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The USA is the most corrupt country in the world and I have 10,000 posts that point heavily to that fact…

Guatemala STD report urges care December 16, 2011

Hundreds of people were infected with syphilis bacteria during the experiments

A US bioethics panel says victims harmed by future research should be compensated, after revelations of abuse in a US-funded programme in Guatemala.

It said agencies involved in research should be more transparent, though they were protected by federal ethics rules.

Some 1,300 Guatemalans were infected with sexually-transmitted diseases without their knowledge in the 1940s.

Eighty-three people died during the research, prompting President Barack Obama to demand an investigation.

In commissioning the report, Mr Obama said what happened in Guatemala was a “sobering reminder of past abuses”.

“The Commission is confident that what happened in Guatemala in the 1940s could not happen today”, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethics Issues chairwoman Amy Gutmann said in a statement.

But there was a “strong ethical case” for compensating people injured in future research, she said.

‘Dark chapter’

In its final report, the bioethics panel said current regulations should be able to protect the rights and welfare of subjects.

But many federal offices “could not provide basic data about the research they support”, it said.

The report highlight problems at the Pentagon, which it said took seven months to prepare information on specific studies it supported.

“There is still a need for more transparency and public access to information about federally supported human subjects research,” Dr Gutmann said.

The report makes 14 specific recommendations to agencies, but notes that similar recommendations made over the past 20 years have resulted in “no clear response” from the federal government.

Earlier this year, the same commission officially condemned the Guatemalan research, calling it a “dark chapter of our medical history”.

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In DC, knowledge is not only power – it’s money, too | Ana Marie Cox November 20, 2011



CBS’s 60 Minutes report on insider trading by members of Congress. Video: CBS

It’s hardly the most important question that comes to mind when reviewing the evidence of congressmen buying and selling stock based on their knowledge of upcoming legislation, but I confess it’s the riddle that fascinates me the most: what counts as “inside information” in DC? When corruption is as rampant as this behavior clearly was, does it even count as corruption?

Knowing something that others don’t know is Washington’s chief currency. Such knowledge is hardly even a underground economy, the informational equivalent of an open-air drug market, “The Wire’s” third season without the cops. DC denizens are loath to blow the whistle on untoward profit off of private knowledge because to do so would be an admission that they’re not a part of the deal – in Washington, “everyone knows” is often code for “I don’t want to admit I haven’t heard myself.”

I think this is why the evidence of insider trading uncovered by the Hoover Institution and CBS, as rife as it clearly was (is?), never raised alarms or eyebrows: who wants be the square at the party?

Steve Croft, the anchor of the “60 Minutes” segment on the scandal, at one point asks former Rep Brian Baird about the paltry six co-sponsors he and Rep Louise Slaughter got for a bill that would outlaw trading on non-public information. That’s not a lot of support, Croft observed. Replied Baird: “It’s not, Steve. You … you could have … ‘National Cherry Pie Week’ and get 100 co-sponsors.”

And, of course, 300 congressmen buying stone fruit futures.

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BofA Said to Split Regulators Over Moving Merrill Derivatives to Bank Unit October 20, 2011


October 19, 2011

by legitgov

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BofA Said to Split Regulators Over Moving Merrill Derivatives to Bank Unit 18 Oct 2011 Bank of America Corp., hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. The Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. disagree over the transfers, which are being requested by counterparties, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The Fed has signaled that it favors moving the derivatives to give relief to the bank holding company, while the FDIC, which would have to pay off depositors in the event of a bank failure, is objecting, said the people. The bank doesn’t believe regulatory approval is needed, said people with knowledge of its position.

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McChrystal: after 10 years, Afghan war only half done October 7, 2011

The US began the war in Afghanistan with a “frighteningly simplistic” view of the country and even 10 years later lacks the knowledge that could help bring the conflict to a successful end, a former top commander has said.

Retired US army general Stanley McChrystal said in remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations that the US and its Nato allies were only “a little better than” 50% of the way to reaching their war goals.

Of the remaining tasks to be accomplished, he said, the most difficult may be to create a legitimate government that ordinary Afghans could believe in and that could serve as a counterweight to the Taliban.

McChrystal, who commanded coalition forces in 2009-10 and was forced to resign in a flap over a magazine article, said the US entered Afghanistan in October 2001 with too little knowledge of Afghan culture.

“We didn’t know enough and we still don’t know enough,” he said. “Most of us, me included, had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years.”

US forces did not know the country’s languages and did not make “an effective effort” to learn them, he said.

McChrystal said the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq less than two years after entering Afghanistan made the Afghan effort more difficult.

“I think they were made more difficult, clearly,” he said, because the Iraq invasion “changed the Muslim world’s view of America’s effort. When we went after the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 there was a certain understanding that we had the ability and the right to defend ourselves and the fact that al-Qaida had been harboured by the Taliban was legitimate.

“I think when we made the decision to go into Iraq that was less legitimate” in the eyes of much of the Muslim world, he said. Iraq also diverted military resources that could have been put to good use in Afghanistan, he said.

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AP sources: Christie soon to decide on primary run October 1, 2011


October 1, 2011

by legitgov

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AP sources: Christie soon to decide on primary run 30 Sep 2011 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is reconsidering his decision to stay out of the race for the White House in 2012 and is expected to make a decision soon, according to several people close to the governor with knowledge of his thinking. Christie has long said he won’t run in 2012. But those close to the first-term governor, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, say he is rethinking his hard stance.

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Why Math and Science Education Means More Jobs September 27, 2011

Look what we take for granted in our everyday lives: the Internet and cellphones, MRI scanners and microwave ovens, FM radio and transistorized hearing aids, lasers at the checkout counter, and cancer treatments made from bacteria we’ve programmed for benevolence. All these American innovations and thousands more come to us from science, mathematics, engineering, and technology—no, let’s rephrase that: They came to us from people schooled in those disciplines and from people associated with them who supplied the entrepreneurial energies and capital that the scientist, engineer, and technologist may have lacked.

[Read Mort Zuckerman and other U.S. News columnists in U.S. News Weekly, now available on the iPad.]

The men and women who will make America’s tomorrow are in school and college today. They are the human capital at the core of any productive economy. And here’s a fact about them. There are too few of these people in the scientific disciplines. America, the leader, now lags.

The National Academies, the nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on science and technology, warned years ago that the United States would continue to lose ground to foreign economic rivals unless the quality of its math and science education were improved. The experts reported last year that among 29 wealthy countries, the United States ranked 27th in the proportion of college students with degrees in science and engineering. And among developed countries, the United States ranks 31st in math and 23rd in science, not to mention the achievement gap between low-income and minority students and their peers. American 12th graders were near the bottom of students from 20 nations assessed in advanced math and physics. Large parts of our student population are literally being deprived of a top-notch education.

[Search our rankings of the nation's best high schools for math and science.]

A highly educated and skilled labor force is what drives innovation and production. But think also of the individuals and what they can derive through upward mobility, income growth for families, and access to opportunity. As the nation shifts into a new, non-industrial economy, we will need a well-trained, technically competent workforce to manage and staff the science and technology businesses that create the high-paying jobs.

Our future depends on the strength of our scientific spine. Spelled out, it’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM, as it has become known. The skills derived from a STEM education are the mission-critical elements of the jobs of tomorrow, for they are directly linked to economic productivity and competitive products.

[Explore the U.S. News STEM Education Center.]

The National Academies are urging the government to take action on several fronts: Early childhood education should be improved, public school math and science curriculums should be strengthened, with vastly more teacher training in these areas, and both the government and colleges should provide more financial and academic support to students who excel in STEM.

The Academies want to increase the number of qualified math and science teachers by 10,000 annually. Why? Because 15 years of research has shown that of everything within the control of a school, the factor with the most effect on learning is the quality and effectiveness of teachers. So if we want our students to better understand math and science, we must also find ways to improve our teachers’ knowledge of these subjects. This means we are going to have to rethink the process of recruiting, evaluating, and supporting these kinds of teachers. Recent studies indicate that about 30 percent of high school math students and 60 percent of those in the physical sciences are taught by instructors who either did not major in the subject or are not certified to teach it. As Yolie Flores, CEO of the Communities for Teaching Excellence and a former school board member in Los Angeles, has pointed out: How can we expect our students to master the content when their teachers may not have mastered it? When they can’t even prepare lessons in the subject because they lack a background of knowledge in it? It is critical to develop STEM teachers with a deep knowledge of content and understanding of the pedagogy.

There are a variety of programs we must push. For example, there is real potential in the idea of a “Master Teacher Corps” that recognizes and rewards strong instructors in the STEM fields. There is also a proposal from White House advisers to create more STEM-focused schools. Notable is a nonprofit program called Math for America, founded by James Simons, an award-winning mathematician who went on to create an enormously successful investment firm. The program has provided funding for bonuses and stipends for high school STEM teachers. The MacArthur Foundation has given out prizes to developers of video games that encourage learning science and math. Cable TV’s Science Channel airs several hours of science programming so that students have a ready means to learn more about it in their after-school hours.

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There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Investing September 15, 2011

Scott Holsopple

Checking in on what your peers are doing is commonplace today. You have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and plenty of other social media sites to keep you up to date on what your friends, family, and acquaintances are doing, where they are going, and the latest articles they are reading. If you use Mint.com, you can even see how your peers are spending their money, and how you stack up against spending in other states.

[In Pictures: 6 Numbers Every Investor Should Follow.]

Using the information from peers is a great way to get ideas to help you with your own personal finance quest. You may find budgeting sites or helpful studies that can set you on a path to success. Possibly, because of the popularity of sharing and social media, more retirement plan providers are including peer data in their communication to boost participation and savings rates.

But does the knowledge of what your peers are doing with their finances hurt decision making, specifically when it comes to retirement saving?

Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research on the effects of peer intervention in retirement savings behavior between union and non-unionized groups indicates that knowing what your coworkers are doing doesn’t always provide positive results. In this particular study, they conclude that while one group responded positively to knowledge about how peers were saving and increased savings rates slightly, another group had the opposite reaction and decreased their savings rates when presented with information about their peers.

[See 6 Features of a Good 401(k) Plan.]

Does seeing how you compare to your peers make you want to change your retirement saving behaviors? Well, if it gets you thinking about your own situation—great! If it makes you take stock of your goals and your strategy to reach those goals—even better! If after all that thinking you take action and change behaviors to reach goals specific to you, then having information on your peers has provided a positive benefit to your planning efforts. However, if knowing what your coworkers are doing initiates copycat behavior, or even worse, a negative reaction, then it’s not beneficial for you.

Making decisions about your financial well-being based off what everyone else is doing is not actively engaging in the retirement planning effort. While this follow-the-leader attitude is easy, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to investing. Just because your coworker is doing something, it does not mean that same thing will work for you.

Instead of falling into a trap that has you just doing what your peers are doing when it comes to retirement planning, break from the pack by evaluating your own needs. Start the process by deciding on your goals, and then build a plan around those goals. Use peer information as a gauge, but not as the plan. While the majority of your coworkers may have decided to set their contribution rate at the company match, your needs may vary greatly. Even though 6 percent of salary may be the most popular contribution rate for participants in your work place, 6 percent may not help you reach your goals.

[See 50 Best Funds for the Everyday Investor.]

If you need help choosing your contribution rate, use a savings calculator to determine the percentage that will best help you reach your goals and determine how it will affect your paycheck. Take the extra few minutes to make sure the most popular choice is also the right choice for your particular scenario. If it isn’t, maybe you’ll be the new trendsetter for the group. Going with the most popular choice may be easy, but that choice may fall short of what you need for your long-term plan.

Scott Holsopple is the president and CEO of Smart401k, offering easy-to-use, cost effective 401(k) advice and solutions for the every-day investor. His advice has been featured on various news outlets including FOX Business, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Keep tabs on Scott on Twitter and Facebook

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