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  1. Apparently net neutrality is officially dead. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the FCC has given up on finding a legal avenue to enforce equal access and will instead propose rules that explicitly allow broadband suppliers to favor companies that pay them for faster pipes:

    The Federal Communications Commission plans to propose new open Internet rules on Thursday that would allow content companies to pay Internet service providers for special access to consumers, according to a person familiar with the proposal.

    The proposed rules would prevent the service providers from blocking or discriminating against specific websites, but would allow broadband providers to give some traffic preferential treatment, so long as such arrangements are available on "commercially reasonable" terms for all interested content companies. Whether the terms are commercially reasonable would be decided by the FCC on a case-by-case basis.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2014-04-24)
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  2. Many Christians choose self-employed careers because they want to be able to run their business according to the dictates of their faith and conscience.

    That list is quickly shrinking as homosexuals pro-actively seek opportunities to wreck the personal business and career of any Christian who declines to support the gay lifestyle.

    Don't be fooled. This is a focused effort to ostracize and humiliate faith-based businesses and their owners. Here are a few recent examples:

    Photography - A Christian photographer in New Mexico was fined $6700 for politely declining to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony. The Supreme Court allowed this fine to stand.
    Baker - A Christian baker in Oregon is facing both civil and criminal penalties, including jail time, for politely declining to bake a cake for a gay wedding ceremony. Her business has closed.
    Florist - Baronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist in Washington, is being sued by the state attorney general for politely declining to prepare an arrangement for a gay wedding ceremony.
    Broadcasting - Craig James was fired by Fox Sports Southwest after only one day on the job for expressing his support for natural marriage while he was a candidate for the United States Senate.
    Counseling - Jennifer Keeton was dismissed from the counseling program at Augusta State University for her religious reservations about the homosexual lifestyle.
    Innkeeping - The Wildflower Inn in Vermont was fined $30,000 and forced to shut down its wedding reception business after politely declining to host a lesbian ceremony.
    Teaching - Ms. Gillian John-Charles was kicked out of a doctoral program in education at Roosevelt University for expressing in class her belief that homosexuals aren't born gay.
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  3. Alcuni (anche in altri articoli sull’argomento) si perdono a confutare sul piano tecnico-economico le teorie di Marx, trovando (abbastanza facilmente direi) gli errori, dovuti peraltro ad una società e ad un sistema produttivo radicalmente cambiato.

    Sfugge quasi totalmente a queste persone l’aspetto socio-economico, che è il vero propulsore delle rivolte. Aspetto che invece viene colto in pieno da Piketty che rileva invece un sistema ormai fuori controllo sotto il profilo della redistribuzione del reddito.

    Chi pensa che si tratti sostanzialmente solo di invidia verso chi guadagna molto non ha capito niente né sotto il profilo sociale né sotto quello economico.

    Il richiamo a Marx non significa per nessuno (o quasi) un ritorno a quelle teorie ormai irrimediabilmente obsolete, ma significa che sottostimare le proteste e le rivolte di chi non ha più un futuro dignitoso da vivere è stupidamente folle.

    Le rivoluzioni di due-tre anni fa nel nord Africa erano più per l’iniquità distributiva del reddito nazionale che per ansia di democrazia. E’ sempre questo, insieme all’ansia di libertà, il motore che spinge alle sommosse e alle rivoluzioni.

    Ma nelle democrazie sviluppate la libertà c’è già e se non sapranno risolvere il problema di dare il lavoro a tutti e di pagarlo in modo sufficiente per vivere una dignitosa esistenza, l’intolleranza verso i ricchi, i manager superpagati e i politici trafficoni sarà sufficiente a mettere a rischio lo stesso sistema democratico.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2014-04-24)
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  4. In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama touted “more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world—the first time that’s happened in nearly 20 years.” It’s true: U.S. crude oil production has increased from about five million barrels per day to nearly 7.75 mb/d over the past five years (we still import over 7.5 mb/d). And American natural gas production is at an all-time high.

    But there’s a problem. We’re focusing too much on gross numbers. (The definition of gross I have in mind is “exclusive of deductions,” as in gross profits versus net profits., though other definitions apply here, too.) While these gross numbers appear splendid, when you look at net, things go pear-shaped, as the British say.

    Our economy is 100 percent dependent on energy: With more and cheaper energy, the economy booms; With less and costlier energy, the economy wilts. When the electricity grid goes down or the gasoline pumps run dry, the economy simply stops in its tracks.

    But the situation is actually a bit more complicated, because it takes energy to get energy.

    With money as with energy, we are doing extremely well at keeping up appearances by characterizing our situation with a few cherry-picked numbers. But behind the jolly statistics lurks a menacing reality.

    We’ll never run out of any fossil fuel, in the sense of extracting every last molecule of coal, oil, or gas. Long before we get to that point, we will confront the dreaded double line in the diagram, labeled “energy in equals energy out.” At that stage, it will cost as much energy to find, pump, transport, and process a barrel of oil as the oil’s refined products will yield when burned in even the most perfectly efficient engine.

    between 2005 and 2013, the industry spent $4 trillion on exploration and production, yet this more-than-doubled investment produced only 4 mb/d in added production.

    It gets worse: All net new production during the 2005-13 period came from unconventional sources; of the $4 trillion spent, it took $350 billion to achieve a bump in production. Subtracting unconventionals from the total, world oil production actually fell by about a million barrels a day during these years. That means the oil industry spent over $3.5 trillion to achieve a decline in overall conventional production.

    Last year was one of the worst ever for new discoveries, and companies are cutting exploration budgets. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to find new oil and gas, and in particular new oil,” Tim Dodson, the exploration chief of Statoil, the world’s top conventional explorer, recently told Reuters. “The discoveries tend to be somewhat smaller, more complex, more remote, so it is very difficult to see a reversal of that trend…. The industry at large will probably struggle going forward with reserve replacement.”

    To people concerned about climate change, much of this sounds like good news. Oil companies’ spending is up but profits are down. Gasoline is more expensive and consumption has declined.

    There’s just one catch: None of this is happening as a result of long-range, comprehensive planning. And it will take a lot of effort to minimize the human impact of a societal shift from relative energy abundance to relative energy scarcity. In fact, there is virtually no discussion occurring among officials about the larger economic implications of declining energy returns on investment. Indeed, rather than soberly assessing the situation and its imminent economic challenges, our policymakers are stuck in a state of public relations-induced euphoria, high on temporarily spiking gross U.S. oil and gas production numbers.

    The obvious solution to declining fossil fuel returns on investment is to transition to alternative energy sources as quickly as possible. We’ll have to do this anyway to address the climate crisis. But from an energy accounting point of view, this may not offer much help.

    IF OUR ECONOMY RUNS on energy, and our energy prospects are gloomy, how is it that the economy is recovering?

    The simplest answer is that it’s not—except as measured by a few misleading gross statistics. Every month the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases figures for new jobs created, and the numbers look relatively good at first glance (113,000 net new jobs for January 2014). But most of these new jobs pay less than those that were lost in recent years. And unemployment statistics don’t include people who’ve given up looking for work. Labor force participation rates are at their lowest level in 35 years.
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  5. Parole sante: "La differenza sarà tra chi è capace di guidare la complessità delle tecnologie e usare in modo innovativo gli strumenti per cambiare i processi, e chi si limiterà a subirli passivamente, come una sciagura. Lì si gioca il futuro della nostra professione. Su questo terreno, non su disposizioni stupide come quelle in tema di minimi di tariffa e preventivi scritti, formazione permanente, specializzazioni che guardano la realtà dallo specchietto retrovisore o le altre baggianate che ci hanno propinato in questi anni, si svolgerà la lotta per la sopravvivenza tra gli avvocati."
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  6. Forty years have passed since the Chilean president Salvador Allende died in La Moneda Palace in Santiago, attempting to defend himself with an AK-47 he had been given by Fidel Castro. Here, in a piece from the New Statesman published in March 1974, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez explores Allende’s record in Chile, his rivals’ dealings with the United States and the rise of his successor – the army general Augusto Pinochet.

    The previous government, headed by the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei, had begun steps towards nationalising copper, though he called it “Chileanisation”. All the plan did was to buy up 51 per cent of US-held mining properties and for the mine of El Teniente alone it paid a sum greater than the total book value of that facility.

    Popular Unity, with a single legal act supported in Congress by all of the nation’s popular parties, recovered for the nation all copper deposits worked by the subsidiaries of the American companies Anaconda and Kennecott. Without indemnification: the government having calculated that the two companies had made a profit in excess of $800m over 15 years.

    The petite bourgeoisie and the middle class, the two great social forces that might have supported a military coup at that moment, were beginning to enjoy unforeseen advantages and not at the expense of the proletariat, as had always been the case, but, rather, at the expense of the financial oligarchy and foreign capital. The armed forces, as a social group, have the same origins and ambitions as the middle class, so they had no motive, not even an alibi, to back the tiny group of coup-minded officers. Aware of that reality, the Christian Democrats not only did not support the barracks plot at that time but resolutely opposed it, for they knew it was unpopular among their own rank and file.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-04-24)
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  7. The current model of lifelong, cohabiting monogamous partnership has never been such an outdated ideal.

    We are living longer, for a start. One third of babies born today are now expected to live to 100, according to the National Office of Statistics. A woman born in 1850 could expect her marriage to last 29 years. Now couples can expect to take tea breaks together for 30 years after the kids leave home – an inordinate sentence if you don’t like the way they slurp.

    Then there’s the little-noted fact that today’s social milieu doesn’t lend itself to the co-ordination and compromises demanded of traditional coupledom. We champion individuality and convenience yet we expect our partners to share living space and a good chunk of our social life. Until early adulthood we are encouraged to forge our own career, friendships and interests. Young people usually live away from home, with flatmates, at college or through travelling before they entertain marriage. They are used to varied and transient love affairs. The expectations of commitment, when it arrives, require a stark disciplinarian jolt, that previous generations did not have to struggle with.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2014-04-24)
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  8. nothing (and I mean nothing) is more offensive nowadays than Christianity. It seems that being a believing Christian is offensive from the get-go nowadays, especially if one watches NBC News. It seems that Jesus, besides being the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is also quite offensive. Talking about your religion is like blowing smoke in people's faces without all the cancery ramifications.

    Just this week, a family in New Jersey was so offended by the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance they're suing to ban the pledge from public schools.

    Last month, an executive at Mozilla lost his job because of his beliefs on marriage.

    This age of totalitolerance has clearly taught us that sometimes tolerance means someone's gonna' shut up. Now.

    Here's the thing, I can think somebody's a jerk without being offended. Someone can be wrong without my needing an apology. I don't ever intend to offend anyone but I'm sure I have. I probably just did with this piece. Just my being Catholic, pro-life, and in favor of traditional marriage probably makes me the most offensive person on the planet. But hey, at least I didn't go to a Japanese war crime shrine.
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  9. Nelle liste per le elezioni europee democratiche c'è un po' di tutto: ex forzisti, dipietristi "pentiti", casiniani. E non mancano i politici indagati
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2014-04-24)
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  10. PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) è un Programma ideato dall’OCSE, l’Organizzazione per la Cooperazione e lo Sviluppo Economico, a cui hanno partecipato 24 paesi nel mondo. In Italia PIAAC è promosso dal Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche sociali che ha incaricato l’ISFOL, Istituto per lo Sviluppo della Formazione professionale dei Lavoratori, di realizzare l’indagine e gli studi a esso collegati.

    Dopo un testing pilota realizzato da aprile a giugno 2010, l’indagine principale si è svolta con successo tra settembre 2011 e marzo 2012 e ha coinvolto circa 12.000 persone. I rispondenti dell’indagine PIAAC sono stati individuati tra i membri di famiglie estratte dalle liste anagrafiche dei Comuni italiani. Per l’estrazione dei nominativi l’ISFOL si è avvalso del supporto dell’ISTAT.

    L'indagine ha lo scopo di conoscere attraverso un questionario e dei test cognitivi specifici le abilità fondamentali della popolazione adulta compresa tra i 16 e i 65 anni, ovvero quelle competenze ritenute indispensabili per partecipare attivamente alla vita sociale ed economica nel 21esimo secolo.

    PIAAC mira ad avere informazioni sulle competenze fondamentali degli adulti - definite dall’OCSE foundations skills - e in particolare sulla lettura (Literacy), sulle abilità logico-matematiche (Numeracy) e sulle competenze collegate alle tecnologie dell’informazione e comunicazione (ICT). Inoltre, per la prima volta in uno studio internazionale, l'indagine PIAAC fornisce indicazioni su come le persone fanno uso delle competenze non solo nella loro vita personale, ma anche durante la loro attività lavorativa.
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