The Mysterious Case of Amelia Earhart

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the first female who flew across the Atlantic Ocean on her own, have baffled millions of people since 1937. Back then, hers was a name that was widely recognized due to her achievements in air travel. Consequent to the incident, she has come to be the subject of many public discussions – and the name Amelia Earhart has become even more prominent since. 2nd July 1937 was the day that she vanished into thin air, along with Fred Noonan, her navigator at the time. It happened over the course of her journey to Howland Island – in the Pacific – from Papua New Guinea. It was part of her expedition to fly around the world.

This mystery has lasted over eight decades and is fast approaching one whole century. In conjunction with this matter, many have come up with their own theories to explain the incident. The most unsettling question continues to be the same. Where are her remains?

With the advancement in forensic science, recent discoveries have revealed, or rather, overturned previous findings. Three years after her disappearance, back in 1940, about thirteen human bones were discovered on Gardner Island. Gardner Island, also referred to as Nikumaroro, was a secluded land amidst the Pacific that lies 1,200 miles away from the Marshall Islands. This led to a theory that suggests that Earhart did not die in a plane crash. In fact, Gardner Island is presumed to be the island where she had landed her plane on after some mishaps. This theory believes that she was stranded on the remote island and was never rescued until she eventually passed away. This theory has been brought up due to the statement made by Richard Jantz, a former anthropology Professor at the University of Tennessee, who allegedly claims that the bones belonged to Earhart.

The forensic analysis done in 1941 had eliminated this possibility because of the result that suggests it was the remains of a man, as opposed to Earhart. This examination was carried out by Dr. David Hoodless, the principal of the Central Medical School in Fiji, an island in the South Pacific Ocean. Three aspects were taken into consideration in his analysis. According to the New York Post, they are:

  • the ratio of the femur’s circumference to length
  • the angle of the femur and pelvis
  • the subpubic angle (the angle formed between two pelvis bones)

The gender can be determined by evaluating the subpubic angle. A notably narrower subpubic angle points to a male structure and vice versa.

The examination concludes that the bones were likely to have belonged to, says Jantz and quote, “short, stocky muscular European”. The height of said male is estimated to be around 5 feet and 5.5 inches. This, aside from the presumed gender, negates any hints of it being Earhart. Her flying license and driving license indicate that her height is around 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 7 inches respectively, which is in compliance with the estimation from her pictures. Both of these numbers far exceed the estimated height of whom the bones had belonged to. Noonan the navigator was eliminated from the possibilities because he was towering at the height of 6 feet and a quarter inch.

Nonetheless, Professor Jantz has pointed out the inaccuracy of the 19th century forensic science methods. The outdated approach may have, by a high percentage in the margin of error, miscalculated the actual height. This means that the height, in actuality, matches that of Amelia Earhart’s. With the utilization of up-to-date methods of analysis, Professor Jantz has reached a different conclusion in terms of sexual characteristics.

“When Hoodless conducted his analysis, forensic osteology was not yet a well-developed discipline. Evaluating his methods with reference to modern data and methods suggests that they were inadequate to his task; this is particularly the case with his sexing method. Therefore, his sex assessment of the Nikumaroro bones cannot be assumed to be correct,” quoting an official statement made by Richard Jantz in a paper that has been published in the Forensic Anthropology journal.

The only criteria that Jantz have shown approval of – in Dr. Hoodless’ report – is the measure of the subpubic angle. Even so, he has made a remark saying that it should be open “to considerable variation, much of which was little understood in 1941.”

Through research of his own, Jantz has allegedly proved his theory. He collected statistical figures from a sum of 2,776 individuals and made a juxtaposition of it with the numbers from Dr. Hoodless’ investigation from 1941. In addition, Jantz made approximations through the observation and close study of Earhart’s pictures and the sizing of her apparels.

“This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 percent of individuals in a large reference sample. This strongly supports the conclusion that the Nikumaroro bones belonged to Amelia Earhart,” concludes Professor Jantz.

All in all, this remains to be yet another theory. While Professor Jantz’s analysis and justification were implemented on the grounds of the new and improved analysis methods, other scholars of our generation have expressed their support and are still in agreement with Dr. David Hoodless’ findings that took place 77 years ago. There are also those who believe that her life ended in the Marshall Islands instead of Gardner Island.

Like any other controversial issue, the debates do not seem to be settling down anytime soon. In fact, another “alleged” evidence, in this case, was brought up just last year. That is most definitely not the first and will not be the last of it.

Featured Image via Flickr/IMLS Digital Collections and Content

Your new favorite beauty store: how Ulta beat Sephora

In 2013, beauty store chain Ulta welcomed a new CEO in Mary Dillon and ever since its star has been on the rise, Digiday notes.

It wasn’t long ago that Ulta was considered something along the lines of an expanded drugstore beauty aisle, while Sephora was considered to be the market leader in beauty. French giant Sephora has long held the preeminent position among beauty retail chains thanks to its wide roster of prestige beauty brands.

But Ulta evolved its own market strategy which allowed it to overtake Sephora in the beauty market in 2015, as reported by Bloomberg. So what’s Ulta’s strategy?

The popular beauty store stocks a mixture of less-expensive drugstore beauty brands and more-expensive prestige beauty brands. They offer products you could find at your local Walgreens as well as lines carried at Sephora and upscale department stores.

Urban Decay can be found gracing the beauty store’s shelves, and it recently made a deal to start working with MAC Cosmetics. Ulta has thus turned itself into a one-stop-shop for high-low beauty mavens. As its slogan runs: “All things beauty. All in one place.”

Additionally, Ulta developed an app to interface with guests. The app features makeup tutorial videos, and allows guests to try on makeup with its service “GlamLab.” It also allows guests to book in-store services for hair, brows, and skin. As of today, Sephora’s app has 535 ratings on the App Store, while Ulta’s app has 38,794.

Ulta also rejuvenated its previously-stale loyalty program. It made the program easier for guests to understand in order to cultivate long-term customers and repeated transactions. Last week at Boston’s eTail East conference, Ulta’s senior director of loyalty marketing Linh Peters stressed the importance of simplicity and ease of use in loyalty programs. That’s why, Peters claimed, 90 percent of Ulta’s business comes from loyalty program members.

Let’s look at how Sephora’s and Ulta’s respective loyalty programs differ.

In Sephora’s loyalty program, called Beauty Insiders, guests accrue points for every dollar spent. They can then trade those points and choose from a limited selection of mini beauty products, deluxe samples and in-store services.

Ulta’s loyalty program dispenses with the prizes and instead offers simple store credit, which means real savings for the customer. This way, guests can buy luxury brands cheaper than at Sephora, which rarely offers material discounts. Ulta also has a marketing team that works to offer targeted promotions to guests based on past shopping behavior.

Ulta has taken advantage of its boom in business to expand its store locations in flourishing strip malls, even as actual malls struggle.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons/Michael Rivera

Changes are coming to Google’s search results page

As reported by TechCrunch, changes are coming to Google’s mobile search.

Now: video previews

Now, whenever your Google search query returns video results, Google will automatically play a six-second video clip on the results page to give you an idea of its contents.

Don’t worry: the preview will be silent. Your search results will not be broadcasted to the world.

The video previews will not simply be the first six seconds of every video since the first six seconds of any video aren’t necessarily the most accurate reflection of the contents of the full video. That’s why Google has devised a program which can sift through the whole video and select a sex-second clip which, hopefully, gives you a better idea of what you’re about to watch. For each video, the same six-second clip will load for every user.

Google’s servers individually set the previews for each video, so not all videos will have previews yet. But the majority of videos people are likely to search will already have video previews ready. It may take a bit of time for newly-added videos to have previews available to load.

The new feature will work with most major video servers, including Google’s own YouTube.

Google hopes this new feature will give users an idea of what a video has in it, without any need to scrub through the video manually. It will also help users filter out videos that only ever show a single frozen image.

Currently, the preview feature is only available for mobile users via the Chrome and Google apps.

Upcoming: Google’s data-friendly search app

Video previews are not the only change Google has brewing for its search page. Google has been testing a data-friendly version of its search app, as Android Police reports.

The advantages of the new app are pretty straightforward: low data usage, high offline capabilities, and workability with slow connections. It won’t include as much pre-loaded data. It won’t include all the bells and whistles of the full Google search app, but it should work well for users who only need or can support the basic functions.

The app has also been designed to be simple and easily accessible.

The app is not yet available to the U.S. — a pilot version called “Search Lite” is currently being tested in Indonesia.

Amazon looks into military food tech

Could I interest you in a package of fully-cooked beef stew that sat unrefrigerated on a shelf for a year before being dropped on your doorstep? Or perhaps a vegetable frittata?

That’s what Amazon might have in store for us — lots of non-refrigerated pre-cooked food.

Amazon is reportedly looking into a process called microwave-assisted thermal sterilization, or MATS. This technology, developed at Washington State University, originated to meet the needs of the U.S. military. The process kills bacteria and seals meals using microwaves, allowing pre-cooked meals to remain safe for up to a year without refrigeration. The meals are easy to transport, and they only need to be heated up a bit before being eaten. As a result, they’re also quite cheap compared to fresh meals.

A Dever-based startup called 915 Labs is shopping the technology to Amazon. According to the startup, MATS has many advantages over other methods of sterilization currently being used in food processing. Traditional processing methods get rid of nutrients and flavor along with the bacteria. MATS allows dishes to be treated in a shorter amount of time, meaning that the dishes retain more of their original texture and flavor.

Amazon could get going on this new venture as soon as 2018. It would give Amazon a stronger foothold in the grocery market, which has long been a goal for the company. Prepared meals are much harder to transport than the millions of other shelf-safe items Amazon sells.

This isn’t the only move Amazon is making to chew up more of the food market. Amazon is also in the process of acquiring the grocery chain Whole Foods, and it already has a grocery delivery program in place called AmazonFresh.

Amazon has not yet confirmed that it will actually end up using microwave-assisted thermal sterilization.

Reuters has also suggested Wal-Mart may be looking into MATS as well. A company called Solve for Food is planning on setting up a MATS facility near Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Arkansas. Wal-Mart has not yet commented.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons

China is using quantum cryptography to produce unhackable transmissions

China has proven itself able to use quantum cryptography to produce what are essentially unhackable transmissions.

A Chinese group of researchers called the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale project, or QUESS, launched a quantum cryptography satellite into orbit in August last year.

This satellite has enabled the QUESS project to send quantum-encrypted messages from earth to the satellite — a record-setting distance of 1200 kilometers.

What is quantum cryptography?

But what makes this particular kind of encryption preferable to regular encryption?

Right now, regular encryption is generally considered safe since our computer technology hasn’t reached that level of sophistication. But some scientists predict that when quantum computing does become fully developed, traditional methods of encryption will no longer suffice to keep information secret.

According to the theory, quantum computers will move beyond our current computers, which rely on mathematics. Quantum computers will rely on the physical properties of sub-atomic particles. That’s why they are looking into methods of quantum encryption, which will be able to stand up to attempts to decode transmissions using quantum computers.

The specific technology the QUESS project used is called quantum key distribution, or QKD. Quantum encrypted messages are encrypted using a key generated by sending a random stream of photons between two communicating users. This method of encryption is essentially unbreakable because the behavior of photons is largely random, and because photons cannot be observed without interfering with their behavior and alerting the communicating parties.

You can learn more about quantum cryptography here.

What does this mean for the future of computing?

Not only is quantum cryptography a safe method of communication, it is also a tremendously effective one which is able to handle massive amounts of information. In the future, China envisages a whole network of people using quantum satellites to communicate at unprecedented levels of safety and speed.

QKD will allow people to send secret messages as never before. But many people worry that quantum cryptography will prove a mixed blessing. It will make it harder to hack into encrypted messages, yes. But what if a government needs to decrypt information for purposes of national security? Friends and enemies alike will be protected in this coming age of computers.

A Google employee’s manifesto calls for ideological diversity instead of gender parity

A manifesto titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” written by a software engineer at Google has garnered attention not only within the company but also throughout the broader media. The attention has been largely negative, as many commentators have found the manifesto to advance sexist arguments.

The manifesto was originally disseminated via the company’s internal email, but it has now been leaked. You can read the entire thing over at Gizmodo.

So, what does the manifesto say?

The author of the manifesto claims there is widespread discrimination against ideologically conservative employees at Google. It bewails the existence of mentoring and hiring programs at Google which target specific groups of people based on gender, race, or other factors.

The manifesto also claims that gender gaps in tech are the naturally-arising result of differing biological tendencies and capabilities among men and women, not the result of widespread discrimination against women.

The manifesto’s author writes: “I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”

According to the manifesto, “Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things.” It goes on to suggest “there may be a limit to how people-oriented certain roles at Google can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).”

The author of the manifesto speculates: “Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.”

Additionally, the manifesto bemoaned the inflexibility of male gender roles as compared to the flexibility of female gender roles.

Internal reactions

Within Google, employees have tended to respond negatively to the manifesto, and many have taken to social media to express such views. However, at least one article suggests there may be some internal support for certain points raised by the manifesto.

Google’s VP of diversity, Danielle Brown, who was hired mere weeks before this incident, spoke out against the manifesto, saying:

“Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.”

In response to the outcry against the manifesto, its author affixed the following statement to the manifesto: “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.”

Previous problems with diversity at Google

In January of this year, the U.S. Department of Labor sued Google for withholding records related to compliance with labor regulations. An investigation ensued, and by April the DOL came back and accused Google of “systemic compensation disparities against women.”

Largest Offshore Wind Farm To Be Built Off Long Island

The Long Island Power Authority approved the country’s biggest offshore wind farm on Wednesday in order to meet the growing demand in the Hamptons for energy. The wind farm is set to be built between the eastern tip of Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

The farm is the first of several planned by developer Deepwater Wind. It will be in a 256-square-mile parcel, with room for 200 turbines. As many as 15 turbines, leased from the federal government, will generate enough energy to power 50,000 average homes in all.

Thomas Falcone, chief executive of the power authority, said to a crowd before the vote, “It is the largest project to date, but it will not be the last project.” This approval comes a month after the country’s only other working offshore energy farm, also a Deepwater project, began providing customers energy from the grid. This project is located in Rhode Island state water off Block Island.

This project signals the nation’s turn toward new, lower-carbon source of electricity. The effort to mainstream this energy has been invigorated by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal to get half of the state’s power from renewable sources by 2030.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Cuomo said “This project will not only provide a new, reliable source of clean energy but will also create high-paying jobs, continue our efforts to combat climate change and help preserve our environment.”

The project was initially projected to cost $1 billion but has now been adjusted to $740 million. Jeff Grybowski, Deepwater’s chief executive, plans to finance the project with loans and equity investments.

Before the project can begin, however, developers must study and map the ocean floor to determine where and how to anchor every turbine. Then, they must obtain federal and state permits. In order to start transmitting power by the end of 2022, Deepwater must start construction no later than 2020.

DEA Lists All ‘Marihuana’ extracts as Schedule I Drugs

On December 21, the Federal Register included a new item entitled 21 CFR Part 1308, which lists all ‘marihuana’ extracts as Schedule I drugs, including cannabidiol (CBD), which has legitimate, able-to-be-proven medicinal benefits. Oh, and not to mention, it’s NON-psychoactive, so it does NOT get users high.

Just to clarify, there are three criteria listed on the DEA’s website that qualify a drug for the Schedule 1 list: the drug must have a high potential for abuse, the drug has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of safety associated with use of the drug even under medical supervision.

Now, have a look at this. In an article entitled “5 Must-Know Facts About Canabidiol (CBD)” found on, there are seven medical properties of CBD listed: antiemetic (reduced nausea and vomiting), anticonvulsant, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumoral/anti-cancer, anxiolytic/anti-depressant.

Furthermore, the U.S. Cancer Institute, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health, states on their website, “another active cannabinoid is CBD, which may relieve pain, lower inflammation, and decrease anxiety without causing the ‘high.’” The site goes on to say, “cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies.”

Seeing the discrepancy yet?

Like you, I too am wondering why the DEA would blatantly ignore the criteria they created, in order to place CBD, a ‘drug’ that has many apparent medical benefits under a category of drugs that are supposed to have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment.” So CBD is now alongside drugs peyote, meth, and heroine.

Supposedly, the new regulation is supposed to help the DEA track medical benefits of each individual extraction from the genus Cannabis. However, many of the marijuana industry leaders fear the classification is the first shot of many to come from the new presidential administration, in order to diminish and reverse the progress made in legalizing the industry.

And just like that, it all comes back to Trump.

Evolutionary Biologists Discover Luca

For many years, evolutionary biologists have tried to uncover the mysteries of life. Now, they may be one step closer to that reality with the discovery of Luca (the last universal common ancestor).

Luca is a one-cell bacterium-like structure that resided on Earth 4 billion years ago when the Earth was still 560 million years old.

With the discovery of Luca, scientists may be able to account for the origin of life and where life first emerged. Did life emerge in an extreme environment or a peaceful environment?

Biologists often question the identity of life’s earliest ancestor due to inadequate data. It is difficult to trace early ancestry with a lack of common ancestry among the three domains of life archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes.

Scientists now speculate that bacteria and archaea emerged first. Eukaryotes evolved from bacteria and archaea and developed later. A group of evolutionary biologists used this information as a starting point for their studies. William F. Martin from Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany, is currently leading a team of researchers to figure out the origins of archaea and bacteria.

Evolutionary biologists use protein coding genes of archaea and bacteria to trace ancestry. Over the years, scientists accumulated 6 million genes with gene decoding machinery. Gene sequences were taken from thousands of microbes.

By utilizing 6 million gene sequences, scientists can form evolutionary family trees by comparing genes of different organisms. If an organism shares a gene with a different organism, they must have descended from the same ancestral line. Scientists have recently found that only 355 genes meet the criteria of descending from Luca.

Researchers are using the 355 discovered genes to figure out where life first surfaced.
The 355 genes reveal that Luca lived in severe environmental conditions. The genes pointed that Luca resided in a hypothermal vent. Vapor is exuded from the area due to seawater reacting with magma.

Dr. Martin also sparked debate in evolutionary science by suggesting that Luca may be similar to the origin of life. Mr. Martin supports his theory by stating that Luca doesn’t have the necessary genes for living and Luca is “half-alive”. This is because Luca uses the chemicals in its environment to survive.
Certain biologists don’t agree with Dr. Martin’s theory and argue that Luca is too complex to be close to the origin of life.

Jack Szostak studies cell membrane evolution at Massachusetts General Hospital and states that Luca is too complex to be the beginning of living things. As reported by Dr. Martin’s data, Luca is capable of synthesizing proteins, but little information indicates that Luca can synthesize simpler proteins.

Another flaw with Dr. Sutherland’s theory is that there is too little evidence to prove that Luca is “half-living”. Just because Luca relies on environmental factors for its survival it doesn’t mean it’s half alive. We go to the supermarket to get food that is necessary for our survival, but that doesn’t mean that we are half-alive.

Although Luca originated from hypothermal vents, this isn’t necessarily where life originated. Life could have spawned somewhere else and drifted to live in oceanic environments due to unexpected events.

Some scientists theorize that life materialized after the late heavy bombardment. Oceans and seas were vaporized but a deep refuge in the ocean may have supported early life.
Dr. Sutherford doesn’t agree with this theory. He is skeptical about prebiotic chemistry being applicable in the ocean. The ocean would have prevented any chemical compounds from forming. In addition, many chemical reactions of life require ultraviolet light from the sun. With enough evidence to contradict Dr. Martin’s theory, Mr.Sutherford concluded that life was probably formed on the surface of a pond rather than deep in the ocean.

CBS Radio is Filing for an IPO

With the radio business declining, it’s no surprise that CBS is splitting off its radio company.

The radio business is a shrinking business due to the rise in digital media. With the rise of digital media, it is risky to invest in a traditional media company. With the rise of digital media there are risks of potentially losing market share to rivals and declines in advertising revenue.

The statistics show as well. CBS radio has accumulated a net loss of $136.5 million on revenue of $1.2 billion last year, after the diminished value of licenses. In 2014, revenue was 1.3$ billion and the net income was $176.5 million. The Radio Advertising Bureau states that radio advertising sales have decreased 1 percent even with digital radio sales increasing by 5 percent.

CBS Wants Nothing to do with its Radio Business

The CBS Radio Inc., a division of the parent company CBS Corp., is filing for an initial public offering. The company is filing for an initial offering of $100 million. The initial offering was discussed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. The $100 million is just a placeholder to calculate fees and will change. CBS Radio plans to take a debt to give CBS Corp. and the Friday filing shows in addition to the IPO proceeds.

CBS radio consisted of 117 stations established in the country’s major markets. The prospectus states, “upon completion of both this offering and the separation, we believe we will be a very well-capitalized company and well-positioned to take advantage of our strong assets, scale and competitive strengths to grow our business.”

When CBS Radio becomes an independent company, CBS plans to get rid of common stocks. If the spin off doesn’t occur, CBS will sell its common shares to outside buyers or company stockholders.

A Shuttle lands on a Comet that Could Have Had Alien Life

Speculations of alien life have always kept resurfacing for decades now. May be in the near future, scientists will be successful to find and contact aliens quite easily. One such supposed close contact happened quite recently.

Researchers from the University of Cardiff have said that the European Space Agency’s craft may have landed on a comet that could easily support alien life. The comet possessed an organic and rich black crust that possibly had organic life under its icy crust.

Comets with such characteristics could have what is called “extremophiles.” Such organisms even live on earth through the harshest conditions and still survive. Comets like the 67p do have the required conditions for such life forms, according to astrobiologist and astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe from the Cardiff University and his colleague Max Willis.

To support this theory, the Rosetta craft that was orbiting the comet has even picked up samples of a strange organic material that look like viral particles. Hopefully, this will be a breakthrough for mankind that will only lead to bigger and better findings to increase our understanding of the universe.

NASA Satellites Say Polar Ice Caps are Actually Not Retreating

We’ve all been indirectly aware of the “ozone crisis”, and its affect on one of Earth’s most fragile and essential eco-systems, the polar ice caps. With irrefutable evidence from countless scientists and political figures, how was anybody supposed to deny that this was indeed happening to our planet?

Recently, as of this month, NASA satellite instruments have failed to detect a decrease in the overall size of the ice caps, and are surprisingly above the post-1979 recorded levels as of 2012.

Following the NASA satellite instrument launch in 1979, the polar ice caps had just experienced the end of a 30 year cooling trend, setting the first observable and measurable surface area of ice caps larger than they would be at a normal level. This could possibly be to blame for the environmental panic and media extravaganza on abnormally low and receding ice caps.

Beginning in 2005, ice caps began to “modestly” recede for several years, almost retreating 10% when compared to the extensive measurements of 1979. However, environmental scientists cast a cloud of doubt over these approximations, as people tend to misconstrue the difference between receding ice caps on land and sea, leading scientists to believe that the ice had retreated much less than the 10% propagated by environmental alarmists.

As of 2012, NASA’s instruments projected a clear image of the polar ice caps, which provides proof of the ice, “Dramatically rebound[ing] and quickly surpass[ing] the post-1979 average.”

Currently, in May of 2015, the polar ice levels are presumed to have returned to nearly 5% above the post-1979 average, and are steadily reconstructing themselves.

Image via NASA

Los Angeles to Raise its Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour

The minimum wage debate in the United States took a turn this week when the Los Angeles City Counsel voted to raise the minimum wage from $9 to $15 per hour. This increase will occur incrementally over the next five years with the per-year rate sitting at $1.50.

In Los Angeles, more than half of the working population earns less than $15 per hour. As the second largest city in the United States, this increase will have the most widespread impact of any wage increase thus far.

Many cities on the West Coast have passed higher minimum wage bills. Seattle and San Francisco have already passed similar $15 legislations, Chicago is up to $13 per hour, while cities like San Diego and Oakland are operating above $11 per hour. New York City, Washington D.C and Kansas City have all proposed the same $15 wage increase.

The magnitude of this type of increase has not been seen since the creation of the Welfare State in the 1960’s.

Labor advocates will tally their greatest victory to date as the Los Angeles City Counsel passed the measure by a 14-1 vote. With rising inflation and an outdated federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, states and city municipalities have been forced to take the issue into their own hands.

After the minimum wage increases to $15 in 2020, it will be connected to an average of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This essentially connects the minimum wage to inflation rates, allowing for a correlated rise or fall in wages with the value of the dollar. A ratio like this will attempt to avoid political paralysis on the topic.

These increases affect all employers, however small businesses (defined in this case as 25 employees or fewer) will be granted an additional year to comply.

Some argue that older individuals should have a higher minimum wage, however the oft discussed age scale for minimum wage will not be enacted. Law stipulates that workers between the ages of 14 and 17 must be paid 85 percent of the minimum wage for their first 160 hours of employment, however after the age of 17, all workers have the same minimum wage.

According to President Obama, increases to the minimum wage should be occurring on a federal level as well, with the White House Council of Economic Advisers publishing a study concluding that 19 million workers would directly benefit from an increase of $10.10 per hour.

That said, there are plenty minimum wage opponents. Challengers hold that higher wages will induce excessive layoffs. Most of these thinkers are conservative free market capitalists, believing that the market should set wages, rather than the government. In simpler terms, workers should be paid their worth. Individuals of this disposition worry that a standard wage will lead to less jobs and increased outsourcing. This concern is specifically focused on small businesses, a sector where wage increases can directly lead to closings or relocations.

There are certain individuals and industries that will be particularly be affected by this trend. In 2012, 59 percent of the minimum wage workers were below the age of 24; of those, 59 percent were women. In terms of affected industries, the hospitality and dining businesses are very reliant upon low-skill, low-wage work and may be forced to downsize in the aftermath. However, minimum wage advocates hold that these ill effects can be mitigated by price increases.

For both sides of the debate, one fact holds true. No one is sure what the future impacts of such a dramatic increase will be, but they will shape the labor discussion for generations to come.

Image: Via Flickr/PIctures of Money

The 5 Best Summer Jobs

Let’s face it; college takes a lot of time and money. So, when you are left with so much free time during the summer, what better way than to earn cash while you can.

Summer jobs are everywhere, but which ones will earn you the most cash is the real question.

Yahoo Finance has figured out the best summer jobs to help college or highschool kids save up the most amount of money before returning back to responsibilities.

  1. Theme Park Ride Operator: themeparkoperatorEver imagined working those rides as a kid? Well now you can do it. If you are looking for a job that will add some thrill this might be the one for you. You will be in charge of operating the ride, stopping and starting it, as well as making sure the riders are following the safety rules. If you are good at consoling a few scared riders that will be a plus too. The average pay for an amusement park operator is around $9.08 an hour. Via
  2. Cruise Photographer:cruisephotographer In the mood to travel this summer? Are you a good photographer? Well you are in luck because as a cruise photographer you can travel the world this summer while earning some cash. As long as you can handle taking photo after photo of up to hundreds of people a day and you have professional photography experience then this can be the job for you. Not to mention you will be getting paid around $13.70 an hour, usually rounding to $2,100 a month. Via Cruise Ship Jobs.
  3. Golf Caddie: golfcaddieSomeone needs to lug all those clubs around. It could be you if you do not mind walking out in the sun for hours carrying a big bag. That is another way to get your summer body. Plus you can get anywhere from $50 to $100 per bag for just a 4.5 hour shift. Depending on how many bags you get a day you can make up to $3,436 a month. Via Ritz Carlton.
  4. Lifeguard:lifegaurd The most typical out of the summer jobs. If you are willing to take a couple classes to learn the safety precautions behind the job and earn a certification in CPR and you love the water this is perfect for you. Just be prepared to save a couple lives. You can be earning up to $9.18 an hour for the summer. Via Wikipedia.
  5. Ice Cream Man: icecreamtruckWant to start your own business this summer, then get into the ice cream industry by getting your own ice cream truck and become your neighborhoods ice cream man or woman. This job is flexible and if you do not want to follow the lead of others this may be the job for you. You pick your own hours and areas, of course picking the ones that would work best for your business like in the afternoon in the busiest block or park. It takes a bit of research and knowledge of where you live, but you can be making an average of $12.18 an hour. Via Wikipedia

The summer is the perfect time to earn and save up some cash for when school rolls around again and you are short of time. These five jobs will guarantee you the most money earned this summer.

Find the one that best suits you.

Image via Flickr/kandyjaxx

How the Supreme Court Protected Your Retirement Fund

On Monday the Supreme Court extended the statute of limitations for class action law suits against employers for improper management of employee retirement funds. The decision was unanimous and came from the case Tibble v. Edison, a class action suit concerning investment choices and high mutual fund fees.

The issue presented in Tibble centered around whether an employer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in offering retail-class mutual funds when identical, cheaper mutual funds were available. More specifically, the court ruled that the six-year statute of limitations was unjust.

This decision redistributes risk of retirement plans back onto the employer in a similar fashion to Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer (2013). Two years ago, the court ruled that the fiduciary is in fact not entitled to a “presumption of prudence,” forcing companies into increasingly sketchy legal ground when selecting stocks to suggest to participants.

If employers buy company stock for individual retirement plans they will be left vulnerable to insider trading accusations. That said, if an employer buys company stock and it goes down, they would be vulnerable to lawsuits for violating the duty of prudence (as the “presumption of prudence” is no longer a legal safety net). And finally, if companies do nothing, other investors may take idleness as insecurity and sell their stock, forcing the price down. Defined contribution plans, despite increasing legal exposure for corporations, are tremendously beneficial for employers.

The past 25 years has marked a dramatic shift for retirement plan policies. With the growing prevalence of defined contribution plans (e.g. 401ks) there has been a shift of risk from employer to employee. On the other hand, defined benefit programs (e.g. pensions) guarantee a certain amount of money to the employee, and if investments in the program underperform, employers are responsible for covering the difference.

The shift to defined contribution plans has been sudden and stark. In 1989, full-time private sector workers were evenly divided between defined benefit and defined contribution plans whereas in 2010, 50 percent of private sector workers had defined contribution plans where only 22% had defined benefits.

Sometimes, as was the case with Tibble, employers offer stock to employees that is preferred rather than ordinary, increasing the fees associated with the retirement plan for disproportionately marginal gains. Additionally, certain stocks selected can be unnecessarily risky, and companies are prone to impose additional, hidden charges.

While the Supreme Court has consistently upheld the fiduciary responsibility of employers to conduct due diligence concerning investments, it has refused to define what that means. In other words, companies are required to extensively monitor their employee’s accounts, but many question how far companies must go to preclude themselves from legal liability. Therefore, companies cannot ignore retirement accounts, but they don’t have to monitor them excessively.

In Tibble, the 9th Circuit Court was overruled on its interpretation of the statute of limitations. The specifics of the case however were not decided upon, and remanded to a lower court to determine whether the fiduciaries shirked their responsibility of due diligence.

The Supreme Court has taken the right stand on this matter. Employers rarely offer defined benefit plans anymore; opting for defined contribution plans instead. This is clearly in their interest as employees now bear much of the risk associated with such.

To protect workers, the Supreme Court has continuously increased the legal risk of offering such plans. These 401k plans, which were never intended to serve as retirement plans in the first place, are a main contributor to the increasing retirement inequality in America, and must be amended to protect consumers from unnecessary and undue risk.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court protected your retirement fund by increasing corporate liability for the mismanagement of defined contribution plans.


Photo via Supreme Court of the United States

Highest Paid Executive Woman is Apple’s Senior VP

Highest paid women in the U.S.  is Apple Inc.’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts.

According to Bloomberg, Ahrendts made $82.6 million in 2014 when she was working as the chief executive officer for London luxury fashion retailer Burberry Group Plc. At 54 years old she became the first women on the management team in May 2014.

All her pay came from a sign-on bonus and a make-whole grant for awards while at Burberry. This totaled to $105.5 million in value.

Spokesman for Apple, Josh Rosenstock would not comment on Ahrendts compensation.

The highest paid women CEO in the U.S. for 2014 is Marissa Mayer from Yahoo! Inc. At 39 years old she made $59.1 million but that still did not beat out the highest paid executives as she ranked number three on the Bloomberg Pay Index.

The number two on the list is chief financial officer, Safra Catz of Oracle Corporations being awarded a total of $71.2 million in 2014. Catz was soon named co-CEO of the company after the end of the 2014 fiscal year. This gained her 500,000 options and 125,000 performance stock units in the September filing.

As measured by Bloomberg pay ranking that calculates pay-for-performance, Ahrendts had the best rating among all the top executive women. The Apple company based in Cupertino, California had a $28.6 billion three-year average economic profit.

CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, Marillyn Hewson won the third-best dollar-for-dollar performance. When she became CEO of the company its revenue had decreased by 16 percent and ever since her takeover in January 2013, the revenue has raised over 54 percent.

Hewson made $36.7 million by the end of 2014 which is 2.9 percents of the company’s three-year profit of $1.28 million.

Other women who appear on the ranking are Mylan NV CEO  Heather Bresch who has made $40 million, co-CEO and chairman of United Therapeutics Corporation, Martine Rothblatt making $33.3 million.

Facebook Inc. executive Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter Ince. General Counsel Vijaya Gadde who have recently been on the ranking, did not make it for the 2014 year. Sandberg made a total of $17.6 million and Vijaya $5.8 million which did not make the index.


Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Pro 2

When the first Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13 debuted, it was a standout among proven tablets. Its unique hinge that allowed the screen to be folded all the way backward gave it a decisive edge over its competitors. Three modes- tent, slate and stand- definitely attached a cool factor to it.

But, as with most gadgets and do-hickeys, the passage of time exposes flaws, and rivals invariably step their game up. Other Ultrabooks offered longer battery life and sharper screens, so it was time for Lenovo to hit the reset button. Enter the Yoga Pro 2. The new cpu is both thinner and lighter than its predecessor, plus it features a 3,200 x 1,800 display, which is a quantum leap from 1,600 x 900 display used in the one form yesteryear. Idle battery life has been cranked up to a whopping nine hours, according to Lenovo. It must be noted, however, that it only offers six-and-a-half hours of video playback.

The Yoga Pro 2 is inviting to the touch. It has a rubberized keyboard that’s smooth and fingerprint resistant, and the hinge motion is smooth and seems built to last, as it should be. A rubber rim along the edges of the screen protect the display when it’s standing upside down in tent mode.

The new Yoga is about a third of a pound lighter than the one before it at 3.06 lbs. Its width is comparable to other Ultrabooks, but is slightly shorter than most. The Yoga Pro 2 hasn’t changed the keyboard much besides backlighting, which is a good thing. The keys are well-spaced, and though the Enter, Caps and Tab keys could be bigger, it still is an easy and comfortable keyboard to use.

One possible drawback about the whole package could be the display; it’s incredibly sharp, and, at times, too sharp. Not all apps have been optimized for displays above 1080p. During an engadget test, even the Windows Media Player, which is a built-in Windows app, featured controls that were impractically tiny. Many websites through Google Chrome suffered the same fate, although they were fine through Firefox and Internet Explorer 11.

Lenovo has thrown in Yoga Chef, which enables you to use motion control to move through menus and recipe pages. Yoga Camera man comes with a bevy of filters to improve photos. Yoga Photo Touch takes editing a bit further, as it enables you to create collages or add bubble text to pictures.

Lenovo offer a Yoga Pro 2 with a Core i5 processor and 256 GB SSD for $1,399. Stepping it up to an i7 processor will cost you $1,499, currently on sale for $1,299. The best-equipped model has i7, 8GB of RAM and 512GB solid-state drive costs $1,749, currently on sale for $1,599.

The Yoga Pro 2’s competitors cover a wide range of price points and brand names. The Dell XPS 12 starts at $1,000. It has a cool carbon fiber design and a 1080p display matched with a hinge that allows the screen to be bent back away from the keyboard. The Sony Vaio Duo 13 employs a slider-style that has been improved since the Duo 11. The mechanism to prop the screen up and expose the laptop must be learned, but it’s a seamless operation once you get the hang of it. The Sony Vaio Duo 13 starts at $1,400.


Photo via

Bengal Tiger Snatches Fisherman in Front of Children

A Bengal tiger snatched a fisherman off his boat and killed him while his children were watching on June 26 in India.

According to the Fox News, Sushil Manjhi was crab fishing with his son and daughter in a stream in the Sunderbans National Park. The tiger jumped on their boat and got Manjhi’s neck.

Jyotish, Munjhi’s son, told Fox News on the telephone that the tiger “quickly flung my father on his back and gave a giant leap before disappearing into the forest.” He also said he and his sister tried to use sticks and a knife to beat the tiger. The actions did not scare the tiger away, and Munjhi was dragged to a mangrove swamp, where he died.

The incident is not only a tragic accident, but it also underlines the potential danger of villagers fishing in the area. Even though it is illegal to do so, many villagers make their living by fishing and hunting in forests and rivers because they can sell their game at good prices in the markets.

Officials from the national park said this is the fourth deadly attack so far this year.




Photo:  flickr/Tambako The Jaguar


Stella McCartney and Angelina Jolie Collaborate

Angelina Jolie’s recently released Disney film, “Maleficent”, has brought a dark twist to the sleeping beauty fairy tale. The film was released on May 30. With this release came a new fashion trend for children.

Jolie collaborated with renowned, London-based designer Stella McCartney to create a children’s collection which exhibits styles from the flick. The collection was released a month prior to the film’s debut, however the growing popularity of the film makes now an appropriate time to purchase these styles.

“There is a bit of a darkness to Maleficent which can be really scary at times but at the same time visually brilliant,” McCartney commented on the film’s unique tone. Jolie also discussed consolidating the film’s spirit when creating this line, saying, “It gets very, very dark. But it had these colors.”

It seems that McCartney has a history of being a Disney fan. Back in 2009 she featured “Bambi” characters in her campaign ad. Then, in 2010, McCartney worked with Disney to produce a costume jewelry collection for Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”McCartney told Women’s Wear Daily, “I’ve always been a huge fan of Disney growing up, as was my mother, and I grew up watching all the films like most kids did. When the opportunity presented itself and I was invited by Angelina Jolie to visit the film set, I jumped at the chance.”

The items are available online or at Stella McCartney and Disney stores. The line provides a range of fashions which are all based off of the film. There are shiny purple dresses to dragon covered t-shirts as well as sandals and sneakers. The clothing is aimed at both boys and girls from ages 4-14 and the items are priced at $75-$185. The prices may seem high for children’s attire, however 10% of profits go to SOS Children’s Villages, and organization that works at providing homes for children in need.


Photo: Courtesy Photo

Mega Millions Climbs After Sixth Drawing with No Winner

The lottery is one of those things where we know its never going to happen, but for whatever reason most  just can’t keep away, hoping the day would come where they win the jackpot . After the sixth drawing without a winner the Mega Millions jackpot will be at $55 million for tuesday’s drawing. Though buying a ticket is almost the same as throwing a couple of dollars into the trash, buying into the dream even for a little bit makes it worth it for a lot of people. If you are lucky enough to win though, you’ll walk away with $31 million if you choose to take it in a lump sum.

This past May, there was one week in which the Mega Millions and the Powerball national lotteries were both numbered in the nine digit range. Then on May 20, one person matched all 6 numbers on the Mega Million to win a mind boggling $149 million dollars. It is starting to look like the Mega Millions will break the $100 million barrier once again. The Powerball is currently at 221 million. Be warned though the official Powerball site has the odds set at 1 to 175,223,510.

The Mega Millions company still does not know who won the fortune three weeks ago. They announced that the ticket was bought at White Oak Gas & Grocery, 1100 Fawcett Ave., McKeesport, Allegheny County and that the store received $100,000 as a reward for selling the winning ticket. The actual winning ticket owner has yet to step forward though to claim his or her prize.

So if you’re feeling particularly lucky by a ticket or two. There’s almost always a guarantee that you’ll lose, but hey you got to be in it to win it. In the mean time enjoy day dreaming about what you’re going to blow your millions on. Maybe a new house? A new car? The trip of a life time? Whatever you decide on, spending your loot will be easy. It’s winning it that’s the hard part.  But “Hey, you never know”!