Leaked Report Profiles Military, Police Members of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

May 23rd, 2015

Via: First Look:

Nuclear power plant technicians, senior military officers, FBI contractors and an employee of “a highly-secretive Department of Defense agency” with a Top Secret clearance. Those are just a few of the more than 100 people with sensitive military and government connections that law enforcement is tracking because they are linked to “outlaw motorcycle gangs.”

A year before the deadly Texas shootout that killed nine people on May 17, a lengthy report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives detailed the involvement of U.S. military personnel and government employees in outlaw motorcycle gangs, or OMGs. A copy of the report was obtained by The Intercept.

The report lays out, in almost obsessive detail, the extent to which OMG members are represented in nearly every part of the military, and in federal and local government, from police and fire departments to state utility agencies. Specific examples from the report include dozens of Defense Department contractors with Secret or Top Secret clearances; multiple FBI contractors; radiological technicians with security clearances; U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees; Army, Navy and Air Force active-duty personnel, including from the special operations force community; and police officers.

“The OMG community continues to spread its tentacles throughout all facets of government,” the report says.


Apple and Google Just Attended a Confidential Spy Summit in a Remote English Mansion

May 23rd, 2015

Via: First Look:

At an 18th-century mansion in England’s countryside last week, current and former spy chiefs from seven countries faced off with representatives from tech giants Apple and Google to discuss government surveillance in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s leaks.

The three-day conference, which took place behind closed doors and under strict rules about confidentiality, was aimed at debating the line between privacy and security.

Among an extraordinary list of attendees were a host of current or former heads from spy agencies such as the CIA and British electronic surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Other current or former top spooks from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden were also in attendance. Google, Apple, and telecommunications company Vodafone sent some of their senior policy and legal staff to the discussions. And a handful of academics and journalists were also present.


Banks Fined $5.7 Billion Over Foreign Exchange Market Rigging

May 23rd, 2015

And nobody goes to jail.

Via: Evening Standard:

Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland were among six banks to be fined a total of $5.7 billion (£3.8 billion) by British and US regulators over allegations that they rigged the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

The settlement, which also involved US banks JP Morgan, Bank of America and Citi, as well as Switzerland’s UBS, means banks have handed authorities around $10 billion to deal with the scandal.

Barclays, Citi, JPMorgan and RBS also all pleaded guilty to a US antitrust violation.

The affair follows a series of scandals, including the fixing of benchmark interest rate Libor, that have severely damaged the public’s perception of the banking industry.

FX traders were said to have come together in chatrooms with names like “The Cartel” or “The Bandits Club” to organise methods to influence the value of major currencies in the hope of inflating their profits.

“If you aint cheating, you aint trying,” one Barclays trader said in a chatroom.


New ‘Deep Learning’ Technique Enables Robot Mastery of Skills Via Trial and Error

May 22nd, 2015

I mainly posted this because of the Comedy Gold juxtaposition below. haha

Via: UC Berkeley:

The work is part of a new People and Robots Initiative at UC’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). The new multi-campus, multidisciplinary research initiative seeks to keep the dizzying advances in artificial intelligence, robotics and automation aligned to human needs.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Office of Naval Research, U.S. Army Research Laboratory and National Science Foundation helped support this research.


40 Percent of Unemployed Have Quit Looking for Jobs

May 21st, 2015

Via: CNBC:

At a time when 8.5 million Americans still don’t have jobs, some 40 percent have given up even looking.

The revelation, contained in a new survey Wednesday showing how much work needs to be done yet in the U.S. labor market, comes as the labor force participation rate remains mired near 37-year lows.

A tight jobs market, the skills gap between what employers want and what prospective employees have to offer, and a benefits program that, while curtailed from its recession level, still remains obliging have combined to keep workers on the sidelines, according to a Harris poll of 1,553 working-age Americans conducted for Express Employment Professionals.

On the bright side, the number is actually better than 2014, the survey’s inaugural year, when 47 percent of the jobless said they had given up.


Britain: 1,400 Investigated in Child Sex Abuse Inquiry, Including 261 High-Profile Individuals

May 21st, 2015

Via: Guardian:

Police across the country are investigating more than 1,400 men – including 261 high-profile individuals – over allegations of child abuse in the past, a senior officer running the national operation has revealed.

The scale of alleged child abuse across society – both recent and non-recent – was stark, said Ch Const Simon Bailey, who runs Operation Hydrant, the national coordinating team overseeing the various inquiries.

Figures from police forces in England and Wales published on Wednesday reveal that 1,433 men have been identified in reports of alleged abuse by victims, since the operation was set up in 2014.

Of these 216 are dead, 76 are politicians, both national and local figures, 43 are from the music industry, 135 from TV, film or radio and seven from the world of sport. The cases include recent high-profile convictions, including Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter and Max Clifford.

Hundreds of institutions have been identified by victims of non-recent abuse as places where their abuse took place. These include 154 schools, 75 children’s homes, 40 religious institutions, 14 medical establishments, 11 community groups, nine prisons or young offender institutions, nine sports venues and 28 other places including military establishments.

Bailey warned that the number of victims could run into the hundreds of thousands, and called for much more support for survivors of child abuse.


State of Emergency Declared for Oil Spill Off Santa Barbara Coast

May 20th, 2015

More oil drilling for New Zealand?

Look and learn.

Via: NBC:

California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday issued an emergency proclamation for Santa Barbara County due to the effects of an oil spill near Refugio State Beach.

Oil floating off the Southern California coast after a spill from a broken oil pipe now stretches about 9 miles, an overnight expansion that was “more than we anticipated last night,” a U.S. Coast Guard captain said Wednesday.

The spill along the coast near Santa Barbara dumped possibly as much as 105,000 gallons of oil from a 2-foot pipeline onto the Refugio State Beach shore, creating miles-long slicks in the ocean after leaking for several hours before it was shut off.

The spill shut down popular El Capitan Beach and campground just days before the unofficial kick-off to the summer season, Memorial Day weekend, according to the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management.


Wall Street’s Hot New Financial Product: Your Rent Check

May 20th, 2015

Via: Mother Jones:

Over the last two years, private equity firms and hedge funds have amassed an unprecedented real estate empire, snapping up Spanish revivals in Phoenix, adobes in Los Angeles, Queen Anne Victorians in Atlanta, and brick-faced bungalows in Chicago. In total, Wall Street investors have bought more than 200,000 cheap, mostly foreclosed houses in some of the cities hardest hit by the economic meltdown. But they’re not simply flipping these houses. Instead, they’ve started bundling some of them into a new kind of financial product that could blow up the housing market all over again.

No company has bought more houses than the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. (Its many investments include Hilton Hotels, the Weather Channel, and SeaWorld. Among its institutional investors are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, and JPMorgan Chase.) Through its subsidiary, Invitation Homes, Blackstone has picked up houses through local brokers, at foreclosure auctions, and in bulk purchases. Last April, it bought 1,400 houses in Atlanta in a single day. In Phoenix, some neighborhoods have a Blackstone-owned home on just about every block. As of November, Blackstone had acquired 40,000 houses, most of them foreclosures, worth $7.5 billion. Today, it is the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the nation.

Research Credit: ottilie


Teachers Using Pens and Paper in the Classroom “Not Fair” to Students, Microsoft Official Says

May 20th, 2015

In other news, Microsoft Study Shows that Technology Is Shortening Attention Spans.

Via: The Georgia Straight:

Pens and paper have no place in the modern classroom. And chalkboards? They should be banished from our schools too.

That’s what Lia De Cicco Remu, director of Partners in Learning at Microsoft Canada, told the Georgia Straight ahead of the Microsoft Summit 2015 in Vancouver, which is set to be attended by around 200 teachers.

“When was the last time you used a piece of chalk to express yourself?” De Cicco Remu, a former teacher, asked by phone from Toronto. “Kids don’t express themselves with chalk or in cursive. Kids text.”

Related: Some Parents Who Work for Elite Silicon Valley Firms Send Their Children to School with No Computers


Los Angeles: Minimum Wage Going to $15 Per Hour by 2020

May 20th, 2015

This is definitely a dire situation: CEOs Make 373 Times Average Worker Pay.

Increasing the minimum wage, while politically expedient, is going to spell doom for many small businesses. A relative earnings limit, on the other hand, could bring sanity to the wage inequality situation without destroying businesses that operate on smaller profit margins, thus maintaining a competitive marketplace.

Take the stick to the big money psychopaths, not Joe Small Business Owner.

Also, Los Angeles is so terrible. Flee while you can.

Via: Reuters:

The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to increase the minimum wage in the nation’s second-largest city to $15 an hour by 2020 from the current $9, in a victory for labor and community groups that have pushed for similar pay hikes in several U.S. municipalities.

The council’s 14-1 vote on the measure, which must come back before the panel for final approval, would require businesses with more than 25 employees to meet the $15 pay level by 2020, while smaller businesses would have an extra year to comply.

Officials said the plan, which comes on the heels of similar minimum wage hikes in other major cities including Seattle and San Francisco, would increase pay of an estimated 800,000 workers in the city.

“We are embarking upon, I think, the most progressive minimum wage policy anywhere in the country,” City Councilman Curren Price Jr., one of the main backers of the proposal, said before the vote.

With the federal minimum wage stagnant at $7.25 an hour since 2009, labor and religious groups have increasingly pressed local governments in liberal-leaning areas to enact their own minimum wage hikes even as their hopes dim for an increase from the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.

The proposal given preliminary approval in Los Angeles, where housing costs are among the highest in the nation, represents a far-reaching victory for supporters of higher pay for low-wage workers.

The 67-percent pay increase would be implemented gradually, starting at $10.50 an hour for larger employers in 2016, and gradually going up each year until it reaches $15 in 2020.

Companies with 25 or fewer workers would follow a slightly slower stepped-up increase in minimum wage pay.

Opponents of minimum wage hikes, such as Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce senior vice president of public policy Ruben Gonzalez, say they place an undue burden on businesses, and would force employers to lay off workers or move.

“There is simply not enough room, enough margin in these businesses to absorb a 50-plus percent increase in labor costs over a short period of time,” he told the city council.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who last year proposed a pay increase that would have brought the minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017, said in a statement that he planned to sign the council’s measure.

Related: Seattle Hikes Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour


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