(CNN.com) – NASA’s New Horizons probe makes history at Pluto

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NASA says its New Horizons spacecraft completed a historic flyby of Pluto, making its closest pass at 7:49 a.m. ET. Tuesday.

Pluto’s mysterious heart seen in this NASA Photo (CNN)

(CNN)NASA says its New Horizons spacecraft completed a historic flyby of Pluto on Tuesday, making its closest pass over the small, icy world at 7:49 a.m. ET.

The unmanned, piano-sized spacecraft was expected to be traveling nearly 31,000 miles per hour when it passed about 7,750 miles over Pluto.

It’s the first mission to Pluto and its five moons.

Because the spacecraft will be busy gathering data during the flyby, it won’t phone home to update its status until around 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

“That’s going to be a very highly anticipated event,” Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator said at a briefing Monday.

The wait will be a tense one.

“There’s that small element of danger, so I think we’re all going to breathe the final sigh of relief at 9 p.m., and that’s when we can really call it a successful flyby,” Stern said.

Quiz: Test your knowledge of Pluto
When will you see photos from the flyby? It takes four hours for the probe to get a signal back to Earth, and then NASA has to process the data. Mission managers expect the images from the close encounter to be released online and on NASA TV at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Scientists on Monday said New Horizons already has settled one debate about Pluto — it’s size. Information gathered by the probe indicates Pluto is 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) in diameter. That’s somewhat bigger than earlier estimates, and it means Pluto is larger than all other known solar system objects beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Probe is carrying ashes of man who discovered Pluto
The probe already has beamed back several crisp photos of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

“Pluto and Charon are both mind-blowing,” Stern told CNN on Saturday. “I think that the biggest surprise is the complexity we’re seeing in both objects.”

The mission completes what NASA calls the reconnaissance of the classical solar system, and it makes the United States the first nation to send a space probe to every planet from Mercury to Pluto. The probe traveled more than 3 billion miles to reach Pluto.

12 things to know about Pluto

Why go to Pluto?
New Horizon’s core science mission is to map the surfaces of Pluto and Charon. It also will study their atmosphere.

The spacecraft was launched on January 19, 2006, before the big debate started over Pluto’s status as a planet. In August of that year, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.
But Stern disagrees with the IAU’s decision.

“We’re just learning that a lot of planets are small planets, and we didn’t know that before,” Stern said earlier. “Fact is, in planetary science, objects such as Pluto and the other dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt are considered planets and called planets in everyday discourse in scientific meetings.”

New Horizons has seven instruments on board to help scientists better understand how Pluto and its moons fit in with the rest of the planets in our solar system.

The planets closest to our sun — Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars — are rocky. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are gas giants. But Pluto is different: Even though it is out beyond the gas giants, it has a solid, icy surface.

Beyond Pluto
New Horizons looks like a gold foil-covered grand piano. It’s is 27 inches (0.7 meters) tall, 83 inches (2.1 meters) long and 108 inches (2.7 meters) wide. It weighed 1,054 pounds (478 kilograms) at launch.

The probe won’t orbit Pluto and it won’t land. Instead, it will keep flying, heading deeper into the Kuiper Belt, a region that scientists think is filled with hundreds of small, icy objects.

“The universe has a lot more variety than we thought about, and that’s wonderful,” Stern said. “The most exciting discoveries will likely be the ones we don’t anticipate.”

Stern said mission managers will decide later this year where to point New Horizons for the next part of its journey.

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(politico) – Americans are living longer.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., shakes hands with a senior citizen after speaking at a meeting at Oak Point senior community in Columbia City, Ind., Thursday, May 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., shakes hands with a senior citizen after speaking at a meeting at Oak Point senior community in Columbia City, Ind., Thursday, May 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A ‘catastrophist’ says longevity poses huge risks we aren’t dealing with.

By Michael Grunwald

Human beings are living longer than ever, which can be a wonderful thing. As the T-shirts say, life is good. But human longevity has big consequences for society, which is one reason President Obama is hosting today’s White House Conference on Aging. It’s great that we can get new hips when our old ones wear out, but someone has to pay for them. It’s great that Baby Boomers will enjoy longer retirements, but will their retirement savings last as long as they will?

Most of us think of longevity as a gift, a blessing, a sign of social progress. Gordon Woo thinks of it as a catastrophe.

Dr. Woo, a Cambridge-trained mathematician and MIT-trained theoretical physicist who now works for the London-based consultancy RMS, spends his days thinking about catastrophic risks. Woo is one of the world’s best-respected “catastrophists,” and RMS—short for Risk Management Solutions—helps insurers and reinsurers calculate the likelihood of disastrous earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, terrorist attacks, financial crises, and other hazards. Lately, Woo has been thinking a lot about the risks posed by climate change, which could have a huge impact on the catastrophes of the future, altering sea levels, weather patterns, migration patterns, and much more. But Woo’s other major preoccupation these days is the risks posed by people living longer.

Unlike some futurists, Woo does not believe the aging of the population is going to plateau any time soon—not in an era when you’ll be able to replace more of your spare parts and take the drugs that work best for your personal genome. And that could have huge implications in the coming decades, as civilizations struggle to meet the medical and financial needs of their elders.

In the United States, for example, Social Security is now in pretty solid shape, and Medicare’s troubled finances have improved significantly in the last few years, as health care costs have stopped soaring. But the picture could look very different over the next quarter-century, as the portion of Americans over the age of 65 rises from 12 percent to 20 percent. In 1960, there were five American workers for every retiree, but now there are just under three, so Social Security no longer generates surpluses. By 2040, there will be about two workers per retiree, a demographic cliff that could drain the system in a hurry—or force some dramatic changes. And the days when most Americans spent their entire career with the same company and then enjoyed a private pension during retirement are long gone.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie and other Republican candidates for president have called for reining in government entitlements; Jeb Bush has suggested the retirement age may have to be raised to 70. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats have talked about making Social Security benefits more generous, to ensure they can provide a high quality of life throughout an extended retirement; in her economic policy speech this morning, Hillary Clinton talked about “defending and enhancing Social Security.”

Woo talked to POLITICO’s Michael Grunwald about what he’s learned about old age—not only its consequences, but what kinds of people are most likely to achieve it, what kinds of medical advances are and aren’t likely to prolong it, and what it will mean for our public and private finances when living into our 90s is the norm rather than the exception.

MG: You have the coolest title ever: “catastrophist.” And you’ve written that the coming longevity catastrophe has a lot in common with the coming climate change catastrophe.

GW: Longevity has two important facts in common with climate change. They are both going to develop gradually over time. And because the attention span of human beings tends to be fairly limited, they are both issues that generally get put on the back burner.

MG: Can you explain why longevity is bad?

GW: At RMS, we’re focusing on the pension retirement sector, and it’s really underfunded in terms of its provision for increasing lifespan in the decades ahead. One reason is that when it comes to making provisions for longevity instead of ecological or geological catastrophes, regulators tend to be fairly light of touch. There’s good reason for this. If a corporation seems to have a black hole in its pension fund, it may not be a good policy to force the corporation to pump more money into the fund while it’s going through hard times, because that very act could draw the corporation into insolvency. That’s why regulators, even if they spot the problem with the pension fund, are often reluctant to force measures to remedy the situation. Often the thinking is, times will get better, corporations will get out of trouble, hopefully everything will be rosy in the future. But that will not be the case.

MG: How much longer are people living? Is this trend going to accelerate going forward?

GW: There is one view within the actuarial community that it might be leveling out—medical discovery is plateauing, it’s getting harder to discover new drugs, there are diminishing returns, that kind of thing. But that perspective doesn’t allow for the expansion of research into whole new territories such as regenerative medicine and anti-aging.

MG: But that’s not going to make people nervous. That’s going to make them excited, right?

GW: They don’t really see what the implications are.

MG: When you’re talking about regenerative medicine, you mean people picking up spare parts as they get older. My mom just got an excellent new hip.

GW: The basic paradigm is automobiles. You can have an automobile which was built 50, 60, 70 years ago, and if you keep repairing or replacing broken or used parts, that automobile can keep going for a very long time. Right now, if you have some disease or failed organ or system, you might have to resort to some kind of a transplant, say a liver transplant or heart transplant. But in the future there should be the possibility of replacing these organs or actually re-growing these organs. Ray Kurzweil, Google’s chief engineer, is advocating a whole new world of 3-D printing, where you can print out an organ in the same way you can print out a sheet of paper. That’s a future where you can maintain an individual for a very long time. Of course, the brain is something else but the rest of the body in principle could be replaced. Just as if you have an emotional attachment to your car, even if the gearbox breaks or you need new tires or a new transmission, you can pretty much can keep that car on the road in perpetuity.

MG: In the last century, how much has longevity increased? What do your models say going forward?

GW: A century ago, the modal age of death, the most common age of dying, was in the 70s. Now it’s reached the mid-80s. People who are dying before 86 or so are essentially dying prematurely.

MG: When will it be 90?

GW: Quite likely in the next few decades. I think people take it for granted now that retirees should be living into their 80s but not necessarily their 90s. That’s the normal expectation. But that will change, and that’s precisely the source of the longevity catastrophe—because retirees who are retiring in their sixties may not have the finances to keep going into their nineties.

MG: In the United States, at least so far, Social Security has held up and you don’t hear stories about elderly people subsisting on dog food or whatever the horror stories were of previous generations.

GW: Well, it’s all about standard of living. People want to enjoy their days in retirement. Public pensions don’t always provide enough for retirees to enjoy a high-quality life. If I could make a point, recently in America there’s been a change of legislation to encourage the market for deferred annuities, essentially longevity insurance. This kind of product would help an awful lot to remedy the problems we’re talking about. An individual can take out this insurance and the insurer pays up if he reaches an advanced age, say 85 or 90. If he doesn’t make it to that age then the insurance is not needed.

MG: It’s like anti-life insurance.

GW: It’s really catastrophe insurance, essentially. If you count living to 90 as being some kind of catastrophe for your finances, then you need this kind of catastrophe insurance.

MG: As people live longer, do they need less health care? Or when you have more old people is that just going to put more of a strain on our Medicare system?

GW: The aim of medical research is to increase not just lifespan but health span, the years of healthy living. The aim is essentially to compress the ages of illness into as few years as possible. If the modal age of death increases from 85 to 90 that wouldn’t be so great if people were just in bed for five more years. The way it would be advantageous is if people could have five more years of healthy living and the actual time period spent in poor health was kept to whatever it is today, possibly shrunk.

MG: You’ve written about how as important as it is to grow new arms and hearts and livers, that actually being able to talk to somebody might be just as important.

GW: That’s entirely right. If you take two individuals who are in good physical shape when they retire, the person who has greater resilience in terms of cognitive, psychological and social functioning is almost certainly going to be living longer. The classic example of someone who is very highly resilient is Jeanne Calment, who to this day holds the world record for being the longest-lived individual. She was French. She died at the age of 122. Most people once they get past 100 don’t function that well cognitively, but Jeanne Calment at 120 was cracking jokes that would have been great for someone 100 years younger. These resilience factors of cognitive functioning, stress-free life, having a sense of positivity about the future, they’re so important, and then also having a good social network, friends and family and so on. Loneliness is well known to be a killer. It’s really unlikely that someone who’s alone is going to live to be 100.

MG: Could you talk a little about some of the public policy implications of all these things? It seems like we should be thinking about pensions, how to get people to sign living wills, how to get old people into social networks.

GW: I do think the U.S. has been farsighted by encouraging this market in longevity insurance. Not everyone will live to 90 or 100, but people should be able to make provision for this contingency. Otherwise, the burden of helping to look after the very elderly falls on the state. And it’s been said that Social Security is essentially like a Ponzi scheme. The government doesn’t have any money to finance future liabilities; they just rely on money that’s coming in through the door at that time. That’s what happens in a Ponzi scheme. You’re just hoping you have enough new people coming in, so you can use the money you rake in to pay your liabilities. Of course, the problem is that with changing demographics, with the population aging and fewer children being born, you have a situation where soon the money coming in for Social Security may not cover the payments going out. So that’s a headache for future governments, just like climate change. But that might be 20 years out, and politicians are only elected for four or five years, so it’s not really front of mind.

MG: What about private pensions? It used to be you could finish high school, go work for General Motors for 40 years, and then you got your pension. Most jobs don’t have pensions now.

GW: That’s right. And the General Motors pension fund was in huge trouble a few years ago. There’s a whole new generation of people who are no longer getting silver-plated pensions, so the pensions are all based on contributions…. And there’s a whole new era coming where pensioners are not going to be as well off as they are now. If you travel to resort areas, you’ll see a lot of tourists who are benefitting from the generous pensions which they were given in the past few decades, pretty much the lucky pensioners to retire when pensions were fairly generous. They’re pretty much the winners of the pension race.

MG: They have a lot of political power, and they tend to be aggressive about protecting their interests. Generally, their interest is not so much the future.

GW: That’s a very interesting point, because I think in a few decades the gray vote is going to become more important than ever. There will be fewer younger voters, and it seems like the policies which focus on retirees will become more important. And older people are more likely to vote than younger people, so you have a situation where retirees will have a lot of fiscal power.

MG: Huh. You hear a lot that Republican voters—who tend to be older, whiter, more rural, and so forth—there’s this sense that they’re dying off and being replaced by a multi-racial, more cosmopolitan, younger generation. But they’re not dying as quickly as they used to, I guess.

GW: We just had a general election in Britain. Younger people tend to be the most outspoken, but it’s like the silent great majority of older voters kind of put the prime minister back in power…Everyone likes to talk about current problems, short-term problems. But in 40 years, longevity is going to create some real stresses. Even in the Western world, people will struggle to get by on what they’ve saved.

MG: Presumably a lot of this depends on behavior. Like in the U.S., are we going to get our obesity problem under control, are we going to eat better, are we going to get more exercise.

GW: Actually, no, obesity is really a problem for people in younger to middle age. People who weigh 300 pounds when they’re teenagers, they’re not going to make it to retirement. The problem with longevity is a problem of how long a retiree can live. If your constitution is such that you reach the age of 60 even though you’re overweight, then that’s not really a problem for you. So obesity may change the life expectancy for the whole U.S. population, but that’s not the longevity problem we’re talking about.

MG: Most people don’t think of it as a problem. But most people aren’t catastrophists. What happens if somebody in a lab cures cancer tomorrow?

GW: Well, cancer doesn’t make that much difference, either; if an aging person doesn’t die of cancer, they’ll die of heart disease. The real issue is that the aging process can be arrested. The biggest cause of death is not cancer or heart disease. The biggest cause of death is aging. If you can slow down the process of aging, you’re slowing down all causes of death. This is new territory for mankind. There’s an interesting book called “Positively Ninety.” It’s interviews with nonagenarians who are all very lively. My favorite is the cover lady, who actually plays competitive Scrabble at the age of 90. She’s very sharp. Very positive attitude towards life. Very good network of friends and family. If you read these interviews with positive nonagenarians, you’ll get a glimpse into the future, because a high proportion of people will be just like that. The 90s will be like the 80s today. And it will become commonplace to reach 100. In fact, for a baby born today, the expectation is already that they will live to 100.

Authors:

Michael Grunwald | mgrunwald@politico.com

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(defensenews.com) – 23 Dead In Russian Military Barracks Collapse

MOSCOW — Twenty-three Russian soldiers were crushed to death after their military barracks collapsed in Siberia, the latest disaster to hit a country known for shoddy construction work and lax safety standards.

An entire section of military barracks, including parts of the roof and walls, collapsed on Sunday evening just outside the Siberian city of Omsk as paratroopers were resting, the defence ministry said.

“As a result of the collapse, more than 40 servicemen were injured,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Monday.

“Twenty three conscripts died, the others were hospitalized with various injuries.”

Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said 19 servicemen had been hospitalized.

The barracks — built in 1975 and renovated in 2013 — belong to the 242nd training center that prepares junior officers and armored infantry vehicle drivers, among others.

President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the incident, which occurred in the village of Svetly just outside Omsk, some 2,200 kilometers (1,400 miles) east of Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman said.

“The president expressed condolences to the families of the victims of the accident at the Omsk training center,” the Kremlin said.

Putin was regularly being briefed by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who has been tasked with providing all necessary assistance to the victims, the Kremlin added.

In footage shown on Russian television, soldiers formed a human chain to pass bricks and other debris from one to another as they cleared the mountain of rubble from the collapse.

“Half of the heap has been cleared now,” acting commander of Russian paratroopers Nikolai Ignatov said in televised remarks.

Nearly 350 rescue workers and search dogs have been dispatched to the scene, along with military prosecutors.

“Rescue works lasted through the night,” a spokeswoman for the governor of the Omsk region told AFP. “The governor was there all night.”

‘Paratroopers’ Mass Grave’

The first 10 injured men have been airlifted to top hospitals in Moscow, the defence ministry said.

“Another specially equipped plane of the Defence Ministry with seven servicemen of the Airborne Forces’ training center will fly out to Moscow in the coming hours,” the ministry said.

About 50 relatives of the injured or dead soldiers have already arrived in Omsk.

Authorities tied the collapse of the barracks to negligence on the part of construction workers.

The Investigative Committee, which reports directly to Putin, opened a probe into negligence, violation of safety rules and abuse of power, adding that those found guilty would face up to 10 years in prison.

Markin, the committee’s spokesman, said investigators were probing several explanations for the tragedy, including possible violations during renovations in 2013.

Building collapses and other infrastructure accidents are fairly frequent in Russia, especially outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg, where the enforcement of safety regulations is lax and corruption rampant.

On Saturday a section of a residential building collapsed in the Urals city of Perm, killing two.

The latest tragedy represents a major blow to Putin who has made reviving the army after years of post-Soviet neglect a cornerstone of his policies.

The barracks has become the “paratroopers’ mass grave,” broadsheet daily Kommersant said.
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(in auto news) – Ford, GM and FCA start bargaining with the United Automobile Workers

Ford-GM-and-FCA-start-bargaining-with-the-United-Automobile-Workers(inautonews)
Ford-GM-and-FCA-start-bargaining-with-the-United-Automobile-Workers(inautonews)

Three big U.S. automakers will start bargaining today with the United Auto Workers union for new contracts that would establish how much the post-recession profits the industry shares with workers has increased and also to find what the union costs are for more jobs in the U.S.

After a number of bargaining debates in 2007 and 2011, UAW leaders stated that they will insist on raises for the 139,000 workers at plants run by Ford Motor Corporation, General Motors Corporation and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The union representatives and the CEOs of the three Detroit automakers will meet this Monday to publicly agree on those.

Dennis Williams, the union’s president, explained that he wanted to narrow the gap between veteran workers who are earning around $28 per hour and workers who started working in 2011, who win $16-$19 for an hour.

Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research, said that labor represents a declining share of a car’s cost, adding that the three carmakers’ costs for UAW members decreased from 11.5% in 2007 to 5.7% in 2014. However, executives at the Detroit Three said that they could add more UAW jobs depending on compensating increases in wages or benefits that will lead to productivity gain. A central issue will be the health care costs, with automakers having to pay a “Cadillac tax” of 40% on rich UAW medical plans starting in 2018.

Ford is expecting to boost its productivity by 6 to 7% in all of its factories, with John Fleming, head of the brand’s manufacturing stating that every dollar not taken out is a dollar that a competitor would spend on making their vehicles more competitive. Ford shook the union last week when it announced it had planned to move production of its small Focus and C-Max hybrid models out of a plant in suburban Detroit by 2018.

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(BFN News) – Netflix, Inc. (NFLX), Kroger Co Follow Visa Inc, Starbucks Corporation (SBUX): Stock Split 2015

Netflix, Inc. (NFLX), Kroger Co Follow Visa Inc, Starbucks Corporation (SBUX): Stock Split 2015
Netflix, Inc. (NFLX), Kroger Co Follow Visa Inc, Starbucks Corporation (SBUX): Stock Split 2015

Stock split has become really common this year, as eight S&P 500 companies have announced to increase their outstanding shares. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) are the latest companies to announce that they will split their stocks, joining companies like Visa Inc (NYSE:V), Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), Marathon Petroleum Corp, Ross Stores, Inc., PPG Industries Inc, and CF Industries Holding, Inc.

Stock split is a kind of dividend in the form of additional shares to a company’s existing stockholders, aiming to increase the liquidity of the stock and to make the stock more affordable for its employees and small group of investors. The move indicates that a company has confidence over its future growth.

Netflix, the world’s leading video service provider, said last month that it will undertake a rare 7-for-1 stock split, which was also carried out by the world’s most valuable company, Apple Inc in June 2014. Additional stocks are scheduled to be distributed on July 14 to shareholders on record as of July 02. Post-split stocks will trade on July 15, on which the company will also announce its second quarter earnings of fiscal year 2015 (2QFY15). The upcoming split will be the company’s second split in 13 years.

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(The Week) – Obama commutes sentences of 46 prisoners

President Obama announced in a video released Monday that he will grant clemency to 46 prisoners. “These men and women were not hardened criminals,” the president said. “But the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years,” many for “non-violent drug offenses.”

“Their punishments didn’t fit the crime,” the president said. “And if they’d been sentenced under today’s laws, nearly all of them would have already served their time.”

Obama has now commuted 89 prisoners — the most since Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.

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(CBS News) – Scott Walker’s presidential announcement: “I know how to fight and win”

Following in the footsteps of 14 Republican candidates who came before him, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker entered the presidential race Monday promising fresh leadership, reform, economic growth and safety for the American people.

“My record shows that I know how to fight and win. Now, more than ever, America needs a president who will fight and win for America,” Walker said.

The proclamation followed a list of his accomplishments as governor of Wisconsin: lowering taxes, passing lawsuit and regulatory reform, passing pro-life legislation and implementing voter ID laws in the state. All that followed on what he likely sees as the most important accomplishment, the one that fight that catapulted him into national prominence: “We took on the unions and we won,” he said.

He was referring to the 2011 bill he proposed that would have eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public employee unions in Wisconsin. The move sparked raucous protests at the State Capitol building in Madison and an effort to recall Walker from office. After a fierce battle, he prevailed on June 5, 2012, becoming the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt. It was the second of three statewide elections he would win in a four-year period (the other two were his election and re-election as governor).

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker officially launches White House bid
“He’s the strongest anti-union Republican in the bunch, and that’s an issue that resonates both with average Republicans, but also with business Republicans that give a lot of money to the party,” Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University, told CBS News earlier this year. “It defines him.”

Walker’s kickoff speech was held in Waukesha, Wisconsin at the site of his 2012 recall election rally. He has taken the message of standing up to the unions to Iowa and turned it into an early and persistent lead in the polls.

He promised “real reform” for Washington, D.C., modeled after what he had done in his home state, saying, “Our big, bold reforms in Wisconsin took the power from the big government special interests and put it firmly into the hands of the hard-working taxpayers.” That included ending seniority and tenure for teachers, a move that Walker credits for Wisconsin’s increased graduation rates and test scores.

Walker also pointed to reforms in Wisconsin that require people who receive welfare to first enroll in a job training program and take a drug test.

Recalling his own childhood with a small-town pastor for a father and part-time secretary and bookkeeper for a mother, Walker said he and his brother inherited “the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can do and be anything you want. That’s the American Dream. And that is worth fighting for.”

“Helping adults who are able to work transition from government dependence to true independence will help more people live that dream,” he said.

Who is presidential candidate Scott Walker?
His plan for growth includes a pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, roll back “out-of-control regulations,” use America’s resources to create energy, approving the Keystone pipeline, and getting rid of Common Core school standards.

To explain his focus on tax relief, Walker compared it to buying a shirt at Kohl’s. By the time the shirt goes on sale and he and his wife use coupons and rewards to lower the purchase even more, “they’re paying us to buy that shirt.” (“Well, not really,” he acknowledged.)

“So how does a company like Kohl’s make money? Volume. They make it off of volume,” Walker said. “You see, they could charge you $29.99 and a few of you could afford it or they can lower the price and broaden the base and make more money off of volume. That’s what I think about your money – the taxpayers’ money. The government could charge the higher rates and a few of you could afford it. Or, we can lower the rates and broaden the base and increase the volume of people participating in our economy.”

He praised former President Ronald Reagan’s leadership on foreign policy and said that America is “headed toward a disaster” under the “Obama/Clinton doctrine.”

He called for ending any nuclear deal with Iran and allowing U.S. military personnel to directly help Kurdish and Sunni Arab allies fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Earlier this year, the President proclaimed that climate change is the greatest threat to future generations. Well Mr. President, I respectfully disagree. The greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terrorism and we need to do something about it,” Walker said.

Scott Walker: I can take on ISIS
He also accused the president and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton of offering only “mush” that has failed to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from encroaching into Ukrainian territory.

“Putin bases his policies on Lenin’s old principle: probe with bayonets, if you encounter mush, push; if you encounter steel, stop. With Obama and Clinton, Putin has encountered years of mush. The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in front of our enemies,” he said.

Like some of the other governors seeking the GOP nomination, Walker has turned to various Republican foreign policy experts to give him a crash-course tutorial on the ways of the world, after a few public blunders that highlighted the lack of attention he’s paid to foreign affairs in the months leading up to his campaign.

During a Q&A session with members of the Club for Growth in Florida earlier this year, for example, he raised some eyebrows by claiming the most significant policy decision of his lifetime was former President Ronald Reagan’s actions to break up a 1981 strike by air traffic controllers, according to the Washington Post. During a foreign trip to London in February, he avoided having to answer foreign policy questions.

And during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee in February, Walker suggested his experience dealing with protesters in Wisconsin proves he has the mettle to take on ISIS and America’s foreign foes. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” he said.

Walker’s official entry into the race came Monday morning with a tweet and Facebook video featuring an abbreviated version of the vision he laid out in his announcement speech. He is the 15th Republican who will compete for the GOP nomination.

In a video released on Facebook, Walker previewed the argument for why he’s better positioned to run the country than the more than dozen other competitors for the GOP nomination: “There are some who are good fighters, but they haven’t won those battles. There are others who have won elections but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”

I’m in. I’m running for President of the United States because Americans deserve a leader who will fight and win for them. SHARE if you stand with me. Support at ScottWalker.com! -SW

Posted by Scott Walker on Monday, July 13, 2015
Walker will hold a rally Monday evening in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to make the announcement in person.

His political martyr story combined with his record of electoral success and his “I’m just a regular guy” schtick (see: the reference to clipping Kohl’s coupons) will be front-and-center as he begins his campaign. Following the announcement speech, he’ll barnstorm through four early primary and caucus states with an emphasis on his regular-guy theme with stops at Harley-Davidson dealers in each state, barbecue in South Carolina, a diner in New Hampshire, and a Winnebago tour through Iowa.

Governor Scott Walker changed his stance on immigration
But there are several potential cracks in the Walker foundation. He faces dropping approval ratings at home in the face of tough fiscal and economic realities. Like other governors, his foreign policy experience is limited, at best, and he has to deal with some hardcore conservatives have been skeptical about his shifting rhetoric on some red-meat issues like same-sex marriage, immigration and education.

Still, he has proven to be an exciting prospect for Republican voters, which has kept him consistently in the top two or three candidates in polls this year.

CBS News Senior Political Editor Steve Chaggaris contributed to this story.

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(smh.com.au) – Can women brew beer?

Photo: Photographer: Nancy Ann Trieu

A hard-earned thirst may need a big cold beer. However, these days Aussie beer lovers are drinking less, but getting more adventurous in their choice of tipple as the number of craft brewers continues to soar.In the past five years, Australian craft beer production has flourished, growing by an average of 10 per cent a year, according to an industry report released by IBISWorld in March. The report also found drinkers were increasingly valuing quality beer over quantity.WA’s Matilda Bay Brewing Company paved the way back in the mid-’80s, followed later by Little Creatures, which struck gold when brewer Lion bought out its parent company for about $256 million in 2012.Matt Bebe: initially struggled to keep pace with demand. But while the major players now hold a large stake in Australia’s craft beer market (Lion has about 33 per cent market share and CUB more than 16 per cent through its ownership of Matilda Bay), smaller operators such as Leimin Duong, the founder of Zeven Lemon Beerworks, continue to bring fresh blood to the industry.AdvertisementDuong, a 27-year-old who ditched her job as an office administrator in a large investment bank to start her own beer label, is finding success with female and male drinkers through her strawberry-flavoured beer Strawberry Blonde.A long-time beer enthusiast, Duong was inspired to create her own high-end offering after reading about strawberry-flavoured beer in a travel magazine.”I was quite surprised – I’d never heard of it before,” says Duong, who was desperate to start her own business.”The nine-to-five work lifestyle – it really wasn’t the best for me and I knew that. I knew I needed to get out.”Teaching herself about brewing via websites and textbooks, Duong worked 100-plus-hour weeks for months, before releasing her first commercial batch about a year later. Strawberry Blonde has now been on the market for more than a year, and has distributors in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.Dealing with the emotional aspects of starting a one-person business – including mixed reactions from family and friends – has been the toughest challenge, along with entering an industry in which she’d had no experience, Duong says.”I just kind of have to feel my way around, make some mistakes, adapt and then go with it,” says Duong, who is working on new beer flavours for a summer release.Matt Bebe, managing director and founder of Mornington Peninsula Brewery, is further down the craft brewing path, after first dreaming up the idea for a brewery with his next-door neighbour Malcolm while watching the Hawks win the 2008 AFL grand final – with a few beers of course.”The next day Mal went off to Glenferrie Oval and celebrated and I wrote a business plan,” Bebe says, laughing.Bebe, previously a HR manager with a biotech company, was convinced their idea could work, and by mid-2010 had left his job to concentrate on the business.The only sticking point was that it was the middle of the financial crisis of 2007/2008, and capital was proving hard to find. “The banks wouldn’t even look at it, so we had to go the path of investors,” Bebe says.Twenty-two shareholders – family, friends and friends of friends – threw their financial support behind the brewery, and have since been rewarded handsomely for the decision, with the brewery growing 40 per cent every year since.”The first few years was a bit of a ride,” Bebe says. “We couldn’t make enough beer.”After investing in a new production facility in Mornington in September last year, the brewery now has the capacity to brew about 2 million litres of beer each year.Bebe says his craft brewery is the only one in Australia to have its own canning and bottling lines, which means it can sell its beers in a way that its customers want to drink it.At last count Australia had 243 craft breweries, he says.”In the last nine months it’s become a very competitive environment. Craft beer in general has changed quite dramatically,” Bebe says.”There are a lot more breweries that are opening up, and the majors, they’re also protecting their market share.”Mornington Peninsula Brewery has three core beers – a pale ale, an IPA and a brown ale – and brings out new specialty beers every four to six weeks.Already stocked in Dan Murphy’s, and in bottle shops and pubs around the country, the brewery also exports to Singapore and Thailand and expects to be stocked in Coles-owned liquor stores including Liquorland and First Choice Liquor next year. The business is also looking at the feasibility of expanding into China, Japan and New Zealand.Bebe says there is still huge room for growth, with craft beer still comprising only about 3 per cent of Australia’s beer industry.”There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

 

Source: Can women brew beer?

Matt Bebe: initially struggled to keep pace with demand. Photo: Supplied

(Mercury News) – California gas prices to soar this week

California gas prices to soar this week

By Gary Richards grichards@mercurynews.com

If you’re one of those California drivers who already resents having to pay a lot more to fill your tank than most Americans, you’re going to be sputtering mad this week.Prices at the pump have already begun creeping up in recent days, and they may soar this week as much as 30 cents a gallon in the Bay Area and 50 cents in Southern California as refinery issues and a lack of imported crude oil slam the Golden State.That means the average cost of regular gas will soon exceed $4 a gallon in the Southland and get uncomfortably close to that mark in the Bay Area.GasBuddy.com analysts say the
price hikes are occurring because of “an extraordinary convergence of fuel supply problems” that have caused “severe spikes with no immediate relief in sight.” Other analysts blame California’s special blend of less-polluting gasoline, as well as problems at three refineries in the southern part of the state.The $2.76 average across the country is a whopping 83 cents less than in California. Usually the gap is in the 20-30-cent range.The U.S. Department of Energy says the world remains “massively oversupplied.” American drivers paid the lowest price for July 4 travel since 2010, saving 90 cents a gallon.California drivers have also enjoyed lower gas prices than in years past. But state supplies are now at a 12-month low, and federal energy officials say California refiners had to use 1.1 million barrels from their storage tanks. It’s so bleak that imports to the West Coast sank to zero last week after averaging more than 100,000 barrels a day over the previous four weeks.Regular gas in Los Angeles hit $3.79 on average Saturday, up 24 cents since Thursday. Oakland stood at $3.48, 9 cents more than Thursday. And San Jose’s $3.46 average was 10 cents more than 48 hours earlier. The state average of $3.59 jumped 16 cents during the two-day period.”Holy cow — I’m scratching my head,” David Hackett, president of Stillwater Associates in Irvine told Bloomberg News. “Gasoline inventories are on the low side, but we’re not at the bottom of the tank yet.”Some energy analysts are hoping that the increase may last only a week or so. But the less optimistic ones say all bets are off.Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at Gas Buddy, took the unusual step of urging state drivers not to rush out to fill up.”Filling up unnecessarily may further strain gasoline supply and exacerbate the situation,” he warned. “We have no gasoline as of Monday heading for the California coast. It’s a dire situation.”Problems with California’s crude oil supplies began before Memorial Day when a series of refinery problems in the Midwest led to more oil being sent there than here. Without the ability to get relief from other U.S. regions because California doesn’t have major pipelines, the West Coast has been forced to wait for large vessels from around the world to arrive.The price changes at California’s pumps are getting noticed.”What’s the deal?” asked Eric Itani of San Jose, who has seen his favorite Chevron station boost prices 8 cents in recent days. ‘We’re conserving on electricity, we’re conserving on water — and now I need to conserve on my gas usage.”I am aware that gas prices are much lower compared to one and two years ago, but I am as greedy as the oil companies.”Bill Casilla forked over $3.69 a gallon at the ARCO station on International Boulevard and 98th Avenue in Oakland on Friday. That meant his pickup cost $15 more to fill up than the last time.”Too much,” the landscaper said. “I just pray it stays where it is because I spend a lot for gas.”For Bay Area residents, it could be worse.Tom Robinson, the president of the Rotten Robbie stations, said he’s having no problems getting fuel, but prices have been jumping up and the Southern California market appears to be particularly turbulent.”I think SoCal spot prices are 70 cents higher than NorCal prices,” he said. “Crazy.”Follow Gary Richards at Twitter.com/mrroadshow or Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.gas prices RISINGCity Thursday SaturdayLos Angeles $3.55* $3.79 San Diego $3.54 $3.75San Francisco $3.52 $3.58Bakersfield $3.47 $3.57Vallejo $3.41 $3.50Oakland $3.39 $3.48San Jose $3.36 $3.46Santa Cruz $3.32 $3.38California $3.43 $3.59United States $2.76 $2.76* Average price for a gallon of regular gas.

Source: California gas prices to soar this week

(CBS News) – Pope Francis visits Paraguay slum, says mass for 1 million

Pope Francis visits Paraguay slum, says mass for 1 million

People’s feet are covered with plastic bags to guard against mud while waiting for Pope Francis in Asuncion, Paraguay, on July 12, 2015. ANNA MATRANGA

On the last day of his pilgrimage to South America, Pope Francis visited one of the poorest neighborhoods in one of the poorest countries of his native continent.The Banado Norte shantytown lies on the outskirts of Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. Because of its location on the Paraguay River, it’s frequently overcome with floods — the name “Banado” means wetlands. Settled 50 years ago, 15,000 families live there, most of them surviving by picking through garbage and reselling it. Only 1 out of 10 residents has a regular job.Because of its location between Asuncion and the Paraguay River, the land on which the shantytown sits has recently become valuable real estate, and residents fear that unless the government steps in to protect them, they could be forced out. 46 PHOTOSPope preaches to faithful in Latin AmericaWhen Pope Francis arrived, he stopped to mingle with the residents, shake hands, and hug them. Two women told him their stories. One said: “We feel like the lepers in the gospel. We’ve been rejected until now that they’ve decided our land is very valuable.”The pope told the residents: “I could not come to Paraguay without spending time with you here on YOUR land,” emphasizing the “your.””I want to be your neighbor,” he said.Pope Francis then told the gathered residents that their faith would bring them the solidarity that would see them through.”A faith without solidarity is a sick faith, a dead faith,” the pontiff said. “Be neighbors, above all to the young and elderly. Be a support for young families and all families who are experiencing difficulties.”After Banado Norte, the pope went on to celebrate mass in Asuncion with close to a million people, some from his native Argentina just across the border from Paraguay. Entire families camped out the night before in the field where the mass was held, spreading plastic sheets on the deep mud to stay dry. Many covered their feet with plastic bags, others gave up altogether and went shoeless.People’s feet are covered with plastic bags to guard against mud while waiting for Pope Francis in Asuncion, Paraguay, on July 12, 2015. ANNA MATRANGAThe pope’s last scheduled event before heading back to Rome is a meeting with hundreds of thousands of youth, presumably to send a last message of hope for the future of this country, and the continent.

Source: Pope Francis visits Paraguay slum, says mass for 1 million – CBS News