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There's a booming tech scene in New York City with over 70,000 open jobs, but it's always been somewhat insulated from the city itself — a problem that's led to only one in four of those jobs getting filled. That situation led the non-profit Coalition for Queens to start Access Code, a unique training program that teaches people from the Queens community to code iOS apps, while receiving mentorship and guidance on career development and entrepreneurship from notable figures from the New York startup scene. Six months after the first Access Code class of 21 students completed the 18 week course, the 15 graduates who accepted job offers have seen their income rise from under $15,000 to an average of $72,190; the other six students are either still in college or have chosen to launch their own startups. And the class as a whole is commendably diverse in an industry that has been struggling to attract women and minorities: it's 50 percent women, 50 percent underrepresented minorities, and 40 percent immigrants. Read more...

Google wants your money. Or, more precisely, Google wants your bank account and credit card info. At Quartz, Chris Mims reports that  Google appears to be accelerating its roll-out of a service that will allow gmail users to send money via email to whomever they want as easily as sending an attachment. Sounds great — but wait, there’s more! Read more...

Humans can survive weeks without food, but only days without water — in some conditions, only hours. It may sound clichéd, but it’s no hyperbole: Water is life. So what happens when private companies control the spigot? Evidence from water privatization projects around the world paints a pretty clear picture — public health is at stake. In the run-up to its annual spring meeting this month, the World Bank Group, which offers loans, advice and other resources to developing countries, held four days of dialogues in Washington, D.C. Civil society groups from around the world and World Bank Group staff convened to discuss many topics. Water was high on the list. Read more...

Photo (clockwise from top left): YouTube screenshot/tray7156, YouTube screenshot/JunkFoodTasterDotCom, YouTube screenshot/BarbieMoviesPage, YouTube screenshot/Huntertainment, YouTube screenshot/HamptonRoadsTVFan

Across the state of New York, this year’s Common Core English tests have reportedly featured a slew of brand-name products including iPod, Barbie, Mug Root Beer and Life Savers. For Nike, the tests even conveniently included the shoe company’s ubiquitous slogan: “Just Do It.” The brands – and apparently even some of their familiar trademark symbols – appeared in tests questions for students ranging from third to eighth grades, reports The Post-Standard of Syracuse. Over one million students were required to take the tests. Parents, teachers and school administrators have speculated that the kid-friendly brand names are a new form of product placement. Read more...

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 17:42

The Truth About the Housing Rebound

After a brutal winter and difficult start to the spring, a string of housing data set to be released this week is likely to show continued overall improvement in the housing market. Though the monthly numbers are up and down the trend is clear: the housing market is stronger by some measures than at any point since 2005. But this good news isn’t good for everyone and that’s bad for our economy. Despite strong gains, especially at the top of the market, the housing recovery is preceding in such way that keeps those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis and frozen out of the housing market left on the margins; particularly people of color and people under 35. The point is that the housing market may be back but in a way that only enlarges existing inequities. But before turning to where the housing market is off track, let’s take a look at what’s working. Read more...

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 14:54

Private Prisons: The Injustice League


The two largest private prison providers in the U.S. each rake in tens of millions of dollars every year. How do they make their money, and what agreements are in place to protect their profits? Read more...

Saturday, 19 April 2014 21:26

Dollar dying; multi-polar world in offing

Washington’s decision to go for the military coup in Ukraine was intended to rupture the emerging cooperation between key Eurasian nations that ultimately would have isolated the power of US hegemony and opened the door for a genuine multi-polar world where peaceful cooperation replaced military threats and sole Superpower domination. The very rich and powerful families who control the US military industry complex reacted by trying to revert to their tried strategy of re-activating a new Cold War that paints Russia as evil and tries to cripple or severely weaken her. Ultimately it was a stupid decision being implemented by very stupid people, who believe they are very smart. One of the unintended consequences of their stupidity is the fact that because of the foolish US decision to impose economic sanctions on Russia over Crimea’s annexation, Washington has forced Moscow to react by selling Gazprom bonds not in the dollar market but rather in the fast-emerging Chinese Yuan. The US has just shot itself in the foot. Read more...

Almost 1/3 of Chicago-area homeowners still significantly underwater

Despite improving home prices, 31 percent of Chicago-area homeowners with a mortgage were seriously underwater in March, owing at least 25 percent more on their home loans than the property’s value, a new report shows. Read more...

Vincent Sherrod Kristen Pierce-Sherrod Harold’s CEO daughter Harold Pierce Harold's Chicken 2341 W. 95th Wednesday April 16 2014.  |

The daughter of the founder of Harold’s Chicken Shack is asking for the city’s help in her fight to stop people from ripping off the iconic brand. Kristen Pierce-Sherrod and her husband, Vincent Sherrod, say they are the legal owners of the Harold’s Chicken name, but a half-dozen “rogue” stores have popped up in recent years. “We want to take back control over what’s rightfully ours, which is the name,” she said. More illegal stores may exist, but Pierce-Sherrod said she relies on word-of-mouth, Facebook and disgruntled customers to tip her off. Read more...

Good thing, you might think, our traditional civil rights bodies are on the lookout for threats to our constitutional freedoms. At least till you actually read the story. When you do, it turns out that  the NAACP, National Action Network, the National Urban League, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, League of United Latin American Citizens, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and Rainbow PUSH all object to a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule that would force them, whenever they weigh in on matters before the FCC, disclose who they're getting money from. Read more...

Thursday, 17 April 2014 12:00

Africa Is Still Colonized By France

Africa Still Colonized By France 3 photo

Did you know that many countries in Africa pay a colonial tax to France up until this day? We are talking a minimum of 50 years since “independence” all round. But let’s be fair, the French have form in this kind of thing, so let’s go a little further back in time to see why it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Read more...

United States Postal Service Letter Carrier Lakesha Dortch-Hardy sorts mail at the Lincoln Park carriers annex in Chicago, November 29, 2012. The USPS, which relies on the sale of stamps and other products rather than taxpayer dollars, has been grappling for years with high costs and tumbling mail volumes as consumers communicate more online.  REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT) - RTR3CKKA

The United States Postal Service is looking to get in on the big-data-for-profit game played by tech giants like Facebook and Google, and begin mining and selling private data gathered from personal mail sent from and received by Americans everywhere. USPS chief marketing and sales officer Nagisa Manabe recently told the forward-looking PostalVision 2020 conference that the post office is “actively looking for ways to build new business lines around what not long ago might have been considered science fiction,” eCommerce Bytes reports. Read more...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 18:54

ComEd asks state for rate hike


Commonwealth Edison Co. is asking regulators to add $3 to the average electricity bill next year to help it fund its massive overhaul of the electricity grid. The rate increase, if approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission, would go into effect in January 2015. The filing is the utility’s fourth request under a formula-based ratemaking process established by a law passed in 2011 to modernize the electrical grid. The idea is to add digital technology to the grid that can automatically repair many outages, eliminate the need for meter readers and lower incidences of electricity theft. Read more...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 18:11

BRICS countries to set up their own IMF

BRICS countries to set up their own IMF

Very soon, the IMF will cease to be the world's only organization capable of rendering international financial assistance. The BRICS countries are setting up alternative institutions, including a currency reserve pool and a development bank. Read more...


Do you know what happens to your earnings after they are swept up and tossed into the Medicare black hole? A massive, new Medicare data release has uncovered a multimillion-dollar scandal that has been growing through the years. Consumer groups have been pressuring the government to release recent Medicare data and were taken aback when the numbers were finally unveiled. Read more...

RIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid

Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food. Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday. If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said. Read more...

Fujitsu's vein-recognition technology identifies a person by scanning the unique pattern of veins.

Scanning veins in the human hand could become the biometric measure of choice  for authentication when we pay for things or want to unlock devices such as smartphones, an Australian professor says. Thanks to the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S5 smartphones, fingerprint scanners are going mainstream quickly. But how will they fare against vein scanning? Read more...

Reuters / Shannon Stapleton

A software company that promises to help Americans avoid the annual misery of filing their IRS returns has, in fact, spent years trying to convince lawmakers to make sure filing taxes remains difficult, thus protecting its business, a new report found. Every year Americans spend an estimated $2 billion and 225 million hours preparing their tax returns by April 15. The process can include obtaining information from a bank or employer, intensive financial disclosures, and, for many Americans, an appointment with a professional accountant who is qualified to evaluate how much money the state and federal government is due. The annual drudgery could be avoided with “return free-filing.” The process would involve an Americans’ employer and bank sending information to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the government sending a bill to an individual, and that person essentially returning their payment in mere minutes, free of charge. Read more...

We previously noted that both beef and pork (courtesy of the affectionately named Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) prices have been reaching new all time highs on an almost daily basis. It is time to update the chart. Read more...

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 09:34

DNA and Insurance, Fate and Risk


As costs for DNA sequencing drop, hundreds of thousands of Americans are undergoing the procedure to see if they are at risk for inherited diseases. But while federal law bars employers and health insurers from seeking the results, insurers can still use them in all but three states when considering applications for life, disability and long-term care coverage. Should insurance companies be barred from seeing genetic information when considering those policies so people can get the tests without fear that the results would be used against them? Read more...

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