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  1. Michele Torsello, il funzionario 32enne di Palazzo Chigi, ha notato anche qualcos’altro nel suo lavoro: impara in fretta a fare al computer cose che a tanti altri suoi colleghi anziani sembrano impossibili. «E c’è un’impressionante differenza fra e me e loro nel modo di percepire la comunicazione, per esempio con l’uso dei social network», dice. Per l’efficienza e la capacità di risoluzione dei problemi, l’età conta. Benjamin Jones della Kellogg School of Management ha controllato a quanti anni i 547 vincitori del Nobel e altri 286 «grandi innovatori» del ‘900 hanno fatto la scoperta per la quale sono stati insigniti o sono diventati celebri: a circa 35 anni in media nella prima metà del secolo, poco meno di 39 più di recente.

    Nella vita, il momento migliore per applicare la propria creatività è molto sotto l’età media degli statali in Italia. Questo non significa che moltissimi fra loro non svolgano le proprie funzioni in modo eccellente fino all’ultimo giorno di lavoro: un amministratore o un giudice hanno più bisogno di esperienza che d’inventiva. A Palazzo Chigi però la tentazione di ringiovanire la Pubblica amministrazione attuando la legge delega di riforma esiste. L’ondata di pensionamenti in arrivo può diventare il momento per redistribuire le forze della burocrazia in base alle nuove esigenze del Paese.
    Non sarà una passeggiata: non è facile spiegare agli esodati del settore privato che i loro coetanei del pubblico hanno diritto a incentivi, scivoli, uscite dolci.
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  2. It’s time to discover the perfectly balanced audio produced by our two way, dual driver design, strategically positioned in each acoustic ear chamber. Each driver is tuned with precision to reproduce a different part of the frequency spectrum. The dedicated low frequency driver harvests a deep, smooth bass response that blends into, rather than overwhelms, the music. The high frequency tweeter replicates crisp, natural vocals with exceptional accuracy. You’ll be able to relax and fully engage in your favorite tunes.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-10-02)
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  3. After a long negotiation process, the 193 member states of the United Nations have agreed to 17 goals and 169 targets that seek to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, promote economic growth and prosperity, improve health and education and protect the planet.

    If that sounds like a lot of targets, it is, because the goals represent a very big agenda and the culmination of extensive input from countries, non-government organisations, business and millions of ordinary citizens around the world. All countries including Australia are expected to use the goals in framing their agendas and policies.
    What are they?

    The Sustainable Development Goals aim to encourage countries and the private sector to focus simultaneously on the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. Several countries, including Australia, argued during the negotiating process that peace and good governance are pre-conditions for sustainable development.

    So there is also a goal (number 16) to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies”, and “build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions”.

    Within each of the goals there are targets such as reducing by at least half the number of people living in poverty according to national definitions (goal 1.2) and reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases like diabetes by one-third by 2030 (goal 3.4).

    Under the clean energy goal there is a target to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030, and a specific goal to make cities more sustainable with targets to increase affordable housing and access to sustainable transport (goal 11)

    Despite the great advances in poverty alleviation and development, there are still around 800 million people living in extreme poverty or suffering from hunger. In some areas the world has gone backwards. In most countries relative inequality has increased.

    Climate change, deforestation and environmental degradation now threaten to undermine future well-being and the development gains that have been achieved. Global greenhouse gases are now more than 50% higher than in 1990 and deforestation, desertification and collapsing fisheries threaten the livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

    The fact that all the world’s countries have been able to agree on a set of goals and targets for sustainable development – a sort of “to do list” for a better world is important in itself. As the Declaration accompanying the goals states: “Never before have world leaders pledged common action and endeavour across such a broad and universal policy agenda”.
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  4. Francis will speak at the United Nations General Assembly on September 25. There he will highlight concerns in his encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, especially the issues of poverty, equity, sustainability, social inclusion and peace.

    Francis is convinced the threat from global warming is dire. He is trying to help mobilise public opinion, throwing the moral support of the Catholic Church behind efforts to transform the way we live and produce.

    Francis is very strategic in his thinking and has written his encyclical with two major events in mind. The first is the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which 193 countries will endorse at the UN General Assembly. The second event is the second session of the Synod of Bishops discussing family matters in Rome from October 4-25.
    Pope seeks consultation and dialogue

    Laudato Si’ is not the work of an isolated individual. Francis believes strongly in consultation and dialogue, and the encyclical draws from many experts and groups.

    Francis is building on consultations with experts in the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, including Joseph Stiglitz and Partha Dasgupta among its 20 members. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences with about 80 eminent scientists has also contributed strongly, as has the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, who wrote a draft of the encyclical.

    Pope Francis’s broad consultations have included people like Naomi Klein. AAP/Dean Lewins

    There has been overlap between people advising the Vatican and those preparing the Sustainable Development Goals. Francis has met many of the key people refining the SDGs, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and has been strongly influenced by the work of Amartya Sen, Jeffrey Sachs and Stiglitz.

    Francis invites full and open dialogue with all serious points of view. One of Sachs’ critics, Naomi Klein, has recently been involved with these consultations.

    The Synod on the Family

    The encyclical did not discuss adequately the issue of population, presumably because it will be part of the agenda at the October Synod of Bishops. Francis would not want to pre-empt what the synod might say and has insisted the bishops “speak frankly” and honestly.

    Francis earlier asked the bishops to encourage their parishes and networks to discuss issues of family life and to feed back responses into the synod process. Nothing like this had been attempted before in the Catholic Church.

    Responses appear overwhelmingly to confirm that the great majority of couples have not accepted the teaching of Pope Paul VI against contraception in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. As US commentator Peter Steinfels wrote in May:

    … this “non-reception” should be recognised as a theologically significant fact.

    Steinfels suggests that the synod should acknowledge the loyalty of many Catholics, but also the pain Humanae Vitae caused many others.

    Since the synod is only for three weeks, Steinfels urged that the church begin a process to review its teaching on sexuality, marriage and family, “placing moral responsibility in conceiving children firmly within the larger framework”, rather than in isolated decisions.

    One commentator wrote that it “seems without precedent for a pope” to say that parents may have a responsibility to limit the number of their children. But popes had been saying that for more than 60 years. Their concern was about means.

    Various media reported that Francis had strongly backed Pope Paul VI’s teaching against contraception. Yet I can find no instance of the pope using the word contraception, though he did reaffirm the church’s opposition to abortion. Instead he talked in terms of “openness to life” in his address to families in Manila on January 16.

    Francis urges pastoral flexibility in interpreting Humanae Vitae. In March 2014, he commented that:

    … pastoral action takes into account that which is possible for people to do.

    The way that Francis has been framing the question of contraception suggests a new openness on these matters:

    The key teaching of the church is responsible parenthood. And how do we get to that? By dialogue.

    It remains to be seen what will emerge from the Synod of Bishops. A change could help provide the means for Catholics to exercise responsible parenthood where the common good clearly indicates the need for smaller families.

    Both the Sustainable Development Goals and Laudato Si’ insist that for couples to choose smaller families it is essential that children, particularly girls, have opportunities for equality, education and employment; that nutritional and health standards ensure low maternal, infant and child mortality; that social security systems protect against unemployment, sickness and old age; and that governments provide security and sustainable development. The SDGs offer a detailed program of how to do much of this.
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  5. I licenziamenti fatti dall’AMA, non fossimo in Italia, sarebbero stati accolti da un plauso generale e non dalla consueta indifferenza. Incredibilmente i principali sindacati del settore Funzione Pubblica hanno accolto la notizia dei licenziamenti dei raccomandati con sentimenti variabili tra l’antipatia e l’ostilità pura.

    La CGIL, attraverso il suo segretario della Funzione Pubblica del Lazio, Natale di Cola, ha tirato fuori un classico retorico della sinistra italiana: il benaltrismo. A loro detta, le figure da colpire erano altre rispetto ai poveri lavoratori raccomandati e stavano più in alto nell’organigramma aziendale: “L’azienda dovrebbe colpire in alto per risanarsi, a partire dai dirigenti. Invece ha colpito l’obiettivo più semplice”.

    La CISL l’ha buttata sul tecnico e si è affrettata a precisare che nel caso di Parentopoli “non ci può essere un licenziamento collettivo. Al massimo si tratterebbe di 41 licenziamenti singoli ed è normale pensare che chiunque sarà soggetto a questo provvedimento farà ricorso”, riservandosi di decidere cosa fare caso per caso.
    In entrambi i casi è facile percepire il disagio sindacale per i licenziamenti dei raccomandati.

    Secondo un recente sondaggio di Ixè per la trasmissione televisiva Agorà, più del 70% degli italiani ha poca o nessuna fiducia nei sindacati. Le ragioni di questa sfiducia sono lunghe e complesse, ma certamente uno dei fattori più rilevanti è la perdita di pertinenza dei principali sindacati italiani
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  6. I docenti degli atenei italiani nel 2013 erano 55 mila, con un calo complessivo del 13 per cento in dieci anni. E nell'ultima decade - questo è il dato straordinario - sono stati espulsi 97 ricercatori precari ogni cento. Nel 2014 a fronte di 2.324 pensionamenti sono stati attivati solo 141 contratti a tempo determinato (fonte Ricercarsi). Nel Sud in sei anni si è perso il 38 per cento delle posizioni per un dottorato. Infine l'Andisu, l'associazione che si occupa del diritto allo studio, ha portato all'uditorio il suo carico ricordando che in Italia lo Stato spende sul diritto allo studio 600 milioni quando in Germania l'intervento è da 4 miliardi e in Francia da 3,6.
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  7. Vivere, invece, da pensionato in Tunisia significa anche accrescere il valore della pensione: si paga un’aliquota dal 15 al 35 per cento, ma solo sul 20 per cento del reddito, l’altro 80 è esente e c’è anche un accordo che garantisce ai pensionati italiani una copertura medica totale, al pari di quella assicurata nei confini dell’Unione Europea. Stesso discorso per il Marocco: città come Agadir e Dar el-Jadida vivono un boom edilizio senza precedenti proprio perché i prezzi di un appartamento sono un terzo di quelli italiani.

    Anche la Thailandia già frequentatissima da americani e tedeschi sta vivendo un boom di presenze di pensionati italiani che sono già 700. I prezzi sono tra il 36 e il 64 per cento in meno rispetto all’Italia.

    Il presidente dell’Inps, Tito Boeri, spera che venga messo un freno contro questo fenomeno in forte ascesa:

    “Continuiamo a pagare ogni anno 200 milioni di euro di prestazioni assistenziali a pensionati che vivono in altri Paesi e che magari hanno un’assistenza di base. E’ un principio abbastanza strano, che altri Paesi non fanno ed è paradossale perché in Italia non ci sono strumenti contro la povertà e una rete di base proprio perché si dice non ci siano le risorse”.
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  8. Printrbot just released the Crawlbot, a game changer in the world of CNC. It takes one basic fundamental of CNC machines and throws it out the window: The idea that if you want to cut a large piece of material, then your machine needs to have an even larger frame. Instead, the Crawlbot is the size of a golf bag but can cut material larger than a sheet of plywood.

    This is the perfect machine for the at-home tinkerer, someone who doesn’t have a lot of work space but can back the car out of the garage on the weekends. If you want to cut full sheets of plywood, you no longer need to put an unmovable, VW-sized machine in your shop, taking up a substantial amount of room. Instead, you store the Crawlbot in a tight space, then when needed you simply strap it to a single piece of plywood on a few sawhorses and let it run. And it costs $4000 (currently set at an introductory $3500), where traditional machines with comparable capabilities start in the tens of thousands of dollars.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-09-29)
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  9. In September 1983 the world came closer to nuclear armageddon than it ever has before or since. This is the story of how it happened, and of the man who pulled it back from the brink.
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  10. Inspiring Science Education is all about providing the tools to make science education more challenging, more playful and above all more imaginative and inspiring for today’s students, the citizens of tomorrow’s world. Find out more about the project!
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2015-09-26)
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