21 April 2016

Hubble Bubble

For the 26th birthday of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers are highlighting a Hubble image of an enormous bubble being blown into space by a super-hot, massive star. The Hubble image of the Bubble Nebula, or NGC 7635, was chosen to mark the 26th anniversary of the launch of Hubble into Earth orbit by the STS-31 space shuttle crew on April 24, 1990
“As Hubble makes its 26th revolution around our home star, the sun, we celebrate the event with a spectacular image of a dynamic and exciting interaction of a young star with its environment. The view of the Bubble Nebula, crafted from WFC-3 images, reminds us that Hubble gives us a front row seat to the awe inspiring universe we live in,” said John Grunsfeld, Hubble astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington, D.C.  
The Bubble Nebula is seven light-years across—about one-and-a-half times the distance from our sun to its nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, and resides 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia.
The seething star forming this nebula is 45 times more massive than our sun. Gas on the star gets so hot that it escapes away into space as a “stellar wind” moving at over four million miles per hour. This outflow sweeps up the cold, interstellar gas in front of it, forming the outer edge of the bubble much like a snowplow piles up snow in front of it as it moves forward.
As the surface of the bubble's shell expands outward, it slams into dense regions of cold gas on one side of the bubble. This asymmetry makes the star appear dramatically off-center from the bubble, with its location in the 10 o’clock position in the Hubble view.
Dense pillars of cool hydrogen gas laced with dust appear at the upper left of the picture, and more “fingers” can be seen nearly face-on, behind the translucent bubble.
The gases heated to varying temperatures emit different colors: oxygen is hot enough to emit blue light in the bubble near the star, while the cooler pillars are yellow from the combined light of hydrogen and nitrogen. The pillars are similar to the iconic columns in the “Pillars of Creation” Eagle Nebula. As seen with the structures in the Eagle Nebula, the Bubble Nebula pillars are being illuminated by the strong ultraviolet radiation from the brilliant star inside the bubble.
The Bubble Nebula was discovered in 1787 by William Herschel, a prominent British astronomer. It is being formed by a proto-typical Wolf-Rayet star, BD +60º2522, an extremely bright, massive, and short-lived star that has lost most of its outer hydrogen and is now fusing helium into heavier elements. The star is about four million years old, and in 10 million to 20 million years, it will likely detonate as a supernova.
Hubble’s Wide Field Camera-3 imaged the nebula in visible light with unprecedented clarity in February 2016. The colors correspond to blue for oxygen, green for hydrogen, and red for nitrogen. This information will help astronomers understand the geometry and dynamics of this complex system.
The Bubble Nebula is one of only a handful of astronomical objects that have been observed with several different instruments onboard Hubble. Hubble also imaged it with the Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC) in September 1992, and with Wide Field Planetary Camera-2 (WFPC2) in April 1999.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
For image files and more information about the Bubble Nebula and the Hubble telescope, visit:

18 April 2016

IBM Keeps Low Profile While Reaction To 'Resource Action' Boils

IBM Keeps Low Profile While Reaction To 'Resource Action' Boils:

by Dan Burger
The boiling pot that is IBM's workforce reduction plan continues to spill over and let off steam. After a report was released last month from the financial analyst firm Bernstein estimated 14,000 IBM workers would be losing their jobs, the reaction was explosive. Last week, on the Watching IBM website, survey results from a fraction of IBM workers added some context to what's happening.
"The survey results show what people have been saying for quite a few years. That there is age discrimination going on in the job cuts and the IBM employee evaluation system is seriously flawed. It targets people instead of trying to evaluate them," says Lee Conrad, formerly the head of Alliance@IBM, a unionizing effort for IBM's employees in the United States and now the overseer of the Watching IBM website and Facebook page. The two social media information sources are followed by IBM employees and former employees. Of those participating in the survey, one-third (320) said they lost jobs since March 2 (or thereabouts) when the effects of IBM's latest "Resource Action" began to surface.
Nearly 60 percent believe age discrimination was a factor in the job cuts decision. Of the 715 returned surveys 233 people chose to answer that question. A similar number responded to the question: What was your performance review rating for 2015? Of those, two percent received the top rating, 31 percent received a 2+ rating, and 52 percent received a 2 rating.
Almost two-thirds of the employees did not know if their positions were being filled by someone else, but 27 percent said their jobs were being offshored.
No information exists to dispute or substantiate the accuracy of the estimated 14,000 job reduction.
"The job cuts are ongoing," Conrad says. "I expect to see some cuts every quarter. But trying to nail down the total number is really difficult. IBM doesn't talk about it."
Approximately three years ago, IBM eliminated the Workers' Benefits Protection Act report that was included in the job cut packages that were given to terminated employees. Those reports listed ages, job titles, and included a total number of employees selected for job cuts. Employees shared that information with Conrad and with other employees. Since that time, it's become much more difficult to track where the cuts are occurring and how many are occurring.
IBM believes it can minimize the amount of information it provides without getting pinched, Conrad says. "Law firms have been checking into this. There's a lot of controversy."
There's also a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) that became effective on February 4, 1989. It was put in place to offer protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of mass layoffs and plant closings. Notice was to be provided to affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union). Notice was also to be provided to the appropriate unit of local government.
Conrad is dismayed that IBM is not required by local, state, or federal government or even the shareholders to provide details regarding its so-called resource actions.
"For a company that is supposed to be transparent, IBM is certainly not," Conrad says. "IBM is more forthcoming about this information in Europe because it is required to do so by the unions and work councils there."
IBM's offer to reposition laid-off workers to different jobs within the corporation as an option to termination is pretty much non-existent from what Conrad hears.
"IBM talks out of both sides of its mouth. Terminated employees are told they have 90 days to find another job within IBM. And when workers find a potential job, they are told hiring is frozen. It's a shell game. IBM has been doing this for years. The goal is to get people out, not to keep them."
What's happening at IBM (and other technology companies) is shocking. It's a large scale catastrophe for the employees, many with double-digit years of service to Big Blue. It's a national disaster that is not getting the attention it deserves.
"IBM used to be a leader in HR policies and other companies followed that lead. Now it's gone the other way and other companies are also following that lead," Conrad notes.


15 April 2016

Sarah Palin Says Voters Should Decide GOP Nominee - US News

Sarah Palin Says Voters Should Decide GOP Nominee - US News:

By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters will "rise up" in opposition if Republican power brokers try to take the presidential nomination away from Donald Trump or Ted Cruz at the GOP convention this summer, Sarah Palin said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview.
The 2008 vice presidential nominee told The Associated Press that GOP voters have the right to decide the party's nominee and will rebel if House Speaker Paul Ryan or some other "white knight" is chosen at a contested convention. Ryan said this week he will not seek or accept the nomination.
Palin said voters know better than to be fooled by party leaders.
"How dare they?" Palin asked, denouncing "arrogant political operatives who underestimate the wisdom of the people."
If party leaders try to intervene at the July convention, "we will rise up and say our vote does count, our activism does count," she said.
Palin said she is not convinced by pledges from party leaders that the GOP nominee will be chosen from among those running for president.
"There are some snakes in there," she said of party leaders. "I've had to deal with the political machinery my whole career."
Palin said she plans to attend the convention in Cleveland, but she conceded that she may have to "invite myself to the party."
"I can't see any of them inviting me," she said of party leaders. "I think they are afraid of what I would say."
Palin, who has endorsed Trump, said she is confident he will win the GOP nomination, but said she can support Cruz if he emerges as the nominee.
She said she backs Trump because he is "so reasonable and so full of common sense and knows that for America to be great again we have to develop our natural resources" such as oil and natural gas.
While some GOP leaders worry that Trump's disparaging comments about women, minorities and others have him struggling in the polls with key voter blocs, Palin said Trump would be the GOP's strongest nominee. Trump has created the "big tent" that party leaders have long been seeking, she said, citing the billionaire businessman's appeal to independents and "blue dog Democrats" in the South and other rural areas.
Palin said she was not concerned about some of Trump's comments about women, saying she has known him for years "and I know the respect he has for women."
While Palin said she could support Cruz, she said it was "unfortunate that he has people around him who are not truthful. I sure want to believe it's the people around him and not Cruz as a person who would flip-flop on so many issues," including trade and immigration.Trump "doesn't have high-paid consultants and pollsters and spinsters trying to spin him into something he's not," she said. "He takes advice from strong, confident women in his life, like his wife and daughter."
"He was there at the border incentivizing illegal families coming on over the border with gift baskets of soccer balls and teddy bears and now he says he was never for amnesty. Yes, you were, dude, come on," Palin said.
The former Alaska governor was in Washington to promote a new documentary that seeks to debunk what it calls myths and hype about human-caused global warming. The movie, "Climate Hustle," questions whether there is a genuine scientific consensus about global warming and features more than 30 scientists who reject mainstream climate science.
Palin said she wants viewers "to feel empowered to ask questions about what is being fed them by the scientific community." The movie opens May 2.
On other topics, Palin said Ryan has failed as House speaker because the House has not approved a federal budget as promised. And while she said she does not regret staying out of the presidential race, she did not rule out a possible presidential bid in the future.
"If I can trust that the electorate is as fed up as I am with the shenanigans and the corruption and the crony capitalism ... and can handle a true outsider, then you know that the time would be right" to run for president, she said.

13 April 2016

World policymakers sleepwalk towards fresh crisis, warns IMF

World policymakers sleepwalk towards fresh crisis, warns IMF:

The world is sleepwalking into a fresh crisis as investors start to lose faith in policymakers’ ability to revive the global economy, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In its bluntest warning to date on the costs of policy inaction, the IMF said “financial and economic stagnation" could take hold unless governments prevented a "pernicious feedback loop of fragile confidence, weaker growth, low inflation and rising debt burdens" from forming.

José Viñals, the head of the IMF's financial stability division, said a prolonged slowdown could knock around 4pc off global output relative to current expectations over the next five years amid repeated bouts of market turmoil.

“Rising risk premiums may tighten financial conditions further, creating a pernicious feedback loop of fragile confidence, weaker growth, lower inflation, and rising debt burdens”

Mr Viñals said a $1.3 trillion (£912bn) corporate debt timebomb in China also posed "potentially serious challenges" to financial stability if defaults pushed banks over the edge.

The IMF's global financial stability report said a "loss of market confidence" would drag global bourses into a bear market.

Under this scenario, Stocks in the UK, US, eurozone and China would lose a fifth of their value over two years, it estimated.

The triple threat of slower growth, rising risks from China and diminished faith in policymakers' ability to prevent a fresh downturn meant households and businesses were likely to save more and spend less in the uncertain global environment.

Economic powerhouses such as China and India would see output losses of more than 4pc by 2021 compared with current IMF forecasts, it said, while world output world be 3.9pc lower relative to the baseline.

“This would be roughly equivalent to foregoing one year of global growth, said Mr Viñals.

Low inflation and nominal growth would also push debt burdens in struggling countries such as Greece and Japan to fresh highs.
The IMF's economic and financial stagnation scenario would push up debt burdens in countries like Portugal, Italy, Greece and Japan by more than 15 percentage points relative to current expectations CREDIT: IMF

This would "entrench secular stagnation worldwide" the IMF warned.

Mr Viñals called for a "more balanced and potent policy mix for improving the growth and inflation outlook".

He urged policymakers in the eurozone to help banks deal with an "elevated" number of so-called non-performing loans - where debtors are usually three months behind on payments.

In China, the IMF called for an end to implicit subsides that allowed zombie companies to remain in business. It also said Beijing should equip regulators with the tools needed to police China's increasingly complex financial system.

“[A reduction in output of 3.9pc] would be roughly equivalent to foregoing one year of global growth”
José Viñals

“Much is at stake. Additional measures are needed to deliver a more balanced and potent policy mix. If not, market turmoil may recur and intensify, said Mr Viñals.

"Monetary policy was becoming "overburdened", the IMF said. Growth-friendly fiscal policies and wider reform would be needed to support the recovery and boost investment and consumption.

Doing this would lead to a "successful normalisation", where a rebound in economic risk taking and confidence encourages spending and "accelerates smooth exits" from the extended period of record low interest rates.

“Monetary policy remains crucial but cannot be the only game in town," said Mr Viñals.

Rising stress in China

The IMF said there were signs of “widespread and rising corporate stress” among Chinese corporates that were taking longer to pay their bills and struggling to roll over existing debt.

It estimated that around 15.5pc of total commercial bank loans to the corporate sector - worth around $1.3 trillion - were "at risk" of default because companies did not earn enough income to afford interest payments.

Potential bank losses on these loans could be as high as $756bn - or 7pc of China’s GDP. The IMF described this as "substantial".
The time taken for Chinese companies to pay their bills is on the rise.

It highlighted that the average time taken for listed companies in China to pay their suppliers had grown to 72 days in 2015, from 53 days in 2011.

The IMF said strong underlying growth in the economy and existing bank buffers meant China had the capacity to absorb these losses.

However, it warned that continued implicit subsidies by the state could stunt future growth and increase financial stability risks.

Chinese corporate bond debt issuance had climbed sharply in recent months, the IMF noted.

Chinese corporate debt issuance has risen sharply in recent months

While steps to liberalise China's bond market were welcome, expanding access to foreign investors and domestic firms could result in a credit crunch if damaged investor confidence caused markets to seize up.

The IMF urged China to use its "ambitious policy agenda" to encourage faster corporate write-offs of bad debt and eliminate implicit government guarantees.

It also urged Beijing to resist intervening in Chinese stock markets to prop up prices.

Hillary Confirms Trillion Dollar Tax Hike Plan | Americans for Tax Reform

Hillary Confirms Trillion Dollar Tax Hike Plan | Americans for Tax Reform:

During an interview with the editorial team of the New York Daily News, Hillary Clinton admitted her tax proposals will increase taxes on the American people by at least $1 trillion over the next ten years. Here is the key exchange from the meeting, according to a transcript released by the Daily News:
Clinton: I have connected up my proposals for the kind of investments I want to make with the taxes that I think have to be raised. So on individual pieces of my agenda, I try to demonstrate clearly that I have a way for paying for paid family leave, for example, for debt-free tuition. So I would spend about $100 billion a year. And I think it's affordable, and I think it's a smart way to make investments, to go back to our economic discussion, that will contribute to growing the economy.
Now I'm well aware that this is a heavy lift. I understand that. But I think connecting what I'm asking for to the programs, to the outcomes and results that I'm calling for give me a stronger hand, and that's how I'm going to go at it.
Daily News: So if I understand you correctly, if you look at your proposals for college costs and for family leave, for infrastructure investments...
Clinton: Well, that's a little bit different, because infrastructure investment, I'm still looking at how we fund the National Infrastructure Bank. It may be repatriation. That's one theory, or something else. It's about $100 billion a year.
Daily News: A hundred billion a year, so that comes out to about a trillion dollars...
Clinton: Over ten.
Daily News: ...over ten years.
Hillary’s $1 trillion tax increase takes the form of several proposals:
$350 Billion Income Tax Increase for a “New College Compact”  Clinton has proposed a $350 billion income tax hike in the form of a 28 percent cap on itemized deductions.
$275 Billion Business Tax Increase for “Infrastructure”Clinton has called for a tax hike of at least $275 billion through undefined business tax reform. According to the Clinton campaign document, “Hillary will fully pay for these [Infrastructure] investments through business tax reform.”
$400 Billion “Fairness” Tax Increase -- According to her published plan, Clinton has called for a tax increase of “between $400 and $500 billion” by “restoring basic fairness to our tax code.” These proposals include a “fair share surcharge,” taxing carried interest capital gains as ordinary income, and raising the Death Tax.
However, Clinton has also proposed several tax increases not included in the tally above. Because her campaign has failed to release specific details for many of her proposals, the true figure is likely much, much higher than $1 trillion.
For instance:
Capital Gains Tax Increase -- Clinton has proposed an increase in the capital gains tax to counter the “tyranny of today’s earnings report.” Her plan calls for an overly complex, byzantine capital gains tax regime with six brackets for those whose total taxable income puts them in the top 39.6 percent bracket. Her campaign has not said how much this will increase taxes.
Tax on Stock Trading -- Clinton has proposed a new, unquantified tax on stock trading. The tax increase would only further burden markets by discouraging trading and investment. Inevitably, costs associated with this new tax will be borne by millions of American families that hold 401(k)s, IRAs and other savings accounts.
“Exit Tax” – Clinton has proposed a series of measures aimed at corporate inversions including an “exit tax” – on income earned overseas. The term “exit tax” is used by the campaign itself. This proposal would completely fail to address the underlying causes behind inversions. Her campaign document describing this proposal says it will raise $80 billion in tax revenue, but claims some of the $80 billion will be plowed into tax relief. It does not specify a dollar amount.
The full transcript of Hillary’s visit to the NY Daily News editorial board can be found here.
To learn more about Hillary’s various and sundry tax increase proposals, visit ATR’s dedicated website, www.HighTaxHillary.com

Read more: http://www.atr.org/hillary-confirms-trillion-dollar-tax-hike-plan#ixzz45j86RBKe
Follow us: @taxreformer on Twitter

12 April 2016

Zuckerberg criticizes 'fearful voices calling for building walls' | TheHill

Zuckerberg criticizes 'fearful voices calling for building walls' | TheHill:

Maybe Mr Billionaire should start spending some of his $$$ to support all the freeloaders and terrorists streaming in if he's so adamant about it. - lcs

Facebag's Mark Zuckerberg criticized the "fearful voices calling for building walls" during his opening remarks at the company's developer conference Tuesday in San Francisco. 
The social media company's founder and chief executive said the world has become a global community and warned against people and nations trying to isolate themselves — a possible allusion to GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who has heavily pushed a plan to finish building a wall along the Mexican border to limit the influx of immigrants coming to the country illegally.
"We've gone from a world of isolated communities to one global community, and we are all better off for it," Zuckerberg said. "But now, as I look around and I travel around the world, I'm starting to see people and nations turning inward — against this idea of a connected world and community."

He added: "I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others, for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, reducing trade and, in some cases around the world, even cutting access to the internet." 
Adopting the rhetoric of a politician, Zuckerberg said, "It takes courage to choose hope over fear" and said the company would continue to focus on connecting people.

11 April 2016

Trump erupts as Cruz sweeps Colorado without votes

Trump erupts as Cruz sweeps Colorado without votes:

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump erupted on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning after a weekend that saw Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas sweep all of Colorado’s 34 delegates without any votes being cast by citizens in a traditional primary process.
“I’ve gotten millions … of more votes than [Sen. Ted] Cruz, and I’ve gotten hundreds of delegates more, and we keep fighting, fighting, fighting, and then you have a Colorado where they just get all of these delegates, and it’s not [even] a system,” Trump said, during the Fox News broadcast. “There was no voting. I didn’t go out there to make a speech or anything. There’s no voting.”
His comments came after Cruz won the remaining 13 delegates at the weekend’s convention, bringing his total for the state to 34, an outcome he described as unfair and just shy of illegal.
“They offer them trips — they offer them all sorts of things, and you’re allowed to do that,” Trump said, of the method by which some woo delegates. “I mean, you’re allowed to offer trips, and you can buy all these votes. What kind of a system is this? Now, I’m an outsider, and I came into the system and I’m winning the votes by millions of votes. But the system is rigged. It’s crooked.”The televised remarks followed  a weekend of tweets expressing similarly critical views.
“How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger – totally unfair!” wrote Trump, in one Twitter post.
He followed it up with a second tweet: “The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!”
It was last August when officials with the Republican Party in Colorado decided they would not let voters take part in the early nomination process.
The Denver Post reported Aug. 25: “The GOP executive committee has voted to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins the caucus vote.”
“It takes Colorado completely off the map” in the primary season, Ryan Call, a former state GOP chairman, told the paper.
In late February, just before Super Tuesday, the Post published a scathing editorial, saying the party blundered on the 2016 presidential caucus:
“GOP leaders have never provided a satisfactory reason for forgoing a presidential preference poll, although party chairman Steve House suggested on radio at one point that too many Republicans would otherwise flock to their local caucus.
“Imagine that: party officials fearing that an interesting race might propel thousands of additional citizens to participate. But of course that might dilute the influence of elites and insiders. You can see why that could upset the faint-hearted.”
One self-avowed Trump supporter took to YouTube on Sunday to express his displeasure with the process and burned his Republican registration on camera. 
“Republican Party, take note. I think you’re gonna see a whole lot more of these,” he said as he ignited his registration.
“I’ve been a Republican all my life, but I will never be a Republican again.”
And to the GOP, the man said, “You’ve had it. You’re done. You’re toast. Because I quit the party. I’m voting for Trump, and to hell with the Republican Party.”
The popular Drudge Report news site splashed a headline in red Sunday evening that stated, “Cruz celebrates voterless victory.”
The delegate selection process in Colorado is complicated. The Cortez Journal reported: “Cruz had 17 bound delegates ahead of the Republican state convention. Another four delegates are unpledged but publicly expressed support for the candidate, who hopes to curb momentum seen by front-runner Donald Trump.
“Cruz declared victory in Colorado, pointing out that he won all 21 delegates from the state’s seven congressional assemblies. Another 13 delegates were awarded at the state convention on Saturday. An additional three delegates in Colorado’s 37-member national delegation are unpledged party leaders.”
Cruz himself noted on Saturday: “This has been a remarkable year. I will say this, it hasn’t been boring.”

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/04/trump-erupts-as-cruz-sweeps-colorado-without-votes/#gdGX4F2FaOAFsvOh.99