Astronaut Will Be In Space For A Year

Scott J. Kelley will be spending one year in the International Space Station.  This will be the longest space mission a NASA astronaut has ever done.  Scientists are hoping to learn more about the physical and psychological tolls of long space missions so that they can mitigate the effects of factors like weightlessness and radiation on bones.  If we can learn what we need to from this mission, we will hopefully be able to travel further into space than we ever have before.  It will be interesting to see what NASA can learn from this and if it will make a big impact on space exploration.

Link found here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/27/science/space/nasa-sends-scott-kelly-to-space-for-a-year-an-americans-longest-journey.html?ref=science

Harry Reid Announces His Retirement

Harry Reid is often characterized as a former, amateur boxer–but he will be remembered as a high profile fighter. This morning’s announcement that Reid will not seek reelection in 2016 marks the beginning of the end of his 32 years in the United States Congress. Although he is not widely considered to have the charisma that is often associated with high profile politicians, Reid is a true and admirable leader. Regardless of the difficulties he has faced throughout his career, he has earned his reputation as a man who is willing to stand with courage and to defend the underdog.

  • Reid’s opposition to and eventual victory over Washington’s special interest groups prevented Nevada’s Yucca Mountain from becoming a nuclear waste dumping ground and ultimately bolstered his credentials as someone who was ready to take on difficult battles.
  • As Majority Leader of the Senate, Reid presided over the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” a policy that banned LGBT Americans from being open about their sexuality while serving in the military. In 2012, at the risk of alienating his sizable LDS constituency, Reid (a mormon himself) argued that “in a civil society… people should be able to marry whomever they want, and it’s no business of mine if two men or two women want to get married.” He went on to say that the idea that legalized same-sex marriage would adversely affect his own family is “absurd.”
  • Perhaps the hardest punch Reid ever took for an underdog was when he chose to champion the Affordable Care Act. His influence was critical in drafting a bill that could pass both houses of Congress, and his leadership ensured that Obamacare would become law. Early negative perceptions of the law nearly cost him his seat in Nevada’s 2010 Senate Race, but Reid was committed to ensuring that health insurance companies faced stronger market competition and that no consumer be denied health insurance because of a preexisting illness or condition. Elections always weigh on politicians minds; Reid did what he believed to be right regardless of the constituent backlash that he certainly would have foreseen.

Earlier today President Obama summed up Harry Reid’s character and his career very nicely on a radio interview. Speaking on a radio talk show for which Reid was present, the President said, “There are a lot of folks who are slicker and give smoother TV interviews but, in terms of somebody who has heart and cares about ordinary people trying to chase the American dream, I don’t think there’s anybody.”

Harry Reid should be proud of the work that he has done in his long career as an advocate and a leader. His triumphs have and will continue to shape the history of the United States for the better.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/us/politics/senator-harry-reid-retire.html?ref=politics&gwh=DACE72FFC028ED7B5B7D393E0FCF3398&gwt=pay&assetType=nyt_now

Iran’s Vague Negotiations 

And the nuclear talks continue. Deadlines have come and gone; there was one that passed just last week. Not only are the talks continuing, but there is not much in the way of clarity either. Tight lips are being kept on the Iranian side. Iran is supposed to sign an agreement by next Tuesday, but it’s not looking like that’s going to happen. 

What I see as the main problem here, and what the article’s writer also mentioned, is that what’s the point in making an agreement when there won’t really be any detail to it? How would they even know what they’re agreeing on? When different calculations are coming from all parties involved in the negotiations,  signing an agreement really seems pointless at this time, but how long can it be put off for?

So now for the million dollar question, is it better to make a vague agreement now, or to hold off, yet again, until more clear calculations are established? How long is too long to wait, and how little information is too little to deal with?

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/25/world/middleeast/in-nuclear-talks-us-wants-clear-deal-while-iran-favors-general-one.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

Wall Street Trades One of Their Stars to Google

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Morgan Stanley is one of the country’s largest banks and has recently lost their chief financial officer to Google.  Ruth Porat, who has been Morgan Stanley’s chief financial officer for five years now (since 2010) has recently packed her bags for Silicon valley for what many say is a force for fighting issues surrounding gender balance in the work force.  Both New York and Silicon Valley have been known to face gender issues in business in the past and having women such as Ruth Porat stand up for women in leadership roles is a huge step forward for empowering women.

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White House Daily Briefing


Interestingly enough, there have been many moves from many of the east coast powers to west coast tech companies and powers.  Some examples of these people include White House spokesman Jay Carney, who mentioned recently that he will be jointing Amazon.com, and former Obama aide David Plouffe, who decided to leave the white house a year ago to join the company Uber.  Interestingly enough though, Silicon Valley has been hiring most of their new talent from Wall Street.

A Top Executive at Morgan Stanley Goes to Google

Why this big shift from working in finance in the east coast to working with technology in the west?  As of late, jobs in finance have been on a bit of a decline.  Since the financial industry has been struggling as of late, there have been many that have decided to move to the world of technology, where jobs are plentiful and where tech companies are clawing at universities and other certification schools to hire as many people with computer science stills as they can.  Not only is this industry growing at an incredible rate, but they are also paying their employees very well for their work.

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Most say the movement is simply because, after the financial crisis that has recently incurred, people simply do not trust financial jobs to grow.  On the other hand, tech firms are showing great amounts of growth.  With this growth comes trust from people to work with these tech firms.  It will be interesting to see how the tides of these two industries shift in the future.

For full article, Click Here. 

NFL to Try Out Web-Only Game

On page B1 of the Wall Street Journal on 3/24/2015, the Wall Street Journal describes how the NFL is opening up a single game to bidders for a Jacksonville/Buffalo game this fall.  The idea is to explore alternative ways to monetize games and maximize profits.  I imagine that distributing a game on the web would enable the NFL to gain more exposure globally and in countries such as China.  It’s not clear how this will play out, but it could change the economics of the NFL and I wonder if this will have any impact on college football.  With the speed of changing technology you never know what the landscape will look like 20 years from now.

Regulated Public Dancing

China Puts a Hitch in the Step of ‘Dancing Grannies’ by Andrew Jacobs 

More government regulation on something as simple a form of exercise and relaxation for an ever growing aging population are in the works by the Chinese government. In reality, this move by the government stems from public complaints about these ‘dancing grannies’, but not because of their less grandiose public nuisances they “cause” but the initial complaint was because of the loud music that these groups play to jig and ‘get down’ to. In reply to this complaint one dancing grannies scoffed, threw back her head, laughed and said that the louder the music the more fun. Another complaint was the large amount of room these grannies tend to take up at public parks in their often extravagant performances.

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So why then does there have to be government involvement in this issue. It almost seems like a cop out by the government to regulate another aspect of social expression within the country. The complaints are perfectly warranted but this is an over reaction by the government in dealing with these groups. For many this is a way in which to relax in a retirement stage in which they have nothing better to do. Many forced into retirement by the government. Many Chinese are most likely starting to see the need to do what they’ve always wanted but have always been stigmatized against by the prevailing ideology and governing entity. If China were not to be careful and constant on the move to suppress internet access, television access, access to free expression such as public dancing they will find themselves wanting more and more of the individual lives to control. China is increasingly becoming more ‘developed’ by Western terms and to start to detract from this growth to a more tight grip on Chinese everyday life to become the new exceptional country in the world (the typical US position and mentality) they will find themselves less than exceptional more plagued with uprisings and international scorn and lack of willingness to cooperate with a very internalized and xenophobic country.

Heinz and Kraft Merger Announcement

Almost everyone that has grown up or has spent a lot of time living in the United States has heard of Heinz Ketchup and Kraft Mac and Cheese. These brands are something that permeates the American psyche and soon they will be together in the same company. The deal is being backed by 3G Capital and Mr. Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. That signals a huge amount of money being moved and a lot at stake. Heinz is set to own 51 percent of the combined company shares with Kraft holding 49 percent. Analysts put the company to be valued around 100 Billion in the next few years. This is a very big deal that is making some people nervous. This deal will create the 5th largest food and drink company in the world and it cuts down on the competitiveness of the market. Should we be worried that companies are starting to merge together? Is it a big deal that our market is becoming less and less competitive?

Read the full article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/business/dealbook/kraft-and-heinz-to-merge.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Delayed Withdrawal of American Military Troops in Afghanistan

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On Tuesday, March 24, President Obama announced he will delay the withdrawal of military troops in Afghanistan after a meeting with Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani.

The delay of returning troops through 2015 will be “well worth it,” said President Obama as he spoke about returning troops have to rotate back to Afghanistan for “just a few months.” The intention of Mr. Obama is to continue counter-terrorism in Afghanistan while the countries own military groups receive proper training and gain a better foothold on power.

For such a mountainous country, Afghanistan does not yet have technology advanced enough to properly maintain air control in order to combat remaining Al Qaeda, Islamic State, and Taliban efforts. Mr. Obama said, “we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help Afghan security forces succeed.”

President Ghani made a valiant, and somewhat successful effort, to repair the reputation of Afghanistan during this same meeting. It seems some Afghan leaders have taken for granted American aid in the past decade. “He promised that Afghanistan would reciprocate by building a government that could stand on its own economically, socially and militarily.”

President Ghani expressed his appreciation for American efforts saying, “you stood should to shoulder with and I’d like to say thank you. I would also like to thank the American taxpayer for his and her hard-earned dollars that has has enabled us.”

[The author of this blog post, Abigail Nemeth, found this information in a NY Times article entitled, “Obama Says U.S. Will Delay Afghan Withdrawal to Aid Drone Strikes” published March 25, 2015.]

Monica Lewinsky Breaks Silence Concerning Cyber-Bullying

If you are anything like me, than you fell into the trap of looking at this post because of the salacious tabloid-worthy name staring you in the face. Monica Lewinsky has been a public figure for almost two decades, but not for the right reasons. This last week she finally broke the silence with a  TED talk focused on curbing cyber-bullying and creating a healthy, friendly environment in our world.

Lewinsky is best known for her extramarital affair with President Bill Clinton. She explains the hard days that followed her for the next several years. She also used examples of other teens that were bullied including many who ultimately killed themselves. “There is a very personal price to public humiliation,” she said. “And the growth of the Internet has jacked up that price.”

Lewinsky ended her talk to a standing ovation and more than 600,000 views on Youtube. Using her public persona for good, Lewinsky has been able to move on from her past and establish a voice for good in the world. I agree that this form of harassment needs to be solved. Although we have freedom of speech, we need to make sure we don’t destroy the lives of other people for a mistake they may have made.

A Different Sort of Nuclear Negotiation

While much of the world’s attention is focused on the ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, the future of another country’s nuclear program is being fleshed out.  The U.K. has maintained a capability for submarine-launched nuclear strikes for decades.  This serves as an important nuclear chess piece as submarines are the most survivable element of a nuclear arsenal, making them a valuable tool of strategic deterrence.  With Britain’s ballistic missile submarine fleet aging, the time for funding replacement submarines is fast approaching.

Some in Britain view the warships as a costly and  unnecessary relic of the cold war.  Many suggest that the U.K.’s continued program has less to do with security and more to do with clinging to geopolitical relevance.  The issue has become an important one in British politics for a couple of reasons.  The left-leaning Scottish National Party opposes the submarines, which homeported in the Scottish port of Faslane, just 40 miles from Glasgow.  The SNP intend to make the future of the submarine force a key issue after the upcoming British elections, setting up a couple of possible outcomes.

1.  If the Conservatives are re-elected the issue is largely moot as they will likely move forward with replacement of Britain’s nuclear fleet.

2.  If Labour prevails they are likely to need coalition partners.  The SNP could become the kingmaker for Ed Milliband and company.  Although Labour has pledged not to form a government with the SNP, when push comes to shove that may change.

3.  If the SNP is not part of the new government the issue is likely to continue to act as a wedge driving the Scottish independence movement.

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