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How cryptocurrency will cripple todays governments and …

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Cryptocurrency will cripple governmental ability to collect taxes, and they wont see it coming. When its already happened, expect major changes to take place in how society is organized on a large scale but also expect governments to act in desperation to retain control.

As bitcoin launched in 2009, most early adopters saw its disruptive potential. While bitcoin has stalled for some time approaching a valid use of the term stagnation, cryptocurrency in a larger context is still just as disruptive. In 2011, I stated that bitcoin (cryptocurrency) will do to banks what e-mail did to the postal services. This is not just true, but it will be even more brutal to governments, and by extension, governmental services.

Now, governments love anything that smells like innovation, because it means jobs, this magic word that smells of magic unicorns to anybody in government. Therefore, people who like innovation are nurturing this bitcoin thing, this cryptocurrency thing, this ethereum thing (as if governments made a difference, but still). Lots of startups in tip-of-the-spear financial technology means that their government may get a head start over other governments. They have no idea that cryptocurrency will radically scale back the power of government, not just their own one, but also all those other governments over which it seeks a competitive edge.

Individual people in government can also love bitcoin because it gives them something to do. More specifically, it gives them something to regulate. Fortunately, other people in government see that this gives them something to do, which is to hold those government regulators with an overdeveloped sense of order somewhat in check. Youll hear no shortage of wannabe regulators saying that bitcoin is bad because its being used in crime and contraband trade!, to which I usually respond, well, bitcoin is a currency, so I mean you put it in relation to the US Dollar, which then is not used in crime and contraband trade, is this the argument youre using to support your position?, at which point the discussion generally changes topic.

This completely disregards the observation that bitcoin and cryptocurrency were designed to not submit to regulation in the first place. Well, at least not governmental regulation. It is heavily regulated but by its source code, and by its source code alone.

The reason this will cripple todays governments todays idea of what a government is and does is because todays economy is built on one layer doing actual work and three layers of abstraction on top.

At the first and bottom layer of our economy are the individual people doing all the actual work.

The second layer on top of the first is the abstraction we call corporations, which is a way to organize our economy and optimize transaction costs.

The third layer on top of the second would be banks, which handle money for corporations and individual people in a middleman gatekeeper position.

Finally, the fourth layer is the government, which takes advantage of the banks gatekeeper position to siphon off taxes from money flows in order to fund itself and governmental services. In other words, layer four completely depends on layer three for its operations or at least for the relative simplicity of funding its operations.

Now, what bitcoin and cryptocurrency do is make away with the banks cutting them out of the loop entirely, making them redundant, obsolete, dinosaurified. This resulting absence of anything where banks used to be creates an air gap between the functional part of the economy people and corporations and governments who want funding.

The way governments want to tap all money flows in order to fund itself is not entirely unlike how the surveillance agencies want to tap all information flows in order to have an information advantage. In this way, the deployment of cryptocurrency is to tax collection what deployment of end-to-end encryption is to mass surveillance. The government can no longer reach into money flows and grab what it wants, but will be dependent on people actively sending it money. The government cant point a gun at a computer and have it give up its money; you can only make a computer operator feel very sorry for not voluntarily producing the keys to that money. So the government is no longer able to collect taxes without the consent even if coerced and forced consent of the people being thus collected.

The deployment of cryptocurrency is to tax collection what deployment of end-to-end encryption is to mass surveillance.

Governments, and individual people in government, have no idea about this bigger picture. Theyre far to wrapped up in things-as-usual to notice. They wont see it coming until its already happened.

When this happens, there will be no shortage of people in government who suddenly want to regulate cryptocurrency only to find out it will be as effective as regulating gravity. When this happens, government as we know it will be redefined from a coercive Colossus able to take what it wants and do what it wants into a construct that actually depends on people wanting to fund it. This will be a very interesting time to live in. While todays governments will see themselves as getting crippled, I suspect most citizens will regard it as unquestionably healthy that governments will actually begin to depend on the approval of the people at large.

Were just beginning to see the changes to society that the Internet brings. This is one of them.

(Note: I write cryptocurrency and not bitcoin on purpose here, just as Id prefer proclaiming the success of social media over the success of Myspace.)

Rick is Head of Privacy at Private Internet Access. He is also the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. Additionally, he has a tech entrepreneur background and loves good whisky and fast motorcycles.

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How cryptocurrency will cripple todays governments and …

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State to appeal denial of federal disaster aid for Ascension, St. James tornado victims – The Advocate

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:32 am

The state plans to appeal the decision to exclude Ascension and St. James parishes from a federal disaster declaration that left residents there ineligible to receive federal assistance for their losses during the Feb. 7 tornadoes.

“We’re in the process of trying to appeal that,” said Mike Steele, communications director for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

The state has 30 days to file the appeal, Steele said Friday.

“Our people will be reaching out to the parishes for more information,” he said.

President Donald Trump on Feb. 11 approved a disaster declaration for individual assistance for Orleans and Livingston parishes. The declaration allows residents in those parishes who suffered losses to apply for financial assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The state on Friday also resubmitted its request for a disaster declaration for another form of federal assistance, public assistance, for Orleans, Livingston, Ascension, St. James and Jefferson parishes, Steele said.

Public assistance provides reimbursement to state and local governments for a portion of the cost of such work as debris removal, repairing damaged buildings and roads following a disaster.

The state has not yet received word on its initial request for public assistance, Steele said.

The state, however, resubmitted its request for public assistance “to stress the importance of getting the declaration on that,” he said.

President Donald Trump on Saturday approved a federal disaster declaration for Orleans and L

A large twister with estimated wind speeds of about 140 mph that injured 33 people in New Orleans East and damaged some 300 properties was one of six tornadoes that touched down Feb. 7 in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas.

In Livingston Parish, two people were seriously injured when a tornado struck their home in Killian. Elsewhere in the parish, homes were damaged in Watson where four people were injured.

In Ascension Parish, a tornado touched down southwest of Donaldsonville, then traveled northeast across the city with most of its destruction centered along St. Patrick Street, near the city’s historic district. One injury was reported in the downtown area while three injuries were reported elsewhere in the parish.

CF Industries received some damage and a veterinarian clinic near the plant was badly damaged.

In St. James Parish, some 25 to 30 homes were damaged, some severely. Two injuries were reported there.

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan said he was disappointed when he learned that Ascension Parish had not been included in the federal disaster declaration for individual assistance.

“It was devastating,” Sullivan said of hearing the news. “You have people who have lost their homes or have homes that were heavily damaged.”

In order for residents to receive assistance, a household must be within a presidentially declared disaster area.

Ascension and St. James parish officials did not seem optimistic Friday that federal individual or public assistance would be forthcoming.

Criteria to receive a disaster declaration for the individual assistance program are subjective, according to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

A declaration request must show that an effective response to a disaster is beyond the capacity of the state and local government and that a significant number, historically more than 75, uninsured primary homes received major damage or were destroyed, according to GOHSEP literature.

To receive a presidential declaration for public assistance, a parish must meet a threshold in damage of $3.57 per resident.

Sullivan said that by using the 2010 census count for Ascension Parish of approximately 107,000 people, he calculated the required dollar amount of damage needed for the parish to be eligible for public assistance would be approximately $387,000.

St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said Friday that his parish would need about $80,000 in damage to be eligible for public assistance.

The parish government has spent approximately $20,000 on work after the tornado doing such jobs as removing debris and trimming trees, Roussel said.

In Ascension Parish, Rick Webre, director of the parish’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the parish has spent $30,000 in cleanup so far.

“I’m not confident that Ascension Parish will achieve the individual assistance or public assistance threshold,” he said.

Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.

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Terri Lovell: Liberal oppression – Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:45 am

In the liberal mind, your freedom is their oppression. From 60 Hard Truths about Liberals

I dont think Ive ever heard a more accurate description of the liberal mind. It not only encompasses everything they believe, it accurately explains their bizarre behavior.

Why do liberals see your freedom as their oppression? Because everything to them is a zero-sum game. Liberals only win when everyone who opposes them loses.

The Constitution guarantees the rights of individualism and personal freedom. Your God-given rights as an individual are your power. For liberals to satisfy their lust for absolute power, your individual rights must be taken away from you.

The exercise of free speech is a display of individual power. Liberals despise free speech because it is a right they cannot control. If it takes a rioting mob to keep an individual they hate from speaking, and you from hearing it, so be it.

Small, decentralized government is the best protector of individual rights. Your individualism is considered a threat to the liberal goal of centralizing all power under their control. That is why liberals promote the power of the collective over the power of the individual.

Owning a gun is a display of individual power and freedom as well. That is why liberals are forever fighting and restricting the sale of firearms and ammunition.

With individual freedom comes individual responsibility. If liberals were to embrace freedom, they would have to embrace the responsibility that naturally comes with freedom.

When seen as part of the larger collective, liberals are never held accountable for their actions, nor for the actions of those who act on their behalf.

Although most liberal elitists are wealthy, they despise the freedom that ownership of private property and wealth brings to those who consider themselves individualists.

In the mind of a liberal, the only way a conservative could possibly acquire wealth is if it were stolen, or gained by oppressing someone else.

In their quest to transform our country into a collectivist utopia, liberals have taken over the public schools and universities.

They use our innocent children and young adults to expand their own power by teaching them to hate freedom and to despise traditional American values. Instead, students are taught that all our nations problems stem from individualism and the only solution is national collectivism.

Liberal oppressors are relentlessly working to steal and corrupt everything that has made this country the last bastion of freedom on this earth.

Terri Lovell is a lifetime resident of Santa Clarita, a former home school mom, a current College of the Canyons student and a member of a local Republican club.

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Artificial intelligence, automation ‘will significantly change the way we work’ – The National

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 12:10 am

DUBAI // Increased automation and the introduction of artificial intelligence into the workplace will significantly change work, the World Government Summit heard, and governments must prepare citizens.

A panel of experts that included Elizabeth Rhodes, basic income research director at Y Combinator, which helps fund start-up businesses, and Jonathan Matus, founder and chief executive at Zendrive, a transport consultancy, discussed the downsides of technology on jobs that can be easily automated, such as driving.

“This is an area where we can make an important distinction. Driving on the highway is much easier than driving in the city,” said Mr Matus. “So, the autonomy of driving in trucks can come faster.

“Instead of building trucks that will drive all the way from the warehouse to the destination, companies can use autonomy for highways and a human driver within the city.

“Conglomerates such as Walmart will embrace this, and in the next 7 years, robots will drive a massive number of miles.”

With automation, political unrest will could increase, and governments will need to invest in training people on a long-term basis to prevent unemployment, said Mr Matus.

When machines replace jobs, there will be a real cost in educating people and filling the deficit of lost wages, said Ms Rhodes, who has been working on a pilot programme for a universal basic income for everyone.

“The idea to give people a basic income as one of their human rights has always existed and is considered as a great measure to curtail crime. We are studying how this move will affect labour supply. If we give people money for nothing, they may also just stop working. Therefore, we are researching the impact of universal basic income on the individual and macro-economic level.”


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Personal Empowerment | SkillsYouNeed

Posted: at 12:07 am

Personal empowerment is about looking at who you are and becoming more aware of yourself as a unique individual.

Personal empowerment involves developing the confidence and strength to set realistic goals and fulfil your potential.Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and a range of skills that are used in everyday situations, but all too often people remain unaware of, or undervalue, their true abilities.

A person aiming for empowerment is able to take control of their life by making positive choices and setting goals. Developing self-awareness, an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses – knowing your own limitations is key to personal empowerment.

Taking steps to set and achieve goals – both short and longer-term and developing new skills, acts to increase confidence which, in itself, is essential to self-empowerment.

Personal Empowerment and Personal Development are two areas that overlap and interweave, it is recommended that you read this page in conjunction with our page: Personal Development.

At a basic level, the term ’empowerment’ simply means ‘becoming powerful’. Building personal empowerment involves reflecting on our personal values, skills and goals and being prepared to adjust our behaviour in order to achieve our goals. Personal empowerment also means being aware that other people have their own set of values and goals which may different to ours.

Many other, more detailed, definitions exist. These usually centre on the idea that personal empowerment gives an individual the ability to:

Developing personal empowerment usually involves making some fundamental changes in life, which is not always an easy process. The degree of change required will differ from person to person, depending on the individual starting point.

The following dimensions of personal empowerment are based on the belief that the greater the range of coping responses an individual develops, the greater their chance of coping effectively with diverse life situations. These dimensions are:

Self-awareness involves understanding our individual character and how we are likely to respond to situations. This enables us to build on our positive qualities and be aware of any negative traits which may reduce our effectiveness. Self-aware people make conscious decisions to enhance their lives whenever possible, learning from past experiences.

Values are opinions or beliefs that are important to us but of which we are not always aware. They can be any kind of belief or perceived obligation, anything we prefer and for any reason. The reasons we may prefer one thing over another, or choose one course of action over another, may not always be obvious or known; there may be no apparent reason for our values. Nevertheless our values are important to us as individuals. In order to be self-aware it is necessary to be aware of our values, to critically examine them and to accept that our values may be different from those of others.

An individual’s skills are the main resource which enables them to achieve their desired goals. Skills can be gained through experience, practice, education and training. It is only by developing such skills that individual values can be translated into action.

Knowledge or information is necessary in the development of self-awareness and skills. It is an essential skill in itself to know where to find appropriate information. Without information, the choices open to people are limited, both in their personal and working lives. The internet has provided an easy way for everybody to access huge amounts of information very quickly and easily. The problem is then centred around the quality of the information found, and the skill set is concerned with finding accurate and reliable information.

Setting goals is a means by which an individual can take charge of his/her life. The process of setting a goal involves people thinking about their values and the direction that they would like their lives to follow. Choices are made through reflection followed by action. Goals should always be both specific and realistic. Setting personal goals gives us a sense of direction in life, this direction is essential to personal empowerment.

Language is the main medium of human communication whether used in spoken or written form.

The use of language, how individuals express themselves verbally and non-verbally to others, can be empowering to both themselves and the people with whom they are communicating. Looking at how language is used is important in terms of self-empowerment and when attempting to empower other people.

In terms of personal empowerment and communication the following ideas are helpful and their use can be both self-affirming and positive:

In order to use language to help empower others:

We all have opportunities to explore and develop new skills. In order to become more empowered we can, in our interactions with others, aim to:

Developing trust can be a difficult and lengthy process. In order to develop trust with others you may choose to:

In the workplace, and in any professional working relationship there are three basic components of trust:

Trust can be broken very quickly and may never be restored to its former level. Think about the points above and try to build and maintain trusting relationships in both your personal and professional life.

Avoid the following actions that may destroy trust and have a detrimental effect on personal empowerment:

See our page on Trustworthiness and Conscientiousness for more information.

Becoming empowered includes knowing your own strengths and weaknesses: identifying these will enable you to work on improving your weaknesses and build on your strengths.

It is not uncommon for other people to have misjudged your strengths and weaknesses, or for you to misjudge those of others.This can lead to opportunities being limited due to the misconception of abilities.It is important, therefore, to know your own strengths and weaknesses and to communicate them clearly to others, whilst encouraging others to communicate their strengths and weaknesses to you.

In some circumstances you may feel that you face problems that are truly beyond your capabilities.In such cases you should seek help.Empowered people know their own limits and have no problems with asking for help or guidance.Self-knowledge, often referred to as self-awareness, is a strength which enables you to set personal improvement goals in order to make a more substantial contribution.The more empowered you become, the more you will be able to help others to become empowered.

Confidence acts as one of the greatest motivators or most powerful limitations to anyone trying to change their behaviour and become more empowered.

Most people only undertake tasks that they feel capable of doing and it takes great effort to overcome a lack of confidence in one’s capabilities. Self-empowerment involves people constantly challenging their own beliefs and what they are capable of undertaking.

See our pages on Building Confidence and Self Esteem for more information.

Personal empowerment is not a static thing that you can do once in your life.

You should view personal empowerment as ongoing personal development. As circumstances change and develop, and as we ourselves change and develop, so do our needs for development and empowerment.

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This Technology Could Be a Game-Changer for the Marijuana Industry – Fox Business

Posted: February 12, 2017 at 7:08 am

The marijuana industry is scorching hot right now, and it’s no wonder that investors are seemingly champing at the bit to get their hands on a company, or series of companies, with strong double-digit growth potential.

According to cannabis research firm ArcView, the legal marijuana market could grow by roughly 30% per year through the end of the decade. Investment firm Cowen & Co. shares a somewhat similar sentiment, forecasting growth from $6 billion in legal pot sales in 2016 to $50 billion by 2026. That’s good for a compound annual growth rate of better than 23%. You’d struggle as an investor to find an industry that could consistently grow its sales for an average of 23%+plus each year for a decade.

Image source: Getty Images.

One reason why cannabis is exploding is the major shift in consumer sentiment toward the substance. National pollster Gallup found that 60% of respondents in its 2016 survey wanted to see weed legalized nationally. Comparatively, just 25% of respondents shared the same opinion in 1995, the year before California became the first state to pass a compassionate use medical cannabis law.

The aforementioned dollar figures are also an allure for businesses, investors, and governments alike. After raking in $135 million in tax and licensing revenue in 2015 on $996.2 million in legal marijuana sales, Colorado, which was one of the first two states (along with Washington) to legalize recreational pot in 2012, wound up surpassing the $1.1 billion legal-weed sales mark through the first 10 months of 2016.

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Long story short, the state probably earned well in excess of $135 million in additional revenue last year. Furthermore, with the passage of Prop 64 in California, $1 billion in new tax revenue stands to be generated annually once retail sales commence.

The enormity of these legal sales figures would probably attract most investors to the retail side of the equation, including dispensaries or marijuana-infused products, such as drinks or foods. Unfortunately, this can be a tightly regulated and highly competitive space filled with a bounty of smaller-run companies. Investing in the retail aspect of marijuana simply isn’t appealing at the moment, especially with a number of inherent disadvantages still in play for the industry.

Image source: GW Pharmaceuticals.

With so few marijuana stocks trading on reputable exchanges (e.g., NYSE or Nasdaq), investors might also be attracted to the largest pot stock of the bunch, GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH). GW Pharmaceuticals has discovered more than five dozen cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, and it’s testing these cannabinoids in a variety of ailments.

Arguably the most intriguing product GW Phamaceuticals has in its pipeline is Epidiolex, an experimental drug that yielded positive late-stage results in treating two types of childhood-onset epilepsy. Still, GW Pharmaceuticals appears to be at least three years away from profitability, and thus remains an unattractive option for investors.

On the other hand, marijuana breathalyzer devices could be an area of intrigue years down the road for investors.

The idea behind the marijuana breathalyzer is simple: it provides law enforcement with a way to protect our roads and drivers. Individuals who’ve consumed too much alcohol may be impaired behind the wheel, which is why police officers have alcohol breathalyzers, along with standard field sobriety tests, to determine the level of driver intoxication if alcohol is suspected.

Image source: Getty Images.

What law enforcement doesn’t have at the moment is a device that tells them, with any accuracy, whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana. What makes things even trickier is that tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, can stick around in the bloodstream for 30 days, meaning blood tests done at a police station, for instance, could turn up a positive result even if the individual hasn’t used marijuana in days or even weeks.

Marijuana breathalyzers would seek to separate and identify THC molecules in a subject’s breath so that a law enforcement officer can determine if 1) the individual has used marijuana recently and 2) perhaps some level of intoxication.

Currently, the breathalyzer market for law enforcement has an estimated value that’s north of $500 million. Assuming additional states legalize recreational marijuana, this market value could rise even more.

However, there’s a pretty big catch that could make or break this innovative technology.

Image source: Getty Images.

When it comes to deciphering driver impairment with alcohol, there’s a pretty clear line in the sand for law enforcement to follow. If a driver blows a 0.08% blood alcohol content or higher, he or she is legally impaired, and possibly subject to arrest. Even a driver that blows below a 0.08% can be charged with driving under the influence. The point here is that there’s a point of reference for law enforcement.

When it comes to measuring THC content, there’s no point of reference or study that suggests what level of THC in the body is considered dangerous. Making matters more complicated, the only way a “safe” level could likely be determined is through a lot of federally funded testing.

Mind you, the schedule 1 status of marijuana at the federal level makes running clinical studies on pot extremely difficult. In other words, there’s this repeating cycle of needing more evidence to set up a series of guidelines that law enforcement can follow, but this evidence is unable to be attained due to the restrictive nature of the federal government’s view of marijuana.

If law enforcement agencies don’t have a consistent way of determining whether a driver is impaired, then getting marijuana breathalyzer technology offer the ground could be difficult.

It may also be worth mentioning that there are only a small handful of marijuana breathalyzer developers at the moment, and they’re penny stocks that trade on the over-the-counter exchanges, which are inherently risky and dangerous investments.

Image source: Getty Images.

Companies that trade on the OTC exchange, which has admittedly done a good job of improving reporting standards in recent years, may have a few shortcomings. For example, listing standards on OTC exchanges still aren’t considered as tough as being listed on the NYSE or Nasdaq, meaning getting accurate and up-to-date information may not always be easy.

For that matter, many OTC penny stocks are usually avoided by mutual funds and hedge funds. This can lead to high levels of volatility, which can be unsettling for investors who aren’t aware of the risks.

While the risks can’t be ignored, marijuana breathalyzer technology has the potential to be a game-changer. And, rest assured, if a legitimate non-OTC company working on this technology appears, we’ll be sure to report on it.

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Freedom Of Speech – Censorship | Laws.com

Posted: February 7, 2017 at 10:04 pm

What is Freedom of Speech? Freedom of Speech is an unalienable right afforded to every citizen of the United States of America; these rights make mention of the statutes expressed in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States a statute that provides every American citizen to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. With regard to the provisions set forth within the 1st Amendment to the United States, the Freedom of Speech prohibits the unlawful banning, prohibition, and ceasing of unlawful censorship. 1st Amendment Date Proposed: September, 25th 1789 Date Ratified: December 15th, 1791 Contents of the Amendment: This Amendment affords citizens of the United States with the freedom of religion, the freedom of press, the freedom of speech, and the right of assembly; the freedom of speech is considered to not only be granted by the Federal Government, but also protected by them as well Legislative Classification: Bill of Rights Is the Freedom of Speech a Human Right? The Freedom of Speech is considered to be both a Human Right and Human Liberty; the determination of this relies heavily of the circumstance surrounding then nature, objective, and intent of the speech. In contrast to the precepts inherent in Human Rights, Human Liberties typically maintain a nature of action and event in which personal choice and freedom is implicit. Human Liberties such as the Freedom of Speech – afforded to citizens of the United States are undertaken through agency and autonomy in lieu of circumstance or permissive mandating. Human Liberties are defined as the opportunities, entitlements, and awards granted to the specific citizens of a country or nation that are applicable to social interaction and interpersonal activity taking place within a societal level. Legal and Illegal Freedom of Speech and Expression Although Freedom of Speech is considered to be an inalienable Human Right, with regard to activity or actions that employ the Freedom of Speech and expression for means that contract the legality and legislative statutes mandatory within the United States of America, that Freedom of Speech may be defined as either a human liberty or even a crime. Expression and activities deemed to be damaging, hateful, and prejudicial in their nature including expression and activity serving to denigrate and rob others of their respective pursuit of happiness – are considered to be both an unlawful and illegal act: Freedom of Speech and Prejudice Prejudice can be defined as the discrimination against another group or individual with regard to an individual trait or characteristic believed to be out of the control of the individual who displays it, which may include discrimination and crimes committed out of personal and unfounded bias. Freedom of Speech and Public Policy Although the rights expressed within the United States Constitution allow for every American citizen to the right to freedom of speech, expressed prejudice with regard to the happiness, opportunity, and wellbeing of another individual is both illegal and unlawful this can include biased hiring practices and admission policies. Freedom of Speech and Criminal Activity Hate Crimes, or any form of harm caused due to a latent prejudice or personal bias is considered to be illegal on the grounds that ones freedom of speech results in the dissolution of another individuals pursuit of happiness. Comments


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ACMG recommends caution on genome editing – BioNews

Posted: February 6, 2017 at 2:48 pm

The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) has published a statementrecommending caution over the clinicalapplication of genome editing.

The college’s ‘points to consider’highlighttechnological and ethical concerns that it believes should be addressed before genome-editing technology can be used to treat genetic diseases in humans.

‘Our goal in this statement is to draw attention to the opportunities for the treatment of genetic conditions, some of the challenges that are being actively addressed, and the ongoing concern about even greater challenges associated with germline, as opposed to somatic, genome editing,’ said ACMG President Gerald Feldman.

While developments in genome editing are occurring rapidly, the technology is not perfect, and the ACMG recommends rigorous medical review of the clinical applications. For treating somaticcells in patients, this involves ensuring that the disease-causing variant is corrected to a form that ends the disease, that no other variants are created, and that cells do not pick up epigenetic changes that could create abnormal function when transplanted back into the individual.

For altering the genome of human embryos, this involves preventing off-target effects, ensuring that editing a disease-causing variant has no harmful epigenetic effects, and considering the potential genetic impact on future generations.

The ACMG also addresses ethical concerns about the effect on society of clinical genome editing. It will need to be decided which variants highly impactful disease-causing variants, minimally impactful disease-causing variants, or non-disease variants should or should not be subject to genome editing.

The statement concludes: ‘In light of these potentially serious and far-reaching concerns, the ACMG Board of Directors believes that genome editing in the human embryo is premature and should be subject to vigorous ethical debate and further refinement of technological issues.

‘The ACMG will appoint an ad hoc committee to recommend specific areas where it can contribute to this debate.’

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Empowerment and Strengths-Based Perspective: Social Work

Posted: January 8, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Empowerment and a strengths perspective which support the development of innate abilities and recognize differences in a positive manner are also helping social workers increase the individual clients capacity to learn to use his or her own systems constructively

More than a simple linguistic nuance, the notion that social workers do not empower others, but instead, help people empower themselves is an ontological distinction that frames the reality experienced by both social workers and clients (Simon, 1990, p. 32, quoted in Saleeby, 2006, p. 98)

Introduction: This paper firstly looks at empowerment, what it is, and how it can assist social workers in enhancing their clients competence through development of self-efficacy, mastery, and their ability to use their own resources (both inner and outer) in a productive and beneficial manner. The paper then looks at the Strengths Perspective and how social workers can use this lens to assist clients in re-framing their sense of self, and therefore enhance their clients capacity for self-determination. The paper then looks at empowerment and the Strengths Perspective in action, through the utilization of Solution Focused theory.

In this paper it is argued that the action of empowerment is fundamental to the application of a strengths perspective. It is also argued that a positive recognition of difference, such as for those experiencing mental health issues, or who may be gay or lesbian for example, can assist clients in normalizing their lived experience.

Empowerment: Empowerment is both a theory and a practice. It is also a process as well as an outcome (Zimmerman, 1995; Gutierrez, DeLois and GlenMaye, 1995; Carr, E.S., 2003).

The practice of empowerment grew out of the womens and black rights movements of the United States in the late 60s/70s where it was recognised that these two powerless/oppressed groups did not have equal access to human services. This had a negative effect both at the level of the individual and at the level of the institution of the family, which meant that the impaired systems [were] unable to shield individuals from the negative effects of the oppressive institutions (Gutierrez et al, 1995, p. 534), thereby self-perpetuating the oppressed state of those, and other subjegated, groups.

The goal of empowerment is to increase personal, interpersonal or political power, so that individuals, families or communities can take action to improve their situation (Gutierrez et al, 1995, p. 535) Australian examples of empowered communities would include the Womens Electoral Lobby and the Tent Embassy, also developing in the 1970s for example This goal means an increase in the actual power of the client or community [as opposed to their coping with, or adaptation to, the dominant paradigm] so that action can be taken [by them] to prevent or change the problems they are facing (Gutierrez et al, 1995, p. 535). A crucial aim of empowerment is therefore enhancing the possibilities for people to control their own lives (Rappapport, 1981, p. 15) and augmenting their sense of self-determination.

The process of empowerment, involves the development of consciousness consciousness raising/conscientization, and psychological empowerment (Carr, 2003, p. 15; Zimmerman 1995) facilitating a reduction in self-blame, an assumption of personal responsibility for change, and enhancement of self-efficacy (Gutierrez et al, 1995, p. 535). Empowerment also involves the understanding by oppressed people that the nature of their oppression is structural and systemic and is not self-inflicted (Cowger, Anderson & Snively, 2006). Further, empowerment involves a commitment to challenging and combating injustice (Pease, 2002, p. 136, quoting Ward and Mullender).

Consciousness raising, practiced by many a feminist in the 1970s for example, is learning about, and increasing ones self awareness of, their individual social fit within…


Empowerment and Strengths-Based Perspective: Social Work

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Offshore installation manager – Wikipedia

Posted: December 25, 2016 at 11:09 pm

The Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) is the most senior manager of an offshore platform operating on the UKCS.

Many offshore operators have adopted this UK offshore management model and title and applied it to their operations in all global regions irrespective of the local regulations in force.

In the UK the individual must be officially registered as an OIM with the Offshore Safety Division of the Health and Safety Executive and the OIM is responsible for the health, welfare and safety of the personnel on board the installation, whether a drilling rig, production platform or a support vessel (e.g. a flotel).

The OIM position had arisen in part from the Inquiry into the 1965 Sea Gem disaster, in which the Sea Gem drilling rig collapsed and sank in the southern sector of the North Sea with a loss of 13 lives. The Inquiry recommended that ” … there ought to be a ‘master’ or unquestioned authority on these rigs” and that ” … there ought to be the equivalent of a shipmaster’s daily round when the ‘master’ could question those responsible for different aspects of the day-to-day management of the whole.”[1] The recommendations from the Sea Gem Inquiry were formalised in the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1971 which requires a registered OIM to be in charge of each installation.

Training and selection of OIMs has been the subject of research projects[2] and specialist training.[3]

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Offshore installation manager – Wikipedia

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