Monday, January 31, 2011

Giving grew in 2010; more expected in ‘11 | Philanthropy Journal

PJ staff report | January 31, 2011

Charitable giving in the U.S. grew 6.6 percent in 2010 after falling an unprecedented 5.7 percent in 2009, and is expected to grow another 2.5 percent in 2011, a new report says.

Giving totaled $323.86 billion in 2010 and is expected to total $331.96 billion in 2011, says the Atlas of Giving.

Published by Philanthromax and based on a mathematical formula that uses economic and demographic data, the Index says giving grew every month of the year in 2010, although the rate of growth tapered off in the final five months of the year.

Monthly growth in giving in 2010, compared to the same month a year earlier, ranged from a high of 9.3 percent in April to a low of 4.8 percent in September,

Giving was expected to slip 0.4 percent to $28.2 billion in January 2011 from December 2010, a total that represents an increase of 6.9 percent from January 2010.

Giving in 2011 was expected to continue to grow every month through August, compared to the same month a year ago, then decline every month through December.

Charitable giving in 2010 varied considerably by organization, the report says, with nonprofits that rely on major gifts, corporate giving, foundation grants and bequests to generate significant income faring better than groups that depend on smaller gifts from individuals.

Donor-advised funds posted a record year in additional contributions, new accounts and distributed gifts.

And online giving was "exceptionally strong," Philanthromax says.

The main driver of the growth in 2010 was strong stock-market performance, with the S&P index gaining over 15 percent for the year, the report says.

But it says the rebound was limited by factors such as high unemployment and the economic impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"The impact of unemployment on giving is far-reaching and long-lasting, Rob Mitchell, CEO of Philanthromax, says in a statement.

"In addition to the obvious limitations associated with loss of income," he says, "once individuals again become employed, there are typically accumulated financial responsibilities such as credit-card debt and essential purchases that have been deferred due to job loss."

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Teach for America Application Deadline Friday, February 4

s 2:37 PM (10 minutes ago)

Teach For America is hiring exceptional recent college graduates and professionals - of all majors, backgrounds, and career interests - who commit to teach for two years in our nation's most disadvantaged communities.  As a teacher, you will be paid a full salary, receive a comprehensive health insurance package along with full retirement benefitsan AmeriCorps education award to cover teacher certification costs or to pay student loansand you will be eligible for no-interest loans and grants for relocation.  

Teach For America is committed to eliminating the inequities between high income and low income students in the United States. To date, 8,200 corps members are teaching in 39 regionsacross the country, while over 20,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity.

Hear what Patricia Leon-Guerrero, a Teach For America alumna, says about her experience in the corps:

   “In our country today, Latino 4th graders growing up in low-income communities are already three grade levels behind their high-income peers, and by 12th grade they are five times less likely than their Caucasian peers to score proficient or above in science.  As a corps member, I was able to help change this. The experience and opportunities Teach For America provided, made this one of the most important and rewarding experiences in my life. Not only was I able to pave the inroads for future Hispanic leaders, but I was able to do so without being worried about my financial situation and getting off my career track. I would encourage you to apply now and be a part of the movement to impact the lives of the thousands of children who, without you will not be given the chance to get to where you are today.”

Patricia Leon-Guerrero
Las Vegas Valley Corps ‘04

 FINAL Application Deadline: Friday, February 4th, 2011

You have the ability to change the lives of our Latino students and ensure that they will receive the quality education that they deserve, while not compromising your career trajectory. Teach For America was recently named one of Fortune’ top 100 best places to work in 2011Take the first step to this life-changing experience by applying now to the 2011 Teach For America corps.

For more information about this opportunity, please contact Patricia Leon-Guerrero:
Mobile: 512.569.2140 Email:

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On economy, Obama takes a new role: cheerleader

He used to tour the country touting all the bills he had signed into law. But now, often with safety goggles covering his eyes, President Obama has become the host of what feels like a looping infomercial on American innovation.

There he was in North Carolina championing "biotechnology firms that are churning out jobs and businesses and life-saving discoveries." In New York, they were the "unbelievably impressive" turbines and generators being produced at a General Electric plant. In Wisconsin, the lighting fixtures that were "a model for the future."

Every once in a while on his roadshow tour of American factories, the Harvard-trained lawyer hints at the obvious: He doesn't know much about what he's just seen.

"As I was walking through the plant, you guys had put up some handy signs. So I knew what I was looking at," he joked in New York earlier this month.

In this new stage of his presidency, Obama, once derided as anti-business, has adopted a different tone: cheerleader.

The events are part of a shift in the Obama administration's handling of the sluggish economy. With the stimulus bill, the tax package that Congress approved in December and numerous incentives to encourage hiring that were in legislation over the last two years, the administration has already put in place many of its policies to spur economic growth. Republicans say those provisions largely haven't worked.

Voters still rank the economy as their top concern in public opinion polls. So instead mostly promoting major legislation, Obama is hitting the road to rave about companies, schools and people who are creating jobs, trying to show he has a vision for improving the American economy.

He will visit State College, Pa., on Wednesday to highlight a project there to make buildings more energy efficient, and administration officials will be at events around the country this week to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

"About 10 years ago, Neal had an idea," Obama said last week in Wisconsin, referring to Neal Verfuerth, president of Orion Energy Systems, a company that creates energy efficient technology. "He calls it his epiphany. It was around 2:30 in the morning, but Neal hopped in his car and drove to the factory in Plymouth. It was one of those moments when the future couldn't wait until the morning. And he grabbed whatever tools he could find -- a couple of two-by-fours and broom handles."

Obama added, "So he started tinkering around until an engineer showed up. And what Neal had come up with was one of Orion's signature innovations -- a new lighting fixture that produced twice the light with half the energy."

To be sure, the administration has planned more legislation to boost the economy. The White House's proposals for the federal budget, which will be released next month, are expected to include increases in funding for biomedical research and incentives for companies that work on especially clean energy technology.

The president has long endorsed new technologies , making several stops at plants that produce electric car batteries in his first two years in office. But he used many of those visits to tout legislation such as the stimulus, or claim credit for its passage.

Now, Obama's new theme of "winning the future" includes not only the government's role in improving the country's economy, but that of businesses, colleges and other private entities.

For the unemployment rate to drop, Obama needs companies to start hiring more employees and schools to retrain people to fill jobs they aren't currently prepared for.

But whether presidential visits to factories will help persuade businesses to begin hiring again, the administration also has other goals in mind.

Obama says the trips help him interact with everyday Americans. But it's hard to imagine how: He usually arrives at a carefully selected factory in a swing state that produces an environmentally friendly product. He goes on a tour with the plant manager or chief executive, poses for pictures with a few workers and then heads to the stage to give his formal remarks. He was on the ground at a factory in Upstate New York earlier this month for less than three hours.

For the administration, however, the events communicate another message: The president cares about the economy, and you can tell because he's standing beside a huge white generator, peering closely at the technology and greeting one of the workers producing it. These images emerge on the front page of the next day's local paper with quotes from an enthusiastic commander-in-chief.

"I wanted to come to Orion. Orion is a leader in solar power and energy-efficient technology," Obama said. "Plus, the plant is just very cool."

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Investing In Development: The Unreasonable Institute Empowers the Public to Choose the  Next Wave of High‐Impact Social Entrepreneurs 

Next Wave of High‐Impact Social Entrepreneurs FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Unreasonable Institute Empowers the Public to Choose the Next Wave of High‐Impact Social Entrepreneurs Global donations will determine which entrepreneurs gain admission to esteemed mentorship program BOULDER, Colo. –– Starting Jan. 20, 45 social entrepreneurs will showcase their ventures in an online platform called the Unreasonable Finalist Marketplace ( For 50 days, people from around the world are invited to vote with their wallets on the most viable ventures. The first 25 of the 45 finalists to raise $8,000 in the Marketplace will earn access to the highly acclaimed six‐week mentorship program at the Unreasonable Institute. At the Institute, these social entrepreneurs undergo rigorous training sessions, including personal and entrepreneurial skill development, intensive workshops and hands‐on guidance from leading thought leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors. The 45 finalists were selected from more than 300 applicants in 60 countries. Each applicant had to present a financially self‐sustaining venture that has the ability to scale to serve the needs of at least 1 million people and demonstrates customer validation through sales or pilots. The finalists this year include a Chinese engineer with a prototype for waterless composting toilets; a 2010 CNN Hero from Kenya who has distributed over 10,000 solar lanterns; and an American inventor with a water purification system that can roll up to the size of a ruler. “A huge part of being a truly exceptional entrepreneur is to be able to rally excitement and support for your idea,” said Daniel Epstein, founding president of the Unreasonable Institute. “The Marketplace tests these entrepreneurs’ ability to do just that and, in the form of public support garnered, offers a real‐time measure of success.” In order to enhance the challenge, the Unreasonable Institute has imposed contribution caps, starting with $10 in week one and increasing incrementally. In addition to preventing single underwriters from providing full funding, the caps force finalists to mobilize the support of hundreds of people from around the world, mandating creative marketing, effective storytelling and the power of social media to garner support for their ideas. In 2010, the inaugural year of the Unreasonable Institute, entrepreneurs raised over $160,000 in the Marketplace from nearly 3,000 supporters across 130 countries. “We believe that absolutely everyone can make an impact, and the Marketplace is a manifestation of that belief,” continued Epstein. “We encourage people to visit the Marketplace and leave their mark on the world, whether it is through a Facebook post, watching a video or donating $10 to an entrepreneur whose idea struck a chord.” Donors have an opportunity to test out their own social marketing savvy through a gaming element: a donor receives one point for every dollar contributed and two points for every dollar that is contributed as a result of sharing their vote via social media. Top point earners receive prize bundles from HP, which has come on board this year as the Unreasonable Institute’s first corporate partner and as part of the company’s longstanding support of entrepreneurship. In addition to the prizes, HP is contributing a scholarship fund for the entrepreneurs and providing technology through which the entrepreneurs can tell their stories and ideas. “HP believes in the transformative power of technology and entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s largest social issues,” said Wayne Surdam, vice president of Media and Influencer Relations, Personal Systems Group, HP. “The Unreasonable Marketplace is an incredible platform for high‐impact social entrepreneurs to scale their ideas and connect with the world." The 25 winning entrepreneurs become Unreasonable Fellows and, during the mentor program, will learn from, work alongside, and live with 60 mentors from a range of industries including venture capital, international development, social enterprise and marketing. Among the exceptional mentors and partners are Greg Miller, co‐founder of; David Bornstein, author of “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas"; Libby Cook, co‐founder of Wild Oats; Tom Reilly, head of TED Fellows; and Bob Pattillo, founder of Gray Ghost Capital and First Light Ventures. In addition, the entrepreneurs will have a chance to build relationships with 30 globally recognized impact investment funds, such as Acumen Fund, Good Capital and Echoing Green, and pitch prospective investors. Last year, 60 percent of the Unreasonable Fellows seeking funding received capital for their ventures shortly after the end of the Institute. How can you take part and make a change? Visit the Marketplace at Read the stories of the entrepreneurs and learn about their ventures Donate to the ventures that get you most excited Share your vote via the email, Twitter (use #givewings) and Facebook links from the entrepreneur’s profile page ### About Unreasonable Institute Unreasonable Institute is a mentor‐intensive accelerator for startup entrepreneurs hungry to tackle the world’s greatest social and environmental problems. Founded in 2010, the Unreasonable Institute annually unites 25 high‐impact entrepreneurs from around the world in Boulder, Colo. for six weeks. During that time, the entrepreneurs live and work with 60 world‐class mentors, pitch their ventures to hundreds of investors in San Francisco and Boulder, obtain legal advice and design consulting, form relationships with up to 30 impact investment funds, and prepare to launch financially self‐sustaining, globally scalable ventures that can serve the needs of at least 1 million people. Contact: Teju Ravilochan Unreasonable Institute Co‐Founder 303‐589‐2144 Posted by Christina at 10:00 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Google Buzz Labels: social entrepreneurship, Unreasonable Institute

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What’s Silently Super About This Bowl? A Tribute To The Rooneys And Tony Dungy - SportsMoney - news on the business of sports - Forbes

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 30:  NFL Commissioner Rog...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The first Super Bowl was in 1967, almost a half century ago. Back then we watched black and white television, satisfied with our three commercial channels and one public station. We were using typewriters, where the state of the art way to correct a typo was to backspace and put a strip of white paper behind the key and retype the word. And in some parts of the country it was still a challenge to rid ourselves of “whites only” signage. In other parts, the sign was invisible but ever present.

There was never a physical sign that said “Whites Only Coaches in the Super Bowl.” Yet for the first four decades of its existence, that is the way it was. I am reminded of the saying “We didn’t know how good baseball could be until we let everybody play.” It is just another application, albeit through sports, of a broader ideal we proudly claim as what makes us special in the world – letting people’s abilities rather than their privileges determine the level of participation. In such a country, its citizenry can elect a president from modest means, be he from Little Rock Arkansas or from a biracial family. And thanks to the efforts of Dan Rooney, an older white owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers with a good heart, the Rooney Rule that he authored while NFL chair of diversity, and its progeny in the name of Tony Dungy, the ideal has had application in professional football.

The Rooney Rule was established by the NFL in December 2002, requiring that teams at least interview minorities for head coaching positions, or face adverse consequences. And although there was a huge loophole because a team could have a “coach in waiting” and completely avoid the process, and although the repercussions were more like a hand slap (Detroit Lions with a $50,000 fine), it was still progress consistent with the ideal.

It is no coincidence that only after that rule was established did any critical mass of minority interviews and head coach hiring occur. And it is no coincidence that one of the reasons the Steelers has been one of the most successful franchises in the history of the sport during the Rooney ownership (father then son) is due to their collective ability to judge the content of the character of its players and coaches without first filtering out candidates based on non-football criteria. Tony Dungy was a free agent selection of that same owner during the whites-only coaching phase of the sport. And I fully suspect that the Rooneys had already posted Dungy as Exhibit A to convince the NFL and fellow whites-only owners that the good ole boy principle had to make room for the ideal: a decision based on the content of character and ability over the privileges of the past. And it was the Rooneys that hired Mike Tomlin as their current coach for their own team.

It is also no coincidence that Dungy had the maturity and judgment not to squander the opportunity. During his tenure as Tampa Bay’s head coach, Dungy hired Mike Tomlin while Tomlin was still obscured as an assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati. Tomlin in 2009 became the youngest coach in NFL history to lead a team to a Super Bowl, and a win to boot. Dungy also hired Lovie Smith over a decade ago, who Dungy coached against in the 2007 Super Bowl. And Dungy also hired Jim Caldwell, a coach groomed by Dungy as his replacement with the Indianapolis Colts. Caldwell coached his team to the 2010 Super Bowl. So in the last four Super Bowls, half of the coaches have been African Americans, all of which are either Tony Dungy himself or his coaching progeny. And by the way, the current Tampa Bay head coach, Raheem Morris, surprised the experts by his ability at the tender age of 34 to take the Buccaneers beyond expectations in his first two years at the helm.  He gained his opportunity while under the tutelage of Mike Tomlin, then defensive backs coach with the Bucs.

But this is not a beat-your-chest memo on the superiority of African American head coaches (although a study by University of Pennsylvania scholars using data from the NFL and Sports Illustrated conclude that African American coaches outperformed their counterparts).[1] Rather, this is a tribute to the Rooneys, the NFL owners who voted for the Rooney Rule, those owners who hired Dungy, and Dungy with other enlightened coaches, all of whom prioritized a principle of equal opportunity over the status quo good ole boy network. And it is a perspective on progress. It is an observation that perhaps sports is a vehicle for human dynamics beyond what happens on the field.  Many times outside of sports affirmative action is decried as being an unfair opportunity instead of using merit, (inexplicably somehow different from legacy admissions privileges). These recent Super Bowl observations provide some precedent not often reported and rarely publicized highly: that at least the Rooney Rule through the NFL has worked the way affirmative action was intended – as a means of first recognizing that due to historical biases not everyone is starting from the same place in the opportunity analysis, and that if we truly want to get to a point of letting abilities lead the way, then frankly something has to be done to eradicate the baggage that created the inequality.  And that unfortunately required some owners to be forced with the possibility of adverse financial consequence unless they at least talk to some potential head coaches they otherwise would not.

To finally get a state of a relatively equal of coaching opportunities, the NFL had the political savvy to use the term “Rooney Rule” instead of the incendiary term “Affirmative Action”. They thereby minimized some of the emotional knee-jerk reactions that block our reasoning skills. And as long as we use a rather benign term, I would think most fair-minded and astute observers of the NFL would agree that African Americans did not just start being able to think X’s and O’s like coaches in 2007.  All that was needed is NFL leadership to influence those who dole out the opportunity to coach.  The definition of “opportunity” here is not some talisman that drops out of the sky to anoint someone without coaching skills an instant head coach position. No one is advocating that. The opportunity is for the chance to learn the craft, including the earned opportunity to be an offensive or defensive coordinator and the evolution thereafter.  Perhaps now we can say, in the NFL Super Bowls at least, “We didn’t know how good coaching could be until we let everybody coach”.

[1] See, Janice Madden, Matthew Ruther, Has the NFL’s Rooney Rule Efforts “Leveled the Field” for African American Head Coach Candidates?, (July 15, 2010).

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Title page for ETD etd-05082008-131819

States Help Ex-Convicts Find Jobs

States Help Ex-Inmates Find Jobs Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times Candice Ellison, a New Yorker who spent two and a half years in prison for assault, has applied for scores of jobs in the last six months, to no avail. By STEVEN GREENHOUSE Published: January 24, 2011 RECOMMEND TWITTER COMMENTS (40) E-MAIL PRINT REPRINTS SHARE Faced with yawning budget gaps and high unemployment, California, Michigan, New York and several other states are attacking both problems with a surprising strategy: helping ex-convicts find jobs to keep them from ending up back in prison. Enlarge This Image Stephen McGee for The New York Times Robert Satterfield, who was released from jail two years ago, turned to a nonprofit job placement program and found work with Premier Finishing in Grand Rapids, Mich. Readers' Comments Readers shared their thoughts on this article. Read All Comments (40) » The approach is backed by prisoner advocates as well as liberal and conservative government officials, who say it pays off in cold, hard numbers. Michigan, for example, spends $35,000 a year to keep someone in prison — more than the cost of educating a University of Michigan student. Through vigorous job placement programs and prudent use of parole, state officials say they have cut the prison population by 7,500, or about 15 percent, over the last four years, yielding more than $200 million in annual savings. Michigan spends $56 million a year on various re-entry programs, including substance abuse treatment and job training. “We had a $2 billion prison budget, and if you look at the costs saved by not having the system the size it was, we save a lot of money,” said Patricia Caruso, who was Michigan’s corrections commissioner from 2003 through 2010. “If we spend some of that $2 billion on something else — like re-entry programs — and that results in success, that’s a better approach.” All told, the 50 states and the federal government spend $69 billion a year to house two million prisoners, prompting many budget cutters to see billions in potential savings by trimming the prison population. Each year, more than 600,000 inmates are released nationwide, but studies show that two-thirds are re-arrested within three years. “An exorbitant amount of money is dedicated to incarcerating people,” said Nancy La Vigne, director of the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “There are ways you can go about reducing the number of people incarcerated. The best way to help them successfully integrate into society and become independent, law-abiding citizens is to make sure they get a job.” Pushed by faith-based organizations and helped by federal stimulus money, California, Michigan, New York and other states expanded jobs programs in recent years to give prisoners a second chance and to reduce recidivism. The nation’s overall jobless rate is 9.4 percent, but various studies have found unemployment rates of 50 percent or higher for former prisoners nine months or a year after their release. Many states remain enthusiastic about the re-entry programs, but in a few states facing deficits, like Kansas, officials are cutting them back, partly because of the curtailment of federal stimulus dollars that helped finance them. “There’s a lot of national momentum to expand strategies to reduce recidivism, and a lot of that is focusing on connecting people to jobs,” said Michael Thompson, director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a research organization for state policy makers. “At the same time, some states that want to accomplish those goals are concerned about cutting money where they can and are putting some of these programs on the chopping block.” Brian Vork, executive director of 70 Times 7 Life Recovery, a faith-based nonprofit in Holland, Mich., that helped place 60 former prisoners into jobs last year, said he had seen firsthand what a difference a job can make. His organization, whose name refers to a biblical passage in which Jesus speaks of how many times to forgive sinners, has set up a construction company — part apprenticeship program, part life-skills mentor — that allows him to size up the offenders who participate. “You get some people who really want to change, and then you get some people who want all the bad things to stop happening to them regardless of their behavior,” Mr. Vork said. “What makes it all worthwhile is when you see the light bulb go off in some people.” Take Robert Satterfield, 46, who spent five and a half years in prison on embezzlement and other charges. After being released, he spent several fruitless months searching for work and then turned to 70 Times 7 for guidance and training. Mr. Vork recommended him to Premier Finishing, a metalworking company with 16 employees. Premier’s owner, Andy Ribbens, said the six former inmates working for him were among his best employees. “These guys will do whatever it takes,” he said. “Maybe they had their come-to-Jesus moment in prison: ‘If I ever get out of here, I don’t want to ever go back.’ Their attitude is second to none, although it’s not every ex-offender.” Mr. Satterfield is grateful for his second chance. He has received several raises since being hired 16 months ago, with his pay jumping to $13 an hour from $9. “I feel blessed that this company is willing to give me a chance,” he said. “I’m giving back now. I’m part of the taxpaying rolls. I don’t like paying taxes, but I prefer that to being on food stamps.” In New York, the state and city are channeling money to groups like America Works and the Center for Employment Opportunities to train and place offenders, while Illinois is sending money to the Safer Foundation in Chicago. Assisted by federal stimulus funds, several states have provided employers with wage subsidies — up to $2,500 in New York’s case — if they hire an offender for at least six months. With 170,000 inmates, California is under orders from a federal judge to reduce its prison population by about 25,000 because of severe overcrowding. That has many Californians worried that a flood of newly released inmates will cause crime to spike. Jerry Brown, the governor of California, has proposed expanding county job-placement programs for former inmates as part of a broader move to shift more state prisoners to county jails. Meanwhile, federal support is drying up. Three years ago, under President George W. Bush, Congress passed the Second Chance Act in a bipartisan vote. It gave states money for re-entry programs, including $100 million in the year that ended last September. While no federal budget has yet been passed for this fiscal year, the Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to cut funding to $50 million. “The reality is many of these programs are disappearing,” said Joan Petersilia, a Stanford law professor and an adviser to Mr. Brown on criminal justice matters. While state officials and prisoner advocates argue that these job programs for prisoners are worth the investment, the efforts sometimes face angry resistance. “We often hear, why on earth should we want to help these guys, and where is the help for my son and daughter who haven’t done anything wrong?” said Pat Nolan, a former Republican leader of the California State Assembly who served prison time for taking bribes and is now vice president of the Prison Fellowship, a Christian ministry to prisoners. “I don’t think there should be a preference for someone with a record, but there shouldn’t be a permanent black mark against them either, unless we want to condemn them to life on the margins of society and elicit the behavior that leads to.” Glenn E. Martin, vice president with the Fortune Society, a Manhattan group that helps offenders find jobs, said that persistently high unemployment had made placing former inmates even more challenging. “You have many more people in the labor market who are overqualified, and that makes it much more competitive for our people,” he said. Candice Ellison, 22, a New Yorker who spent two and a half years in prison for assault, has applied for scores of jobs in the last six months, to no avail. She has turned to the Fortune Society, and it has helped her buy interview clothes and coached her on how to discuss her conviction with prospective employers. “Some of my high school friends say it’s not that hard to get a job, but for people like me with a criminal background, it’s like 20 times harder,” she said. A version of this article appeared in print on January 25, 2011, on page B1 of the New York edition.

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The World in 2030 - Honatos's posterous

11 Predictions for the World in 2030 That May Sound Outrageous Today but not in the Future.

1. By 2030, learning a second language will no longer be necessary.

A tiny computer that fits in your ear, and translates what you hear into your own language? It’s not farfetched at all. In fact, all the requisite technology exists today, and all that’s missing is for someone to connect the dots.

2. By 2030, thousands, perhaps millions, of people will have a life expectancy of 150 years.

Aubrey de Grey says: I think we have a 50% chance of achieving medicine capable of getting people to 200 in the decade 2030-2040. Presuming we do indeed do that, the actual achievement of 200 will probably be in the decade 2140-2150 - it will be someone who was about 85-90 at the time that the relevant therapies were developed.

3. By 2030, only 2% of the world's population will live in extreme poverty.

The eradication of extreme poverty will happen in our lifetime. In 1990, 42% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.25 (constant 2000 dollars, PPP). In 2005, that number had fallen to 25%. The UN estimates that by 2020, only 10% of world citizens will live in absolute poverty. My bold estimate is that by 2030, only one in 50 will.

4. By 2030, the best food will be grown in skyscrapers.

Soil-based agriculture is so passé. Nothing short of an agricultural revolution is underway, spurred on by visionary Dr. Dickson Despommier of Columbia University. His plan is to build 30-story greenhouses in cities around the world, which will allow us to produce more food, for less money, in a healthier way, while freeing up arable land for nature. 

5. By 2030, driverless cars will be commonplace.

I'm sure you've dreamed it: Getting into a car, kicking your shoes off and leaning back with a good movie and a cold beer while your self-driven car takes you safely to your destination, without your having to worry about directions or pedestrians. Well, the technology we need to make that car  exists. 

6. By 2030, 18 cities will have more than 20 million inhabitants, and New York City will be the 16th largest city in the world.

I actually think this is a conservative estimate. Although global population is increasing at a staggering pace, the world's cities have an ever higher growth rate. At present, 50% of the world's population live in urban areas, but by 2030 that figure is projected at 60%. And 93% of that urban growth will occur in developing countries.

7. By 2030, automated flying drones will transport humans.

Probably a lot sooner, actually. Developing a well functioning delivery drone network will pave the way for confidence in a practical network of drones delivering people. Humans have notoriously poor navigation skills in three-dimensional environments, so unmanned aerial vehicles seem a safer option than those prone to human error.

8. By 2030, space tourism will be common, and 40,000 humans will be working in orbit.

The Space Island Group, in cooperation with British Airways, is planning to build an international, multi-purpose, commercial space station which, to begin with, will include hotels, research facilities, gourmet restaurants, and sports arenas (for new zero-gravity sports) along with dozens of other uses which can't be imagined today. SIG is but one of a handful of companies working on similar projects.

9. By 2030, most film actors will be out of work due to competition from cheap computer animated actors.

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) technology will enable us to create movies with animated characters so lifelike that they become indistinguishable from humans, rendering actors (in film anyway) obsolete.

10. By 2030, China will have 250 cities with more than one million inhabitants.

Today, 90% of people in the UK and 80% of Americans live in cities, while in China only 46% do. The UK has five urban areas with more than one million inhabitants. The US has 37. China has 90. That's today, and whereas the UK and the US have peaked in terms of urbanization, China is only half-way urbanized. The consultancy firm McKinsey predicts that China will have 220 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants by 2025. 

11. By 2030, a large number of people will have robot lovers.

This is perhaps my boldest prediction.When I ask guys if they’d get a robot girlfriend, most of them intuitively say no. They think robot and they think metal, wires, awkward motions and an empty stare.  I’d say no to that too, if those were my associations with the word robot.  But what if your robot partner looked, felt, sounded and even talked like a human? Robots that are physically indistinguishable from humans are only 15-20 years away.

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Steven Rattner - Slowly but surely, Obama's economic medicine is working

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. President Obama has bounded back from his midterm shellacking with a still more determined effort to convince the American people that he is on top of the unemployment problem.

Not only did "jobs" appear 31 times in his State of the Union address (two more than last year), the White House left little to chance in its pre-speech messaging and spin. Take, for example, a recent account in the New York Times Sunday magazine of the president chastising his (now mostly departed) economic advisers for their lack of specific proposals to attack unemployment.

Please, Mr. President, don't blame the talented economists who were advising you, and as the 2012 reelection campaign commences take care not to launch jobs initiatives that make more political sense than economic sense. Creating jobs is a slow and frustrating process in the wake of a tough recession, particularly this time around, when the downturn was compounded by a financial meltdown. It's difficult to jump-start that process, just as recovery from major surgery takes time.

Amid our national worrying, we shouldn't ignore some hopeful signs. At long last, the arc of the economy has turned decidedly upward. Most every indicator - gross domestic product, retail sales, consumer confidence - reveals an economy gathering momentum and consistency.

Jobs have, no doubt, lagged. When the financial crisis and accompanying recession hit, companies sprinted for their bunkers, slashing both expenses and workforces as buyers for their products melted away. As sales have returned, companies have been bringing back employees gingerly, often relying instead on part-timers and extending hours.

That's understandable. Why, after a near-death experience, would a chief executive quickly start layering on more costs without knowing what revenue might follow? Some companies choose to blame regulatory uncertainty and the policies of the Obama administration for their lack of hiring. But those explanations ring hollow. Every new administration is accompanied by uncertainty, and government oversight of selected sectors such as financial services is hardly a fresh concept.

Perversely, the nagging high jobless rate reflects two of the most promising attributes of the American economy: its flexibility and its productivity. Eliminating jobs - with all the wrenching human costs - raises productivity and, thereby, competitiveness (the president's new favorite word). In the long run, increasing productivity is the only route to superior competitiveness.

And compared with other developed countries, America's productivity record has been stellar. From 2000 to 2009, U.S. output per hour worked grew by a league-leading 20 percent. (Productivity in Germany, by contrast, grew 8 percent.) Unusually, U.S. productivity grew right through the recession; normally, companies can't reduce costs fast enough to keep productivity from falling.

That kind of efficiency is perhaps our most precious economic asset. However tempting it may be, we need to resist tinkering with the labor market. Policy proposals aimed too directly at raising employment may well collaterally end up dragging on productivity. And weak productivity would exacerbate the downward pressure on wages that caused the last decade to be the first in our history in which wages (after adjustment for inflation) declined.

High unemployment need not be a "new normal" for the United States. The historic close relationship between growth and jobs - dented by the force of the downturn - is on the mend. Private-sector hiring has already turned upward, albeit slowly. As business confidence grows, the pace will increase. It will take time - too much time; Obama is likely to be running for reelection against an 8 percent unemployment rate - but it will happen. Politically, as the State of the Union made clear, the president's task is to convince the American people that his administration is part of the solution.

Substantively, government's best possible contribution to employment consists of a one-two punch of stimulating growth in the short run and dealing with budget deficits and massive entitlements obligations in the long run. (Efforts to boost competitiveness, such as through carefully selected new investments and by reining in regulation, are also welcome!)

Thus, a large stimulus program in 2009 was the right medicine, as are the continuing efforts by the Federal Reserve to pump money into the system, much as post-surgery patients receive intravenous feeding.

Painting from a palette dotted with dangerous choices, the president wisely concentrated last week on emphasizing the need to address the long-run deficit, investment and competitiveness. Perhaps appropriately for a State of the Union, his speech lacked specifics on all sides of that triangle.

But we all know that without some combination of higher taxes and addressing the runaway cost of entitlement programs such as Medicare, we can't hope to significantly address the budget deficit. Providing those specifics must be the next step.

Steven Rattner, a co-founder of the investment firm Quadrangle Group, served as counselor to the Treasury secretary and lead auto adviser in the Obama administration. He is the author of "Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry."

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E.J. Dionne Jr. - Can Obama make sense of government?

A cynic might be justified in seeing a call for a sweeping reorganization of the federal government as the last refuge of a politician who doesn't want to ruffle any ideological feathers.

For example, President Obama could have used last week's State of the Union address to propose a ban on those high-capacity gun magazines that made the recent Tucson tragedy so lethal. But doing this would have brought down the wrath of the National Rifle Association. So, sadly, he took a pass.

The president's aides were quick to say he would address the gun issue soon, explaining that Obama didn't want a hot-button issue to divert attention from his theme of "winning the future."

So giving Obama the benefit of the doubt for now on guns, what is one to make of his pledge to build a "21st-century government that's open and competent" and "driven by new skills and new ideas"?

In fact, this emphasis is long overdue. A response of pure skepticism would be a mistake, in part because progressive presidents have more of an interest in improving government's performance than conservatives do. At this moment, the American right's main objective is to reduce the size of government radically, which gives conservatives a stake in proving that government can't do anything competently.

On the other hand, progressives - as Obama's speech showed - have large expectations of government. These can be met only if it performs exceptionally well. And citizens won't see this as a realistic hope unless progressive politicians work hard to make government more efficient, more effective and more responsive.

But this cannot mean just moving around government's boxes, shifting this agency from one place to another, or merging that department with another. Max Stier, president and chief executive of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, likes to cite the Sept. 11 commission report's observation that "the quality of the people" in government is "more important than the quality of the wiring diagrams."

"Washington is a city that likes to focus on the wiring diagram," he said in an interview, because changing the diagram "feels like they're doing something concrete when, actually, they're avoiding the problems."

Above all, Obama needs to build on the efforts he has already begun to fix the micro parts of government. These repairs are more important to success than any macro reorganization plan.

The paradox is that the administration has already taken significant steps to improve the way the government buys things, the way it deploys information technology and the way it hires people. It just hasn't focused much attention on them.

Hiring reform is especially important because the retirement of baby boom-era public servants will require the federal government to bring in new talent. Jeff Zients, who came to the Office of Management and Budget after a private-sector career, has made shortening and modernizing the government's hiring process a top priority.

If Obama does nothing else but win new respect for public service and entice a new generation of talented young Americans to join its ranks, he will have achieved a revolution in government.

Jack Lew, the OMB director, insists the administration is aware that the micro matters. "If we don't continue to make progress in procurement, human resources and IT, it won't be for lack of effort," he said in an interview. He added that the administration has no intention of rushing ahead with a massive and disruptive reorganization of agencies. "The point of this project is to do this in a serious way."

That's good news. The administration is likely to start by concentrating on how government agencies can work together to advance its economic competitiveness agenda. It will move over time to reexamining how other parts of government work - or fail to work - in tandem.

Enacting sweeping legislation, cutting taxes or spending in a big way, enunciating great ambitions: all these get far more attention from the media and from politicians than the tough, grubby and very hard work of implementing programs, hiring people to carry them out and managing (and, yes, inspiring) one of the largest workforces in the world.

Then-Vice President Al Gore defined the core purpose of his Clinton-era "reinventing government" project with great simplicity. "We don't want to get rid of government," he said. "We want it to work better and cost less. We want it to make sense." And this is a goal that still makes sense.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Political News Sites See 2012 as Breakthrough Year

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who is flirting with a bid for president, has none of the usual campaign accoutrements. No tour bus, campaign manager or yard signs. Few Americans, in fact, even know his name. Enlarge This Image Darren Mccollester/Getty Images Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, at a political event last week in Bedford, N.H. Add to Portfolio Barnes & Noble Incorporated Go to your Portfolio » What Mr. Pawlenty does have is a beat reporter from Politico chronicling every utterance and movement of his noncampaign: a 25-year-old named Kendra Marr, who followed him through subzero temperatures last week equipped with a salt-coated Chevrolet Malibu rental, a laptop and a hand-held video camera. The New Hampshire primary is over a year away, and the first major candidate has yet to formally declare. Just don’t tell that to outlets like Politico, Talking Points Memo and RealClearPolitics, which are already planning to smother the 2012 campaign trail in a way they could never have imagined four years ago when they had far smaller staffs of bloggers and shoestring budgets. With an eye toward earning greater respectability, this crop of political Web sites is hoping for more than just page views and traffic-driving links from the Drudge Report. They want to establish themselves as the Blogs on the Bus. “We were a garage band in 2008, riffing on the fly,” said Jim VandeHei, Politico’s executive editor and co-founder. “Now we’re a 200-person production, with a precise feel and plan.” Politico will host, with NBC News and Telemundo, the first debate of the campaign season on May 2, getting a head start on a season of face-offs that is already remarkably busy. (Politico edged ahead of Fox News, which scheduled a debate for May 5.) Politico has nearly tripled its staff since 2008, when it was already a formidable if somewhat overextended presence on the campaign trail. It will start a Web site, 2012 Live, this weekend that will serve as a home for what Mr. VandeHei described as “tons and tons of stories” in addition to the kind of minutiae that Politico believes political enthusiasts can never get enough of — politicians’ daily schedules, county-by-county demographic data in key primary states and historical voting trends. There will be biographies in micro-detail, right down to midlevel state campaign consultants and unelected local political leaders. If you do not know who Rich Ashooh is, you will after reading Politico’s new site. (Hint: he is a lobbyist in New Hampshire who reportedly has “an impressive Rolodex.”) Politico has also developed an interactive map that tracks where candidates have traveled as far back as 2008 and how many visits they have made to a particular state — a feature resembling the Santa Tracker for children on Christmas Eve. If all this sounds as if the question “How much is too much?” has never occurred to Politico, that is because it hasn’t. “There probably is in theory a point where there’s too much,” Mr. VandeHei said. “But we certainly haven’t discovered it.” Politico’s mission in 2012, Mr. VandeHei said, is to carve out an even bigger place in the news media landscape. “We’re trying to take a leap forward in front of everyone else.” Talking Points Memo, a political site that has been around since 2000 but only became a force outside Washington in the last few years, plans to expand its reporting staff to 15 people. In 2008, it had only one full-time reporter and an intern assigned to the campaign. According to the site’s founder, editor and publisher, Josh Marshall, the goal is to create a bigger name for the blog by competing with newcomers like Politico and more traditional news outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times. In the 2004 campaign, Mr. Marshall said, “We were sort of a player.” By 2008, the site had become “a small but significant player,” he said. But now, he said with a sense of pride, “We’ve already got reporters assigned to different campaigns.” “It’s an entirely different game for us.” RealClearPolitics plans to more than double the number of reporters covering the 2012 campaign to at least six and possibly eight, according to John McIntyre, the Web site’s chief executive and co-founder. “We’re going to be putting as many reporters in the field as we can,” Mr. McIntyre said, adding that original reporting “is how we become part of the conversation.” For Web sites like RealClearPolitics and The Huffington Post, which has more than 200 employees now — up from about 60 in 2008 — one big difference in the 2012 election will be their emphasis on original reporting as opposed to aggregation and commentary. Arianna Huffington said her site planned to assign its new crop of employees — many of them just out of college — a healthy menu of political articles through 2012. Add to that the emergence of players that were not around in 2008, like Politics Daily, an AOL enterprise that started in 2009, and the retooled, which until late last year had a small presence online and limited all but a handful of articles to subscribers. Traffic for political news sites tends to rise and fall with the election cycle. But various independent surveys place Politico’s monthly traffic around the 2010 midterm elections at two million to six million people. According to Quantcast, Politico’s traffic from the United States reached just under six million in November and fell to around five million late this month. About 2.6 million people visited RealClearPolitics each month on average, Quantcast estimated, and Talking Points Memo’s traffic averaged about 1.4 million. By comparison, Quantcast estimates that each month about 20 million people visit and about 15 million visit The rise of political sites has tested many traditional news outlets, which must grapple with whether to pursue the kind of micro-scoops and quick-hit articles that political sites specialize in, or ignore them and risk losing readers. “The world wants information quickly and instantly,” said Kevin Merida, national editor for The Washington Post. “In our business, you have to shift to accommodate that. And if readers don’t get what they want where they’re looking, they’ll go someplace else and look.” Ultimately, Mr. Merida said, he believes it is wiser for news organizations like his not to give in to the temptation to keep pace with the supersonic speed of the blogosphere. “That’s what we all have to figure out: how to give people what they want, and to keep your own compass.” In some ways, political news sites have changed the threshold for what is news, and the result is often a greater emphasis on the horse race — the kind of who’s up, who’s down reporting that proves endlessly frustrating for candidates and many readers. Politico, for example, has published at least 36 articles in which Sarah Palin was a principal figure in the last month. In the last week and a half alone, the site has characterized her political fortunes as slipping, on Jan. 18 (the article explained her “incremental” but “significant” drop in favorability); indeterminate, on Jan. 20 (one writer cautioned those who underestimate her “do so at their own risk”); and imperiled again, on Jan. 22 (an article noted her “disconnect” with New Hampshire voters). Mr. Pawlenty, the Republican former governor, at a Barnes & Noble last week here in Manchester, observed to a group of reporters that he was asked about polls and the horse race more than anything else. “It’s like, ‘O.K. Now can we talk about health care or taxes?’ ” he said. Ms. Marr, the Politico reporter, was not deterred. She followed up with a twist on the standard horse race question: “Are you getting tired of the Sarah Palin question?” Ms. Marr then planted herself at a table in the back of the bookstore, where she filed a 500-word article that was posted on Politico’s home page about an hour after Mr. Pawlenty had left the building.

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McHenry - 'no program is going to help you as much as a job can help you' Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), chairman of the Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs, discussed the fallout from the recently-released Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report. McHenry fielded questions from Congressional Quarterly's Steven Sloan and the Washington Post's Neil Irwin. Asked whether he would like to re-litigate the bank bailout, McHenry declined. "I've had my ask those questions," he said, "I think people have pretty well made up their minds." McHenry went on to say that the reason most Americans cannot keep their homes is the "economic situation," more so than any government program. McHenry did not provide any specific policy solution when asked for one, saying foreclosures were due in large part to individuals having lost their jobs, not policy decisions. "It's an awful thing to say ... but if you don't have a job, no program is going to help you as much as a job can help you," said McHenry. By Aaron Blake & Emi Kolawole

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NFL Playoffs: Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler not a likable player - ESPN

Updated: January 13, 2011, 3:30 PM ET

Jay Cutler is no teddy bear


By Rick Reilly

Jay Cutler

Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireJay Cutler is never a picture of happiness. Will Chicago fans ever see his other side?

For a man from Santa Claus, Ind., Jay Cutler is one of the least jolly people you've ever met.

If he's not The Most Hated Man in the NFL, he's in the running. His expression is usually that of a man wearing sandpaper underwear. He looks everywhere but into your eyes. It's a tie as to which he enjoys more -- smirking or shrugging.

It's hard to say what interests Cutler, but it's definitely not you.

Once, in his rookie year in Denver, 45 minutes before a game, surefire Hall of Fame safety John Lynch was trying to explain something to Cutler about NFL pass coverage. Except Cutler wasn't looking at Lynch. He was texting.

"Man, I'm trying to talk to you!" Lynch protested.

Didn't help. Cutler was all thumbs, head down. Finally, Lynch slapped the phone out of Cutler's hands, smashing it to the floor.

He listened after that.

Cutler's teammates will defend him, when asked. "It's funny to me how people form an opinion of a guy who've never even met him," says Bears tight end Greg Olsen, a close friend.

One time, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan thought it would be helpful for Cutler and Broncos legend John Elway to have lunch. Let Cutler drink in some of Elway's experience.

The three of them sat down at a Denver steak joint. Elway, polite as ever, tried to impart some wisdom. Except Cutler wasn't looking at Elway. He wasn't looking at Shanahan, either. He was looking at the TV. The whole time. With his baseball cap on backward. All the way through dessert. Elway did not leave impressed.

So when Josh McDaniels, before he had even set his Samsonite down, started railroading Cutler out of town, almost nobody stood up for him.

Cutler was boxed up and shipped to Chicago, where, this Sunday, he will play his first playoff game of any kind since high school, this one at home against the Seattle Seahawks.

It's a huge moment for Cutler, if only because his disdain for making nice means everything rides on his wins and losses.

"In New York, they want to poke you in the eye," says former Bear and sports radio host Tom Waddle. "In L.A., they don't care about you. But in Chicago, they want to love you. They want to make a connection with you. Any kind of connection. But Jay doesn't really care."

Cutler could own Chicago if he wanted. In a city that has had as many good quarterbacks as Omaha has had good surfers, Cutler could have his name on half the billboards and all the jerseys. My God, the kid grew up a Bears fan! But he doesn't even try. He has zero endorsements and doesn't want any. If there is such a thing as a Jay Cutler Fan Club, Cutler is having a membership drive -- to drive them out.

Jay Cutler
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireIf you're a reporter looking for a helpful answer out of Jay Cutler, good luck.

Example from Wednesday's 15-minute news conference, the only time he speaks publicly the entire workweek:

Reporter #1: So, did you enjoy the week off?

Cutler: Yeah, it's nice to kick back and watch the games.

Reporter #2: Wait. Last week, you said you never watch the games.

Cutler (disgusted): I said you could watch the games. I didn't say I watched the games. You've got to listen.

Cutler is the kind of guy you just want to pick up and throw into a swimming pool, which is exactly what Peyton Manning and two linemen did one year at the Pro Bowl.

"He's an arrogant little punk," former Broncos radio color man, Scott Hastings, once said on a national show. "He's a little bitch."

Harsh? Yes. Heard before? Yes.

"I used to hear this kind of stuff a lot," says Marty Garafalo, a freelance publicist who handled Cutler in Denver. "Elway was always trying to give you the time of day, and Jay was always seeing which door he could get out of quicker. It was a maturity thing."

Cutler's teammates will defend him, when asked. "It's funny to me how people form an opinion of a guy who've never even met him," says Bears tight end Greg Olsen, a close friend.

So what's the truth?

"He is what he is," Olsen says.

Not exactly something for your tombstone.

What he is is an RPG-armed, 27-year-old Vanderbilt product who dates a reality TV star named Kristin Cavallari, battles Type 1 diabetes every day, and doesn't care who understands him and who doesn't. He's a giving person who does things behind the scenes and hates it when he gets found out. A few days before Christmas, he and Cavallari brought presents for an entire ward of sick hospital kids. A reporter for the Sun-Times got wind of it and asked him about it. Cutler refused to discuss it.

He's a battler who's done amazingly well considering the swinging saloon-door offensive line he has to play behind. The man has been sacked more times this season (52) than in his three seasons in Denver combined (51). Yet he never complains.

"He's as sharp an individual as I've ever been around," says Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

So why is Cutler as popular as gout?

More From

Bears blog Matt Forte says the media has Cutler all wrong Full story

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• Blog: Bears-Seahawks quick takes
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Is it because he never makes eye contact?

Is it his seeming inability to answer a question without using "y'know"? (He once used it 57 times in a five-minute interview with the NFL Network.)

Is it his penchant for making things difficult?

Reporter (after a game): What happened on that first interception, Jay?

Cutler: I threw the ball.

Reporter: Right, but what did you see developing there? Take us through it.

Cutler (archly): It seemed like a good place to throw the ball.

Then there was this:

Reporter: When you were a kid, which quarterback did you look up to?

Cutler: Nobody.

Reporter: Nobody? You didn't look up to anybody?

Cutler: No.

If he's lying, it makes him a miscreant. If he's telling the truth, it makes him a miscreant.

"Deep, deep down, I think he's a really good guy," Waddle says.

Maybe. But why do we have to look that deep?

Love the column, hate the column, got a better idea? Go here.
Want more Life of Reilly? Then check out the archive.
Be sure to check out Rick's latest project, "Go Fish."

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Which countries match the GDP and population of America's states? - Honatos's posterous

It has long been true that California on its own would rank as one of the biggest economies in the world. At present it would rank 8th, falling between Italy and Brazil on a nominal exchange-rate basis. But how do other American states compare with other countries?

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Chicago Chamber of Commerce seeks ‘business friendly' city council » peoplesworld

 CHICAGO- Looking to counter efforts by organized labor and its allies to elect a more pro-working families city council in the Feb. 22 election, the Chicago Chamber of Commerce announced it's endorsement of 35 aldermanic candidates Jan. 26.

And without regard to appearances, Chamber President Jerry Roper also announced the formation of a 20 member Jobs and Growth Caucus in the council to promote greater collaboration for a pro-business environment. Roper said this was the first time in the history of the council that such an open collaboration would exist.

"What we want from the council is to take a look at those impediments to growth for companies," explained Roper, who was surrounded by the aldermen. He cited the need for a business friendly tax and regulatory environment.

But a reporter pressed Roper to explain more of what was meant by promoting jobs and economic growth (after all who could be against that?). Did it mean opposition to an employee head tax, passage of a living wage ordinance for large retailers and other measures advocated by labor?

Roper responded, "You know where this chamber has been on the head tax. Taxes are not even a word you're allowed to use when you walk into the threshold of this Chamber. We have enough and where has it got us. We need regulatory policies that encourage businesses to come here."

Roper emphasized his unhappiness with the fiscal policies being advocated by the mayoral candidates as a reason why the Chamber has thus far declined to make an endorsement. He said collaboration between the business community and caucus was necessary to solve them. "We need to review the city pensions, and get ourselves out of this mess," he said.
"Chicago must be open for business," said Ald. George Cardenas, owner of a check cashing store who has prospered on immigrants sending remittances to their home countries.

"We hear from New Jersey, Wisconsin, Indiana (all headed by Republican governors) - everyone's attacking this state, this city that they're better than us. And in this form I think we have a message to send to them that we will compete at every level, every detail, to get businesses here so they can stay here, and prosper in this glorious city," said Cardenas.

The Chamber announced the Jobs and Growth Caucus would be chaired by Alderman Tom Tunney, himself a restaurant owner.

In an interview in the Sun Times reacting to the announcement, SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff said the decision to include Cardenas and Tunney "sends the wrong message" because both incumbents have "opposed paying workers a living wage."

"Chicago's economic recovery cannot be hinged on creation of minimum wage jobs or businesses that take advantage of immigrants," said Balanoff. "That's not a gateway into the middle class. Chicago needs an economic recovery that reaches into all sections of the city and lifts up all of its residents."

Chamber of Commerce PAC vice-president John Rosales said the PAC was working in close collaboration with leading business associations, including the Building Owners and Management Association of Chicago, Hospitality Business Association of Chicago, Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association and Illinois Restaurant Association.

The announcement is part of an effort to prevent a repeat of the loss of Chamber supported candidates in the 2007 election. The endorsements include several aldermen high on labor's priority list for defeat including Bernard Stone, Danny Solis and Howard Brookins.

The effort to elect pro-business candidates follows a similar announcement Jan. 9 of the creation of the A Better Chicago PAC that has already raised $1 million to pour into council races.

"This is just a beginning, said Roper. "This is the Chamber of Commerce and Political Action Committee wellness program for advocacy in the future. This Jobs and Growth Caucus is the heft behind making this work."


Photo: John Bachtell


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Revolution Watch: Tracking Digital Activism in Northern Africa and the Middle East | techPresident

[Last updated: Friday, Jan. 28th, 7:15 p.m. EST]

With things happening remarkably quickly in northern Africa and the Middle East, with protests against governments happening in Tunis, Egypt, and now Yemen, we've decided to try a different (for us) way of covering the developments, with a liveblog of sorts that's tracking all the different news bits, images, videos, observations and more that connect in some way to the central idea that people are using digital tools and media in these historic resistance moments in ways well worth trying to understand. "Revolution Watch" here isn't meant in the political sense, necessarily, but in the new and newish way that citizens -- and, by all means, governments -- are making use of everything from Twitter to blogs to to email to YouTube to Flickr to digital cameras to broadband to mobile phones to shape the worlds in which they exist. So let's get started. We'll be updating the post in reverse chronological order, and all items are stamped with eastern U.S. time. We'd love to hear what you're seeing, hearing, and thinking, so by all means get in touch.

Friday, January 28th

[7:15 p.m. -- Obama Speaks] A short while ago, President Obama delivered remarks on Egypt from the White House State Dining Room that lasted less than five minutes. Just thirty seconds in, after calling on Egyptian authories to resist engaging in violence, Obama began leading into a call for the Mubarak government to turn the Internet and cell phone networks in their country back on. Obama:

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights, and the human states will stand up for them everywhere.

I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions they've taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service, and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.

That language, of the Internet access framed in the context of "rights," not unexpectedly echoes remarks that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs during an afternoon press briefing.

"Supressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away," said Obama later in his remarks.

Obama also made a pitch for, well, open and responsive government. "Around the world," said Obama, "governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That's true here in the United States. That's true in Asia. It is true in Europe. It is true in Africa. And it is certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has a right to be heard. When I was in Cairo, shortly after I was elected president, I said that all governments must 'maintain power through consent, not coercion.' That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve."

[4:37 p.m. -- Twitter Says "The Tweets Must Flow"]  On Twitter's company blog, the California-based company's co-founder Biz Stone posts a note sketching out a company stand on free expression (they're pro), a position that "carries with it a mandate to protect our users' right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed." The full post:

Our goal is to instantly connect people everywhere to what is most meaningful to them. For this to happen, freedom of expression is essential. Some Tweets may facilitate positive change in a repressed country, some make us laugh, some make us think, some downright anger a vast majority of users. We don't always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content.

The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact. This is both a practical and ethical belief. On a practical level, we simply cannot review all one hundred million-plus Tweets created and subsequently delivered every day. From an ethical perspective, almost every country in the world agrees that freedom of expression is a human right. Many countries also agree that freedom of expression carries with it responsibilities and has limits.

At Twitter, we have identified our own responsibilities and limits. There are Tweets that we do remove, such as illegal Tweets and spam. However, we make efforts to keep these exceptions narrow so they may serve to prove a broader and more important rule—we strive not remove Tweets on the basis of their content. For more on what we allow and what we don't, please see this help page.

Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users' right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed. While we may need to release information as required by law, we try to notify Twitter users before handing over their information whenever we can so they have a fair chance to fight the request if they so choose.

We continue to work towards further transparency when we remove Tweets for legal reasons. We submit all copyright removal notices to @chillingeffects and they are now Tweeting them from @ChillFirehose. We will continue to increase our transparency in this area and encourage you to let us know if you think we have not met our aspirations with regard to your freedom of expression.

Discussion on topics from geopolitical events to wardrobe malfunctions make Twitter both important and fun. Providing the tools that foster these discussions and following the policies that keep them alive is meaningful work for us. If you are interested in this topic, we encourage you to follow the accounts collected @twitter/freedom-of-expression or better yet, come work with us.

[4:27 p.m. -- Historic? Yes. Without Precedent? No.]  

Egyptians, we now all know, has been largely cut off from the Internet while that country engages in protests against the Mubarak government. The chart to the right has been floating around the Internet over the last day or so, pointing out clearly the extent to which Internet traffic to and from Egypt has dropped off since the government, it seems, ordered a shutdown of most Internet providers. (This chart is actually an update to an earlier version, showing that not much has changed today; both charts were put together by the Massachusetts based Arbor Networks.)

But Masashi Crete-Nishihata and Jillian York of the OpenNet Initiative, a project that tracks the state of the open Internet around the globe, report that while the Egyptian Internet blackout is dramatic, concerning, and in its own way historic, it's not entirely something the world has never seen before:

Shutting down Internet connectivity in reaction to sensitive political events is an extreme example of just-in-time blocking — a phenomenon in which access to information is denied during important political moments when the content may have the greatest potential impact such as elections, protests, or anniversaries of social unrest.

What is happening in Egypt is not without precedent: two other states have implemented national level Internet shutdowns in reaction to political events. In February 2005 Nepal severed all international Internet connections in the country following a declaration of martial law by the King. On September 29, 2007 during the Saffron Revolution the Burmese government completely shut down Internet connectivity in the country in reaction to streams of images and videos documenting the violent government crackdown on the protests uploaded by citizens. Prior to shutting down the Internet, the Burmese government had — not unlike the recent actions by the Egyptian government — increased the number of sites they were blocking, extending the ban to popular social media like YouTube and Blogspot, as well as international news sites. In the case of Burma the apparent objective of the shutdown was to restrict information from flowing out of the country to wider international audiences. What differentiates Egypt from both previous cases is that the government does not have control of the Internet from a central location; rather, ISPs were ordered by the government to shut down service.

At the risk of reading too much into their post, the subtext seems to be that while what's happening in Egypt is certainly attention-grabbing, the restrictions on the Internet we see in other times and other place are deserving of at least a fraction of that same attention.

[3:54 p.m. -- Gibbs: Internet Connectivity is "Basic Individual Right"]

In a White House press conference just now, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Vodafone Egypt, the company that completely cut off Egyptians' access of mobile communications via their network yesterday after, says the company, being directed to by the Egyptian government.

Gibbs wouldn't comment on Vodafone's specific actions, saying he'd have to "go to the NSC," or National Security Council, on the particulars of that situation. But he did comment on how the Obama administration is looking at connections to the Internet these days:

It is our strong belief that inside of the framework of basic individual rights are the rights of those to have access to the Internet and to sites for open communications and social networking.

In a strict reading, the response from Gibbs -- who was being extraordinarily careful throughout the briefing -- is a fairly powerful statement of the importance of the right to digital connection provided by the Internet, framing it language generally used to refer to human rights.

[3:02 p.m. -- Capturing Kasr Al Nil] There's a striking photograph being passed around Twitter this afternoon that shows Egyptian protesters on Cairo's Kasr Al Nil Bridge, which connects with Tahrir Square, being hosed by some unseen source while kneeling down in prayer. Have a look:

The photo which, echos some of the "hosing" visual imagery we talked about down blog, was posted on a Twitter account under the name Olly Wainwright. Attached to the photo was the simple note, "from my friend in Cairo." Since going up on the Twitter-inspired photo-sharing site TwitPic about four hours ago, it's been viewed more than 70,000 times.

Some of those views, perhaps, have come by way of the New Yorker, where what seems to be the independently-shot photo has been called into service to flesh out a moment detailed by writer Jenna Krajeski, who is reporting from on the ground in Cairo. The photo provides the backstory for a subsequent stretch of time that Krajeski describes in depth:

Kasr Al Nil bridge, which connects downtown’s Tahrir Square with Gezirah’s Opera Square in Cairo, was the setting for the climax of today’s enormous anti-government protests, with hordes of police officers trying to prevent tens of thousands of protesters from crossing into downtown. On Friday afternoon, the protesters, braving tear gas and singing the Egyptian National Anthem, made it about a third of the way across before they were pushed back to Opera Square, where they seemed to disperse. After that, the bridge emptied. Police vans parked along the side, and some officers sat, exhausted, on the curb, their shields lying on the ground and visors pushed up over their black helmets. A few officers ran on the bridge toward Tahrir Square, calling over and over again for an ambulance. The pavement was slick and wet—water cannons had been used against the crowd. Black smoke rose up from behind the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square, and just north, on the 6th of October Bridge, something was on fire. The loud, constant crack of tear-gas grenades being fired in Opera Square could be heard in the hotel across the water, where I waited with my colleagues from Al-Masry Al-Youm, an Arabic and English newspaper. Two army trucks, stuffed with soldiers, rolled over the bridge to Tahrir. Kasr Al Nil, at that point, belonged to the police.

You can read the rest of Krajeski's first-hand report from Cairo here. In it, she conveys what she heard from one contingent of Egyptians on why they're resisting their current situation, and what might be next: "There was no work and nothing to eat, Mubarak had to go, their hope for the future was freedom and, maybe, ElBaradei."

[2:03 p.m. -- Anonymous "Will Take Sides"] On the news website of Anonymous, the global digital collective that has been in the news most recently for bringing down government websites in Tunisia, a press release has been posted in response to the events in Egypt. (That's a tortured way of not saying "an official Anonymous press release," given that the site, though moderated, is open to postings from anyone who might like to add one.) It comes in the form of a letter, and it's addressed to "governments of the world":

Your support of the popular uprisings in Arabic countries has been ambiguous, if not  absent altogether. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exemplified the indecisiveness of the international community as she claimed that the US "could not take sides". Neutrality amounts to complicity as totalitarian regimes are showing their contempt for the citizens' right to protest. Mubarak's regime attempted to disconnect the Egyptian people from the rest of the world by cutting off internet communication, while his foot soldiers shot civilians and assaulted domestic and international journalists.
It is up to you to work for the people and support the universal right to freedom of speech. It is your prerogative to oppose violent regimes, regardless of your political affiliation. The geopolitical concerns for 'stability' have for far too long served as an excuse to ignore the violations of human rights.
People throughout the Arab world have been victimized and held hostage by 
their regimes. Now the people are standing up. The current situation within Egypt presents the leadership of the world with a unique opportunity to acknowledge and respect the people's ambition to control its own future. This is also the time when the question will finally be answered, once and for all: are Western governments truly "of, by, and for the people" or are they merely puppet facades, designed to ensure the continued domination by those in power?
Anonymous has made its choice. We will take sides. We will support people who strive for freedom of speech, assembly and communication - the civil rights essential for the people to forge their own futures.

(Housekeeping note: This item was reposted from earlier today after an unfortunate overwriting error occurred.)

[1:32 a.m. -- Inside the Oval Office] The Obama White House posts to its Flickr feed a Pete Souza photo showing President Obama discussing the situation in Egypt during his 9:30 a.m. Presidential Daily Briefing today:

The White House regularly puts a rush on getting its in-house photos posted on its Flickr feed when it especially wants to capture a moment or help shape the public perception of the White House's role in events. And there's no doubt that Egypt's "Day of Anger" is a significant moment for the Obama administration. One wonders, though, if this scene, of scores of men in suits looking quite relaxed (except, perhaps, the National Security Council's Ben Rhodes, bottom right) hits exactly the note that the White House might have hoped it to.

[1:15 a.m. -- Routing Egypt]

RIPE NCC, a membership-based organization that monitors and supports the Internet's infrastructure, has found occasion in Egypt to test out its new RIPEstate portal, designed to help analyze "interesting incidents in Internet operations." Here's what it found in Egypt:

This page shows a regularly updated overview of the routing activity observed for prefixes allocated to Egyptian organisations.

The graph shows Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) updates which occur when routers announce changes in routing. The top half shows announcements and changes, while the bottom half shows withdrawals which occur when routers inform each other that a range of addresses is no longer reachable.

Prior to 22:00 on 27th January, the graph displays the normal background noise of BGP updates for Egyptian prefixes - hovering around 200-400 announcements per minute.

Clearly visible after 22:00 is the huge spike in updates and withdrawals when many Egyptian prefixes were withdrawn from the Internet.

(Via Kombiz Lavasany)

[12:41 a.m. -- Clinton Condemns Communications Cut-Off]

Al Jazeera just broke into their on-going Cairo coverage with remarks from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Egypt situation. In them, Clinton -- annunciating to an almost painful extent -- expressed support for the Egyptian people while cautioning against violent protests. Alas, Clinton's remarks aren't yet up on the State Department website. But Clinton was recorded making these remarks about the historic Internet cut-off we've seen occur in Egypt:

"We urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications."

The United States, as you've no doubt heard by now, counts Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as an ally in the Middle East, and we've seen the Obama administration attempting to finesse support for the anti-repression protests that have erupted in Cairo, Suez, and elsewhere over the last three days with that political relationship. One thing that the Obama administration can cling to is the rights of the Egyptian people to organize and express themselves online, and in a way, the Mubarak government's drastic cut-off gave U.S. officials, from their perspective, a useful instance of offensive behavior to focus on.

To wit, the first mention of Egypt made by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on his Twitter feed makes a point of bringing up the blocking of the Internet in Egypt, including restrictions on Twitter and Facebook:

Posted via email from Brian's posterous