Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth (INFOGRAPHIC)

For you pocket protecting, tapped glasses and bow tie wearing fun loving video game nerds out there here is some advice on how to propose to your lady and for those who do not care for the nerdy variety here are some things to consider. For that matter, all men out there here is a guide to the proposal from Neomam Infographic Studios breaking down the essentials of your big day before you reach the big day. Even if you are married or not quite there, this infographic will make your day.
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Poverty has an Expiration Date?

According the World Bank, it does. What is the difference between extreme poverty and poverty? Who defined it? While the governments of the world figure this out, the World Bank has set a deadline for 2030 to end extreme global poverty emphasizing that the poorest benefit from strong growth and rising prosperity in developing nations Reuters reports. According to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on Saturday following a meeting of the World Bank’s Development Committee, “For the first time in history we have committed to setting a target to end poverty. We are no longer dreaming of a world free of poverty; we have set an expiration date for extreme poverty.”  The goal plans to reduce extreme poverty to 3 percent and target the bottom 40 percent of people living in each country of the developing world.

The target of the World Bank aims to guide the institution and work with the United Nations to make plans post-2015 poverty strategy to replace existing goals. The developing world has seen a growth of about 6 percent annually in their economies with millions of people being lifted out of poverty creating a new global middle class which has also allowed for increases in growing inequality. As the Committee explains, “We recognize that sustained economic growth needs a reduction in inequality. Investments that create opportunities for all citizens and promote gender equality are an important end in their own right, as well we being integral to creating prosperity.” This week the World Bank released figures that show extreme poverty has plunged since 1990 with 21 percent from 43 percent and that most of the poor are heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, while China has slashed extreme poverty according to Reuters. Kim also said climate change and investments in heath and education were discussed as well.

The meeting also called for donor fundraising campaigns by the World Bank’s fund for its poorest borrowers urging strong participation by all countries. Every three years according to Huff Post, donors from rich and developing economies alike raise funds for the Bank’s International Development Association or IDA, while the United States, Britain and Nordic nations are usually the biggest funders for the past several years Brazil, India, China, Chile, Argentina and Peru have also donated funds. However with the current financial climates in Europe and the United States, the World Bank will be more restrictive when it comes to how the money is used so not to impact the poor. The emphasis according to Kim should be on helping fragile  and conflict hit countries.

One Nation Under Pot With Liberty and Justice for All

Marijuana Industry

The War on Drugs will never end anytime soon, but some progress has been made to make marijuana at least medicinal marijuana legal in the United States with the help of an unlikely source. As more and more states legalized medicinal and non medicinal marijuana use, the more mom and pop dispensaries are popping up across the nation forcing the federal government to take action on a battle they might not win especially with growing support from the medical community and now labor unions. As you stroll down the busy streets of Los Angeles lines with a variety of wares for sale you might notice something a little bit different about your neighborhood friendly medicinal marijuana shop around the corner and for that matter pot dispensaries that dot the city. The difference you ask: On the door underneath the green cross, representing medical marijuana can be purchased here, is a sticker for the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) which is the largest retail union in the U.S.

The Venice Beach Care Center, one of three medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles staffed by due paying union members, symbolizes the growing the bond between medical marijuana industry and struggling labor unions. Another 49 in Los Angeles plan to join with the UFCW this year the union says, Reuters reports. During the last few years, the UFCW has increasingly become involved in campaigns to allow medical marijuana in California, 17 other states, and even Washington D.C. In the November elections, UFCW operatives helped efforts in Colorado where voter approved the measure that allows 21 years of age or older to carry at least one ounce or less of the drug. A law similar in Washington was approved as well as regulation of marijuana growers, processors and retailers according to Reuters. The strategy behind the support of marijuana from UFCW partly comes from the hope that the marijuana industry will create hundreds of thousands of members at a time to rebuild the labor union membership. Retail unions and organized labor has struggled to keep their collective bargaining power in recent years, but hope that the 3,000 UFCW members who work in the cannabis industry will keep growing. The problem remains whether or not the U.S. government will accept the industry whose product is illegal under federal law but increasingly accepted by states making it difficult to predict the number of job that will be created as well.  The president has already said publicly he will not pursue recreational pot users in Colorado and Washington since the legalization on Nov. 6, but will the government allow widespread sales of the drug since it is still illegal on the federal level.

Even with an uncertain future, many in the marijuana industry see great growth potential especially unions and retailers. According to Sea Change Stragtegy, a non profit research firm, estimates the market could grow to $8.9 billion by 2016 (think of all the tax money people) and a study done by Washington state’s Office of Financial Management said legalization could bring $1 billion in sales per year to the state which hols only 2 percent of the U.S. population. Dan Rush, leader of the UCFW cannabis division, hopes the industry expands to supports jobs across the country from growers to truck drivers to carpenters to retail clerks and could rival the alcohol industry or U.S crops estimating that 100,000 workers could be added to their unions in California alone. For now, marijuana retailers have invited the UFCW into their shops in hopes to legitimize their business and gain support against those who operate outside the law.

Of course not everyone supports the idea of unions in the marijuana industry, a prime example of this can be seen in Colorado where retailer see the legitimacy that the labor unions bring but worry that the support could crumble the shaky financial footing of their small operations. As one retailer in Denver explained that the concern is having a union shop will drive up costs and hurt the value of his business: “Colorado isn’t a big union state anyway. I was surprised that they put so much focus and money in here in the first place.” The struggle to legitimize a demonized industry continue in state’s where marijuana has been legalized. The UFCW’s Rush who is based in Oakland, California, remembers in 2009 when deciding to get involved with he marijuana industry as not all the leaders were sold, but eventually was able to persuade enough leaders that the same union that organized Hotess bakery workers could represent the people who made pot brownies according to Reuters. Last year in California federal authorites shut down 200 medical marijuana business including the first unionized shop demonstrating the gap between federal and state laws. Union leaders hope to help these business navigate through the legal jargon and pressure lawmakers to change as UFCW local 770 in Los Angeles is pushing a ballot measure to set zoning and safety standard for medical pot dispensaries as police and residents have complained about less reputable shops in some neighborhoods. Ayrn Taylor, 23 who works at Venice Beach Care Center, says, ” I feel safer with the union around.” The union gathers enough signatures for the local ballot in May limiting the number of dispensaries in Los Angeles to 130, while the 50 plus union dispensaries would be allowed to stay open even though their are 900 dispensaries believed to be in operation in Los Angeles according to one city councilman. If the ballot is approved, it would put most of these out of business and make the UFCW a major player in the legalized marijuana market.

A New Era in the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis Civil Unions

With the approach of holy week and the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis fast approaching, let’s watch the highlight and low-light reels for this week as big decision are coming for the Catholic church.

Pope Francis and GLAAD: Oh you knew it was coming. The surprising fact many may not be aware of is the fact the pope at one point supported civil unions for gay couples. The focus though for the LGBT communities had been his public stance on gay marriage, mainly that it’s a “destructive attack on God’s plan”, and his opposition to gay adoption that it discriminates against children. However according to Huff Post as recently as 2010 then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio suggested the church support civil unions as a compromise of sorts as at the time they were legal in parts before the gay marriage bill was passed in his home of Argentina. Although the bishops rejected his suggestion, Argentina passed the law making it the first South American country to do so. While some are optimistic about the new pope, some who knew him before are less. As Esteban Paulon, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transexuals, told the Times, “The reality, beyond what he may have said in private meetings, was that he said some terrible things in public…He took a role, in public, that was determinedly combative.” GLAAD President Herndon Gradick shared the same sentiment in a statement to Huff Post, explaining, “For decades the Catholic hierarchy has been in need of desperate reform. In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict’s short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely.” Oh by the way GLAAD the Pope does not only answer to God he has to answer to his congregation and the Curia so anyone in his position has an uphill battle ahead…give him some time cut the man some slack he has been pope for 2 minutes.

Pope Francis and Mislead Flock: As we all know or have seen, the pope traditionally holds Mass of the Lord’s Supper in St. Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Latern reports Catholic News Service. This year, Pope Francis decided to do things his way and break with tradition by celebrating Holy Thursday of next week washing and kissing the feet of juvenile prisoners in Rome’s Casal del Marmo. The service typically includes washing and kissing the feet of 12 people commemorating Jesus’ humility towards his twelve apostles. The service is not atypical for the pope as in his former life as Argentine’s Cardinal Bergoglio he often held Holy Thursday ceremony in jails, hospitals or other locations associated with the poor and infirm according to Huff Post. According to Agence France-Presse, Pope Francis wants to narrow the gap between the laypeople and the Church.

Pope Francis and The Incredibly Shrinking Priesthood: As the congregation around the world becomes bigger even in the U.S., the problem of no one to lead these congregation has become increasingly apparent. In order to deal with the priest shortage, the Catholic Church has decided to look to former Anglican leaders to fill the void reports Huff Post. The number of men entering the priesthood in the U.S. has dropped about 20,000 since 1975 while the number of the faithful has increased by 17 million according to CBS. Allowing Anglican priests to convert was a way to solve the problem as seen by former Pope Benedict XVI who issued an edict in 2009 to create “a new structure to welcome some disenchanted Anglicans into the Roman Catholic fold,” Time notes. At a Vatican news conference last October, Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect for the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith, according to the New York Times, commented that Anglicans who wish to convert would now be able “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.” The New York Times of course in an article about married Catholic priests raised some interesting questions as married priest were banned in 1123 by the First Lateran Council however married converts have been allowed since 1980:

First, are they doing as good a job as other priests? If the church has decided that celibacy confers certain gifts on priests, does it follow that married priests are worse at serving their congregations? Second, wouldn’t celibate priests be a little resentful of colleagues who get to serve the church and have sex too? And third, if the married priests are doing a good job and not provoking envy, why keep the celibacy rule for priests in general?

Still the transition has been smooth for many of the priest and even entire congregations to convert to Catholicism. Lewis, a converted Catholic priest who leads St. luke’s now Cathloci pareish in Bladensburg, MD., told PBS: “We left the Episcopal Church not because we were running away from the issues of the Episcopal Church. We left the Episcopal Church because we were running to the Catholic Church … The theology of Rome, the authority of Rome, the unity in the Holy See and in the bishops: that was appealing to us.”

Westboro Baptist and Equality House: The Lion and the Lamb

Equality House: Find out more about Planting Peace’s Mission and Westboro Baptist.

Appropriately titled considering the Westboro Baptist church strong stance on almost anything really but especially their holy war so to speak on the LGBT community with their anti-gay sentiments. If you are not familiar with the group let me help you out. The church has a sign hanging outside their church (the building above on the left) that reads, “GodHatesAmerica.com” and a fun fact for all of the newbies out there is the Westboro Baptist church is famous or I should say infamous for their protests of military funerals where they will shout slogan and carry signs within hearing or seeing distance while the funeral is underway making an already very unfortunate situation worse. Their slogans range from stick figures having sex to “God hates fags” or “Thank God for dead soldiers.” The church as well as its founder have become infamous for their protests and media attention drowning out their opposition however they can. Many groups have tried to drown out the noise with singing or their own peace loving slogans, but my favorite would be the group of bikers who showed up to a funeral of a soldiers whose young bride was scared of the group and already distraught over the death of her husband. In order to shield her from the verbal onslaught, the bikers drowned out the noise by revving the engine of their motorcycle cleverly protecting the young woman from the abuse. Apparently, several groups of bikers have made it their mission to show up to these funerals and the latest promise was for the Sandy Hook victims funerals in order to protect the innocent from the Westboro Baptist members.

The newest group who have decided to take on the church just happened to buy a house across the street…their name, Equality House, and Planting Peace’s mission is to directly challenge teachings of the church. How can he do this? Simple he has turned the house into a giant gay flag painted in bright colors with prime viewing directly across the street from the church. Aaron Jackson, one of the founders of Planting Peace, a charity that wears many hats in the past focused on rainforest conservation, opening orphanages and deworming programs, bought the house six months ago in Topeka, Kansas, and on March 19 the team of volunteers painted the house to match the gay pride flag. Jackson told the Huff Post about why he purchased the house:

“I read a story about Josef Miles, a 10-year-old kid who counter-protested the Westboro Baptist Church by holding the sign that says ‘God Hates No One.’ I didn’t know anything about the church or where they were located, but that story kept popping up. And one night I wondered, Where is this church? I got on Google Earth, and I was ‘walking down the road,’ and I did a 360 view. And I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign sitting in the front yard of a house. Right away it hit me, Oh my gosh, I could buy a house in front of the WBC! And immediately I thought: And I’m going to paint that thing the color of the pride flag. The reason I haven’t gotten into the gay rights activism is because, in a sense, it’s almost silly — it’s 2013, are we really still in this position? It just seems ludicrous,” he said. “But it is a real issue and kids are killing themselves. I’ve wanted to do something, and I knew when I saw that house for sale that it all came together. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a little crazy and there’s no red tape in my charity. When I want to do something, I do it.”

Jackson, according to Huff Post, believes the Westboro Baptist Church and the Phelps family is well aware of his presence in the town and expecting some sort of action as he has already encounter members of the group and the Phelps family who has run the church since 1956. Surprisingly enough, he told the Huff Post that the family member have been quite pleasant toward him especially Shirley Phelps, the daughter of the church leader Fred Phelps, but Jackson has already seen several church member taking photos of the house especially the industrial flagpole he installed  that is in direct line of site of the Westboro Baptist Church’s pole that flies the pride flag and American flag upside down. The mission according to Jackson will be for Equality house not just to be symbol but take the negative attention of the Westboro Baptist Church and make it a positive by teaching people where there is hate, there is love. One last thought on the subject from Jackson himself reported by the Huff Post: “I love seeing all of these Republicans and all these people who have been anti-gay all this time jumping ship because they know they’re on the wrong side of history. It’s an amazing thing to see. I know we have a long way to go in fighting bigotry, but we all know the gays are going to win. It’s going to happen.”

Changing the World: Amazing Billboard Produces Water Out of Air (VIDEO)

Billboard In Lima, Peru Creates Drinking Water Out Of Thin Air (VIDEO).

Changing the world one billboard at a time or at least that is the hope for one group of imaginative engineers and I don’t mean Disney. It is no secret that water is in short supply especially in some areas around the world with only three percent of the water in the world potable. At a rapid rate, the world has used  much of the water leading us all eventually into a world water crisis if nothing is done to curb our appetite. What makes it worse is the fact that many of our fresh water canal and underground springs are polluted everyday by large corporations and carelessness killing species that thrive in these areas. The hope here is to take inspiration away from the video and find ways to lessen your footprint on the world by making positive choices and taking responsibility for what man has done. The engineers came up with the idea because of a necessity and scarcity of water available in some parts of the world.

 The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru partnered with the ad agency Mayo DraftFCBand to the first ever billboard to capture   humidity and turn it into potable drinking water in Lima in order to address the area’s water insecurity issues as well as bring a message of hope in the second largest desert capital in the world. The structure was created in order to address the issue of residents being forced to drink polluted water from wells. As one resident of the Bujama District explains, ” They could put this in different places if possible in each village, in each town…the water that gives us life.” Peru gets less than two inches of rain, but has an atmospheric humidity of 98 percent according to the video so the billboard uses reverse osmosis, a water purifying process, in order to produce the water and stores the water in tanks up to 20 liters each providing 9,450 liters in three months.

The implementation of the billboard coincides with a study, published in the Cryosphere journal, showing the Andean glaciers which provides fresh water for the residents of Peru and other countries has shrunk 30 to 50 percent since the 1970s. Antoine Rabatel, one author of the study, explains: “Glacier retreat in the tropical Andes over the last three decades is unprecedented.” With water supplies dwindling due to climate change and a growing population facing food insecurity issues, the billboard provides one innovative solution in a sea of many possibilities. NanoGanesh, for example, allows farmers to use mobile phones to turn off irrigation systems remotely decreasing the use of water and electricity. According to the Associated Press, the UN and other global agencies are calling for greater solutions to the water crisis as 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities in the next eight years putting more strain on resources and sanitation. UN Deputy Chief Jan Eliasson had this to say, “If we do water and sanitation right, we can have a great improvement on others goals.” The impact of such technology is vast and the potential to save lives is enormous as the access to potable clean water will reduce maternal health issues, child mortality and overall poverty.

Oldest Family Business In U.S. Profits Without Layoffs Or Outsourcing

Oldest Family Business In U.S. Profits Without Layoffs Or Outsourcing – Careers Articles.

With the sequestration in full effect and no sign of any deals anytime soon, companies are finding ways to cut costs in order to make the hefty profits pre-recession by outsourcing, automating, and downsizing, but one company refuses to do so. The story of Avedis Zildjian Company sounds like something of a myth especially since in its 390 year history of cymgal manufacturing has never laid off a worker at least in recent history. Instead of laying off employees, the company retrains them for a new position when their jobs are automated plus offers incentive pay for increase productivity. The CEO Craigie Zildjian told NBC about the relationship with workers explaining, “It comes down to trust doesn’t it? You take care of us, and we take care of you.” Being the oldest family owned business in the U.S., the Zildjian company made cymbals in Turkey during the Ottoman Empire, then in Massachusetts during the Great Depression and can trace their history to Avedis Zildjian who was an Armenina alchemist whose secret formula for metals created cymbals with such an entrancing sound that he was invited to live with the sultan in the palace according to AOL jobs. Today, the facotry in Norwell, Mass., is run by 14th generation embers of the family and the Zildjian cymbals have been used by everyone from 19th century composer Richard Wagner to big band drummer Gene Krupa and Ringo Starr. The company currently controls 65 percent of the cymbal market with Craigie Zildjian as CEO and her sister Debbie Zildjian as vice president of Human Resources. The company’s commitment to retraining employees for new jobs is in stark contrast to employers who have cut back on training for decades which increased during the recession leaving only 1 in 5 workers with new skills from employer provided training in the past five years, according to a recent survey. For the past fifteen years, the company has offered 125 employees incentive pay for greater productivity and accuracy which has lead to only two months in 15 years where employees haven’t received a bonus according to Debbie Zildjian. This explains why so many employees are lifers who have been with the company for decades. Zildjian has been inviting music legends to test out their products and help them innovate for decades and to this day they send good tidings and birthday wishes to their artists on their twitter account which almost has 50,000 followers. The company has evolved with time as Craigie and Debbie Zildjian are the first women to run the company. The company’s success may also be due to the special rules for family management which requires as BBC reports that no family member can report to another, everyone must have job experience, college degrees are required, and no spouses allowed.