Friday, August 2, 2013

The Inside Story of the Moto X: The Reason Google Bought Motorola

But the flashy part of the Moto X?s personality is what users might bring to it via Moto Maker, a factory personalization scheme reminiscent of mass individualized products like the Nike iD shoe. A website allows Moto X buyers to customize the phone, choosing from 18 colors and materials for the back of the device as well as different accents for the ring around the camera lens and the volume and on-off buttons. Soon after launch, Motorola will offer actual wood veneers. You can even choose headphones in matching or contrasting colors. Those choosing this ?virtual SKU? also enter their software preferences, and in four days or less receive the phone, ready to use out of the box. (For a limited time after launch only AT&T customers can do this?later, Motorola will open it to its other carriers: Verizon, Sprint, T Mobile and US Cellular.) Just as with the Kindle, the device already knows who you are?so it?s not surprising that Motorola?s VP of supply side and operations is Mark Randall, who left a similar job at Amazon.

What?s more, Motorola will be assembling these phones in a newly acquired factory?not in Tianjin, China but Austin, Texas. (The facility was originally built for Nokia.) Motorola rebuilt the 480,000 square foot factory to copy the exact manufacturing process used in China, except for the brand-new, highly-automated process that can deliver any of the thousands of potential color combinations that customers specify. ?Many supply chain theorists and academics says you can?t do this, but when you tell Google it?s impossible, the reaction is, ?Let?s go do it,? says Randall.

It will be interesting to see what happens in AT&T stores when people are faced with the option of going through a selection process and waiting four days for a phone, or just picking a black and white phone and leaving with it on the spot. ?We?ve done plenty of studies and think there are lots of people who are willing to wait,? says Woodside. ?If you start offering materials like wood, the number goes up dramatically.?

Pure Android?almost. In the past few years Google?s Android partners have tweaked the operating system, sometimes slapping on entirely new interfaces. They do this because they feel that running a vanilla system fails to differentiate them from competitors. Overall, the Android ecosystem is threatened by a trend towards ?forking? different versions. Motorola takes a polar opposite approach?as a division of Google, its mission is to highlight the vision of the Android team, and so its version is as mildly modified as possible. It?s basically a stock build of Android 4.2.2, with most of the customization around the notifications, voice activation, and the camera. This approach positions Motorola to provide more timely upgrades, which have been problematic in the Android ecosystem. ?Nobody?s buying products because of minor incremental improvements to Android,? says Steve Horowitz, Motorola?s head of software (and part of Google?s original Android team). ?So let?s rely on what the Android team does and build experiences that will leverage Google services?and then you see things like touchless control, an entry point to Google Now.?

Ever since the Motorola deal was announced, Google has made a point of saying that its company-owned mobile hardware company won?t get special access to the Android team, and will be treated the same as Samsung, HTC and other Android partners. When Woodside repeated this, saying that, for example, Motorola would have to compete just like its rivals to make the next Nexus phone?a model co-designed by Google to showcase the Android system and other hardware innovations concocted by Google?I asked him what possibly could be different in a Motorola-partnered Nexus phone than the current Googly creation that his team has concocted. He was temporarily speechless. ?That?s a good question,? he finally said before reiterating how important it is for the Android ecosystem to grow and thrive.

When you talk to Motorola?s leadership team, at a certain point, their message is, unsurprisingly, indistinguishable from Google?s. Certainly both parties must sense that Motorola?s handset competitors?even the seemingly-impervious Apple and Samsung?are moving by increments, not leaps. And they smell blood. ?Three years isn?t long term for Google?ten years is long term for Google,? says Arshad. ?We want to create that future of cognitive computing?that?s our goal.?

To do so, Motorola Mobility has modeled its long-range research group, Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP), on an outfit known for delivering blockbusters like stealth bombers, autonomous cars, and the Internet. That?s DARPA, the government Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Hoping to get similar jaw-droppers, Motorola hired the head of DARPA, Regina Dugan, who brought along her deputy, Ken Gabriel. ?We asked ourselves?what were the elements that made DARPA so successful, and could you translate it to an industrial setting,? says Dugan. To her, the key was adopting fast-developing technology just at the point where it can be put to use.

Like DARPA, Motorola?s ATAP hires researchers (it calls them Technical Program Leads) for two-year stints?short enough to put pressure on them to work intensely but long enough to bring something to demo. In an unusual move for a corporate group (but standard for DARPA), the program leads contract with outside researchers to develop parts of their projects. ?When we?re trying to solve a hard technical problem, we go where the best people are,? Dugan says. One current project draws on 40 computer vision experts working for 30 entities, including private industry and six universities, hailing from five countries. ?In six months we retired the most significant technical risk of the program,? she says.

Even though the project leads? two-year terms are only half up, some of their work appears in the Moto X?for instance, the password-free NFC token. (Down the road, says Dugan, Google is working on more exotic versions based on temporary tattoos and even edible tokens that you gulp down like pills.) Dugan?s team also contributed to the Moto X?s quick-capture photography and maker-style personalization.

?Some think that it?s hard to get a return on higher-risk projects,? says Dugan. ?I?ve found the opposite. When you focus on those things, you yield returns more often?that?s where the epic shit is.?

In short, Google is doubling down on its massive acquisition fee to make phones that push technology and, not incidentally, promote Android and Google services in general. Building Motorola itself into a profitable entity is not an immediate objective. ?Of course we can?t be a drain on the company forever,? says Woodside, ?but the goal is not necessarily to make massive amounts of money in a short period of time?we have a much longer time horizon than that.?


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Why Americans All Believe They Are 'Middle Class' (Atlantic Politics Channel)

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San Diego sues Filner to force him to pay his own legal costs ...

The seal of the city of San Diego adorns the entrance to the San Diego City Hall in San Diego, California July 30, 2013. (Photo by Sam Hodgson/Reuters)

The seal of the city of San Diego adorns the entrance to the San Diego City Hall in San Diego, California July 30, 2013. (Photo by Sam Hodgson/Reuters)

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is being slapped with another lawsuit?by the city he governs.

On Tuesday during a closed-door session, the San Diego City Council unanimously decided to file suit in San Diego Superior Court?against the mayor after rejecting?his request that the city pay his legal fees for a sexual harassment lawsuit. Filner?s private attorney, Harvey Berger, filed a request Monday for the city to pay for his legal expenses.

Voting 9-0, the City Council approved a cross-complaint against Filner. He had sought indemnity for all costs the city may have to pay as a result of?the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by his former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson. The city?s cross-complaint states that Filner has become a liability to the city and that the city has ?a zero?tolerance policy as to sexual harassment and sexual harassment is not within the course and scope of employment,? according to the lawsuit.

?If Bob Filner is engaged in unlawful?conduct and the city is held liable, he will have to reimburse us every penny the city pays and its attorney fees,? City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said.

Last week, McCormack Jackson filed a lawsuit against Filner for sexual harassment, becoming the first woman to come forward and accuse Filner of harassment in the workplace.?After a series of allegations from other women followed and calls for his resignation began pouring in, Filner announced last Friday that he would undergo ?intensive? therapy for two weeks starting Aug. 5.

An eighth woman, Lisa Curtin, came forward with allegations late Tuesday. Curtin, director of government and military education at San Diego City College, told local news station?KPBS?that Filner made inappropriate advances to her during a meeting in 2011, while he was still a congressman.?Curtin said?that Filner questioned her about the wedding band she was wearing.

?He then asked me if it could come off while I was in D.C. and if I would go out with him,? Curtin said in the interview. ?I said I really didn?t think so. And at that point, he pulled my hand closer to him and he reached over to kiss me. I turned my head at that moment and on the side of my face, I got a very wet, saliva-filled kiss including feeling his tongue on my cheek.?

?Intimidating women is not in Mayor Filner?s job description,? council member Kevin Faulconer said. ?His employer?San Diego taxpayers?shouldn?t have to bail him out of the mess he created.?

Seven of nine City Council members have urged the Democratic leader to resign. Filner is the first Democratic mayor to lead the city in 20 years.


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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Avs' new goalie coach Francois Allaire sets his sights on revamping Varlamov

Francois Allaire left, talks with Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer. (David Cooper, Toronto Star)

Francois Allaire calls it something of a "back to the future" moment of his career.

As the new goaltender coach of the Avalanche, Allaire is on the same staff with the player, Patrick Roy, he coached for 12 years with the Montreal Canadiens. Allaire also is back to coaching another goalie, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, whom he played a major role in developing into one of the NHL's best netminders.

But can Allaire work the same magic for Avs No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov as he did Roy and Giguere? That, the 54-year-old goalie guru said, is his biggest immediate challenge.

"I think Varly is looking for a fresh start," Allaire said. "I think he's open to trying something else. He didn't feel he was going in the right direction. He wants to flush everything out and start fresh."

If Varlamov needs encouragement that Allaire can make him a better goalie, he need only look at the bench at his new coach, or at Giguere. Despite never playing in the NHL, Allaire is widely credited with improving Roy when he served as a coach with Montreal (1984-96), and Giguere when he coached at Anaheim (1997-2009).

When the Avs parted ways with former coach Kirk McLean and Roy was hired, one of Roy's first calls was to Allaire. The goalie coach had been out of the league since 2012 after a three-year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs ended badly, with cross words back and forth between him and the team. Roy didn't hesitate to bring him back.

"I was very lucky that I met him. I have no doubt in my mind that he was a huge help in my career," Roy said previously.

Said Giguere of his time with him in Anaheim, which included a Stanley Cup in 2007 and a Conn Smythe Trophy in 2003: "My career

was going nowhere. I immediately felt more confident. I revived my career with him."

Allaire doesn't divulge his secrets, but those who have played under him say he stresses constant repetition of fundamentals. He is known as very demanding, but with a track record of success.

Varlamov, who has had two mediocre seasons with the Avs so far, is his latest project.

"I want him to be comfortable. That's the main thing," Allaire said. "After that, I want him to understand I'm not coming from a different planet. It's the same stuff. We don't want him to change everything. I've met with him a few times already. One of my trademarks is I try to make sure guys are feeling good and keep it simple, create good routine, make sure the guy is happy coming to the rink. Then after that, look at the tape and then find their best strength and build around it. I'm not there yet with Varly, but I expect that to come."

Allaire's job is not full time, but he is likely to be around the team at least half the month. Working side by side with one of his former star pupils has him re-energized, he said.

"He's a guy I could tell an idea to and he might say: 'I like that. I'll try that in a game tonight.' " Allaire said. "Not too many guys can do that. A lot of guys don't have enough confidence in themselves, but Patrick could decide in a hurry. I think it's going to be a good environment with the Avs, with Patrick around. I feel really welcome by the organization."

Adrian Dater: 303-954-1360, or

Correction: This article has been updated in this online archive. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the years Jean-Sebastien Giguere won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim, and the Conn Smythe trophy. The correct years are 2007 and 2003.


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Monday, July 29, 2013

Questions To Ask Before You Adopt - TLC Pet and Uptown Cat ...

?Caring for a companion animal goes far beyond providing food, water and shelter. It takes research and careful planning to bring the right pet into your home, and to make sure your lifestyle is the right one for your pet. Answering the following questions will get you started.

1. Why do you want to adopt a pet?

Are you looking for the loyal and steady companionship that an animal can offer? Are you hoping to fill the empty place left after a pet has passed? Maybe you want a companion for your child. Knowing why you?re preparing to bring a pet home will help you to determine the species and breed that will fit your lifestyle.

2. Are you ready to make a long-term commitment?

When adopting, you are making a commitment to care for an animal for the rest of his life?that could mean 10 to 15 years for dogs and up to 20 years for cats. As you go through lifestyle changes such as moves, the birth of children and new jobs, your animal will remain a permanent part of your life. If circumstances change, will you still be able to care for your pet?

3. Do you know what kind of pet is right for you?

Your personality and lifestyle, along with challenges such as space restrictions and amount of time spent at home, should be explored to determine what pet is right for your household. Research different breeds and ask shelter staffers what animals they recommend?they?re experts at making perfect matches!

4. Can you afford to care for your pet?s health and safety?

Owning a dog or cat costs more than the initial adoption fee. Food, veterinary care, spaying or neutering and proper identification?that means a collar with tags and a more permanent form of ID such as?microchipping?can add up. Check out our?Pet Ownership Costs chart?to determine what you can expect to pay annually for your pet.

5. Will you be able to spend quality time together?

Dogs thrive on several hours of exercise and companionship every day, and pooches who are constantly left alone can develop?behavioral problems. Cats are healthiest and happiest indoors and love to be treated to energetic play sessions with their human families. If your work demands that you travel often, or if you?re out of the house most days and evenings, this may not be the right time to adopt.

6. Are you prepared to deal with an animal?s health challenges?

Fleas,?allergies?and sudden medical issues are just a few of the health-related problems that potential pet owners may face. Can you care for your pet if he gets sick?

7. Are you willing to train your animal companion?

Lack of training is one of the most common reasons that adopters return pets to shelters?are you willing to solve behavior problems??Basic training?helps dogs and their owners communicate better, strengthening the relationship overall. And taking the time to understand why your cat does what she does, especially when it involves her litter box and scratching habits, will help you avoid potential problems.

8. Are you prepared to pet-proof your home?

Whether it?s tightly sealing your garbage cans or paying attention to?dangerous decorations during the holidays, you?ll need to make your home safe before adopting. That includes keeping?toxic foods,?pet-unfriendly plants?and?dangerous household items?out of paw?s reach.

9. Is your living space adequate for an animal companion?

Be sure to choose an animal who will thrive in your home. If you?re attracted to energetic large-breed dogs, but live in a small apartment, will your pooch have enough room? If you live on a noisy street, will it disturb your cat? Also consider that many landlords don?t allow pets or place restrictions on having them. Be sure to check out your ?house rules? before adopting.

10. Is your family ready for a pet?

If your kids are still?toddlers, you might consider waiting a few years before adopting, as pet ownership ideally is a team effort. Children who are mature enough can happily share pet-care duties. You may also have another pet at home who?s not yet?or may never be?ready to share his kingdom with another animal.






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Sunday, July 28, 2013


Latest bibliographic data on file with the International Bureau ??? Submit observation

Pub. No.: ?? WO/2013/106662 ?? International Application No.: ?? PCT/US2013/021165
Publication Date: 18.07.2013 International Filing Date: 11.01.2013
A01K 67/00 (2006.01), C07H 21/00 (2006.01)





Rearing or breeding animals, not otherwise provided for; New breeds of animals






Compounds containing two or more mononucleotide units having separate phosphate or polyphosphate groups linked by saccharide radicals of nucleoside groups, e.g. nucleic acids

Applicants: ADVANCED GENOMIC TECHNOLOGY, LLC [US/US]; 5100 U.S. Highway 42 Louisville, KY 40241 (US)
Inventors: WANG, Eugenia; (US)
Agent: STEIN, Michael, D.; WOODCOCK WASHBURN LLP Cira Center, 12th Floor 2929 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 (US)
Priority Data:
Abstract: front page image

(EN)A transgenic, non-human animal model for accelerated aging and/or age- related symptom, recombinant nucleic acid molecules, cells and methods that can be used to make such animal model and cells, methods of using the animal model and cells, to descendants of the transgenic non-human animal, obtained by breeding with the same or with another phenotype, and to a cell line or primary cell culture or to an organotypic brain slice culture, derived from the transgenic non-human animal or its descendants are disclosed.
(FR)L'invention concerne un mod?le d'animal transg?nique non humain pour le vieillissement acc?l?r? et/ou un sympt?me li? ? l'?ge, des mol?cules d'acide nucl?ique recombin?, des cellules et des proc?d?s qui peuvent ?tre utilis?s pour produire ce mod?le animal et ces cellules, des proc?d?s d'utilisation du mod?le animal et des cellules, des descendants de l'animal non humain transg?nique, obtenus par croisement avec le m?me ph?notype ou un autre, et une lign?e cellulaire ou une culture de cellules primaire ou une culture de tranche de cerveau organotypique, d?riv?e de l'animal non humain transg?nique ou de ses descendants.

Designated States: AE, AG, AL, AM, AO, AT, AU, AZ, BA, BB, BG, BH, BN, BR, BW, BY, BZ, CA, CH, CL, CN, CO, CR, CU, CZ, DE, DK, DM, DO, DZ, EC, EE, EG, ES, FI, GB, GD, GE, GH, GM, GT, HN, HR, HU, ID, IL, IN, IS, JP, KE, KG, KM, KN, KP, KR, KZ, LA, LC, LK, LR, LS, LT, LU, LY, MA, MD, ME, MG, MK, MN, MW, MX, MY, MZ, NA, NG, NI, NO, NZ, OM, PA, PE, PG, PH, PL, PT, QA, RO, RS, RU, RW, SC, SD, SE, SG, SK, SL, SM, ST, SV, SY, TH, TJ, TM, TN, TR, TT, TZ, UA, UG, US, UZ, VC, VN, ZA, ZM, ZW.
African Regional Intellectual Property Org. (ARIPO) (BW, GH, GM, KE, LR, LS, MW, MZ, NA, RW, SD, SL, SZ, TZ, UG, ZM, ZW)
Eurasian Patent Organization (EAPO) (AM, AZ, BY, KG, KZ, RU, TJ, TM)
European Patent Office (EPO) (AL, AT, BE, BG, CH, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, HR, HU, IE, IS, IT, LT, LU, LV, MC, MK, MT, NL, NO, PL, PT, RO, RS, SE, SI, SK, SM, TR)
African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) (BF, BJ, CF, CG, CI, CM, GA, GN, GQ, GW, ML, MR, NE, SN, TD, TG).
Publication Language: English (EN)
Filing Language: English (EN)


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[NFL: New York Giants] - Safety Antrel Rolle aiming for Super Bowl

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Ricky Williams, not shying from his past , eager to mold young minds as college coach

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HOUSTON ? Ricky Williams can't change the past and wouldn't want to even if he could.

He has decided to be a coach and dares anyone to tell him why his prior transgressions should preclude him from molding the next generation of football talent.

"If you took slices of my life and you pushed pause, yeah, it would look bad," Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But if you push play and see my whole movie, it's actually a very inspiring story."

The 1998 Heisman Trophy winner and NFL All-Pro who led the league in rushing in 2002 is set to take a job coaching running backs at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. The small Catholic school, which is moving to Division I this season, is in the process of finalizing the hire.

His football skills and knowledge are undeniable. But a past that includes failed drug tests and an abrupt retirement from the Miami Dolphins cast a pall on the stellar career of a hard-running player who piled up more than 10,000 yards rushing in his NFL career.

Williams has always refused to be what people expect him to be or conform to societal norms. His constant search for fulfillment has led him to travel the world studying and teaching yoga and to seek solace in those who appreciate him for more than just his football prowess.

"If your idea for young people or kids is to show them a pretend ideal of what perfection is supposed to be, to me that's not a good role model," he said. "A good role model is someone who keeps on moving and keeps on creating their lives no matter what happens."

The 36-year-old Williams retired for good from the NFL after the 2011 season. He believes a past of incomparable success followed by a very public downfall and subsequent redemption make him more than qualified to guide young people searching for their paths. He's maintained the youthful exuberance of someone half his age, and his words spill out quickly, as if he's worried a thought might disappear if he doesn't rush to share it.

"Everyone deals with some kind of adversity and some kind of difficulty whether it's self-imposed or not," he said. "To me, the mark of a role model or a good influence is someone who can make it through anything. And not just make it through anything but who can thrive in any situation, and that's one thing that I think I have shown to the world is that nothing I do or was done is ever going to stop me. I'm always going to keep going."

The idea sprang from his work as a life coach and spurred the former University of Texas star to become curious if the profession could be a natural fit for him. But it wasn't a completely new idea. During his retirement from the Dolphins in 2004, he realized he could have a more profound impact on people in ways other than as a football player.

"Looking at my skill set and what I was good at, one of them was football obviously and the other one was that anytime I was around people, people's lives usually got better and that I usually gave them a different way to look at things," he said. "So I applied those two things and it naturally came out to coach."

Incarnate Word is thrilled.

"I think it is a good fit," Incarnate Word coach Larry Kennan said in a release. "His experience will be a big help to our staff and players and I think he will have a positive effect on our recruiting efforts."

The campus is a short 80-mile drive down Interstate 35 from Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin. It was there that Williams solidified his legacy as one of the best running backs to play in the Lone Star State by setting an NCAA record with 6,279 career yards rushing.

In an odd twist, Williams will help coach a team which plays in Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium. Tom Benson, who owns the New Orleans Saints ? where Williams began his NFL career after he was drafted fifth overall in 1999 ? is a major benefactor of the university.

What kind of coach will Williams be? He points to former Texas coach John Mackovic, who recruited him to play for the Longhorns.

"He genuinely cared about his players as men and as people," Williams said. "He didn't just teach us football but he also shared life lessons with us. He shared himself with us and he also encouraged me to be me, which was a huge gift and really allowed me to develop."

Williams also enjoyed his time playing for Nick Saban because "he demanded a lot of us, but he didn't demand us to be what he wanted us to be, he just demanded us to be more of what we were."

His coaching gig will be more like a part-time job; he had already accepted a position working for the Longhorn Network during the football season. They haven't worked out all the details yet, but he's been told he could handle his coaching duties on his days off from broadcasting.

The schedule will make for a busy fall, but his personality is such that boredom sets in quickly if he's doing just one thing. "Even if it's professional football," he said with a chuckle.

Williams said a recent conversation with a friend during a cross-country drive prompted thoughts about who he was and led him to the realization that he no longer wanted to identify himself as a football player.

"My dream of being a football player had already been fulfilled and now it was time to ask myself what I wanted to do now," he said. "Coaching is one of the things that I think I can do. But if I were only doing coaching it wouldn't be enough for me. I've also found that the more things I can do I'm much more productive and I'm much happier."


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Saturday, June 29, 2013

EarthTalk?: Should Pet Owners Keep Their Cats Indoors? | njtoday ...

E - The Environmental Magazine

One choice can change many lives... Faith or Fate by John Ruggiero

EarthTalk LogoDear EarthTalk: I understand that pet cats prey on lots of birds and other ?neighborhood? wildlife, but isn?t it cruel to force felines to live indoors only? And isn?t human encroachment the real issue for bird populations, not a few opportunistic cats? ? Jason Braunstein, Laos, NM

While it is true that habitat loss as a result of human encroachment is a primary threat to birds and wildlife of all kinds, outdoor cats are no doubt exacerbating the loss of biodiversity as their numbers swell and they carry on their instinctual business of hunting.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute?s Peter Marra estimates that outdoor cats in the United States, counting both pets and feral animals, kill up to 3.7 billion birds each year?along with up to 20 billion other small mammals. Researchers estimate that roughly 114 million cats live in the contiguous U.S., 84 million of them pets and the rest feral?and that as many as 70 percent of pet cats spend some time roaming outside and hunting.

?Cats are a nonnative species,? reminds Marra, adding that they often target native species and can transform places that would normally harbor many young birds into ?sinks that drain birds from neighboring populations.? As a result of this ongoing predation, many environmentalists and animal lovers think cats should stay inside. ?The big message is responsible pet ownership,? Marra says. He acknowledges that feral cats may be the bigger problem, but pet cats still catch as many as two billion wild animals a year.

The non-profit American Humane Association reports that there are several ways to keep indoor cats happy even though they are restricted from chasing and hunting wildlife. Getting Fluffy a companion (another cat or even a dog) is a good way to provide an outlet for play. Likewise, interactive toys, scratching posts, cat perches and other amenities?check with any well-stocked local pet store?can make the indoor environment a stimulating yet safe one for housebound cats and should serve to prevent stir-crazy behavior.

Meanwhile, another non-profit, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), adds another reason why cat owners might want to think about restricting their pet?s territory to inside: Research shows that indoor cats live significantly longer lives than their free-roaming counterparts. ?Life for outdoor cats is risky,? reports the group. ?They can get hit by cars; attacked by dogs, other cats, coyotes or wildlife; contract fatal diseases, such as rabies, feline distemper, or feline immunodeficiency virus; get lost, stolen, or poisoned; or suffer during severe weather conditions.?

But the fact that feral cat populations have gotten so large in recent years makes the problem that much more vexing. Researchers concede that efforts to catch and either neuter or euthanize feral cats have proven ineffective given their booming populations, leaving cat owners wondering whether jeopardizing Fluffy?s mental health for the sake of saving a few birds is really even worthwhile.

CONTACTS: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute,; American Humane Association,; American Bird Conservancy,

EarthTalk? is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E ? The Environmental Magazine ( Send questions to: Subscribe: Free Trial Issue:


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No sign of BlackBerry turnaround in results, shares drop

By Euan Rocha and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry offered few signs of a long-promised turnaround on Friday, with an unexpected quarterly operating loss, a dearth of details on sales of its make-or-break new line of devices and no return to profit expected in the current quarter.

BlackBerry shares tumbled about 28 percent in both U.S. and Toronto trading.

The Canadian smartphone maker, which has struggled to compete against Apple Inc's iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy phones and other devices powered by Google's Android operating system, said smartphone sales were up 13 percent from the previous quarter, a period when buyers waited for the BB10 phones to hit the market.

But deliveries are down from a year ago as sales of its older line of BlackBerry devices taper off.

"We haven't received the BlackBerry 10 unit numbers yet, but certainly it doesn't bode well for the initial BlackBerry 10 launch, particularly the Z10. But even the outlook for a Q2 loss doesn't bode well for the Q10 either," said Brian Colello, an analyst with Morningstar.

BlackBerry launched two all-new smartphones this year, the touch screen Z10 device, followed by the Q10, which includes the mini keyboard many BlackBerry users still covet.

It has also launched the Q5, a lower-end keyboard device targeted at emerging markets, and plans to unveil one more cheaper phone running on its old BlackBerry 7 platform later this year, hoping to stave off market share losses in price- sensitive emerging markets flooded with cheap Android devices.

BlackBerry invented the concept of on-the-go email with clunky little devices with a mini keyboard. It offered levels of security that made the devices attractive to the business, government and legal clients, but they are now moving to other devices and leaving BlackBerry chasing both a high-end and a low-end market.

"They're not the high-end provider anymore, they're not Apple, they're not the low-end provider, they're not Nokia, so they are in the middle and they do relatively low volumes," said Daniel Ernst, of Hudson Square Research in New York.

"It's difficult to make great margins on that kind of volume, so I would say the outlook is quite negative then."

Excluding one-time items such as the cost of job cuts, BlackBerry reported a loss from continuing operations of $67 million, or 13 cents a share, on revenue of $3.1 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 6 cents a share, on revenue of $3.36 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S Estimates.

Earnings were also reduced about 10 cents a share due to Venezuelan currency restrictions.


The company forecast an operating loss in the current quarter. Chief Executive Thorsten Heins cited the need for increased investment in a competitive environment.

The company has been consumed over the last year with developing the new phones and making sure they work, and the devices were not ready for the all-important holiday season at the end of last year.

The Z10 only hit store shelves in the crucial U.S. market in late March, while the Q10 device only reached the United States after the end of BlackBerry's fiscal first quarter.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it shipped 6.8 million smartphones in the quarter. On a conference call it said 40 percent of them, or 2.72 million devices, were BlackBerry 10 devices. Analysts looked for shipments of about 3 million of the new phones.

It reported a net loss of $84 million, or 16 cents a share, in the fiscal first quarter ended June 1. That compared with a year-earlier loss of $518 million, or 99 cents a share.

BlackBerry did not provide a detailed outlook for the rest of the year, saying the smartphone market remained highly competitive, making it difficult to estimate units, revenue and levels of profitability. It also said it would not supply subscriber numbers due to changes in its revenue model.

(Writing by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)


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Friday, June 28, 2013

Reader recommendations: One Man Great Enough

Monitor readers share their favorite book picks.

By Martha Barkley, Belgrade Lakes, Me. / June 27, 2013

What a joy to find One Man Great Enough by journalist John C. Waugh, a very readable history about Lincoln's road to the Civil War. Reading this book I found out about Albion, Me., martyr Elijah Parish Lovejoy who died in Illinois due to his abolitionist press. I also learned about Vermont legislator Dan Stone who, early on, cowrote with Lincoln early on resolutions opposing slavery. There is so much readable, interesting history in this scholarly book about Lincoln.

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In Egypt, skepticism over religion in politics

CAIRO (AP) ? In a tiny mosque in southern Egypt, the cleric railed in his sermon against opponents of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, comparing them to "the Devil, who rebelled against God and was kicked out of heaven." Among the Muslim worshippers, a 42-year-old civil servant had enough.

Recounting the incident, Nasser Ahmed said he stood up and chanted, "Down with the rule of the Guide," referring to the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, the conservative political powerhouse from which Morsi hails. Other worshippers in the el-Lawa Mosque joined the chanting. Some became so angry they rushed the cleric and tried to beat him up, Ahmed told The Associated Press.

The outburst during the Friday sermon earlier this month in the Luxor province village of Bouairat hasn't been the only case of the faithful lashing out at preachers who stray into politics. It was part of growing signs that, after a year of Morsi's presidency and two years of growing Islamist political power in general, religiosity is not the political selling point it once was among Egyptians.

Increasingly, Egyptians denounce "wrapping politics in the cloak of religion," even in rural areas seen as the heartland of the conservative, "piety" voter. Along with anger over Egypt's economic woes and discontent with Morsi's managing of the country, the disillusionment is a factor fueling support for massive protests to demand Morsi's removal, planned for Sunday.

Egyptians are hardly becoming less religious. But more are losing their belief that someone who touts his religiosity is necessarily a trustworthy, clean and effective politician. Even one ultraconservative party, al-Nour, is shifting its stance in response to the new cynicism.

Though not universal, the shift has been fast. In the series of elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, it was a common refrain from voters that Islamists' piety means they will not be corrupt and will work for the good of the people. That helped boost the Muslim Brotherhood and the more ultraconservative movement known as Salafis to win every vote.

Over years under Mubarak, the conservative Muslims' beard and "zabiba" ? a mark on the forehead from prostration in prayer ? came to be seen as signs of a good man. Mubarak oppressed some Islamist groups, giving them the allure of being victims of a corrupt system. Non-political Islamists, who were spared in crackdowns, set up networks helping the poor and filling the vacuum amid Mubarak's neglect of social services.

Now those disillusioned with politicizing religion point to what they call Morsi's failures ? fuel shortages, rising prices, continual instability. But they also say they have been turned off by seeing clerics taking political sides on TV, in mosques and at political rallies. Others are alienated by rhetoric on Salafi TV channels they see as dividing Egyptians into good or bad Muslims ? or branding opponents as "kuffar," or infidels.

They point to lslamists in parliament and in executive posts, many in religious trappings like beards and robes, engaging in the same unseemliness all politicians do: Internal fights, violent rhetoric, planting loyalists in positions, and even the occasional sex scandal.

"The image has been greatly disturbed," said Mohammed Habib, who was once the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood but split and has become a sharp critic. "The people will not make the same choices as before." He said the group's leadership has hurt itself by being "narrow-minded" and showing "lack of vision."

Kamal Habib, a researcher in Islamic movements, said that "politicizing religion has led people to doubt the channels they long trusted and even viewed as sacred."

A spokesman for the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party argued that religiosity was not why people voted for Morsi. Rather it was because Morsi belonged to a group ? the Brotherhood ? that has a foot in every village and town and has always been close to the people, said Abdel-Mawgoud Dardery.

He blamed private media and Mubarak loyalists for misrepresenting Morsi. Media "tarnished the image of President Morsi, he said, while old regime elements "have been trying to sabotage the economic process of the country."

Indeed, religion was not the Brotherhood's only or even strongest selling point in legislative elections it dominated in late 2011-early 2012 or in Morsi's win. The group boasts Egypt's most powerful organizational network, with cadres to campaign for it nationwide, and a history of charities that helped the poor. That means it would likely still perform strongly in any election in the near-term.

Still, Brotherhood officials often lean on religious rhetoric, talking of the need to defend the "Islamist project" to rally hard-liners behind Morsi. The president, who frequently says he is the leader of all Egyptians, is less direct but laces his speeches with Quranic references. Nine months into his administration, a book by a supporter listed among Morsi's accomplishments that he was the first Egyptian president with a beard, the first to allow a state TV presenter to wear a conservative headscarf and the first to hold prayers every Friday in a mosque.

In two post-Mubarak referendums, including December's which passed the new constitution, Salafi clerics and other hard-liners campaigned for a "yes" vote in each by saying, in one form another, God wanted it.

Such rhetoric seems to have diminishing appeal.

Khadiga Gad el-Mawla, a housewife in the southern city of Deir Mawass in the Islamist stronghold Minya province, says she is no longer a fan of two of the most popular Salafi sheiks, Mohammed Hassan and Mohammed Hussein Yaacoub, who have large followings in mosques and on TV.

"I used to listen when they talked to us about obeying God and the way to heaven," she told AP. "The clerics told us to elect Morsi because he is God's choice. ... But they cheated us."

"The more they say something and do the opposite, the more I get shocked," she said.

Ali Assel, a cleric in the southern city of Nassariya, said he was dismayed by Islamists' battles with the judiciary and the media. Last year, Islamist protesters besieged the Supreme Constitutional Court, preventing judges from ruling on disbanding the interim parliament and the body writing the constitution. Other Islamists barricaded Media City, a complex near Cairo that houses TV stations, angry over "the liberal media."

"Politics corrupted religion," Assel said, adding he was shocked to see the Brotherhood "serving their own agenda and battling to topple down state institutions."

There are few polls in Egypt, so getting a broad picture is difficult. A poll released this week by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research, or Basserah, found Morsi's approval rating at 32 percent, compared to 78 percent after his first 100 days in office. The group polled 6,179 Egyptians across the country, with a margin of error of less than 1 percent. It did not ask questions about attitudes on religion.

Among the first blows to religious prestige came with a sex scandal soon after parliament was seated, when a Salafi lawmaker was caught in a compromising position in a car with a woman wearing the "niqab," the black robes and veil that leave only the eyes exposed. Another Salafi who said his facial bruises came from being attacked by enemies was discovered to have gotten a nose job.

Another factor: comedian Bassem Youssef, who has a weekly program in the style of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Youssef frequently plays footage of Islamists' TV appearance to show contradictions and mock their rhetoric ? so pointedly that he was investigated by police for insulting religion.

Youssef is often seen as an urban, liberal phenomenon. But with an audience of millions, plenty in rural and conservative areas watch him.

Youssef "exposes to the simple people the contradictions of the religious views and the triviality of the clerics," said Atef Ibrahim, 54, head of the chamber of commerce in the southern city of Assiut, who records Youssef's program to watch with his friends over the week.

Saad al-Azhari, a cleric who appears on a Salafi TV station, recognized Youssef's impact. But he said it will be "short-lived."

"Frankly speaking, the Islamist current is losing popularity," he said. "But this is the case for all movements" in Egypt.

He said Islamists' shortcomings have been because their powers are "incomplete" and "there is resistance from within state institutions."

In a telling sign of the diminished power of religious rhetoric, the Salafi al-Nour Party seems to be trying to a subtly different path. Once an ally of Morsi and the second biggest winner in the parliament elections, it has since distanced itself from the president. In a statement this week, it warned against dividing the country into Islamic and non-Islamic camps.

"The party rejects identifying those who oppose the ruing regime as against Islam or the Islamic project," the statement said.


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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Voices: Experts & Analysts Weigh in on Obama's Climate Change Plan

President Barack Obama announced a sweeping plan to tackle climate change today (June 25), outlining measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the development of clean energy technologies.

The new strategy, which was revealed before an audience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., identifies three key objectives: cut the amount of carbon pollution in the United States, prepare the country for the effects of a warming planet and lead global efforts to combat climate change.

The measures "should send a strong signal to the world that America intends to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution," Obama said in his address. [8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World]

LiveScience asked several experts, analysts and industry members about their thoughts on the president's new climate change plan. Here are their responses and official statements:

Christine McEntee, executive director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union

"We are pleased to see that President Obama?s commitment to addressing the growing impacts of climate change is coming to fruition. When it comes to climate change, its causes and its impacts, the science is clear and the scientific community is in agreement. We cannot continue to delay action. The costs are too high.

Addressing this critical challenge requires a global commitment from all stakeholders, including the business community, the energy industry, and national, regional, and local governments, and a willingness to embrace both mitigation and adaptation strategies. Difficult decisions will have to be made at all levels. However, we know that those decisions have the potential to open up new avenues for economic growth and development?both now and in the future.

The scientific community, including AGU and its members, are committed to providing the scientific facts that will enable well informed decision-making for addressing the growing challenge of climate change. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to begin building a foundation for a more sustainable future."

Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity

"We?re happy to see the president finally addressing climate change, but the plain truth is that what he?s proposing isn't big enough, and doesn?t move fast enough, to match the terrifying magnitude of the climate crisis. [Natural Disasters: Top 10 U.S. Threats]

The president, like all of us, needs to be able to look across the dinner table at his children and know he?s doing all he can to ensure they inherit a planet that?s healthy and livable. This plan is a small step in the right direction, but certainly begs for something bigger and bolder."

Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member

"The president is absolutely right to act now. We have a moral imperative to protect the environment for our children and future generations. We are at a crossroads. Every year we delay, the impacts will worsen and the costs will rise. But if we act now, we can lead the world in developing the clean energy technologies of the future."

Lou Leonard, U.S. Vice President for Climate Change at the World Wildlife Fund

"Recognizing that the U.S. needs to meet its international commitments and strongly support robust international action is also crucial as the world works to forge a new global climate pact by 2015.?

What we need next is a strategy that identifies our destination and how fast we will move to get there.? We have the technology and the business case to meet science-based climate goals by the end of this decade, get off dirty fuels and move to 100 percent renewable energy today.?As President Obama fills in the details of his plan, the best science should serve as his compass if we are to find the way to safer shores." [Top 10 Emerging Environmental Technologies]

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association

"This is a watershed moment in our nation?s history. Today, climate change is a real and growing threat to America and the rest of the world. It?s indisputable. Climate change threatens our economy, our future progress, our health and safety and even our way of life. Every day, the Earth suffers a little more from human neglect. We can?t wish this problem away, and pointing fingers won?t solve it, either.

This is our moment in time. America?s solar energy industry stands ready to do our part to help fight climate change and usher in a new era of clean energy in America and around the world. Despite what some critics say, this isn?t a choice between clean energy and a robust economy. We can have both, and solar is showing how to make that possible."

Mark Tercek, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy

"There are simply some effects of climate change that, sadly, we are already seeing today, such as sea level rise and more severe and erratic weather patterns that result in increased storms, heat waves, floods and droughts. We need to adapt to make our farms, forests and coasts more resilient. Whenever and wherever possible, we should invest in natural defenses such as the protection of natural floodplains, healthy forests and the restoration of coastal features like oyster reefs, marshes, sand dunes and wetlands that help reduce risks by acting as buffers to waves and higher tides. These natural defenses are often more durable and cost-effective than traditional infrastructure, and is a smart investment that will save government money in the long run.

We recommend some important next steps in the challenge to deal with climate change, such as putting a price on carbon; conserving forests and keeping the carbon they store out of the atmosphere by reducing deforestation; investing in research and development that can lead to discoveries applicable in other countries like China and India; and coping with the impacts of climate change by promoting the use of natural defenses."

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

"Science tells us that climate change is real and it is among the biggest global threats facing us today. It is not only an environmental issue ? it is a public health issue, an economic issue, a national security issue. I applaud President Obama?s decisive action on this critical challenge.

Clean air is good for the economy, as we have seen in Maryland, where our strong clean air rules have resulted in job creation and economic growth. Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency will not only result in cleaner, healthier communities, it will also create jobs and a more resilient economy. We know the results of inaction: deadlier storms, rising sea levels, and crippling droughts and wildfires, with taxpayers shouldering the skyrocketing costs of disaster recovery. As a nation, we must act now to avert the worst effects of climate change."

David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society

"It's high time for bold action on climate pollution. In fact, we're making up for lost time. The good news is this isn't a blue, red or purple state issue. It's a core value, particularly for young people, and it's a promise to our kids and their future. If we take advantage of this moment, it's a chance for America to come out of the climate closet and to lead the way America is supposed to do. Whether you're talking about birds, wildlife or people, this is the most significant threat we all face, and addressing it is the most important thing we can do."

Ned Helme, president of the Center for Clean Air Policy

"Targeting greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants is a game changer that shows the United States is serious about addressing climate change. But it is important that EPA be flexible about how utilities can comply. Combined heat and power technologies that produce electricity along with useful heat are promising and should be encouraged by the regulations. Another hopeful direction is increased reliance on abundant natural gas. By recommending a flexible approach, EPA's rules can reduce carbon pollution cost effectively and produce jobs that revitalize America's manufacturing sector. In fact, states in the industrial Midwest stand to benefit greatly despite what critics are saying. President Obama's announcement should be seized upon by the states as an opportunity to increase economic growth, not stifle it."

Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers

"Fighting climate change is not only our moral responsibility to our children and grandchildren, it is an opportunity to harness our country?s unique strengths to create a stronger economy, healthier environment, and a better world. President Obama is taking action because Congress has failed to do so. We applaud President Obama for his leadership on climate change and for outlining a bold vision to put our country on a better path to the future.

The president?s commitment to cut carbon pollution, help communities deal with the increasingly apparent impacts of climate change, and to position America as the global leader in clean energy technology will have a positive impact on America?s rivers and the people who depend upon them.? All of us at American Rivers look forward to working with the Obama Administration to implement the president?s vision outlined today."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

"For too long, the barricade of special interests in Washington has stopped Congress from acting against carbon pollution. President Obama knows that we can?t wait to address this issue. We?re already paying the costs of climate change. Our oceans are warmer, more acidic, and rising; our seasons are shifting; and the dice are loaded for more frequent and more severe extreme weather events. I applaud President Obama for taking action today to protect the planet for future generations."

Alden Meyer, strategy and policy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists

"President Obama has a little more than three years to cement a lasting legacy on climate change, and he'll need every last second. Americans are already dealing with worse droughts, wildfires and coastal floods, and the practical realities of climate change are forcing political leaders to make this a priority.

The president is absolutely right to emphasize preparedness. Mayors and governors are becoming climate change first responders and they need all the help they can get. The federal government needs to more effectively deliver the scientific information and planning support that communities need to cope with a changing climate.

Of course, we need to do more than help our communities prepare for climate change. We need to address its cause."

Follow Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook?& Google+. Original article on?

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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HTC One launches in 'glamor red', arrives in the UK next month

HTC one launches in 'glamor red', arrives in the UK next month

Flush from launching in the US in a Google-heavy iteration, HTC is reward its UK fans, finally launching its One smartphone in a sultry 'glamour red' option. It'll arrive at retailer Phones 4U in mid-July, although there's no specifics yet on storage (16 or 32GB?), or whether there will be any price difference between the new colorful hue and existing silver and black options.

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WearIT brings its prototype smart watch to CE Week, we go eyes-on

WearIT brings its prototype smart watch to CE Week, we go eyeson

It'd be hard to go hands-on with the WearIT smart watch given that it's still very much a prototype and its touchscreen is ... well, it's not enabled yet. But we did get a chance to put our hands to the device and snap a gaggle of pictures, highlighting its 1.54-inch capacitive touchscreen and trio of buttons (each of which will correspond to specific applications, we're told). The concept with WearIT's watch is that it's a standalone device -- "We're getting closer to Dick Tracy every day," a company rep told us. While the device isn't quite up to Tracy's standards (no phone functionality, for instance), it assuredly packs more power than the aging detective's wrist gadget.

A Cortex A8 600 MHz CPU and 256MB of RAM are at the heart of the smart watch, backed up by a 550 mAh lithium ion rechargeable battery. 4GB of storage is embedded inside, along with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth / Bluetooth LE, ANT+, and a USB 2.0 port (when using the charging clip, included with the watch). Oh, and it runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, though it's pared down considerably for the screen size. We'll have a much closer look at WearIT's smart watch later this year -- the device is expected to arrive in the US starting in November and will retail for $400.

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Court Rulings on Gay Marriage and Voting Rights Test GOP Makeover

House Speaker John Boehner spent at least $2.3 million to defend the federal law banning same-sex marriage -- a cause dear to the Republican base -- but you couldn't tell from his muted reaction when the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down.

?While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances,? Boehner said Wednesday in a statement. The day before, he didn?t respond at all to the court?s blow to the Voting Rights Act, even though the decision could protect the Republican majority in Congress for years to come.

Boehner?s cautious positioning reflects the squeeze both court rulings put on a Republican Party torn between its traditional values and a desire to modernize and expand before the 2014 and 2016 elections. Crusading against gay marriage, a timeworn Republican strategy to rally social conservatives, is out of step with polls that show increasing support for gay marriage, particularly among young voters. ?The court also put congressional Republicans on the spot by demanding a rewrite of the landmark law protecting minority voting rights, setting up potentially awkward battles with African-American and Hispanic leaders that would reprise the rallying cry in those communities last year over voter ID laws.

?The politics on these issues are changing, and it?s smart to be careful,? said Republican consultant John Feehery, a former adviser to House leadership. ?Years ago, gay marriage was something that you were able to rile the base with and it became part of an electoral strategy, but opinion seems to be evolving pretty quickly. The Voting Rights Act is also a combustible issue, and there are risks for getting involved.?

That?s exactly why the Democratic Party is flogging both court rulings. Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Wednesday that the gay marriage ruling ?shows how extreme and intolerance House Republicans really are.? Democratic gubernatorial candidates from Barbara Buono in New Jersey to Terry McAuliffe in Virginia also picked fights with their Republican opponents over the court rulings. Gov. ?Chris Christie is still blocking marriage equality. He is trying to be more conservative than Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and the rest of the Tea Party,? Buono?s daughter said in a fundraising appeal. Similar requests from Democratic candidates and groups are coming rapid fire this week, calling for checks to fund historic battles for marriage equality and voting rights.

Coupled with ongoing debates over immigration and abortion, the court rulings mark a return to the culture wars that could hamstring Republican outreach to women, young voters and minorities in the wake of the 2012 election. Recent skirmishes include a House vote banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, another House vote rejecting President Obama?s policy to halt deportations of illegal immigrants brought here as children, and this week, an explosive filibuster of a bill backed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas to regulate abortion clinics. Democratic attacks portray these efforts to block immigration reform or limit abortion as proof of the GOP?s hostility toward minorities and ?war on women.?

Many Republicans are eager for the national debate to return to President Obama?s spending and health care law -- which fueled historic GOP gains in 2010 -- and away from issues that pit the party against demographic tides and public opinion.

?At some point our party has got to come to grip with fact that the world is moving on and being bound by old theories and traditions is not healthy for the future of the party or their candidates,? said Republican strategist Rich Galen, who was among dozens of prominent members of his party who signed a pro-gay marriage legal brief. ??If young people see the masters in Washington use the issue to gin up the conservative right, they may just roll their eyes. I think this is a good test for the Republican Party to see how it wants to be seen in the 21st century.?

Withstanding pressure from the right wing of the party will be the first trial. Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, called Wednesday for federal legislation to reinstate a same-sex marriage ban. He noted that many of the more than 30 state bans have passed with healthy margins.

?Republicans shouldn?t be trying to disassociate themselves from marriage ? they should be hugging it tighter,? Reed said. ?It serves to engender greater intensity and enthusiasm at the grassroots level among faith-based activists and voters. I don?t think this is a hard call for the Republican Party.?

Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, a staunch conservative and Boehner nemesis, is ready to lead the charge for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But the message from Boehner and other Republican leaders on Wednesday was clear: leave the issue to the states. ?The states will now decide this issue through the democratic process,? said Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 vice presidential nominee.

That stance marks a dramatic shift from just six years ago, when former President George W. Bush pushed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Even Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential presidential contender who recently said he opposed laws banning anti-gay workplace discrimination, urged states to pick up the issue.

?I appreciate that many Americans? attitude towards same-sex marriage have changed in recent years,? he said in a statement. ?I respect the rights of states to allow same-sex marriages, even though I disagree with them. But I also expect that the decisions made by states like Florida to define marriage as between one man and one woman will also be respected.?

The measured reaction from Rubio and other prominent Republicans contrasted with the unabashed outrage expressed by Democrats to the voting rights decision. ?SCOTUS took a step backward on voting rights, on civil rights, & on justice for all,? House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter. ?The decision is a cue for Congress to strengthen? the law. Democrats could benefit politically from taking on the issue: some of the most closely watched Senate race in 2014 are in Southern states where African-American turnout ? typically light in mid-term elections -- will be pivotal.

?The voter ID laws definitely made Republicans look bad, and if they refuse to do something on the Voting Rights Act, Democrats are going to use that to their advantage,? said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, director of social policy and politics at Third Way, a non-partisan think tank.

In the Virginia governor?s race, Democratic nominee McAuliffe pounced this week on his opponent?s positions on voting rights and gay marriage. Ginning up turnout of the Democratic base is key for McAuliffe to beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in an off-year election. "Unlike my opponent, I believe that,?while we have made progress, protections are still necessary to ensure that Virginians are allowed to exercise their right to vote without the risk of disenfranchisement,? McAuliffe said in a statement.?

The Voting Rights Act requires several states, mostly in the south, to get federal approval before changing electoral practices. Cuccinelli emphasized that ?every person?s vote counts? but added, ?I do not believe we have the institutional bigotry like we had before.? His senior advisor, Chris LaCivita warned that McAuliffe should tread carefully. ?Any attempt to use it in the context that implies race or that implies not everyone would have right to vote would be viewed as over the top, insulting to Virginians and will backfire,? he said.

This week has shown, however, the Democratic impulse to hammer Republicans over minority voting rights and gay marriage, is a powerful one.


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Thursday, June 20, 2013

How Google hires people - Business Insider

Google likely sees more data than any company on the planet. And that obsession carries through to hiring and management, where every decision and practice is endlessly studied and analyzed.

In an interview with The New York Times' Adam Bryant, Google's Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock explains that some of the biggest stalwarts of the hiring and recruiting world, the interview, GPA, and test scores, aren't nearly as important as people think.?

Google doesn't even ask for GPA or test scores from candidates anymore, unless someone's a year or two out of school, because they don't correlate at all with success at the company. Even for new grads, the correlation is slight, the company has found.

Bock?has an excellent explanation about why those metrics don't mean much.

"Academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they?re conditioned to succeed in that environment," he says.

While in school, people are trained to give specific answers, "it's much?more interesting to solve problems where there isn?t an obvious answer," Bock says. "You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer."

As for interviews, many managers, recruiters, and HR staffers think they have a special ability to sniff out talent. They're wrong.?

"Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at?Google?is particularly good at hiring," Bock says. "We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship."

Google also used to be famous for posing impossibly difficult and punishing brain teasers?during interviews. Things like "If the probability of observing a car in 30 minutes on a highway is 0.95, what is the probability of observing a car in 10 minutes (assuming constant default probability)?"

Turns out those questions are"a?complete waste of time," according to Bock. "They don?t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart."

The only thing that works are behavioral interviews, Bock says, where there's a consistent set of questions that ask people what they did in specific situations.

Many of the assumptions and practices we have about hiring came about because we didn't have anything better. For decades, the?only (relatively) consistent data point among hires was GPA and test scores. It was an easy way to sort, and because that's the way it was always done, people stuck with it.

We can do better now. And though Google has something of a head start and a lot more data, more and more companies are catching on.?

The best thing about data? It's hard for people to contest. Even when people don't want to believe that they're underperforming, it's hard to dispute years worth of numbers. "For most people, just knowing that information causes them to change their conduct," ?Bock says.


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