Posts Tagged ‘Americans’

Election 2016

 

It seems that every four years Americans are faced with a choice that often leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths. We elect and vote for choices based on the best available candidates, we hope. When it comes time to vote, we somehow also fall for the rhetoric that our very way of life is threatened if the other guy wins and the only way to ensure our preservation is to cast our ballot in favor of “our” guy.

This election is no different, but now we have a woman.After reviewing all of them I’m not so sure the American people benefit with anyone.

Bernie

Bernie Sanders- Bernie Sanders is a crowd favorite. He brings an authenticity with him that connects with his constituents and his supporters. His track record on civil rights and the rights of minorities is impenetrable. He has energized a whole young population that feels disenfranchised and disengaged from the whole political landscape that their parents live in.

He wants to regulate the banks and get big money out of politics. He also has accomplished a feat never done before. He has wedge into the democratic system that the term socialist is not an evil word and changed the course of campaigning forever. He has answered the call for millions of people who hate the “business as usual” mechanics of politics that often leave minorities in the cold.

The issues aren’t with Bernie’s message it’s that if he were to become president, how effective can he be to make that changes his campaign ran on. Americans are fearful of the term socialist and congress is not just gonna grovel at his feet just cause the people want change. Back in 2008, when Obama became president there was a feeling of real, radical change was going to happen and shifts in policy and laws were going to be enacted that would help African-Americans and other poor groups. After months of fine dining us, Americans were finding out Obama had trouble paying the bill for the meal he ordered and well, we got stuck doing some dishes. I feel this will play out the same way with Bernie.

His supporters aren’t looking for another compromise or a back alley deal that meets in the middle. They want real change for that to happen, Sanders pinned himself in an unwavering position. Sanders records on gun control is murky at best because he against a five-day waiting period for background checks in 1993, but also voted against selling of automatic weapons. He also is another war mongering leader in the making who voted for wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Even Clinton has taken a lot of heat for the 1994 Crime Bill, but Sanders has somehow been able his vote through undetected.

When asked about it, he gives an explanation that is acceptable to his supporters, but others like myself puzzled. In their eyes he can do no wrong. So my question is this. If Sanders is so civil rights, then why did he vote for the Crime Bill knowing the repercussions it would have on generations of African-Americans. Also, don’t the victims of bombings and attacks in Middle Eastern countries by our military deserve rights, our are black and brown rights only relevant on our soil?

Hillary

Hillary Clinton-Clinton has the chance to make history in this race and that has come at a cost. Her character, voting records, previous comments and experience has all come into question. While Clinton has the drive and fortitude of her male counterparts, has an edge in foreign policy, that her opponents on the right and left do not have. Through her Apprentice Tax Credit that can help millions of Americans. Gun Control advocates back her and she has one of the best presidents of our generation to call on in a moments notice living in the same home, her husband and former president Bill Clinton.

Clinton has faced numerous amounts of attacks that only seemed to be fueled by sexism, ageist and relentlessness by the GOP. With every report about her, whether it’s Benghazi or the current email scandal her opponents find simple-minded attacks to weaken her resolve. She’s been the most scrutinized and politicized figure in this race. Sanders hammers her on her cozy relationship with banks and big budget corporations. While Trump seems to have label her as crooked and makes over inflated statements about her emails, that most Americans just want to move on from.

Hillary’s biggest problem throughout all this has been herself. Three years ago she was the most likable candidate assuming she was going to run at the time. Now her poll numbers show a problem that has become an anchor in her sailboat. Frankly, a lot of voters don’t like or trust her. GOP has a small victory in their corner,but Sanders and his supporters don’t buy into her talk of tough politics against bankers and lobbyists. She also played her hand too late on issues such as immigration, abortion, Keystone Pipeline and others.

This makes her look too indecisive and that someone else is feeding her what to say and how to say it. This is troubling to Americans who want a president who will walk into the situation room or summit with world leaders and give a clear-cut answer at a moments notice when the time comes. Other missteps have been her pandering to the African-American community which she has been called out on numerous times.

Hillary’s biggest challenge won’t be winning the nomination,but concentrating her energy towards Bernie’s supporters without pivoting too far away from her central message that got her base initially. Some Bernie supporters have already vowed to either vote for Trump or not at all if Hillary wins.

Trump

Donald Trump- Donald Trump has been the most controversial outspoken candidate of this generation. He has insulted Latinos, Muslims, Women, the disabled, captured war heroes and other groups as well. His racially divisive and hurtful attacks pierce right into the heart of the issue that seems to be the unspoken case of racial disparity and underlining bigotry in our so-called progressive country.

Trump has effectively collected the population of those who feel marginalized, by the growing threat of losing the country their ancestors gained. Trump supporters are overwhelmingly white and mostly males. When his supporters speak of him, their most likely to say how much of a great speaker he is and how he tells it like it is.

They also like the fact that Trump doesn’t have to gravel at the feet of those lobbyists and campaign donors that the other candidate did. He funded most of the campaign himself and his supporters as well. He has a tax plan proposal that would exempt single filers making $25,000 and under from paying taxes.

His biggest win in his campaign has been drawing in the GOP with a gravitational like pull towards himself. Most candidates usually make statements to parallel the GOP brand and narrative already in play. Trump has disregarded the verbal talking points of conservatism and has made inflammatory remarks, one after the other. Even with Governors, Speaker of the House and rivals calling him out on his statements, they all are united in voting for him. That’s much like your uncle saying how much he hates gay people and proposing legislation against them, but the family has to keep putting up with him, because he’s grannies favorite.

What works against Trump has been Trump himself. Unlike Clinton, who’s pandering hurt her to be a favorite among undecided voters, Trump has alienated a base of supporters that the GOP has desperately been trying to obtain that the democrats has had a strong hold on…minorities. His constant remarks about building a wall to keep Mexicans out and increasing security against immigrant Muslims has turned him into apotheosis of angry racist white hatred. He’s a fan favorite among white supremacists and shows no signs of slowing down his tone. He recently made statements about a federal judge who is of Mexican background that again pinned him down to be racist and bigoted.

In addition to Trump inciting racism, he also is a compulsive liar with a bad temperament. He has countless sound bits that has been fact checked and found out to be downright lies.

When you go and vote on these candidate be informed about them, but just don’t vote on your emotions learn about the candidate.

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Other countries and America      It wasn’t until I was a pre-teen that I understood what it was to be a proud American. All those times before than, when I held my hand above my heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance it didn’t quite sink in. Not until I started the learn and care about the history of this country and even African-Americans who were enslaved, tortured and mentally subjugated had a large part in the formation of this country. In the land of the milk and honey I also wondered how other countries viewed Americans and what influence this has on our relationships with them. Below I got research from different points of views from “spokesman” who have the inside track of how our allies and enemies view us aboard.

Asia– I found an article in the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs by Kishore Mahbubani explains that the numbers of Asian students attending American universities rose from 70,000 to 160,000 and the numbers keep going up. He even goes on to say his son and daughter went to Yale to study during their college years. He then adds that Asians love the American spirit of enterprise. Mahbubani goes onto say that America is the only country where success stories like Google, Facebook and Microsoft can emerge out of nowhere. They admire the capacity for Americans to create great enterprises and why it’s such a mystery as to why no other country has achieved anything like it.

Mahbubani also points out that America is a place where you can come as a foreigner study hard and become a CEO of a major company. Indra Nooyi who was a MBA student is now the CEO of PepsiCo, Vikram Pandit who heads Citibank and Muhtar Kent who is the CEO of Coca-Cola. He goes on to say, “I want to try it in America”. This is the part that won’t be so flattering for Americans to hear, but need to if we are truly concerned for foreign affairs.

One thing that changed in the eyes of Asians is our moral compass and the use of torture. Mahbubani states “Chinese intellectuals said to me in privatein the past, even when the Chinese used to disagree with America publicly, they would say, “I have to disagree publicly, but in my heart, I agree. You are right. We are not as good as you are.” But after you brought in Guantanamo and torture, they said, “Excuse me, we are no different now. Don’t lecture us anymore.”

Another negative area is the American antipathy toward the Islamic World. He mentions the film that made negative headlines on Youtube that led to demonstrations. He adds the importance of changing the minds of the Muslim world and working hard to change the perception of how to coexist. Kishore’s next point is the ignorance of the impact of American power. He makes the example of taking corn subsidies and turning them into ethanol can lead to hunger in other parts of the world. Another example he used is quantitative easing and pumping it into the money supply leads to inflation in the rest of the world. Mahbubani adds that most Americans aren’t aware the actions they make domestically affect the world globally.

One positive thing he mentions is that American philanthropists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett agreeing to give away most of their money in their lifetime is an amazement. One that David Rubenstein in Singapore tried to unsuccessfully replicate this by attempting to persuade Asian philanthropists of the same “Giving Pledge” that their American counterparts did. It didn’t work out so well. One such negative example is the use of money in politics. In a democracy each individuals vote should and does count equally, but the issue is when the process of democracy becomes distorted when large sums of money come into the circle.

One major issue in the eyes of Asia is America adhering to International Laws. His claims that the US refused to accept International Court of Justice judgments, or refuses to ratify International Criminal Court, or Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Law of the Sea treaty. Another thing, according to Purchasing Power Parity term China’s GNP within ten years will become bigger than America. In China there is a deep suspicion that America wants China from succeeding even though China as a whole wants American to remain a superpower.

Middle East– It wasn’t after 9/11 that I began to know about the Middle East and the Muslim world and what terrorism meant. The ties with America and the Middle East goes far before that though. The US has failed in attempt after attempt to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict. When Israel gained a victory over the Muslims back in 1967 Secretary of State Henry Kissinger decided that Israel was the bigger power and he wanted to maintain that by giving the Palestinians money and guns to keep the Arabs and Russians out. This helped the momentum ultimately leading to the October War in 1973. Kissinger’s plan was to exclude the Palestinians from the post war settlement and the Egyptians from the Arab military line up. This move eventually led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in 1979.

For the next 30 years Israel’s supremacy showed the power of Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians. Israel invaded Lebanon and killing 17,000 people in the process in 1982. Israel seized Beirut and started a massacre of right-wing Christians that left 800 Palestinians dead the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. For the next 18 years they remained in control in South Lebanon until Hizballah Guerrillas drove them out. The US called the guerrillas “terrorists” which did not sit well with the them. In the Middle East Palestine was only one reason for the cause of 9/11, the other was when the US removed the Iraqi’s from Kuwait back in 1991 and then back that with crippling sanctions said to cause the death of over a million Iraqi babies.

Yet another piece was when tens of thousands of Arab fighters who were trained by the US and given weapons to fight the Russian threat in Afghanistan. Once the Russian withdrew their military arm in 1989 so did the US with the mujaheddin . Large numbers of the Afghan Arabs were left angry, military trained and dangerous to roam in their home countries or even join Al-Qaida. George Bush’s “War on Terror” certainly did help any foreign repair when the US went into war with Afghanistan, a war that is still going on today over twelve years later. The US then decides to go after Iraq in which the neo-cons wanted anyway after the Iran Iraq war. An estimated 1.4 million Iraq’s died and 4,500 US soldiers died as well.

Even today as President Obama authorized  drone attacks against Afghanstan, Yemen, Pakistan and other Islamic militant group locations. The problems happen when the US is acting in the better interest of Israel through sanctions, wars and demonizing tactics.

Africa– For many in Africa the US represents a beacon of racial harmony. South Africa and the US both share a dark racial past between slavery and the apartheid regime. When the election and re-election of Barack Obama embraced the US it renewed faith in Africans that the US has better race relations then they did previously. It’s the African and African-American relationship that can get dicey at times. Even though African-Americans ancestry is largely in Africa there seems to be still a lot of ignorance and hatred toward Africans and the homeland. This bond was between the two cultures and people was broken and never healed properly.

One would think this would be the easiest bond to mend since we share past, present and future, but more often than not you can hear a black woman or man making descent and even execrable remarks about lions walking around villages. People imitating an African dialect with a series of mouth made clicks and clack sounds that are horribly misrepresentative of a beautiful and robust set of different languages that has dates back more than 100,000 years, which most scholars agree on.

Msia Kibona Clark, a visiting assistant professor at Howard University’s African Studies department said in a student newsletter that, generally, African-American students think “Africans are backwards … and that all Africans are poor”. Some students, she says, “question the presence of big cities [in African nations]. They think that all Africans come from a village.” Many African American still believe Africa is a place for famine, poverty, HIV, corruption and civil war. On the other end of the road the common misconception about African-Americans is that they have a “chip on their shoulder” and are not interested in becoming educated.

This is a problem that NEEDS TO BE FIXED since the numbers of Africans coming to America are only increasing from 110,000 between 1961 to 1980 to 530,000 from 1980 t 2000. The faces that reflect African-Americans are changing and the times and sensitivity to them need to aggrandize with the times were are in.

European– When you talk about what Europeans think about US culture. Europeans think that American politics are extremely negative and they are not favorable of American cuisine, but do favor TV and films as exports. A market research firm hired by the Wall Street Journal polled more than 18,000 people in 18 different countries in Europe. They found that France in particular did not like the Bush presidency and that the French more than any other country did not American Food. With the election of Obama the views of American politics has changed for a more positive position.

In Italy 39% had the citizens had a positive impression as opposed to the 25%  who had a negative impression. The U.K. (38% to 31%), Poland (32% to 24%), Bulgaria (29% to 25%) and Romania (29% to 26%) also logged more positive than negative responses.Luigi Mattirolo, an Italian civil servant in Rome says The American “way of thinking makes it possible for the people who really believe in something to achieve their goals. At least [in the U.S.] it happens more frequently than in Europe.”  Greece however has more negative views of American culture with 58% having a negative impression. Russia follows them with 45% and Hungary with 40% with negative impressions.

When it breaks down by category 30% of those surveyed believe that movies and tv shows were the best thing about American culture, then sports with 12% of those surveyed and music with 11%. On the other hand though 21% of those surveyed said “I don’t know” or “nothing” when asked what is the American contribution to world culture. Among the worst contributions is food from American culture with 66% of French respondents, 56% of Swiss respondents and 52% of German respondents. When the European countries were asked how America was looked at in regards to politics most of the countries had mostly negative responses, but Romania, Bulgaria and Poland were the only countries with the least negative responses. Romania views America as the land of hope and light especially after the oppression Romania faced from Russia.

Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia all have more positive than negative views of America since President Obama began his term when they were questioned about political influence.

Latin America– According to the Pew Research Center’s “Global Attitudes Project a large portion of Latin countries has a positive view of the US. El Salvador had the highest favorability with 79% with Brazil right behind with 73%, Chile 68%, Mexico with 66%, Bolivia 53%, Venezeula 41% and Argentina with 40%. Currently 1 in 5 people from El Salvador lives in the United States and uses the US dollar as their currency. It seems in countries where US intervention has been the most frequent and dramatic also seems to be the same countries where US is in high favor(El Salvador,Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama).

Bolivia, Argentina and Venezuela are a few of the countries who have less than favorable attitudes toward the US. 73% of Argentines thinks that the US ignores their interests. This number coincides with the 41% favorability with the US. Chile is in a odds place though on both sides of the spectrum saying Chile feels positively about the United States, even though they also feels the US ignores its interest. Here is a list of the countries who thinks the US is not favorable and thinks  the US ignores its interests: Argentina 73%, Chile 61%, Bolivia 59%, Mexico 45%, Venezuela 42%, Brazil 38% and El Salvador.

I wrote this blog because our perception in the world does matter. We want to and need to become a country that is more compassionate and sympathetic.

Video: The National Security Agency gathers location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones.

 
 

By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Wednesday, December 4, 3:18 PM E-mail the writer

The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.

The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.

Graphic

 

A look at how the NSA collects cell phone data and uses it to track individual suspects.

Read more:

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

 

Read all of the stories in The Washington Post’s ongoing coverage of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

 
 
 

The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.

One senior collection manager, speaking on condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data is often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

In scale, scope and potential impact on privacy, the efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June. Analysts can find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among individuals using them.

U.S. officials said the programs that collect and analyze location data are lawful and intended strictly to develop intelligence about foreign targets.

Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, said “there is no element of the intelligence community that under any authority is intentionally collecting bulk cellphone location information about cellphones in the United States.”

The NSA has no reason to suspect that the movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users would be relevant to national security. Rather, it collects locations in bulk because its most powerful analytic tools — known collectively as CO-TRAVELER — allow it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.

Still, location data, especially when aggregated over time, is widely regarded among privacy advocates as uniquely sensitive. Sophisticated mathematical techniques enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. Cellphones broadcast their locations even when they are not being used to place a call or send a text.

CO-TRAVELER and related tools require the methodical collection and storage of location data on what amounts to a planetary scale. The government is tracking people from afar into confidential business meetings or personal visits to medical facilities, hotel rooms, private homes and other traditionally protected spaces.

Page 2 of 3

NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show

 

“One of the key components of location data, and why it’s so sensitive, is that the laws of physics don’t let you keep it private,” said Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. People who value their privacy can encrypt their e-mails and disguise their online identities, but “the only way to hide your location is to disconnect from our modern communication system and live in a cave.”

The NSA cannot know in advance which tiny fraction of 1 percent of the records it may need, so it collects and keeps as many as it can — 27 terabytes, by one account, or more than double the text content of the Library of Congress’s print collection.

Graphic

 

A look at how the NSA collects cell phone data and uses it to track individual suspects.

Read more:

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

 

Read all of the stories in The Washington Post’s ongoing coverage of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

 
 
 

The location programs have brought in such volumes of information, according to a May 2012 internal NSA briefing, that they are “outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store” data. In the ensuing year and a half, the NSA has been transitioning to a processing system that provided it with greater capacity.

The possibility that the intelligence community has been collecting location data, particularly of Americans, has long concerned privacy advocates and some lawmakers. Three Democratic senators — Ron Wyden (Ore.), Mark Udall (Colo.) and Barbara Mikulski (Md.) — have introduced an amendment to the 2014 defense spending bill that would require U.S. intelligence agencies to say whether they have ever collected or made plans to collect location data for “a large number of United States persons with no known connection to suspicious activity.”

NSA Director Keith Alexander disclosed in Senate testimony in October that the NSA had run a pilot project in 2010 and 2011 to collect “samples” of U.S. cellphone location data. The data collected were never available for intelligence analysis purposes, and the project was discontinued because it had no “operational value,” he said.

Alexander allowed that a broader collection of such data “may be something that is a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now.”

The number of Americans whose locations are tracked as part of the NSA’s collection of data overseas is impossible to determine from the Snowden documents alone, and senior intelligence officials declined to offer an estimate.

“It’s awkward for us to try to provide any specific numbers,” one intelligence official said in a telephone interview. An NSA spokeswoman who took part in the call cut in to say the agency has no way to calculate such a figure.

An intelligence lawyer, speaking with his agency’s permission, said location data are obtained by methods “tuned to be looking outside the United States,” a formulation he repeated three times. When U.S. cellphone data are collected, he said, the data are not covered by the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures.

According to top-secret briefing slides, the NSA pulls in location data around the world from 10 major “sigads,” or signals intelligence activity designators.

A sigad known as STORMBREW, for example, relies on two unnamed corporate partners described only as ARTIFICE and WOLFPOINT. According to an NSA site inventory, the companies administer the NSA’s “physical systems,” or interception equipment, and “NSA asks nicely for tasking/updates.”

NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show

 

STORMBREW collects data from 27 telephone links known as OPC/DPC pairs, which refer to originating and destination points and which typically transfer traffic from one provider’s internal network to another’s. That data include cell tower identifiers, which can be used to locate a phone’s location.

The agency’s access to carriers’ networks appears to be vast.

Graphic

A look at how the NSA collects cell phone data and uses it to track individual suspects.

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

A look at how the NSA collects cell phone data and uses it to track individual suspects.

Read more:

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

 

Read all of the stories in The Washington Post’s ongoing coverage of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

 
 
 

“Many shared databases, such as those used for roaming, are available in their complete form to any carrier who requires access to any part of it,” said Matt Blaze, an associate professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania. “This ‘flat’ trust model means that a surprisingly large number of entities have access to data about customers that they never actually do business with, and an intelligence agency — hostile or friendly — can get ‘one stop shopping’ to an expansive range of subscriber data just by compromising a few carriers.”

Some documents in the Snowden archive suggest that acquisition of U.S. location data is routine enough to be cited as an example in training materials. In an October 2012 white paper on analytic techniques, for example, the NSA’s counterterrorism analysis unit cites two U.S.-based carriers to illustrate the challenge of correlating the travels of phone users on different mobile networks. Asked about that, a U.S. intelligence official said the example was poorly chosen and did not represent the program’s foreign focus.

The NSA’s capabilities to track location are staggering, based on the Snowden documents, and indicate that the agency is able to render most efforts at communications security effectively futile.

Like encryption and anonymity tools online, which are used by dissidents, journalists and terrorists alike, security-minded behavior — using disposable cellphones and switching them on only long enough to make brief calls — marks a user for special scrutiny. CO-TRAVELER takes note, for example, when a new telephone connects to a cell tower soon after another nearby device is used for the last time.

Side-by-side security efforts — when nearby devices power off and on together over time — “assist in determining whether co-travelers are associated … through behaviorally relevant relationships,” according to the 24-page white paper, which was developed by the NSA in partnership with the National Geospatial Agency, the Australian Signals Directorate and private contractors.

A central feature of each of these tools is that they do not rely on knowing a particular target in advance, or even suspecting one. They operate on the full universe of data in the NSA’s FASCIA repository, which stores trillions of metadata records, of which a large but unknown fraction include locations.

The most basic analytic tools map the date, time, and location of cellphones to look for patterns or significant moments of overlap. Other tools compute speed and trajectory for large numbers of mobile devices, overlaying the electronic data on transportation maps to compute the likely travel time and determine which devices might have intersected.

To solve the problem of undetectable surveillance against CIA officers stationed overseas, one contractor designed an analytic model that would carefully record the case officer’s path and look for other mobile devices in steady proximity.

“Results have not been validated by operational analysts,” the report said.

 

Julie Tate contributed to this report. Soltani is an independent security researcher and consultant.

Original Post –http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-tracking-cellphone-locations-worldwide-snowden-documents-show/2013/12/04/5492873a-5cf2-11e3-bc56-c6ca94801fac_story.html

overworked

Has your boss ever told you to work fewer hours? Were you told before that your 40 hour week is being reduced down to a third or a half what you use to make and still make the same amount at the end of the two weeks? I’ll wait……..I didn’t think so. It’s no secret or accident that Americans are over-worked, over-stressed, over-tired, under-paid and over-reaching for economical goals that are placed with intent just centimeters out of reach. The population of the working poor are gradually replacing the once thriving middle class.

I was talking to a friend who lost her high paying job and manage to find a job that pays a lot less. Now she’s working and drowning in debt. At one point was working two jobs and I worked 7 days a week between the two jobs. I had 64 – 70 hour work weeks and even with both jobs I wasn’t even scratching the $50,000 a year mark. I can tell you from experience there’s nothing more draining and frustrating then sitting down with your spouse going over bills and not being able to pay then knowing you worked all day and all night.

One article from “The Atlantic” says the opposite that were working less. Huh!!!! The argument is that within the last 60 plus years the workforce is being replaced new technologies. The magazine claims that their has been a significant drop in an annual hours per worker for 1950 – 2012. Another argument state the shift from women spending more time in the office than at home and now the men are home more because of less avidity for male – dominated industries. In 1965 on average women ages 25 – 54 fair 15 hours a week working and 43.4 hours doing housework.

By 2011 that number jumped to 25 hours a week and 28.5 housework hours. While men in 1965 worked 41.9 his a week to 11.8 of housework. 2011 the average was 32.6 hours a week to 16.8 of housework a week. Since the nature of marriage have changed so has the workforce. What used to be pairing of opposites is now more likely to be combining of like intellects and work occupations. The set work week has also been changed by cell phones. A Harvard Business School survey of managers and professionals. The study was for those who were “on” either working, or “monitoring work” and remaining accessible.

The study shows that a disproportioned amount of time was used for monitoring and little time working. North Americans spent 88.5 hours monitoring as opposed to Europeans with 82 hours and Asians with 80.5. The article in “The Atlantic” did note what was called “leisure inequality”. This explains the asymmetry between the downtime difference for Americans with a college degree than those without. On average American men have 3.6 hours of leisure time and women have .3 hours. While men without college degrees on average have -2.5 hours and women average -2.0 hours.

On the contrary an article written by ABC News back in the early 2000’s gives a different perspective. The article blames road rage, workplace shootings, rising number of children in day care and the demand for schools to provide after school programs on Americans being over-stressed and over-worked.  In 1999 The Bureau of Labor statistics shown that 25 plus million Americans or 20.5% of the workforce worked 49 hours a week and 11 million said they worked 59 hours a week. A book written in 1997 stated that Americans in 1990 worked almost a full month more per year that they did in 1970. Even then the argument was more women were entering the workforce working part-time jobs. Leaving a gap in a household chores.

Laura Flanders an author for “The Nation” reports that in 2011, 70% of Americans left their vacation days untouched. She also noted that Americans work almost five weeks more a year than our peers in Europe. Family leave is still unpaid under federal law and paid sick days are being attacked as well. Flanders offered a suggestion to march for leisure. She noted the last time US labor unions marched was for an eight-hour work day after the depression of 1884. Banners called for “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest and eight hours for what we will.”

Flanders points out that the labor force in America is the smallest it’s been in 20 years and thanks to globalization and computerization the demand for US labor is just not there as strong as it was before.

So let’s make a comparison between the US and Europe and let’s see how they stack up against each other. Generally the US has a 40 hour work week and any hours over 40 in a week will be overtime pay. States like California are setup differently, every minute over a 8 hour work day is subject to overtime pay. So an example is given if an employee works four 10 hour days they have fulfilled the full 40 hours for the week with no over time. In California the same employee working the same hours will get two hours overtime for hours worked past the essential 8 in a work day. Overtime in the US is 1.5 times the pay of a normal wage.

In Europe –

The French have a 35 hour work week. Also there limitations on overtime in France. In Switzerland the work week is 45 hours in industrial and retail industries and 50 hours in other industries. In Austria the work week is 40 hours a week, the overtime pay is plus 50%. On Sundays and Holidays it is plus 100%. Also employees are forced to take an 11 hour period between tow work days. Germans work between 36 and 39 hours a week. The cap for them is 48 hours per week (that includes overtime). Overtime pay is a 25% premium and night work is 10%. Belgium is even more complicated. They have a five-day, 38 hours workweek, not all days are equally long. Overtime pay is 50% on Sundays and 100% on Holidays. Employees can not work over 11 hours overtime per day and 50 hours per week. The also need to take an 11 hour period between two work days.

Wages in the US-

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Some states do not adhere to the wage and have ranges of wages from $5.15 in Georgia and Wyoming, $8.67 in Washington State.

Wages in Europe –

In Europe minimum wages are based on monthly earnings. In the Euro zone the amounts range from 55 euros in Montenegro or 170 euros in nearby Kosovo, to over 1.682 euros in Luxemburg. Switzerland and Scandinavian do not have a minimum wage. German employees are covered by a minimum wage of 1.400 euros or over 8 euros per hour. The German “mini-job” programs offers work at around 5 euros per hour.

So you heard the arguments do you think Americans are overworked? My personally opinion is that the evidence is in the society we live in. That is the best barometer for the conditions in the workplace. Typical a stressed out population usually doesn’t have the laxed work schedule that other countries do. I could be wrong let me know.

 

 
In this Oct. 7, 2013, photo. the U.S. Capitol is reflected during rain in Washington. Americans are finding little they like about President Barack Obama or either political party, according to a new poll that suggests the possibility of a "throw the bums out" mentality in next year's midterm elections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are finding little they like about President Barack Obama or either political party, according to a new poll that suggests the possibility of a “throw the bums out” mentality in next year’s midterm elections.

The AP-GfK poll finds few people approve of the way the president is handling most major issues and most people say he’s not decisive, strong, honest, reasonable or inspiring.

In the midst of the government shutdown and Washington gridlock, the president is faring much better than his party, with large majorities of those surveyed finding little positive to say about Democrats. The negatives are even higher for the Republicans across the board, with 4 out of 5 people describing the GOP as unlikeable and dishonest and not compassionate, refreshing, inspiring or innovative.

Negativity historically hurts the party in power — particularly when it occurs in the second term of a presidency — but this round seems to be hitting everyone. More people now say they see bigger differences between the two parties than before Obama was elected, yet few like what either side is offering. A big unknown: possible fallout from the unresolved budget battle in Washington.

The numbers offer warning signs for every incumbent lawmaker, and if these angry sentiments stretch into next year, the 2014 elections could feel much like the 2006 and 2010 midterms when being affiliated with Washington was considered toxic by many voters. In 2006, voters booted Republicans from power in the House and Senate, and in 2010, they fired Democrats who had been controlling the House.

“There needs to be a major change,” said Pam Morrison, 56, of Lincoln, Neb., among those who were surveyed. “I’m anxious for the next election to see what kind of new blood we can get.”

Morrison describes herself as a conservative Republican and said she is very concerned about how her adult children are going to afford insurance under Obama’s health care law. She places most of the blame for the shutdown on the president, but she also disapproves of the job Congress is doing. “I don’t think they’re working together,” Morrison said.

“Congress needs to take a look at their salaries, they need to take a cut to their salaries and they need to feel some of the pain the American people are feeling,” said Morrison, who is married to a government worker who she said has been deemed essential and is still on the job.

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U.S. government shutdown

U.S. federal workers protest against the government shutdown outside the City View Plaza building th …

People across the political spectrum voiced disappointment.

Suzanne Orme, a 74-year-old retiree and self-described liberal who lives in California’s Silicon Valley, says the shutdown is more the Republican Party’s fault. “The Republicans seem to be a bunch of morons who aren’t going to give in for anything. I just don’t get it with them. They are just crazy,” she said.

But she also said she strongly disapproves of the way Obama is handling his job, and doesn’t find him likable, decisive, strong, honest, compassionate, refreshing, ethical, inspiring or reasonable. The only positive attribute she gave him was innovative.

“It sounds like he’s kind of weak. He says one thing and does another,” Orme said after taking the survey. For example, she said Obama hasn’t made good on his promise to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and changed his position on whether people should be penalized for failing to get health insurance.

“I voted for him, and he’s turned out to be a big disappointment,” she said. “I mean, what’s the alternative?” Orme said it just seems to her that Washington is run by lobbyists and consumed by financial greed.

A bad sign for Democrats is that Obama has bled support among independents — 60 percent disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, while only 16 percent approve. As he began his second term in January, independents tilted positive, 48 percent approved and 39 percent disapproved.

Neither party can win without the support of independents, with only about a third of the poll’s respondents identifying themselves as Democrats and about a quarter as Republicans.

Obama has held onto support from Carol Cox, a 59-year-old independent from Hartville, Ohio, who says she feels the president helps people in need. She is happy to see his health care law that offers coverage to the uninsured and to people with pre-existing conditions, although she thinks the rollout could have been better. “I think he’s doing an OK job,” she said of the president.

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Graphic shows AP-GfK poll on government approval; 2c …

Graphic shows AP-GfK poll on government approval; 2c x 6 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 165 mm;

But she is not happy with either party in Congress. She said the shutdown is affecting her family’s investments and she’s concerned about the future of Social Security. “I’m really angry and frustrated. I can’t believe how mad I am about this.”

As for next year’s congressional election, she said, “I would love to see just a total turnover.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7, 2013, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,227 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

The survey was designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Respondents to the survey were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. Those who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to get online at no cost.

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News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

Original Post-http://news.yahoo.com/poll-americans-little-washington-071544899–election.html

statue of liberty in chains

In the last part I talked a little bit about senators making statements that remind minorities we have come as long as we’d hoped. Now it’s one thing to still deal with justice domestically, but what about abroad? What about statements questioning a persons citizenship. Our own president has been the target of attacks from conservatives using his citizenship as a ploy for Americans to view him as an outsider. One person still trying to keep this view point alive that Barack Obama was not born here is Donald Trump of all people. No other president previous to Obama has been ridiculed and accused of giving false birth certificates until now. Why do you think that is? It’s a case of separationism. Separating “us” from “them”.

A couple weeks ago Representative Steve King made this statement “Immigrants are mostly “evil” Marijuana smugglers with calves the size of cantaloupes. He used this imagery to address the undocumented immigrants he feels out number 100 to 1 the number of valedictorians that have parents that are immigrants. Really!!!? can you make a statement like this and not have backlash? He even called a group of valedictorians that went into his office to protest his opposition to the “Dream Act” “20 brazen self-professed illegal aliens”. He also doesn’t want immigration reform until we can; “Differentiate between the good ones with deep ties to America and the ones who are undermining the culture and profiting from criminal acts.” He uses this excuse to postpone the inevitable immigration reform that will happen. He uses this language even as one of his constituents junior senator for the state of Texas was not born in the US himself. He was born in Canada while his mother was born in the US. It wasn’t until his birth certificate was called into question that he wanted to renounce his Canada citizenship which he has upheld until recently. Why hasn’t senator Cruz gotten the backlash from his colleague Steve King that he gave those valedictorians? My theory is it was only to insight outrage among that minority group that are less likely to vote in his favor. The strategy  to me is simple create outrage among your base that can stall the voting on the reform. That way while we sort out the confusion it will push aside the main issue. King knows once this issue is voted on and PASSES that this will open the pathway to citizenship and a new wave of voters will be able to become part of the democratic system and vote. Who do you think historically minorities have voted for? Not your party Steve King.!!!!