive. There is, however, a lot of whitespace that could make for ad real estate if ever Google wanted to go that route.

But the new service isn’t perfect. In the web browser version of Google Drive, I found that audio files don’t play back automatically, instead forcing you to download the file to your desktop, and open it up in another app before you can give it a listen.

In the mobile app — which is currently only available for Android, but is promised for iOS — audio files are kicked out to music apps such as Google’s own Play Music or Spotify. Videos play back just fine in the browser, but in the mobile app, you’re once again kicked into another app to view your media. Rivals such as Dropbox, SugarSync and iCloud stream media without requiring a download or opening another app. It would be nice to see Google do the same.

On the Galaxy Nexus, the Google Drive app worked as well as any other app (e.g., People, Calendar, Maps) built into Google’s latest version of Android, aka Ice Cream Sandwich. With a clean, ICS-consistent aesthetic, it’s one of the better looking and easier to use cloud storage apps available for Android today.

Like Dropbox, Box, SugarSync and many other competing services, a desktop app for Windows and Mac OS X is available for Google Drive as well. But I see little advantage to using the desktop app over the web-based version of Drive. In both versions, uploading a file is as simple as clicking and dragging a file from your desktop into a folder or webpage. And in both versions of Drive, stored documents open in a browser window, and not into other apps.

So far, the best feature of Google Drive is its integration with other Google products, and Google says further integration with Google+, Gmail and Chrome is on the way. So, if you’re already using an Android phone, and Gmail is your main inbox and Calendar is where you make your plans, then Drive will fit into your life nicely.

But there is a flipside: If you’re not steeped in the Google ecosystem, or you’re perfectly happy using one of the many competing cloud services, I don’t see much reason to get behind the wheel of Google Drive just yet. Unless, of course, you refuse to pay for cloud storage, and you want to distribute your overflowing files across as many free services as possible.

By Nathan Olivarez-Giles -Wired

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brain freeze: Why ice cream makes some scream

Most people have likely experienced brain freeze — the debilitating, instantaneous pain in the temples after eating something frozen — but researchers didn't really understand what causes it, until now.

Previous studies have found that migraine sufferers are actually more likely to get brain freeze than people who don't get migraines. Because of this, the researchers thought the two might share some kind of common mechanism or cause, so they decided to use brain freeze to study migraines.

Headaches like migraines are difficult to study, because they are unpredictable. Researchers aren't able to monitor a whole one from start to finish in the lab. They can give drugs to induce migraines, but those can also have side effects that interfere with the results. Brain freeze can quickly and easily be used to start a headache in the lab, and it also ends quickly, which makes monitoring the entire event easy.

The researchers brought on brain freeze in the lab by having 13 healthy volunteers sip ice water through a straw right up against the roof of their mouth. The volunteers raised their hands when they felt the familiar brain freeze come on, and raised them again once it disappeared.

The researchers monitored the blood flow through their brains using an ultrasoundlike process on the skull. They saw that increased blood flow to the brain through a blood vessel called the anterior cerebral artery, which is located in the middle of the brain behind the eyes. This increase in flow and resulting increase in size in this artery brought on the pain associated with brain freeze.

When the artery constricts, reining in the response to this increased flow, the pain disappears. The dilation, then quick constriction, of this blood vessel may be a type of self-defense for the brain, the researchers suggested. "The brain is one of the relatively important organs in the body, and it needs to be working all the time," study researcher Jorge Serrador, of Harvard Medical School, said in a statement. "It's fairly sensitive to temperature, so vasodilation [the widening of the blood vessels ] might be moving warm blood inside tissue to make sure the brain stays warm."

This influx of blood can't be cleared as quickly as it is coming in during the brain freeze, so it could raise the pressure inside the skull and induce pain that way. As the pressure and temperature in the brain rise, the blood vessel constricts, reducing pressure in the brain before it reaches dangerous levels.

If other headaches work in the same way, drugs that stop these blood vessels from opening up, or that could make this blood vessel constrict could help treat them, the researchers say.

By Jennifer Walsh - MSMBC LiveScience

Surprised Kool & the Gang Is Van Halen Opener? So Are They

Kool & the Gang plan to celebrate plenty of good times on the road with Van Halen in the coming weeks -- even if the rest of the world seems to think it's an incredibly odd pairing.

"We're not that worried about it," co-founder Robert "Kool" Bell tells "We had big hits in the 80s, and so did they. They've been kind of like a party band on the rock side, with their audience, and their audience is 60 percent female and we have songs like 'Ladies' Night' and 'Celebration'... and our audience is at least 80 percent a pop audience. Most of the time we have a crowd that's 80 percent white. Plus we do a lot of international dates with Def Leppard, Meat Loaf, Uriah Heep, Chicago, Elton John...A lot of people don't know that 'cause they don't really see it. "So I think we'll survive."

Bell says having Kool & the Gang open for Van Halen's North American tour -- kicking off Jan. 18 in Louisville -- was frontman David Lee Roth's idea. Roth saw Kool and company perform at the 2011 Glastonbury festival and enjoyed it so much that he lobbied the band onto the bill. "I was kind of surprised," Bell admits, "because Van Halen is more on the rock side and we do what we do. I said, 'That's an interesting combination...' It really caught us by surprise. But the more people I mention it to, the more interesting they're saying it is."

Kool & the Gang will play a 50-minute set before each Van Halen show, according to Bell, and in addition to the big hits the group plans to incorporate its handful of more rock-leaning songs such as "Misled," "Tonight" and "Emergency," which it also played at Glastonbury. As for possible collaborations with Roth or the rest of Van Halen, Bell says that "we've got to see as it goes. Right now (Roth) is happy about us being here and doing the tour with them. We don't know if it'll turn into anything more than that." But, he adds, his bandmates are stoked about the opportunity to see the headliners play each night.

"A lot of the guys in my band are definitely into them," Bell reports. "Of course Eddie, everyone knows that blistering solo he did for Michael Jackson on 'Beat It,' and a lot of my guys are familiar with other tracks they've done." The two groups have been together for rehearsals in Los Angeles this week, and Bell says "it flows. Everybody's cool so far. Everything is, as they say, cool in the gang."

The Gang, meanwhile, is also thinking about doing some recording after the Van Halen tour and maybe coming up with the group's first new album since 2007's "Still Kool." "We're writing and doing some things, some different concepts," Bell says. "It's not only the original members but the guys who are with us, we're constantly writing and coming up with different ideas. Hopefully we'll get some product out before the year is out."

BY Gary Graff - Billboard

Alarming Statistic About Young College Graduates

The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work. In Weak Job Market, One In Two College Graduates Are Jobless Or Underemployed

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs – waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor's degrees.

Opportunities for college graduates vary widely.

While there's strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor's degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor's degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

"I don't even know what I'm looking for," says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.

Initially hopeful that his college education would create opportunities, Bledsoe languished for three months before finally taking a job as a barista, a position he has held for the last two years. In the beginning he sent three or four resumes day. But, Bledsoe said, employers questioned his lack of experience or the practical worth of his major. Now he sends a resume once every two weeks or so.

Bledsoe, currently making just above minimum wage, says he got financial help from his parents to help pay off student loans. He is now mulling whether to go to graduate school, seeing few other options to advance his career. "There is not much out there, it seems," he said.

His situation highlights a widening but little-discussed labor problem. Perhaps more than ever, the choices that young adults make earlier in life – level of schooling, academic field and training, where to attend college, how to pay for it – are having long-lasting financial impact.

"You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it's not true for everybody," says Harvard economist Richard Freeman, noting the growing risk of a debt bubble with total U.S. student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. "If you're not sure what you're going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college."

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the numbers, said many people with a bachelor's degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. "Simply put, we're failing kids coming out of college," he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. "We're going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow."

By region, the Mountain West was most likely to have young college graduates jobless or underemployed – roughly 3 in 5. It was followed by the more rural southeastern U.S., including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. The Pacific region, including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, also was high on the list.

On the other end of the scale, the southern U.S., anchored by Texas, was most likely to have young college graduates in higher-skill jobs.

The figures are based on an analysis of 2011 Current Population Survey data by Northeastern University researchers and supplemented with material from Paul Harrington, an economist at Drexel University, and the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank. They rely on Labor Department assessments of the level of education required to do the job in 900-plus U.S. occupations, which were used to calculate the shares of young adults with bachelor's degrees who were "underemployed."

About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.

Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.

Broken down by occupation, young college graduates were heavily represented in jobs that require a high school diploma or less.

In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).

According to government projections released last month, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor's degree or higher to fill the position – teachers, college professors and accountants. Most job openings are in professions such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving, jobs which aren't easily replaced by computers.

College graduates who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level; those with nursing, teaching, accounting or computer science degrees were among the most likely.

In Nevada, where unemployment is the highest in the nation, Class of 2012 college seniors recently expressed feelings ranging from anxiety and fear to cautious optimism about what lies ahead.

With the state's economy languishing in an extended housing bust, a lot of young graduates have shown up at job placement centers in tears. Many have been squeezed out of jobs by more experienced workers, job counselors said, and are now having to explain to prospective employers the time gaps in their resumes.

"It's kind of scary," said Cameron Bawden, 22, who is graduating from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in December with a business degree. His family has warned him for years about the job market, so he has been building his resume by working part time on the Las Vegas Strip as a food runner and doing a marketing internship with a local airline.

Bawden said his friends who have graduated are either unemployed or working along the Vegas Strip in service jobs that don't require degrees. "There are so few jobs and it's a small city," he said. "It's all about who you know."

Any job gains are going mostly to workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale, at the expense of middle-income jobs commonly held by bachelor's degree holders. By some studies, up to 95 percent of positions lost during the economic recovery occurred in middle-income occupations such as bank tellers, the type of job not expected to return in a more high-tech age.

David Neumark, an economist at the University of California-Irvine, said a bachelor's degree can have benefits that aren't fully reflected in the government's labor data. He said even for lower-skilled jobs such as waitress or cashier, employers tend to value bachelor's degree-holders more highly than high-school graduates, paying them more for the same work and offering promotions.

In addition, U.S. workers increasingly may need to consider their position in a global economy, where they must compete with educated foreign-born residents for jobs. Longer-term government projections also may fail to consider "degree inflation," a growing ubiquity of bachelor's degrees that could make them more commonplace in lower-wage jobs but inadequate for higher-wage ones.

That future may be now for Kelman Edwards Jr., 24, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who is waiting to see the returns on his college education.

After earning a biology degree last May, the only job he could find was as a construction worker for five months before he quit to focus on finding a job in his academic field. He applied for positions in laboratories but was told they were looking for people with specialized certifications.

"I thought that me having a biology degree was a gold ticket for me getting into places, but every other job wants you to have previous history in the field," he said. Edwards, who has about $5,500 in student debt, recently met with a career counselor at Middle Tennessee State University. The counselor's main advice: Pursue further education.

"Everyone is always telling you, `Go to college,'" Edwards said. "But when you graduate, it's kind of an empty cliff."


George Zimmerman Released From Florida Jail

In a low-key event, George Zimmerman was released from a Florida jail on $150,000 bail as he awaits his second-degree murder trial in the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.

The neighborhood watch volunteer was wearing a brown jacket and blue jeans and carrying a paper bag as he walked out of the Seminole County jail around midnight Sunday. He was following another man and didn't look over at photographers gathered outside. The two then got into a white BMW car and drove away.

Zimmerman gave no statement as he left the suburban Orlando jail.

His ultimate destination is being kept secret for his safety and it could be outside Florida.

As with the July 2011 release of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman acquitted of murder in the death of her young daughter, Zimmerman was released around midnight. But the similarities end there. Anthony was quickly whisked away by deputy sheriffs armed with rifles as angry protesters jeered her. While news helicopters briefly tracked her SUV through Orlando before she slipped from public view, there was no such pursuit of Zimmerman, who will have to return for trial.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said at a hearing Friday that Zimmerman cannot have any guns and must observe a 7 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew. Zimmerman also surrendered his passport.

Zimmerman had to put up 10 percent, or $15,000, to make bail. His father had indicated he might take out a second mortgage.

Zimmerman worked at a mortgage risk-management company at the time of the shooting and his wife is in nursing school. A website was set up to collect donations for Zimmerman's defense fund. It is unclear how much has been raised.

Bail is not unheard of in second-degree murder cases, and legal experts had predicted it would be granted for Zimmerman because of his ties to the community, because he turned himself in after he was charged last week, and because he has never been convicted of a serious crime.

Prosecutors had asked for $1 million bail, citing two previous scrapes Zimmerman had with the law, neither of which resulted in charges. In 2005, he had to take anger management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Zimmerman's friend. In another incident, a girlfriend accused him of attacking her.

Speaking Monday on "CBS This Morning," Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said Zimmerman would not have apologized to the Martin family during Friday's bond hearing if O'Mara had known the family felt it was the wrong time.

Zimmerman's bond hearing Friday took a surprising turn when he took the witness stand and apologized to the slain teen's family for the loss of their son. But an attorney for Martin's family spurned the apology.

O'Mara told the network Monday that if he'd known the family felt the timing of the apology was wrong, it wouldn't have happened. O'Mara said Zimmerman simply wanted to reach out to the family.

Zimmerman, 28, fatally shot Martin, 17, during an altercation on Feb. 26 inside the gated community where Zimmerman lived. Martin was unarmed and was walking back to the home of his father's fianc�e when Zimmerman saw him, called 911 and began following him. A fight broke out – investigators say it is unknown who started it.

Zimmerman says Martin, who was visiting from Miami, attacked him. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense, citing Florida's "stand your ground" law, which gives broad legal protection to anyone who says they used deadly force because they feared death or great bodily harm.

Zimmerman was not charged for over six weeks, sparking national protests led by Martin's parents, civil rights groups and the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Martin was black; Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is from Peru.

Earlier Sunday, Zimmerman's attorney was working to secure the money for bail and a safe place for Zimmerman to stay. But residents in Sanford, where Martin was killed, didn't expect a ruckus once Zimmerman was released.

City commissioners said they hadn't received calls from nervous residents. Protesters didn't show up outside the jail. And talk at one local coffee shop seldom focused on the case.

"It's just kind of a non-issue now," said Michele Church, a server at Mel's Family Diner. "That's pretty much all anybody in Sanford wanted, was an arrest, so it could be sorted out in the court system."

On Friday, a Florida judge agreed to let Zimmerman out on $150,000 bail. O'Mara has said there are several options for where Zimmerman should go, but would not disclose any of them. Lester on Friday indicated Zimmerman would be allowed to leave the state if arrangements with law enforcement could be made for him to be monitored.

He was fitted with an electronic device when he was released Sunday, according to a statement from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

About a half-dozen photographers and cameramen camped outside the Sanford jail Sunday, focused on the door marked "Bonds Rooms," where other people who had been arrested and released on bail exited. Zimmerman had entered the jail about a week earlier after more than a month of nationwide protests calling for his arrest.

"The mood in Sanford has calmed down tremendously," said Sanford Commissioner Patty Mahany, whose district includes the neighborhood where Martin was killed. "I think now that people are able to see the justice system taking place, even though they understand it's going to be quite slow, people are willing to just remain calm and really we're all getting back to our daily routines."

A spokeswoman for the Seminole County Sheriff's Office declined to release any information about whether they were increasing patrols or security.

Defense attorneys for other high-profile clients who awaited trial on bail have said Zimmerman should leave Florida and refrain from going out in public. Sanford residents say they aren't expecting to see him around the neighborhood anytime soon.

"They've already said they're going to move him to a safe place," Church said. "Everyone has calmed down. That's all anyone in Sanford wanted, an arrest."

Meanwhile, Martin's parents published a "Card of Thanks" in The Miami Herald obituary page Sunday. The note says Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin express their appreciation for all the public's support since their son's death. The notice includes a photograph of Trayvon Martin dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, similar to one he was wearing the evening he was killed.

"Words will never express how your love, support and prayers lifted our spirits and continue to give us the strength to march on," the letter says.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rodney King discusses memoir at LA Times Festival of Books

(Christina House, For The Times / April 21, 2012)

Now 47, beating victim Rodney King is coauthor of 'The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption.' He expresses forgiveness toward the police officers who beat him March 3, 1991.

It has been 20 years, and Rodney King finds himself in what must be an awkward position: He is an elder statesman of victimhood. Instead of asking questions — "Can we all just get along?"— he is now being asked to answer them.

Can we all just get along? What about Trayvon Martin? How does it feel to be a symbol?

King, 47, tried to answer those questions Saturday at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, appearing as the co-author of a new memoir, "The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption." What emerges from both the book and his appearance is a man who has spent two decades coping, not always very well, with the blows that police inflicted on the night of March 3, 1991, and with the notoriety that came, a year later, with being the fuse that sparked the riots that shattered Los Angeles.

What also stands out is a Christian ethos that manifests itself in King's insistence on forgiveness toward those who hurt him.

"That's how I was raised, to be in a forgiving state of mind," he said during an interview with Times columnist and KPCC-FM (89.3) radio host Patt Morrison. "Because I've been forgiven many times, and I'm only human, so who am I not to forgive someone? … I wouldn't be able to grow as a person inside if I was too angry and unforgiving."

King was drunk and unarmed when he was pulled over for speeding by Los Angeles Police Department officers, who responded to his erratic behavior by kicking him and striking him dozens of times with their batons. The incident was captured on video by a civilian bystander, and the tape became an instant international sensation.

Four of the officers were tried for excessive force. Their acquittal on April 29, 1992, touched off one of the worst urban riots in U.S. history.

With the 20th anniversary just over a week away, several hundred people packed an auditorium at USC to hear King at the book festival. Patience was required: He arrived 40 minutes late for the hourlong appearance, saying he was stuck in traffic.

In the interim, Morrison conducted a sort of town hall meeting, asking members of the audience to reflect on their experiences in the riots and to consider whether the city, and country, have changed for the better in the ensuing two decades.

Opinions were mixed. Some said there had been progress in race relations, and several said the LAPD had changed dramatically for the better. Others were less sanguine.

"I believe things have not changed," said 61-year-old Nila Ussery, who said that in 1992 she was living at 64th Street and Normandie Avenue, nine blocks from the flash point of the riots at Florence and Normandie. She has since moved to Palmdale but said that in inner city neighborhoods today, "it's even worse."

Others cited the case of Martin, the Florida teen who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, as evidence that American society has not transcended its legacy of racism. One woman, Barbara Bergen, said racism "is still rampant" but fading as young people adopt healthier attitudes.

King expressed optimism that society was changing but offered a mixed message about the Martin case. "Unfortunately, it's a rough road. It's tough being a young black man," he said. "As far as racist profiling just because you're black, we've got to move past that." And yet he added: "It's in our blood, in the world's blood, because we're all sinners."

King said he was newly engaged to be married and insisted that he was at peace. His book reflects that any equanimity was hard won; he recounts years of alcoholism and rage, but says he has gotten over both.

He was asked what he thinks now when he sees the videotape of his beating. "I'm so glad I made it through," he said. "Now I laugh, I smile, when I see it."

He recounted a recent conversation with a police officer, who told him: "Rodney, after we're all dead and gone, your name is still going to be out there." King reflected on that. "That was a deep thought," he said. After a moment, he chuckled. "Six feet deep," he said.

By Mitchell Landsberg -

Earth Day 2012: United We Stand, Divided We Fall

More than one billion people will call for the protection of our planet today as they gather around the world to celebrate Earth Day. Their mission: to raise support for a more sustainable future as climate change continues to wreak havoc across the globe.

Frustrated by the lack of "green" policy at the international level, campaigners are now calling for a new deal to be signed at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit this June.

Forging a new agreement couldn't be more critical -- the Kyoto protocol, which legally binds us to curb global carbon emissions, will expire this year.

After the Copenhagen talks collapsed three years ago, world governments promised to sign a new deal in 2012. But, they are now backtracking on that pledge. Instead, they are looking to 2020 as their new timeline.

According to Lord Stern, author of a landmark paper on the economics of climate change, "postponing an agreement until then marks "a collective failure" which "is taking considerable risks with the planet."

Last November, the United Nations predicted that there will be a rise in "wild weather" over the next century. A week later, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that the world is on the brink of irreversible climate change. According to its research, global warming will hit the point of no return in five years in time.

That gives us five years to act; five years to draw up a plan, put it into action and make sure that it works. In other words, we're entering a state of "emergency." According to Nasa climate scientist Jim Hansen, we have created a dangerous weather system which will be impossible to fix in the future unless we take action now.

He believes that we have an overriding moral duty to hand over a safe home to both our children and our grandchildren: "Our parents didn't know that they were causing a problem for future generations, but we can only pretend that we don't know because the science is now crystal clear."

Hansen regards human induced climate change to be a grave "moral issue" on par with slavery. British barrister Polly Higgins adopts a similar view. She believes that environmental degradation should be treated as an international peace crime just like genocide and other crimes against humanity.

She has asked the UN to accept "ecocide" as the fifth crime against peace: "Ecocide is in essence the very antithesis of life. It leads to resource depletion, and where there is an escalation of resource depletion, war comes chasing behind."

One need only remember the global food riots of 2007 and 2008 to recognize the huge potential for social unrest going forward. Some analysts believe that it was higher food prices that unleashed last year's Arab spring. As Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project points out, "What's emerging is an interconnected web of risks, with the threads of water stress, food insecurity, rising population and consumption now magnified by extreme weather and climatic change."

Clearly, we can not wait until 2020 for a new "green" deal. But, as Christiana Figueres, the UN's top official on climate change points out: "Making an agreement is not easy ... What we are looking at is nothing other than the biggest industrial and energy revolution that has ever been seen."

According to Jim Hansen, we need an immediate 6% cut in annual CO2 emissions. Failing to cut now means that by 2020, a more radical incision of 15% will need to be made.

If we don't get a new deal in Rio, individual countries and companies will have to embrace this challenge on their own. According to Sir David King, the UK's former chief scientist, this may be our best hope for curbing emissions.

Scotland already derives over 30% of its power from green sources. And Denmark plans to run on 100% renewable energy by 2050. Other nations will have to follow suit.

On a company level, we have to enter "a new paradigm for business characterized by responsibility, a re-alignment between cost and value, and scarce resources," says Ed Dowding founder of Sustaination: "Like any paradigm shift, there is a turbulence and a lack of clarity about how it will turn out, but the trends are clear for those who choose to see."

And on the individual level, we all have our part to play. "A sustainable society will only come about through the accumulated actions of billions of individuals," says Alexandra Cousteau, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

"The moment we become purely concerned with nature as something that sustains us, rather than something that feeds us spiritually, psychologically and emotionally" we have veered off course, says theologian Martin Palmer

So, on this Earth Day in the year 2012, let's all think about what we can do to help. Let's not look back on this time, 30 years from now with any regret -- our window for opportunity is still open. We still have time. In the words of Albert Einstein, "those with the privilege to know, have a duty to act." So, let's all come together and act, for "united" we shall stand and "divided" we shall fall.

By Aiko Stevenson - Huffington Post